Harrying the government in questions
Two interchanges from yesterdayJohn Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD):
The Government have caused a number of problems by conflating section 31 and section 20, but will they commit to listening to the voices of children who say that they want to leave care and return to their parents? I know of cases where children have run away from care to go back to their parents, only to be returned time and again. Will the Government start listening to the voices of children who want to return to their parents?Kevin Brennan:
It is the principle the Government follow that wherever possible children should remain with their birth family. It is absolutely legitimate to make criticisms and to look into the issues raised by children in care and adoption, but what is not legitimate is—sometimes in pursuit of a headline in a popular newspaper—to accuse the Government, professionals in the social care sector, local authorities, and indeed the courts, of not trying to act in the best interests of children, which is what the system is designed to do.=============================================================
There are a number of points behind this question. There is an assumption in government that the Public Family Law system works. It doesn't. Salma's story which has been in the The Campden Journal recently shows how badly it works for children in care who know they shouldn't be there, but are returned time and time again until in her case she died.
Secondly the government mix up all the different categories of children in care. That means they cannot produce many proper policy conclusions.=============================================================John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD):
As an ex-cub, scout, venture scout and assistant scout leader, I welcome the recognition of the importance of scouting in its centenary year and hope that funding follows.
The Minister will be aware that I am concerned that children are inappropriately put into care and that research demonstrates that 70 per cent. of children return to their parents when they escape from the control of the state at the age of 16. I am particularly concerned about deaths of children in care, particularly one that occurred in the Trafford local authority area earlier this year. We must ask why arbitrary bureaucratic rules prevent children in care from making toast for each other but do not allow people to prevent them from acting as youth prostitutes. Will she look into the treatment of children in care, including the activities they are allowed to be involved in?Beverley Hughes:
As an ex-Akela, I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of scouting.
It is very important that children in care are firmly included in the opportunities that the strategy is making available to all young people. In our White Paper, we proposed dedicated sums of money for each child in care to be spent in conjunction with them to give them access to extended activities through schools and in the community. The attributes that I talked about are particularly important for the most disadvantaged young people, many of whom end up in the care system.
Note the effective way in which Ms Hughes doesn't answer the question at all. She doesn't handle the issue of the views of children in care and she doesn't engage with the issue of children that die in care (as did a baby earlier this year in the care of Trafford).