Schedule 1 - Enforcement orders

Part of Children and Adoption Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 16 March 2006.

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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) 3:15, 16 March 2006

I do not recognise the hon. Gentleman’s description of schedule 1, which merely uses the framework of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to make the necessary links between the Bill and that legislation. We are already drawing on that Act to make the provisions work in respect of enforcement orders. For example, the Bill makes provision for CAFCASS officers to communicate mostly with probation officers about the case, the work and the problems involved which have to be accommodated when a person undertakes unpaid work. It provides for the arrangements on breaches of enforcement orders to be consistent, as they are for breaches of probation orders, and it makes the changes that we want, such as reducing the maximum time specified in an order from 300 hours in the Criminal Justice Act to 200 for an enforcement order.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned paragraph 8(3)(c) and what he perceived in the wording to be a potential lack of urgency in acting on a breach. To clarify the matter, the reference to “within the next 12 months” does not mean that nothing would happen for 12 months but that the maximum period during which the unpaid work—for however many hours the order required—can be undertaken is a maximum of 12 months, and any further breach within that period would be acted on. Serious breaches can be referred straight back to court and we would expect that to happen.

The hon. Gentleman probably appreciates that it is not the case that there is a breach of a contact order, an enforcement order and then no further expectations in respect of compliance while that order is fulfilled. One clearly expects an enforcement order to be put in place. Because the proposal is about making contact work, we would expect compliance with the contact order to be concurrent with the unpaid work prescribed by the order.

I cannot recall the hon. Gentleman’s last point, but if he wants to intervene and remind me I will try to respond to him. The reply I have does not reflect my recollection of what he said.