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Other Bills before Parliament

Children Bill [HL]


Children Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Children’s Commissioner

1

 

A

Bill

[AS AMENDED ON REPORT]

To

Make provision for the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner; to make

provision about services provided to and for children and young people by

local authorities and other persons; to make provision in relation to Wales

about advisory and support services relating to family proceedings; to make

provision about private fostering, child minding and day care, adoption

review panels, the making of grants as respects children and families and

about child safety orders. 

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and

consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present

Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Part 1

Children’s Commissioner

1       

Establishment

(1)   

There is to be an office of Children’s Commissioner.

(2)   

Schedule 1 has effect with respect to the Children’s Commissioner.

5

2       

General function

(1)   

The Children’s Commissioner has, subject to the following provisions of this

Part, the function of promoting and safeguarding the rights and interests of

children in England.

(2)   

The Children’s Commissioner may in particular under this section—

10

(a)   

encourage persons exercising functions or engaged in activities

affecting children to take account of their rights, views and interests;

 
HL Bill 9753/3
 
 

Children Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Children’s Commissioner

2

 

(b)   

advise the Secretary of State on the rights, views and interests of

children;

(c)   

review and report on the effectiveness of—

(i)   

advice and advocacy services;

(ii)   

complaints procedures; and

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(iii)   

inspection and whistle-blowing arrangements;

   

so far as relating to children;

(d)   

review and report on any other matter relating to the rights, views and

interests of children.

(3)   

The Children’s Commissioner must take reasonable steps to involve children

10

in the discharge of his function under this section, and in particular to—

(a)   

ensure that children are made aware of his function and how they may

communicate with him;

(b)   

consult children, and organisations working with children, on the

matters he proposes to review and report on under subsection (2)(c) or

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(d);

(c)   

ensure that the content of any material issued by the Commissioner or

his staff, whether printed or in electronic or other form, which is

intended to be used by children, takes account, so far as practicable, of

the means of communication, level of understanding and usual

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language of the intended recipients.

(4)   

The Children’s Commissioner must for the purposes of subsection (3) have

particular regard to groups of children who do not have other adequate means

by which they can make their views known.

(5)   

The Children’s Commissioner or a person authorised by him may for the

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purposes of his function under this section at any reasonable time—

(a)   

enter any premises, other than a private dwelling, for the purposes of

interviewing any child accommodated or cared for there; and

(b)   

if the child consents, interview the child in private.

(6)   

Any person exercising functions under any enactment must supply the

30

Children’s Commissioner with such information in that person’s possession

relating to those functions as the Children’s Commissioner may reasonably

request for the purposes of his function under this section (provided that the

information is information which that person may, apart from this subsection,

lawfully disclose to him).

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(7)   

The Children’s Commissioner may provide assistance to a child to bring legal

proceedings where the child is unable to bring legal proceedings; and it

appears to the Commissioner reasonable to do so and there is no other person

or body likely to provide such assistance or take such action (or both).

(8)   

In considering for the purpose of his function under this section what

40

constitutes the rights and interests of children (generally or so far as relating to

a particular matter) the Children’s Commissioner must have regard to the

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

(9)   

In subsection (8) the reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights

of the Child is to the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the

45

General Assembly of the United Nations on 20th November 1989, subject to

any reservations, objections or interpretative declarations by the United

Kingdom for the time being in force.

 

 

Children Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Children’s Commissioner

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(10)   

For the purposes of this section “children” includes—

(a)   

young people in custody under the age of 22;

(b)   

those young people for whom a local authority has duties under the

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 (c. 35); and

(c)   

young people with learning disabilities under the age of 21.

5

3       

Annual report

(1)   

As soon as possible after the end of each financial year the Children’s

Commissioner must make a report on—

(a)   

the way in which he has discharged his function under section 2 during

the year;

10

(b)   

what he has found in the course of exercising that function during the

year; and

(c)   

the matters he intends to consider or research during the next financial

year.

(2)   

The Children’s Commissioner must in particular under subsection (1)(a)

15

include an account of the steps taken by him under section 2(3).

(3)   

Where the Children’s Commissioner makes a report under this section—

(a)   

he must send a copy to the Secretary of State; and

(b)   

the Secretary of State must lay a copy before each House of Parliament.

(4)   

The Children’s Commissioner must publish a report made under this section

20

as soon as possible after the Secretary of State has discharged his function

under subsection (3)(b).

(5)   

In this section, “financial year” has the same meaning as in paragraph 8 of

Schedule 1.

4       

Inquiries initiated by Commissioner

25

(1)   

Where the Children’s Commissioner considers that the case of an individual

child raises issues of public policy of relevance to other children, he may hold

an inquiry into that case for the purpose of investigating and making

recommendations about those issues.

(2)   

The Children’s Commissioner may only conduct an inquiry under this section

30

if he is satisfied that the inquiry would not duplicate work that is the function

of another person (having consulted such persons as he considers

appropriate).

(3)   

Before holding an inquiry under this section the Children’s Commissioner

must consult the Secretary of State.

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(4)   

The Children’s Commissioner may, if he thinks fit, hold an inquiry under this

section, or any part of it, in private.

(5)   

As soon as possible after completing an inquiry under this section the

Children’s Commissioner must—

(a)   

publish a report containing his recommendations; and

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(b)   

send a copy to the Secretary of State.

 

 

Children Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Children’s Commissioner

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(6)   

The report need not identify any individual child if the Commissioner

considers that it would be undesirable for the identity of the child to be made

public.

(7)   

Subsections (2) and (3) of section 250 of the Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70)

apply for the purposes of an inquiry held under this section in England and

5

Wales as they apply for the purposes of a local inquiry under that section with

the substitution for references to the person appointed to hold the inquiry of

references to the Children’s Commissioner.

(8)   

Subsections (3) to (5) of section 210 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act

1973 (c. 65) apply for the purposes of an inquiry held under this section in

10

Scotland as they apply for the purposes of a local inquiry under that section

with the substitution for references to the person appointed to hold the inquiry

of references to the Children’s Commissioner.

(9)   

Paragraphs 2 to 5 of Schedule 8 to the Health and Personal Social Services

(Northern Ireland) Order 1972 (S.I. 1972/1265 (N.I.14)) apply for the purposes

15

of an inquiry held under this section in Northern Ireland as they apply for the

purposes of a local inquiry under that Order with the substitution for

references to the person appointed to hold the inquiry of references to the

Children’s Commissioner.

5       

Other inquiries held by Commissioner

20

(1)   

Where the Secretary of State considers that the case of an individual child raises

issues of relevance to other children, he may direct the Children’s

Commissioner to hold an inquiry into that case.

(2)   

The Children’s Commissioner may, if he thinks fit, hold an inquiry under this

section, or any part of it, in private.

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(3)   

The Children’s Commissioner must, as soon as possible after the completion of

an inquiry under this section, make a report in relation to the inquiry and send

a copy to the Secretary of State.

(4)   

The Secretary of State must, subject to subsection (5), publish each report

received by him under this section.

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(5)   

Where a report made under this section identifies an individual child and the

Secretary of State considers that it would be undesirable for the identity of the

child to be made public—

(a)   

the Secretary of State may amend the report and publish the amended

report only; or

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(b)   

if he considers that it is not possible to publish the report without

identifying the child, he need not publish the report.

(6)   

The Secretary of State must lay a copy of each report published by him under

this section before each House of Parliament.

(7)   

Subsections (2) to (5) of section 250 of the Local Government Act 1972 apply for

40

the purposes of an inquiry held under this section in England and Wales as

they apply for the purposes of a local inquiry under that section.

(8)   

Subsections (3) to (8) of section 210 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act

1973 apply for the purposes of an inquiry held under this section in Scotland as

they apply for the purposes of a local inquiry under that section with the

45

substitution (notwithstanding the provisions of section 53 of the Scotland Act

 

 

Children Bill [HL]
Part 2 — Children’s services in England

5

 

1998 (c. 46) (general transfer of functions to the Scottish Ministers)) for

references to the Minister of references to the Secretary of State.

(9)   

Paragraphs 2 to 8 of Schedule 8 to the Health and Personal Social Services

(Northern Ireland) Order 1972 (S.I. 1972/1265 (N.I.14)) apply for the purposes

of an inquiry held under this section in Northern Ireland as they apply for the

5

purposes of a local inquiry under that Order with the substitution for

references to the Ministry of references to the Secretary of State.

6       

Relationship with other Commissioners

(1)   

The Children’s Commissioner is not under section 2 to be concerned with—

(a)   

any matter falling within the remit of the Children’s Commissioner for

10

Wales under section 72B, 73 or 74 of the Care Standards Act 2000 (c. 14)

in relation to children to whom Part 5 of that Act applies;

(b)   

any matter relating to children in Scotland which is not a reserved

matter (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46)); or

(c)   

any matter relating to children in Northern Ireland which is a

15

transferred or reserved matter (within the meaning of the Northern

Ireland Act 1998 (c. 47)).

(2)   

In discharging his function under section 2 the Children’s Commissioner

must—

(a)   

to the extent that the matters with which he is concerned relate to

20

children in Wales, take account of the views of and any work

undertaken by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales;

(b)   

to the extent that such matters relate to children in Scotland, take

account of the views of and any work undertaken by the Commissioner

for Children and Young People in Scotland;

25

(c)   

to the extent that such matters relate to children in Northern Ireland,

take account of the views of and any work undertaken by the

Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland.

(3)   

The Children’s Commissioner may not under section 4 hold an inquiry where

the issues referred to in subsection (1) of that section relate to a matter referred

30

to in subsection (1)(a) to (c) above.

(4)   

The Secretary of State may not under section 5 give a direction to the Children’s

Commissioner to hold an inquiry where the issues referred to in subsection (1)

of that section relate to a matter referred to subsection (1)(a) to (c) above.

Part 2

35

Children’s services in England

General

7       

Co-operation to improve well-being

(1)   

Each children’s services authority in England must make arrangements to

promote co-operation between—

40

(a)   

the authority;

(b)   

each of the authority’s relevant partners; and

 

 

Children Bill [HL]
Part 2 — Children’s services in England

6

 

(c)   

such other persons or bodies as the authority consider appropriate,

being persons or bodies of any nature who exercise functions or are

engaged in activities in relation to children in the authority’s area.

(2)   

The arrangements are to be made with a view to improving the well-being of

children in the authority’s area so far as relating to—

5

(a)   

physical and mental health;

(b)   

protection from harm and neglect;

(c)   

education, training and recreation;

(d)   

the contribution made by them to society;

(e)   

social and economic well-being.

10

(3)   

In making arrangements under this section a children’s services authority in

England must have regard to the importance of parents and other persons

caring for children in improving the well-being of children.

(4)   

For the purposes of this section each of the following is a relevant partner of a

children’s services authority in England—

15

(a)   

where the authority is a county council for an area for which there is

also a district council, the district council;

(b)   

the police authority and the chief officer of police for a police area any

part of which falls within the area of the children’s services authority;

(c)   

a local probation board for an area any part of which falls within the

20

area of the authority;

(d)   

a youth offending team for an area any part of which falls within the

area of the authority;

(e)   

a Strategic Health Authority and Primary Care Trust for an area any

part of which falls within the area of the authority;

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(f)   

a person providing services under section 114 of the Learning and Skills

Act 2000 (c. 21) in any part of the area of the authority;

(g)   

the Learning and Skills Council for England.

(5)   

The relevant partners of a children’s services authority in England must co-

operate with the authority in the making of arrangements under this section.

30

(6)   

A children’s services authority in England and any of their relevant partners

may for the purposes of arrangements under this section—

(a)   

provide staff, goods, services, accommodation or other resources;

(b)   

establish and maintain a pooled fund.

(7)   

For the purposes of subsection (6) a pooled fund is a fund—

35

(a)   

which is made up of contributions by the authority and the relevant

partner or partners concerned; and

(b)   

out of which payments may be made towards expenditure incurred in

the discharge of functions of the authority and functions of the relevant

partner or partners.

40

(8)   

A children’s services authority in England and each of their relevant partners

must in exercising their functions under this section have regard to any

guidance given to them for the purpose by the Secretary of State.

(9)   

Arrangements under this section may include arrangements relating to—

(a)   

persons aged 18 and 19;

45

(b)   

persons over the age of 19 who are receiving services under sections

23C to 24D of the Children Act 1989 (c. 41);

 

 

Children Bill [HL]
Part 2 — Children’s services in England

7

 

(c)   

persons over the age of 19 but under the age of 25 who have a learning

difficulty, within the meaning of section 13 of the Learning and Skills

Act 2000 (c. 21), and are receiving services under that Act.

8       

Arrangements to safeguard and promote welfare

(1)   

This section applies to each of the following—

5

(a)   

a children’s services authority in England;

(b)   

a district council which is not such an authority;

(c)   

a Strategic Health Authority;

(d)   

a Primary Care Trust;

(e)   

an NHS trust all or most of whose hospitals, establishments and

10

facilities are situated in England;

(f)   

an NHS foundation trust;

(g)   

the police authority and chief officer of police for a police area in

England;

(h)   

a local probation board for an area in England;

15

(i)   

a youth offending team for an area in England;

(j)   

the governor of a prison or secure training centre in England (or, in the

case of a contracted out prison or secure training centre, its director);

(k)   

any person to the extent that he is providing services under section 114

of the Learning and Skills Act 2000.

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(2)   

Each person and body to whom this section applies must make arrangements

for ensuring that—

(a)   

their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard

and promote the welfare of children; and

(b)   

any services provided by another person pursuant to arrangements

25

made by the person or body in the discharge of their functions are

provided having regard to that need.

(3)   

In the case of a children’s services authority in England, the reference in

subsection (2) to functions of the authority does not include functions to which

section 175 of the Education Act 2002 (c. 32) applies.

30

(4)   

Each person and body to whom this section applies must in discharging their

duty under this section have regard to any guidance given to them for the

purpose by the Secretary of State.

9       

Information databases

(1)   

The Secretary of State may for the purpose of arrangements under section 7 or

35

8 above or under section 175 of the Education Act 2002—

(a)   

by regulations require children’s services authorities in England to

establish and operate databases containing information in respect of

persons to whom such arrangements relate; or

(b)   

himself establish and operate, or make arrangements for the operation

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and establishment of, one or more databases containing such

information.

(2)   

The Secretary of State may for the purposes of arrangements under subsection

(1)(b) by regulations establish a body corporate to establish and operate one or

more databases.

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