Adoption and Children Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 27 November 2001.

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Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State, Department of Health, Minister of State (Department of Health) 10:45, 27 November 2001

The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham seems to share the view put to me as a teacher about how to deliver a good lesson—tell everyone what you are going to say, say it and then tell everyone what you have said. If that is his approach to the rest of the Bill, it may foreshorten our time to debate the important and significant issues. The Bill introduces a major reform of adoption legislation. Interestingly, the hon. Gentleman believes that the Bill has been delayed, but the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) thinks that it has been rushed through too early in the Session. It is doubtless part of the conflict of views among Opposition Members with which we shall have to grapple throughout the Committee stage.

The Bill is a major piece of legislation, which puts children at the centre of the adoption process. It sets out the basis for adoption support, reforms and modernises the legislative framework, and introduces special guardianship as a means of reforming and modernising the system. It should be considered alongside other significant Government actions, such as publishing national adoption standards, setting up the adoption and permanence taskforce and the adoption register.

The Bill should receive the scrutiny that it deserves, but it should also be delivered in a timely fashion. As our debate progresses, we shall be able to discuss how and when the measures should be implemented and how much detail should be set out in regulations.

Now that Opposition Members have had the opportunity to demonstrate their opposition to a rational way of organising the House of Commons rather than to anything substantive in the Bill, perhaps we can get on with the matter in hand.