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Lord Renton: My Lords, before my noble and learned friend sits down, perhaps I may mention the fact that he has drawn attention to a very important drafting principle which we too often neglect. He has said, and rightly said, that this matter should be stated in terms of the principle to be applied by the courts. The alternative is to spell out in detail all the kinds of hypothetical circumstances which lengthen and ruin much of our legislation.

Baroness Young: My Lords, before my noble and learned friend sits down, perhaps he will clarify still further the very important point about how the clause would be interpreted so that we can be quite sure that it would operate.

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If I recall it correctly, he said that it had been used in a number of cases in the past and, if a couple had decided to separate, the court could not make a judgment on that because that is something which is freely entered into. However, I have reread Dr. Cretney's letter and that is not the point which he is making. I do not wish to take up the time of the House but I would find it extremely helpful if my noble and learned friend could write to me on this matter. I am extremely concerned. I believe that this amendment is a great improvement to the Bill but I wish to make quite sure that it will be operative when the Bill becomes law.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, assuming that the Bill becomes law with this amendment in it, as I certainly hope it will, it will become operative in the sense that the courts will have to apply it if the jurisdiction of the court is invoked in any particular case.

As I understood the letter from Dr. Cretney which my noble friend read, he makes the point that the hardship must be related to the order dissolving the marriage. That is a factor which limits the application of its jurisdiction. But that is an inevitable limitation on the jurisdiction. I have lowered the standard of hardship required from "grave" to "substantial", which, in the circumstances, is as low as it can go. It is then left to the courts to decide whether there is hardship in any particular case and whether or not an order should be made in the light of the circumstances referred to in the later part of the clause.

I believe that that is all that I can say in dealing with the letter from Dr. Cretney and that I have dealt with the point he makes, which I understand entirely.

I am extremely grateful to my noble friend Lord Renton, who is such an authority on the matter of statutory construction, for the comfort of his support. I agree that it is wise not to attempt to have too much detailed definition of such phrases. Apart from cluttering the statute book, it may well prevent the courts from doing justice in a particular case where otherwise they may be able to do so.

Baroness Faithfull: My Lords, before my noble and learned friend sits down, on several occasions he has made cross-references to the Children Act 1989. It may be helpful to those who must administer the Act to have those cross references to that Act in this Bill. That Act is extremely clear in relation to some of the points that have been raised this afternoon.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, it is extremely important that it is recognised generally that the Children Act is a comprehensive framework which deals with matters concerning the upbringing of children. That applies where the parents are divorced or whatever is the situation. To my mind, it is extremely important that that is preserved.

Of course, there is a link with the Children Act in the provisions of the modified Clause 41 with which we shall deal later. Earlier today, I was looking with my colleagues who are helping me at the possibility of

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having a much earlier reference to the Children Act in this Bill. This Bill is not intended to deal exhaustively with the interests of children. On the contrary, I wish to point to the fact that the Children Act is a very useful and practical framework which deals with that. I am grateful to my noble friend for that suggestion and I shall try to pursue it. I cannot say for certain that I shall be successful, but I hope that I shall be.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 66 and 67:


Page 5, line 36, after ("party") insert ("or to a child of the family").
Page 5, line 38, after ("parties") insert ("and the interests of any child of the family").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to these amendments when I moved Amendment No. 65. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 67A not moved.]

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 68 to 70:


Page 5, line 42, leave out ("grave") and insert ("substantial").
Page 5, line 43, at end insert ("or to a child of the family").
Page 6, line 2, after ("parties") insert ("and the interests of any child of the family").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to these amendments when I moved Amendment No. 65. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 70A not moved.]

Clause 10 [Lord Chancellor's rules]:

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 71 and 72:


Page 6, line 14, at end insert--
("( ) requiring a copy of a statement made by one party to be served by the court on the other party;
( ) as to circumstances in which such service may be dispensed with or may be effected otherwise than by delivery to the party;").
Page 6, leave out lines 35 and 36.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to these amendments when I moved Amendment No. 30. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

4.30 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford moved Amendment No. 73:


Page 6, line 37, after ("any") insert ("marriage").

The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, in moving the above amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 76 and 78 which are tabled in my name. They relate to Clause 10(2) which deals with rules that may be made by the Lord Chancellor requiring a legal representative to discuss certain matters with,


    "a party to a marriage",

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or to make various pieces of information available to that party.

Paragraph (c) of the clause refers to:


    "whether he has given that party names and addresses of persons qualified to help...to effect a reconciliation".
My question is quite a simple one: namely, what kind of people are qualified to effect a reconciliation? Of course, along with other noble Lords, I very much hope that we can reconcile as many people as possible. But those who are actually qualified to help bring about a reconciliation--that is, if a reconciliation is at all possible--are marriage counsellors. I can certainly see the need for people to be given the names and addresses of qualified marriage counsellors and also of qualified mediators. I shall be glad to hear from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor what he has in mind when he refers to people who might be "qualified to help" in such a reconciliation. That is the purpose of Amendment No. 76.

Amendments Nos. 73 and 78 refer to Clause 10(2). At present, paragraph (a)(iii) refers to,


    "the availability to the parties of any counselling facilities".
Amendment No. 73 proposes the insertion of the word "marriage" before "counselling". Similarly, Amendment No. 78 which refers to paragraph (c)(iii) also requires the insertion of the word "marriage" before "counselling".

There is an important matter of principle involved. It is, quite simply, whether people should be told about the availability of counsellors in general, or whether they should be told about the availability of people who are trained and qualified to offer marriage counselling. I yield to no one in my respect for, and realisation of, the need for counsellors of all kinds; but this Bill deals with divorce and trained and qualified marriage counsellors, as well as trained and qualified mediators, have a special role to play.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave a very substantial address recently to Relate in which he expressed his difficulty in accepting the amendments. For example, he put forward the possible case where the friend of a husband dies and the husband goes through a very deep depression as a result of his bereavement. That might drastically affect the marriage and may lead to a lack of communication, and so on. In such a situation, what a person really needs is a bereavement counsellor rather than a marriage counsellor. However, perhaps I may quote from the letter that Dr. Jack Dominian wrote to the noble and learned Lord. Dr. Dominian is a psychiatrist and the country's leading specialist on marriage and on how marriages can be kept together, enriched and saved. He thought that the example of the noble and learned Lord was especially good. In the letter he says:


    "One of the classic triggering factors in marital breakdown is bereavement and so this example is highly relevant. You suggest that bereavement counselling may be what this man needs, 'by being able to tackle the source of a depression, the ability to communicate can be restored to the couple'. I would say that the chances of reconciling such a couple would be far higher if they saw a marriage counsellor than a bereavement councillor. A trained marriage counsellor should be able to tackle the husband's depression and his

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    wife's response to it; in such situations, while the individual spouse has a specific problem the marriage clearly needs some attention too. The bereavement counsellor would be focusing on the individual's needs alone and not those of the couple.


    For me this is the central concern when a marriage is in trouble--what is the most appropriate help for the marriage? A marriage counsellor focuses on the marital relationship and attempts to find the minimum needs of both partners, to make them conscious, to remove obstacles to their realisation and to help the couple to fulfil those needs. A counsellor will focus on the individual's needs which of course to some extent are compromised in a marital partnership. Some individual counselling may actually reduce the opportunities for reconciliation".
There is a very specific need for marriage counsellors at that point. I believe that we will take away from the distinctive contribution which marriage counsellors can make if they are, so to speak, simply subsumed within the general category of counsellors. I ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, to reconsider that point. I beg to move.


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