Will the Minister assure us that the proposals to make it possible for mothers to give their final consent to adoption at a much earlier stage will be taken very seriously? Will he take into account the strong feeling that adoptions should be transferred from magistrates' courts to family courts?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that all the proposals in the working party's paper will be given careful consideration. The purpose of the working paper was to enable interested parties to comment on them before the Committee put forward its final recommendations.
Will my hon. Friend take note that many hon. Members, while welcoming the general principles of the report, are uneasy about the recommendations that adoption agencies should no longer be allowed to make bringing up in a particular religious persuasion a condition of adoption? Will he assure us that he will have full consultations with all the Churches on this matter before reaching a final decision?
I can only repeat that the whole purpose of the Committee's working paper is to give it an opportunity to receive further evidence and consult all the relevant bodies before coming to its final conclusions.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is still considerable public concern in this matter? Will he take into account recommendation No. 53 in the Houghton Report, which calls for the court to have discretionary powers to appoint persons with special qualifications to assist the court in its deliberations?
I am aware of the public concern in this matter, and so is the Committee, which is why it has decided to proceed in this way—so that every view can be fully aired before hand.