Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland has today welcomed the Children and Families Bill as outlined today in the Queens Speech as part of the legislative plan of the UK Government over the next year.
The East Belfast MLA said, ‘Today in the Queen’s Speech it was outlined that the Coalition Government will be taking forward a Children and Families Care Bill. The Bill will cover a wide range of issues such as speedier adoptions, more flexibility as regards parental leave as well as ensuring decisions of the family courts on whether a child should be taken from their parents and placed in care are taken within six months. Families will also get more choice on education for pupils with special educational needs. However, perhaps the most important change would be that the law will be strengthened to make sure children continue to have a relationship with both parents if it is in their best interests.’
‘These proposals would only be applicable to England and Wales, however, I believe that family law in Northern Ireland is also in drastic need of a fundamental review. Family law currently resides within the Department of Finance and Personnel and a planned review has been delayed on number of occasions.’
‘I have met with several interested groups and hosted legal minds from London who have all expressed concerns over many aspects of family law in Northern Ireland. It is my opinion that the Finance Minister Sammy Wilson should consider the implications of the measures within the Queen’s speech and review the current legislation to ensure a two parent framework is recognised.”