HC Deb 18 July 1958 vol 591 cc1642-3

Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 16, at end insert new Clause "A": For the purposes of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section one of the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1950 (which provides that a petition for divorce may be presented to the High Court on the ground that the respondent has deserted the petitioner without cause for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition), any agreement between the petitioner and the respondent to live separate and apart, whether or not made in writing, shall be disregarded if the agreement was entered into before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-eight, and either—

  1. (a) at the time when the agreement was made the respondent had deserted the petitioner without cause; or
  2. (b) the court is satisfied that the circumstances in which the agreement was made and the parties proceeded to live separate and apart were such as, but for the agreement, to amount to desertion of the petitioner by the respondent without cause."

Read a Second time.

2.15 p.m.

Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This is not a very complicated Amendment and I think that a short explanation from me will suffice. It embodies one more uncontroversial recommendation of the Report of the Royal Commission, to a number of whose recommendations hon. Members on both sides of the House have been seeking to give effect in private Member's legislation in this Session. Desertion became a ground for divorce in the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1937. Before this date, the Royal Commission was told, a number of separate agreements had been concluded between spouses in circumstances in which one spouse had deserted and the other had acquiesced in an inevitable situation. The effect of that was to deprive the deserted spouse of subsequent rights to seek divorce on grounds of desertion.

The object of the Amendment is to provide that where a husband and wife have separated before 1st January, 1938, in circumstances amounting to desertion on the part of one of them, the fact that before that date they entered into an agreement to live apart should not debar the deserted spouse from obtaining a divorce on the grounds of desertion. This gives direct effect to a recommendation of the Royal Commission.

Major W. Hicks Beach (Cheltenham)

I beg to second the Motion.

Question put and agreed to.

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