§ 29. Mr. Ernie Ross
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what representations he has received recently on 380 the need to provide a code of guidance on exclusion orders made under the Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
I have received no representations recently. Representations from Scottish Women's Aid have been made to my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate about the need for further guidance to the police some months ago.
The Government propose to fund a research project on the operation of the domestic violence provisions of the Act. The results of that should be of assistance in determining whether guidance or other action on the part of the Government is desirable.
§ Mr. Ross
Surely it would help the operation of the Act if there were a code of guidance and people understood how the exclusion orders work. The Solicitor-General must accept that there is still evidence of instances where the police themselves do not appear to appreciate how exclusion orders are supposed to work. When women who have been assaulted seek to have their husbands excluded, the police then say that they cannot exclude them.
§ Mr. Fraser
Following the introduction of the Act there was some uncertainty as to how matrimonial interdicts—particularly interim ones—were to operate. However, I gave the hon. Gentleman a written answer some time ago in which I supplied the essence of the guidance and advice that my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate has given to the police in the operation of the arrest powers that are sometimes attached to the orders. I hope that these powers of arrest are now working satisfactorily, although the number of occasions on which those powers have been attached is still relatively small.