On 21st November 2013, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Benjamin asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to record whether or not an individual remanded in custody, or sentenced to prison, has any children. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister a little further. When a court is aware of a child whose parent is imprisoned and that child is in a vulnerable state, will he ensure that the court refers the child to the proper care of the local authority or a charity in the region where that child is living?
Lord McNally: I go back to what I would expect to be common sense in these areas. Courts already have a duty, in every case, to take account of any mitigating factors, including that the offender has primary care responsibilities for children or other dependants. However, it is important that the presence of such dependants is brought to the attention of the court. Again, I can only emphasise that the direction of travel we are going in is to try to make sure that the prison and court authorities are aware of their responsibilities and that they link up with the supporting organisations needed in these cases.