§ Lords amendment: No. 46, in page 63, line 29, at end insert—"(b) a birth parent;"
§ Jacqui Smith
I beg to move amendment (a) to the Lords amendment, in line 2, leave out "birth".
Amendment No. 46 was a Liberal Democrat amendment accepted by the Government on Third Reading in another place on the understanding that we would need to table a technical correction in the House of Commons. The effect of amendment No. 46 is to insert "birth parents" into the list in proposed new section 14F(2) of people whose needs for special guardianship support a local authority may—or, if the Secretary of State requires, must—assess on request. We have said previously that we could use the power in proposed new subsection (2)(c) to prescribe other people who may be assessed, which would be a means of including birth parents. We are, however, sympathetic to the suggestion that we should provide a signal in the legislation that we anticipate that birth parents are likely to be key recipients of special guardianship support services, which is why we agreed the amendment. However, the term "birth parent" is not one used in the Children Act, so we need to correct it to "parent". The amendment will thereby achieve the intention behind amendment No. 46, as the term "parent" will be given its natural meaning—the child's birth parents, or, in the case of adopted children under special guardianship orders, their adoptive parents. I hope that Members will recognise that that addresses the concerns underlying the original amendment and the need to make a technical correction to it.
In case this is the last time that I speak in the House on the Adoption and Children Bill—[Interruption.] As the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) says from a sedentary position, I jolly well hope that it is. I want to put on record the honour that I feel at having served on this Bill. Members on both sides of the House have agreed that the Bill will make a difference to vulnerable children and to the adoption process.
I particularly want to place on the record my thanks to the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton), and the other members of the Committee, including the Whips and my 115 Parliamentary Private Secretary, who have stayed with the Bill throughout its lengthy proceedings. To continue the love-in that started earlier, I record my appreciation of the good-natured way in which Opposition Members have approached the Bill, the commitment of the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) to scrutinising it and the hard work of the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley), which I understand has resulted in her promotion. I also pay tribute to the commitment of the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris).
It has been an honour to work on this Bill, and I hope that this will be the last thing that I have to say about it, but the most important point is that it will, I hope, in years to come, make a difference to the opportunities for children in this country.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lords amendment, as amended, agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 47 agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 48 and 49 disagreed to.
§ Amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 49 agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 50 to 57 agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 58 and Government amendment (a) thereto agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 59 and 60 agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 61 and Government amendment (a) thereto agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 62 to 65 and 67 to 92 agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 93 and Government amendment (a) thereto agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 94 and 95 agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 96 and Government amendment (a) thereto agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 97 to 107 agreed to.