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

MPs - who last week supported a change in the law to allow unmarried couples in stable relationships to adopt children - last night voted to allow same-sex couples in similar relationship also to adopt.

An attempt by Andrew Lansley, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, to restrict the legal change only to opposite-sex couples was defeated by 301 votes to 174. There was no debate on the proposed amendment, which was supported by 37 Labour MPs and four Liberal Democrats.

The Adoption and Children Bill, which is broadly supported by all parties, is intended to increase the number of children in care who are adopted. Among other things, it would establish a statutory national register of children seeking adoptive parents and gives prospective adopters rights of an independent review of their case through appeals panels.

Julian Brazier, Conservative MP for Canterbury, said a single statistical table he saw last week brought home what the Bill was all about.

'It was a horrifying table showing the number of moves among the 25,000 children who left care in 2000', he said.

'Just over a fifth of them had been moved five or more times in the previous 12 months. Some 16,000 of them had been moved more than 10 times in that time. What sorts of lives do these children have? That is why adoption is so vital'.

The Bill was given an unopposed third reading. It now goes to the lords, where some peers are expected to seek to overturn the amendments giving adoption rights to gay or unmarried couples.

Hansard 20 May 2002: Column 22-122

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