HC Deb 11 January 1996 vol 269 c292W
Mr. Sims

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what progress has been made by the interdepartmental working party on marriage. [9473]

Mr. Jonathan Evans

The interdepartmental working party on marriage is working on a summary of its findings so far. It hopes to hold a seminar for interested service providers and researchers in February or March this year to discuss these findings before finalising them. The working party is grateful to all those groups who have responded so fully and promptly to its questionnaire.

The working party has given a preliminary indication of the types of initiatives at which it believes resources may need to be targeted. These are: marriage preparation projects; encouraging people to access services before a problem becomes a crisis; encouraging innovation as one service will not suit the needs of every person seeking help—there needs to be variety; and looking at whether some families have more specific needs, for example it is not clear whether the needs of stepfamilies and families from ethnic minorities are being met at present.

The Government intend to work with organisations which seek to support marriage in examining the potential of these initiatives. Following consultation with these organisations at the planned seminar, the Government will consider bids for the funding of pilot projects in areas with particular potential for reducing the incidence and costs of marriage breakdown. The primary purpose of this exercise will be to evaluate the effectiveness and value for money of potential initiatives, particularly in the area of marriage preparation and new types of service provision. Organisations will need to specify how they will demonstrate the effectiveness and value for money of their service in preparing any such bids.