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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

MPs will have a free vote on amendments to the Adoption and Children Bill which would allow unmarried couples - whether same sex or opposite sex partnerships - to adopt children.

Health secretary Alan Milburn told the commons that because of the differing views on both sides of the house, and after considering representations on the issues raised, the government had decided to allow a free votes on the amendments, tabled by David Hinchcliffe, chairman of the commons health select committee.

The government's objective was to increase the number of children who had the opportunity, through adoption, to grow up as part of a loving, stable and permanent family. The amendments, which he supported, were simply about widening the pool of potential adoptive parents so that more children, rather than being stuck in the care system, might be adopted.

'If the amendments are passed, it will be for the adoption agencies and, ultimately for the courts to decide who is suitable to adopt. No one has a right to adopt. There is a rigorous assessment process and it would not change if the amendments were passed', added Mr Milburn.

The votes will take place when the Bill returns from committee to the floor of the commons for its report stage.

Hansard 7 May 2002: Column 7-11

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