HC Deb 04 August 1913 vol 56 cc1228-30

(1) Every married woman who carries on a trade or business, whether separately from her husband or not, shall be subject to the bankruptcy laws as if she were a feme sole.

(2) Where a married woman carries on a trade or business and a final judgment or order has been obtained against her, whether or not expressed to be payable out of her separate property, for any amount, that judgment or order shall be available for bankruptcy proceedings against her by a bankruptcy notice as though she were personally bound to pay the judgment debt or sum ordered to be paid.

(3) Where a married woman who has been adjudged bankrupt has separate property which is subject to a restraint on anticipation, the court shall have power, on the application of the trustee, to order that during such time as the court may order the whole or some part of the income derived from the property be paid to the trustee for distribution among the creditors.

(4) Where a married woman has been adjudged bankrupt, her husband shall not be entitled to claim any dividend as a creditor in respect of any money or other estate lent or entrusted by him to his wife for the purposes of her trade or business until all claims of the other creditors of his wife for valuable consideration in money or money's worth have been satisfied.


I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (3).

My objection to this Sub-section is that it infringes on the protection given to married women with property subject to a restraint. on anticipation, and if that protection, which has been very important as preserving a means of livelihood, is to be done away with it ought not to be whittled away in different Acts here and there, but by an Amendment of the Married Women's Property Act. As however, the right hon. Gentleman has so far met me as to accept the last three Amendments to this Clause, while I should like to register as strong a protest as I can against the method in which this restraint on anticipation is being dealt with in this Clause, I shall not press the Amendment to a Division, but will content myself with registering a protest and formally moving the Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment, and on rather different grounds. It is a very big question, and the evil is very real and far-reaching, but I do not think we ought to deal with it now. When we do deal with it we ought to consider the question as a whole. It is a scandal that there are a large number of women with big incomes—sometimes thousands a year—who obtain goods on credit and snap their fingers at their creditors. They go on year after year getting credit from foolish, perhaps, but unfortunate tradesmen, who are swindled. I know of one case in which a lady with a very large income was periodically pursued by tradesmen for £10,000, £20,000, or £30,000, all of which was lost. But here it is proposed to make available for creditors only the protected income of such married women as trade, and, of course, the traders among married women are a small class compared with all married women and are not the class who do the mischief. The real class who do the mischief are the idle women who run up bills and will not pay their debts. I do wish that when this matter is reconsidered the Scottish system may be introduced. It is a far better system than ours. The Court can assess the proportion of a woman's income which she requires for her maintenance and that of her family, and can give the rest to the creditors, and in assessing that amount the Scottish Courts take a very moderate view of the debtor's requirements. I agree with the mover of the Amendment, however, that the Government has met us very fairly with regard to other points, and I shall not press this now, but I do hope the matter will be reconsidered.

Amendment negatived.

Further Amendments made: In Subsection (3) after the word "property" ["is separate property which is subject"], insert the words "the income of."

In Sub-section (3) leave out the words "the income derived from the property," and insert instead thereof the words "such income."

At end of Sub-section (3) insert the words "and in the exercise of such power the Court shall have regard to the means of subsistence available for such woman and her children."—[Mr'. Cassel.]