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9.26 pm

Jacqui Smith: This debate has been conducted with the same good temper and in the same constructive way that all the Bill's stages have been considered.

In my introduction, I spelled out the important ways in which the Bill has changed. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) referred to those changes. I must emphasise the attempt that we have made to listen to the experts who have been involved in the process, many of whom were mentioned by hon. Members. We have also tabled amendments to ensure that we not only have a consultative process, but act on it.

However, making changes as we go along brings considerable pressure to bear on the officials responsible for supporting Ministers. I certainly want to add my voice to the comments made by several hon. Members who thanked my officials for their work. They have put in long hours and sterling work, for which they deserve our congratulations, whether they are in the Lord Chancellor's Department or the Department of Health. I also want to commend the way in which the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham led the Opposition, ably assisted by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier).

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Ms Munn) once again used her experience of social work to inform her contribution. I share her view that we should not be quick to criticise social workers because they improve children's lives every day across the country. We should recognise that crucial work.

The hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) rightly emphasised the need for support and resources. I assure her that the Government will continue to invest in social services to an even greater extent than we have done since 1997.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Ms Taylor) brought her considerable experience to the debate, both personal and as a result of her work with the all-party group on adoption. It is worth while putting on the record our support for the work done by all the stakeholder groups involved and by the excellent all-party group, before which I appeared at least twice, and it was a stimulating experience.

20 May 2002 : Column 121

The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) referred once again to his legal expertise, which has been useful during consideration of the Bill. He emphasised the need to do all that we can to widen the pool of adopters and the important role of CAFCASS. Had it not been for the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Kevin Brennan), there would have been a bitter turn to this evening's events, with allegations being made of a Welsh stitch-up when it came to the bottle of wine. I am still not completely sure that everything is above board, but at least my hon. Friend has agreed to give away his bottle of wine.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) emphasised the key target to increase by 40 per cent. the adoption of children from care. As he has done throughout the process, he stressed the need to listen to the voice of young people in care as the real experts about the system. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Jonathan Shaw) for his kind words. Now that the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton), is back in her place, I reiterate my thanks for her ministerial role, her support and her hard work as we have taken this Bill through the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Liz Blackman) should not talk down her role. We have had many experts on this Bill, but there have also been many people who did not start as experts but rapidly became experts, and she falls into that category. She rightly re-emphasised the importance of provision of information to prospective adopters when such improvements have been possible to the legislation.

The hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) once again emphasised the need to ensure effective implementation, and reminded us, as did other hon. Members, about the significant position in the Bill of the paramountcy of the child, which is at its heart. As I suggested earlier, that has received support on both sides of the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West should probably have won a prize for the best jokes—never mind his pronunciation of Meirionnydd Nant Conwy—during the passage of the Bill. He was also able to be extremely serious, as he showed this evening, when once again he campaigned and pressed hard on the issue of access to information.

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) should not be sorry about coming late to the Bill, as, although I have not necessarily agreed with him, he made an interesting contribution today and last Thursday.

The hon. Member for Canterbury spelled out why children need the stability provided by adoption. He raised some concerns about contact, which will undoubtedly be discussed further in another place. I want him to recognise, however, that the special nature of contact in adoption is the reason why we have put forward these provisions.

Last August, when I launched the Government's national adoption standards, I was privileged to meet several adopters and their adopted children. During the event, I was able to watch the children and their adoptive parents. They laughed together, they argued and there were tears, but there were also hugs. That is what being

20 May 2002 : Column 122

in a family is about. Adoption can offer that opportunity to more children. The Bill will ensure that it does so, and I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We are about to decide on the draft Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002, but what advice can you give to those Members who, although they support the substance of the regulations, are very concerned about the lack of scrutiny that the House has been able to give to the Government's proposals? The one and a half hour debate in Standing Committee descended into what might be described as organised chaos with a welter of points of order. Neither the Conservative party's Front-Bench spokesman nor myself, as the Liberal Democrats' Front-Bench spokesman, were able to speak and to ask questions of the Government, because there was so little time and because of the confusion surrounding the regulations. We are now being asked to approve these important regulations even though they have not received adequate scrutiny. Do you have any advice for hon. Members?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I understand that the Committee considered the regulations and reported in accordance with Standing Orders. I do not therefore think that there is anything that I can do to assist the hon. Gentleman. Standing Order No. 118(6) requires me to put the Question now, and that is what I must do.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

National Health Service

That the draft Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002, which were laid before this House on 26th March, be approved.—[Jim Fitzpatrick.]

The House divided: Ayes 301, Noes 126.

Division No. 247
[9.36 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bennett, Andrew
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corston, Jean
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Francis, Dr Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Price, Adam
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Mr. Fraser Kemp.


Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Bellingham, Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cameron, David
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Grayling, Chris
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prisk, Mark
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Desmond Swayne and
Mr. Julian Brazier.

Question accordingly agreed to.

20 May 2002 : Column 125

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