Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 7th December 2006.

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Resumed debate.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None 2:55 pm, 7th December 2006

We resume stage 3 consideration of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill. Members should have the bill as amended at stage 2, which is SP Bill 61A; the marshalled list, which contains all the amendments that I have selected for debate; a supplement to the marshalled list, which contains one manuscript amendment; and the groupings, which I have agreed.

The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes for the first division on an amendment. The period of voting for the first division will be 30 seconds. Thereafter, I will allow a voting period of one minute for the first division after a debate. All other divisions will last 30 seconds.

I invite the Minister for Parliamentary Business to move a motion under rule 9.8.5A of the standing orders to extend the next time limit by 30 minutes, which will have the knock-on effect of extending all remaining time limits by 30 minutes.

Motion moved,

That, under Rule 9.8.5A, the time-limits for groups 8 to 10 be extended by 30 minutes.—[Ms Margaret Curran.]

Motion agreed to.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

I therefore expect the debate on whether the bill should be passed to begin shortly before 4.30 pm and decision time to be around 5.30 pm, although it might be just a little earlier.

Group 8 is on permanence orders. Amendment 104, in the name of the minister, is grouped with amendments 105, 34 to 36, 115 to 117, 37, 38, 42, 44 to 46, 129, 131, 56, 60, 63, 66, 148, 67, 68 and 71 to 74.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

We begin round 2 of the debate.

Amendment 104 is simply a technical amendment that will replace a reference to a permanence order to provide consistency of expression with the rest of the bill.

Amendment 105 was lodged to define the term "parent" in sections 33(2) and 33(2A). It will bring the definition of "parent" in those sections into line with the definition that will be used in the section that sets out the conditions for a permanence order with authority to adopt. Amendment 115 is also relevant in that context.

Essentially, amendments 34 to 38 and amendment 115 will divide up the provisions that were originally contained in section 84. This is another restructuring issue. Members of the committee thought that that section was too long; the amendments address their concerns.

I do not think that Lord James Douglas-Hamilton will press amendment 116, but I will resist it if he does so. He lodged a similar amendment at stage 2, when the clarity of the provisions was its attraction. However, I hope that we have now addressed the problems in a satisfactory manner in amendments 34 to 38 and amendment 115. At stage 2, I set out my policy concerns about his amendment, so we do not need to rehearse them again.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton's amendment 117 would not add anything new to the bill—all the provisions that the amendment proposes are already contained in the bill. Under section 37(2), the making of an adoption order will extinguish the parental responsibilities and rights that were previously held and will therefore bring a permanence order to an end. Under subsection (2) of the new section to be inserted by amendment 35, the duration of a permanence order is otherwise clearly provided for. That provision is not new—it will replace section 84(9).

Amendments 42, 44 to 46, 129, 131 56, 60, 63, 66, 148, 67, 68 and 71 to 74 are technical, consequential amendments that arise from the redrafting of section 84. Amendments 42, 44 and 45 will replace references to subsection (4) of section 84 with subsection (1) of the new section that will set out provisions with regard to the ancillary provisions of a permanence order. Amendment 46 will replace the reference in section 90 to subsection 84(6) with a reference to the new section that contains the conditions that must be met before a permanence order that grants authority for a child to be adopted may be made.

Amendments 129 and 131 will replace the references to section 84(5) with references to the new section that contains the conditions that must be met before a permanence order that grants authority for a child to be adopted may be made. Amendments 56, 60, 63, 66, 148, 67, 68 and 71 to 74 are consequential.

I move amendment 104.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

My amendments in the group were drafted by Janys Scott, who is an advocate, part-time sheriff and one of the foremost experts in Scotland on the subject. I am grateful to the minister for agreeing to see me with her and Michael Clancy of the Law Society of Scotland.

I will not enter into a debate on whose drafting is better, and I cannot claim that every detail of what I have proposed has been accepted. Nevertheless, I thank the minister for accepting a great deal of the spirit of my amendments through the expert wording of his own draftsman. It was kind of him to give us an hour and a quarter of his valuable time. I feel a little like the man who abstained from taking any alcohol but who was presented with a bottle of cherry brandy. Not wishing to appear ungrateful, he replied, "Thank you for the gift and the spirit in which it is given." Because I am grateful to the minister for lodging amendment 104 and the associated amendments, I will not move my amendments in this group or the associated amendments in subsequent groups. I will support the Executive's amendments.

The credit for the minister's substantial movement should go not just to him, but to the Law Society of Scotland and to Janys Scott of the Faculty of Advocates.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party 3:00 pm, 7th December 2006

I welcome the Executive's amendments and congratulate Lord James Douglas-Hamilton on his diligence and persistence in pursuing his concerns in the matter of permanence order provisions.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

I was grateful for the input of members of all parties and their expert advisers, and for the meeting with the Law Society, which Lord James Douglas-Hamilton mentioned. That input has focused minds on the technicalities of a difficult and complex bill, and the bill has benefited from it. I am also grateful to both Adam Ingram and Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.

Amendment 104 agreed to.

Amendment 105 moved—[Robert Brown]—and agreed to.