The Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel (Mr Molloy):

Family Law (Divorce Etc.) Bill: Committee Stage (Period Extension) – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:30 pm on 30 September 2002.

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I beg to move

That, in accordance with Standing Order 31(5), the period referred to in Standing Order 31(3) be extended to 9 December 2002, in relation to the Committee Stage of the Family Law (Divorce etc.) Bill (NIA 1/02).

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. The Committee Stage of the Family Law (Divorce etc.) Bill is due to conclude formally on 8 November 2002, by which time the Committee is required to report its findings to the Assembly.

At Second Stage, several Members raised concerns about the Bill and mentioned the need to strengthen the institution of marriage. The Committee has written to many interest groups inviting them to submit evidence and will need time to consider the responses and hear oral evidence within its already overloaded programme. The Committee wishes to consider this important Bill carefully and ensure that the Assembly receives a well-balanced, informed report. As a precautionary measure, the Committee is asking Members to agree to an extension of the Committee Stage to 9 December 2002. The Committee will make every effort to complete the Committee Stage as soon as possible to ensure that there is no delay in the passage of the Bill. I ask Members to support the motion.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved:

That, in accordance with Standing Order 31(5), the period referred to in Standing Order 31(3) be extended to 9 December 2002, in relation to the Committee Stage of the Family Law (Divorce etc.) Bill (NIA 1/02).