HC Deb 22 November 1960 vol 630 cc946-7
4. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, in view of the difference between Scotland and England in the law relating to the adoption of children, namely, that in Scotland adopted children are not entitled as of right, as they are in England, to inherit property on the intestacy of their adopted parents is an anomaly which inflicts hardship on adopted children in Scotland and which has been under consideration by Her Majesty's Government for many months with a view to its removal, if he can now state when he proposes to remove it.

Mr. Maclay

The succession rights of adopted children must be considered along with other aspects of the law of intestate succession in Scotland, but I have already indicated in reply to earlier Questions that I can give no undertaking to introduce a Bill on succession during the current Session of Parliament.

Mr. Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it invidious that Scottish children should be deprived of rights which English children enjoy in similar circumstances? If there is a specific objection to this amendment of the law, will the Secretary of State, in justice to the children of Scotland, specify what the objections are?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that this is a complex question and one has to be very careful in making changes in something which has existed for a great many years. We had intended to do something last Session, but, for good reasons, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows—because of the very full discussion which went on in Committee on another very important Bill—time was not available. I cannot undertake to say when time will be available.

Mr. Rankin

When the right hon. Gentleman promised in the Queen's Speech before last that he would introduce a Bill to reform the law of succession, he must have had the time factor in mind—or was he quite irresponsible when he made that promise?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Gentleman must know that it is not always possible to be dead accurate in one's estimate of how long individual Bills will take to get through the Scottish Standing Committee.

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