HC Deb 29 July 1943 vol 391 cc1764-5
41. Mr. Hammersley

asked the Home Secretary whether he is considering, in cases of matrimonial separation, the difficulties arising from the fact that rights as to maintenance and custody have to be determined in one court under the Summary Jurisdiction (Separation and Maintenance) Act, 1925, and property rights have to be decided in another court under the Married Women's Property Act, 1882; and whether he will take steps to mitigate the unnecessary legal expense?

Mr. H. Morrison

To give courts of summary jurisdiction jurisdiction in disputes about the legal title to property would not be a desirable course. On the other hand, if my hon. Friend's suggestion is that courts of summary jurisdiction should cease to function in separation and maintenance cases and that their work should be transferred to county courts, I have no evidence to show that this change would be advantageous.

Mr. Hammersley

As the right hon. Gentleman's reply seemed to indicate that the former procedure would not be desirable, will he give some indication why it is not desirable?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think that courts of summary jurisdiction would be appropriate courts to deal with the important question of the allocation of property, in which considerable legal complications arise. On the other hand, they are eminently suitable to deal with domestic problems and difficulties between husband and wife.

Mr. Hammersley

As this matter is one of great difficulty, would not the right hon. Gentleman consider having some inquiry within his Department as to possible improvement in procedure?

Mr. Morrison

I have considered that, but I do not think there are before me proposals for improving procedure, and I do not think that at present we had better embark on this subject.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Has the right hon. Gentleman not expressed publicly his views on the economic rights of housewives?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, I have, on certain aspects, in a daring moment, but I do not think I will walk into the matter legislatively at present.

Mr. Messer

Would it not be dangerous to have these domestic cases in police courts?

Mr. Morrison

On these property matters they would be quite unsuitable, but they are eminently suitable for, and do good work on, the domestic problems.