Clause 1 - Considerations applying to
Adoption and Children Bill
Mr Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, Plaid Cymru)
An underlying theme of the Bill is uniformity of best practice. A problem with existing adoption law is that the level of service is determined by where one lives. It is like postcode prescribing. One might have a good service, a poor service, or even no service at all, so it is not a bad thing to cover these issues in the Bill. We heard earlier—and will hear again, I am sure—that it is not good to defer too much to secondary legislation and that this Committee should deal with such concerns.
The clause states clearly that ``due consideration'' must be given; it is only right that that should be so. As a person whose first language is Welsh, I welcome the fact that linguistic background has been included. It is an important issue in many parts of Wales. Many other languages are spoken in the UK, and they can be important from an early age.
The hon. Member for North Dorset gave the example of a young child as a reason for opposing the subsection. The hon. Member for Erewash more or less stole the Minister's thunder. Clause 1(2) states the paramountcy principle, with which we all agree. We then go on to subsection (4)(d), which clearly lists factors such as
``the child's age, sex, background''.
Thus, the matter of age is dealt with at that point, possibly with a bit more emphasis on it than when we come to subsection (5). It may be that the hon. Gentleman's genuine misgivings are ill founded.
I am not one of those people who regularly signs up to a politically correct agenda, whatever that is. We know of examples of bad practice; that is why we are debating improvements in the Bill. However, it is important to get as much as we can in the Bill, because that will inform good practice. The one thing that we in the Committee want to ensure is that our legacy promotes good practice in the future. On that basis, I strongly disapprove of the amendment. The argument for it has been sincere and well presented, but it is preferable to refer to such matters in specie in the Bill rather than once again allowing a situation in which good practice will be adopted in some places but not in others.