HC Deb 08 August 1884 vol 292 cc355-7

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [21st April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question, again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, the second reading of the Bill was adjourned some time ago. It had proceeded some distance then, and the object of the measure had been explained. At present, in proceedings for restitution of conjugal rights, the only power possessed by the Judge, where the order of the Court was disobeyed, was to send the person disobeying the order to prison. In fact, the Judge could only compel the parties to live together; or compel the one refusing to obey his order to prison. That was considered a very great evil, therefore this Bill had been passed through the other House at the instance of the learned Judge who for many years had presided over the Matrimonial Causes Court. The provisions were very simple. They enabled particular payments to be made in lieu of attachment, and where application for restitution was made by the husband, it enabled the husband to make a settlement of the wife's property. There were other provisions which would tend to place the law on a more satisfactory footing. The Bill was dictated by practical experience, and would meet a very serious evil; and he trusted the House would give a second reading to it.

MR. WARTON (who was received with cries of "Divide!")

said, he believed it was the privilege of every Member of the House to speak his mind as to the legislation submitted to the House, and to do so without interruption. It seemed to him nothing less than scandalous for the Legislature to interfere in matrimonial causes in this way, and to say that husband and wife should not live together, if one of the parties was disinclined. If any wife took it into her head to leave her husband, she could do so, and the Judge who had originated the measure might compel that husband so deprived of the solatium of his wife to pay something for her maintenance if she had nothing of her own. The measure would not certainly not improve the sanctity of marriage. Moreover, he protested against hurrying the Bill through at that period of the Session. Bills should not be recklessly pushed through the House in the last moments of the Session.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.