HC Deb 15 July 1963 vol 681 cc288-9
Mr. Brooke

I beg to move, in page 25, line 16, at the end to insert: (2) The power of a local authority under paragraph (b) of section 2(1) of the Children Act 1948 to resolve that all rights and powers of a parent or guardian shall vest in them may be exercised, as well as in the cases mentioned in that paragraph, in any case where it appears to them—

  1. (a) that the parent or guardian suffers from a mental disorder (within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1959 or the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1960) which renders him unfit to have the care of the child; or
  2. (b) that the parent or guardian has so persistently failed without reasonable cause to discharge the obligations of a parent or guardian as to be unfit to have the care of the child;
and the power of the court or sheriff, under subsection (3) of that section, to order that the resolution shall not lapse may also be exercised if the court or sheriff is satisfied that the person who objected to the resolution is unfit to have the care of the child by reason of his persistent failure to discharge the obligations of a parent or guardian. This Amendment fulfils an undertaking which I gave to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). Its purpose is to extend in certain respects the grounds on which a local authority may assume parental rights over a child whom it has received into care under Section 1 of the 1948 Act. The hon. Member moved an Amendment in Standing Committee that had the same object, but I had to advise the Committee that it was technically imperfect. I hope that we have now got it technically perfect.

I will be pleased, if the House wishes, to explain the precise effect of the Amendment, but it may be that the hon. Member and the House will accept my assurance that it does what he was anxious to do, and what he persuaded me should be done when we discussed the matter in Standing Committee.

Mr. MacColl

I welcome the Amendment and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for having gone to some pains to get an Amendment which meets an important point which has been raised by children's committees in various parts of the country. It will strengthen their power to protect children from the misfortune of having parents who either are mentally unstable or fail to take any reasonable interest in the children. Therefore, I hope very much that the Amendment will be accepted.

Amendment agreed to.