Controversial plans to allow councils an exemption from their child protection duties have been thrown out by the House of Lords.
A clause in the still draft Children and Social Work Bill would have allowed the Secretary of State for Education to exempt selected local authorities for periods of three years or more from their legal responsibilities towards children in care and those living with foster families. The provisions would have allowed the government to explore the consolidation and outsourcing child protection services.
The plans were controversial, with human rights organisation Liberty saying they could undermine “essential protections” for vulnerable children.
Peers apparently took a similar view of clause 29, throwing it out by a majority of 245 to 213.
Campaign coalition Together for Children was formed to defend children’s rights during the bill’s progression through Parliament.
Spokesperson Caroline Willow welcomed the vote, saying it was “an incredibly strong affirmation of children’s rights and the unique role Parliament has in creating, revising and strengthening children’s law.”
The clause would have meant vulnerable children receiving different levels of protection depending on where they happen to live, she insisted, and peers had declared this “unacceptable”.
The bill now proceeds to a third reading in the House of Lords on 23 November.