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 Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour 3:00 pm, 15th December 2005

The charter is not mentioned elsewhere. Kenny MacAskill and other members spelled out why neither the charter nor the parenting agreement is mentioned in the bill. Those documents are non-legislative and are designed to help people; they will not be legal documents. The court will take into account many factors, such as anything that a parenting agreement says. It will listen to children and consider the contributions from other family members. However, the charter was never designed to be a legal document.

As Margaret Mitchell said, Rosemary Byrne's proposal would not achieve the desired outcome. I have tremendous sympathy with what Rosemary Byrne seeks and I have put on record our appreciation of the work that grandparents do throughout Scotland. The charter was drawn up to recognise the value that grandparents can add to their grandchildren's lives but, in practical terms, it does not serve any real purpose.

In considering orders that relate to children, the courts will take into account current arrangements for a child, parents' views and, as Christine Grahame said, the views of other family members such as grandparents, if appropriate. The charter says nothing about the relationship between children and their grandparents, so to compel sheriffs to have regard to the charter when they consider the granting of a contact order would at best be inappropriate. If the amendment were agreed to, it could also reduce the flexibility for revision in future.

The intention is honourable and right and we sympathise with it. However, the practical effect would not be achieved. I ask Rosemary Byrne to withdraw her amendment.