HL Deb 11 July 1960 vol 225 cc47-8

5.0 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the object of this very small Bill is to put right an anomaly which arises from the passing of the Legitimacy Act, 1959, and its operation. Your Lordships will remember that under that Act the child of parents, one of whom was married to a third person at the time when the child in question was born but who subsequently marry, is legitimated by the operation of the Act. Before the passing of the Act (as I dare say your Lordships will know) it had become pretty common for parents in that situation to adopt the child under the provisions of the Adoption Act, 1958, or, earlier still, of the Adoption Acts which were then current.

The general rule about adoption orders, which I am sure your Lordships will agree is a very proper one, is that when they have once been made they are final and irrevocable; and this rule applies to adoption orders of the kind I have just been mentioning to your Lordships—that is to say, to these joint cases of adoption by both parents. There is an exception to the rule under Section 26 of the Adoption Act, 1958, which enables an order made in favour of a father or mother—and I stress the alternative—alone to be revoked if the child becomes legitimated by the subsequent marriage of the parents. That was put into the Act at that time because the arrangements subsequently made by the Legitimacy Act, 1959, were not in operation. But it does not enable a revocation to take place in the case of the adoption order made by the joint parents, and in a number of cases since the Legitimacy Act was passed the parents in this situation, having got the joint adoption order, are anxious that they also should have the opportunity, so to speak, of aligning themselves with the other type of parents and be able to make an application to the court which made the adoption order to have it revoked, because the child will now be legitimated as a result of the general operation of the law.

I am sure your Lordships will agree part of parents in this situation. That that that is a reasonable desire on the view of the matter appealed in another place and has the support of Her Majesty's Government, and I am sure that your Lordships will feel that we ought to take the same view here. Your Lordships will see that there are two subsections, and they are really consequential on the first clause. They deal with the position under intestacy and under property dispositions; and they are there, really, just to prevent the disturbance of vested property rights and to protect the trustees of wills which might otherwise be upset by the arrangements which will come into force if your Lordships accept the principle which is proposed to be enacted in Clause 1. I hope I have said enough to explain the objects of this Bill, and that your Lord-ships will approve of them. I beg to move.

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


My Lords, the noble Lord opposite has explained his Bill most fully and most carefully, and it only remains for me to commend the Bill to your Lordships and to advise that it be read a second time.

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