HC Deb 21 July 1874 vol 221 c390

asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether he is aware of the construction which Probate Court officials have put upon the Act of 36 and 37 Victoria, chapter 52, entitled "An Act for the Belief of Widows and Children of Intestates, where the Personal Estate is of small value," by which construction the widow and children only of an intestate, as literally expressed in the Act, are benefited thereby, and the children of a poor widow excluded from its operation, notwithstanding that section 4 of the 13 and 14 Victoria, chapter 21, entitled "An Act for shortening the language used in Acts of Parliament, "enacts that in all Acts words importing the masculine gender shall be taken to include females; and, whether he is prepared to take such steps as will cause the Act first above referred to, to be made applicable to the estates of poor intestates of the female sex?


Sir, from inquiries which I have made I have reason to believe that my hon. Friend is quite correct in the suggestion made by his Question as to the construction put by the Court of Probate upon the Statute 36 & 37 Vict., c. 52, and I regret that the effect of such construction, if generally adopted, will be to materially limit the beneficial operation of the Act. I am not at present aware of the precise circumstances of the case or cases in which such construction has been arrived at, but the matter shall receive my best consideration, with the view of securing the greatest amount of benefit to the poorer classes, for whose relief the Act was passed; and, if necessary, I will take steps to effect that object by legislation, though I fear that it will not be possible to do so during the present Session.

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