HC Deb 24 March 1886 vol 303 cc1769-70

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. PULLEY (Hereford)

, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that it was to relieve a difficulty in the existing law. As hon. Members were aware, women who were deserted by their husbands were compelled to enter the Union before anything could be done to make the husbands support them. This Bill would enable a woman who had been deserted to go before a Stipendiary Magistrate or two Justices acting in Petty Sessions, and obtain that order for maintenance which she could now only get through the Parish Authorities. Women would thus be spared the degradation of becoming inmates of a workhouse, and would have a much more single means of getting relief. The Bill also proposed to give such a woman the custody of the children of the marriage under 10 years of age. He would move the second reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Pulley.)


said, he was unable to support the Bill, which went a great deal too far, in his opinion. Before the House assented to the second reading of this measure, they ought to know what it was intended to effect. The object of the measure was to give to any two Justices of the Peace the power of decreeing a separation in case of the desertion of a married woman by her husband, which was now exercised by the Divorce Court. He doubted whether the House would be prepared to thus so seriously interfere with the powers of the Divorce Court, or to hand over such an important power to any two Justices of the Peace, without having further and fuller information on the subject. The Bill ought not to pass without far more consideration being given to it than could be given to it now. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member would postpone the further consideration of the Bill for a week, so that the House might not be taken by surprise.


said, he willingly consented to the postponement of the debate, as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman.

Debate adjourned till Wednesday next.