After section 17

Part of Family Law (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:00 pm on 15th December 2005.

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Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 3:00 pm, 15th December 2005

I support the involvement of members of the wider family. I accept Christine Grahame's point that there are bad grandparents just as there are bad parents, bad MSPs and bad anyone else. However, the concept of the wider family can be extremely positive.

Grandparents have been lobbying intelligently on the issue for many years, but they are not the only people who would be covered by the amendment. Step-parents often have a long relationship with the child and help him or her to grow up, yet they are given no legal status. Similarly, an uncle or an aunt may occupy that important position. The courts should recognise that a well-meaning, useful and intelligent relation could be involved in looking after the future of a child in a much better way than at present. At the moment, some sheriffs may be managing well to involve members of the wider family. However, the Parliament should give guidance to all sheriffs to say that the law must recognise the wider family.

We could learn from the extended families of the east. Today, our concept of family focuses too much on two plus two in a wee box. That is wrong. We should widen the concept of family. Therefore, the amendment is well worth supporting.