§ 9 pm
'Children Act 1958 (c. 65)
1A. In section 7 of the Children Act 1958 (removal of foster children kept in unsuitable surroundings) for subsection (4) there shall be substituted the following subsection.
(4) A local authority may receive into their care under section fifteen of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (duty of local authority to provide for orphans, deserted children, etc), any child removed under this section, whether or not the circumstances of the child are such that they fall within paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (1) of the said section 15 and notwithstanding that he may appear to the local authority to be over the age of seventeen.".'.
§ This is a technical amendment to section 7(4) of the Children Act 1958, which now — following the enactment of the Foster Children Act 1980 for England and Wales— applies only to Scotland. The purpose of the amendment is to reinsert the original policy intention behind the section.
§ Section 7(4) empowers a local authority to receive into its care under section 15 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 any child who is privately fostered and who, in the view of the local authority, is kept in unsuitable surroundings. The amendment makes it clear that the local authority can do this whether or not the circumstances of the child are such that he would normally come within the categories of children who would be received into voluntary care. Section 7(4) originally applied that provision in relation to the Children Act 1948, but in subsequent amending legislation the powers of local, authorities in that respect were unintentionally narrowed.
§ This difficulty came to light during consideration of proposals to consolidate the law on private fostering in relation to Scotland. The amendment will pave the way for what I hope will be an early introduction of a consolidation Bill in this area.865
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. John MacKay
I beg to move amendment No. 31, in page 38, line 13, at end insert—'3A. In section 20 of that Act (duty of local authority to further the best interests of a child in their care)—
- (a) in subsection (1), for the words ", the local authority" there shall be substituted the words "or of a voluntary organisation, they";
- (b) in subsection (2), for the words "the local authority" there shall be substituted the word "they", and after the words "the local authority", there shall be inserted the words "or voluntary organisation"; and
- (c) in subsection (3), after the word "authority", there shall be inserted the words "or voluntary organisation", and for the words "section 17(3)" there be substituted the words "sections 17(3), 17(3A)".'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment No. 12.
§ Mr. MacKay
This amendment ensures that what is commonly called the welfare principle is applied by voluntary organisations in Scotland to their responsibilities for children in their care under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.
In essence, the welfare principle requires a local authority, when taking decisions about children in its care, to take the best interests of the child as the first consideration. At present, that applies only to local authorities. However, it is possible for a voluntary organisation to have children legally in its care under part II of the 1968 Act. It is now also possible for the parental rights and duties to be vested in such a voluntary organisation. It seems appropriate that any action by such a voluntary organisation should be governed by the welfare principle as is a local authority.
We have consulted bodies that represent various voluntary organisations in Scotland. They welcome the amendment, which simply puts into legislation what already happens as a matter of good practice. It achieves the same as the similar amendment that has been tabled for England and Wales, and I have much pleasure in moving it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 11, in page 45, line 46, at end insert—
'47A. The following section shall be substituted for section 21A of that Act—
"Use of accommodation for restricting liberty
21A.—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, a child in the care of a local authority may not be placed, and, if placed, may not be kept, in accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting liberty unless it appears—
(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations—
(3) It shall be the duty of a juvenile court before which a child is brought by virtue of this section to determine whether any relevant criteria for keeping a child in accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting liberty are satisfied in his case; and if a court determines that any such criteria are satisfied, it shall make an order authorising the child to be kept in such accommodation and specifying the maximum period for which he may be so kept.
(4) On any adjournment of a hearing under subsection (3) above a juvenile court may make an interim order permitting the child to be kept during the period of the adjournment in accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting liberty.
(5) An appeal shall lie to the Crown Court from a decision of a juvenile court under this section.
(6) A juvenile court shall not exercise the powers conferred by this section in respect of a child who is not legally represented in that court unless either—
(7) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide—
(8) The giving of an authorisation under this section shall not prejudice any power of any court in England and Wales or Scotland to give directions relating to the child to whom the authorisation relates.".'.
No. 12, in page 46, line 33 at end insert—
'51A. The following section shall be inserted after section 64 of that Act:—
"General duty of voluntary organisation in relation to children in their care.
64A. — (1) In reaching any decision relating to a child in their care, a voluntary organisation shall give first consideration to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child throughout his childhood; and shall so far as practicable ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child regarding the decision and give due consideration to them, having regard to his age and understanding.
(2) In providing for a child in their care a voluntary organisation shall make such use of facilities and services available for children in the care of their own parents as appears to the organisation reasonable in his case.".'.
No. 13, in page 47, line 4 leave out
'(2) of that Act (regulations and orders)'
'of that Act (regulations and orders)—
(a) in subsection (2),'
No. 14, in page 47, line 6 at end insert
`and (b)in subsection (4) after "11" there shall be inserted 21A". '—[Mr.John MacKay.]