Section 17A — Orders under section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995: protection from abuse

Family Law (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:00 pm on 15th December 2005.

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Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative 4:00 pm, 15th December 2005

That brings us to group 13, on the definition of conduct constituting abuse. Amendment 45, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, is the only amendment in the group.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

I will be extremely brief. Amendment 45 is simply a probing amendment.

During the passage of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, when discussing the physical chastisement of children, we discussed what might constitute abuse. We concluded, for example, that shouting at a child constituted abuse. Amendment 45 would simply add, after the word "speech" in the definition of conduct in section 17A, a range of other types of conduct. I want them to be included in the bill, unless the minister can assure us that they are already covered legally. If he can reassure us, I will not press amendment 45. However, I will move it pro tem.

I move amendment 45.

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

I have some sympathy with Stewart Stevenson on this, but I will not say too much about the scourge of domestic abuse. It could be argued that a more descriptive definition of conduct would be helpful, but we believe that the bill as drafted is sufficiently wide in scope to include the behaviour described in amendment 45. However, if we were to be as prescriptive as amendment 45, there would be a danger that some forms of threatening or abusive behaviour might not be considered by the courts because they were not listed in the bill. We need to avoid that situation.

We think that section 17A strikes the right balance. The drafting of subsection (7B)(d) quite deliberately mirrors the definition of abuse that is contained in the Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001. Without a complementary change to the provisions of the 2001 act, there would be the potential for considerable confusion. We do not want to move away from a position of clarity and consistency, so we hope that Stewart Stevenson will withdraw amendment 45.

Amendment 45, by agreement, withdrawn.