HC Deb 14 February 1870 vol 199 cc284-5

, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to protect the property of Married Women, said, that while few were probably prepared to deny that the property of married women was not sufficiently protected by the present law, those who had endeavoured to correct the evil had proposed to do so by measures somewhat revolutionary and sweeping, but which, nevertheless, were calculated only to lessen and not totally to cure the evil. In the Bill of last Session, for instance, no precaution was taken to protect the interests of the children in case the wife felt disposed to yield to the encroachments of the husband, nor did it protect the interests of the children against the extravagance of both, the husband and the wife. In the Bill which he now asked the leave of the House to introduce it was proposed that the property belonging to the wife at the time of the marriage, or subsequently acquired by her by deed of gift or by bequest, should be in the first instance vested in the husband as her trustee, but that the wife should, when she felt herself aggrieved, have the power of applying to a County Court judge for the purpose of having the property vested in a fresh trustee. It was proposed, too, that when the wife could show that during the previous six months she had earned the greater portion of what was contributed to the support of the. family her earnings should be entitled to protection, and in regard to property of this description, she should, if she obtained such protection, be treated as a feme sole. The difference between this and previous measures would be understood from the statement that it was here proposed to interfere between husband and wife only when there was a presumptive necessity for such a proceeding. He would only call attention to one other provision, and that was one which enacted that all postnuptial settlements made by the husband, being a trader, upon his wife or children, should be registered in the Court of Chancery as a protection to creditors. Some such provision it was suggested last Session by the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Jessel) to insert in the Bankruptcy Bill, but in that measure it was felt to be out of place.


said, he did not intend to offer any opposition to the introduction of the measure proposed by his hon. Friend, for he thought that it would be better that both Bills should be discussed at the same time. He was aware that the Bill which he introduced last Session had been described as revolutionary; but it was quite new to have to hear that it did not go far enough. He could not help thinking that if that was the objection to his Bill, his hon. Friend would have done better to have proposed some Amendments in Committee, instead of endeavouring to throw it out on the third reading.

Motion agreed to. Bill to protect the property of Married Women, ordered to be brought in by Mr. RAIKES, Mr. STAVELEY HILL, and Mr. WEST. Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 22.]