The same is true of my effort to change the law on the division of assets on divorce. I am not a divorce practitioner, and have never been divorced, but I have studied the situation for years and listened to the views of members of the public. I have looked at the many reform proposals from organisations, and taken account of the tried and tested laws of other countries. Not a word of my Bill is original: it is taken from the law of other countries, which have been shown to have worked, and from official reports into the law. It is therefore a mark of success, rather than the opposite, that my start on reforming the law of money and divorce should attract a howl of protest, indeed a note of panic, from a successful practitioner or two. Practitioners and judges have been extensively canvassed on reform over the years, most recently by the Law Commission, and the report is clear that reform is needed.
It would be surprising if professional divorce lawyers or even judges did not understand their respective roles. It is for members of parliament to try to change the law in the public interest, whether or not they are experts in it (if laws were only ever enacted by experts on the respective topics who happened to have seats in parliament, where would we be?). It is for judges to interpret it, respecting the sovereignty of parliament, and it is for the professionals to apply it and help those who need assistance. We all have our roles to play.
Lord Falconer’s bill should be discussed and assessed objectively, not only by doctors and clergy, but by the public and above all by members of parliament. So far, over 110 peers have signed up to speak, and the Friday debate is set to last long into the night. If I may inject a note of levity into a grave matter, I recall Michael Jackson’s lyrics:
The time is right
The perfect night
For a private affair.
This article was originally published on the Lords of the Blog website and has been reproduced here with permission of the copyright owner.