HC Deb 30 June 1911 vol 27 cc764-5

As between the heir-at-law and (he representatives of the moveable estate of such intestate, such charge shall be borne and paid in proportion to the values of the heritable and moveable estate respectively.


I beg to move, after the word "the" ["the values of the heritable"] to insert the word "net."


Will the Lord Advocate give us some explanation of this Amendment?


The object of this Bill is to secure for widows in Scotland the same rights as were secured to widows in England by the Intestates' Estates Act, 1890, upon which it has been modelled. In Scotland, under the present law, the widow of an intestate without issue gets one-half of the moveable estate and one-third of the heritable, the residue going to brothers or sisters or more distant relatives of the deceased. The Bill proposes to follow the English Act and give her the whole estate if it is under £500, and if over £500 a first charge to that amount. The English Act has been in force for over twenty years, and it has given the greatest satisfaction. No Amendment has ever been proposed, and this Bill is fashioned exactly upon the terms of the English Act. There are a number of cases where a man dies having saved, say, £50, £60, or £100. He dies intestate without any issue, and then the brothers and sisters claim a share. This Bill gives the whole estate up to £500 to the widow as a first charge. Therefore I recommend this Bill to the House. It is a measure which has passed the Second Reading several times. This, at all events, is one of those cases in which Scotland can very well follow what has been the law in England for many years.


I would remind the House that the question before it is that the word "net" be inserted before the word "value."


Perhaps I may be able to satisfy the hon. Baronet. The £500 is to come out of the real and personal estate, but, as the Bill at present stands, it does not explicitly say it is to come out of the net value after the deduction of debts on the estate. This Amendment makes it quite clear that you deduct those debts, and then, if the net amount does not exceed £500, it belongs to the widow absolutely and exclusively, and, if it does exceed £500, the widow is to be a creditor upon the whole of the estate for that amount. I think the hon. Baronet will see that is quite fair and reasonable.


I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I supposed it was something of that sort, but without any explanation I could not tell whether it had that effect. It is evident you could not take £500 until you had defrayed all the expenses out of the estate. It would have been injurious to the creditors to have done so.


I accept the Amendment.

Question, "That the word 'net' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.