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Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Is my noble and learned friend inclined to answer the two questions I asked? First, does the financial preface really envisage that the cost of mediation will be paid for by a saving on legal aid and, secondly, how much is it envisaged will be payable under this new clause?
The Lord Chancellor: As regards the new clause, as I said it will vary from year to year. Therefore, it will be unwise to say precisely what may come from that. The Explanatory and Financial Memorandum refers to the Bill as introduced.
As regards the cost of mediation, it is so far as it requires to be borne by the Legal Aid Board under the extensions. As regards mediation and services, I hope that the people who are able to pay for them will do so. That is the situation that obtains. However, this Bill enables the Legal Aid Board to incur costs for mediation, which is not the present position. The costs incurred for mediation in that respect, paid out of the public purse, are likely to be about the same
Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I am much obliged to my noble and learned friend for the answer to that question. As regards the first question, I should like him to give an estimate of how much is likely to be spent on the support services, although he may not be in a position to do so at present.
The Lord Chancellor: I would prefer not to at the moment. This is a completely new provision. There has been no payment under it until now. The responsibility for making grants in this area has been with the Home Office. The matter was transferred to the Lord Chancellor's Department when the White Paper was published. Some grants have been made without the need for statutory authority. I believe that the statutory authority makes a difference and for my part, as has been said, I would wish to use this provision effectively, but it would be unwise for me at this juncture to estimate how successful I shall be in getting money.
Lord Coleraine: I believe that my noble and learned friend is quite clear on the point, but I ask him to confirm that in referring to marriage support services supporting marriage, he is speaking entirely of existing marriages and not marriage support services supporting, in anticipation, marriages which may form later on when existing marriages break down. A concern which many of us have about the expression "marriage support services" is that they may also extend to treating existing marriages as only part of a large problem and try at the same time to support the anticipated future marriages, which I do not believe should be the case and I do not believe it is what my noble and learned friend has in mind.
The Lord Chancellor: I am not sure that I fully understand the question, but let me attempt an answer and then if it is not the right answer to the question, my noble friend will correct me. When two people are married but their relationship has broken down and they are contemplating divorce, trying to consider whether the marriage has broken down irretrievably, I would think that a marriage support service could properly help them to keep the marriage together.
One of the purposes I have in mind in this Bill is that where parties are married they will face up to the responsibilities of that marriage before it is dissolved. I think that that is extremely important. As I have said earlier, the rate of breakdown in second marriages is very high and I believe part of the reason for that is that people have not faced up to the responsibilities of their first marriage before going into a second one and that the obligations and so on of the first marriage have continued to affect the relationships of the people in the second marriage. So part of the purpose of this Bill is to require people to face up fully to their obligations under the first marriage before they are divorced. However, there is no question so far as I am concerned of a grant being made to an organisation to help them
Of course, marriage support services would include a future marriage. I think that preparation for marriage is an important part of the whole situation and I believe it would be right, if at all possible, to help services that are designed to help people who are entering marriage to make them ready to understand and fulfil the commitments which I believe a proper marriage requires. In that sense it is a future marriage, but I think that perhaps my noble friend was concerned that I was trying to encourage people to get out of one marriage and into another. That is the last thing that I would want to do, but I would wish to support, if it was possible and necessary--that is, assuming they were needed--services which help people to prepare adequately for marriage. I hope that I have answered my noble friend's question.
Lord Coleraine: My noble and learned friend has understood me and has answered my question. I do not think he is saying that he would consider a marriage support service endeavouring to preserve an existing marriage as in any way preparing for a second marriage.
The Lord Chancellor: That is so, but I think that the obligation to face up to the responsibilities of the first marriage is an important step to take and it would help the success of a second marriage, if people want to go into that. That, in my view, is important in itself for a first marriage. I think that this is facing up to the responsibilities that people have undertaken. That is an important part of this Bill and an important change from the existing law. I believe it will be effective and that it will also have the effect that, if someone goes into a second marriage, the chances are that the second marriage has a better chance of survival because the responsibilities of the first marriage have been faced and taken into account before that second relationship has been entered into.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has spoken extremely well on this because there is obviously in all our minds a terribly important concern for the state of marriage and the family, our present society and our present crumbling culture. Obviously we want marriage to be restored to the lifelong commitment it always has been. However, we must live in the real world. Anyone who is a parish priest knows perfectly well that there are people for whom the second marriage is the real marriage. It becomes a Christian home where children are brought up according to the best approved ways within Christian marriage. I hope, as I have already said in this Committee, that we shall not think that somehow you bolster marriage by making the divorce laws more punitive; you do not.
What we want is good marriage. I do not want to be anecdotal, but time and time again we meet people who have made an undergraduate marriage, who have married because their mother and father wanted them to, have married an unsuitable person and then, older and wiser, they actually make a second marriage. If they have been helped along the lines indicated by the noble and learned Lord, then their second marriage can be the success we know many of them to be, although of course I realise the statistics show that if people go straight out of one marriage into another, very often the second one gets just as far as the first one did and then breaks down again. We do not want that. We want to make laws in this country which will be positive and will make for good marriage. That is our aim in life. We are not saying it is just one other life-style among many. If I may say so, it is not right to suggest that bodies like Relate, Catholic Marriage Guidance and One Plus One are of that ilk. They are not. They want to support marriage and the family. Let us support them, for they have a lot to offer.
Lord Simon of Glaisdale: May we know, at any rate when the Committee stage begins again, at what time the House will rise? What happened on Tuesday was profoundly unsatisfactory; indeed a discredit to Parliament.
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I beg to move that the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1995 be approved. In moving that Motion it may be for the convenience of the House if I also speak to the International Sea-Bed Authority (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1995 and to the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution) (Law of the Sea Convention) Order 1995.
These three orders will enable the Government to implement the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, with a view to the United Kingdom's forthcoming accession to the Convention.
The convention was the product of the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which was held over ten years between 1973 and 1982. The aim of the convention was to establish a comprehensive legal regime for the oceans. In this it is largely successful and is beneficial to United Kingdom interests. It confirms important rights, such as the freedom of navigation and overflight. It provides for a package of maritime limits: notably a maximum of 12 miles for the territorial sea and 200 miles for the exclusive economic zone, within which coastal states have jurisdiction for the conservation of natural resources and the protection and preservation of the marine environment. These maximum limits are generally accepted and have caused some states to withdraw more extravagant and unjustified claims. The convention also contains extensive provisions on the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes.
The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution)(Law of the Sea Convention) Order is one element of the package of 18 tough new measures to reduce illegal discharges of wastes from ships, which was launched yesterday. The package includes measures to tighten the regulations, to improve enforcement of the regulations, to improve port waste reception facilities and to improve awareness of the problem among shipowners.
I am pleased to say that this new initiative, which was achieved following lengthy consultations with all interested parties--including ports, users, waste companies and environmental groups--will put the United Kingdom at the forefront of international action on the discharge of waste from ships. A number of measures flow as a direct result from the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas; some go beyond the recommendations encapsulated in that report.
The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution)(Law of the Sea Convention) Order will help us to enforce the regulations on marine pollution from ships. Currently, we are only able to bring prosecutions for pollution offences which occur in our territorial waters. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs, as we are sometimes able to identify ships which pollute waters just outside the 12-mile limit. At present, our only recourse in such cases is to report the incident to the ship's flag state. Experience has demonstrated, however, that that is rarely an effective means of bringing sanctions against polluters.
This order will permit the Department of Transport to make regulations which will greatly increase our ability to prosecute polluters. As proposed by the inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, we will take powers to the maximum extent consistent with international law. That will allow us to bring prosecutions for illegal discharges which occur up to 200 miles from the UK coastline. We will also introduce provisions to enhance our co-operation with neighbouring states by making it possible for UK courts to prosecute ships which have polluted other states' waters.
The other two draft orders confer privileges and immunities on two new international institutions established by the Law of the Sea Convention: the International Sea-Bed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Privileges and immunities need to be conferred in order for the Government to meet their international obligations under the convention.
In relation to the International Sea-Bed Authority, the privileges and immunities are to be similar to those provided for in the 1947 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations. As regards the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, they are similar to those conferred on the International Court of Justice.
The authority is located in Jamaica and the tribunal in Hamburg. In practice, therefore, there are only likely to be claims for refunds of VAT on goods and services purchased in the UK for the official purposes of the organisations. The privileges and immunities conferred by the orders are, of course, granted in accordance with the limitations imposed by the International Organisation Act 1968, as amended, under which the orders are made. I commend the order to the House.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th November be approved [1st Report from the Joint Committee].--(Viscount Goschen).
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