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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 4:30 pm on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe Conservative, Maidstone and The Weald 4:30 pm, 16th May 2002

I want to make progress, as so many Members want to speak. You have asked for short contributions, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall be unable to make mine short if I give way—I say that with respect, as I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would have made an interesting point.

In the name of security and stability, I believe that the present law should stand. I shall first consider security. Marriage brings not only privileges but legal responsibilities which, I believe, provide greater security for a child. If two people really wanted to adopt a child, and were considering the interests and security of that child, they should want to marry—unless there was an impediment. For example, unless the cohabitee is joint legal owner of the shared home, she has no rights over the property, but when a married couple split up both spouses have statutory rights over the matrimonial home.

In the short term, a cohabitee can apply for court orders allowing her—I am presuming that it would be her rather than him, although I realise that it could be the other way around—and the child to stay in the shared home for a maximum of 12 months, whereas a married parent left with the child would be given the right to live in the home until the child reached the age of 18, and would also be granted at least 50 per cent., and sometimes between 60 and 70 per cent. or more, of the matrimonial home in their own right.