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Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Airedale, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Annan, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Birk, B.
Bridges, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B. [Teller.]
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Foot, L.
Freyberg, L.
Gallacher, L.
Geraint, L.
Gibson, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Glenamara, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Hanworth, V.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. [Teller.]
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hughes, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jay, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kinloss, Ly.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macaulay of Bragar, L.
McConnell, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Palmer, L.
Peston, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rix, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Sainsbury, L.
Seear, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Stedman, B.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Tenby, V.
Thurlow, L.
Tordoff, L.
Wallace of Coslany, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whaddon, L.
Wharton, B.
White, B.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Young of Dartington, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldenham, L.
Aldington, L.
Ampthill, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Balfour, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Beloff, L.
Bethell, L.
Blake, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brentford, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chesham, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cross, V.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donegall, M.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elibank, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Goschen, V.
Grey, E.
Halsbury, E.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hesketh, L.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Hope of Craighead, L.
Hothfield, L.
Huntly, M.
Inglewood, L. [Teller.]
Killearn, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kintore, E.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Long, V. [Teller.]
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Macleod of Borve, B.
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Monson, L.
Mottistone, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moyne, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Nelson, E.
Norrie, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Orkney, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Pike, B.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Pym, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Savile, L.
Seccombe, B.
Shannon, E.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Slim, V.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strange, B.
Strathcarron, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Sudeley, L.
Swinfen, L.
Swinton, E.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vinson, L.
Westbury, L.
Wise, L.
Wyatt of Weeford, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1122

5.5 p.m.

Clause 4 [Acquisition of parental rights and responsibilities by natural father]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 2:


Page 3, line 48, after ("Where") insert ("a child's mother has not been deprived of some or all of the parental responsibilities and parental rights in relation to him and").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 3 and 4. These amendments make clear two points about the parental responsibilities agreements which are provided for by Clause 4. First, that a mother can only enter into a parental responsibilities agreement with the unmarried father of her child if she has not been deprived of any of her parental responsibilities and rights by a court order. Secondly, that an agreement will take effect only when it is registered in the Books of Council and Session. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendments Nos. 3 and 4:


Page 3, line 48, leave out ("a child's") and insert ("his").
Page 4, line 1, leave out ("date of the agreement") and insert ("appropriate date").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to these two amendments when moving Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 5:


Page 4, line 6, at end insert:
("( ) executed before a relevant person; and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 8. This is a provision which should be put into the Bill to make sure that when parents make agreements about parentage and so forth, to put it quite colloquially, it confirms that they know what they are doing. At Committee stage I believe that the Minister, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, suggested that perhaps a notary public would not be available in, for example, a remote country area.

The reasoning behind these two amendments is to broaden the scope of the people before whom an agreement can be executed. We have a notary public who, basically, is a solicitor and a justice of the peace. I do not believe that one can move anywhere in Scotland without bumping into a justice of the peace or a sheriff clerk. These are not matters of great urgency. They will not be decided within an hour or two. In making the arrangements it gives the persons involved the opportunity to go before people of responsibility who can question them as to the identity of the parents. There will not be much difficulty with the mother, particularly if she has not given birth, but that is another matter. As regards the father, the provision is to make sure that the parties are properly designated and that they have the capacity to enter into an agreement.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1123

It is quite obvious that a notary public, a justice of the peace or a sheriff clerk are persons who can judge, broadly speaking, whether people know what they are doing and what commitments they are entering into. By allowing this amendment, it will also provide a certain amount of safeguard for the child of the parties involved in the agreement. I beg to move.

The Lord Advocate (Lord Rodger of Earlsferry): My Lords, these amendments are similar to provisions brought forward in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. At that stage, my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie agreed that parents who are about to undertake a parental responsibilities and rights agreement should give due thought and consideration before doing so. I am sure that all noble Lords would agree with that. It was also confirmed at that stage that it is correct that the process should involve a formal step. Nonetheless, the Government remain of the view that that is already achieved in the existing arrangements of Clause 4, and particularly in subsection (2). As my noble and learned friend made clear in Committee, in producing the guidance notes which will accompany the agreement forms it is the Government's intention to make it clear to such parents that they are taking a substantial step which will involve a change in their status and that they may therefore wish to take legal advice on it before committing themselves.

Nonetheless, the Government are not convinced that the amendments are required, or are even sufficient, to ensure that the parents obtain legal advice. They would involve the parties in additional effort and cost, depending on whether there was a "relevant person" near where they live. I notice that the amendment as now drafted seems in part to cater for the point that was made in Committee about how the provisions would work if one party was located in England and the other in Scotland. However, we are not quite sure that its terms are entirely appropriate. That is because the amendment simply requires the agreement to be signed before a relevant person such as a notary public. In other words, the notary public is simply acting as a witness. There is no requirement upon that person to ascertain whether the person signing the document appreciates what it is that he is signing. That is completely different from the situation ordinarily when a document requires to be sworn before a notary and it does not ensure that legal advice is obtained by the parents.

For that reason, the Government remain of the view that the existing provisions are sufficient. We have already given a commitment to keep the process as straightforward as possible. We believe that the provisions are sufficient, and in those circumstances I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.


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