Committee (1st Day)

Part of Cohabitation Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 5:18 pm on 30th April 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Lester of Herne Hill Lord Lester of Herne Hill Spokesperson for Women and Equality 5:18 pm, 30th April 2009

In moving Amendment 1 I shall speak also to Amendment 4, with which it is grouped. I am happy to report that there is common agreement on this across the Committee: between us and the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, the noble Lord, Lord Henley, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss.

The purpose of Amendment 1 is to increase the minimum period of cohabitation required before cohabitants without children will be able to make a claim for a financial settlement order. A discretion to waive the qualifying period is dealt with by Amendment 4. As noble Lords know, the Bill is designed to protect cohabitants who demonstrate a certain level of commitment and likely interdependency. Where existing law recognises the rights and responsibilities of those living together, a minimum period of time is usually required before cohabitation is established. Schemes in other countries take this approach and it reflects the proposals made by the Law Commission. It also avoids the use of less definitive eligibility criteria which may cause uncertainty and complexity, and does not open the floodgates to people in very short-term relationships.