Work and Families Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 25th April 2006.

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Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Spokesperson in the Lords (Education & Children), Education & Skills 4:45 pm, 25th April 2006

My Lords, I too support the amendment. The purpose of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, in trying to clarify the relationship about which we are talking between the man and the child is commendable. Of course, none of us can ensure that, by a piece of legislation, what a man says or does when the child is born or is young is something that he will follow through with for the rest of the child's life. However, the more that we can do to have him make that commitment the better, and the more likely he is to follow through. Children need fathers and as much contact with the father as possible.

There may be a very good reason why the man is not able to marry the mother of the child—he may be married to somebody else—but that does not disqualify him from taking a real interest in the child and the child having the right to know who the father is and to make a relationship with him. I certainly welcome this attempt to clarify what the relationship should be. Whether it is accurate in terms of parliamentary draftsmanship I do not know, but I certainly support its purpose.