HC Deb 19 February 1964 vol 689 cc1260-2

6.30 p.m.

Lady Tweedsmuir

I beg to move, in page 3, line 25, to leave out "a parent" and to insert "an ancestor".

This is a consequential Amendment made necessary by the restoration of paragraph (h) of subsection (1) of Clause 2. Before this paragraph was restored to the Bill, the succession of collateral stopped at brothers and sisters of parents of the intestate. Now that it has been restored, the succession is open to brothers and sisters of any ancestors of the intestate and that is why it is necessary to substitute the words "an ancestor" for the words "a parent" in line 25.

Amendment agreed to.

Lady Tweedsmuir

I beg to move, in page 3, line 32, to leave out from "between" to end of line 33 and to insert: those related to the intestate or, as the case may be, the ancestor through their father and those so related through their mother".

Mr. Speaker

I think it desirable that we should discuss with this Amendment the following two Amendments—which are not selected—standing in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross): in line 32, leave out "consanguinean" and insert paternal", and line 33, leave out "uterine" and insert "maternal".

Lady Tweedsmuir

I am grateful that we can discuss them together, Mr. Speaker, because this drafting Amendment has been put down by the Government to honour an undertaking given in Committee when the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) did not like the use of the words "consanguinean" and "uterine". He put down Amendments which would have omitted them from Clause 3, but withdrew them on my assurance that we would reconsider the drafting of the Clause. I hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the House.

Mr. Willis

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) on having had the good sense to move the replacement of the words "consanguinean" and "uterine" with something rather more homely and more easily understood by the Scottish public. We are also grateful to the Government for the Amendment which the hon. Lady has moved, although it is drawn rather differently from what was suggested by my hon. Friend.

I do not know why the Government kept these words in in the first place. There must have been great pressure from the lawyers' lobby, which is very powerful in this House and which we are always fighting in the interests of the Scottish people. One of the duties of lawyers is to see that their profession is kept filly occupied. While we are all in favour of full employment, I am not so sure that we are in favour of it for lawyers in dazzling ordinary citizens with these very old expressions. I congratulate the Government on displaying at least a little consideration for the ordinary men or women who are bereaved.

The new wording will be more understandable by ordinary people. I like the words "paternal" and "maternal". They are homely and good. They have a warmth. Everyone understands and appreciates them. They typify in themselves the sacredness of the home and give it meaning. I am sorry that the Government could not find it possible to use them instead of this rather uncolourful phrase, which includes a lot of words. They do not convey the sense of intimacy which one associates with the family. However, I am glad that the Government have at least got rid of the original and offending words.

Mr. Ross

We congratulate the Government on carrying out their pledge to see whether they could find new wording for this provision. I suggested the words "paternal line" and "maternal line", but it was pointed out that that line of succession was vertical whereas we also wanted to cover the possibility of collaterals.

My hopes ran very high when I saw that the Government had reinstated the missing paragraph (h). I hoped that this would include the words "maternal" and "paternal". I thought that after all there was to be statutory recognition of the value of the words "maternal" and "paternal". I thought that by the simple means of using these words—saving, as ever, any possibility of confusing the issue by adding other words—we would get a great improvement on the original drafting. However, the Government, in their wisdom thought better.

The Government have, in fact, wiped out half a dozen words and replaced them with about 16. I suppose that that pleases the lawyers too. The principle of making the change was accepted before the solicitor-General joined the Committee and it may well be that he has insisted on using 16 words if the change was to be made.

I am sure that there will be depression in the minds of many former Lords-Advocate and Solicitors-General who grace the Bench of Scotland that the subtle Latin adornments have been removed from the law of Scottish succession. These are the words with which they have played, to the mystification of the multitude—" consanguinean "and others which sounded well but even better with" half-blood "in front of them; for example, "half-blood consanguinean" and "half-blood uterine". However, we should now be able to understand a little bit of Scottish law.

Amendment agreed to.