Award of Parental Responsibilities and Parental Rights to Father

Part of Orders of the Day — Children (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 1st May 1995.

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Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland 5:45 pm, 1st May 1995

I support the new clause, which should automatically commend itself to the Government. It promotes responsibility because, when a father applies to the court, it is to acquire not only rights in respect of the child but responsibilities. I am sure that every hon. Member has had plenty of correspondence over the past year or more from fathers who were being pursued by the Child Support Agency, many of whom were exercising responsibility through what they were paying for their children.

But responsibility is far more than money, although I am the first to accept that resources and money can go a long way towards improving a family's life style and helping in other ways. There are other responsibilities, many of which are set out in the Bill.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) has struck the right balance in her new clause. It would not apply to cases in which there is agreement between the parties, and provision for such agreement is set out in clause 4 of the Bill. It would relate to a situation in which there has been some reason for blocking the father's attempts to exercise rights and responsibilities in relation to the child. Therefore, the provision to ensure that an application to the court is not made prematurely while a mother is recovering from childbirth—