HC Deb 20 April 1891 vol 352 cc920-1

I beg to ask the Attorney General whether, having regard to the recent decision in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, and to the effect which that decision has had upon subsequent decisions and statements, as to the present state of the Law of Divorce, of Judges of the High Court of Justice and inferior Courts, the Government are prepared to bring in at once a short Bill assimilating the English to the Scotch Law, by providing that desertion for a certain number of years shall give a right of divorce to the husband or wife, and that a wife shall have the same right as a husband now has of obtaining a divorce on the ground of adultery only; and whether, in the alternative, the Government will afford facilities for the early Second Reading of the Bill introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, and other hon. Members for a similar assimilation of the law?


The decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Mrs. Jackson did not, in the opinion of the learned Judges who pronounced it, make any alteration in the law, but only declared the law. Under these circumstances, no attention should be paid to any statements made without judicial authority. Her Majesty's Government do not propose to introduce any Bill proposing any change in the law. The last paragraph of the hon. Member's question should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury; but I think I may say that it will not be possible to give facilities for the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen.


May I point out that it is not the dictum of Magistrates, but one of the Judges of the High Court—Mr. Justice Jeune?


I think the hon. Member has quite misunderstood Mr. Justice Jeune. His remarks were addressed to a particular case, and had no reference to any alteration of the law consequent on the decision in the Jackson case.