HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc177-8W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects to implement the provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002; and if he will publish a timetable for implementation. [148913]

Margaret Hodge

The Government have already implemented the following key provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (the Act)1 June 2003: restrictions on adoption from overseas; 31 October 2003: adoption support for adoptive families; and 1 December 2003: parental responsibility for unmarried fathers who jointly register the birth of their child with the mother.

The first phase of the independent review mechanism, which will cover prospective adopters whose adoption agency is minded not to approve them, will become operational on 30 April 2004.

We expect the provisions on Independent Reviewing Officers to come into force in September 2004.

Consultation documents have been published on provisions in the Act regarding advocacy services for children and young people; the review of children's cases; arranging adoptions and assessing prospective adopters; and adoption reports and adoptions with a foreign element. Copies are available in the Library. The Government will be consulting on the remaining provisions over the next few months.

The regulations, court rules and guidance required to implement the core of the Act should be in place by the end of 2004. After a period for preparation and training, we expect the legislation to come into force in September 2005.

The provisions on domestic violence and the definition of harm are being considered separately and the Government will make an announcement on these provisions in due course.