Clause 64 - Status conferred by adoption

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:30 am ar 6 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Ceidwadwyr, North West Norfolk 9:30, 6 Rhagfyr 2001

Amendment No. 97 was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton); the other amendments are in my name. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the wording of subsection (1)(a). It uses the phrase

''as if the person''— that is the adopted child—

''had been born as a child of the marriage''.

The phrase is used again in paragraph (b). I find that slightly insulting. I would be grateful if the Government were to reflect on that terminology, because it will be particularly upsetting to birth mothers. We have spent much time debating the question of birth mothers, and the answer seems very simple: only the birth mother can give birth to the adoptee. Children cannot be ''as if born to''; they are ''born of'' someone. It is not good drafting, and I see no advantage in it. I accept that there may be complicated legal reasons for using that turn of phrase, but I would be grateful if the Parliamentary Secretary gave us an explanation.

Under clause 68, we shall debate the question of adopted children inheriting titles; that provision would make the phrase in clause 64(1) incongruous. Furthermore, we should consider single people who adopt. We had an interesting debate about that subject only last week. The phrase

''as if the person had been born as a child of the marriage'' will attract substantial ridicule if it means single people having to pretend that they are married to a non-existent person in order to be seen as the parent of an adoptee. I feel strongly about this. We have debated adoption by single people and by single people with partners, yet the Bill talks specifically of marriage and uses the phrase ''as if born to''.

My submission is simple: we need to remove the phrase. The Bill should be amended in the manner suggested. I would be grateful to hear the Parliamentary Secretary's comments. I hope that she will agree that we could word the clause a great deal more appropriately. We could prevent it from attracting ridicule and insulting birth mothers and single people.