HC Deb 14 May 1975 vol 892 cc454-5
33. Mr. Sproat

asked the Lord Advocate what representations he has received from individual members of the legal profession, or associations of lawyers in Scotland, in support of the present Scottish divorce laws.

The Lord Advocate

I have not myself received any such representations.

Mr. Sproat

Does the Lord Advocate agree that it would appear that the entire legal profession in Scotland, a vast section of the public, Members of all parties in this House and the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself are all agreed that Scottish divorce law should be reformed? In these overwhelming circumstances, why are the Government digging in their heels and refusing to have a debate on this matter? [Interruption.] This is a Government responsibility. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman undertake to press his right hon. Friends most strongly to have a debate in the Scottish Grand Committee before the Summer Recess?

The Lord Advocate

It is incorrect for the hon. Gentleman to say that the Government are digging in their heels. The Government have been sympathetic to the possibility of legislation on this matter. The hon. Member should consult his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), who digs in his heels and opposes these measures whenever they come forward in the House.

Mr. McElhone

May I suggest that in any new legislation which my right hon. and learned Friend might propose for dealing with a breakdown of marriage or for improving the divorce law, he should give the same priority to assisting the preservation of marriage in Scotland?

The Lord Advocate

I am glad to give that assurance without reservation.

Mr. Galbraith

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman justified in attacking me? Is not the Government's failure that they build without a foundation? Does the Lord Advocate believe in trying to change the law without a proper debate on Second Reading of a new Bill?

The Lord Advocate

The hon. Member has every right to object to private legislation if he thinks it correct to do so, but he must surely accept the criticism which his stand would naturally attract.