HC Deb 03 May 1963 vol 676 cc1568-70

Any presumption of condonation which arises from the continuance or resumption of marital intercourse may be rebutted on the part of a husband, as well as on the part of a wife, by evidence sufficient to negative the necessary intent.—[Mr. Abse.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Abse

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This Clause does not effect any alteration in principle to that which has gone through the Standing Committee and which, of course, implements a unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission. I think it will suffice if I indicate that the Royal Commission said that it believed that there can be circumstances … when the fact that one spouse has had sexual relations with the other does not amount to that full forgiveness and reinstatement which in our view should constitute condonation. We recommend, therefore, that an act or acts of sexual intercourse between husband and wife, after the commission of a matrimonial offence by one which is known to the other, should raise a presumption that the offence has been thereby condoned, which presumption may be rebutted by sufficient evidence to the contrary. This Clause implements that recommendation and places the husband in the same position as the wife.

As we all felt in Standing Committee, in so far as we recognise the position of a husband who knows that he has an adulterous wife, and recognise that he would be in some agony of mind, we would not want to do anything which would be so categorical that it would exclude the possibility of the parties sleeping together—an apprehension which perhaps would arise in the husband's mind if he thought that, by so doing, he would be prevented for ever from opening up the question of the offence committed.

I do not wish to elaborate on what is a somewhat technical matter. In Standing Committee, we had the benefit of considerable advice from the Solicitor-General, who was a mine of information and assistance to the Standing Committee in all its proceedings.

I hope that the Clause, implementing as it does in a more elegant and precise way what has already been accepted, will receive the approval of the House.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

This is a quite uncontentious new Clause. It corrects an inequality and puts right an anomaly which has existed for a long time, placing both husband and wife on the same footing. I hope that the House will accept it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.