Clause 82 - Restriction on taking children out

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 11 December 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, 11 December 2001

We seem to be getting bogged down in clause 82, so perhaps I should clarify its purpose. Clause 82 is not about citizenship or which sort of people it would be possible to make adoption orders for in this country. It imposes restrictions on removing children for adoptions in other countries, whether convention adoptions or others. Our debate focuses on which children should be protected under the restrictions that the clause imposes on taking children out of the country for the purpose of adoption.

Clause 82 ensures that children who are either Commonwealth citizens or habitually resident in the UK cannot be taken out of the UK for the purposes of adoption unless those involved meet certain conditions. Those conditions are that the proposed adopters are parents, guardians, relatives or step-parents of the child, or that they have obtained a court order under clause 81—which sets out the process for transferring parental responsibility—so that they may adopt the child in their state of origin.

The clause replicates and strengthens section 56 of the Adoption Act 1976. Specifically, it adds protections for those children resident in the UK who are not Commonwealth citizens. In other words, section 56 of the 1976 Act already protects Commonwealth citizens. I do not want to be mischievous, but it is unclear to me whether it is now the official Opposition view that citizens of the Commonwealth should be reclassified as ''passing foreigners''. It seems disrespectful of the nature of the commitment that we owe to citizens of the Commonwealth to categorise them in such a way.

The clause also ensures that it is not possible to avoid being guilty of an offence by arranging for someone else to remove the child from the country. Anyone removing the child from the UK would be caught by the restrictions, as would those who arranged or negotiated for the child to be removed, and the person who ultimately adopted the child.