Award of Parental Responsibilities and Parental Rights to Father

Part of Orders of the Day — Children (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 1st May 1995.

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Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West 7:15 pm, 1st May 1995

This has been a useful debate. First, I shall answer the point made by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) about legal aid. Any party to an action to obtain parental responsibilities and rights can apply for legal aid, and will obtain it if he or she satisfies the usual tests.

The most important point raised in the debate was concern over the safety of women, especially battered women, in refuges. Although I shall oppose new clause 2 on technical grounds, we shall consider an amendment to allow a mother to apply to the court to have her details kept confidential. However, it would be for the court to consider that in all the circumstances of the case.

In respect of whether the woman could oppose or contest any action, the normal rules of procedure will apply, and the application will be served on the mother or would be brought to her attention so that she could oppose it.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) asked how an application would be served and whether the normal rules of court would apply if the address of the mother were to be withheld from the applicant. It would be necessary to provide that the rules of court could make arrangements for bringing the application to the mother's notice. As I have said, we will consider the matter further.