Clause 10 - Review

Part of Children and Adoption Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 14 March 2006.

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Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Children and Families) 11:45, 14 March 2006

I shall do my best to deal with that. Clause 10 provides that the Secretary of State must keep restricted countries under review. If she determines that there is “no longer reason” to believe that the practices that resulted in the introduction of special restrictions are still taking place, she must cancel them. Before she does so, she must consult the National Assembly for Wales and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, as the special restrictions in question would have effect also in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the specific process, which is particularly important for those engaged in trying to adopt when special restrictions come into force. I shall try to answer him. We recognise that the introduction of special restrictions will be particularly unfortunate for prospective adopters who are in the process of adopting a child from a restricted country. However, we have to balance their distress and disappointment against whatever concerns led to the special safeguarding restrictions.

Special restrictions will not impact on cases that have passed a certain point. Although that might vary from country to country, we expect it to be when the prospective adopter has been matched with a child. When special restrictions are declared, cases that are beyond that point will continue—that is the intention—and all adoptions that have not reached that point will be stopped. However, we have made provisions for cases to be allowed to proceed if the prospective adopters can satisfy the Secretary of State that their case should be an exception. The process will allow people to make their point if they believe that their circumstances mean that the adoption that they were in the process of arranging should continue. The same arrangement was provided in the case of Cambodia, and we believe that a similar approach would be the most appropriate way of dealing with the situation whenever special restrictions have to be introduced.

The hon. Gentleman also asked how quickly a decision to remove a country from the restricted list would come into effect. There is no reason why it should not come into effect as soon as the other jurisdictions have been consulted, which should be extremely quick, or even instantaneous. I think that I have answered his questions and hope that he is content that the clause stand part.