Thursday, 15 November 2012

Marriage Guidance

Now that the debate is open, both on the fiscal recognition of marriage, and on the division of assets after divorce, let us make the most of it.

Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 as regards grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation enabled to specify that any marriage which it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly.

Statute should specify that the Church of England be such a body unless the General Synod specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses, with something similar for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by statute at one per cent of the at one per cent of the other party’s estate for each year of marriage, up to fifty per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party's fault be proved.

That would be a start, anyway. The marital union of one man and one woman is a public good uniquely and in itself, and the taxation system, among so very many other instruments of public policy, should recognise that fact. It should recognise marriage as a unique public good, to which civil partnerships (which, never having needed to be consummated, ought not to be confined to unrelated same-sex couples) are not comparable. And it should recognise marriage as a public good in itself, whether or not there are children, a related but different public good of which other forms of recognition rightly exist.

But will any Party Leader say this, as once they would all have done? What do you think? David Cameron, having proved himself the heir to Margaret Thatcher's legislation for abortion up to birth, which was opposed by John Smith, is doubtless also the heir of John Major's legislation to make divorce legally easier than release from a car hire contract, to abolish the fiscal recognition of marriage simply as such (in a Finance Bill against which every Labour MP voted at the time), and to end the situation whereby, by recognising adultery and desertion as faults in divorce cases, society declared in law its disapproval of them even though they were not in themselves criminal offences.

But Ed Miliband? Over to him.

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