Financial Provision

Schedule 2 – in the House of Commons at 11:15 pm on 17th June 1996.

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Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 113, in page 46, line 14, at end insert— '(1A) No financial provision order, other than an interim order, may be made under section 22A above before the end of the first six months of the period for reflection and consideration, unless—

  1. (a) it is an order in the terms applied for to which the other party agrees; or
  2. (b) it takes effect, in accordance with subsection (1), before the making of a divorce order or separation order, and the court is satisfied—
    1. (i) that there are exceptional circumstances, and
    2. (ii) that it would be just and reasonable for the order to be made earlier.'.
No. 120, in page 46, line 14, at end insert— `(1A) No financial provision order, other than an interim order, may be made under section 22A above before the end of the first three months of the period for reflection and consideration, unless—
  1. (a) it is an order in the terms applied for to which the other party agrees; or
  2. (b) it takes effect, in accordance with subsection (1), before the making of a divorce order or separation order, and the court is satisfied—
    1. (i) that there are exceptional circumstances, and
    2. (ii) that it would be just and reasonable for the order to be made earlier.'.
Government amendments Nos. 65 and 66.

No. 114, in page 48, line 45, at end insert— '(1 A) No property adjustment order may be made under section 23A above before the end of the first six months of the period for reflection and consideration, unless—

  1. (a) it is an order in the terms applied for to which the other party agrees; or
  2. (b) it takes effect, in accordance with subsection (1), before the making of a divorce order or separation order, and the court is satisfied—
    1. (i) that there are exceptional circumstances, and
    2. (ii) that it would be just and reasonable for the order to
be made earlier.'. No. 121, in page 48, line 45, at end insert— '(1A) No property adjustment order may be made under section 23A above before the end of the first three months of the period for reflection and consideration, unless—
  1. (a) it is an order in the terms applied for to which the other party agrees; or
  2. (b) it takes effect, in accordance with subsection (1), before the making of a divorce order or separation order, and the court is satisfied—
    1. (i) that there are exceptional circumstances, and
    2. (ii) that it would be just and reasonable for the order to
be made earlier.'.
Government amendments Nos. 67 to 76 and 87 to 92.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department), Assistant Whip (Law Officers)

Amendments Nos. 64 to 76 make drafting changes and minor corrections to schedule 2 but make no policy changes, and I commend them to the House.

If my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) moves amendments Nos. 120 and 121, which relate to the making of three-month restrictions on the making of property and other orders, I can accept them. That restriction may be of some benefit to couples who want to reconcile from the time of attending the information session to the time that the court can make a contested order. There will generally be six months to seek a reconciliation before a contested order is made. Once the court has made an order, reconciliation is still facilitated by the power of the court to vary orders on reconciliation. The court also has power to vary all types of property adjustment orders, and lump sum orders, made before a divorce or separation order is made. I cannot accept amendments Nos. 113 and 114 and ask my hon. Friend not to move them.

Amendments Nos. 87, 91, 92, 88, 89 and 90 are technical and sensible, and I commend them to the House.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

Amendments Nos. 120 and 121 would provide three months' extra reflection and consideration in certain circumstances before final financial and property orders can be made. That provision has nothing to do with the total time taken before a divorce is granted but everything to do with trying to save marriages that may still be saveable after the couple have begun the divorce process.

In cases of domestic violence, eviction orders would be totally unaffected. In the same way, where there is genuine financial need, interim financial orders will also be unaffected.

The amendments would assist in saving saveable marriages because once the family home is broken up in a property order or financial orders have been made, the couple in question are a long way down the road of a marriage break-up. The House has made it absolutely clear that it wants pause for thought in divorce and has voted for, in most cases, 18 months to achieve it. It would be strange if it were possible in all circumstances after just three months for couples to start the machinery that will effectively break up their marriage.

This modest pair of amendments provide for three additional months, making six months, before the final property or financial order can be negotiated—subject to a string of let-outs. The Conservative Family Campaign's legal advisers say that those let-outs will probably apply in the majority of cases. There will be a let-out in cases that are uncontested and in which the court rules that exceptional circumstances make that just and reasonable—and the courts are only too willing to allow exceptional circumstances. None the less, in the residue of cases where divorce is contested and there are no special circumstances, people will be required to reflect for six months before they set their decision in concrete. That can only be a good thing and in line with the wishes of the House—which voted for a much longer period for divorce. I urge the House to support both amendments, which would halt the machinery of divorce a little longer.

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Lord Chancellor's Department)

We well understand what motivates the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) in tabling the amendments. In the real world, however, it is not possible for the parties to be held, as it were, frozen in suspended animation while the world goes on around them. That is not how it happens in the divorce process. As we have consistently said, we need to intervene early by pathways to reconciliation. Once those pathways have been explored, there is no point in freezing the machinery any further. If reconciliation is not possible, in the children's interests, the impulse must be to move quickly to agreement in relation to property and to children.

Therefore, we will with regret, but absolute certainty vote against the amendments. They do not promote reconciliation or assist the process. On the contrary, they present yet another element of complexity that will create only uncertainty and do harm. We will oppose the amendments.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Order. The hon. Gentleman has already spoken.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

With the leave of the House,

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

I am sorry. I know that the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) was seeking to intervene, but, as the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) had already sat down, the situation cannot arise.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department), Assistant Whip (Law Officers)

With the leave of the House, I have noted carefully what the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) has said. He is wrong.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me to intervene. The hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) has effectively made a case for abridging the total divorce process. I ask the House to think what possible logic there is in having a total divorce process that takes 18 months, but, if people want, in setting it all in concrete in every case after three months.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department), Assistant Whip (Law Officers)

My hon. Friend makes a good point. The amendments are modest and sensible and I urge my colleagues to support them.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No. 120, in page 46, line 14, at end insert—

'(1A) No financial provision order, other than an interim order, may be made under section 22A above before the end of the first three months of the period for reflection and consideration, unless—
  1. (a) it is an order in the terms applied for to which the other party agrees; or
  2. (b) it takes effect, in accordance with subsection (1), before the making of a divorce order or separation order, and the court is satisfied—
    1. (i) that there are exceptional circumstances, and
    2. (ii) that it would be just and reasonable for the order to be made earlier:.—[Mr. Brazier.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 169, Noes 223.

Division No. 149][11.25 pm
AYES
Alexander, RichardHawkins, Nick
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Hawksley, Warren
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Alton, DavidHendry, Charles
Amess, DavidHill, Sir James (Southampton Test)
Arbuthnot, JamesHordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Atkins, Rt Hon RobertHughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)Hunter, Andrew
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Jenkin, Bernard
Bates, MichaelJessel, Toby
Bellingham, HenryJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Bendall, VivianJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Bonsor, Sir NicholasKnapman, Roger
Booth, HartleyKynoch, George (Kincardine)
Boswell, TimLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Bowden, Sir AndrewLeigh, Edward
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesLennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Brandreth, GylesLidington, David
Brazier, JulianLord, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterLuff, Peter
Bruce, Ian (South Dorset)Maclean, Rt Hon David
Burns, SimonMcLoughlin, Patrick
Burt, AlistairMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Butcher, JohnMaftland, Lady Olga
Carrington, MatthewMalone, Gerald
Chapman, Sir SydneyMarlow, Tony
Clappison, JamesMerchant, Piers
Coe, SebastianMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Congdon, DavidMonro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Conway, DerekMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Nelson, Anthony
Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnNeubert, Sir Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Day, StephenNicholls, Patrick
Deva, Nirj JosephNorris, Steve
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesPaice, James
Dover, DenPaisley, The Reverend Ian
Duncan, AlanPatnick, Sir Irvine
Duncan Smith, IainPatten, Rt Hon John
Dunn, BobPattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Durant, Sir AnthonyPawsey, James
Dykes, HughPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Emery, Rt Hon Sir PeterPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)Porter, David (Waveney)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth)Redwood, Rt Hon John
Evennett, DavidRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Fabricant, MichaelRiddick, Graham
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Robathan, Andrew
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Freeman, Rt Hon RogerRobinson, Mark (Somerton)
Gallie, PhilRoe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Garnier, EdwardRowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Gill, ChristopherRumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Gillan, CherylSackville, Tom
Goodlad, Rt Hon AlastairSainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesScott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Gorman, Mrs TeresaShaw, David (Dover)
Gorst, Sir JohnShephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Shepherd, Sir Colin (Hereford)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)Sims, Sir Roger
Hague, Rt Hon WilliamSkeet, Sir Trevor
Hampson, Dr KeithSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Hargreaves, AndrewSoames, Nicholas
Spencer, Sir DerekViggers, Peter
Sproat, IainWaldegrave, Rt Hon William
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir JohnWalden, George
Stephen, MichaelWalker, Bill (N Tayside)
Stewart, AllanWard, John
Streeter, GaryWaterson, Nigel
Sweeney, WalterWatts, John
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Whittingdale, John
Thomason, RoyWiddecombe, Ann
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Wilkinson, John
Thornton, Sir MalcolmWood, Timothy
Townend, John (Bridlington)Yeo, Tim
Tredinnick, David
Trend, MichaelTellers for the Ayes:
Twinn, Dr IanDr. Robert Spink and Mr. Michael Brown.
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
NOES
Ainger, NickDunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Allen, GrahamFatchett, Derek
Armstrong, HilaryField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyFishburn, Dudley
Ashton, JoeFisher, Mark
Barron, KevinFlynn, Paul
Batiste, SpencerForman, Nigel
Battle, JohnForth, Eric
Bayley, HughFoster, Don (Bath)
Beckett, Rt Hon MargaretFoulkes, George
Bennett, Andrew FFyfe, Maria
Benton, JoeGalbraith, Sam
Bermingham, GeraldGalloway, George
Berry, RogerGapes, Mike
Boateng, PaulGarel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Gerrard, Neil
Bradley, KeithGodman, Dr Norman A
Brown, N. (N'c'tle Tyne E)Godsiff, Roger
Burden, RichardGolding, Mrs Llin
Butterfill, JohnGraham, Thomas
Byers, StephenGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Caborn, RichardGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Griffiths, Wn (Bridgend)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Grocott, Bruce
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Gunnell, John
Campbell-Savours, D NHain, Peter
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery)Hanson, David
Chidgey, DavidHardy, Peter
Chisholm, MalcolmHarman, Ms Harriet
Churchill, MrHarvey, Nick
Clapham, MichaelHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clark, Dr David (South Shields)Hayes, Jerry
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif)Heald, Oliver
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Heppell, John
Clelland, DavidHill, Keith (Streatham)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHinchliffe, David
Coffey, AnnHodge, Margaret
Connarty, MichaelHoey, Kate
Corbett, RobinHogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Corbyn, JeremyHood, Jimmy
Cousins, JimHoon, Geoffrey
Cox, TomHoward, Rt Hon Michael
Cummings, JohnHowarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Cunliffe, LawrenceHowarth, George (Knowsley North)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr JohnHowells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Dalyell, TarnHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Illsley, Eric
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)Ingram, Adam
Denham, JohnJack, Michael
Dewar, DonaldJackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Donohoe, Brian HJackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Dowd, JimJamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian (SE Staff)Ottaway, Richard
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Pickles, Eric
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)Pike, Peter L
Jowell, TessaPope, Greg
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldPrentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Keen, AlanPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)Primarolo, Dawn
Khabra, Piara SQuin, Ms Joyce
Kilfoyle, PeterRadice, Giles
Kirkwood, ArchyRandall, Stuart
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)Rathbone, Tim
Knox, Sir DavidRaynsford, Nick
Lait, Mrs JacquiReid, Dr John
Lester, Sir James (Broxtowe)Rendel, David
Lewis, TerryRoche, Mrs Barbara
Liddell, Mrs HelenRooker, Jeff
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Sheerman, Barry
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Llwyd, ElfynShort, Clare
Lynne, Ms LizSkinner, Dennis
McAvoy, ThomasSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McCartney, IanSmith, Chris (Isl'tonS& F'sbury)
Macdonald, CalumSmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McFall, JohnSoley, Clive
MacKay, AndrewSpellar, John
McKelvey, WilliamSpring, Richard
Mackinlay, AndrewSquire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
McLeish, HenrySquire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Maclennan, RobertSteinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
McNamara, KevinStott, Roger
MacShane, DenisStrang, Dr. Gavin
Madden, MaxStraw, Jack
Maddock, DianaSutcliffe, Gerry
Mahon, AliceTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mandelson, PeterTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Marek, Dr JohnTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Temple-Morris, Peter
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Tipping, Paddy
Martin, Michael J (Springbum)Touhig, Don
Martlew, EricTrickett, Jon
Maxton, JohnTurner, Dennis
Meacher, MichaelVaz, Keith
Michael, AlunWallace, James
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Walley, Joan
Milburn, AlanWells, Bowen
Miller, AndrewWhitney, Ray
Moonie, Dr LewisWicks, Malcolm
Morgan, RhodriWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Morley, ElliotWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)Worthington, Tony
Mudie, GeorgeWright, Dr Tony
Mullin, ChrisYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)Tellers for the Noes:
Olner, BillMs Janet Anderson and Mrs. Jane Kennedy.
Oppenheim, Phillip

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendments made: No. 65, in page 46, line 18, leave out from 'consideration' to end of line 19 and insert

`is interrupted under section 7(8) of the 1996 Act.'.

No. 66, in page 46, line 34, at end insert—

'(5) In this section, "period for reflection and consideration" means the period fixed by section 7 of the 1996 Act." '.

No. 67, in page 48, line 48, leave out from `consideration' to end of line 49 and insert

`is interrupted under section 7(8) of the 1996 Act.'.

No. 68, in page 49, line 10, leave out '22A' and insert '23A'.

No. 69, in page 49, line 15, at end insert—

`(5) In this section, "period for reflection and consideration" means the period fixed by section 7 of the 1996 Act." '.

No. 70, in page 49, line 43, after `(b)' insert

`above, unless sub-paragraph (ia) below applies,'.

No. 71, in page 49, line 44, at end insert—

'(ia) where the order is made by virtue of section 22A(2)(b) above and the application for the divorce order was made following cancellation of an order preventing divorce under section 10 of the 1996 Act, than the date of the making of that application;'.

No. 72, in page 49, line 45, leave out 'or (d)' and insert `above'.

No. 73, in page 50, line 16, after 'above' insert

', except where paragraph (aa) below applies,'.

No. 74, in page 50, line 17, at end insert—

`(aa) in the case of an order made by virtue of section 22A(2)(b) above where the application for the divorce order was made following cancellation of an order preventing divorce under section 10 of the 1996 Act, the date of the making of that application;'.

No. 75, in page 50, line 18, leave out 'such'.

No. 76, in page 50, line 18, leave out 'or (d)'.—[Mr. Streeter.]