§ [Nos. 73 to 77]
§ Clause 26, page 18, line 8, leave out ("£100") and insert ("£400").
§ Clause 26, page 18, line 31, at end insert—
§ ("2A) In any case where subsection (1) or (2) of this section applies, and—
- (a) the child was in the care of the local authority before he began to have his home
842 with the applicant or, as the case may be, the prospective adopter, and
- (b) the child remains in the care of the authority,
§ Clause 26, page 19, line 2, leave out ("£100") and insert ("£400").
§ Clause 26, page 19, line 10, at end insert—
§ ("(7) In relation to Scotland, subsection (2A) of this section does not apply where the removal of the child is authorised, in terms of Part 111 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, by a justice of the peace or a children's hearing").
§ After Clause 27, insert the following new Clause.
- ("(1) An authorised court may on the application of a person from whose custody a child has been removed in breach of section 34 or 34A of the 1958 Act order the person who has so removed the child to return the child to the applicant.
- (2) An authorised court may on the application of a person who has reasonable grounds for believing that another person is intending to remove a child from the applicant's custody in breach of section 34 or 34A of the 1958 Act by order direct that other person not to remove the child from the applicant's custody in breach of the said section 34 or 34A.
- (3) If, in the case of an order made by the High Court under subsection (1), the High Court or, in the case of an order made by a county court under subsection (1), a county court is satisfied that the child has not been returned to the applicant, the court may make an order authorising an officer of the court to search such premises as may be specified in the order for the child and, if the officer finds the child, to return the child to the applicant.
- (4) If a justice of the peace is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that a child to whom an order under subsection (1) relates is in premises specified in the information, he may issue a search warrant authorising a constable to search the premises for the child; and if a constable acting in pursuance of a warrant under this section finds the child, he shall return the child to the person on whose application the order under subsection (1) was made.
- (5) An order under subsection (3) may be enforced in like manner as a warrant for committal.
- (6) Subsections (3), (4) and (5) do not apply to Scotland.").
§ Lord WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 73 to 77.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.— (Lord Wells-Pestell.)
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, I hope it will be in order for me to say that we are very pleased to see Amendment No. 77.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ COMMONS AMENDMENT
§ [No. 78]
§ Clause 29, page 19, line 34, at end insert—
§ ("(6) The Secretary of State shall, within seven years of the date on which section 29 of the Children Act 1975 comes into force and, thereafter, every five years, publish a report on the operation of the schemes since that date or since the publication of the last report.
§ (7) Subject to the following subsection, subsection (4) of this section shall expire on the seventh anniversary of the date on which it comes into force.
§ (8) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument at any time before the said anniversary, repeal subsection (7) of this section.
§ (9) An order under subsection (8) of this section shall not be made unless
- (a) A report has been published under subsection (6) of this section, and
- (b) a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House.
§ (10) Notwithstanding the expiry of subsection (4) of this section or the revocation of a scheme approved under this section, subsection (1) of this section shall not apply in relation to any payment made, whether before or after the expiry of subsection (4) or the revocation of the scheme, in accordance with a scheme which was approved under this section to a person to whom such payments were made, where the scheme was not revoked, before the expiry of subsection (4) or, if the scheme was revoked, before the date of its revocation.")
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Lord WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 78. I am proposing to take this Amendment on its own. As your Lordships will know, it relates to schemes of payments to adopters. Well guarded though it is, the relaxation proposed in this clause to the present law restricting payments to adopters has caused a great deal of concern. This Amendment, which adds still more safeguards, has been made to meet this concern; and 844 perhaps I might indicate what are the further safeguards.
The Secretary of State will be required to publish a report on the working of the scheme within seven years and his power to approve further schemes of payment will then expire unless, before that time, he has made an order which will have to be approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament so that it may continue. If such an order is not made, the Secretary of State will be required to publish further reports every five years. I know that this was a matter of some concern to your Lordships when this subject was discussed, but it seems that this Amendment imposes sufficient safeguards and I hope your Lordships will feel able to accept it.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment—(Lord Wells-Pestell.)
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, this Amendment represents an improvement. The point I wish to make is raised, as it were, by the Amendment but is outside the Bill itself. As I read the Amendment or the amended clause, it has the effect that in the case of a child of special difficulty, whether by reason of a mental or physical or other handicap, the adoptive parents may be given financial resources which are not open to the natural parents. If this is the case—and I am advised that it is—I should have thought that it was necessary for Her Majesty's Government to examine very early the problems that this poses, and particularly to ascertain that there is never a case when a child goes into adoption from natural parents, who do not receive such payment, to adoptive parents, who do receive such payment, which could have remained with its natural parents had they received this payment. That is the point at which I think injustice would be seen to occur, though it might be implicit in other cases where there will be difficulty in making borderline judgments. It would be plainly wrong if it were financially possible for adoptive parents to look after a child as the result of payment of Government subsidy in some form, which it was financially impossible for the natural parents to look after.
§ Lord WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, the noble Lord is working on the assumption that children with a mental or 845 physical disability, who are available for adoption, have been given in adoption simply and solely for financial reasons. I do not think the evidence bears that out. I will not say that this has not happened, but from the evidence available I should not have thought it was primarily the case. Those of us who have been around homes, institutions and so on—I know that the noble Lord has himself visited them—have seen children who have been left behind for long periods, sometimes for years, because nobody wants them on account of some physical or mental defect. We must bear in mind that it has been shown conclusively that there are people full of compassion in the community who are prepared to take them, not because they want the money but because they have needed to do what they want to do. I should have thought that it was highly desirable to take out of homes and institutions children who have some kind of disability, and put them into a normal family life.
With regard to whether a mother should be helped financially to look after her mentally or physically handicapped child, as the noble Lord knows, if she has the child at home and that makes it impossible for her to work, she can call on the State for help. Many of them do so. We are dealing with another point and I do not think we ought to confuse the two.
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, with respect, I do not think it is another point. The noble Lord has stood my feelings on their head. I am in no way suggesting that this money should not be made available if it will have the enormously beneficial result of getting some of these children out of homes where they have a generalised and institutional life, into homes where they have a personal and particular love which is more real and more effective. I have no objection whatsoever to that.
I think the noble Lord will accept that the bringing up of such children also imposes a great emotional, physical and financial strain on natural parents. I am not asking the noble Lord to alter this Bill, but to satisfy himself when the Bill becomes law, if necessary, that when it is deemed that it is necessary to give money so that somebody who is not a natural 846 parent can look after a child, it is in justice right that the same amount of I money should be made available to the natural parent. Financial worries are a very real problem. They keep people awake at night and, as a result, they become more irritable and less compassionate and understanding. They eventually find that this worry, added to the others, diminishes their ability to cope with the very difficult task of bringing up handicapped children.
The noble Lord has assured me that State resources are available. I am asking from my ignorance—again, I have not had time to do my homework properly —for the noble Lord or his Department to step in and, when it becomes apposite, to see whether there is a discrepancy and find out whether the same degree of help can be given to the natural parents, thus perhaps avoiding the necessity of adoption. When we were dealing with Clause 3, we agreed that one of the principal factors in the amended Bill was that it pointed out that adoption is not the cure-all and, indeed, not the best aim where a child can remain in its natural home. I believe that the noble Lord has got my message. I am not trying to keep children out of love. I am trying to put them into it.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.