Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 15:


Page 42, line 17, at end insert:
("(2A) Where a child seeks protection in a place of safety, he shall be treated as wishing to make an application in terms of subsection (1) above, and the officer in charge of the place of safety shall provide the child with all advice and assistance to prepare and make such an application.
(2B) Where a child has sought protection in a place of safety in terms of subsection (2A) above, he shall be entitled to remain in that place of safety, or in any other such place of safety, until the sheriff has disposed of the said application in terms of subsection (1) above.
(2C) For the purposes of subsections (2A) and (2B) above, 'place of safety' shall only be given the meanings listed as (a), (b) and (c) in the definition provided in section 90 of this Act.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, the amendment seeks to extend the Bill by permitting a child to seek a place of safety on his or her own behalf. The child would then be able to initiate an application for a child protection order.

I believe that there is an omission from the Bill. Section 37(2) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 states:


The amendment proposes that the act of seeking his or her own place of safety will automatically trigger child protection measures. It also avoids the use of the word "detention", preferring the more positive and empowering phrase "entitled to remain".

12 Jul 1995 : Column 1810

The amendment does not automatically grant a child protection order, but it ensures that the matter will definitely go before the sheriff. That will prevent any high-handed action by parents who are in difficulties with their teenage children.

There is an alternative. It lies in the wording of Clause 56(1), which reads:


    "Where the sheriff, on an application by any person, is satisfied that".

I do not believe that Clause 56(1), which deals with applications for child protection orders, is the most appropriate way for a child to initiate him or herself. I suggest that it is aimed at the professionals.

The amendment is focused on the child who has found life at home intolerable and has run to a place of safety. The provision would be published in the wee booklet that the local authorities will be producing to explain their services to children. I beg to move.

7.45 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I expressed some sympathy with the noble Earl's amendment when he moved it at Report stage. I express the same sympathy today. Nonetheless, I can still foresee a number of difficulties with the provision as drafted.

Most significantly, the amendment empowers a child to remain in a place of safety until the sheriff has disposed of a child protection order application made by that child, but no obligation is placed on the child to make such an application. It would therefore be possible for the child to remain indefinitely in a place of safety where he chose not to make such an application. That would clearly be inappropriate.

As I indicated in my earlier response at Report stage, there is no simple answer to this issue. Where a child has reasonable cause to run away from home we believe that the appropriate course of action would be for an application for a child protection order to be made. That way the responsibilities and rights of all concerned will be recognised and subject to judicial scrutiny.

As I said, we have sympathy with the underlying intention of the amendment but we have serious doubts as to how it would operate in practice. For those reasons, I ask the noble Earl to withdraw the amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I like the amendment because it guarantees judicial scrutiny. However, having listened to the noble Earl, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 59 [Duration, recall or variation of child protection order]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendments Nos. 16 to 18:


Page 45, line 37, leave out (", or continued under section 58(4),").
Page 45, line 38, after ("Act,") insert ("or such an order or direction continued (whether with or without variation) under section 58(4) of this Act,").
Page 46, line 5, after ("continued") insert ("(whether with or without variation)").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 16, 17 and 18 are consequential to a change made at Report stage. Clause 58(4) now empowers a children's

12 Jul 1995 : Column 1811

hearing to vary a child protection order or any direction in relation to the exercise of parental responsibilities or parental rights made by a sheriff. The amendments ensure that the order or direction so varied may be the subject of an application of the sheriff under subsection (7) of Clause 59. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 64 [Referral to, and proceedings at, children's hearing]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 19:


Page 50, line 17, at end insert:
("(2A) Where a referral is made in respect of a child who is subject to a supervision requirement, the children's hearing shall, before disposing of the referral in accordance with section 68(1) (b) or (c) of this Act, review that requirement in accordance with subsections (9) to (12) of section 72 of this Act.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords this is a small but, as with all our amendments, a useful proposal. It requires a children's hearing before disposing of a referral in accordance with paragraphs (b) or (c) of Clause 68(1) to review any existing supervision requirements. This will ensure that the needs of the child will be considered in their entirety rather than in relation to the most recent referral. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 65 [Warrant to keep child where children's hearing unable to dispose of case]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 20:


Page 51, line 28, at beginning insert ("to find and to keep or, as the case may be,").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 provide for a warrant made by a children's hearing under Clause 65 (1) to include the power to find the child, in addition to the existing power to keep the child in, a place of safety; and it clarifies that the period of a warrant runs from the date of granting it. It meets the intentions of amendments withdrawn by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, following our undertaking to consider the matter further. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for bringing forward the amendment. I thought that I recognised the provision from an earlier occasion.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 21:


Page 51, line 29, at end insert ("after the warrant is granted").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 68 [Continuation or disposal of referral by children's hearing]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendments Nos. 22 to 24:


Page 55, line 12, leave out ("from the warrant being issued") and insert ("after the warrant is granted").
Page 55, line 25, leave out ("issued") and insert ("granted").
Page 55, line 46, leave out ("worker") and insert ("work officer").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to Amendments Nos. 22 to 24 when moving Amendment No. 12. I beg to move them en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

12 Jul 1995 : Column 1812

Clause 69 [Disposal of referral by children's hearing: supervision requirements, including residence in secure accommodation]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 25:


Page 56, line 30, at end insert ("so specified").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this minor amendment adds the words "so specified" to be consistent with the earlier terminology in the subsection. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 85 [Parental responsibilities order: general]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 26:


Page 71, line 23, leave out from ("1976") to end of line 25 and insert (", under section 18 or 49 of the said Act of 1978 or under Article 17, 18 or 57 of the Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 (corresponding provision for Scotland and Northern Ireland);").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Clause 85 enables a local authority, on application to a sheriff, to seek parental rights and responsibilities in relation to a child. Subsection (6) ensures that a parental responsibilities order will terminate under various circumstances including those where the child becomes subject to an adoption order or an order freeing the child for adoption. At present subsection (6) attracts the relevant adoption provisions for England and Wales from the Adoption Act 1976 and the amendment simply secures that the relevant provisions for Northern Ireland are also brought into the picture. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 89 [Consent of child to certain procedures]:


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page