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Lord Hylton: Perhaps I may invite the noble and learned Lord to comment on the interaction between the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and those spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Meston, and my noble and learned friend.

The Lord Chancellor: I do not see any conflict between them in principle. The precise drafting may

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need to be examined, there is a degree of overlap between some, but in principle the kind of difficulty addressed by the amendment of the noble Lords, Lord Meston and Lord Jakobovits, is of a different character from the difficulties addressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in her amendment as well as those of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Irvine, about financial prejudice. There is another head relating to children and all three could be operated independently or all together, depending on the court's view of the matter. I see no conflict in principle between the court having power in respect of any one or more of the three heads to examine the possibility of postponing the grant of an order of divorce in the circumstances envisaged.

Lord Meston: I agree with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on the point. I see no problem in the interaction, if there is any, between the various amendments. As he said, there is a measure of overlap in that Amendment No. 108 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, incorporates the specific point about a religious divorce which is more specifically covered in the amendment which I first introduced.

As I understand the indications from the noble and learned Lord, he appreciates and is already aware of the difficulties. The barriers to which he referred and which I sought to address in the first amendment in the group are barriers of serious concern affecting the parties before the court. In my submission, it is incumbent on the court, if at all possible, to seek to help the parties to work round or over the barriers.

The Lord Chancellor: Before the noble Lord proceeds, could he help me on whether anything other than religious barriers of the kind we have been discussing could come under the head of his amendment? I have been considering that, so far without much constructive result. He may have thought about it and be able to help me because it is a difficult area.

Lord Meston: I have to say that it never occurred to me that it would control--if that is the correct word--anything other than religious barriers to a remarriage in the circumstances that I indicated in my opening remarks. I shall look again at the wording in case there is a problem, but I cannot foresee one.

As regards the other amendments, it is perhaps not for me to say more. I should have mentioned that Amendment No. 111 is purely a drafting amendment designed to give the court a power to cancel an order which the Bill in its existing form does not appear to do. On the other amendments, I fully agree with the noble Lord, Lord Irvine, that in practice the existing barrier or the hardship bar is rarely invoked and even more rarely does it succeed. The conventional advice to a client in such circumstances is simply not to try to use it.

I suggest that even at this late hour we have had a valuable debate and the future emphasis in debates on the Bill may well revolve around Clause 10. It seems to me that Clause 10 is the way in which many of the anxieties expressed about the Bill could possibly be resolved. The noble and learned Lord, in the language

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of the Bill, suggested that there be a period of reflection and consideration on these matters. On this occasion I hope that it will be a much shorter period than one year. Indeed, we shall be able to return to these matters at Report stage. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

It is ten minutes past eleven o'clock. If my Motion is accepted by the Government, I will sit down at once; otherwise, I shall try to satisfy your Lordships why we should rise now and resume the Committee later. I see that the noble Baroness makes a convulsive move. I hope that that is approbatory.

Moved, That the House do now resume.--(Lord Simon of Glaisdale.)

Baroness Trumpington: I do not think I can do anything convulsively at this time of night. There is light ahead in the tunnel. We will finish pretty soon, but not now. If the noble and learned Lord insists, the matter can be voted upon. I leave it in his hands.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I have no objection to the next group of amendments up to Amendment No. 117 being called. I hope that that will assuage any worry on the part of the Whips. The noble Lord, Lord Meston, has just referred to the late hour. It is ten minutes past eleven o'clock. The noble Baroness says that we will end soon. Can she indicate what "soon" means?

Baroness Trumpington: Nobody longs more for my tiny truckle bed than me. I can tell the noble Lord that we will finish at the end of Clause 13; in other words, at Amendment No.153.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I am not quite sure about that. At the moment, I believe that the proper course is to withdraw the Motion that I have proposed.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 99 to 111 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No.111A:


Page 6, line 10, leave out ("dissolving") and insert ("dissolution of").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 112 to 114 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 114A:


Page 6, line 13, leave out ("to dissolve the marriage") and insert ("for the marriage to be dissolved").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 115 to 117 not moved.]

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Baroness Faithfull moved Amendment No. 118:


Before Clause 11, insert the following new clause--

Advice to children of divorced parents: child protection agencies

(". A child protection agency shall provide help and advice to

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children of divorced parents who find themselves disadvantaged by the terms of the court settlement at the time of the settlement or thereafter.").

The noble Baroness said: This is a probing amendment which seeks advice from the noble and learned Lord. A number of parents, both men and women, have come to see me to say that in some cases the access arrangements are not being carried out by one or the other parent. If it is a woman, very often she cannot afford to go to court when the order is not being carried out. That also goes for men. I am afraid that a number of women give excuses, saying that the child is not able to go for its access visit, the child has an examination or a football match, or is ill. Many men have been to see me to say that they are losing contact with their sons and daughters because the access arrangements are not being adhered to.

In those circumstances, and if the parent cannot afford it, is he allowed legal aid to go back to court? I beg to move.

The Lord Chancellor: The ordinary arrangements for legal aid would apply for those who cannot afford it otherwise. In other words, if they are within the legal aid limits, it would be possible. I believe that that is the right arrangement. If things are not working, the person who is aggrieved by that can go back to court. That is the present system. I think it would be right that the information given at the beginning of the whole business should include reference to that possibility. One would hope to avoid it altogether, but if the situation arose, that is the way in which it would be dealt with.

Baroness Faithfull: I thank the noble and learned Lord. I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 [Lord Chancellor's Rules]:

[Amendment No. 119 not moved.]

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 120:


Page 6, line 23, at end insert--
("( ) as to the form in which a statement is to be made;").

The noble and learned Lord said: We discussed this amendment in relation to an earlier one. I wish to make it clear that the form in which the statement has to be made is something which one can deal with. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 121 and 121A not moved.]

Lord Meston moved Amendment No. 122:


Page 6, line 43, leave out ("whether") and insert ("that").

The noble Lord said: I shall very briefly move this amendment, to which I did not have the opportunity to speak earlier. It seeks to alter the provisions of Clause 11(2) in that the existing provision in the Bill suggests that the Lord Chancellor may make rules which include a rule to require a legal representative to certify at such times as may be specified whether he has discussed with the parties the possibility of a reconciliation and various other matters.

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That seems to me to reproduce the, frankly, lame procedure under the existing legislation whereby, on filing a divorce petition, a solicitor is required also to lodge with the court what is called a certificate of reconciliation. He does not, in fact, have to say that he has discussed with the party filing the petition the possibility of a reconciliation. He can comply with it, as he would be able to comply with the requirements under the Bill as it is presently drafted, by simply certifying that he has not discussed with his client the possibility of a reconciliation.

It seems to me under the present procedure a complete waste of time and paper for that sort of document to be lodged with the court and it would be unfortunate if the opportunity were lost under this legislation to put something more effective in the statute to require a legal representative to discuss with the party whom he happens to be advising the possibility of a reconciliation. I appreciate that my amendment on its own leaves the rest of the clause in some grammatical error, but I hope that the point is clear. I beg to move.


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