Rowen quizzes lack of fairness in adoption process

October 22, 2008 12:00 AM

Paul Rowen MP - Speaking up for Rochdale!Rochdale MP Paul Rowen used two Rochdale cases in Parliament this week to illustrate unfairness between parents who give birth naturally and those who adopt.

Currently parents who adopt are not entitled to the same maternity leave as those who have their biological children.

Mr Rowen was speaking during a debate on adoption in the House of Commons this week. He queried why parents who adopted were treated differently after receiving complaints from Rochdale constituents.

Mr Rowen has also written to Harriet Harman MP, the Women and Equalities Minister about the issue.

He said: "I think that there needs to be a change in the law on this issue. Many places are desperate for people to adopt and the current unfair system will put people off. The upcoming Equalities Bill would be an ideal opportunity."

He told Maria Eagle MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, during the debate: "Are you aware that couples who are adopting are given approximately only 50 per cent of the paid leave available for couples who have their own children? I have encountered two cases in which that has happened. Does she agree that given that those children often need more support, their adoptive parents should be able to have the same amount of maternity or paternity leave as is given to other couples? That would be a big help."

The Minister agreed to take up the two cases that Paul identified.

She said: "The hon. Gentleman will have to talk to me outside about individual cases, which I am happy to take up on his behalf. Women who have given birth are required by law to take time off - a minimum of two weeks if they work in an office or four weeks if they work in a factory. Maternity pay for the first six weeks after a mother has given birth is now 90 per cent of her pay. He may be referring to the fact that that is different for those who are adopting. If I have got that wrong, I am happy to talk to him about the precise circumstances of his constituents and try to provide him with an answer. He will recall that until April 2003, those adopting children had no right to any leave or pay for that purpose. I hope that he therefore accepts that this is an advance."

Mr Rowen said after the debate: "I am pleased that the Minister is willing to take up these cases and feel that pushing this will eventually lead to a change in the law to ensure fairness. People that are willing to adopt should be given the same rights and unfortunately the current law is a disincentive. They go through a strict vetting process until they are deemed eligible to adopt and I think we should be making it easier. The law as it stands, whilst better than it has been needs changing and I will be pushing for this change to help families adopting get the fairness the deserve."