After section 9

Part of Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:15 am on 7th December 2006.

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Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative 10:15 am, 7th December 2006

I am glad to support Michael McMahon's amendment, which is wise and far-sighted and should be supported by the Parliament. He raises an issue that I raised with the minister during the stage 1 debate. In response to my question, the minister said that it was not necessary for the bill to state explicitly that faith-based adoption agencies would not be compelled to help same-sex couples to adopt. I believe as a matter of conviction that it is right that we should not put people in positions in which they are expected to act against their religious faith or principles, whether their religion is Christianity, Islam, Judaism or any other. It is wrong to think that we are talking only about Catholic-based agencies. We are dealing with a much bigger issue than that.

I made it clear that, although I welcomed the minister's reassurance, it was desirable that this sensitive matter should be clarified in the bill. As Margaret Smith rightly said, other legislation could give rise to legal actions against faith-based agencies. The amendment would send a clear signal to faith-based agencies that their valued work can continue unhindered in a way that is acceptable to everybody concerned.