After section 9

Part of Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:30 am on 7th December 2006.

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Photo of Michael McMahon Michael McMahon Labour 10:30 am, 7th December 2006

I have been told by the faith-based adoption agencies that they are concerned about what might happen. That is why the amendment was lodged.

I want to respond to what Fiona Hyslop said and to refer to comments that she made at stage 2. I have not used the word "rights". The issue is not that someone's rights will be taken away or that rights will be given; the issue is protection for agencies so that they can operate within the law.

The fear of the faith-based adoption agencies that they will be forced out of business has been confirmed by what members have said. It is clear that some people want faith-based adoption agencies to operate outwith the criteria that they set and to be told by the Parliament how they will operate, despite their religious beliefs and the ethos under which they are delivering a first-class service.

If amendment 86 creates any difficulties, I cannot understand how we can solve them by dealing with matters in guidance or regulations. There is no logic in saying that it is all right to deal with such things in regulations rather than in the legislation. I do not follow how anyone can believe that providing protection to one group for the delivery of a service without taking away anyone's entitlement must be discriminatory and will diminish the service that is being provided.

The reality is that faith-based adoption agencies provide a high-level service. I cannot believe that the Parliament would wish to do anything that would take them out of the sector in which they operate and deliver that high standard of service. I therefore ask members to support amendment 86.