Adoption and Children Bill

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Mr. Djanogly: I have a straightforward, non-trick question. Does the Minister see special guardianship as a suitable scenario in a case where there should be no contact?

Jacqui Smith: Yes, it is possible to envisage a situation of special guardianship with no contact. I did not realise that the hon. Gentleman had been trying to trick me earlier, but I will have to keep an eye out for that.

Section 17 of the Children Act is important, because under the provisions in the Bill it would be possible for both parents to seek help with, for example, expenses associated with fulfilling a contact order. Also, section 16 of the Children Act allows the court to make an order requiring an officer of the local authority to advise, assist and befriend a person named in the order, who could be a parent, anyone with whom the child is living, or the child. The order may only be made by consent and in exceptional circumstances, and lasts for up to six months. The power is not greatly used, but it is clear that it is available to require a local authority to supervise contact, for example.

I hope that the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham recognises my arguments for the narrower scope for special guardianship support provisions, as well as the ways in which it is already legally possible to support birth parents in cases such as those he described.

It being One o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Four o'clock.

Column Number: 827

The following Members attended the Committee:
Roe, Mrs. Marion (Chairman)
Bellingham, Mr.
Blackman, Liz
Brazier, Mr.
Brennan, Kevin
Dawson, Mr.
Djanogly, Mr.
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Gidley, Sandra

Column Number: 828

Llwyd, Mr.
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr.
Moran, Margaret
Munn, Ms
Shaw, Mr.
Smith, Jacqui
Walter, Mr.
Winterton, Ms Rosie

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