HC Deb 18 June 1975 vol 893 cc1392-4
35. Mr. Sproat

asked the Lord Advocate if he will arrange a meeting with the Law Society of Scotland to discuss the reform of Scottish divorce law.

The Lord Advocate

I see no need for me to arrange such a meeting.

Mr. Sproat

As it is known that the Law Society is in favour of reform of the divorce laws, and as the right hon. and learned Gentleman is known to be in favour of such reform, will he not urge on his right hon. Friend the need to make time available for the Scottish Grand Committee, before the Summer Recess, to debate the matter? Does he not consider it an extraordinary reflection on the Government's priorities that last Friday a full day was given to debating hare coursing and yet, so far, they have refused to give time to debate the much more important matter of Scottish divorce reform?

The Lord Advocate

It is fair to say that divorce law reform cannot be considered in isolation; it is an aspect of family law generally. It is a matter that is under review, and the status of family law for the future will at some point have to be decided. The matter of Government time is not one for me, but the hon. Gentleman must be aware that pressure on debating and legislative time in the present Session is particularly heavy.

Mr. Buchan

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not buttress the argument by saying that the matter should be referred to a review of the whole family legal situation. It is now a scandal in Scotland that we have been unable to debate and pass this measure. I am sure he is as confident as I am that the Opposition would not oppose this subject's being sent to the Scottish Grand Committee. Perhaps even the eccentric Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) would agree with that sentiment. I hope that the Lord Advocate will decide to discuss this matter with the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Lord Advocate

My hon. Friend is, as ever, persuasive, but we must face reality. Debates on the principle of divorce law reform are perhaps less important than the question of legislative time. I hope that there will be legislative time if a private Member is lucky in the Ballot next Session.

Mr. Galbraith

Since my name has been mentioned, is it not a fact that we shall not receive an answer on this matter until the Lord Advocate, and, indeed, it appears, the hon. Member for Renfrew-shire, West (Mr. Buchan), realise that this is not an impersonal legal problem, such as the law of contract, or reparation, or conveyancing, but a human matter which should be dealt with not merely by legal experts—for example, the Law Society of Scotland—but by those who are experts in emotional and human problems? Members of this House should not encourage the right hon. and learned Gentleman to get out of his depth by regarding this as a purely legal matter—because it is not.

The Lord Advocate

I agree that humanity comes into this question, but I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) will have some humanity and consideration for those many women who are unable to obtain a divorce because of the technicalities of the law of divorce at present.