HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 c545
3. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of men committed to prison by the High Court and the number committed by magistrates in 1950 for failing to pay alimony or maintenance to their wives.

Mr. Ede

The number of men committed to prison by magistrates' courts in 1950 for failing to pay maintenance to their wives was 3,544. Similar information is not available for the High Court but I am informed that only five warrants of commitment for debt were issued by the Divorce Division in the same period.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will my right hon. Friend bring these distressing figures, which have more than doubled in the last 10 years and which seem to be still increasing, to the notice of the Royal Commission on Matrimonial Law when it is set up?

Mr. Ede

I have no doubt that they will make inquiries into this matter but, after all, when a woman gets a maintenance order she is entitled to take the necessary action to get it enforced.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of the men who went to prison went there voluntarily rather than pay the alimony?

Mr. Ede

I cannot give any statistics on that matter, but I know from my experience as a magistrate that in some cases that does occur.