Clause 3 - Contact orders: warning notices

Children and Adoption Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 16 March 2006.

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

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Minister (Children)

I echo the comments about the Under-Secretary. I hope that it is not the forthrightness of our arguments on Tuesday that has confined her to her bed. She stoically battled through our proceedings, and we wish her a speedy recovery.

The clause is short and deals with warning notices attached to contact orders. The contact orders should include a warning about the implication of not complying with them. That is crucial, and we will go on to discuss enforcement orders that have penalties for breaching contact orders. There is no detail in the clause, and we want to know what form a warning notice will take and how detailed it will be. Will it set out a tariff of penalties that could befall those breaching a contact order, or will it be just a general warning, as one might get on a unit trust product saying that its value might go up as well as down? How   serious will the warning be? Will it be a cigarette packet-type warning, or will it have some punch, as we would like to see?

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)

The hon. Gentleman will know that the report on the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill recommended that an order issued by the courts should include a clear warning that breaching its requirement would lead to an enforcement order being made involving unpaid work, a fine or imprisonment. The warning should set out in full not only the possible consequences of breaching an enforcement order but the possibility, although we know that it is not used very often, of contempt and the possible consequences of that. The warning should give a full account of the possible consequences to the person receiving an order.

It is also important—we intend to ensure this—that the warning is embodied within the order itself. It will not be a piece of paper attached with a paper clip; we will reprint and redesign the orders so that they include the warning. There can therefore be no possibility that people have not seen it. I hope that that satisfies the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Minister (Children)

I am grateful for that. I was hoping for the indication that the warning will not be an add-on but will set out clearly the implications of not complying. On that basis, we are happy with the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.