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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I well remember the noble Lord, Lord Cope, being caught in the crossfire over the rating or non-rating of caravans and mobile homes. It must be a very painful memory for him, so I shall not probe that matter any further.

Referring to Article 28, in view of the England and Wales Children Act, which followed years of consultation, and the corresponding Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 which was delayed for some years after the implementation of the Great Britain Act--a delay fiercely criticised by many in the other place, where I had a degree of responsibility at that time--it is rather odd that this evening the House is invited to amend the Northern Ireland children Order so soon after its implementation. I wonder whether it is not so much

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a case of the Northern Ireland children order being flawed as, perhaps, the family homes order that we are now debating cutting across that earlier order. I wonder also whether there was a parallel conflict between the two here in Great Britain.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, again, I am grateful for the support given for this order and for the appreciation of its importance and the benefits that it will bring. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that the strains of the security situation may be a contributory factor to tensions which may result in domestic violence. I would not for a moment say that that is an excuse for domestic violence, but it may contribute to the reasons for it.

I am afraid that I do not have any statistical evidence as to whether the incidence of domestic violence in Northern Ireland lessened during this or the previous cease-fire. We do not have that information. If it were to be forthcoming in the future, I would let the noble Lord know.

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As regards the responsibility of the DFP in this area, as referred to by the noble Lord, my understanding is that that department has an overall responsibility for family law. That is why that department is mentioned in that instance.

The noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, asked about the Children (Northern Ireland) Order and why it had been necessary to amend it so soon after its implementation. The answer is that on consultation, a clear response was given that the court should have the power to exclude suspected abusers from the home instead of removing the child, to cause minimum disruption to the child. Under the children order that option was not available to the court, and therefore an amendment was considered necessary. A similar amendment was made to the Children Act for England and Wales by the Family Law Act l996. I thank noble Lords for their helpful contributions to this short debate.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty-three minutes past eleven o'clock.


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