HC Deb 13 December 1978 vol 960 cc645-6
10. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has any proposals for the amendment of the law relating to aliment and periodical allowances with particular reference to methods of enforcement of payment.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

My right hon. Friend has at present no proposals to amend the substantive law relating to aliment and periodical allowances.

The collection and enforcement of such payments is currently being examined by the Scottish Law Commission as part of its examination of the law of diligence.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that the Council of the Law Society in Scotland is extremely anxious that legislation should be introduced as soon as possible as hardship is being caused in many cases where enforcement cannot be made?

Mr. Ewing

I am aware of the point made by the hon. Gentleman. The Council has written to my Department. It is expected at this stage that the Law Commission will publish a report on this aspect of its work without having any further consultations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and myself are anxious about what is a real problem.

Mrs. Bain

Does the Minister accept that there will be great disappointment among many one-parent families in Scotland that there are no immediate plans to alter these laws? Will he, on an interim basis, look particularly at the cross-border situation, because many divorcees dependent on family income supplement, when they try to enforce aliment payments from husbands who have crossed into England, are told by the legal aid companies that they must pay as much as £300?

Mr. Ewing

I know of the problem. I hope that we can resolve it, at least in part, early in the new year. The decrees granted in the Court of Session in Scotland and registered in the High Court here can be registered in the courts in England. That will make collection much easier and more convenient. We hope to take care of that problem early in the new year.