§ [Nos. 13 to 29]
§ Clause 7, page 5, line 14, leave out subsections (4) and (5).
§ Clause 7, page 5, line 22, leave out paragraph (6).
§ Clause 7, page 5, line 25, at end insert—
§ ("(6A) An adoption order may not be made in relation to a child who is or has been married.")
§ Clause 7, page 5, line 25, at end insert—
§ (" (6B) An adoption order shall not be made in Scotland in relation to a child who I is a minor unless with the consent of the minor; except that where the court is satisfied that the minor is incapable of giving his consent to the making of the order it may dispense with that consent.")
§ Clause 7, page 5, line 29, leave out from ("is") to end of line and insert ("an adopted child".)
§ Clause 7, page 5, line 29, at end insert—
§ ("(9) Schedule 1 contains for England and Wales further provisions about the effect of adoption and related or comparable provisions about legitimation.
§ (10) Schedule (Status conferred in Scotland by adoption) has effect as respect the status conferred in Scotland by adoption, and related matters".)
§ Clause 8, page 5, line 41, at end insert—
§ ("(3) An adoption order shall not be made unless the court is satisfied that sufficient opportunities to see the child with the applicant or, in the case of an application by a married couple, both applicants together in the home environment have been afforded—
- (a) where the child was placed with the applicant by an adoption agency, to that agency, or
- (b) in any other case, to the local authority within whose area the home is".)
§ Clause 9, page 6, line 1, at beginning insert ("Subject to sections 33(1) and 46(1)".)
§ Clause 9, page 6, line 12, leave out subsection (3).820
§ Clause 9, page 6, line 20, leave out ("If" and insert ("Where the application is made to a court in England or Wales and".)
§ Clause 9, page 6, line 24, at beginning insert ("Subject to sections 33(1) and 46(1)".)
§ Clause 9, page 6, leave out lines 26 to 29 and insert ("he has attained the age of 21 and—
- (a) is not married, or
- (b) is married".)
§ Clause 9, page 6, line 33, at end insert ("or (iii) his spouse is by reason of ill health, whether physical or mental, incapable of making an application for an adoption order".)
§ Page 7, line 1, leave out subsection (3).
§ page 7, line 18, leave out ("if") and insert ("Where the application is made to a court in England or Wales and".)
§ page 7, line 18, leave out from ("child") to second ("the") in line 20.
§ Clause 11, page 7, leave out lines 30 and 31 and insert ("the adoption order (whether or not he knows the identity of the applicants), or".)
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ Lord WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 13 to 29, which I should like to take en bloc, and while doing so refer to Amendments Nos. 85 to 88 and Amendments Nos. 113 and 114. I think those of your Lordships who have had the opportunity of going through Parts I and II will realise that Amendments Nos. 13 to 29, in addition to the others to which I have referred, are mostly technical, but there are two or three I should like to comment on particularly.
Amendments Nos. 19, 21 and 26 meet a point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, that the Bill appeared to allow a court to make an adoption order even though the child might have had his home with only one of the couples applying to adopt him. I hope your Lordships will agree that these Amendments remove possible misunderstanding on this point by simply transferring the provisions of Clauses 9(3) and 10(3) to Clause 8. This makes it clear that while the child has to have his home for a fixed period with only one applicant, before making an adoption order the court must be satisfied that the local authority or adoption agency reporting on the application has had sufficient opportunities to see the child with both applicants together in the home environment.
821 Amendments Nos. 20 and 23 relate to the same point as Amendments Nos. 85 to 88 and 113 and 114, to which I have already made reference, and draw together certain aspects of Parts I and II of the Bill. If your Lordships agree, I think we can discuss them together. The Houghton Committee recommended that,where a relative, including a step-parent applying jointly with his spouse, applies to adopt a child the law should require the court first to consider whether guardianship would be more appropriate in all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the long-term welfare of the child.This recommendation cuts across two Parts of the Bill, since the adoption provisions are in Part I and the custodianship provisions are in Part II. These Amendments, however, succeed in bridging the gap by directing the attention of the court which is considering the adoption applicaiton under Part I of the Bill to the relevant custodianship or (for Scotland) custody provisions which are to be found in Part II of the Bill.
Among other things the Amendments to Clauses 33 and 46 place a specific requirement on the court to scrutinise particularly an adoption application made by a child's relative or step-parent, and, where it is satisfied that an adoption order would not promote the child's welfare better than a custodianship order, it shall make a custodianship order. The effect of the Amendments together is therefore to place a positive requirement on the court to consider a custodianship order first where relatives and certain parents and step-parents apply to adopt. I hope your Lordships will agree that these Amendments carry out more closely not only the Houghton Committee's recommendation, but also your Lordships' intentions in approving the earlier provisions.
Amendment No. 18 introduces the new Schedule, Amendment No. 249. This new Schedule deals with the status conferred in Scotland by adoption, and is the Scottish counterpart of Schedule 1 which relates to England and Wales. Amendment No. 16 retains the present provision in Scots law, whereby a minor must consent to his own adoption.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.— (Lord Wells-Pestell.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.