Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down 5:30 pm, 16th January 2007

I am grateful to the Minister for trying to explain the drafting of clause 1(10). He has made a good effort, but I think that we are splitting hairs. For example, in respect of a spouse, we have no idea how lengthy the marriage will be; we just know that a box will have been ticked and that the people were married at some stage. If we are talking about a former spouse, we know only that they were divorced or separated at some stage. There is no requirement for consideration of the length of time that the marriage may have lasted—it does not have to be enduring.

Unfortunately, although the Minister has acknowledged that the Government were hoping to cover a relationship, including a house and all the things that would show some sort of commitment, he did not answer my specific question about whether that means that there have to be children. The term “enduring family relationship” implies more than owning a house, which is the only thing that the Minister has alluded to. We have given the DPP a major headache in trying to decide who falls into the categories in subsection (10).