HC Deb 13 February 1963 vol 671 cc1290-1
19. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the situation under which women in Scotland are suffering owing to the present law of intestacy there, and of the widespread demand in Scotland for an amendment of that law on the lines of the recommendations of the Mackintosh Committee, which was appointed by the Government of the day; and if he will introduce legislation to reform the law on this matter in the next session of Parliament.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Noble)

I am aware that many people in Scotland would like to see legislation to amend the law of intestacy. I cannot, of course, anticipate the Government's legislation programme.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the Secretary of State realise that the claim for this legislation has been going on from year to year? Will he name the dead hand of prejudice which prevents this requirement from being implemented? Does he realise that it is damaging to the professional women of Scotland and contrasts vividly the rights of English women as distinct from Scottish women?

Mr. Noble

I realise both points which the hon. and learned Gentleman made.

Miss Herbison

Surely the Secretary of State must be well aware of the feelings of all women in Scotland, and not only professional women, regarding the very grave injustice under which they are suffering? Will the right hon. Gentleman be honest with the House and tell us that it is the big landed interests which have prevented this Government from honouring the statement made in the Queen's Speech over two years ago?

Mr. Noble

I accept the statement of the hon. Lady about the feelings of many women in Scotland on this matter and I am grateful for her offer to co-operate which she made the last time we discussed this at Question Time. But I cannot agree with her reason why it is so.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Is not the answer to this Question that people should make wills?

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