HC Deb 02 June 1942 vol 380 cc625-6

Order for Second Reading read.

The Lord Advocate (Mr. J. S. C. Reid)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."?

Perhaps in view of the hour the House will excuse me if I deal with this Bill somewhat shortly. I can properly do that because the main part of the Bill is purely for a temporary purpose to meet war circumstances. It does not touch the substance of the law of marriage. It is purely a procedural Bill and, therefore, perhaps does not require the same careful' consideration as would be necessary if we were touching the law of marriage itself. I will explain the sort of case that has been giving us trouble. We have already provided in the course of the war for the case in which one of the two intended spouses is on war service, but not for the case in which both are on war service. We have had a considerable number of cases in which both the man and the girl are either in the Forces or on some sort of war work away from home and both are out of Scotland. The girl wants, as is right and proper, to be married from her parents' home in Scotland. That is practically impossible just now, because of the existing residence qualification, and what we propose to do, putting it very shortly, is to make the usual residence at the outbreak of war equivalent to the usual marriage residence qualification; so that if the girl resided at her home in Scotland on 3rd September, 1939, it will not matter that she has been in England for the last two years, she is still qualified by residence to be married in Scotland.

I should add that exactly the same difficulty has arisen with regard to the Church law. As the House will be aware, the Church is responsible for the proclamation of banns. The civil authority is responsible for notice to the registrar. Accordingly, we consulted with the Church authorities before introducing this Bill. We were at one in our views, and the Church has already passed an Act of Assembly to achieve just the objects of this Bill. Accordingly, there is no question of Church law and civil law diverging; on the contrary, this Bill will bring them into line. I ought, in ordinary circumstances, to have said one or two words about the other Clauses which follow Clause 1, but I do not think I need do so, because they raise very minor points. If any hon. Member desires to ask a question either now or on the Committee stage, perhaps it will suit the convenience of the House if I deal with his points then rather than at this stage.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for the next Sitting Day.—[Mr. J. P. L. Thomas.]