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Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes scrutiny report on Children and Families Bill

Committee expresses concern as to effect on kinship care

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published its legislative scrutiny report on the Children and Families Bill which received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on the 2nd July.

With regard to adoption and looked after children, the Committee welcomes the Minister's reassurance that the Government does not intend kinship carers to be overlooked as a consequence of the clause in the Bill concerning fostering for adoption.  However, the Committee expresses concern that such may be the effect of the clause as the Bill is currently drafted; and it therefore welcomes the Minister's indication at Report Stage in the House of Commons that he is considering amending the clause.

The Committee is not satisfied that the Government has demonstrated by reference to evidence that the current statutory provision – that local authorities in matters of adoption must give due consideration to religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background – has led to delays in adoption of ethnic minority children and should be repealed.  It also concludes that removing from the legal framework any reference to "religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background" would be incompatible with Article 20(3) UNCRC, and therefore recommends that those considerations be added to the welfare checklist to which local authorities are required to have regard.

The Committee welcomes the reforms to the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England as significant human rights enhancing measures.  It however recommends that the Commissioner should be required to "promote and protect" the rights of children in the UNCRC rather than just "have regard" to the UNCRC. 

For the full report, please click here.