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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 4:45 pm on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Labour, Chatham and Aylesford 4:45 pm, 16th May 2002

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mr. Hinchliffe who made an outstanding contribution. He gave a measured speech that encapsulated the feelings of many hon. Members.

During the Special Standing Committee, we heard evidence from 30 professional organisations. The gathering of evidence from expert witnesses was certainly the best way of ensuring that the legislation was right. As several hon. Members have pointed out, we only introduce such legislation once in a generation and considerable efforts have been made on both sides of the House to get it right.

I very much agree with my hon. Friend that the current legislation is deficient. We asked all those 30 professional witnesses, representing various organisations, whether they agreed with the proposals that are now set out in my hon. Friend's amendment—I tabled a similar amendment in Committee. Twenty-nine of the witnesses agreed that we should widen the pool, especially if we are to reach the 40 per cent. increase that we all want. We all believe that adoption offers the best opportunity for stability for children.

There is a hierarchy involved. The optimum is a married couple—a mother and a father. That is first and foremost. My hon. Friend Julie Morgan referred to the number of boys who were included in the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering "Be My Parent" booklet and pointed out how few inquiries were made about them. That is true for many, many children. At present, the pool is not wide enough so we must widen it.