HC Deb 17 March 1971 vol 813 cc1392-3
6. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has to enforce court orders in favour of separated and divorced women by husbands who fail to pay aliment.

The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated in reply to the hon. Member on 25th February, the Government recognise the case for improving the existing enforcement machinery. So far as Scotland is concerned, this matter is at present under review by the Scottish Law Commission.—[Vol. 812, c. 844–5.]

Mr. Dalyell

Is it not unsatisfactory that more and more ex-husbands are simply cocking a snook at court orders and, indeed, at the law itself?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The present situation is certainly unhappy, and that is precisely why we have referred the matter to the Law Commission.

Sir F. Maclean

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a problem which preoccupies a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Yes. It is also a problem common to both sides of the Border.

Mr. Crawshaw

This problem has been known for many years, but no Government seem to take any point on it. Why is it not possible to register the fact on the insurance card at the office of issue, and when a person conveniently loses or destroys his card make it obligatory that another card can be issued only from the office where he obtained his previous card?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Difficulties of the sort which the hon. Gentleman rightly raises are being examined by the Finer Committee. We shall deal as quickly as possible with the Committee's recommendations when they are made.