After section 17

Part of Family Law (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:45 pm on 15th December 2005.

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Photo of Mary Mulligan Mary Mulligan Labour 3:45 pm, 15th December 2005

I am pleased to speak to amendment 44, but I make it clear that I will not support it, because the bill is not the appropriate place to put such measures. However, the discussion on the issue has shown that we need more information and research on which family support services we want and which services actually work. The Justice 1 Committee now understands the differences between the services that are provided, but I am not sure that everybody else understands them. Even Stewart Stevenson missed out one service that we discussed: pre- marriage advice. The other services are reconciliation services, mediation and family contact services, which all work differently, but which all have a contribution to make when relationships break down.

As we approached the end of stage 2, more and more information came before the committee. I thank Scottish Marriage Care for the information that it provided. It is clear that services exist that can be built upon, but it is also clear that there should be local responsibility for those services and that decisions on which services should be made available and how they should be provided should be taken locally. The Executive has already had discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the issue, but I press the deputy minister to take those discussions further. Some local authorities, such as South Lanarkshire Council, are innovative, but others do not make the efforts that they need to make for their local communities, which will ask searching questions of their councils.

We have often said that we want to know how legislation that we pass is implemented. As Stewart Stevenson said, the committee will consider the issue further. The committee can have a strong role in ensuring that services are available to support the legislation, which I am sure, the Parliament will pass today.