Duration, Recall or Variation of Child Protection Order

Orders of the Day — Children (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 1st May 1995.

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Amendments made: No. 42, in page 39, line 25, leave out 'be enforceable' and insert 'have effect'.
No. 163, in page 39, line 30, leave out from 'be' to end of line 35 and insert '—

  1. (a) kept in a place of safety under; or
  2. (b) prevented from being removed from any place by, a child protection order where the Principal Reporter, having regard to the welfare of the child, considers that, whether as a result of a change in the circumstances of the case or of further information relating to the case having been received by the Principal Reporter, the conditions for the making of a child protection order in respect of the child are no longer satisfied and notifies the person who implemented the order that he so considers.
  1. (3A) The Principal Reporter shall not give notice under subsection (3) above where—
    1. (a) proceedings before a children's hearing arranged under section 52(2) of this Act in relation to the child who is subject to the child protection order have commenced; or
    2. (b) the hearing of an application made under subsection (5) of this section has begun.
  2. (3B) Where the Principal Reporter has given notice under subsection (3) above, he shall also, in such manner as may be prescribed, notify the sheriff who made the order.'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

Photo of Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith , Strathkelvin and Bearsden

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 40, line 6, at end insert '; or (f) any person or class of persons affected by the provisions of section 51(1)(c) above.'.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 2, in clause 57, page 43, line 39, after 'person', insert 'or any person or class of persons who may be affected by the provisions of section 61(5)(b) below.'. No. 3, in clause 64, page 50, line 15, after 'person', insert 'or any person or class of persons affected by the provisions of section 61(5)(b) above.'.

Photo of Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith , Strathkelvin and Bearsden

These amendments have become known as my granny amendments. The Minister is aware of the arguments, so there is no need to reiterate them. I am concerned that a third party suspected of being involved in a child abuse case can have that suspicion laid against him with no provision in the legal process—children's panel, reporter or sheriff court—to entitle that person to any right to be heard or to put his case. The charge can be found against him without his ever having the right to question it. That is an infringement of our civil liberties. Although it is right that the child's interests must be paramount, we cannot allow that to infringe the civil liberty of others. That is the reason behind my granny amendments.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. My amendment No. 98, which is scheduled to be debated further down the list, in fact deals with almost exactly the same point as the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith). It might help the House if we also dealt with my amendment now.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

That is a commonsense suggestion. Therefore, we shall also discuss amendment No. 98, in clause 59, page 45, line 30, at end insert— '(3A) Where one of the grounds of referral to which an application relates is a condition referred to in section 45(2)(d) or (e) or (f) or (g)—

  1. (a) the Principal Reporter shall, at the same time as making an application to the sheriff under section 57(6) of this Act, intimate the application to any person named in the grounds of referral, or in respect of whom the Principal Reporter intends to lead evidence before the sheriff, alleging that such person has committed an offence to which the conditions in section 45(2)(d) to (g) relate; and
  2. (b) any person to whom intimation is made in terms of this subsection shall be entitled to be represented at the hearing of the application, and the sheriff may permit representations to be made by the such person, or on his behalf.'.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

I echo what has been said by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden. In the Orkney case, there were allegations involving a third party. Even if the matter had gone to proof before the sheriff, that third party would have had no locus to appear. Even if the allegations do not receive publicity, they still very much affect the individual concerned. There should be some ability for that person to be given the opportunity to clear his or her name. Under the proposals in my amendment, if an allegation relates to offences, which by their very nature are sexual offences—relating to conditions referred to in clause 45(2)(d) or (e) or (f) or (g)—and there is a dispute about the grounds of referral and they go to the sheriff for proof, that person should at least have intimation of that dispute and have the right to be represented and, subject to the sheriff's discretion, an opportunity to be heard.

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

There are technical reasons why the amendments are flawed. What is more important is the principle, which the hon. Members for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) and for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) have raised in relation to third parties being unfairly accused. Hon. Members may wish to be aware that amendments Nos. 186 and 187 extend an unqualified right of attendance at a children's hearing to any person who has a parental responsibility in respect of the child and to any person who ordinarily has charge of or control over the child. Those amendments will ensure that those persons, having a legal right of contact or actual care, can be heard by the children's hearing and will have subsequent rights.

I shall look at the points that the hon. Members have raised, especially in relation to the amendments, and I shall consider them further.

Photo of Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith , Strathkelvin and Bearsden

Amendments Nos. 186 and 187 would not include provision for grandmothers, unless they had parental rights. Is that correct?

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

It would be fair to say that if the parents were unable to look after the child, parental responsibility could transfer to the grandparents. I shall look, however, at the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, especially in relation to the amendment.'

Photo of Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith , Strathkelvin and Bearsden

It is clear from what the Minister has said that amendments Nos. 186 and 187 do not cover the provisions proposed in my amendment and therefore do not deal with the granny problem. It is not a question of whether parents have lost their ability to look after the child. My amendment deals with cases in which parents still have rights and responsibilities but when a third person—a granny—is involved. Having heard, however, the Minister say that he is willing to look at the subject again and—perhaps—table amendments in another place, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

In the case that I cited, the amendments do not apply. We are talking about a third party in circumstances where there would not be any question of the person having parental rights or care and control of the child. The amendments that the Minister mentioned are helpful as far as they go, but they clearly do not cover the kind of circumstances to which the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) and I have referred. Nevertheless, the Minister has indicated a willingness to look at the problem so I do not think that it would be helpful to press my amendment and I beg to ask leave to withdraw it.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

I have to put the Question on amendment No. 1 moved by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) because the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) spoke afterwards. Therefore if the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland does not wish to proceed with his amendment it will have to be negatived.

Amendment negatived.