§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD STANMORE
My Lords, the object of this short Bill is to amend the law in regard to a mother's right of succession to an intestate child, a grievance which has become much more widespread as a result of the war. Under the Law of Scotland as it now stands, if a person dies intestate the intestate's father, if he survives, is entitled to one-half of the estate, the other half going to the brothers and sisters or their descendants. If there are no brothers or sisters or descendants, the father is entitled to the whole of the estate.
The mother on the other hand, if she survives and if the father is dead, is entitled to only one third of the estate, the other two-thirds, in the absence of brothers and sisters, going to the father's next-of-kin; so that in no case can the mother receive more than one-third of the estate. The hardship involved in the mother having only this limited right has been a matter of complaint in regard to the distribution of the estates of deceased soldiers. It has therefore been thought right that, where a person dies intestate without issue, predeceased by his father and survived by his mother, she should have exactly the same rights in his estate as his father would have had, had he survived. Clause 1 makes provision for this.
Clause 2 provides that the Bill shall not be retrospective, but directs the Admiralty, 564 the War Office, and the Air Ministry to dispose of any funds in their hands at the passing of the Bill, belonging to any deceased members of His Majesty's Forces, in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Unless the Bill were made to this limited extent retrospective, it would not meet the hardship which has been complained of. Clause 3 repeals the provisions of the Intestate Moveable Succession (Scotland) Act of 1855, which conferred on the mother the limited rights to which I have referred. Clause 4 is designed to save the rights of a surviving husband or wife of the intestate, whether at common law or in virtue of the Intestate Husband's Estate (Scotland) Act, 1911. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Stanmore.)
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, it is obvious that this is a very right Bill, designed to remove a grievance which has been long known, and it is desirable that your Lordships should pass it.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.