§ Mr. HARNEY
I beg to move, in page 1, line 22, to leave out the words, "the children of the marriage," and to insert instead thereof the words, "her children."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. SCURR
I beg to move, in page 1, line 24, at the end, to insert the words(c) that adultery has been committed.I move this Amendment on behalf of a considerable section of the community who consider that the greatest cruelty which could be inflicted upon a woman would be for this offence to be committed. It is not provided for in the Bill. I know that it was put forward in Committee, and I understand that the only objection of the Home Secretary then was that the Bill was an agreed Bill and that this Amendment, if inserted, might wreck the chances of the Bill's passage into law. I do not want to wreck the Bill, but on behalf of this very considerable section of the community I must move the Amendment.
As has been indicated, this is a controversial Amendment, and I hope that the hon. Member will not press it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. BASIL PETO
I beg to move, in page 1, line 24, at the end, to insert the words(c) that her husband is suffering from venereal disease and insists on cohabiting.8.0 P.M.
I wish to press this Amendment. We are in this Clause inserting certain provisions which constitute a new ground of cruelty. Clearly, what is being considered in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Sub-section (2) is cruelty to the wife. I hold that in the fresh paragraph I wish to insert the question of the cruelty to the wife is obvious. In the case of this terrible scourge we have to consider the cruelty to future generations. I see before my mind's eye children who are maimed, with bodies distorted, blind, feeble-minded, and the rest. No doubt my hon. Friend is going to refer to the case of Foster v. Foster, and I may be told that there has already been a decision in the Law Courts covering such a case as that with which I seek to deal here. It is not a question of merely infecting the wife, although that alone has been held to constitute cruelty, and if that be so, what is the objection to putting in this provision to prevent this most serious cruelty to present and future generations and to have it clearly in this Bill? This House should abandon all prudery and realise that this disease is the most terrible scourge from which the country is suffering, and is equal in its effects, if not worse than cancer or tuberculosis. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment.
I think in the Committee stage I said that the suggestion of my hon. Friend was already covered. Since then we have looked into the matter very carefully, and we are still of opinion that that is the case. I quite agree that it is a most important thing that it should be covered, but our advice is that the Act of 1895 covers the 2346 point and that no further reference in this Bill is necessary. May I say, however, that this Bill is going to another place where there are a great many expert and learned lawyers. This point will probably come up, and if in their opinion the case raised by my hon. Friend is not covered, then we will see to it that something is put in the Bill. May I ask him to leave the matter open in that way.
§ Mr. B. PETO
I would be pleased to adopt the course suggested by my hon. Friend, but I make an appeal that we should deal with this question directly by legislation, and not by references compelling us to hunt in some ether Act for something which is applicable to this matter. I cannot myself see any reason: why the words I propose should not be inserted in this Bill to make the matter perfectly clear.
§ Sir GERALD HOHLER
I am rather surprised that the Under-Secretary has not accepted this Amendment. This is a matter which is being considered by lawyers, and I think in the present circumstances we should endeavour to get rid of all doubt. If the matter is not clear to the Home Office, who have expert advice on which to rely, and who can consult the Law Officers of the Crown, why should it be left any longer in doubt? I would ask my hon Friend to agree to the insertion of those words.
Mr. LOCKER - LAMPSON
May I appeal to my hon. Friend to withdraw the Amendment, because if we have a Division now it may seriously interfere with the progress of the Measure. I think I have made my position clear. I have pledged myself and the Home Secretary that if there is any doubt whatever as to the point not being covered steps will be taken to cover it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 2, lines 9 and 10, leave out the words "the children of the marriage" and insert "his children."—[Mr. Harney.]
§ The following Amendment stood en the Order Paper in the name of Mr. HARNEY:
In page 2, line 14, at the end, to insert the words
and any such Order shall cease to have effect if for a period of three months after it is made the married woman continues to reside with her husband,
§ Mr. HARNEY
I understand the same principle applies. Of course, you will consider whether you will make it three or six. I am quite satisfied.
The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Viscountess Astor:
In page 2, line 14, at the end, insert the wordsand any such Order shall cease to have effect if for a period of six months after it is made the married woman continues to reside with her husband.
This Amendment is similar to the previous one except as to period. The only question is that you accepted it when you were dealing with an inconsiderate husband, and here you are dealing with a husband who is more considerate.