HL Deb 26 June 1934 vol 93 cc141-2

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I hope it will not be considered unusual or presumptuous on the part of a member of your Lordships' House who has only been here two months to move a Bill after so little experience in your Lordships' House. But this Bill is a very simple one, its purpose being to make the law England the same as it is in Scotland in regard to a particular matter. It is perhaps not altogether inappropriate that a Scottish member of your Lordships' House should try to put right in England things which are already right in Scotland. The Adoption of Children Act, 1926, was introduced by a member who has affinity with Scotland. By Section 5 (1) of that Act it is provided that: Upon an adoption order being made, all rights, duties, obligations and liabilities of the parent or parents, guardian or guardians of the adopted child, in relation to the future custody, maintenance and education of the adopted child … shall vest in and be exercisable by and enforceable against the adopter as though the adopted child was a child born to the adopter in lawful wedlock … By subsection (5) of the same subsection is is provided that: For the purposes of the enactments relating to friendly societies, collecting societies and industrial assurance companies … the adopter shall be deemed to be the parent of the child … The Adoption of Children (Scotland) Act, 1930, follows the 1926 Act, except that in Section 5 (2) it is provided that the adopted child shall, for the purposes of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, be treated as being the child of the spouses or one of the spouses who have adopted it and not the child of any other person.

Last year there was a case in the Court of Appeal—Ward versus Dorman, Long, Limited—in which a workman and his wife living in England had obtained an order under the Adoption of Children Act, 1926, to adopt a child, and the workman was killed by an accident which gave rise to a claim for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925. It was held that the adopted child was not entitled to receive the benefit conferred by the Workmen's Com- pensation Act on the ground, amongst others, that the adopted child was not a member of the workman's family as defined by the Act of 1925. The result is this Bill, which was introduced by the same member of the House of Commons who introduced the Bill of 1926. It has passed through another place without any opposition at all. In Clause 1, subsection (1), of this Bill there are recited the degrees of relationship which entitle a claim to be made for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act and it extends them to include adopted children. Subsection (2) of that clause ensures that in whichever part of the United Kingdom the child was adopted a certificate of entry in the Adopted Children Register shall be received as evidence throughout Great Britain. Clause 2 is more or less formal.

I may say that the Bill has been so drafted that the law may be the same throughout the United Kingdom, and I understand that if it is passed the Government of Northern Ireland intend to pass a similar measure. I venture to think that the object of the Bill is so eminently just, both to those who have practically undertaken the responsibilities of parenthood and to the children who look upon their adopters as parents, that your Lordships will undoubtedly give the Bill a Second Reading, and I hope that His Majesty's Government will support the Bill. I beg to move that it be read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair.)


My Lords, as the noble Marquess who moved the Second Reading of this Bill has intimated his desire that a representative of His Majesty's Government should give support to the Bill, I wish to reiterate that which was said by the Under-Secretary of State when the Bill was being discussed in another place, that it is the hope of the Government that this Bill will have a smooth passage on to the Statute Book.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whale House.