§ Mr. Spearing
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current trend in the numbers of maintenance orders, as quoted in paragraph 4.71 of the Finer Report; and what action she is taking to promote alternative means of payment.
§ Mr. Meacher
The number of applications made to magistrates' courts in 1973 for married women's maintenance orders fell by nearly 21 per cent. from the average number of applications made in the years 1970–1972. Applications for a guardianship of minors order fell by nearly 10 per cent. Figures are not yet available for 1974. In the light of the Finer Report, an interdepartmental group of officials is examining some possible alternatives to the present arrangements.