HC Deb 19 February 1964 vol 689 cc1315-6
Lady Tweedsmuir

I beg to move, in page 31, line 49, at the end, to insert:

7 & 8 Geo. 5. c. 58. The Wills (Soldiers and Sailors) Act 1918. Section 3(2).
This Amendment includes Section 3(2) of the Wills (Soldiers and Sailors) Act, 1918, in the schedule of enactments repealed. That subsection, which was the only part of the 1918 Act which applied to Scotland, empowers minors on active service to dispose by will of heritable property in Scotland. This provision is no longer needed because Clause 28 of the Bill empowers all minors to dispose of heritable property by law, and, as the House knows, minors can already test on moveable property.

Amendment agreed to.

9.26 p.m.

Lady Tweedsmuir

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

In commending the Bill to the House, I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I take a few minutes to say something about it, because I believe it to be one of the most important Measures in the reform and modernisation of the law of Scotland that has been laid before Parliament in recent years.

It may not be the easiest of Bills to follow, for the rules governing succession to property are in most countries a complex and difficult branch of the law, and any Measure that seeks to alter them is unlikely to make easy reading for the layman. But I feel that the Bill has made useful progress through this House, and I should like to take this opportunity of thanking all those who have helped in the work of the Standing Committee, because I really believe that a great deal was done to improve the Bill and make it in very good shape to go to another place.

I believe the Bill to be something which is wanted in Scotland. It will remove a great deal of genuine hardship in Scotland. It has not been an easy Measure to bring before the House. I thank all who have taken part in our debates on it, and I commend it to another place.

9.28 p.m.

Mr. Ross

The noble Lady was right in suggesting that this is probably one of the most important Bills which we have ever produced and which has come from a Scottish Committee. My only regret is that it has taken the Government 13 years to introduce it. But now we have got it we have made the best of it.

It would be right to say, however, that changed as it is as it leaves us, the Bill could have been better. As soon as we start discussions about succession we find new problems and new gaps which the public have not always the courage properly to face up to. We found today that questions of step-children, illegitimate children and others have not been adequately dealt with.

I sincerely hope that our efforts have been to the benefit of those concerned, and particularly to those widows who, in the past, have suffered, and suffered rather grievously, through the failure of Governments adequately and in a timely way to meet their needs by changing the law.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.