Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes report welcoming Bill enhancing children’s rights, but calls for England to follow Scottish and Welsh example of duty to have due regard to children's rights.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has welcomed the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill as including significant enhancements of the rights of children in England and Wales, but recommends that Parliament take the opportunity presented by the Bill to enhance the protection of children’s rights.
England should follow the example of Scotland and Wales by introducing a duty on public authorities to have due regard to children’s rights when exercising their functions relating to safeguarding and the welfare of children.
In light of evidence that the Scottish and Welsh duties have had a clear impact on the extent to which children’s rights are considered in the law and policy making process in those jurisdictions, and ongoing concerns that such assessments are often not carried out in England in relation to laws and policies having a significant impact on children, and having considered the practical implications for public authorities, the Committee concluded that an equivalent duty should be introduced in England. It recommends an amendment to the Bill which will be tabled for consideration at the Bill’s Report stage in the House of Lords on Tuesday 18 October.
The Committee's Report also welcomes Government amendments to the Bill which impose a duty on local authorities to offer support to care leavers, rather than wait for it to be requested, and which introduce important safeguards on the new power for the Secretary of State to provide exemptions from and modifications of children's social care legislation.
The Committee's Report also recommends some amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill and reports on the Committee’s work on the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill.