HL Deb 24 February 1984 vol 448 cc1031-2WA
Baroness Faithfull

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they accept the conclusions and recommendations of the Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Conciliation.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone)

The Report of the Inter-departmental Committee on Conciliation was published on 15th July 1983. After consideration the Government have decided to implement the report as follows:

  1. (a) A small, independent project unit is to be established to monitor and assess the cost and effectiveness of a number of different types of in-court conciliation scheme over a period of three years. The unit will have an annual budget of about £200,000, which will be met from the Lord Chancellor's Department Vote. It will be guided in its work by a small advisory committee.
  2. (b) The Government will have regard to the committee's recommendation that no grounds have been made out for central funding of out-of-court schemes, but there is as yet insufficient information about voluntary out-of-court conciliation services on which to make decisions on funding and organisation of these services. Further investigation into their cost and effectiveness is called for and it has therefore been decided that the unit will monitor one or two out-of-court schemes. Consideration will be given to the grant of any necessary funds to any schemes selected for monitoring. The costs will be met from the project unit's budget.
  3. (c) Ways of remedying the deficiencies in available information identified by the committee are under departmental consideration.
  4. (d) The Matrimonial Causes Procedure Committee, under the chairmanship of Mrs. Justice Booth, is considering what changes in procedure might he necessary to make provision for conciliation and to explore the possibility of early settlements.
  5. (e) The present arrangements for remuneration in matrimonial proceedings are under review by my department. The review will consider whether there is need to place greater emphasis on settlement and less on argument in the court.
  6. (f) The current general authorisation for solicitors to exceed the prospective cost limit under the Legal Advice and Assistance Scheme in respect of fees charged by particular conciliation services is to be abolished.