Letter: Child support and the absent parent's right to appeal

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Sir: Your article 'Child agency has put more families in poverty' (18 May) exemplifies the difference between what politicians say and what the public thinks.

On the one hand, you say that the Child Poverty Action Group claims that 'the Act - which created the agency - has reduced the income of many first and second families, bringing them down to benefit levels or below', while Alistair Burt, Under-Secretary of State for Social Security in the Commons, speaking at the Child Support One Year On conference, said 'the campaign of intimidating behaviour, including razor blades sent through the post . . . is unacceptable and unforgiveable in a society which considers itself civilised'.

He conveniently fails to mention the far greater abuse to a civilised society of the driving of several divorced fathers to suicide by demands which either ignore agreed decisions of the courts or between the father and previous wife.

This dichotomy seems to be a growing feature of political life. As a member of the Lords, I suppose I am open to the criticism of political expediency, too. But I decided to join the cross-benches as an independent and to judge issues on their merits. There are some 300 of us, which I hope and believe has helped lead to recent press descriptions of the House of Lords as 'the last bastion of our people's liberty'. Independents hardly exist in the Commons.

That great parliamentarian for divorce reform, A. P. Herbert, sat as an independent. QED?

Yours sincerely,


House of Lords

London, SW1

18 May