Clause 41 - Child to live with adopters before application

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 29 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Robert Walter Robert Walter Ceidwadwyr, North Dorset 3:00, 29 Tachwedd 2001

I was not—at least, I hope that I was not—suggesting that one size fits all. I had hoped that the amendments would convey to the Minister that a certain minimum time should be common across all cases. I hoped that good practice would probably indicate an appropriate time in particular cases, rather than prescriptive time limits being imposed that could lead to delay. In a quest for simplicity, amendment No. 25 would have extended the time from 10 weeks to 13. However, I freely admit that those three weeks would not make an awful lot of difference. I was more concerned about what I considered to be the excessive delays that might result from subsequent clauses, and that prompted my subsequent amendments.

I accept the distinction that the Minister made between agency and non-agency cases—that was perfectly clear in the Bill—but I am not convinced by what she said about foster parents. I am not sure that the clause necessarily permits what she suggests. Subsection (4), which I sought to amend, states:

``If the applicants are local authority foster parents, the condition is that the child must have had his home with the applicants at all times during the period of one year preceding the application.''

It does not say ``if the applicants are foster parents and the child is an agency case''. It merely states

``if the applicants are . . . foster parents''.

If the court were interpreting that, it would say that the application must be delayed for a year. In that sense, it is bad law.

I ask the Minister to reconsider the wording of that subsection, because it does not make the distinction in the case of foster parents between agency and non-agency cases. To be slightly mischievous, I wonder whether there is a sub-plot to try to deter foster parent adoptions because there is a shortage of foster parents and it is not in the local authority's interests to encourage foster parents to adopt children who are placed with them because they are then permanently removed from the pool of foster parents.

We have had a good discussion on the subject. I am not entirely comfortable with the answers that have been provided, but I hope that we have rehearsed the arguments in favour of simplicity in the interests of the child. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 42 to 44 ordered to stand part of the Bill.