HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 cc845-7
38. Mr. Millan

asked the Attorney-General if he will announce the names of the persons appointed to inquire into the rights of illegitimate persons, and the terms of reference of the inquiry.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

The Committee's terms of reference will be to consider whether any alterations are desirable in the law of succession in England and Wales and in Scotland in relation to illegitimate persons. I am not yet in a position to announce the composition of the Committee, but the intention is that the inquiry should start as soon as possible.

Mr. Millan

Is it not rather extraordinary to set up this inquiry when we are actually in the middle of considering a Scottish Bill on the law of succession? Why cannot the inquiry be restricted to England and Wales? Could the Attorney-General consult the Secretary of State so that the inquiry could be so confined? In this matter of Scotland, could not the House of Commons decide something for a change instead of an inquiry doing so?

The Solicitor-General

This inquiry is clearly one which is quite extensive and which will need a certain amount of close examination, I will bear in mind what the hon. Member has said. It was the intention to deal with succession on intestacy and also, I believe, with what is legitim in Scottish law, and the extension of the Inheritance (Family Provisions) Act applying to England and Wales in these matters. This is of considerable detail and will need close examination.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will this Committee have an opportunity of inquiring into the illegitimate birth rate in Dunoon? [Laughter.] I hope that hon. Members who are laughing appreciate that this is a serious question. Will the Committee have the right to inquire into whether the American soldiers and sailors who are the fathers of illegitimate children can be sued? What recompense may be made to the mothers?

The Solicitor-General

I am not sure that the actual place will come within the terms of reference, but in regard to the position of particular people, it is clear that the terms of reference include the laws of succession in relation to illegitimate children, but not in relation to affiliation orders or such like matters.