HL Deb 17 July 1860 vol 159 cc2020-1

said, he had to offer to their Lordships another Bill, which was the brother, if he might say so, of the one they had been discussing, and which he hoped would meet with a more gentle reception. It was a Bill to amend the Law of Scotland in regard to Conjugal Rights. Had this Bill remained in the other House it would certainly never have reached their Lordships' House during the present Session. The Scotch Courts of law had the power of dissolving marriages, and that power was often abused by collusive expedients being resorted to by Englishmen in order to obtain the advantages of the Scotch law. For instance, it was a common thing for persons to go from England to Scotland for a divorce who were not domiciled there. In consequence this state of things arose. A marriage contract in England could be dissolved in Scotland, and while the parties remained in that country they could marry again and their children would be legitimate; but if they crossed the Border, the English marriage still subsisting, if they married again, they would be guilty of bigamy and their children would be bastards. As English marriages were no longer in- dissoluble, the law of England and Scotland must be regarded as the same. The main object of this Bill was to prevent collusive divorces, by providing that no persons should be allowed to sue for divorce in Scotland unless domiciled there in such a manner that if they were to die their personal property would be administered according to the law of that country. It enacted further, that if a divorce had been regularly and solemnly pronounced by a Scotch Court it should be valid throughout the empire. The noble and learned Lord then laid the Bill on the table.


believed that the Bill which he had unsuccessfully introduced into Parliament in 1835 and 1845, forbidding marriages without a very lengthened residence, would have been a better remedy for the evils of the marriage law of Scotland than the measure of his noble and learned Friend. Nothing could be more vexatious and unsatisfactory than the present state of that law, and he sincerely hoped some amendment would be made in it.


said, it should he remembered that there was a very wide difference in the grounds upon which a divorce could be obtained in England and Scotland. If they extended the force of the Scotch decree to England without greatly altering the Scotch law they would be only giving a wider scope to the abuse which already prevailed.


said, it would be better to reserve the discussion upon the Bill until the second reading.

Bill read 1a.

House adjourned at Half-past Six o'Clock to Thursday next, Half-past Ten o'Clock.