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The Lord Chancellor: So far as I am concerned, the reasoning behind the clause is that I have sought, generally speaking, to retain the existing law as regards the effects of orders. As my noble and learned friend Lord Simon explained clearly, that is the existing law and it has been so since 1965. The fact that it is the existing law does not mean that we should not change it, but until now there has not been much pressure to change the provision, as I have understood it. Generally, in regard to financial matters, I have left the existing law as it is. It is a big subject to get into in a systematic way. We shall have other amendments suggesting changes, some more dramatic and some less. That is the reason that I put in the provision. If the views that Members of the Committee have expressed represent the general view of the House, I have no feeling against it myself. My only reason for including it is that it happens to be the law and has been for about 30 years.

Baroness Elles: Will my noble and learned friend explain the logic of why he wishes the clause to remain when it is already part of the law? He was not keen on my amendment on children which he also says is part of the law, but in another Act. It does not seem to me

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logical why we should keep one provision which is the present law and not allow something which is the present law in another part of the Bill.

The Lord Chancellor: As usual, my noble friend has an extremely good point. However, as my noble and learned friend Lord Simon said, as regards drafting, Schedule 10 repeals a number of the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Thus, in order to preserve the effect of the existing law I have to put in this provision. One of the effects of that is to bring the matter to the Committee's attention in a way that it would not have been if I had left the provision in the 1973 Act. Perhaps it is a good idea. However, that is altogether a different argument from the previous one. I am certainly not repealing the Children Act nor do I propose to do so in this Bill. What I am doing is to propose the repeal of parts of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Therefore, I thought I should put the provision back in. It represents the existing law but if the Committee believes that the existing law should be changed, I have no strong reason against it.

Lord Coleraine: My noble and learned friend explained why the provision was introduced in the swinging sixties. Therefore I feel that we ought to go ahead and follow the course recommended by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and indeed to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. I seem to recognise in his reply--I hope rightly--some green edges. He is obviously not committed to this provision beyond the fact that it represents the existing law. But if the existing law is contrary to principle, if it is in derogation of marriage, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, has shown, we have no reason at all to be attached to it.

I undertook at the outset of the Committee stage that I should not press any of my amendments to a Division, and I think that covers this case. But I shall certainly return to the matter on Report. I hope in the meantime my noble and learned friend, having given himself a locus penitentiae, will tell me that it is not necessary and that he will do the job for me.

Clause 18 agreed to.

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 162:


After Clause 18, insert the following new clause--

Funding for marriage support services

(".--(1) The Lord Chancellor may, with the approval of the Treasury, make grants in connection with--
(a) the provision of marriage support services;
(b) research into the causes of marital breakdown;
(c) research into ways of preventing marital breakdown.
(2) Any grant under this section may be made subject to such conditions as the Lord Chancellor considers appropriate.").

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a rather important amendment, to which I spoke earlier. I am very glad to have the opportunity of moving it. It gives the Lord Chancellor a basis for supporting research of a

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most important kind, as well as supporting by grant in appropriate circumstances the marriage support services. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee had given notice of her intention to move, as an amendment to Amendment No. 162, Amendment No. 162ZA:


Line 4, after ("marriage") insert ("and family").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment made its way onto the Marshalled List after we had debated the point. It is not moved.

[Amendment No. 162ZA, as an amendment to Amendment No. 162, not moved.]

6.45 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Speaking therefore to my noble and learned friend's Amendment No. 162, I have only one small point, which I put forward in no very hopeful mood. It relates to the statement that my noble and learned friend may make grants only,


    "with the approval of the Treasury".

Those words appear in statute after statute, and are totally unnecessary. There is firm and fair machinery within the machine of government which prevents my noble and learned friend splashing about with public money at his unfettered discretion. There is, indeed, a Treasury official who watches closely what is happening in my noble and learned friend's department; and similarly, all his officials are aware of that. They are firmly aware that they must not incur public expenditure except with the consent of the Treasury. The words are entirely unnecessary. I know that the Treasury values them greatly, but it is utterly wrong to include them. I venture to speak as a former Treasury Minister. I am all in favour of Treasury control, but not of cluttering up the statute book with a whole number of unnecessary phrases.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lyell): We are still debating Amendment No. 162, but, with apologies to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, I must call three other amendments before we proceed further with this one; namely, Amendments Nos. 162A, 163 and 163A.

[Amendments Nos. 162A to 163A, as amendments to Amendment No. 162, not moved.]

Baroness Seear: We on these Benches very strongly support Amendment No. 162. It is sometimes thought that those of us who are strongly in favour of this Bill are not in favour of marriage. That is completely false, and we should like to have it on record that that is so. We support this amendment because it will give great support to marriage. We want to make that absolutely clear. I should, however, like to see the amendment somewhat strengthened. I agree very much with the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon. I have been waiting for someone to say that it is ridiculous that we are so much in the clutches of the Treasury. After all, the Prime Minister is the First Lord of the Treasury; if he decides that money should be spent, surely it should be spent.

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That aside, one would like to see it made absolutely clear that there will be money for these services. I agree with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that research is extremely important, but we also want to see support for conciliation services. On a number of occasions during debate on this Bill we raised the issue of the uncertainty of money being available for conciliation services. Those services are a very, very important prop to the sustaining of marriage. Unless money is there for them, a great many people will not take advantage of them. We are confident on these Benches--and I think probably this is true throughout the Committee--that while the present Lord Chancellor is in post he will be assiduous in giving support of this kind. But Lord Chancellors come and go. I do not say that the next one will be any better or worse, but there could come a time when a Lord Chancellor was less interested in these matters. We should like to see it firmly on the face of the Bill that these moneys will be available whatever the Treasury says and whoever the Lord Chancellor may be.

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: I support this amendment firmly and emphatically. I remember saying at Second Reading that I hoped the moneys would be available for marriage support services, and for research into the causes and ways of preventing marital breakdown. These are essential if this Bill is to bring about a hoped for improvement.

I agree that those of us who support the Bill have been accused of being soft, liberal and unsupportive of marriage and the family. That is not so. But we feel that the noble and learned Lord's Bill puts marriage and the family at the centre. However, if resources are not available, the last state will be worse than the first. That is the point. This is a Bill that seeks to bolster marriage, to build it up, and to provide counselling for those whose marriage has broken down. Therefore from these Benches I strongly support the noble and learned Lord's amendment, provided that we may have some fairly firm assurance that resources will be available for these extremely positive measures to support marriage and the family in such a way that it is more than just legalism.

Baroness Hamwee: In a genuine spirit of inquiry, I ask about the status of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Bill. The financial effects of the Bill are described in that memorandum. The provisions in Parts I and II of the Bill are designed to be cost neutral. The argument might be advanced that by making an investment in the services described in the amendment of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, there will be savings made elsewhere but that, no doubt, would be over time.

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I hope that the noble and learned Lord can reassure the Committee that the provisions of the Bill have precedence over that memorandum, which will be changed, as necessary, if--as I hope--the amendment is accepted.


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