Age of Majority Bill, 1984: Second Stage.

Question proposed "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

Limerick East): This Bill is, I believe, a welcome and desirable improvement in our law which will prove to be of considerable benefit to our young people.

The Bill is designed to implement the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in relation to the age of majority which are contained in their report entitled Report on the Law relating to the Age of Majority, the Age for Marriage and Some Connected Subjects. The principal recommendation of the commission was that the age of majority be reduced from 21 to 18 years or the age at which a person marries if earlier.

Prior to the publication of the report the commission published a working paper on the subject and in newspaper advertisements invited the views of the public generally on the matter. The commission also conducted a wide ranging investigation in the course of which they communicated with law reform agencies, lawyers and jurists in many countries and comprehensively reviewed the law on the age of majority here, in Britain and various other countries in Europe and elsewhere.

I think it is only fitting, before discussing the Bill further, that I should express my appreciation of the work done by the commission on this subject. The thorough and painstaking research which is evident in the working paper and the final report has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the existing law on this matter and on the implications of the changes proposed. I am sure that I am voicing the sentiments of the House when I say that we are grateful to the commission for the work they have done in this area.

It is not clear why or when exactly the age of majority was originally fixed at 21 years. There is evidence that at one time the age of majority was associated with physical strength and that the different ages applied to different social classes. For example, it appears that in feudal times certain classes attained the age of majority at 15 but for a person engaged in the service of a knight the age of majority was 21. Gradually the latter age of majority came to be applied to everyone and under the common law a person under 21 was treated as an infant, or minor, who was subject to certain legal limitations, the most important being in his capacity to enter into contracts or to own property. The purpose of these limitations was to protect a minor from his own improvidence and inexperience without at the same time causing unnecessary hardship to any person dealing with him.

The Law Reform Commission's report clearly shows that there is a world-wide trend to reduce the age of majority. In 1972 a resolution of the Council of Europe recommended a reduction in the age of majority. In Britain and Northern Ireland and many other European countries it has been reduced to 18 years. In the great majority of states in the USA the age is also 18 years. This trend reflects the general consensus that young people are now reaching physical and mental maturity at an earlier age than in former times and that they are in general fully capable of accepting responsibility for the conduct of their daily lives.

I am sure that many young people resent the implication in the present age of majority that they are improvident and irresponsible until they reach 21 years of age. People tend quite often to think of young people in terms of the delinquent minority, forgetting that the vast majority of our young people are sensible and responsible members of society. I think many would agree with a conclusion reached by an English committee — the Latey Committee — in recommending a reduction in the age of majority "that to keep responsibility from those who are ready and able to take it on is much more likely to make them irresponsible than to help them".

It is possible to suggest, as that committee did also "that the handicap of being unable to buy, say, a washing machine on the HP does no good to the young and inexperienced bride; that being unable to get a mortgage hardly helps the responsible young to keep house securely and independently from the start of their marriages". I think most reasonable people would agree with these views. Moreover, the Law Reform Commission have suggested that the protection of the family guaranteed in the Constitution would indicate that impediments should not be placed in the way of young married people in acquiring and furnishing a home.

The Bill also continues a trend that has already been reflected in a number of provisions in existing legislation that recognise the right of people to assume legal responsibility at 18 years or on marriage if earlier. The Succession Act 1965 enables a person who is 18 years or married to make a valid will; the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 empowers a parent under 21 years of age to appoint a guardian of his child by will and the Family Law Act, 1981 provides that a consent given by a spouse to the sale or disposal of the family home will not be invalid by reason of the fact that the spouse was under 21. Moreover, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years by way of a constitutional amendment in 1972. It is noteworthy that that change was supported by 85 per cent of the votes cast at the relevant referendum.

The Report of the Law Reform Commission indicates that there was widespread support for the proposal to change the age of majority to 18 years among those bodies who made submissions to the commission. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Legislation also endorsed the commission's recommendation in their Report on the Age of Majority of 11 April 1984.

It is proposed that the provisions of the Bill will come into operation on 1 March 1985. On that date a person who has reached 18 or is married will acquire full legal capacity. I understand that this will affect upwards of 200,000 people who are at present between the ages of 18 and 21, not to mention many more who are approaching the age of 18.

The main areas of law affected are contract, property and guardianship. A person of 18 or who is married will be free to enter into contracts and to buy or sell land and to give valid receipts for the purchase money without intervention of a trustee or other third person. I am confident that this change will be of significant benefit to the young people concerned, especially young married couples who may at present have difficulty in securing housing finance, and others such as young farmers and business people who, because of the existing limitations on their contractual capacity are unable to obtain loans to help finance development.

The central provision of the Bill is in section 2 which proposes that on the commencement date a person will attain full age if he has reached 18 or is or has been married. The section provides that a reference to age of majority, full age, infancy and cognate expressions in any statutory provision, including statutory instruments whenever made, and in any deed, will, court order or other instrument made on or after the commencement date will be construed as a reference to the new age of majority except in the Acts specifically exempted. The exempted provisions relate to marriage, adoption, social welfare, taxation, maintenance orders, certain pensions and legislation relating to the custody of persons.

The purpose of excluding these statutory provisions from the scope of the Bill is to preserve the existing legal effect of references to 21 years in those provisions. Any changes in relation to ages mentioned in those provisions would be appropriate to separate legislation in each of the areas concerned.

The exemptions in respect of maintenance orders and legislation relating to the custody of persons were inserted by way of amendments that I moved in the Dáil. I would like to explain briefly why these amendments were made.

With regard to maintenance orders, the Law Reform Commission in their working paper proposed that the right to obtain a maintenance order in respect of a child receiving full time education up to 21 years of age should be preserved. But, in the final report the commission reconsidered that view and recommended that the right to maintenance should cease on attainment of the age of majority since, in their view, a necessary implication of attaining majority is that a child is sufficiently mature and independent to be responsible for his or her own maintenance. Having listened carefully to the arguments on both sides of this question I came to the conclusion that it would be better not to effect any change. Accordingly I moved the amendment to exempt the relevant statutory provisions from the scope of the section.

As to legislation relating to the custody of persons, it was not intended that the Bill should affect the age at which a person might be committed to an adult prison. The considerations that apply in deciding age limits in this area are unrelated to the age of majority and it was considered therefore that it would be most inappropriate to make any changes in this respect in this Bill.

Section 4 implements the commission's proposal to abolish the existing common law rule for calculating a person's age. At present a person is deemed under common law to attain a particular age at the commencement of the day before his birthday. The result is that a person whose birthday falls, for example, on a Saturday is deemed to have reached the relevant age at midnight on the preceding Thursday. This is generally regarded as illogical and artificial. The effect of the section will be that after the commencement date of the Act a person will attain any particular age on the date of the relevant anniversary of his or her birth, in other words, on his birthday. This will be more in keeping with commonsense and will bring the rule into line with that in existing social welfare legislation.

The remaining provisions of the Bill relate largely to technical consequential matters arising as a result of the reduction in the age of majority. There are a number of transitional provisions in the schedule. Funds held in court under a court order will be payable to the person concerned on attaining the new age of majority instead of 21 years as at present. Wardship and custody orders, in force before the Act commences, applicable to a person up to 21 years, will cease on attainment of 18 years or on marriage. Other transitional provisions are designed to preserve the existing legal position in relation to deeds, wills, trust instruments and causes of action made or accruing before the commencement date.

A number of recommendations of the Law Reform Commission are not being implemented in this Bill as it was considered that they would be more appropriately dealt with as separate matters.

The commission proposed that the free age for marriage — that is the age at which a person can marry without consent of a third party — be reduced from 21 to 18 and that the absolute minimum age for marriage should be fixed at 16 years. Any marriages between 16 and 18 years would require the consent of a parent, guardian or of the court and failure to obtain consent would render the marriage void. The Government consider that the question of the appropriate minimum age for marriage constitutes a separate subject from that of the age of majority and that it would be desirable to deal with it as a separate issue. They also consider it advisable to await the report of the Oireachtas Committee on Marriage Breakdown, whose recommendations will require careful and detailed consideration, before deciding on the appropriate action to be taken in relation to this question. Reduction of the free age for marriage could, in any event, be effected in regulations that could be made by the Minister for Health under the Marriages Act, 1972.

The commission also proposed that the age up to which parents should be obliged to maintain children for the purposes of social welfare and other legislation should be raised from 16 to 18 years. It was considered that this matter would be more appropriately dealt with in the context of the legislation concerned. Proposals made by the commission in relation to the certain ages for the purposes of adoption have not been included in the Bill. The question of the appropriate ages in adoption matters has never been directly related to the age of majority. I understand that the Minister for Health will be putting forward proposals for amendment of the adoption laws when examination of the recently published report of the Review Committee on Adoption Services has been completed and that would seem a more appropriate context in which to consider the commission's proposals.

The House will note from the list of exempted statutory provisions, in section 2 of the Bill, that social welfare and taxation legislation will not be affected by the change in the age of majority. These exemptions will have the effect of preserving any existing entitlements to benefits or allowances under such legislation in respect of children in full time education up to 21 years.

In conclusion let me say that while this Bill is a relatively straightforward and generally a non-contentious measure it will have important consequences for a large segment of the population. It will confer on our young people certain legal rights but it will also impose on them certain legal obligations. Freedom to enter into contracts and to incur debts will also involve the obligation to fulfil those contracts and to pay those debts. I am confident that we will not be disappointed in the response of our young people to the challenge.

This is certainly a very necessary and acceptable Bill as far as it goes. The age of majority has already been lowered in most European countries. There is a very good reason for following suit in Ireland. People mature quicker nowadays than they did 20 or 30 years ago, possibly due to more extensive education and a more sophisticated life-style. There is no doubt that young people are maturing earlier and this trend of bringing down the age of majority is the proper course to take. It has been introduced already in a number of other areas, in the Succession Act, in regard to voting and in regard to juries. My criticism of the Bill is that it is extremely cautious. It takes another step forward but a very limited step and it excludes the question of marriage.

The Law Reform Commission brought out a very interesting report on the age of majority and dealt with it in conjunction with marriage. From reading that report one will see how relevant marriage is to the question of the age of majority. The Law Reform Commission drafted a Bill which would deal with these two matters together. This was a very appropriate thing to do. I am disappointed that the Minister did not see fit to follow the recommendation that was made by the Law Reform Commission in this respect. Postponing the question of marriage and postponing a number of other things that might have been introduced in this Bill will only add to difficulties. It will help in some ways, but it will lead to further difficulties because of the things that have been left out.

From that point of view, the Bill is worthy of note more for the things that have been left out than what has been included. This is particularly relevant in view of what has been said earlier today in regard to the scarcity of business in this House. The Government seem to be extremely reluctant, extremely slow in introducing any Bill. It seems a great pity, when we have a Bill before us now dealing with the age of majority, that the opportunity was not taken to include in that Bill a number of other things which are very relevant to the question of the age of majority and which will have to be done some time in the near future. As it seems to take a great effort on the part of the Government to introduce any Bill it is a pity that this Bill was not a more comprehensive one and did not include a whole lot of other subjects that could have been very appropriately included with the question of the age of majority.

Generally speaking, this is a non-contentious Bill. It is a very important one for many of us who are dealing with young people who are anxious to arrange a life of their own over the age of 18 but still have not reached the age of 21. This applies particularly in the area of house mortgages and entering into contracts with various people, whether it be hire purchase or otherwise. Many of us have come across the anomaly of people who held responsible jobs, were married but were less than 21 years of age, still having to have their parents or somebody else as guarantors particularly with local authorities for house loans or even house construction loans. Because of the anomaly which has arisen in these areas with lending agencies, it is appropriate that we should give young people the responsibility, first of all, that we would like them to have and, secondly, the responsibility which they obviously have taken upon themselves over the last ten years or so. Many young people have the courage now to enter into major contracts, even the contract of marriage, at a younger age and that is to be welcomed.

The future of this country depends on our young people and the fact that young people can take on to themselves certain responsibilities will be an indication to them that the older generation have trust in them and so provide the necessary legislation to lower the age of majority. The young people will respond positively to it. The Minister said that in giving them the responsibility of entering into these contracts and incurring debts it also devolved on them the responsibility to fulfil them. From my experience of young people, in the area of local authority representation particularly, I have no doubt but that young people will meet this challenge and meet it with the responsibility the Minister encourages them to have.

Senator Eoin Ryan mentioned the type of items which have been excluded from this Bill. In the case of social welfare or further education particularly it is very important that those areas should be excluded because there are still many areas of responsibility for parents in respect of children, especially those who are going forward to third level education. Because these young people are still at a level of education where they would be unable to support themselves it is important that some responsibility for maintenance would be entrusted to the parents while they are going through the education process. Those items should have been excluded; otherwise parents could be reneging on their responsibility to their children who have reached the age of majority. That is looking at it from a legal point of view.

This is welcome legislation; it has proved to be non-contentious and people throughout the country welcome the principle of giving young people all the encouragement they need to come out of the present recession, particularly in regard to the problems they will face in employment, bettering their education and the problems they will face in the future in marriage and in bringing up their families. We should treat them as adults at as early an age as possible and that is 18, or younger if they are married. Marriage in itself instills an element of responsibility in young people and the use of the wording "to lower the age from 21 to 18 or earlier if a person is married" meets all the problems that I might have had otherwise because quite a number of people get married for various reasons under the age of 18 and it is appropriate that when they make that major decision in life we should credit them with the same responsibility in other respects. I support the Bill and commend the Minister for bringing it forward.

I support the Bill. It has, I suppose, been long over-due and has been talked about for a long time. Of course it is quite easy to talk about bringing in legislation but attitudes will also have to change. As well as reducing the age from 21 to 18 much more effort will have to be put into the training of young people to learn to deal with responsibility. It is quite easy to bring in a Bill and say that we are giving them new responsibility but we have to do much more than that. This is where the Government will have to be seen to give more back-up to this Bill. In this connection the work of youth organisations and schools must focus on helping young people and they must be supported in this work by Government policy. I am not talking here about grey papers or white papers, or plans or committees; I am talking about positive back-up to what we are doing here today. I welcome the Bill and I thank the Minister for bringing it in.

I am not in total agreement with Senator Eoin Ryan. It was not today or yesterday that young people were able to deal with responsibility. Since the foundation of this State certain young people — not all — were quite able to deal with responsibility and did so. They are reaching the age of maturity at an earlier age now but here I would emphasise that as a parent and legislator I would like to be happy in my mind that in giving them the responsibility that we are not also deciding that now that they have this responsibility they can do as they wish and we need not worry, but that we would still be there as the back-up that we should always provide as parents and legislators. They are not on their own.

This may be a more important Bill than some politicians might think. We are giving new responsibilities to an 18 year old. We want to be quite sure that 18 year-olds still feel, having got the responsibilities which quite clearly they are asking for, that there is some support agency prepared to back them up. When we talk about giving them the chance and opportunity of going out to a finance agency and getting loans and taking on marriage at the age of 18 and 16, I certainly have reservations regarding the possibility that having done that they would feel that there would be no back-up. At any age today we know the shocking pressure that a loan or debt has brought even on later marriages, not to mention on 18 year olds. There is only three years between the age of 18 and 21 but young people learn a lot in those three years. While I am totally supportive of the Bill I want to put emphasis on the fact that they should not be on their own, having given them responsibility.

Does the Minister think that we should have some safeguards in this Bill for the young adult who may need aid or court safeguards in certain cases? If it does not give young adults full legal rights — I am not as well versed in the legal situation as some of my colleagues here — we might need wider reforming legislation. Perhaps I am wrong in that. I hope that the Bill will still carry with it protection for minors. For a long time people were asking the Minister and indeed other Ministers to change. I accept that, but do they still have the protection?

In regard to section 6 (b), I would like to make a reference here to the field in which I served for a long time. The opinion is that the Bill will not have adverse effects on the mentally handicapped just now. We welcome the fact that paragraph (b) will alter the Guardianship Act, 1964, to ensure that in the case of a mentally handicapped child a maintenance order can be made up to any age. It says that:

Any reference to an infant in this section (except in paragraph (a) of subsection (2)) shall include a reference to a child who has attained the age of eighteen years and is suffering from mental or physical disability to such extent that it is not reasonably possible for him to maintain himself fully.

I would like to ask the Minister about this just in case they are not protected and as it is so clearly included in a section of the Bill. When I use the word "noise" now, what I mean is the pressure of life today. I am glad that most of our 18 year olds are able for the pressures but with the problems that this nation has at present I wonder if the 50 year olds are able for the noise. I again ask the Minister if he would be concerned about this. We are now putting 18 year olds on juries. Could we arrive at a stage where we would have four 18 year olds on a jury?

I have said before that there is quite a difference between an 18 year old and a 21 year old. I accept the famous phrase which is used every day about "our rights", but I must say that I do not think that anybody of 16, 17 or 18 years of age is ready for marriage. I say that positively and nobody will change my mind on that. The pressures of life today are very great and those of us who have most of our lives behind us would be concerned about this. We are saying here to the 18 year olds that they can take on loans, take on all responsibilities, take on marriage and all these things at the age of 18. Things have changed very much in Ireland in the last eight to ten years. I am saying this because I have a child of 28 and a child of 26. In the last ten years those children had the back-up all the time of their parents. I worry that we are giving this tremendous responsibility to the 18 year olds this evening and they may not have the back-up of their parents. Certainly they may not have the back-up of two parents, but I would hope that they would have the back-up of at least one parent when they need support. Side by side with this, I would hope that when they have the pressure of loans and debts they would have somebody to fall back on.

I welcome the Bill but I would like to see with it some family law reform because these things are related and they certainly relate to the question of the age of majority. Last Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of 18 to 25 year olds and most of them are probably able to take on the responsibility we are giving them but there must be some support behind them. This is my concern as one who, maybe, has seen that it is necessary. I have that reservation. We see people of 30 not being able to deal with loans and debts. I thank the Minister for bringing in the Bill.

I, too, welcome this Bill which makes a fundamental change in our law. This Bill removes from the citizen the protective status of infancy or minority three years earlier and confers the status of majority on the citizen on his attaining his 18th birthday. As such, it recognises a situation existing in our society. It recognises the fact that people are maturing earlier, at a younger age, both physically and mentally. It recognises the fact that people at a much earlier age are taking on new responsibilities, responsibilities which people in their teens would not have dreamt of 20 years ago. Above all, it recognises the developing position of the family in our society. The family is no longer a unit or a nest within which a child stays until marriage. Current experience of the family shows that the child tends to leave the family at an earlier age, whether the leaving be one of moving in physical terms or otherwise, but they are certainly leaving in terms of taking on new responsibilities, developing new ideas and achieving a kind of independence which people did not achieve at such an early age in the past. That independence is manifest by the fact that young people can generate income of a substantial nature, young people are acquiring homes of their own at an earlier age and, as other Senators have remarked, recent statutory developments in this jurisdication have given to people at 18 years rights which heretofore were reserved for the 21 year olds.

Above all, the Bill recognises the independence and the individuality of our citizens and the fact that people can be independent, self-determining individuals at an earlier age. Because people mature earlier it is only right that that recognition should exist in law.

I have mentioned two other statutory changes. The Minister in this House and in the Dáil also made similar references to the fact that in 1965 when we enacted the Succession Act we accepted that people had achieved testamentary capacity on attaining their 18th birthday or having married. The fact that the people, in their wisdom, in the 1972 referendum decided that citizens should have the right to vote at 18 years of age and, indeed, the fact that that referendum was carried by such a substantial majority was a fair indication of the view of the people as distinct from that of the legislators as to how the law should move in this whole area. There is the Juries Act of 1976 which allows people to participate, and indeed a far broader range of people to participate in the judicial process at the age of 18 years. If anybody watches the modern jury in action, as distinct from the jury which existed in the day of the ratepayer jurors prior to the operation of the 1976 Act, one gets a very clear idea of how seriously young people take their responsibilities.

I welcome the underlying principles contained in this Bill and I take this opportunity of commending the Law Reform Commission for their very excellent working paper and for their excellent report dealing with this matter. I am sorry that the Minister decided to make certain exclusions and that the free age to marry should remain at 21 years. I am sorry that the Minister did not take this opportunity to reduce that age to 18 years. I do not know what the Minister's view is on this issue. He has phrased his language very carefully in both Houses when addressing himself to this issue. He has made reference to the deliberations of the Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown. I do not know if the Minister is saying to us that there are technical reasons why the law in relation to the free age of marriage should not be changed now or whether he was saying to us that the Government have not decided the question of principle as to whether the age should be reduced. I would like to have his comments on that.

It is interesting to look at the marriage age at the moment — the fact that a person cannot marry under the age of 16 years without the consent of the President of the High Court and also, if parental consent is refused, the individual has the right between the ages of 16 and 21 to seek the President's consent. It is interesting to look at the statistics dealing with this which are contained in the Law Reform Commission Report. These statistics prove one interesting fact in that the President of the High Court dealing, first, with applications filed by people under the age of 16 years, has accepted the bona fides of most such applications. The figures on page 21 of the report dealing with the law relating to the age of majority, the age for marriage and some connected subjects, are of particular interest. The report, dealing with applications by persons under the age of 16, shows that in the years, 1978 to 1982, inclusive, 12 such applications were processed to conclusion. Of the 12 applications, ten were authorised and accepted as being valid by the President of the High Court and orders under section 1 were made. Interestingly, in relation to applications under section 7 of the Marriages Act — applications by people between the ages of 16 and 21 years of age where parental consent was refused — of 118 applications processed to conclusion the President of the High Court held that 98 applications were valid and that this consent should be given.

I make this point because it shows, in a very acceptable forum, the way these applications are processed. Within that forum a judicial personage has accepted that roughly 80 per cent to 90 per cent of such applications by very young people seeking consent to marry, probably under very trying circumstances, should be allowed. This is a fair guidance and I think the free age of marriage should be reduced to 18 years of age. We are accepting now that young people should have the right to enter into commercial transactions, that they are deemed to be at arm's length in buying and selling property. We should also accept that there is a similar position by virtue of their earlier maturity in relation to these matters.

There is one other matter I would like to refer to. It is something that, when we are dealing with this issue we should address ourselves to and that is the right of a citizen to become a Member of this House or the other House. My understanding is that the right will still only become operable when somebody reaches the age of 21 years. If I am correct in my supposition, I think this issue, at the next available opportunity, should be put to the people. If the citizen can vote, and if we accept his tax as being equal to anyone else's, if he can be deemed employed or unemployed and have the capacity to enter into contracts then a citizen on reaching the age of 18 years should be entitled to sit in either House of the Oireachtas.

In conclusion, I fully support the principle behind the Bill. I commend our very reforming Minister for Justice for getting this measure before the House.

The Law Reform Commission in their report entitled "Report on the Law relating to the Age of Majority, the Age for Marriage and Some Connected Subjects", LRC5/1983, made a number of very interesting recommendations. They recommended that the age of majority be reduced from 21 years to 18 years of age and that the term "minor" and not "infant" be applied to a person who has not reached that age. They also recommended that on marriage a "minor" should in law become an adult and should have all the rights and be subject to all the liabilities of a person who has reached the age of majority.

In regard to the age for marriage the report recommended that the free age for marriage, that is the lowest age at which a person may contract a valid marriage without the consent of a third person, such as a parent or guardian, be also reduced to 18 years in line with the reduction in the age of majority. It was further recommended in the report that the absolute minimum age for marriage be 16 years. At present the minimum age for marriage is 16 years but there is a provision enabling the President of the High Court to grant an exemption for a person who has not attained that age. The Law Reform Commission recommended that a marriage between persons either of whom is under the age of 16 years would be null and void. In the case of a marriage involving persons, one of whom is a minor, the recommendation is that consent would be mandatory in the case of the minor. Where the necessary consent had not been obtained the marriage would be null and void also. In a situation where both guardians refuse consent in the case of a minor, there would be no provision for appeal to the High Court in such a case.

The report also made a number of recommendations in relation to matters connected with the age of majority. Some of these were stated in the report of the Law Reform Commission on page 26 as follows:

that the time at which a person attains a particular age expressed in years should be the commencement of the relevant anniversary of his birth;

that the jurisdiction over the person or estate of a ward of court should cease when he or she reaches the age of majority;

that the definition of a child in section 3 of the Adoption Act, 1952 should be amended so that the reference to twenty-one years becomes a reference to the new age of majority;

that the minimum age requirement for certain prospective adopters should be changed from twenty-one to the age of majority;

that special transitory provisions relating to such matters as funds in court, wardship and custody orders, powers of trustees during the minority of a beneficiary and limitation of action, should be included in the legislation;

that new legislation should, in so far as the construction expressions such as "full age" and "infancy" is concerned, apply to all statutory enactments and instruments (no matter when passed or made) but not to deeds, wills and other private instruments made before the commencement date of the legislation;

that section 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 be amended so as to bring it into harmony with the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, 1976, under which an order for maintenance may be made against a parent in respect of a mentally or physically disabled child who has reached the age of majority.

In addition to the recommendations to which I have referred the Law Reform Commission's report contained a draft Bill which would give effect to all the recommendations contained in the report. The explanatory memorandum which was circulated with the Bill is, in my view, a little misleading. The very first sentence of the explanatory memorandum states:

The purpose of the Bill is to implement the proposal relating to the age of majority contained in the Law Reform Commission's "Report on the Law Relating to the Age of Majority, the Age for Marriage and Some Connected Subjects" (LRC5/1983).

Anybody reading that sentence could be forgiven for thinking that the report of the Law Reform Commission was being implemented in full in the Bill before the House.

Will the Senator move the Adjournment?

I move the Adjournment.

Debate adjourned.