HL Deb 08 November 1989 vol 512 cc831-2

232C Before Clause 64, insert the following new clause—

Amendments of adoption legislation.'Adoption

. —(1) The Adoption Act 1976 shall have effect subject to the amendments made by Part I of Schedule 7B.

(2) The Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978 shall have effect subject to the amendments made by Part II of Schedule 7B.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 232C. In moving this amendment, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 236, 249, 355, 372, 423 and 427.

This group of amendments introduces changes to adoption law. It is our intention to carry out a full review of adoption law. The review will provide an opportunity for detailed consideration of all matters relating to adoption in the light of the changes which have taken place since the last major review and the introduction of the Children Act 1975, now consolidated into the Adoption Act 1976. The changes we are proposing here are therefore limited, and fall into three groups: first, amendments to the Adoption Act 1976 and the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978 which will harmonise adoption law within the United Kingdom, thus meeting needs arising from the introduction of new adoption provisions in Northern Ireland and as a consequence of changes in child care law in this Bill; secondly, technical and consequential amendments arising from the Children Bill itself; and, thirdly, a small number of improvements which we have been able to make outside the context of a general review of adoption law to meet the needs of particular groups.

Moved, that the House do agree with the Commons in the said amendment. —(The Lord Chancellor.)

Lord Meston

My Lords, can the noble and learned Lord indicate the timescale for the review of adoption law which he mentioned?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, we have in place a rolling programme for family law generally. We have of course embarked on that, but I am not in a position to be more specific on the adoption law review than that. It will obviously be something of considerable importance, but at the moment our priorities are divorce law, related questions of conciliation and, as I said, matters connected with the Law Commission's work on ouster, domestic violence and that kind of thing.

I am encouraged to think that we might get on to the adoption stage of this review within the next 12 to 18 months. That may be slightly optimistic, but perhaps there is no harm in setting our sights early rather than late.

On Question, Motion agreed to.