South Shields MP’s joy over amendments to children’s rights bill

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
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South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck says she is delighted ministers have made a U-turn on a bill dubbed a ‘bonfire of children’s rights’.

The government is backing down over key parts of the Children and Social Work Bill that would have let local councils set aside children’s rights, after an intervention by Lord Laming - chairman of the Victoria Climbie inquiry.

He met Education Secretary Justine Greening to outline opposition to the changes and she is now understood to have agreed to back an opposition amendment.

The amendment, tabled by Labour, is due to be added to the bill when it goes into report stage in the House of Commons this week.

Mrs Lewell-Buck, who is shadow children’s minister, is pleased with the changes

She said: “From the outset the proposals to allow local authorities to opt out of vast swathes of legislation that protects our most vulnerable children have been met with alarm from social workers, the judiciary, the Lords, a collective of over 50 organisations with extensive child protection experience and a number of experienced experts.

“In these proposals the voices of the sector and children were ignored, the legislation was poorly drafted, and the policy was ill thought out with no evidential basis or robust consultation backing it up.

“While I am pleased that the Secretary of State has added her name to Labour’s amendments, there are serious questions to be asked about the Government’s judgement and understanding of child protection.

“Ministers have been willing to conduct an ideological experiment with the basic rights of our most vulnerable children.”