§ [Nos. 147 to 164]
§ Clause 58, page 36, line 41, leave out from beginning to end of line 36 on page 37 and insert—
§ Resolution by local authority in respect of assumption and vesting of parental rights and powers
§ ("16.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, a local authority may resolve—
- (a) that there shall vest in them the relevant parental rights and powers with respect to any child who is in their care under section 15 of this Act; or
- (b) that there shall vest in a voluntary organisation which is an incorporated body, or a trust within the meaning of section 2(a) of the Trusts (Scotland) Act 1921, the relevant parental rights and powers with respect to any child who is in the care of that organisation,
- (i) that the parents of the child are dead and that he has no guardian; or
- (ii) that there exists in respect of a parent or guardian of the child (the said parent or guardian being hereafter in this Part of this Act referred to as the person on whose account the resolution was passed) and of the circumstances specified in subsection (1A) of this section; or
- (iii) that a resolution under this subsection is in force in terms of sub-paragraph (ii) above in relation to one parent of the child and that parent is, or is likely to become a member of the household comprising the child and his other parent; or
- (iv) that throughout the three years preceding the passing of the resolution the child has been in the care of a local authority under section 15 of this Act, or in the care of a voluntary organisation or partly the one and partly the other.
- (a) has abandoned the child; or
- (b) suffers from some permanent disability rendering him incapable of caring for the child; or
- (c) while not falling within paragraph (b) of this subsection, suffers from a mental disorder (within the meaning of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1960) which renders him unfit to have the care of the child; or
- (d) is of such habits or mode of life as to be unfit to have the care of the child; or
- (e) 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."").
§ page 37, line 41, after ("13") insert ("or (Adoption of children abroad)")
§ page 37, line 44, leave out ("under paragraph (a)") and insert ("by virtue of circumstances specified in sub-paragraph (i)")
§ page 38, line 1, leave out ("under paragraph (b)") and insert ("by virtue of circumstances specified in sub-paragraph (ii)")
§ page 38, line 5, leave out ("under paragraph (c)") and insert ("by virtue of circumstances specified in sub-paragraph (iii)"
§ page 38, line 9, leave out ("under paragraph (d)") and insert ("by virtue of circumstances specified in sub-paragraph (iv)")
page 38, line 11, at end insert—
("(2A) A local authority shall not pass a resolution under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section unless—
§ page 38, line 12, leave out ("paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of")
§ page 38, line 13, at end insert ("by virtue of circumstances specified in sub-paragraph (ii), (iii) or (iv) thereof".)
§ page 38, line 16, after ("authority") insert ("or in the voluntary organisation, as the case may be,")
§ page 39, line 10, leave out ("(b), (c) or (d)")
§ page 39, line 10, after ("section") insert ("by virtue of circumstances specified in subparagraph (ii), (iii) or (iv) thereof")
page 39, line 23, leave out subsection (9) and insert—
("(9) A resolution under this section shall cease to have effect if—
page 39, line 32, leave out subsection (10) and insert—
("(10) If the whereabouts of any parent or guardian of a child have remained unknown for twelve months, and throughout that period the child has been in the care of a local authority under section 15 of this Act, or in the care of a voluntary organisation, or partly the one and partly the other, then for the purposes of this section that parent or guardian shall be deemed to have abandoned the child.")
§ page 39, line 41, leave out ("paragraph (d)") and insert ("sub-paragraph (iv)")
§ page 39, line 43, leave out ("paragraph") and insert ("sub-paragraph")
§ page 39, line 46, leave out subsection (12).
§ After Clause 58, insert the following new Clause—
§ Duty of local authority in Scotland to assume parental rights and powers vested in a voluntary organisation.
§ "Duty of local authority to assume parental rights and powers vested in a voluntary organisation.
§ 16A.—(1) If it appears to a local authority, having regard to the interests of the welfare of a child living within their area, the parental rights and powers in respect of whom are by virtue of a resolution under section 16(1)(b) of this Act (hereafter in this section referred to as "the earlier resolution") vested in a voluntary organization, that it is necessary that the said parental rights and powers should no longer be vested in the organization, the local authority shall resolve that the said parental rights and powers shall vest in them; and the said parental rights and powers shall vest from the date of the resolution under this subsection.
§ (2) The local authority shall, within seven days of passing a resolution under subsection (1) of this section, by notice in writing inform—
- (a) the organisation who but for that resolution; and
- (b) any person, in so far as that person's whereabouts are known to them, who, but for that resolution and the earlier resolution,
§ (3) On a summary application being made for the determining of a resolution under subsection (1) of this section by a person who but for that resolution and the earlier resolution would have the parental rights and powers in respect of the child, the sheriff having jurisdiction where the applicant resides may order that—
- (a) the resolution under subsection (1) of this section shall continue to have effect; or
- (b) the resolution under subsection (1) of this section shall cease to have effect and that the earlier resolution shall again take effect; or
- (c) the resolution under subsection (1) of this section shall cease to have effect and that the parental rights and powers in respect of the child shall again vest in the applicant; or
- (d) the resolution under subsection (1) of this section shall continue to have effect, but that either for a fixed period or until the sheriff, or if the order so provides, the local authority, otherwise directs, the local authority shall allow the care of the child to he taken over by, and the child to be under the control of, the applicant.
§ (4) In hearing an application under subsection (3) of this section the sheriff may consider whether there was any ground for the making of the earlier resolution, and if he is satisfied that there was no ground for the making of that earlier resolution he shall make an order under subsection (3)(c) of this section.
§ (5) In this section "the parental rights and powers" means all the rights and powers in relation to the child which in accordance with the earlier resolution were vested in the voluntary organisation.
§ (6) While a resolution under subsection (1) of this section is in force with respect to a child, the child shall be deemed to have been received into and to be in the care of the local authority by virtue of section 15 of this Act, and subsections (2) to (5) of that section shall apply accordingly; except that where the earlier resolution was passed by virtue of circumstances specified in sub-paragraph (ii), (iii) or (iv) of subsection (1) of section 16 of this Act, that part of subsection (3) of section 15 of this Act from the words "and nothing in this section shall authorize" onwards shall not apply in relation to the person who but for the earlier resolution and the resolution under subsection (1) of this section, would have the parental rights and powers in relation to the child.
§ (7) Subsection (9)(a), (b) and (c) of section 16, subsection (3) and (4) to (9) of section 17 and subsections (1), (2). (4) and (4A) of section 18 of this Act shall apply to a resolution under this section as they apply to a resolution under section 16(1)(a) of this Act.1302
§ (8) A notice served by a local authority under subsection (2) of this section shall not be duly served by post unless it is sent by registered post or recorded delivery service.".")
§ Lord WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords. I think your Lordships have in fact had notice of these misprints and so on in reasonable time to enable your Lordships to make certain you have a clear picture of the intentions of the Government in this matter. In addition to Amendment No. 147 I should like to move a very large number of other Amendments which all relate to the same subject, which is the assumption of parental rights in Scotland. I should like to move en bloc Nos. 147 to 164, and speak to Nos. 166, 167 and 286. It may seem a large number but we are reaching a point in the Bill when we have cleared the main matters of principle and arc now just clearing up detail.
Amendments Nos. 147 to 164, 166, 167 and 286 make provisions for Scotland as regards the vesting of parental rights in a voluntary organisation in circumstances where parental rights could be assumed by a local authority in accordance with Section 16(1) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 at present. The Scottish provisions, although differing in form from those applying to England and Wales—and we discussed these in relation to Amendments Nos. 126, 129, 305 and 306—produce the same result. I do not think—at least I hope I need not think—that I need trouble your Lordships with a detailed explanation of the differences in the Scottish approach, which I can assure the House relate essentially to matters of drafting and presentation.
It may be helpful however if I refer to the Scottish position generally and mention those aspects of the new provisions which are of particular importance for Scotland given the position of voluntary child care bodies there. Although the Scottish voluntary bodies make extensive provision for children in need of residential care in Scotland, those children who are accommodated in homes of this kind are generally, though not invariably, in the statutory care of local authorities. Thus the local authority is responsible financially, and the voluntary body is reimbursed for its expenditure in caring for the child. Decisions of a day-to-day character would be taken 1303 by the staff of the home, but decisions of major consequence for the child would be referred either to the local authority or in certain cases, where this was desirable and practical, to the parents themselves. Even if we include children boarded out under arrangements made by voluntary bodies, it remains true that only in relatively few cases are children completely in the care of the voluntary body in Scotland, with no local authority involved financially or in some other way.
Present practice apart. I am sure that the new provisions will be welcomed in Scotland as adding to the ways in which the voluntary and statutory child care agencies can co-operate in providing a child care service of the greatest practical benefit to children who, for whatever reason, are bereft of the parental care which they require. One need think only of children in long-term care where a voluntary agency might wish to have total responsibility for a child and be willing to accept financial responsibility. The differences in terminology between the present set of provisions and those for England and Wales derive largely from existing variations between the wording of Section 2 of the Children Act 1948 and Section 16 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 under which parental rights are assumed by local authorities in England and Wales and Scotland respectively. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(Lord Winterbottom.)
§ Baroness ELLIOT of HARWOOD
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his explanation. There are many Amendments, and it is difficult to go into them in detail. I am entirely in agreement with the general principles that the noble Lord has enunciated. The voluntary organisations in Scotland are valuable and useful and of long standing. The social work departments and agencies of local authorities are very well developed and play a great part in the lives of deprived children, children in care and adopted children. It is difficult to compare these Amendments with the Bill that was sent by your Lordships' House to the other place; a great number of changes have been made. I assume that the changes cover the reorganisation of 1304 clauses or drafting matters and that they do not represent any change in principle or in the way of dealing with the subject. No doubt the changes make matters simpler from the point of view of an Act of Parliament and do not change the way in which we handle adoption and child care.
One point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was that adoption societies should be registered with the Secretary of State. The suggestion was very well received and I take it that it is included in the reorganisation. The suggestion was agreed to in this House, and I am quite sure that it has not been altered in the other place. Those matters apart, I approve entirely of these Amendments.
§ Lord WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, regarding the last point the noble Baroness has raised, about the role of the Secretary of State, I think that her assumption is correct. If it is not. I will let her know. It seems to me that this is a question of bringing into harmony two different Acts—the Children Act 1948 and the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. Indeed, this is confirmed by the pigeon post! The changes deal only with the new situation of vesting rights in voluntary organisations and any changes in existing provisions; they are not fundamental changes.