Adoption and Children Bill

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Ms Winterton: I am extremely happy to reflect on that. Perhaps I could write to the hon. Gentleman and any other members of the Committee who would like to hear from me on that point.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 69 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 70

Meaning of disposition

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Bellingham: I have a few questions. Any legal dictionary or textbook will give a definition of the term ''disposition'' very similar to that in the clause, but I want the Parliamentary Secretary to throw light on one or two points. Subsection (3) states:

    ''This Chapter applies to an oral disposition as if contained in an instrument made when the disposition was made.''

I hope that the hon. Lady will agree that that is quite clumsy drafting. There may be a technical reason for it. Presumably an oral disposition would have to mean one that was witnessed properly and legally, rather than just casually.

Another point about which I am not too clear is contained in subsection (4), which states:

    ''The date of death of a testator is the date at which a will or codicil is to be regarded as made.''

Mr. Llwyd: On the point about the clumsy wording of subsection (3), I suggest that it should be worded, ''This chapter applies to an oral disposition as if contained in a contemporaneous instrument.''

Mr. Bellingham: That would be much neater, and 48 hours ago it would have been possible to table an amendment to that effect. However, the idea of a clause stand part debate is to enable us to bring to ministerial attention suggestions for improvement.

As to subsection (4) I think that there is some confusion. Surely ''the date of death of a testator'' is the date on which he dies, unless I am being naive. Perhaps the Minister will correct me.

Ms Winterton: I think that the clause is fairly uncontroversial, providing as it does a definition of the term ''disposition''. I assume that the reason for the provision stating that

    ''The date of death of a testator is the date at which a will or codicil is to be regarded as made.''

is that the will must be the last will. Is that not so?

Mr. Llwyd: Let me assist the Parliamentary Secretary. The normal rule in law is that a will speaks from death. Therefore the clause is otiose.

Ms Winterton: Then I am right in my interpretation that the wording is to confirm the normal legal position.

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order D [28 June] and the Order of the Committee [27 November], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question agreed to.

Clause 70 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.

Clauses 71 to 73 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

        Adjourned at twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock till this day at half-past Two o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Hood, Mr. Jimmy (Chairman)
Bellingham, Mr.
Blackman, Liz
Brazier, Mr.
Brennan, Kevin
Dawson, Mr.
Djanogly, Mr.
Gidley, Sandra
Llwyd, Mr.
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr.
Munn, Ms
Shaw, Mr.
Smith, Angela
Smith, Jacqui
Winterton, Ms Rosie

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