COMMONS

New Inquiry: Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Children and Families Bill

12 September 2012

The Justice Select Committee, chaired by Sir Alan Beith, is undertaking pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft family justice clauses of the proposed Children and Families Bill as published on 3 September 2012, and the draft clauses to be published in the Autumn on shared parenting and enforcement of court orders.

The Committee is to report by the end of 2012 and is today issuing a call for evidence.

In 2011 the Committee produced a wide-ranging report on the Operation of the Family Courts, prompted by the Government’s proposals for the reform of legal aid,  changes to the joint-sponsorship of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), increasing mediation, and increasing media access to the family courts.  The Committee also wanted to provide democratic oversight of the Family Justice Review’s interim proposals.

The Committee wishes to build upon its previous work on family justice, and to consider the Government’s legislative response to the Family Justice Review’s final report.

Specifically, we will seek to explore:

Mediation:

a) The safeguards in place to ensure that domestic violence or other welfare issue cases are filtered out from the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting ("MIAM") system, and whether they will be effective;
b) The role of officers of the court in the MIAM process;
c) Are there any gaps in the process, and if so, who will fall through and what safeguards are needed?

Child arrangement orders:

d) What is the effect of the amendments to section 11A to 11P, is it simply a “shift in focus” to remove the perception of “winners and losers”?

Expert evidence:

e) Does the new test adequately safeguard against miscarriages of justice?
f) Are social workers receiving the support and training they need to meet this increased court role?

Time limits:

g) What progress has been made to achieve the 26 week limit?

Care plans:

h) Should the Judge’s role be restricted to considering only the permanence provisions of care plans?

Divorce:

i) Do the suggested provisions remove an important safeguard for children?

Enforcement and Shared parenting:

j) These clauses are yet to be published, but the Committee will consider them upon publication.  The Committee will be receiving responses made to the Department for Education’s consultation: Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation: Proposed Legislation on the Involvement of Both Parents in a Child's Life.  If you have contributed to that consultation there is no need to replicate your response unless you wish to highlight part of your response.

The deadline for submissions is: 19 October 2012

Call for evidence:

Written evidence should be in MS Word (no later than 2007) or rich text format (please do not send PDFs) with as little use of colour or logos as possible, and sent by email to [email protected].

The body of the email must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The email should also make clear who the submission is from.

Please be aware that the Justice Committee is unable to investigate individual cases.

Image: iStockphoto

Share this page