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London: The law is to be changed to stop councils blocking mixed-race adoptions as part of radical reforms to ensure children are removed from unfit parents more quickly.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said there was "horrifying" evidence that youngsters were being left in dangerous homes for too long.

Gove, who was adopted at four months, said he wants many more children to be adopted before the age of one. He said local councils were blocking potential adoptions purely because would-be parents were not the same race as the child.

Gove revealed on Friday that David Cameron has agreed to change the law to prevent such discrimination and to speed up the process.

Of 3,600 children in care under the age of one, only 60 were adopted last year. Black children were three times less likely to find new parents than white ones.

Gove said he was deeply angered that falling numbers of adoptions — a 17 per cent decline in the last decade — meant a "cruel rationing of human love for those most in need".

Bureaucratic hurdles

The Education Secretary said couples were being turned down for trivial reasons, including one case in which a couple who had already adopted five children successfully could not take on another until they bought an electric kettle with a shorter lead.

Other couples are being asked questions such as whether they have non-slip mats in the shower, and asked to fill out nine pages of forms about the potential risks posed by their pets.

Gove will publish an adoption plan next month to sweep away bureaucratic hurdles and make the process of finding a permanent home for children in care in England swifter, simpler and more flexible.

Speaking in London, he said despite guidelines issued a year ago, local councils are still refusing to approve interracial adoptions. Gove said: "If there is a loving family, ready and able to adopt a child, issues of ethnicity must not stand in the way."