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David Willetts proposes new access rights for grandparents to their grandchildren

WILLETTS DAVID NW Today's Daily Mail has an interview with the party's spokesman on the family, David Willetts, in which he signals that the next Conservative Government would grant unprecedented rights to grandparents.

The paper summarises his plans:

"The law will be changed to ensure they do not lose contact with their grandchildren after a family separation, divorce or bereavement. They will also be put at the front of the custody queue if their grandchildren face being fostered or taken into care."

Grandparents currently have no access rights to their grandchildren after a couple break up and almost half reportedly face being cut off from them completely.

Mr Willetts tells the paper:

"Grandparents are fantastically important members of strong families and they do an increasing amount, particularly in terms of childcare. Lots of parents rely on the support they give. They also help with the family finances, where there are big flows of support from grandparents to parents and grandchildren.

"And, very interestingly, they are often a good source of advice for teenagers. There is fascinating research about which members of their family they would talk to about a problem, which showed grandparents often scoring above parents. But there's little or no recognition of the role of grandparents in the way the Government has constructed its family policy. A Conservative government would change that."

"The legal framework at the moment is that the interests of the child must come first and of course that is right. But we must improve the rights of grandparents to have access to children. The courts should at least have to consider whether there should be continuing legal rights to access in the event of family breakdown. It's also wrong that only half of local authorities have a policy that families should be considered as a first option before a child is fostered or taken into care. Grandparents must have a right to be the legal guardians of the child."

Jonathan Isaby


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