We were discussing section 3 but before we proceed with the discussion on the section, I have received an amendment in the name of Deputy Haughey, amendment a.1 to section 3 which cannot be accepted as the question that section 3 stand part of the Bill has already been proposed. Amendments, if any, offered to a section must be disposed of before such question is proposed. This rule applies in Special Committee as well as in Committee of the whole House. I should say that if, however, the Committee wish to propose any further amendments as a result of discussion of this section the amendments may be brought forward for consideration on Report or the Bill may be recommitted in which case it would be necessary for the Minister to move formally in the Dáil for the Recommittal of the Bill.
I thank you for that explanation and I understand the situation. The amendment which I had hoped to put down related to the section. It was an attempt to deal with the matter which was raised here at our last meeting, that was, to eliminate any distinction between the types of dependent children. I will not go into the mechanics of the amendment but you will see what I had in mind and what my purpose was. I am satisfied, however, that I can deal with it in other ways. I can recommend the point to the Minister and he might consider including it on report. But we have several other opportunities for giving effect to what I have in mind.
I sympathise with the intention behind the amendment but it would have the effect of limiting the rights of certain children. It would eliminate the liability to maintain children in respect of whom a spouse was in loco parentis. Generally speaking, it would be an adulterine child who had been accepted. It might also possibly exclude an adopted child, although the Adoption Act would probably cover that point anyway. Again, it would impose the duty on a husband to maintain a wife and I think an adulterine child in respect of whom that spouse did not do any act that would place it in loco parentis. It would have a couple of adverse effects in both of those regards. The definition, as drafted, is wide enough to cover all children who could be held to be dependent children of the family.
Subsection (a) takes in children adopted by both spouses and in relation to whom both spouses are in loco parentis. Under the third category in subsection (a) they could be children adopted by both parties or they could be nephews or nieces or children in that category; (b) then takes the case of the child of either spouse—a legitimate child of a first marriage, an adopted child of an earlier marriage or an adulterine child in respect of whom the other spouse had been in loco parentis—and it takes very little to constitute a relationship in loco parentis. Broadly speaking, any act that would be a normal act within a family could place that spouse in loco parentis and would bring the child under the definition. There is no danger of children who should be included being excluded by the definition as it stands.
Why is it necessary to mention the Adoption Act?
It is probably not necessary to mention it. Section 24 of the Adoption Act probably covers this because it gives full rights to adopted children. I suppose it is a matter of prudence on the part of the draftsman to include it.