Clause 83 - Overseas adoptions

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 11 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Robert Walter Robert Walter Ceidwadwyr, North Dorset 11:00, 11 Rhagfyr 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 164, in page 46, line 6, leave out from beginning to first '''regulations''' in line 7.

It is me again. I explained that earlier amendments were intended to remove the possibility of distress and heartache to those who had adopted children or those who had been adopted. Clause 83(2) and the definition it contains cause me concern. It states:

'''Children' includes persons who were children at the time the adoption was applied for''.

That strikes me as an attempt to make law retrospective. Subsection (2) begins:

''The description specified by the order must be a description of adoptions of children which—

(a) appear to the Secretary of State to be effected under the law of any country or territory outside the British Islands,

(b) are not Convention adoptions, and

(c) meet any requirements prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State.''

The whole provision is intended to provide definitions.

If, in defining a child over whom some legal jurisdiction is to be brought about under the clause, we say that a person is a child if it was a child when the

adoption was applied for, there might be certain consequences. A child might have been legally adopted after all the relevant procedures were completed, but something might subsequently—after the child had become an adult—be found to have been wrong in the adoption procedure. The court could make a retrospective order under the clause, which could lead to great pain and suffering for the adoptive parents and the child.

If we are to apply the definition to someone who has long since ceased to be a child but who was at the time of the action in question defined as a child, we are on the road to a definition that can bring nothing but pain and suffering to human beings who, in earlier years, have probably been through a traumatic and distressing time. The Bill should define children as the word is commonly understood. It should not redefine it for the purposes for which regulations might be made as though a child was something else—someone who has ceased to be a child but just happens to have been a child at the time when the adoption order was applied for.

The amendment is another attempt to tidy up the Bill for the benefit of those for whom we are legislating. We should not give lawyers or others the opportunity to go back and dig up information that could cause unnecessary pain and suffering.