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The National Marriage Guidance Council has expressed to me its disappointment at the amount of the grant of£10,000 proposed to be paid to it in the financial year 1957–58. In addition, since the Home Office estimates showing this amount were published on 19th March, I have received thirteen representations that the grant to the Council should be increased, twelve of them through hon. Members from eight local marriage guidance councils.
I have agreed to receive a deputation of hon. Members.
Will the Home Secretary bear in mind that at the present time the taxpayer is spending about£1 million a year in subsidising divorce under the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949? Will he bear in mind also that the Royal Commission, while divided on the issue, was unanimous in recommending a marked extension in the work of education, premarital instruction, marriage guidance and conciliation? Does he remember that the Royal Commission urged that every encouragement should be given to the existing agencies dealing with matrimonial conciliation?
I am sympathetic towards the aims of the Marriage Guidance Council, as I think is well known, and I should like to do my best for it. The Royal Commission recommended a relatively modest increase in expenditure and the grant of£10,000 represented a 25 per cent. increase on the amount being paid at the time of the Royal Commission's recommendation. That does not mean that I regard it as entirely adequate, but it does mean that an attempt has been made.