To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Chelmsford of 30 April, Official Report, column 409, what information he has of the average delay for British couples wishing to adopt an orphan from Romania, from first notifying his Department of their intention and obtaining his Department's approval; what action his Department takes in respect of those couples and the child concerned if the procedure is not followed; and if he plans to review the procedure.
Where a child adopted in Romania is to be brought to live in the United Kingdom an application for entry clearance must be made at the British embassy in Bucharest before the child leaves Romania. The entry clearance officer will first obtain information about the child's background and the circumstances of the adoption. The application is then referred to the immigration department of the Home Office which will normally seek advice from the Department of Health on the welfare aspects of the case and the likelihood of a United Kingdom court granting an adoption order before deciding whether to grant the application. The time taken to complete the necessary inquiries depends on the individual circumstances, but in the four recent cases where applications for Romanian children have been referred to the Home Office approval has been given in three weeks or less. Children adopted in Romania who are brought to the United Kingdom without entry clearance are liable to be refused admission and removed to Romania. The immigration, officer, however, has discretion to admit them temporarily while further inquiries are made. We are reviewing the procedures for dealing with overseas adoptions to see whether they can be streamlined further while continuing to provide proper protection for the children involved.