HL Deb 02 August 1860 vol 160 cc478-9

House in Committee (according to Order).


said, the great object of the Bill was to get rid of the anomaly by which a person might have one wife on one side, and another on the other side of the Tweed—in fact to make Scotch divorces valid in England as well as in Scotland. It would also limit the jurisdiction of the Scotch Courts in matters of divorce to cases in which the parties were bond fide domiciled in Scotland. Hitherto it had been held by the Scotch Courts that forty days' residence was enough, and also that if either of the parties had been once domiciled in Scotland, although he might afterwards have been settled for years in England, and married in England, the case came under the Scotch jurisdiction. This view had, however, been disputed by the Courts in England—and the consequence was, that a divorce pronounced by a Scotch Court might be valid in Scotland and not valid in England; that a woman might be the wife of one person on the north of the Tweed, and of another person on the south, and the children might be legitimate in one country and illegitimate in the other. It was to got rid of that monstrous anomaly that the Bill was introduced. He regretted that from the learned Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh it still encountered some opposition. They approved of the forty days' residence being given up, but they desired to retain the jurisdiction of the Scotch Courts ratione delicti, that was in cases where the adultery took place in Scotland though without domicile and without residence. Ho trusted that their Lordships would not concur in that view, because it would give facility to collusion when Scotch divorces were no longer null in England, as a person might intrigue with a woman in Scotland for the purpose and with the understanding that his wife should there apply for a divorce. Where adultery was punished as a crime, it might be said that the punishment should take place where the crime was committed; but adultery was not punished in this country as a crime, and dissolution of marriage was not always a punishment of the offence.


expressed his entire concurrence in the measure of his noble and learned Friend.


said, he had for- merly prepared a Bill, which, though not the same as this one, was intended to effect the same object, and his Bill met with the entire concurrence of the Faculty of Advocates. He did not think that there was any weight in the objections which had been raised to the present measure in Scotland.

Bill reported, without Amendment; an Amendment made; and Bill to be read 3a To-morrow.