"The Children and Social Work Bill, currently proceeding through Parliament, could see local authorities freed from any legal responsibilities to children in care, both those living with foster families and those in residential homes, for a period of three years or more."
"According to the Government, the provisions will allow ministers to `test different ways of working`, and explore the alleged benefits of consolidating and outsourcing child protection services in different regions."
"Legal duties affected could include helping care leavers and investigating possible harm to children. Only some of the exemptions would need parliamentary approval."
"Campaigning organisations, including the Howard League for Penal Reform and Liberty, have condemned the idea as `dangerous`."
"Martha Spurrier, a director of human rights at Liberty, said the proposals would undermine `essential protections` honed over decades."
"Meanwhile the Labour Party raised the prospect of child protection services being outsourced to for-profit service firms."
"Education spokesman Lord Watson told MPs:"
"But a Department for Education spokesman insisted that the government was committed to `making sure every child has the best possible start in life` and this Bill will help to make this a reality."