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( ) the applicant is a parent of the child'.
These amendments clarify clause 41, which sets out the period that a child has to live with a prospective adopter before an application may be made for an adoption order. They also make minor modifications to the provision in clause 43 that covers the process of giving notice to local authorities in non-agency adoptions.
In the case of the changes to clause 41, amendment No. 211 corrects an omission in the Bill as currently drafted, by providing that in the rare cases in which a natural parent is applying to adopt their own child, the residence period required will be the same as that for agency-approved adopters, as it is under the Adoption Act 1976.
Amendments Nos. 212 and 213 improve the wording of subsection (3), which relates to step-parent applications. They make it clear that, when a step-parent is applying to adopt a child jointly with the natural parent, the six-month residence period for step-parent applications is still to apply, as it does for single step-parent applications.
Amendments Nos. 215 to 218 concern the process of non-agency adoptions. When an adoption is not happening through an adoption agency, the adoptive applicant has to give notice to the local authority in which he has his home, so that the local authority can investigate and report to the courtan important safeguard for children in cases where an adoption agency has not been involved in selecting and matching the adopters for the child.
These amendments allow for cases in which an applicant fulfils the domicile requirements in clause 47, but does not in law currently have his home in a local authority area. It might be helpful to hon. Members if I explain that this problem was brought to our attention by the Ministry of Defence, because it relates to members of the armed services or, for example, to diplomats temporarily stationed abroad. Obviously, we would not want to block such individuals from adopting under British law simply on these grounds. The amendments would allow us in these cases to prescribe, in regulations, which should be the appropriate local authority in cases where the applicant did not currently have his home in the UK.
In addition, Government amendment No. 215 makes it clear that, although the report to the court and the investigation are the responsibility of the local authority, it could arrange for elements of them to be carried out by other suitable organisations. For example, in the case of step-parent adoption applications by service families stationed overseas, we would envisage that the Service Families Adoption Agencya registered voluntary adoption agencywould conduct the investigation and visit the family, as required by clause 41(7), and pass the results to the relevant local authority. If the authority were satisfied, it would then submit the report to the court.
In conclusion, these amendments clarify the provisions in relation to clause 41, and ensure that an unsatisfactory situation relating particularly to our forces stationed overseas has been satisfactorily sorted out.
Tim Loughton: For fear of becoming a subsidiary to the warm-up act and being booed off the stage, I do not intend to go into any detail. In any event, we were notified of this raft of amendments late in the day.
It is difficult to see anything contentious in the amendments. I am especially pleased that the Minister has taken account of the special position of diplomats and members of the armed forces, which we raised in Committee in regard to other provisions. I hope that it will be taken into account in other parts of the Bill, but for now we have no reason to challenge the amendments. No doubt Members will wish to proceed to the next group.
'(b) an unmarried couple, or
(c) one person,'.
(c) an unmarried couple.'.
'49 or [Adoption by unmarried couples]'.
'49 or [Adoption orders unmarried couples]'.
'or one member of the unmarried couple (in the case of an application under section [Adoption orders: unmarried couples]).'.
'or one member of the unmarried couple (in the case of an application under section [Adoption by unmarried couples])'.
'or both applicants (in the case of an application under section [Adoption by unmarried couples])'.
'or both applicants (in the case of an application under section [Adoption orders: unmarried couples]).'.
'(6) References in this Act to an unmarried couple will apply only to a man and a woman living together.'.
'(1A) An adoption order may be made on the application of one person who has attained the age of 21 years if the court is satisfied that the person is the partner of a parent of the person to be adopted'.
'(1) An adoption order may not be granted on the application of an unmarried couple unless the court is satisfied
(a) that both of the applicants are over the age of twentyone;
(b) for the period of 2 years ending with the date of the application, the partners have lived in the same household (otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other's employee, tenant, lodger or boarder); and
(c) that the applicants are not close relatives of each other.
(2) "Close relative", in relation to any person, means his grandparents, parents, children, stepchildren, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters and stepbrothers and stepsisters.
(3) In relation to any application made under this section, the court may take into consideration the arrangements which the applicants have made, or intend to make in order to safeguard the welfare of the child involved, should their relationship break down.'.
'(1) An adoption order may be made on the application of an unmarried couple where both members of the couple have attained the age of 21 years.
(2) An adoption order may be made on the application by an unmarried couple if the court is satisfied
(a) that they have been living together for at least two years at time of application,
(b) that the relationship between the couple is stable and is intended by each of them to be permanent, and
(c) that the unmarried couple has made arrangements to safeguard the financial and practical security of the child in the event of the ending of their relationship and to meet their joint and individual parental responsibilities.'.