§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ LORD BROUGHAM
said, that the Bill entirely excluded from its operation the savings of single women acquired before the passing of the Act. He therefore begged to propose the following Amendment:—In Clause 1, page 1, line 7, after the word "earnings," leave out "married," and in line 8 leave out "after the passing of this Act." This Amendment would apply to the earnings of a poor woman, no matter at what time she had acquired them. But in order to prevent 623 the objection that the introduction of these words would give the Bill a retrospective action, he further proposed to insert the following Proviso:—Provided always, That this Act shall not apply to any wages earned before the passing of this Act by any woman married before the passing of this Act.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, that the object of the noble Lord was to protect the earnings of unmarried women; but the Amendment went directly contrary to the spirit in which the Bill was framed. For the first time the Amendment would create a new kind of property, dependent upon the fact that it was earned; and, if it were adopted, it would be necessary to trace to its origin every sum of money or portion of property possessed by a woman before her marriage. A woman's earnings were her own, and she could do with them as she pleased on the occasion of her marriage. If they proceeded to draw any distinction on this point, they must either say in comprehensive terms that all the property of an unmarried woman should be her own after marriage, or they must give the amplest powers to a married woman, even without asking the consent of her husband, to do with her property as she pleased. With the view of meeting an objection urged by his noble Friend (the Earl of Shaftesbury) on a former occasion, he proposed to introduce in the 11th clause an Amendment which would enable a man and woman, on their marriage, to agree as to what chattels should be considered the separate property of the woman. This might be done by a few lines on the back of the marriage lines, or on any other piece of paper.
§ Clause 7 (Personal property coming to a married woman to be her own).
§ LORD ROMILLY
proposed, after the word "intestate," to insert the words "or to any sum of money not exceeding £200, under any deed or will."
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, that having regard to the provisions of other clauses, as well as those of Clause 7, he thought the words proposed by his noble and learned Friend were unnecessary.
§ On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents 29; Not-Contents 17: Majority, 12.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Bill to be read 3a To-morrow; and to be printed, as amended. (No. 223.)