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Trish_morrisBaroness Morris of Bolton is a Shadow Minister for Children, Schools & Families, as well as covering women’s issues and being a Whip in the House of Lords. A former Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for candidates, she stood out at Conservative Central Office as highly capable.

Yesterday she spoke about children.

The Government has agreed to place a duty on the UK Border Agency: along with its primary duty to secure our borders, it must protect children. (The Government has decided that instead of using the Children and Young Persons Bill, which only covers England and Wales, it will use the Immigration and Citizenship Bill.)

Baroness Morris remarked:

"I am delighted that the Government have looked so favourably on placing a duty on the UK Border Agency to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the exercise of its functions. The phrase that I used on Report was,

    “protecting a child from harm is not the same as promoting his welfare”.—[Official Report, 17/3/08; col. 31.]

It is a testament to the enormous support received throughout your Lordships’ House that the Government now agree.

Barnardo’s has voiced a number of concerns, which the Minister has addressed. However, we share with it one concern: that the transition between the code of practice to safeguard children, to be issued under Section 21 of the UK Borders Act 2007, which will be laid before Parliament shortly and come into effect in the new year, must take into account the new stated policy intention of promoting children’s welfare. There must be a seamless transition between the codes and the guidance for staff working on the ground.

I said that the Bill has seen true cross-party co-operation. We on these Benches have been encouraged by the Government’s constructive approach. We look forward to the outcome of the pilot social care practice schemes, and hope that positive findings will be acted on in due course. We of course welcome the greater support offered for disabled children and their parents, and the greater emphasis that is to be placed on family fostering and fostering closer to home.

As the Minister said, we must do all we can to ensure that children do not enter the care system in the first place. We have taken important steps towards this goal in the Bill."

Baroness Morris is surrendering her position as Opposition spokesperson for children and families at the end of this parliamentary Session. Her advocacy on these issues will be missed.

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