The House of Lords will tomorrow have its final day of the Children and Familes Bill at Report Stage. As Lord Mike Storey, who has led for the Lib Dems on the Bill, writes here, it is a Lib Dem Bill through and through and one which everybody in the party should be proud of
TOMORROW sees the final day of the Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Lords. This Bill has been a long process and so I wanted to use this opportunity to explain some of the great things we have achieved in the Bill which Liberal Democrats can be proud to support.
I should start by saying that, at its very core, this is a Lib Dem Bill. The main provisions of the Bill come out of Sarah Teather’s time as Children’s Minister, it was added to by Jo Swinson and Vince Cable, and MPs and peers in Parliament have been able to improve it even further.
I want to focus on the many changes Lib Dem peers have made to the Bill, but before I do it’s worth mentioning that the main aim of the legislation is to fundamentally reform the way we treat children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Under the Bill, for the very first time, these young people will receive a package of support which brings together an assessment of their educational, health and social care needs into one support plan delivered by local authorities, called an EHC Plan. For any parent with children with SEN who has had to wage war on all these different fronts, with different officials and bureaucratic processes, this change cannot come soon enough.
The Bill also overhauls our adoption and fostering system to make it easier to children and young people to be adopted into loving families, and introduces the Lib Dem flagship policy of shared parental leave – so that families can choose how they split their time, rather than the outdated assumption which is currently made that women will stay at home to look after the kids.