Clause 27 - Parenting orders: appeals

Anti-social Behaviour Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:45 pm ar 8 Mai 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

Before we leave this part of the Bill altogether, I want to raise some points that might be relevant to the matters dealt with in appeals. I could have raised them under clause 26 or clause 23, but I have chosen to do so now. I hope that I am in order because these matters could come up under appeal.

I hope that the Government recognise that there is constant pressure on welfare reports to courts. That could come up under clause 26, as I said, but it could also come up under appeals. Everyone who has ever been involved in the justice system for criminal law or family law cases knows that there is a huge shortage of expert reporters to write reports to courts. I hope that the Government will take it from us that we will watch them to check that the necessary resources are in place.

I have been involved in many debates on such matters with the Minister's colleagues. I remember that when the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree

(Jane Kennedy) was in the Lord Chancellor's Department in the previous Parliament and I was shadowing her, we had many debates on the welfare service that the Government introduced, called the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Guardians ad litem were very much against that and saw various problems. People who had been experienced guardians ad litem were resigning left, right and centre because of the threat of CAFCASS. I should like some reassurance from the Minister, on the record, that the Government are aware of the difficulty of getting enough welfare report writers and that they will keep that under review.

The Government have put in clause 23 a reference to persons who are not individuals, by which they mean local authorities in relation to children in care. Whether we are discussing appeals or original hearings, there is always a concern that a lot of disruptive children will end up in care, for various reasons. We all understand that and have seen it in our constituency surgery work. I hope that the Government will bear in mind that, allied to the shortage of welfare report writers to courts, there are serious issues connected with children who end up in local authority care. It might, perhaps, be inappropriate to have a parenting order because there is not a parent with care of the child. I hope that the Government will not forget, at any stage, the issues that relate to children in care. We have all seen some of the horrendous family situations involving such children.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Gentleman has made his points and put them on the record. I shall not pretend that I have the expertise to tell him to what degree there might be a deficiency of writers, as he alleges. His point is on the record and he will be able to refer back to it if the situation is as he claims.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 27 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.