New clause 13 - Provision of information relating to adoption

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 17 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Opposition Whip (Commons) 4:30, 17 Ionawr 2002

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

It would be nice to be able to say something about each of new clauses. Thus, as we have only a short time left, I will be brief. The purpose of the new clause, which has been loosely drafted, is to probe and draw attention to an important point. Time prevents me from giving a lot of verbatim quotes, but the Government's statements and academic testimony from institutions such as Cardiff university make it clear that there is a shortage of information in many quarters about adoption and its benefits.

I hope that the Committee will forgive me for briefly mentioning a tragic constituency case that I referred to some time ago, in which a 13-year-old girl, whose mother was a financially struggling lone parent, unexpectedly gave birth to a baby. For obvious reasons, the girl had given no indication to her mother that she was pregnant. The family thought that she was putting on weight.

Some aspects of that case relate to the new clause. A social worker visited the thunder-struck, devastated family, intending to do her best under the circumstances. She did not suggest that adoption was a possibility. The 13-year-old child was left with the impression that she had only two options. One was that the baby should be taken into care and fostered; the girl was given an unattractive picture of fostering. The second option was that the girl's mother should look after the baby while she was at school. Their decision might have been different if adoption had been suggested.

I do not want to criticise a particular social worker. However, I was pleased to receive a letter of apology from the director of social services in Kent. I understand that fresh guidance has been distributed

that makes it clear that adoption should be mentioned prominently in such cases.