HC Deb 17 May 1993 vol 225 cc13-4
33. Mr. Wicks

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what guidance has been issued to courts regarding the consideration to be given to the welfare of children in divorce proceedings.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Mr. John M. Taylor)

May I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's expertise in this subject and tell him that the Judicial Studies Board organises training courses for both district judges and specialist circuit judges at which the needs of children are thoroughly discussed? Eminent child psychiatrists, paediatricians, court welfare officers, social workers and academics play important roles in briefing judges on this vital topic, alongside guidance from the Department of Health on the Children Act 1989.

Mr. Wicks

I thank the Minister for that answer. Does he agree, however, that, given that one in four children have parents who are likely to divorce before those children reach the age of 16, it is high time that his Department introduced proposals to implement the Law Commission's report aimed at putting children first in divorce proceedings? Are the costs of conciliation the reason for the delay? If so, does the Minister agree that the social, emotional and financial costs of a failure to act to help children are greater than the costs of implementation?

Mr. Taylor

It was, is and will continue to be the policy of the Lord Chancellor's Department that the child's welfare is the paramount consideration. Many of us have sympathy for the parting parents, but the children are the paramount priority and the Department is well seized of that fact.