HC Deb 17 March 1892 vol 2 cc1046-7

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been drawn to the remarks of the Sheriff Substitute at Dundee, who recently described the law of Scotland under which the father of an illegitimate child can relieve himself from further payments of aliment by offering to take the child, if a boy, attaining the age of seven, into his own custody, as "an antiquated abomination," adding that "a law which takes a boy from its mother when he is seven years old does not suit modern ideas of civilisation"; whether he is aware that, under a recent decision of the Supreme Court, the mother of an illegitimate child has no legal claim to compensation for his death owing to the negligence of others, and no claim for support in old age from a living son able to maintain her, and whether there is any prospect of the law being amended in these particulars?


I have no knowledge of the first case referred to except from the question of the hon. Member. If the Sheriff Substitute is correctly reported, he is in error in suggesting that the law takes an illegitimate male child from its mother at the age of seven. The father, when ascertained, is under a legal obligation for the aliment of the child, and he is entitled, when the child reaches seven years of age, to discharge that obligation in the way least burdensome to himself. I am aware of the recent decision referred to in the second paragraph of the question. I can hold out no hope of the law being altered in either particular, especially in a direction which might tend to the encouragement of illegitimacy.