Clause 2 - Monitoring contact

Part of Children and Adoption Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:30 pm ar 14 Mawrth 2006.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills, Minister of State (Education and Skills) (Children, Young People and Families) 6:30, 14 Mawrth 2006

The first thing to say is that the facility is open to the court to make a monitoring order, which will then require CAFCASS to monitor compliance. It is not about CAFCASS being a detective or being proactive; it is about the court, for one reason or another, having concerns about compliance and, because of those concerns, being able to require CAFCASS to monitor for any period up to a year. The court can make that request, as clause 2(5) says, at any time, either on making an order, or at some other point during

“the proceedings as they relate to contact”.

It will be for the court to have concerns, for one reason or another, either because there has been a breach or because it anticipates a breach—probably the former. CAFCASS will not ferret around in a large numbers of cases to see if breaches are occurring. There is no reason for the court to intervene in arrangements if parents—either party—are not alerting the court to problems of compliance. If parents agree the contact that has been ordered, can develop that with agreement and are both happy, there is no reason for the court to intervene. It will mostly be an option for the court where non-compliance has occurred, or where it anticipates that.

We will have to see how many cases need to have a monitoring order. It is not obvious at this stage, for the reasons that I have set out, that monitoring orders will be necessary in a large number of cases. When ordered by the court, the activity required by CAFCASS will be proportionate to the questions raised in each case. As my noble Friend Lord Adonis said in the other place, it will not necessarily be burdensome in all cases,   but could initially be undertaken by phone or with a brief visit to check that the order was being complied with and that both parties were happy with what was happening.

We will have to wait to find out about the work load, but we certainly do not anticipate a large number of cases involving much high-level, intensive activity. It is not about ensuring compliance but about monitoring and reporting back to the court. The court will take the necessary action if orders have been breached.