HL Deb 13 June 1950 vol 167 cc644-6

7.12 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill seeks to consolidate the law relating to the adoption of children which is contained in the original Act of 1926, the Act of 1939, relating to adoption societies, and the Private Member's Act of last year. I propose that the opportunity should at the same time be taken to make one or two very minor amendments in the law by means of the procedure laid down by the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act, 1949. These amendments are described in the Memorandum which has been laid before your Lordships, and I think there is only one of them which I need mention now.

Your Lordships will remember that the Act of last year provided that the consent of any person to the making of an adoption order may be given without his knowing the identity of the applicant for the order. The Act provided that if the person whose consent was required did not attend in court for the purpose of giving his consent, a document signifying consent should be sufficient if the person is named or otherwise described in the document. The purpose of the words I have just quoted was to enable the consent to be given by a person who was ignorant of the identity of the proposed adopter for, as your Lordships will appreciate, it is often highly desirable that the parent of a child who is proposed to be adopted should not know the identity of the would-be adopter.

When we came to make rules under the new Act, the device which we adopted in order to give effect to these provisions was this. If a person who applied for an adoption order wished to conceal his identity he could ask the court to allot a serial number to him for the purpose of the application, and the parent's consent to the adoption which has to be attached to the application, then identifies the applicant by reference only to the serial number. Unfortunately, however, some doubts have been expressed in the Chancery Division as to whether a serial number is a sufficient description of the applicant to satisfy the provisions of last year's Act. I am therefore taking this opportunity of asking your Lordships to make the matter clear beyond doubt by a slight alteration of the form of words which is used. Instead of the consent having to name or otherwise describe die applicant for the adoption order, the Bill provides that the consent may be given in favour of a person who is named in the document or (where his identity is not known to the consenting party) who is "distinguished" therein in the manner prescribed by the rules. I am sure that the tidying up of the law effected -by this Bill will help all those who are concerned with adoption, and I hope that your Lordships think it a useful piece of consolidation. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and Bill (together with the Memorandum laid before the House on May 26 last, and any representations made with respect thereto under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act, 1949), referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.