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Column 761

Fallon, Michael

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Forman, Nigel

Forth, Eric

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Ground, Patrick

Harris, David

Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Knapman, Roger

Lawrence, Ivan

Lightbown, David

Maclean, David

McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)

Mans, Keith

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Needham, Richard

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, David (Taunton)

Paice, James

Porter, David (Waveney)

Portillo, Michael

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Stanbrook, Ivor

Stradling Thomas, Sir John

Summerson, Hugo

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, John M (Solihull)

Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman

Thorne, Neil

Thurnham, Peter

Wallace, James

Widdecombe, Ann

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Irvine Patnick and

Mr. Roger King.

NOES

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Buckley, George J.

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clay, Bob

Cohen, Harry

Cryer, Bob

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Dixon, Don

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Foster, Derek

Galbraith, Sam

Graham, Thomas

Hardy, Peter

Haynes, Frank

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Loyden, Eddie

McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

Marek, Dr John

Meale, Alan

Michael, Alun

Moonie, Dr Lewis

Morgan, Rhodri

Nellist, Dave

Parry, Robert

Patchett, Terry

Pike, Peter L.

Prescott, John

Ruddock, Joan

Skinner, Dennis

Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)

Snape, Peter

Wardell, Gareth (Gower)

Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Tony Banks and

Mr. Martin Redmond.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time and committed.


Column 762

Adoption Allowance Schemes

11.40 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Roger Freeman) : I beg to move

That the draft Adoption Allowance Schemes Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 22nd December, be approved.

I hope that it will be convenient for the House to take both orders together.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean) : So be it.

Mr. Freeman : The orders, the Adoption Allowance Schemes Order 1989 and the Adoption Allowance Schemes (Scotland) Order 1989, have the effect of repealing section 57(7) of the Adoption Act 1976 and section 51(8) of the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978. Without the repeal of these sections there will be no provision for further approval of allowance schemes to adopters after 14 February.

The provision we are considering has its origin in a recommendation in 1972 of the departmental committee on the adoption of children--the Houghton committee. In its report the committee addressed the case for paying allowances to adopters in certain circumstances : circumstances in which adoption had been identified as the best future for a child, and a suitable family had been found, but in which there was a financial obstacle to the adoption. The aim would be to secure adoption for children who could not otherwise readily be adopted and who could face a childhood spent in care without a family of their own. The committee recommended that a small number of pilot schemes should be authorised as a trial of this new idea. The proposal was taken up in section 32 of the Children Act 1975, now consolidated as section 57 of the Adoption Act 1976 and section 51 of the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978. During the passage of the Bill a number of reservations and cautions were voiced about the wisdom of the measure-- natural and thoughtful reservations, to which I shall turn briefly in a moment. Accordingly, the Houghton committee's recommendation of an experimental period was adopted by Parliament. Adoption agencies were given the opportunity to seek the approval of the Secretaries of State to schemes for payment of allowances for a period of seven years from implementation of the provision. The provision would come to an end automatically after seven years unless both Houses agreed to its continuation, and the Secretaries of State were required to publish before that date a report on the operation of the schemes.

The provision duly came into force, in England and Wales and in Scotland, in February 1982. Adoption agencies began to put together and submit for approval schemes drawn up according to guidelines issued by the Department. These agencies were for the most part local authorities, although two voluntary approved adoption societies in England now have schemes. It became clear over the following few years that the experiment was taking a somewhat different turn from--

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East) : My hon. Friend mentioned that a few local authorities did not have such schemes. It is shameful that they should not. Can he identify them?


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