Children and Families Bill outlined in Queen's Speech
A Children and Families Bill was outlined by the Queen in Parliament today as part of her Queen’s Speech.
The Bill will be broad in scope and will impact adoption, family law and parental leave. It will form a central part of the Government's agenda for the next year.
The Bill will change the law to ensure that fathers will be given additional rights to see their children after a family break-up or divorce, as long as it’s in the child’s best interests.
The Bill will also introduce more flexible leave for new parents, allowing mothers and fathers to swap their parental leave after the arrival of a new child. New parents will also be able to request more flexible working hours to enable them to take a more active role in their child's upbringing.
On family law, there will be a new six month deadline for family courts to make a decision on whether a child should be taken from their parents and placed in care.
The Bill will also change the rules on adoption to make race considerations less important in order to encourage more children to be adopted.
All the changes will apply to England, but some such as flexible working will also apply to Scotland and Wales.
There was no mention of the Government’s plans to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, although Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone claimed this weekend that the Government’s plans in this respect would still be implemented by 2015.
Family values campaigners are still waiting for the Government to introduce tax breaks for married couples, a policy which was explicitly promised in the Coalition agreement yet seems to have faltered due to Lib Dem opposition.