Letters to the Editor.
Lack of interest in a disastrous treaty
Dear Editor, MPs voted to give the EU not-a-constitution a second reading in a vote last week.
As sad as I may sound, I sat up and watched the debate and the vote on BBC Parliament.
MPs received the consolidated version of the bill they were voting on four hours before the debate started - not long enough to digest the hundreds of pages of text or understand the impact of what they were voting on. However, rather than spend the next couple of hours in Parliament debating the bill with their colleagues, all but around 20 MPs decided they had something better to do with their time and the debating chamber was virtually empty.
Shortly before 10pm, MPs trickled in for the vote and in the end 586 MPs voted to give the EU not-a-constitution a second reading, despite the fact that none of them had had time to read what they were voting on and most of them didn't bother to turn up to hear the arguments for or against.
The four Conservative MPs in Shropshire voted against the bill and David Wright, the only Labour MP left in the county, voted in favour of it. Only Daniel Kawczynski bothered to turn up to the debate.
The EU not-a-constitution will be a disaster for England and, as one MP commented: "This is the last treaty we will see before Parliament because this treaty is self-amending."
The EU not-a-constitution represents a massive and irreversible transfer of sovereignty to Brussels and no MP with the interests of their country at heart would ever vote for such a thing.
Cohabiting couples need more protection
Dear Editor, Findings from the British Social Attitudes report, by the National Centre for Social Research, back the case for urgent reform of the law affecting couples who live together.
The new report reveals widespread confusion over what protection cohabiting couples have under the law, with 51 per cent of people believing that cohabiting couples have rights as "common law" spouses; however, no such right exists.
A government-funded awareness campaign in 2004 has clearly failed to get the message across to the region's couples that living together does not provide cohabiting couples with financial rights if their relationship ends, even if they have lived together for many years and have had children together.
Instead, these couples face increased insecurity and distress at the time of break up.
Resolution, an association of 5,000 family lawyers that campaigns for fair family law, has been calling for a new law to protect cohabiting couples since 2000.
Our members throughout England and Wales regularly witness the injustices created by the current situation, including financial hardship and even homelessness.
On a more positive note, this report finds that nine in ten people think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if their relationship is a long-term one, includes children and has involved prioritising one partner's career over the other's.
We very much hope that the Government is listening and urge it to commit itself to reform that will provide cohabiting couples with a legal safety net.
Senior Solicitor (Family Team), Mills & Reeve
Resolution's West Midlands