HL Deb 10 December 1996 vol 576 c87WA
Earl Alexander of Tunis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a decision has been made on the future of the Children Act Advisory Committee.

The Lord Chancellor

On 14th May 1996, during the passage of the Family Law Bill through Parliament, I announced my intention to set up a new advisory board for five years to monitor the implementation of the Family Law Act 1996, and to advise the Lord Chancellor on issues arising from its implementation. The board will be appointed early in the new year; it will be inter-disciplinary, and its chairman will be independent of the court system. As a consequence, the Children Act Advisory Committee will cease to exist after July 1997.

The new body will be known as the Advisory Board on Family Law. It will report to the Lord Chancellor, and will deal—broadly speaking—with those aspects of family policy and law which are covered by the Family Law Act 1996 and fall within his departmental responsibility. Its precise terms of reference will include a remit to consider the overall impact of Children Act work within the family courts system. To provide continuity with the work of the Children Act Advisory Committee, the membership of the Advisory Board on Family Law will include a Family Division judge or a Court of Appeal judge with Family Division experience.

The network of Family Court Business Committees and Family Court Forums will continue to deal with operational aspects of Children Act work at local level. They will, as now, be able to refer policy issues to the Lord Chancellor, the Court Service, or the relevant Government department, as appropriate. At national level, the Children's Services Strategy Group, which was recently set up by the Secretary of State for Health, will have a wider role in co-ordinating the interests of government and other key agencies.