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4.45 pm

Mr Hanson: Does my hon. Friend agree that the context in which the Labour Government decided to restrict the tax relief on child care for higher earners, as under clause 35, did not include the proposal to freeze and then cut child benefit for higher rate taxpayers? The context is therefore entirely different, even though some of the objectives in clause 35 are similar to those of the previous Government.

Kate Green: My right hon. Friend is right. Family budgets are under pressure, including the family budgets of higher-income families. They are under pressure from the serious and regrettable attack on the universal principle. The means-testing of child benefit at the top will put those families under financial pressure. We know, too, that families are facing higher living costs. We have talked in other debates about the rise in living costs, through VAT, fuel prices, food prices and so on. Families that are suffering the loss of a tax break for their child care costs are also seeing other costs going up.

Child care costs themselves will continue to rise. I cannot recall one year since the Daycare Trust began its annual survey of child care costs when they came down. It is highly likely that they will continue on an upward trajectory, and on a dramatic upward trajectory in some parts of the country. That is certainly the case in London, as it has been for a number of years.

Mr Hanson: Is my hon. Friend aware of any consultation that has taken place since the previous Government’s proposals on the restrictions in clause 35? The landscape has changed since the original discussions. Does she think that there should be wider consultation on this matter?

Kate Green: Of course, my right hon. Friend proposed a full review of the overall impact of the Government’s provisions on child care. Naturally, a full review would be informed by the fullest possible input from experts in the field, including child care professionals and providers, families and even children and young people. I certainly am not aware of any such consultation or discussion.

It would have been very useful if the Government had carried out such a consultation, because they would have begun to understand the impact of this provision not just on individual families but on the child care market. The impact of clause 35 on the child care market is just as important an issue because of the wide social and economic consequences that it will have for the Government. I am confident that a proper consultation at this point, taking account of the economic context and the other financial measures brought forward by the Government in the emergency Budget, the spending review and this year’s Budget, would produce useful input from experts and families on the pressures and stresses that would be faced, and on the consequences they would have, not least on the propensity to take, extend or remain in paid work. I think we can all agree that paid work will be key in getting our country out of recession, and into recovery and economic growth.

Mr Robinson: Listening to my hon. Friend, it is clear that she has an in-depth knowledge of this sector and of how child care can most effectively and cost-effectively

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be used. Reflecting on her experience, does she see any economic rationale or moral principle underlying the idea inherent in clause 35 that if only one parent is working and is in the higher rate tax bracket, they are not eligible for child care, but if two parents are working, they are? That seems to be a perverse incentive. All it will do—this is why some Labour Members had reservations about our Government’s policy, which led to clause 35 —is to put higher rate taxpayers in the same position with child care as they choose to be with comprehensive schools, whereby they do not bring their middle-class, extreme commitment to them. We will force them out of the national provision of child care and create social division as opposed to greater social cohesion.

Kate Green: I am confused by the Government’s direction of travel, specifically on the clause and on its interaction with their other choices about financially supporting parents to make or not to make decisions about child care, such as whether both parents in a couple go to work or whether one parent stays at home to care for the children—the Government’s preferred model that we seem to see in the development of universal credit and the different treatment of lone parents and parents in couple households, as well as in the differential support that the Government want to provide for child care that is targeted at the most vulnerable people. We might say that clause 35 is part of that package.

The Government have welcomed the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), who suggested that bringing all children within the ambit of Sure Start, for example, is good for communities, families and children, so I am also confused about the philosophical direction of travel that the Government are taking in relation to child care. Indeed, I am forced to conclude that there is no philosophical direction of travel. There is entirely opportunistic fiscal decision making—grab a bit of money here, take a bit of money there, forget those families over there—that might save the Government some money in the short term, but it will be absolutely disastrous in the long term for our economic future and for children’s outcomes.

Grahame M. Morris: I wonder about the specific impact of clause 35 on bankruptcy and personal insolvency, given the loss of tax credits for middle-income families who will be faced with quite considerable personal burdens. That is part of the transfer of debt from the state to the individuals in low-income families, as highlighted by my hon. Friend and by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy). The Insolvency Practitioners Association highlights the rapid increase in the number of personal insolvencies and bankruptcies, and perhaps the increasing cost of child care will be a factor—

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. Interventions must, by definition, be short. That was wide of the mark and does not need a response.

Kate Green: We are aware of the difficulty in planning the paying for child care. Parents are often required to pay a lump sum at the beginning of term or for a group of sessions. They are often required to pay for sessions that they subsequently cannot use for various reasons, but there is no money-back guarantee. Parents will

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often pay for sessions for more than one child, but there is no financial advantage to them; there is regrettably no bulk discount when buying child care.

Removing money from parents that they could have used to meet some of the burden and the lumpiness in the structure of the way that child care charges are often levied will be a real financial burden on family budgets. Some families will take on debt to meet those commitments, because parents will always try to put their children’s best interests first. If they are happy with their current child care setting, they will do all that they can to keep their child in that stable child care place.

Even if parents are worried that they might be unable to afford that place because of the loss of the tax advantage but can see a time coming when they could resume paying for that place, they will none the less not want to give up that child care place. If they think that they can afford the place again in six or 12 months’ time because their economic prospects might improve, they will stagger on through those six or 12 months, desperate to keep their child in that child care place for two reasons. First, they know that child care places are like gold dust and that, if they give one up, they might not get one back again very easily. That is certainly the case in some parts of the country. Secondly, they know that it will be good for the child. If a child is thriving, doing well and prospering in a settled, high-quality child care place, a parent will make all sorts of sacrifices elsewhere to sustain that child in that place.

Andrew Gwynne: My hon. Friend has hit the nail on the head. Is not the underlying impact of clause 35 that the Government know that, although the allowance will be taken away from higher-rate taxpayers, many of those parents will still fund those places and make sacrifices elsewhere in their family budgets?

Kate Green: That is right. There is plenty of evidence that parents, especially women, will always make financial sacrifices for their children’s well-being. We should be concerned by the fact that families will have to stagger under considerable financial pressure for the best of reasons—to keep their children in good-quality child care places. They know that that will help their children’s well-being, because they will be happy and enjoy their child care setting and the friendships and relationships that they make there. Let us not underestimate the importance of social interaction in child development, and good-quality child care can offer that.

Parents will do everything they possibly can in the interests of their child’s well-being and happiness. They will do everything to hold on to a good-quality child care place, even if they find themselves under financial pressure, possibly for a prolonged period. That has a knock-on effect elsewhere in the family budget, which might lead to the problems of debt, financial difficulty and stress that my hon. Friends have mentioned.

Financial stress among parents tends to feed back into children’s well-being, and children become aware of it in the household. They are aware of tensions and anxieties in their parents’ attitudes and behaviour. We have to understand how central good-quality, sustainable and stable child care is to children’s much wider well-being.

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That is why it is of concern that funding for that child care provision is being eaten away at by the provisions of clause 35.

There are opportunities to compensate for what is happening within the market. I particularly highlight the need to ensure that we maintain a supply of well-qualified child care workers, because pressures elsewhere in the public finances may mean that we see fewer good-quality child care workers coming through from training. Indeed, the loss of education maintenance allowance may have an impact on that. There are real concerns among parents about the nibbling away at the different pillars of the child care market.

When we ask parents what they worry about in balancing the family budget, they repeatedly highlight the high cost of good-quality child care. They do not want to buy poor-quality child care if it is at all possible to avoid it, because they are mindful of the value of getting their child into a high-quality, professionally run child care setting with excellent developmental and social activity, which the children can enjoy and in which they can flourish. Parents know that quality costs, and they do not want to compromise or cut corners when it comes to their children’s well-being, so they want to spend all they can on quality care.

Mr Robinson: Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the encouraging things that took place under the previous Government was that the quality aspect of Sure Start and child care provision was emphasised right from the beginning? Expansion was not allowed to go unchecked—it could only follow the existence of quality. That high quality has, on the whole, been maintained, but of course it is now under threat from the cuts.

Kate Green: We are worried about whether the quality of child care will be maintained as less funding becomes available in the child care market. Achieving quality is partly about ensuring that children from mixed backgrounds—

The Temporary Chair (Dr William McCrea): Order. The hon. Lady is aware that Mr Evans has drawn her attention to the narrow nature of the clause. I am sure that she would like to get back to the clause as soon as possible.

Kate Green: Of course, Dr McCrea. I was simply going to make the point that quality is partly about diversity and about children from a range of backgrounds and settings being able to meet, play and learn together. One of the consequences of clause 35 is that we will see less of that.

There are a lot of stresses and pressures on the financial support for the child care market, and they will also be felt in families as parents struggle to pay what is typically a very substantial proportion of their regular monthly outgoings. Child care takes a big bite out of the family budget. I am sure all hon. Members are familiar with parents who say, “It’s almost not worth my while going back to work by the time I’ve paid my child care costs,” but those parents want to go back to work, because they recognise that that is in their long-term interest and that of their children. It is also important to our national economy that parents continue in the workplace.

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5 pm

Parents accept that a substantial chunk of the gain from earnings could go towards meeting their child care costs. It is none the less incumbent on us to do all we can to mitigate the effects of meeting those high child care costs by ensuring that we put as much public funding into child care provision as we possibly can. I am therefore very concerned that the single effect of the clause is to take public money out of child care provision. Obviously, that will have many, widespread and damaging effects on the child care market, but in due course, it will also have those effects on children’s well-being, and ultimately on economic growth.

The Government have taken a decision of the previous Labour Government—a decision that was taken with regret and reluctantly, but none the less necessarily in the current economic context—to remove a tax break from some families. However, I very much regret that the current Government have not redeployed that financial gain elsewhere into a marketplace that is essential to our future economic growth and to our children’s well-being, both during their childhood and right through to adult life.

Frankly, I am shocked that we can be so casual about sustaining hard-fought for, hard-won public investment in child care. It took my hon. Friends a long time—certainly all of my adult lifetime—to give child care any credibility in the public finances. I pay tribute to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), who did an enormous amount of work on that, going back to the 1980s. It is greatly disappointing that the gains that took 20, 25 and 30 years to make are being unwound so quickly, in a matter of months.

That is why I cannot support clause 35, or indeed any other aspect of the Bill, and why my right hon. and hon. Friends will fight hard to reinstate funding to the child care market at the level that we got it to. I am grateful for the opportunity to come to the Committee today to speak up for our children.

Mr Gauke: Clause 35 makes changes to ensure that all recipients of employer-supported child care who joined schemes on or after 6 April 2011 receive the same amount of income tax relief as basic rate taxpayers. After all the talk about the attack on universality, it is worth pointing out that clause 35 ensures that everyone receives the same amount of income tax relief as basic rate taxpayers.

Reform of this provision was announced in 2009 by the previous Government. One might therefore have expected the Labour party to support the measure. When the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) spoke, it seemed likely that they would do so, but then we heard clearly and unambiguously from the hon. Member for Hackney North and Shoreditch (Ms Abbott) that she would oppose it—of course, she is a Front Bencher and a leading light within the Labour party, and she very nearly became its leader. The hon. Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), in a lengthy speech, condemned the measure, although he may in fact have been talking about another measure altogether, and the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), in an important speech—his word, not mine—also set out his opposition.

It is striking that the Opposition are now walking away from a proposal of the right hon. and absent

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Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) and a policy of the previous Government, just as they walk away from any attempts at economic credibility.

Mr Hanson rose

Ms Abbott rose

Mr Gauke: I shall give way first to the hon. Lady.

Ms Abbott: For the record, I am the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, not for Shoreditch, and I came this close to being leader of the Labour party. [Laughter.] Yes, this close! Perhaps the alternative vote system would have done it for me—who knows!

Of course we supported the proposal made by the outgoing Labour Government, but as we have said throughout this important and illuminating debate, we did so only in combination with the redistributive measures in relation to child care for two-year-olds.

Mr Gauke: I look forward to seeing how Hansard transcribes, “this close”. I should point out, however, that the hon. Lady did stand under AV, and her votes probably contributed to the final result, so she can be pleased with that—we certainly are.

Mr Hanson: I want to make it clear to the Minister that I have said from the Dispatch Box that this measure had the support of the previous Labour Government, but it had that support on the basis, first, that through the funds saved it would provide child care places to the poorest in our community, and, secondly, that there would be no cuts to, or freezing of, child benefits. That support was also given in the context of the other measures that my hon. Friends have outlined today. There is a difference.

Mr Gauke: That is very clear, and I am grateful for that intervention. Clause 35 will result in a saving to the taxpayer of £100 million per year, because higher and additional rate taxpayers will no longer receive beneficial treatment. That target would not be met if the clause was defeated. The Opposition’s position is therefore very clear: they would spend this money on child care. That is an additional spending commitment that we will add to their considerable total of spending commitments. I understand that all additional spending commitments from the Labour party have to be cleared by the shadow Chancellor and the Leader of the Opposition, so I am sure that they have gone through that process. However, we note that additional spending commitment. We believe that we need to get the deficit down. I am sorry that the Labour party does not accept that, or at least does not have proposals to do it. We note also that even in this time of financial crisis in the public finances, it is making additional spending commitments.

Kate Green: It is not an additional spending commitment; it is a commitment to moving spending from one group of families to elsewhere in the child care market. However, will the Minister tell us what assessment he has made of the long-term economic impact of moving parents out of the workplace because of this cut?

Mr Gauke: Because of the crisis in the public finances that we inherited, we have taken a range of measures to provide credibility and to get our deficit down. That is

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what the country needs, and I am sorry that the Labour party is not willing or able to engage sensibly in that debate.

Employer-supported child care allows participating employers to offer their employees support with their child care costs. The latest HMRC modelling suggests that about 450,000 parents are members of ESC schemes, and that about 40% of them are higher or additional rate taxpayers. This support is offered through tax relief and the associated national insurance contributions disregard, with employers able to offer their employees up to £55 per week, free of income tax and NICs. Most employers offer this support through child care vouchers delivered either by salary sacrifice or flexible remuneration arrangements. Such arrangements can also benefit employers, because they, too, make NIC savings. At present, basic rate taxpayers can receive up to £900 of support a year through ESC, whereas higher rate taxpayers can receive up to £1,200 of support a year.

Mr Robinson: What is the economic rationale or moral principle underlying the distinction the Government are still making, I think, between families with a single higher rate taxpayer and families in which the mother and father are both higher rate taxpayers? It does not seem to make any sense, moral or economic.

Mr Gauke: In part, the hon. Gentleman is trying to draw me into the debate on child benefit, but I have no intention of straying off the subject, Dr McCrea. I am sure that you would not want me to. I should also point out that the previous Government’s original proposal was to abolish employer-supported child care altogether. I would be interested to know what the moral principles were at that point.

The clause introduces schedule 8, which makes changes to ensure that from April this year, all recipients of employer-supported child care will receive the same amount of income tax relief as basic rate taxpayers. Although we are very much in favour of employers helping their employees share the cost of child care, it is neither progressive nor well targeted for wealthier households to derive more benefit than those on lower incomes, and I am rather surprised that Opposition Members should advocate that. All parents who join ESC schemes on or after 6 April 2011 will now receive the same amount of income tax relief as basic rate taxpayers. That is achieved by limiting the amount that higher rate taxpayers and additional rate taxpayers can receive each week to £28 and £22 respectively, so that all parents receive the same amount of income tax relief support each week—about £11. To avoid the measure having a retroactive effect, all existing members who joined a scheme before April 2011 will be able to retain their current rates of tax relief. I assure the Committee that the change will not affect the tax and NICs relief available for workplace nurseries.

We understand how valuable the support is to working parents. However, it is simply not fair that wealthier parents should be able to receive up to £300 more support for their child care costs than basic rate taxpayers. The changes that we are making to employer-supported child care are needed to make the benefit fairer, better targeted and more progressive, and I commend the clause to the Committee.

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Mr Hanson: I am sure that we will be drawing to a conclusion shortly, but I want first to place on record my thanks to my hon. Friends the Members for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson), for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) and for Leyton and Wanstead (John Cryer) for their contributions. They have highlighted the concerns that we have expressed by asking for the clause to be debated today. Those concerns were summarised in the points that we made at the beginning. The Minister has not really answered those points to our satisfaction, although I will not press the clause to a vote today, because as I have said to him, whatever—[ Interruption. ] I am grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for Education for his contribution. It is good to see him here. Perhaps he would like to answer the questions that the Minister has not answered about why this Conservative Government have refused to invest those resources in child care provision for the poorest in our community, as the previous Labour Government planned to do.

The key question in this debate is about that very issue. When the Labour Government originally produced clause 35-type proposals, we were investing those resources in helping poorer families with child care, at a time when wider considerations about child tax credits, child benefits and the pressures of family life were not on the agenda, as my hon. Friends said. Clause 35 ties down an anomaly, which the official Opposition think is the right thing to do in the current circumstances—not as a spending commitment, but as a supportive measure for the Minister—just as we believed it was right in previous circumstances. The previous Labour Government’s financial commitments and budgeting planned for that investment to be used to support wider child care. This Government have reneged on that promise.

We will look in detail at schedule 8, which clause—[ Interruption. ] [Hon. Members: “Clause 35.”] I am sorry, Dr McCrea, it has been a long 24 hours. Clause 35 brings schedule 8 into effect. When we reach schedule 8, we will make a decision on whether to support the proposals put forward by the Minister today. With those few comments, I thank my hon. Friends for raising important issues about the impact of the measure on already hard-pressed families. I will allow the Minister the opportunity today to have his clause without a Division, but we will return to schedule 8 in due course.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 35 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill (Clauses 4, 7, 10, 19, 35 and 72), as amended, reported, and ordered to lie on the Table.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


That the draft Patents County Court (Financial Limits) Order 2011, which was laid before this House on 16 February, be approved. —(Jeremy Wright.)

Question put and agreed to.

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Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 4 and 5 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


That the draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) (Rights of Appeal) Regulations 2011, which were laid before this House on 22 March, be approved.

That the draft Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (Time Limit for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, which were laid before this House on 22 March, be approved.—(Jeremy Wright.)

Question put and agreed to.



That, at the sitting on Monday 9 May, paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments) shall apply to the Motion in the name of Edward Miliband as if the day were an Opposition Day; proceedings on the Motion may continue, though opposed, for three hours and shall then lapse if not previously disposed of; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.—(Jeremy Wright.)


Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 25),

That this House, at its rising on Tuesday 24 May 2011, do adjourn till Tuesday 7 June 2011; at its rising on Tuesday 19 July 2011, do adjourn till Monday 5 September 2011; and at its rising on Thursday 15 September 2011 do adjourn till Monday 10 October 2011.—(Jeremy Wright .)

Question agreed to.

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Rights of Adoptive Parents

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Jeremy Wright.)

5.17 pm

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): I am pleased to have been able to secure this debate to consider the rights of adoptive parents. In respect of the adoption of children, we hear a great deal about the children involved, about what is best for them, and about how to provide them with stable and happy upbringing. Given the need to protect such children, who are often very vulnerable, it is right and proper that they should remain the main focus of attention. We also hear a great deal about the rights of the birth parents, particularly when they wish to have access to those children, but we hear rather less about the parents who adopt such children. They are often people who have given up a substantial proportion of their lives to provide a stable home and family background to children who are in desperate need of love and support. We must not forget that group of people and the unique set of challenges that they face.

I hope to raise a number of the issues that affect adoptive parents. These include: the confidentiality of information relating to adoption; the way in which a birth parent, often years after an adoption has taken place, is able to challenge terms of contact; and the lack of support available to adoptive parents in difficult circumstances. As with many issues raised in the House, I learned about this subject when I was visited by a constituent at one of my surgeries, a lady whose family is engaged in a complex legal case involving her adopted daughter.

The Minister and I have already corresponded about this case, and I have similarly contacted the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly) in respect of matters relating to legal aid that I shall talk about in a moment. Following the family’s wishes, they will remain anonymous in the debate. I will do my best to explain the elements of this rather complicated case, which raises a number of issues.

The first issue relates to the security of data in matters of adoption. In the case to which I am referring, the birth mother was just 13 years old when she gave birth to her child. Both mother and child—the mother came from London—were put into care in London with the original ambition of finding a foster placement for them both. However, professionals in the field at the time quite reasonably decided that, given the mother’s age, the best long-term interests for both lay in putting the child up for adoption. The birth mother, despite her very young age, was reluctant to go ahead with the adoption and wished to keep the child. This wish to retain and gain access to the child has led to many of the difficulties facing my constituent and her family.

In 2001, my constituent and her family successfully adopted the child, who was just 23 months old at the time; she is now 12. They carried on with family life, and adopted a further child. During these years—pretty happy years from what I understand—the family were keen to do what was right for the child. The contact agreement, which was to facilitate indirect contact with the birth mother through letters a couple of times a year, was honoured; and it continued quite successfully through to 2008. The birth mother’s reluctance to part

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with the child led to concerns that she might attempt an abduction, so the indirect contact did not include the ability to send photographs to the birth mother.

Given that distance between the birth mother and the parent, one can imagine the adoptive parents’ concern when, seven years after the adoption, when the child was nine, the birth mother arrived unannounced at the family’s home. The question is how the birth mother was able to locate the family. The mother is and was resident in London, and this was an out-of-area adoption, with the child resident some 80 miles away. Clearly, the birth mother should not have been able to find out the name and address of the adopting family without their consent. This was the first of things to go wrong for my constituent and her family.

This matter also raises questions about the very objective of adoption legislation. As the Minister has confirmed in his recent response to me, adoption legislation is there to provide a framework for protecting confidential information, such as the names and addresses of the individuals involved. That requires local authorities to obtain the consent of the individuals if disclosure is requested. The individuals might be concerned that disclosure could lead to them being identified. In this case, the adopting family had specifically not given such consent. I hope that the Minister will be able to give some guidance in his comments about the security of information in such cases.

Seeing the birth mother on her doorstep, my constituent attempted to make the best of what was then a difficult situation and sought to avoid a distressing scene in front of the child. She invited the birth mother into her home. She did so on the basis that the birth mother had seen her daughter and that it might affect her adversely if further contact was denied. The adopting family reluctantly felt that they had no choice but to permit ongoing and regular contact. That happened for a couple of years, although it proved extremely difficult when, over time, the birth mother became increasingly aggressive and confrontational about access.

After a period, the mother’s behaviour became such that the family felt obliged to contact the police, leading to the birth mother receiving a police caution for harassment. With that in mind, the family quite reasonably requested that direct contact should be stopped, as it was starting to have serious consequences on the child who had become afraid of being abducted. The matter became so serious that at one stage the police provided both child and adoptive mother with alarms in case of an attack. One can only imagine the family’s horror when, a few months after contact was stopped, the family received a court summons through the post, advising them that the birth mother was attempting to force direct contact once again. Even more than that, the birth mother had secured legal aid in order to do so.

That brings us to the issue of the ability of a birth parent to challenge an adoption order. Unfortunately, under the existing rules my constituent and her family—the adopting family—are not eligible for legal aid, but they are also not sufficiently wealthy to afford expensive legal representation. They have been given an estimate of a cost of some £6,000 to fight the case in court, and they have no access to such a sum. I believe that the case

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raises serious issues about the rights of adoptive parents compared with those of birth parents, and about access to legal representation in such circumstances.

According to the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the effect of an adoption order is to give parental responsibility to the adopters. It refers to the extinguishing of parental responsibility from those who had it previously. Once an adoption order has been made, birth parents cease to have any legal rights over the child, and therefore cannot simply claim him or her back. As I explained earlier, a particular cause for anxiety is the fact that the direct contact came about not as a result of the wishes of the adoptive family, but because the birth mother had somehow managed to locate them.

Where does that leave the adopting family? They are left feeling that the birth mother has more rights than they have. It surely cannot be right for a birth parent who has breached the agreements of a contact order to be allowed to take the adoptive parents to court in order to make contact. I think most people would feel that in such circumstances the rules seem to be loaded in favour of the birth parents, with a lack of regard for the feelings and treatment of the adoptive family.

The availability of legal aid to the birth mother has become a matter of real concern to my constituent and her family. I am aware that the Government are currently undertaking a review of legal aid, and have presented proposals that will result in 500,000 fewer instances of legal help and 45,000 fewer instances of legal representation being funded by legal aid annually. I am also aware that family law is the single most expensive area of legal aid. In 2009-10, the most recent year for which figures are available, it cost the taxpayer £597 million. It is therefore understandable that the Government wish to make changes.

The Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon, has confirmed to me that legal aid is granted on the strength of information provided by applicants and their solicitors. I realise that it is calculated on a means-tested basis and takes no account of previous behaviour, but while I also understand the importance of safeguarding access to legal advice, I feel that in a case such as this the existence of legal aid complicates matters unnecessarily. I therefore welcome the Government’s measures to restrict it, especially in cases such as this in which it pitches one person unfairly against another, and especially when options such as mediation may be more effective. It seems fundamentally unfair that in the case that I have raised, legal aid is available to the birth mother but not to the adoptive parents. I realise that this issue is not within the Minister’s portfolio, but perhaps he will clarify the effect that changes to legal aid provisions will have on cases involving adoption.

Finally, I want to draw attention to the apparent lack of support measures for adoptive parents. My constituent and her family have been subjected to the behaviour of an aggressive birth mother, and must now deal with a complex legal case without the funds that would enable them to instruct a lawyer. They feel that throughout this time little or no support has been available to them. My constituent feels that she has been left with no choice but to trawl the internet to search actively for advice and guidance from adoption charities. That situation cannot be right, so will the Minister take the opportunity to advise us on what system of support and guidance exists for parents of adoptive children?

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In highlighting this case and the cause of adoptive parents, I wish to make it clear that I do not expect the Minister to comment on this particular case and I simply seek his views on the broader issue of policy. I join my constituent in making the point that the legal importance of adoption orders often seems worthless if birth parents are able to take adopting families to court simply because they decide that they want to have more or full access. I fully appreciate the difficulties facing birth parents, particularly those who may not have wished to give up their child for adoption in the first place, but they should not be allowed to force legal proceedings and wreak havoc on new families who will have worked so hard to provide stability and security for the children they are adopting. If moves are made to encourage more direct contact, more guidance ought to be available for adoptive parents and more support measures must be established for them. I recognise that the law involved in this case is complex and that it is further complicated by the Government’s review of legal aid. They must do all they can to educate both adoption agencies and adoptive families to understand what their position is. However, I accept that the most important factor throughout all these cases is the requirement to facilitate happy and successful adoptions for years to come.

The case I have described has been most distressing to my constituent and her family. For 10 years they have brought up an adopted child as their own in a happy and stable environment, but it is now one where both they and the child are extremely uncertain about their future together. I recognise that much of this unfortunate situation cannot be changed and that the clock cannot be turned back, but I wish my constituent and her family every success in their legal battle, and the best and happiest future for them and their adopted daughter.

5.32 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Tim Loughton): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey) on securing this evening’s important debate. It seems that we have been debating for days in this Chamber and he was unlucky enough to draw the short straw of having his debate at the tail end, after a night when some of us have been left short of sleep.

Leaving aside the specific case behind today’s debate and the correspondence between my hon. Friend, myself, the Department for Education and the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), to which reference has been made, I know that, like many of us across the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby is a big admirer of the many thousands of wonderful parents in this country who have chosen to adopt a child. His closing remarks absolutely affirmed the nobility of such an activity, and I very much wish to encourage, and have been seeking to encourage, it in my time as the Minister with responsibility for adoption and children in care.

My hon. Friend raised several crucial issues and I wish to address as many of them as possible because, as he knows, adoption is an issue on which the Government have been working extraordinarily hard over the past year. As he said, I cannot refer to the specific case of his constituent because it is before the courts. It is clearly a

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difficult case and it has been going on for some time. As he says, the child has been placed with the adoptive parents for some 10 years and that child is regarded as their own. He was also right to mention the oft-referred-to rights of children that are at the heart of the Children Act 1989. The welfare of the child must be the paramount consideration when dealing with any matters to do with children in the care system. He also mentioned that we hear, quite rightly, about the rights of birth parents. Only in extreme circumstances should a child be taken away from their birth parents and the process should end in adoption only when it is not safe for that child to be returned to the birth parents or parent.

Most importantly, perhaps, we have made it clear from day one that we have a lot of work to do to get an adoption system that is truly fit for purpose. I have been coming at it from the angle of wanting to ensure that we have more adoptions as well as speedier and smarter adoptions, but I am also conscious that we must ensure that we get the right adoptions. The right children should be adopted and everything should be done to restore children to their birth families wherever possible.

My hon. Friend raised quite an interesting scenario that falls in between those two points, in which parents had come forward as adopters, were confirmed in that role and took on a child as their own, but their position was challenged at a later date after which legal action was brought to bear on them. Such a situation is quite unusual, but he has certainly made me aware of such cases and in formulating our approach to adoption, I want to take them on board. If we are to promote adoption as providing a suitable home for a number of children who were not lucky enough to be able to be brought up with their birth parents, it is crucial that we ensure that there are safeguards so that the right children are placed for adoption and the people who adopt them have their interests protected, too. After all, they have come forward with the noblest of intentions. We need an adoption system that is truly fit for purpose in all those respects.

No one could fail to be concerned by the fall in the number of adoptions of looked-after children over the past few years, particularly the decline in the timeliness of placements. When it has been decided that a child’s future best lies in an adoptive placement, we owe it to that child to get on with placing them as swiftly as we can so that they have as good a chance as possible to secure a second chance at the stable family upbringing that was denied to him or her in the first place.

At this stage, I would particularly like to commend the campaign that has recently been promoted by The Times and, in particular, by the journalist Rosie Bennett, who has highlighted a lot of the shortcomings in the adoption system and has worked with us in the Department for Education to try to highlight the problems and to promote some of the solutions. We are working with a number of organisations and people who are interested in the field of adoption.

As I have said before, both in the House and outside it, we want to see the decline in adoption stopped in its tracks and more children adopted quicker and more smartly when that is in their best interests. I also want local authorities to consider carefully the support that adopted families need—my hon. Friend mentioned that—so that everything possible is done to increase the number of successful adoptions. It is not just a question of getting more adoptions to happen; adoptions must be

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sustainable and they must not break down. It is all the more important that we get a good match and that the right support is provided at an early stage and for as long as it takes so that everything possible is done to increase the number of lasting and successful adoptions.

Placing a child for adoption with prospective adopters is only the start. Adoptions need to succeed and that is why I set up a ministerial advisory group on adoption. At our next meeting we will consider adoption breakdowns and how better adoption support can help to prevent them. As part of a wider programme of adoption reform, we have recently published revised national minimum standards, revised statutory guidance and an adoption data pack to inform and stimulate debate both nationally and locally about the volume and timeliness of adoption.

In addition, as many hon. Members will know, we have asked David Norgrove to review the family justice system. The review panel’s interim report, which came out just last month, provides a valuable initial assessment of the challenges that the family justice system faces. We encourage everyone who has experience of the system to contribute their views over the coming months so that the panel has as much information as possible on which to base its final recommendations, which are due out later in the year. I have also had very productive discussions with Sir Nicholas Wall, the president of the family division, and I will be holding further discussions with judges and members of the judiciary who are involved in adoption.

To come back to the specific circumstances outlined by my hon. Friend, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 makes it quite clear that in reaching a decision about the adoption of a child, the paramount consideration of the court or adoption agency must be the child’s welfare. In reaching a decision, the court or agency must take into account a number of issues, including the likelihood of any relationship with birth family relatives continuing, as well as the benefits to the child, and it must have regard to the child’s ascertainable wishes and feelings. I know from some of my constituency cases that ongoing contact with birth parents is a difficult and sensitive issue; great sensitivity and, often, the judgment of Solomon, is required.

As my hon. Friend knows, during the period between a placement order and an adoption order, the adoption agency must satisfy itself as to the child’s welfare and consider any additional requests for support by the adoptive parents. Once an adoption order has been made, adoptive parents are in exactly the same position as birth parents, but adoption support services are available. An adoption order is, of course, final and irrevocable, other than in exceptional circumstances. The courts have consistently emphasised the special, permanent nature of adoption orders because they affect people’s status and alter the most fundamental of human relationships. However, the High Court has the power to set aside an adoption order on appeal in cases of mistake or where there has been a failure of natural justice due to procedural irregularities or fraud, but that is extremely rare and is to be avoided if at all possible as it is greatly unsettling for the child.

Children, adoptive parents and birth family members all have the right to an assessment of their needs for adoption support services on request and it is for the

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local authority to decide what services to provide. Sensitive, proactive post-adoption support can sometimes make all the difference to the success of an adoption. Having looked at the record of some independent adoption agencies in particular, I know that it is invariably those agencies that offer good pre-adoption placement support and good-quality post-adoption support for as long as it takes to make sure that the adoptive placement is sustainable and able to last that tend to have the lowest disruption rates and the best records of giving children a decent second chance. The cost of not providing such support, in terms of children returning to care, can be very great in financial terms and, more importantly, in the human and social effects for the children involved.

There is a legal framework under the 2002 Act that protects the identity of the adopted child and the adoptive family. My hon. Friend rightly raised the important issue of security of information for adopters and I would be interested to hear how the case he has discussed evolves and to learn where security breaches might have happened, because it is essential that the anonymity of new arrangements is paramount. If there are flaws in the system that enable people to exploit it in a way that is not in the best interests of the child, we need to be able to do something about that. We need to be able to identify such problems and I would appreciate further discussions with him as the case he mentioned is unravelled.

No information should be disclosed that would reveal the child’s identity or whereabouts or the identity or whereabouts of the adoptive parents. Although there are safeguards in place, in today’s electronic world a determined person with little information about an individual might be able to find them, but that is no excuse for our not having in place systems that are as watertight as possible.

As regards contact after adoption, my hon. Friend will know that before a child is placed for adoption, the adoption agency must assess the needs of the child in relation to future contact arrangements with members of their birth family. It must ascertain the wishes of the child, birth parents and any other person whom the agency considers relevant about future contact. As I said, that is a sensitive and difficult area. Contact plans are reviewed at the various stages of the adoption process, and are considered by the court when making a placement order and an adoption order. It is not something that is static—it is constantly assessed and reassessed.

It is important that adoptive parents are made aware that, as part of the support services available to them, they can receive help in relation to any contact arrangements and, like the birth family and of course the child in question, the adoptive family can ask the adoption agency that placed the child to review the contact arrangements if they are not working or if the child’s needs for contact have changed. That is not uncommon as the child grows up and begins to ask questions about his or her origins. I must emphasise that once an adoption order is made, a birth parent has no automatic right to contact, and can only make an application to the court for an order for contact with the court’s permission. The court may make a contact order requiring the person with whom the child lives or is to live to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order, or for that person and the child otherwise to have contact with each other. It bears repeating that a court will do so only if, having weighed the evidence, it is clear

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that such contact would be in the child’s best interests. The paramountcy consideration always comes into play. The revised adoption guidance that I mentioned earlier covers those matters.

It is worth noting that if adoptive parents are unhappy with the way in which they have been treated by the local authority they have the right to make a formal complaint under the local authority complaints procedure. If they are unhappy with the council’s response, they may request a panel hearing, which will have independent representation. If they remain dissatisfied, and think that a local authority has treated them unfairly as a result of bad or inefficient management—“maladministration”—they can refer their complaint to the local government ombudsman.

My hon. Friend mentioned legal aid, and I am aware of his correspondence with the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon. I will not deal with the detail of that issue, but he is right to refer to the review. It is worth noting, however, that the legal aid review is intended to achieve a level playing field for various aspects of family justice, as that is clearly not the case at the moment. Legal aid changes might affect adoption in some cases, but I am happy to take another look at that if, in the light of my hon. Friend’s case, he thinks that there is not a level playing field, and I am happy to take part in discussions with my colleagues at the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice recently consulted on changes to the legal aid system, with the aim of focusing resources where they are most needed, and it is currently considering a response to the consultation, so its final judgments are a little way off. Decisions about legal aid funding in civil cases are a matter for the Legal Services Commission, which is responsible for administering the legal aid

4 May 2011 : Column 756

scheme. Generally, legal aid in civil cases is available to anyone who qualifies, provided that the applicant is using the courts of England and Wales and that the case is within the scope of the scheme. Civil legal aid is available for cases involving the welfare of children. Each application, which may include the child if they are a party to proceedings, is considered on an individual basis and is subject to statutory tests of the applicant’s means and the merits of the case.

Let me finish by repeating our absolutely, intently serious commitment to improving adoption services in this country, in particular to those people who come forward to provide loving and supportive homes to children who desperately need the second chance that they were denied with their own parents. With the wider reforms that we are introducing, we want to get people talking and thinking about adoption again, and we want all that to translate into action, with better-quality, sustainable placements right across the country. If there are examples from this case and others that hon. Members wish to raise that show in some way that the ability of adoptive parents, who have often gone through a long, drawn-out and intrusive process, to continue to offer a stable, loving family placement to an adopted child is impaired, we will need to look at that, and I am happy to review the situation if that is the case. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the issue, and I hope that his constituent’s case, which is behind today’s debate, reaches a satisfactory conclusion. Equally, if there are important lessons to be learned that we can apply to the whole area of adoption, I should very much like to learn them.

Question put and agreed to.

5.50 pm

House adjourned.

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Deferred Division

Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993

That this House takes note with approval of the Government’s assessment as set out in the Budget Report, combined with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which forms the basis of the UK’s Convergence Programme, for the purposes of section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993.

The House divided:

Ayes 249, Noes 139.

Division No. 265]


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bagshawe, Ms Louise

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Chishti, Rehman

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.


de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Mr Edward

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Mr Gerald

Howell, John

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

James, Margot

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Macleod, Mary

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, Hugh

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Truss, Elizabeth

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Weir, Mr Mike

Whittaker, Craig

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim


Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Anderson, Mr David

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Bell, Sir Stuart

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Cash, Mr William

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Clappison, Mr James

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Dakin, Nic

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Mr Wayne

Davies, Philip

Denham, rh Mr John

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Dromey, Jack

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goodman, Helen

Green, Kate

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hanson, rh Mr David

Healey, rh John

Henderson, Gordon

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, rh Alan

Jones, Mr Kevan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lloyd, Tony

Love, Mr Andrew

Mactaggart, Fiona

Main, Mrs Anne

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McKechin, Ann

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Mr Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh David

Miller, Andrew

Morris, Grahame M.


Nash, Pamela

Nuttall, Mr David

Paisley, Ian

Pearce, Teresa

Phillipson, Bridget

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reckless, Mark

Reynolds, Emma

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ruddock, rh Joan

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shepherd, Mr Richard

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Mr Andrew

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wright, David

Question accordingly agreed to.

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