Merits Committee Call for Evidence

draft Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007

CALL FOR EVIDENCE

Urgent invitation to comment by Monday 2 July 2007

The Committee has decided to take evidence on the draft Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007. The draft Regulations set out proposals for the establishment and operation of a database - ContactPoint - under section 12 of the Children Act 2004. The Regulations place a requirement on local authorities to participate in the operation of the database; specify what information will be held, who must or can provide it, and how long it can be retained; who can be granted access; and how accuracy will be maintained.

In laying these Regulations before Parliament, DfES have stated:

"ContactPoint is a key element of the Government's Every Child Matters programme to transform children's services, by supporting more effective prevention and early intervention, to ensure that children get the additional services they need as early as possible. The goal is to improve the five outcomes for children set out in the document "Every Child Matters: Change for Children ": being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution; and achieving economic well-being. ContactPoint aims to improve the experience of public services for all children, young people and families. It will enable practitioners across education, health, social care, youth justice and the voluntary sector to find out who else is working with a child or young person so that they can, where appropriate, work together to deliver better coordinated support."

The purpose of the evidence session is to inform the House about:

€ how ContactPoint will work in practice; and

€ how aims to achieve its objective

so that the House and Committee can most effectively scrutinise the merits of the statutory instrument. The purpose is not necessarily to challenge the decisions but to improve the House's understanding of the way that ContactPoint will work.

The Committee will take oral evidence from officials of the DfES on Tuesday 10 July. In addition, the Committee hereby invites written evidence by 20.00 on Monday 2 July 2007.

Those submitting evidence may, within their submission, wish to answer the following questions, but witnesses should only answer the questions where they wish to contribute and should not feel obliged to answer every question. Witnesses are welcome to address different issues in their submission if they consider that the Committee has omitted a significant issue from this call for evidence.

Given the timescale, submissions must be concise: they should be no longer that 4 sides of A4 and should be set out in numbered paragraphs. Please note that any information that you provide may be published.

Questions

Please briefly summarise the characteristics of your organisation and the interest that you represent (if any).

(1) Objective: do you think that ContactPoint, as now proposed, will adequately achieve its declared aim of "supporting more effective prevention and early intervention, to ensure that children get the additional services they need as early as possible"? If so, can you exemplify the benefits that your organisation sees from ContactPoint? If not, can you explain any reservations that you may have?

(2) Consultation: DfES have published a summary of responses to the consultation process which they carried out between September and December 2006. See: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conResults.cfm?consultationId=1431

This shows that many respondents commented that the Regulatory Impact Assessment in that consultation process did not correctly identify all stakeholders, and that in particular that the RIA did not assess the risks to children, young people and their families (CYPF), or the impact on their privacy, of ContactPoint. DfES have made it clear that they do not agree with these comments. Do you think that the interests of CYPF have been adequately taken into account in the proposals for ContactPoint? Can you set out the reasons for your views on this issue?

(3) Implementation: Once the Regulations have been approved, DfES intend to take forward national implementation of ContactPoint. Do you think that preparations for implementation are adequate, e.g., in the areas of training for those who will use ContactPoint, and of communication about the system?

How to submit your evidence

The deadline for submitting written evidence is 20.00 on Monday 2 July. Evidence and inquiries should be addressed to:

The Clerk

Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

House of Lords

London SW1A 0PW

Telephone 020-7219 8821, facsimile 020 7219 2571, email [email protected]

The submission should be signed and dated, together with a note of the author's name and status and of whether the evidence is submitted on an individual or corporate basis. Submissions must be no longer that 4 sides of A4 and should be set out in numbered paragraphs. Electronic copy (MS Word 2002) should be supplied by email to [email protected] Annexes may be submitted but may not be published.

€ Witnesses may publicise their written evidence themselves, but in doing so must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.

€ Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed or circulated by the Committee at any stage. If your evidence is not printed, it will in due course be made available to the public in the House of Lords Records Office.

€ Personal contact details supplied to the Committee will be removed from evidence before publication and from the copy deposited in the Records Office. However, personal contact details will be retained by the Committee Office and used for specific purposes relating to the Committee's work, for instance to seek additional information or to send copies of the Committee's Report.

€ Material from your submissions may be used in the oral questioning of witnesses in public at Westminster: transcripts of such sessions are published.