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Prime Minister Responds on Adoption

Q6. [163661] John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): In England in 2006, 4,160 children under five were taken into care and more than 60 per cent. of them—2,490—were adopted. However, in Scotland 574 left care and 373, roughly 64 per cent., went home to their parents. Can the Prime Minister explain why in England children under five who leave care get adopted, while in Scotland they go home to their parents?

The Prime Minister: Social work legislation in the two countries is, of course, different. I shall look at the figures that the hon. Gentleman has put before me. But as is known, we have made strenuous efforts to try to ensure that children in difficulty are given the proper upbringing, whether that is by returning to their parents or, where it is essential, by being fostered or adopted. I will continue to look at the matter, but the hon. Gentleman has to understand that social work practice in the two countries is different.

This does go to the nub of the issue. What is so different between parents in England and Parents in Scotland that means that it is "essential" for under 5s to get adopted in in England, but they can go home to their parents in Scotland.


watchdog said…
Children taken into care in England as the base figure can not be directly compared to leaving care in Scotland country as a percentage. There may be a larger number of children taken into care in Scotland in 2006 than left care. In which case the percentages could different. Take care before you ridicule a sound case.
John Hemming said…
It is a reasonable comparison. The key test is whether fewer children are abused as a result (difficult to get figures for apart from deaths).

It is possible to make a number of England/Scotland comparisons. The population ratio gives one way of doing this.
Interlocutor said…
As is stated in the Prime Minister's response the systems in England and Scotland are different. If the criteria for being taken care are different, then it may well be the case that in England only the most severe cases of abuse and neglect result in children being removed into care. It follows that fewer of these children would ever be allowed to return home, and be placed for adoption.
This is of course only conjecture.
John Hemming said…
There are a number of potential comparisons. It is reasonable to compare populations. It is also reasonable to see 3x the number per capita of adoptions from care in England vs Scotland.
Rupert Edwards said…
"The Prime Minister responds on adoption".
In last night's "Tonight" programme on ITV, there was a suggestion that one of the reasons for the Nothumberland County Council's decision to take away Fran Lyon's baby as soon as it is born is that it would improve their adoption figures against targets set by Whitehall.

I would suggest that this is a more kindly interpretation of the County Council's proposed action, which has been thwarted at least for the moment by Fran have fled abroad. I would be tempted to use the terms"vindictive" and "diabolical" in the same context.

There would appear to be no shread of evidence that Fran is likely to endanger her baby, whom she has named "Molly". Indeed, the expert psychiatrist, retained by the Social Services Department, is believed to have advised that, given the lack of evidence that her {previous} personality disorder would translate to Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, she should be supervised in a mother and baby unit and allowed to bond and breastfeed the baby. Whilst it is understood that Fran has volunteered to do this but she has not been offered this opportunity. Two other psychiatrists have also indicated that they concur that there is no evidence to suggest that she would develop the condition.

It is not good enough for Northumberland County Council to maintain their stance of secrecy and confidentiality. They have to explain why, other than on the grounds of cost (and places in Mother and Baby Units are expensive), they are not prepared to go along with their own expert's advice, if they wish to retain the confidence of the public that yet another miscarriage of justice, comparable to the Clark and Canning cases, is not to be perpetrated.

The sad thing is that, in the present situation, Fran and her baby will not be able to obtain the support of family and friends.

Rupert Edwards

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