Lords debates Children's Homes regulations
19 June 2019
On Tuesday 18 June, members of the Lords agreed a regret motion against the Children's Homes etc. Inspection Fees, Childcare Fees, Adoption and Children Act Register (Amendment) Regulations 2019.
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This statutory instrument (SI) revokes the duty of adoption agencies to provide information to the government on children approved for adoption and prospective adopters who have not yet been matched.
The regret motion was proposed by Lord Russell of Liverpool (Crossbench), governor of the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, on the grounds that the regulations fail to:
- put forward satisfactory evidence to justify these decisions
- offer clarification and a timetable on the replacement of the Adoption Register, the previous operating contract having ended on 31 March 2019
- explain how the government intend to mitigate the risk of reduced provision for children who may be harder to place with an adopter.
Following the debate on the floor on the House, the regret motion was put to a vote. 217 members were in favour, with 132 against, and so the regret motion was agreed to.
This regret motion cannot stop the regulations, but has provided the opportunity for the House to put its concerns on record.
Lord Agnew of Oulton (Conservative), parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Education, responded on behalf of the government.
How do these regulations become law?
These regulations are subject to the negative procedure for SIs, meaning they would not normally be debated unless a member objects.
These regulations were laid before Parliament on 9 April 2019, and their provisions are expected to come into force in their entirety on 1 September 2019.
Children's Homes etc. Inspection Fees, Childcare Fees, Adoption and Children Act Register (Amendment) Regulations 2019 summary
These regulations aim to:
- increase the level of certain fees payable to the Chief Inspector and head of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) by certain schools, agencies and establishments and to lower the threshold for the higher fee for residential special schools and children's homes
- extend regulations brought into force in 2008 allowing childcare providers who operate less than four hours a day to pay a lower annual fee to the Chief Inspector until 31 August 2021
- revoke the duty on adoption agencies to provide information to the government (which will not be maintaining an Adoption Register from 1 April 2019) on children for whom an adoption agency is considering adoption.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) examines every SI. It publishes reports drawing members' attention to SIs.
Further correspondence, including a letter to the committee from Nadhim Zahawi MP, parliamentary under-secretary of state for children and families in the Department for Education, was published in a subsequent report on 5 June 2019:
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