Clause 19 - Advance consent to adoption

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 29 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State, Department of Health 10:30, 29 Tachwedd 2001

The clause enables a parent to give advance consent to the final adoption order either at the same time as they give consent to placement or at any time afterwards, and is a means of allowing people voluntarily to give up their child for adoption. It is therefore incumbent on us to ensure that the consent arrangements are fully clear and understood and that people are supported in their decision making. That is why the form of consent and withdrawal of consent will be prescribed in regulations made under clause 50(7) to accompany the implementation of the Bill. It is intended that the form of consent will make clear both the implications of giving advance consent and the process involved in withdrawing it.

Advance consent to placement and adoption will be witnessed by an independent Children and Family Court Advisory Service officer, who will ensure that parents fully understand the implications of what they are agreeing to and that consent is properly given in full understanding of all that it involves. The officer will report that to the court. Clause 97(1) provides for the appointment of CAFCASS officers.

The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham is being either disingenuous or slightly mischievous in suggesting that the flowchart will be used by CAFCASS officers and others who support birth parents. In fact, the flowchart is designed to support legislators in the process of understanding, and I am extremely proud of it.

The adoption agencies regulations will oblige agencies to make clear to parents the timing and procedure for giving and withdrawing consent, as well as the legal and procedural implications of giving advance consent to adoption alongside consent to placement. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the need to provide a written explanation of the process will remain in regulations. It is currently in regulation 7. As for the possibility of a birth parent being in a state of shock when giving advance consent, I assure members of the Committee that advance consent to adoption can be withdrawn at any point until an adoption application has been made.

To respond to the questions raised by the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly), the measures for adoption support that we will discuss under clause 2 and related clauses also make provision for adoption support for birth parents.

Given those assurances, I hope that the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham feels able to withdraw the amendment.