Parliament's Education Committee yesterday voted down secondary legislation aimed at providing state funded lawyers for vulnerable adults at hearings.

Labour complained it could see panel hearings become more "legalistic and adversarial" at the expense of children's needs - but faced claims of "playing politics" with the issue.

The measures have been in place since June and Government says that reversing them will leave it in breach of human rights legislation.

Concerns were prompted when Gerard McEneany, chair of the Children's Panel Chairman's Group, wrote to the committee last week calling for the measure to be rejected over a lack of consultation and instead included in a forthcoming Bill on children's hearings.

Labour and Lib Dem members joined forces to annul the measure by four votes to three with the Nationalists voting against. Tory Liz Smith abstained.

However, the measure will now have to go before a full vote in Parliament.

Adults who appear before the panels are usually the parents of the youngster involved in a case.

The order, the Children's Hearings (Legal Representation) (Scotland) Amendment Rules 2009, was drawn up after a case at the Court of Session involving a parent with the language ability of a six-year-old.

The Government accepted it should fund her legal representation and to other mentally challenged adults, although no judgment has yet been issued.

Children's Minister Adam Ingram said that the extension to state funded representation would only cover about 250 cases a year.