The government has suffered a defeat in the House of Lords over plans to allow councils to opt out of legal obligations to vulnerable children. Crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham successfully moved an amendment to delete a prominent clause of the bill designed to give ministers extensive powers to sidestep children’s legal rights built up over decades.
The government argued that council children's services departments were 'over-regulated' and that proposed powers in clause 29 of the bill would 'free them' to drive 'innovation in social work practice' and make services more efficient.
Peers voted 245-213 in favour of an amendment to scrap the clause in its entirety. They said ministers had failed to “win hearts and minds” and make a persuasive case for why the powers to strip away children’s rights were needed. The government must now decide whether it wants to re-insert the clause when the bill moves to the House of Commons, triggering the prospect of “ping-pong” between the two houses.