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Clause 41 — Child to live with adopters before application

Part of Orders of the Day — Adoption and Children Bill — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon 4:00 pm, 16th May 2002

I know of the case to which the hon. Gentleman mis-refers—it was heard not in the International Court of Human Rights but the lower chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, the vote, which was four to three against the application, is being appealed, and the British judge was one of the three who voted in favour. The amendments that the hon. Gentleman is likely to support are not compatible, therefore, with human rights legislation—a point on which the Minister doubtless also has a view.

The failure of the Labour Government to support the amendments is very disappointing, given their high opinion poll rating, their large majority and the admirable interest that the Prime Minister has shown in the matter. I pay tribute to the Minister, her ministerial colleagues, and the hon. Members for Sheffield, Heeley (Ms Munn) and for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) for winning the battle for a free vote, at least. A battle it must have been, given that, on 25 January 1999, the former Home Secretary appeared to agree with Mr. Bell, who said that his understanding was that there would be no legal adoption by homosexual couples. We can safely say, therefore, that there is no unanimity on this point among the senior ranks of the Government.