Clause 61 - Other provision to be made by regulations

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 10 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State, Department of Health 4:30, 10 Ionawr 2002

The amendments improve the drafting around the definition of relative'' in clause 61, and, consequentially, in clause 78. The word is defined in a circular manner in the Bill. It is defined as

any person (other than an adoptive relative) who is related to the adopted person by blood (including half-blood) or marriage.''

The amendments clarify that definition.

Amendment No. 210 changes subsection (6), which provides for regulations for the payment of fees to the adoption agency by anybody other than the adopted person in respect of any information disclosed to him about a birth relative. The access to information provisions place new duties on adoption agencies, and it is important that they provide that service at no cost to the adopted person when he is seeking information about a birth relative.

There will be an obligation on agencies to take all reasonable steps to seek the views of the person who would be identified. That will require them to engage in research work, to contact individuals, to use the information that they have, and—possibly—to gather more information, if their current records do not enable them to trace that individual. Adoption agencies will also have the discretion to charge a fee to a person, other than an adopted person, who is seeking protected information about a birth relative, to cover only their costs in acting on an application for such information.

Amendment No. 229 clarifies the definition of relative'' for the purposes of clause 77. It is intended to assist the Registrar-General in the determination of the criteria used to decide whether to make an entry on part 2 of the adoption contact register. As I have spelled out to the Committee, the Registrar-General is

precluded from making an entry on part 2 of the register unless the person is over 18 years of age and the Registrar-General is satisfied that that person is the relative of an adopted person. In determining whether an applicant is a relative of an adopted person, the Registrar-General is bound by the definition in the clause. The amended definition makes it clear that the applicant must be related to the adopted person by blood—including half-blood—or marriage.

The intention behind the amendments is to ensure—both in relation to clause 61 and the regulations around fees, and in relation to clause 77 and the situation with respect to the Registrar-General defining a relative for the purposes of the adoption contact register—that the definition of relative is clearly drafted, and that there is no confusion.