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10 May 2012

Adoption plans welcomed in Queen's speech

Adoption plans welcomed in Queen's speech

The Evangelical Alliance has welcomed government plans to make adoption faster and fairer, set out in the Queen’s speech and is looking forward to working with the government to meet this need.

Other measures in the speech raised criticisms from Christian groups including the failure to legislate on international aid.

The Queen’s speech set out the government’s plans for the next year and in particular, the bills the government intends to pass. On top of this legislation, the speech stated that the government’s overriding priority was to reduce the deficit and restore economic stability.

A wide ranging Children and Families Bill will address adoption, family law and parental leave. The Bill will seek to speed up the adoption process and make race considerations a lower priority, than finding a permanent home for children.

The Evangelical Alliance is working with Care for the Family on an initiative to encourage the church to do more to help children in care. Krish Kandiah, the alliance’s executive director for churches in mission recently visited the Christian Alliance for Orphan’s summit, on adoption and fostering at Saddleback Church in California.

Commenting on the government’s proposals he said: “There are thousands of children waiting to be adopted in the UK. It is my prayer that the church will play a significant part in helping to find safe and loving families for these waiting children.

“I am delighted that the Queen's speech signals plans to make adoption faster and fairer and look forward to opportunities to work with the government to meet this adoption need. At the summit, I was hugely impressed by the culture of adoption and fostering in many US churches but also by the close co-operation between the government and the church to meet the need.”

Following the Queen’s 57th speech to parliament the Prime Minister came to the House of Commons to add detail to the plans. He said to parliament: “Let me say exactly what this Queen’s Speech is about. It is about a government taking the tough, long-term decisions to restore our country to strength.”

The speech was criticised by the Labour party for failing to do enough to tackle the difficulties facing families struggling to put food on the table. Ed Miliband said in response to the Prime Minister: “For a young person looking for work, the speech offers nothing. For a family whose living standards are being squeezed, this speech offers nothing.”

The speech contained plans for nineteen bills, including four which are only in draft form and therefore will not become law this year. Prominent among the plans for new laws, are the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and the Banking Reform Bill. The latter will separate retail banking from investment activities, while the former will seek to provide greater shareholder control on executive pay. Other bills will ensure that large retailers pay a fair price to farmers and the Small Donations Bill will let charities claim an equivalent to gift aid on donations of less than £20.

Alliance member organisation, Tearfund expressed concern that the government might be seeking to wriggle out of a manifesto commitment to protect international aid. Advocacy director, Paul Cook said: “The Government promised to legislate for 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to be dedicated to international aid and yet there's no mention of it today. What happened to that promise?” While not indicating legislation enshrining the level of aid, the Queen’s Speech did reiterate the government’s commitment to reach this threshold.

The speech contained only a glancing reference to the looming battles within the coalition over reform of the House of Lords. The Queen said: “A Bill will be brought forward to reform the composition of the House of Lords.” The minimalist mention fuelled speculation, that the government might not force this Bill through, particularly at a time when they are under pressure to show that they are concentrating on economic growth.

Image Copyright Mary Santo 8 May 2012.