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Wednesday, 19 October 1983
Page: 1968

Mr McVEIGH(7.25) —I very briefly speak in support of the amendment moved by my colleague, notwithstanding the argument advanced by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen). I can understand that point of view, particularly coming from him as a legal practitioner. I fully support the sentiments that he expressed, that more emphasis should be given to pre-marriage counselling and the preparation of people for marriage. But I still feel that notwithstanding those sentiments, if a couple can approach marriage secure in the knowledge that irrespective of what happens, they can in effect terminate that marriage by living apart for a continuous period of not less than 12 months , the very fact that they have that knowledge could mean that irrespective of how much counselling we give them, at the back of their minds they subconsciously adopt this attitude: 'Well, if we can't get on, we only have to live apart for 12 months'. Therefore, the risk of those young people entering marriage on that basis is very high.

The risk, obviously-forgetting about the legal part of it-on the sheer mathematics of it, must make them stop and think at least a little more if they cannot terminate that marriage under a period of two years instead of 12 months. I make the point-notwithstanding the arguments advanced by the Deputy Prime Minister-that fundamentally his argument was weakened a little by virtue of the fact that he did not take cognisance of the view that people can form in assessing their approach to marriage by simply saying: 'Well, it will take me longer to get out of it because the period of separation is two years rather than 12 months'. Maybe that very thought could deter a few people from getting married and putting up with the traumas. On balance, I favour the amendment, notwithstanding the points of view advocated by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 25 to 34-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Proposed new clause 34A.