Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 16th January 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down 5:15 pm, 16th January 2007

I am encouraged to know that you have been on your own on many occasions, Sir Nicholas. I am most grateful for the right thinking of the hon. Member for East Antrim—a rare occasion. I will move on swiftly, before the hon. Member changes his good mood.

I take my hat off to whoever drafted this legislation, which is full of all sorts of idiosyncratic drafting, not least subsection (10):

“For the purposes of this section a person (A) is the associate of another person (B) if”— then there is a definition and we have a number of choices:

“(a) A is the spouse or a former spouse of B,

(b) A is the civil partner or a former civil partner of B,

(c) A and B (whether of different sexes or the same sex) live as partners, or have lived as partners, in an enduring family relationship,

(d) A is a friend of B, or”— lastly—

“(e) A is a relative of B.”

My amendment would leave out the curious five words—

“in an enduring family relationship”.

I cannot understand why they have been introduced only in paragraph (c). We need the Minister to explain the meaning of “an enduring family relationship”. Does “family” mean that there have to be children? With regard to paragraph (a)—

“A is the spouse or a former spouse of B”— it does not matter that there was not an enduring family relationship, with no children. With civil partners, it does not have to be an enduring family relationship. In heaven’s name, why has the phrase only been introduced in paragraph (c)? It stands out because it is so unusual and odd in the examples given for the definition of “associate”. I do not see any rhyme or reason for that and I would like the Minister to explain in his usual wonderful style—colourful and imaginative—why “enduring family relationship” has to be here. Why “enduring”? Why “family”? Are children involved? Why are those words not included elsewhere in subsection (10)?