New Clause 26 - Independent legal guardian for trafficked children

Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 14 October 2014.

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‘(1) An independent legal guardian shall be appointed to represent the best interests of each child who is a separated child and/or may be a trafficked, enslaved or exploited person pursuant to this Bill if the person who has parental responsibility for the child fulfils any of the conditions set out in section 17(4).

(2) The Secretary of State shall establish an independent body to be known as “the Child Guardianship Service” which shall—

(a) by order set out the arrangements for the recruitment, vetting and appointment of a suitably qualified independent child guardian with the requisite professional qualifications immediately after a child is identified as a separated child and/or a potential victim of trafficking, enslaving or exploitation;

(b) by order set out requirements for the training courses to be completed before a person may discharge duties as an independent child guardian;

(c) by order set out the arrangements for the supervision of persons discharging duties as an independent child guardian;

(d) monitor the activities of the independent child guardians and by order provide an accessible individual complaint mechanism for all children under the Child Guardianship Service;

(e) by order set out the arrangements for the provision of support services for persons discharging duties as an independent child guardian; and

(f) by order designate organisations as a “recognised charitable organisation” for the purpose of this section.

(3) Under the supervision of the Child Guardianship Service, the appointed independent legal child guardian shall be responsible at a minimum for—

(a) ensuring that all decisions relating to the child are made in the child’s best interests and, where reasonably practicable, are consistent with the child’s welfare after ascertaining the child’s wishes and feelings in relation to those decisions;

(b) advocating for the child, if a potential trafficked, enslaved or exploited person, to receive identification as such, appropriate care, safe accommodation, medical treatment, including psychological assistance, education, translation and interpretation services;

(c) assisting the child to access legal and other representation where necessary, including, where appropriate, appointing and instructing the solicitor representing the child on all matters relevant to the interests of the child;

(d) consulting, advising and informing the child victim of the child’s legal rights;

(e) keeping the child informed of all relevant legal and administrative proceedings;

(f) contributing to the identification of a plan to safeguard and promote the long-term welfare of the child based on an individual assessment of that child’s best interests;

(g) providing a link between the child and various organisations who may provide services to the child;

(h) assisting in establishing contact with the child’s family, where the child so wishes and it is in the child’s best interests;

(i) where appropriate, liaising with an immigration officer handling the child’s case in conjunction with the child’s legal representative;

(j) accompanying the child to all relevant interviews, including those relating to police, welfare, immigration and compensation; and

(k) accompanying the child whenever the child moves to new accommodation.

(4) Section 17(1) shall apply if the person who has parental responsibility for the child—

(a) is suspected of taking part in the trafficking of human beings;

(b) has another conflict of interest with the child;

(c) is not in contact with the child;

(d) is a local authority; or

(e) is in a country outside the United Kingdom.

(5) In section 17(1), an independent child guardian may be an employee of—

(a) an independent statutory body; or

(b) a recognised charitable organisation.

(6) A person discharging duties as an independent child guardian shall not discharge any other statutory duties in relation to a child for whom they are providing assistance under this section.

(7) Where an independent child guardian is appointed under section 17(1), the authority of the independent child guardian in relation to the child shall be recognised by any relevant body.

(8) In section 17(7), a “relevant body” means a person or organisation—

(a) which provides services to the child;

(b) to which a child makes an application for services; or

(c) to which the child needs access in relation to being a potential victim of trafficking, enslaving or exploitation.’—(Diana Johnson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 10.

Division number 17 Decision Time — New Clause 26 - Independent legal guardian for trafficked children

Aye: 8 MPs

No: 10 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.