Committee (1st Day)

Part of Cohabitation Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 30th April 2009.

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Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley Shadow Minister, Justice 6:30 pm, 30th April 2009

I fully support the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, in Amendment 3, which is grouped with Amendments 12 to 14 and attempts to deal with the whole problem of retrospection. I shall be very interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Lester, has to say on this in due course. I imagine that, as a good lawyer and a good human rights lawyer, he will be opposed to retrospection as much as we are. When the noble Lord comes to reply, perhaps he could also deal with the points I asked earlier on the commencement of the two or five years. I still think that it is a difficult evidential problem that will create a lot of joy for the lawyers and which we would like to have dealt with before we see the departure of this Bill.

How do we define when that cohabitation started? I talked rather flippantly of the one-night stand, or maybe the second one-night stand, starting off that process. Perhaps it was when the toothbrush moved into the other party's quarters, or does it need slightly more than a toothbrush—for example, a suitcase full of clothes as well? No doubt, the noble Lord will be able to assist the Committee in providing an answer to the point that I asked him about on Amendment 1.