HC Deb 10 December 1964 vol 703 cc1792-3
2. Mr. Abse

asked the Attorney-General how many prosecutions have taken place in the last five years for breaches of Section 40 and Section 50 of the Adoption Act, 1958, requiring prospective adopters of children to give notice that they have received a child into care and prohibiting any reward being made in consideration of an adoption; whether he is aware that private nursing homes are arranging adoptions in breach of Section 50; and whether he will cause prosecutions to be initiated in such cases.

The Attorney-General

Information about the number of prosecutions brought in the last five years under Sections 40 and 50 of the Adoption Act, 1958, is not available. I have no evidence that would justify the institution of proceedings under Section 50 in connection with adoptions arranged by private nursing homes. I f my hon. Friend will let me have any evidence in his possession which suggests that offences have been committed against this Act, I will, of course, see that it is considered by the appropriate authorities. In view of the terms of my hon. Friend's Question, I should add that Section 40 of the Act does not require prospective adopters of children to give notice that they have received a child into care.

Mr. Abse

When considering the material to which I will direct the Attorney-General's attention, would my right hon. and learned Friend note that prominent officials and responsible officials of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child have emphasised that there are in existence in London nursing homes which are charging unmarried mothers uneconomic prices in order to attract them into these homes so that they can transfer the children to third parties? Therefore, would my right hon. and learned Friend give special care to this type of offence in order to prevent the traffic in babies which the Adoption Acts are designed to prevent?

The Attorney-General

I will give very careful attention to and require any evidence of breaches of the Act which may emerge from the information available to be dealt with by the appropriate authorities as soon as I am in receipt of the information.

Mr. Paget

If this brings about successful adoptions and happy homes for children, what is wrong with it?

The Attorney-General

What is wrong with it is that there should be no trafficking in the processes of adoption. The mischief is in making money out of the arrangements for adoption. There is nothing wrong whatsoever in adoptions so long as they are not done for reward.