Hansard - Mrs Lewell-Buck:
"I apologise at the outset that my comments are rather long but they are entirely relevant to the Government’s new clauses. As I listened to the Minister, I hoped he would offer some clarity on a number of key issues that have rightly plagued these Government plans to allow councils to opt out of primary and secondary protective legislation for vulnerable children and young people. I want that sentence to sink in with the Committee for a moment."
"The Minister is asking us to approve a power that threatens vast swathes of hard-fought legislation that was carefully crafted in the proper way, rooted in robust evidence and consultation with the sector, children and families, often in the wake of tragedies and failures that should not have occurred, and that had cross-party commitment to better protect and provide for children and young people."
"Of course, not all children’s social care legislation has evolved because things have gone desperately wrong. Many statutory requirements in the care system, in leaving care and in support for families have emerged through creative practice and innovation, but I fear that after the Bill, innovation will be forever associated with the removal of legal protection. That does a terrible disservice to all the excellent projects, pilots and world-leading practice that have developed in children’s social care across the decades."
"The Minister is asking us to hand the Secretary of State unprecedented power to dispense with primary and secondary legislation without any prior Green or White Paper consultation, any public evidence sessions, as there should have been for such a radical change, or any evidence that any of the endangered legislation works against children’s welfare. Once an exemption or modification to the law has been authorised, the trials could last up to six years—that is a long time for a child reliant on the state for his or her care and protection."
"Our most vulnerable children are being used as guinea pigs. That is no exaggeration. Look at the transcript of the Lords debate that led to the first incarnation of these awful clauses being kicked out. These so-called innovation clauses were described several times by noble Lords, even those on the Government side, as an experiment. Do we really want to give consent to such high-risk experiments when local authorities are facing extreme funding pressures and increased demand? Nagalro warned in its evidence to the Committee:"
"Anything which helps spread the budget further is going to be greeted with great enthusiasm in County Hall. It also warned that the Bill risks introducing perverse incentives into a system already buckling under great strain."