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Amendment Of Enactments

Volume 78: debated on Thursday 2 May 1985

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I beg to move amendment No. 54, in page 43, line 43, at end insert—

'The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 (c. 62)
20A. In section 3(5) (which defines the terms "parent" and "child") after the word "guardian" there shall be inserted the words "and any person who has the actual custody of a child".'.
This ensures that the provisions in new section 3B of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980—which is concerned with children detained in connection with terrorism and which is inserted by clause 35—cover the case where the detained child is living with someone who is not his parent or guardian.

As these provisions must be consistent with those relating to children detained under the 1980 Act for other offences, the change is achieved by amending the general definition of "parent" in section 3(5) of the 1980 Act to include both guardians and persons who have actual custody.

This matter repeatedly arises in one form or another in our surgeries, particularly in new towns. How will the amendment help the problem of single parents?

With respect, I do not see that there is so much a problem with single parents. We are concerned with the cases in which it may be more difficult to identify not just one or other parent, but any parents at all. It is for that reason that we want to say that there should be not just the word "parent" or "guardian" but the phrase

"and any person who has the actual custody of a child".
A child may be living habitually with someone other than his parents or guardian. We want to ensure that there is an opportunity of intimation to that person. In view of discussions that we had in Committee, I should have thought that that change would be considered desirable by everyone.

Does that help the problem of parents having access and seeing grandparents? It is difficult to do it in telescope form, but can the hon. and learned Gentleman address the matter?

We are dealing with a special situation which, I hope, will seldom happen, if ever, in Scotland, where children are arrested for terrorism offences. It applies only in those exceptional circumstances. Clearly, some provision has to be made for giving intimation to the parents. The particular problem which was underlined in Committee, and which I promised to look at again, was where the child did not have a readily identifiable parent, and was living with someone else. In those circumstances, the arrangement for intimation to that person is now provided for.

Amendment agreed to.