Maintenance Orders (Payments)

Oral Answers to Questions — Police Force – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th February 1949.

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Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton 12:00 am, 17th February 1949

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the total number of women in Great Britain entitled to receive payments under court maintenance orders; how many such women have been waiting more than three months for payments to be brought up to date; and how many children have been left unprovided for by their fathers for a period of three months or more because of failure to meet the financial obligations imposed by courts of summary jurisdiction.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I regret that the information for which my hon. Friend asks is not available.

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

Cannot my right hon. Friend do something to see that the women who have been granted such orders are enabled to get the money which is due to them? Will he pay particular attention to the large number of children who are left unprovided for by their fathers in this way so that something can be done to bring to the fathers a sense of their responsibility?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Every step that can be taken is taken by the courts and I am quite certain that on occasions they reduce the amount of an order in the hope that a person will pay something rather than pay nothing if the order is maintained at its first high level.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to admit that, although the statistics asked for are not available, a very large number of innocent parties are adversely affected under the present arrangements?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Yes; there is no doubt about that.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will consider whether the police could not give more assistance to these women in obtaining the addresses of these men when they have disappeared, because apparently at present the police are unable or are not allowed to give that assistance?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The courts do all that they can.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is the Home Secretary aware that if a woman gets a maintenance order against her husband and he leaves his job and takes a job in an Admiralty yard, that maintenance order cannot be enforced? Can he do anything about that?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I do not know that.

Photo of Mr William Shepherd Mr William Shepherd , Bucklow

If it is a fact that the police do not give assistance to a woman to trace her husband, is it not time that machinery was evolved whereby assistance could be given to women in these circumstances?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Such help as can be given is given, but I have already been pressed this afternoon to find other duties for the police.

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

In view of the increasing seriousness of the position I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.