Today, a debate was held in the House of Commons following a campaign by NYAS and other children’s rights groups. Ahead of the debate NYAS briefed hundreds of MPs from all parties, and our briefing can be read here. The motion, presented by Shadow Secretary of State for Education Rebecca Long-Bailey, called for the immediate withdrawal of Statutory Instrument 445.
MPs voted on the motion at the end of the debate, and it was defeated by 260 votes to 123.
Within the debate, Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford defended SI 445, stating that “These are intended to support local authorities and providers but do not remove any fundamental protections. Local authorities still have a duty to safeguard any child they look after. We’ve made no changes to primary legislation.”
Concerns were echoed by MPs across the house, with Ruth Jones and Emma Lewell-Buck delivering powerful messages about the impact of SI 445 on care-experienced children and young people living in England. Emma-Lewell Buck said “I can’t imagine a single social worker, having been one myself, who would allow any child that they work with to be put at harm in this way.”
Former Children’s Minister Tim Loughton expressed a number of concerns, but said he would still vote against the motion. He noted that “too often the phrase ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ comes up” within the regulations.
One call across the house was for the Minister to “think again”, said by both Ruth Jones and Kim Johnson during the debate. Jim Shannon added that “time has brought perspective, but it has also shown us that some of the regulations are not the best way of doing things.” Many cited the Children’s Commissioner’s calls for the withdrawal of SI 445.
A key message came from Janet Daby who asked the house “We’ve come so far with children’s rights, why are we going backwards?”, quoting Charlotte, a care leaver who supports NYAS as a campaign’s adviser. Daby went on to say “Young people in care and those entering care are the ones who are directly affected by this legislation. It is the same young people that have been denied a say, as their rights have been ripped away.”
The full debate is available online here.
Follow our twitter commentary of the debate here.
Rita Waters, NYAS Chief Executive, said “We are deeply disappointed by the result of today’s vote in parliament, but want to thank the MPs who stood up today in defence of children’s rights. We will continue campaigning until this legislation is withdrawn and rights are restored to the children we work with. Statutory Instrument 445 will remain under review until late September, during which time we urge the government to withdraw it at the earliest opportunity.”