Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families 4:18 pm, 11th January 2010

Again, it is not possible for us all to agree at all times with every stakeholder who has a view on these matters. The NSPCC, the National Children's Bureau and others have concerns about opening up the family courts and have made those concerns clear. On the other hand, many people think opening up the family courts is important for our democracy and for the stability and fairness of the courts' proceedings. We are trying to strike a balance. That is why we will not move further without a clear sunset clause and review provisions.

I hope the issues will be extensively debated in Committee. These are Ministry of Justice clauses and it is the expert in these matters, although we have discussed them in detail because we have a joint responsibility for family policy. We are taking matters forward in a steady and sequenced way, mindful at all times not to put children, particularly vulnerable children, in positions where their welfare might be undermined. I think we are getting the balance right, but it is a topic that we will discuss in Committee. Given the hon. Gentleman's knowledge on these matters and commitment to child welfare, perhaps he will be on the Committee and be able to participate in those debates.

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