After section 17

Part of Family Law (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:00 pm on 15th December 2005.

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Photo of Mary Mulligan Mary Mulligan Labour 3:00 pm, 15th December 2005

I will make a couple of points on behalf of the Justice 1 Committee. We took evidence on the issue from grandparents groups and we recognise the strong role that grandparents can play in the upbringing of children. However, we feel that it is important that we do not make that role into a statutory responsibility—the difficulties involved have been mentioned already.

Responsibility for children rests with parents. To give statutory rights to grandparents could further confuse an already complicated situation. The committee believes that the grandchildren's charter will tilt the balance towards the children's right to benefit from the relationship that they can have with their grandparents and, as Donald Gorrie said, with the wider family. However, the committee felt that that relationship should not be put on a statutory footing.

Sheriffs who regularly deal with such cases assured us that grandparents act as a stabilising influence. We have recognised that and the grandchildren's charter will go some way towards recognising it, too. Therefore, the amendment should be rejected.