HC Deb 01 May 2001 vol 367 cc596-7W
Ms Moran

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will list measures she has taken to tackle domestic violence since 1 May 1997. [159417]

Jane Kennedy

The Government implemented Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996, with the exception of section 60 of the Act, in October 1997. Part IV of the Act provides for a single set of civil remedies to deal with domestic violence and to regulate occupation of the family home, through two specific types of order: the occupation order and the non-molestation order. These remedies are available at all levels of court (magistrates, county, High) with jurisdiction in family matters. The remedies are available to both men and women. A much wider range of people are able to apply for orders under Part IV than under the previous law. In addition, police powers to deal with domestic violence have been strengthened. Consideration is currently being given to the implementation of Section 60, which provides for third parties to make applications under Part IV.

During 2000, the Children Act Sub-Committee of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Board on Family Law proposed guidelines on child contact and domestic violence. These guidelines have recently been endorsed by the Government and have the support of the President of the Family Division. Although primary legislation is felt to be premature at this stage, the guidelines have been partially incorporated into law following the judgment in Re L, V, M. & H. The Government are promulgating the guidelines, with the help of the President of the Family Division, through the Judicial Studies Board and a variety of other sources. The Government will also monitor the effectiveness of the guidelines and keep under review the possible need for legislation in the future.