HC Deb 24 February 1927 vol 202 cc1893-4
17 and 18. Mr. SNELL

asked the Horne Secretary (1) whether he will consider the possibility of introducing legislation with a view to bringing the law of divorce in England and Wales into line with that of Scotland, which allows divorce for malicious desertion of four years, in order to give relief to the deserted wives of Colonials;

(2) Whether he is aware that there are living in this country a considerable number of British-born women who, during the War, married soldiers from the Colonies; that many of these husbands returned to their homes leaving their hives and children behind them unprovided for and dependent upon relatives or public funds; that, although these women are actually deserted and are bound to absconders who may have remarried in their own countries, they are unable to prove misconduct, and that the High Commissioners of the Colonies are unable to take any action in the matter; and will he have the whole question considered, with a view to seeing whether there is any way of assisting women and children in this position?


I do not see my way at the present time to introduce a Bill to amend the law relating to divorce. The Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act, 1920, allows deserted wives to obtain provisional maintenance orders against their husbands residing in those parts of the Dominions that have passed reciprocal legislation, and the orders, after confirmation in an Oversea Court, are enforceable overseas.


Will the Home Secretary consider the question of introducing legislation to make it possible for such women to sue in the English Courts, which they are debarred at the present time from doing on the ground that they are deemed to be domiciled overseas?


They can sue in the English Courts, and, if they obtain Orders, they are enforceable. I see that my hon. Friend shakes his head—


They cannot sue in respect of divorce.


No, but these questions relate to maintenance Orders.