HC Deb 09 November 1970 vol 806 cc113-28

7.34 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

I beg to move, That the Southern Rhodesia (Matrimonial Jurisdiction) Order 1970 (S.I., 1970, No. 1540), dated 19th October 1970, a copy of which was laid before this House on 23rd October, be approved. The effect of the Order, if it is approved by the House, will be to confer extended matrimonial jurisdiction cm the United Kingdom courts. Its purpose is to mitigate personal hardship arising from the invalidity of appointments to the High Court of Rhodesia. In using the words "mitigate hardship" I must make it clear that the Order will provide only limited relief and only to some people. It does so firmly by dealing with the juridiction of the United Kingdom courts.

The effect of judgments by the Rhodesian courts or by Rhodesian judges in United Kingdom law has recently been reviewed and adjudged in the case of Adams v. Adams, in which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Havers) was a counsel. That case illustrated the hardship. Though the Order may be of limited help to that petitioner, the facts of the case illustrate the need for the Order, if the House accepts it.

Mrs. Adams in February, 1970, secured an order from the High Court of Rhodesia for the restitution of conjugal rights against her husband, the respondent. That order was made by Mr. Justice Goldin, who had been appointed to the Rhodesian High Court bench before 11th November, 1965, the date of the declaration of illegal independence.

In April, 1970, Mrs. Adams petitioned for and was granted a decree of divorce, but that divorce was made by Mr. Justice Macaulay, who had been appointed to the Rhodesian bench in November, 1968, which was after the declaration of illegal independence.

Mrs. Adams wished to re-marry. She applied to the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages saying that she had a decree of divorce. She was informed by the Registrar that the purported decree would not be recognised by English law as validly terminating her marriage. Accordingly, she petitioned the High Court in England for a declaration that her marriage had been validly dissolved by the High Court of Rhodesia.

In July, 1970, the High Court dismissed Mrs. Adams's petition for such a declaration. The grounds for the dismissing of that declaration were that the person purporting to grant the divorce decree in Rhodesia—Mr. Macaulay—was not a judge de jure of the High Court of Rhodesia. The lawful Constitution—the legal Constitution—of Southern Rhodesia is the Southern Rhodesian (Constitution) Order in Council, 1961, as amended by the Constitution Amendment Act, 1964.

As the House will be well aware, the régime purported to promulgate a new Constitution in 1965 and Mr. Macaulay has been ostensibly appointed under this Constitution. However, the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Order, 1965, made under the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965, declared void any new Constitution not authorised by Parliament.

In giving that judgment, the President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division gave some guidance to marriage officers, when he said this: Apart from Mr. Justice Greenfield and Mr. Justice Macaulay, the judges of the High Court of Rhodesia were all validly appointed under the 1961–64 Constitution. In the eyes of English law, in my judgment, they can only cease to be judges of the High Court of Rhodesia in accordance with the machinery of the 1961–64 Constitution. A mere declaration by a judge that he is not sitting under the 1961–64 Constitution does not satisfy such machinery. The possible effect of a renunciation of allegiance was not argued before me—presumably because it did not affect any issue in the instant case: it must await decision in a case in which the issue arises. The effect of the court's judgment was, first, that a judge purporting to be appointed to the bench in Southern Rhodesia under a constitution promulgated by the régime was not valid and any judicial act done by him could not be recognised in this country; and, second, that judges of the High Court appointed before the declaration of independence could still perform valid judicial acts at least up to the date when the régime purported to institute a republic.

Though, as I indicated, the President said that it had not been argued in the Adams case, as it certainly was not argued, there must, I should point out to the House, be very considerable doubt whether judges could be held to be performing functions lawfully as Her Majesty's judges holding office under the 1961–64 Constitution once they accept service under an ostensibly republican machine which disowns the Crown's authority.

This being the law, as set out by the President, it is to help individuals that this Order is introduced. I am well aware that, because of the passage of time, it is not a complete remedy for individual problems.

There are approximately 20 to 25 cases notified annually by the Registrar-General in which people wish to re-marry on the strength of Southern Rhodesian divorce decrees. There are also cases in which married couples from Rhodesia who have not been divorced there would wish to obtain a valid decree. Hardship arises because there is no court to which they can go to obtain an effective decree.

The United Kingdom jurisdiction which the Order seeks to extend is based upon the principles of domicile and, in certain cases, of residence. The general scheme of the Order is to give the same jurisdiction to the courts of each part of the United Kingdom—England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate is with me here this evening—to entertain proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage of a person domiciled or resident in Southern Rhodesia as if that person had been domiciled or resident in that part of this country—whether England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

I turn shortly to the articles in the Order. Paragraph (1) of Article 1 confers jurisdiction on the United Kingdom courts, first where either party to a marriage is domiciled in Southern Rhodesia. This will then confer the basic jurisdiction of the United Kingdom court to entertain proceedings for divorce or nullity. That is where domicile founds jurisdiction. Proceedings then by either party can be entertained.

Mr. S. C. Silkin (Dulwich)

Is the divorce law according to the Rhodesian decrees the same as or different from the divorce law according to the laws of England and also of Scotland?

The Attorney-General

I understand that it is the same. I will come to the Divorce Reform Act, 1969, which will by 1st January, 1971, be in force in this country. In Rhodesia the grounds of and the law of divorce are the same as they are in the United Kingdom, as I understand it.

First, then, there will be jurisdiction where either party is domiciled in Southern Rhodesia. Second, there will be jurisdiction if a party was at any time domiciled in Southern Rhodesia. This relates to the jurisdiction under Section 40(1)(a) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1965. That provides for the case where the husband has a foreign domicile but had a Rhodesian domicile immediately before he deserted his wife. Third, jurisdiction is conferred if a party is resident in Southern Rhodesia. This will give the United Kingdom courts jurisdiction when it cannot be founded on domicile but can be founded on residence—that is, if the petitioner is resident in England and the respondent is resident in Southern Rhodesia.

Fourth, it confers jurisdiction if a party has for any period been resident in Southern Rhodesia. This relates to the provisions of Section 40(1)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act. It confers jurisdiction in cases where a husband does not have a Rhodesian domicile or a United Kingdom domicile, and the wife has a period of residence in Southern Rhodesia to be taken into account in calculating the three-year period of residence under Section 40(1)(b).

The effect of the proviso to Article 1 which appears at the bottom of the page is that if there is a break between periods of residence and the petitioner has been residing in some country other than the United Kingdom and Rhodesia, that will be disregarded in calculating any period of residence required under the law here—for instance, the three years under Section 40(1)(b). That takes into account the fact that some of the parties who left Southern Rhodesia after the illegal declaration of independence may well have spent some time in other countries before deciding to come to this country.

Paragraph (2) of the article requires that a party shall have six months ordinary residence in the part of the United Kingdom concerned before he can institute proceedings here. Paragraph (3) of Article 1 provides for the same law to be applied as if the parties had been domiciled in a part of the United Kingdom where the proceedings are brought.

Article 2 provides for decrees granted in the United Kingdom under the Order to have effect in the law of Southern Rhodesia as well as in the law of the part of the United Kingdom where it is granted. It is necessary to legislate in terms which make decrees of United Kingdom courts effective in relation to parties in Southern Rhodesia, and it may also facilitate recognition of decrees by third countries because they take effect in the law of the domicile.

If the House approves this Order, persons who have grounds for divorce or nullity under the law in this country will be able to apply to the United Kingdom courts for divorce or nullity. Since the grounds for divorce under the law of Southern Rhodesia are not dissimilar from those here, the party who obtained a decree in Southern Rhodesia will be able to institute fresh proceedings in this country. But the House must accept that those who were guilty in proceedings in Southern Rhodesia will benefit from the provisions of the Order only if they have grounds for divorce or nullity under the law of this country, and, as the law stands at the present time, the Order may not relieve the situation of the guilty parties to an invalid Rhodesian proceeding.

The Divorce Reform Act, 1969 will assist such a person because the position of the guilty party will be improved; I use the words "guilty party" in the sense in which it is used under the present law. But that position will be improved under the Divorce Reform Act, 1969 which comes into force at the beginning of 1971; irretrievable breakdown of marriage will then become the sole ground for divorce. But the guilty party will have to petition under Section 2 of the Divorce Reform Act, 1969 if there is consent and the parties have been living apart for at least two years, or alternatively the parties have been living apart for a period of five years.

The general object of the Order, as I hope I have made clear, is to take immediate action to help individuals whose personal status has been affected by the consequences of the constitutional dispute and who are clearly suffering hardship. It is recognised that there are some cases in which the Order does not and will not enable persons affected to obtain relief—some of those persons against whom an invalid decree has been granted.

I would remind the House of what has been said on the earlier Order by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that the Government are proposing negotiations to see whether a negotiated settlement is possible. If this were to come about, the difficulties—and, of course, there are difficulties—arising from the present invalidity of judicial acts in Rhodesia would disappear. But I again remind the House that this Order is firmly based on the extension of the jurisdiction of the courts of this country, and I hope that it will be generally acceptable as mitigating in part some of the individual cases of hardship, while retaining the extension of jurisdiction for the lawful and legal courts of this country.

7.50 p.m.

Sir Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

As the right hon. and learned Attorney-General has helpfully explained to this House, this Order follows the decision of the learned President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division in the case of Adams v. Adams in which the President concluded that he found with reluctance that the law enjoined him to dismiss the wife's petition in that case.

Now that the President has pronounced authoritatively on this difficult subject, it is right that cases of hardship resulting from the present position should be sympathetically considered. On the other hand, nothing must be done to indicate either de facto or de jure the recognition of the Rhodesian régime or its institutions, or to infringe the resolutions of the Security Council on Rhodesia to which, of course, we as a country are a party. Happily it does not seem to me that the Order has either of those effects. If it had, we on this side of the House would oppose the Order. It appears to do nothing to detract from the obligations of the United Kingdom to abide by the relevant United Nations resolutions which call on all States not to recognise any of the institutions of the rebel régime.

As I understand it, it gives no sort of recognition to any decree or order of the Rhodesian courts but simply gives Rhodesian residents who have left Rhodesia and settled here for at least six months the right to petition for divorce or nullity of marriage in this country for a shorter period than would otherwise be required by virtue of the provisions of Section 40 of the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1965. In other words, they will be able now to take proceeding after six months' residence here instead of having to wait for three years.

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out, the effect of this Order is not very great either in numbers or its impact on the present legal position. It does not, as he indicated, deal with other kinds of Rhodesian judicial decisions like those concerning wills, guardianship, adoption and legitimacy, and clearly problems will continue to arise in that sphere as part of the inevitable and unhappy consequences of U.D.I.

I hope that I have properly interpreted the Order in terms of our international obligations. Having said that, we shall certainly not oppose it.

7.54 p.m.

Mr. Michael Havers (Wimbledon)

I was the person referred to by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General as "the counsel in the case" and, therefore, I shall seek to avoid any direct reference to that case.

The Order, in my view, does not go far enough. It does not deal with any of those people who have obtained a decree of divorce in Rhodesia. They were the people described by the President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division as innocent bystanders or victims of political circumstances over which they had no control. There are probably only about 30 of these people, but, as I understand it, this House protects a minority, however small. I was reassured in that view by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary when he said in the earlier debate that anything such as surcharges on mail which involve inhumanity or injustice, however small, will be looked at.

There are probably 30 people who have already been granted decrees of divorce in Southern Rhodesia. They are decrees which all countries except this one up to now have recognised. They are decrees which might also be valid or invalid almost by a lottery. If one looks at the President's decision, one sees that it is a sheer piece of luck as to whether the person who finally grants the decree was a judge appointed before U.D.I. or after. In this case one might have had the work done originally by a judge who was pre-U.D.I., but had been recognised by the President's decision, but the final decree granted by a post-U.D.I. judge, and therefore invalid.

The divorce system in Rhodesia is different. In that country the proceedings are started by a petition for restitution of conjugal rights. That is heard and adjudged. If found proved, an order is made against the offending person. If that order is not complied with, a month or so afterwards the petitioner can go back to the court and virtually automatically a decree is then made. This creates a different foundation for decrees from that in this country.

The question which was raised from the benches apposite was one which creates a difficulty. The law in Rhodesia on divorce does not have a parallel jurisdiction with this country. One or two of the pending cases which are awaiting the decision of the President were cases in which the jurisdiction in Southern Rhodesia was fully satisfied and the decrees were properly granted, but those petitioners would not yet be entitled to sue for a decree of divorce in this country because in this country a three-year period for desertion was necessary but it was not necessary in Rhodesia.

In those circumstances, one gets this ridiculous situation where one spouse living in Southern Rhodesia is validly divorced and perhaps remarries. The other spouse in this country, believing up to that time that the decree was valid, has probably got engaged, has sought to obtain a marriage licence, probably has obtained a house and gone to a great deal of expense, and suddenly finds that the whole thing has to be put back. It will be put back not only for the delay that inevitably follows any application to a court for a decree—a delay of at least six months or perhaps a year—but in this case, where the foundation of jurisdiction between Southern Rhodesia and this country is not similar, there may be a further delay particularly in cases where this country requires three years for a period of desertion, and Southern Rhodesia does not.

One knows of cases—I do not wish to cite any particular cases—where the delay may be quite considerable, where children will be affected and the whole happiness of two people has been thrown into total disarray by circumstances absolutely outside their control. I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to reconsider the position with regard to these very few people—probably 30 in all—who, in my submission, are entitled to have these special circumstances resolved to get them out of that difficulty.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. S. C. Silkin (Dulwich)

Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones), I welcome the Order because it enables people who have left Rhodesia and have come to settle in this country to take steps to dissolve marriages which they would otherwise not be in a position to dissolve if they remained in Rhodesia.

The point which the hon. and learned Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Havers) made indicates that there are people who, despite the Order, will suffer hardship. Nonetheless, I welcome the Order and the fact that the Government have stood firm by the principle that they cannot recognise as being valid according to the law of this country acts done by the illegal régime or by persons appointed by the illegal régime. There is a cardinal principle which must be followed even though inevitably it will create hardship for some people, not only in the respect referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Wimbledon, but no doubt in many other respects.

There are one or two points about the Order which I find it a little difficult to understand and which I hope the Attorney-General or Lord Advocate will be able to explain. As I understand, before any person who has come to this country can take advantage of the facilities afforded by the Order he or she must fall within paragraph 2 of Article 1—that is, he or she must have been "ordinarily resident" in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland for at least six months. The wording of the paragraph is "ordinarily resident" as distinct from "resident" in the rest of the Order. I wonder whether that distinction is intended and, if so, what the reason for it is.

The more important aspect of the Order which seems to create an anomaly which I find it difficult to understand is this: the Attorney-General drew attention to the amendment to the law made shortly after the last war for the benefit of what were called G.I. wives, which enabled a wife to sue her husband for divorce notwithstanding that she was not domiciled in this country but providing she had been resident in this country for three continuous years. For example, when an English woman married an American Service man and became American by domicile, notwithstanding that American domicile she could obtain a divorce in this country once she had been resident here for at least three years. That facility was extremely valuable.

The concepts of domicile and residence are I think being investigated in this connection, and there is much to be said for a test of residence rather than domicile. This facility exists, for example, for immigrants to this country from the dominions when the wife remains in this country and has been in this country for more than three years and the husband may be domiciled elsewhere, having left this country.

In the Order the three-year test appears to have gone for people from Rhodesia. The primary test is that in paragraph (2) of Article 1—ordinary residence here for six months—and in order to make up the three years which may be required when the domicile is not an English or Scottish domicile, apparently the person in question, by virtue of the proviso to Article 1, is entitled to count a period in Rhodesia notwithstanding that there may have been a break between the residence in Rhodesia and the residence in this country.

In other words, if a resident of Rhodesia lived in Rhodesia between 11th November, 1965, and the end of 1968 and then went to live in Afghanistan and comes to this country in the spring of 1970 and is resident here for six months, the period between 11th November, 1965, and the time when she left Rhodesia to go to Afghanistan will be treated as though it had immediately preceded the period of residence in this country so as to make up the necessary three years.

That is a privilege given to people who come from Rhodesia which is not given to English women married to American Service men or immigrants from the dominions who have been settled in this country for many years. I wonder why those who come from Rhodesia should be given this special advantage which is not given to our fellow countrymen or people who have adopted this country as their place of residence over a prolonged period. I hope that the Government spokesman will be able to explain the principle which appears to give this special advantage in these cases.

Subject to that, it seems to me right that those who suffer a disadvantage because of the existence of the illegal régime in Rhodesia should, when they come to this country, have that disadvantage mitigated as far as possible. For that reason, I welcome the Order.

8.9 p.m.

Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)

I rise not to criticise the Order itself. I see the Lord Advocate is sitting opposite, and I hasten to assure him that I do not intend to raise any subject peculiarly relating to Scottish jurisdiction. It seems to me that this Order has been drafted with subtlety with the desirable result of providing a British remedy rather than recognising an illegal Rhodesian one.

The point which I want to make is that it is desirable and right that it should mitigate human hardship and personal injustice which refusal to recognise an illegal Rhodesian régime causes, and causes in particular to private persons, and therefore I am only too glad to join with other Members who have already done so in welcoming the Order.

I want, however, to raise the question whether the remedy provided goes far enough and whether there are not injustices which ought to be covered by the same type of remedy. The remedy proposed applies only to divorces and nullity proceedings and, in effect, as has already been pointed out, gives relief to Rhodesians who are seeking divorce, which would be recognised in this country, by means of the fiction that domicile or residence in Rhodesia is domicile or residence in this country for the purpose of attracting the necessary domicile which will create jurisdiction to pronounce a valid decree. It would be difficult or impossible, it seems to me, to justify this course as a matter of legal principle; it seems to me to fly in the face of what is best in the law of domicile, and some of the anomalies which that Order introduces have already been pointed out. One of the advantages of the law of domicile is that it is based on something real and not on a fiction. But this step can be justified on the practical and temporary grounds of remedying severe personal injustice.

The defect, then, in my view, is that the Order is too narrow. It does not give a remedy for other legal ills which go with the principle of domicile—for matters of family law other than divorce, which have not yet been the subject of adverse legal decision such as the case of Adams; and it does not refer to a number of matters such as the legality of Rhodesian marriages, the legitimacy of children of such marriages, the validity of wills made according to the forms and formalities of the Rhodesian régime.

One might have expected that the cohesive principles of family law would have had priority of attention over the divisive principle of divorce. It might be that marriages before illegally appointed Rhodesian registrars would be invalid in this country. I think the possibility is real, and that children born of such marriages would be held by a British court, perhaps years from now, to be illegitimate; and that Rhodesian wills executed under the illegal régime's practice and forms might not be recognised as legally effective in this country. It seems to me that the human hardship and personal injustice caused thereby would be of at least as much concern as the anxiety of divorcees to get valid decrees. The remedies which I have suggested are necessary, to correct the evils to which I have pointed, seem to me to relate to situations which would cause more cruel injustice than anything which is remedied by the Order.

It may be that these fears are groundless, but are we certain? Are the Government certain that they are groundless? If they are not, I would urge them most earnestly to look into these additional matters and, if necessary, follow up this Order with further orders directed to providing similar remedies against those private injustices.

8.13 p.m.

The Attorney-General

By leave of the House I would say that I am glad that both sides of the House have welcomed this Order, though I well appreciate the points which have been made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Havers) and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray). Of course, it is, as I have said right from the beginning, only limited in the mitigation of hardship, but I must tell the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leith that the hardship which has been brought to the attention of this Government and their predecessors over the past years has been in this field rather than in the other matters which he brought to the attention of the House. I appreciate that those situations could arise, and it may be that sympathetic consideration will have to be given to them at some future time, provided that they can be dealt with in a way which is, as it were, within the jurisdictions of the courts of this country to be able to deal with them. That, of course, has to be my answer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wimbledon, too.

What the Government have been seeking to do is this. For good reasons set out by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary earlier this afternoon, though other hardship might well have been mitigated, what has had to be avoided is any recognition of the validity of the orders of the Government in Salisbury. Our policy is that that should happen only if and when there is a settlement of the whole of the constitutional dispute. Moreover, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) pointed out, we have to take into account, of course, the Security Council's resolution which calls upon member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that any act performed by officials and institutions of the illegal régime shall not be accorded any recognition, official or otherwise, including judicial notices. So my answer to hon. and learned Gentlemen is that the hardship is certainly appreciated, and I can well understand when the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leith says that the Order does not go far enough. It must be for the reasons which I have stated that the Government are unable to go as far as hon. and learned Gentlemen would like.

To turn, if I may, to the points raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin), first of all he spoke about "ordinarily resident". As he will probably recollect, residence is a test for a decree of nullity, but there are special residence provisions that will apply to a decree of divorce, and that is the reason for using the "ordinarily" in Article 1(2). This lays down six months residence immediately preceding the institution of proceedings for nullity or divorce; "ordinarily resident" there is to deal with the matter of the cutting down of the three-year period compared with the six-months period which is the purpose of Article 1(2).

He was right to point out to the House that the effect of this Order, though, is to give a special advantage which may be in one way—

Sir Elwyn Jones

Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman leaves the point of ordinary residence, is there not a further implication in the words "ordinarily resident", that the party concerned must become ordinarily resident here and have quitted Rhodesia and, in a sense, deserted the rebellion? And that, if my interpretation of the words is right, makes this Order additionally attractive.

The Attorney-General

Yes that is certainly so, though of course, there is the provision, as has been pointed out, that a person may have quitted Southern Rhodesia and gone to another place as well; but eventually, before the person can take advantage of the Order, he has to have his qualifying period of residence here for six months, which must be that of ordinary residence.

If I may turn to the second point of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dulwich, of course it is right, as I was saying, that we should recognise that, therefore, a person who is able now to rely upon this Order for bringing proceedings is in the position of having only six months' residence compared with three years' residence which, as he said, an Englishwoman married to a United States serviceman would require, or in other circumstances, other persons. But the justification for that, surely, is that such a person, if he or she came from Rhodesia, may not have a court which can exercise a valid jurisdiction to terminate the marriage. The difficulty which would not be experienced by others is that there are, and may be, orders or decrees of the court in Southern Rhodesia which could not terminate the marriage. Though this was not decided in the Adams case, I have suggested that it would be a powerful argument that for judges to affirm allegiance to a republican constitution may mean that all such judges, irrespective of when they were appointed, may not now be able validly to make a decree of divorce, for instance.

Mr. S. C. Silkin

I do not think that so far, at any rate, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has dealt with my point, though perhaps he is coming to it. I would in no way criticism the Order were it not for the proviso. In other words, if the period of residence in Southern Rhodesia were immediately before the period of residence in this country, and between them they made up not less than the three years, that would put such people on a par with, for example, the English woman married to an American. What I do not understand is this. As I understand the law, if the English woman married to an American goes to America she must serve, as it were, three years in this country before she can get her divorce, whereas the Rhodesian woman who goes to America from Rhodesia has only to serve six months.

The Attorney-General

The hon. and learned Gentleman's criticism now seems to be that we are being too generous, too kindly, to the Rhodesians in that position. I do not believe that that is so when we look at the reality of these cases, of which there are only about 20 or 25 in any year.

We have said in the proviso that there can be the termination of residence in Rhodesia and then the going elsewhere, to take into account that this did happen in certain cases, that after the declaration of independence people did leave and go somewhere else. Then to expect them have to come to this country and establish a three-year period, knowing that the courts of the country where they were married or domiciled, or where one of the parties was domiciled, are unable ever validly to terminate a marriage, would be unreasonable and would put upon them a burden even greater than that of being a person who is married and unable to terminate the marriage, if he or she so wishes, because there is no court that can do it. It is right to make this provision for those people.

We have done what we have set out to do. As has been recognised by the House, and as the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, we have carefully put the change that we make, this small but important relief of hardship, within the framework of the courts of this country. It is for those reasons that I hope that the House will generally accept the Order.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Southern Rhodesia (Matrimonial Jurisdiction) Order 1970 (S.I., 1970, No. 1540), dated 19th October, 1970, a copy of which was laid before this House on 23rd October, be approved.

Motion made and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Goodhew.]