HL Deb 09 July 1924 vol 58 cc398-400

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the circumstances in which I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill render it unnecessary that I should again explain its provisions in detail. It is, indeed, a circumstance that somewhat reflects upon the lack of co ordination of business between the two Houses that this Bill comes up for its Second Reading at all. The history of this matter is as follows. I introduced to your Lordships' notice a Bill that, in effect and purpose?—indeed, I think almost literally—was this Bill, and it received your Lordships' assent on the Motion for the Second Reading, I think I am right in saying, without a Division. In subsequent: stages two most important Amendments were introduced: one an Amendment which prevented the operation of the Act in the case where the child was born at the time when one of its parents was married to a third party; and the second a provision that required certain conditions to be satisfied before the legitimacy would operate. Those two provisions Mere obviously Committee matters, and I have not much doubt that they will be moved again in the Committee stage here. They were introduced into the Bill, and the Bill so amended received your Lordships' assent.

Had that Bill gone down to the House of Commons and been discussed there, it might have been that the two Amendments would have been rejected. If so, the matter would have come back before your Lordships on the question whether or not this House agreed with the Commons Amendments, and there the whole matter would have ended. As a matter of fact, instead of that Bill being introduced in the form in which it left your Lordships' House, a new Bill was introduced having the same effect, and that is the Bill which is before your Lordships to-day. As I have said, it is in essence and principle the Bill which your Lordships finally approved, subject to two modifications which I think no member of your Lordships' House will doubt are fit and proper matters for consideration in Committee. Having regard to the fact that the Bill in its present form received your Lordships' approval, I think without dissent, and in its final form again, I think, passed without dissent. I do not expect your Lordships to require me to occupy your time at any length in stating the terms of the measure.

I may, however, tell your Lordships summarily, merely in order to refresh your memories and not because I suppose that you are, really in need of the information, that the first part of the Bill provides that legitimation should take place consequent upon the marriage of the parents of the illegitimate child; that the mere fact of legitimation shall not in itself, by virtue of that section, create rights in the child; that those rights are all carefully defined in the subsequent clauses of the Bill; that provisions for the inheritance of title are left outside the scope of the Bill; that existing dispositions are not interfered with; and that the Bill operates exactly in the same manner as the Bill which your Lordships approved some short time ago. It is because I have a great respect for the value of public time, and because I notice that the hour is late, that I do not venture to expatiate further upon the provisions of this Bill, nor do I think that your Lordships would consider it respectful in me to do so, having regard to the fact that a similar Bill has already been laid before you in this Session of Parliament. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Buckmaster.)


My Lords, I do not rise to make any comment upon the actual tenor of the Bill. The description which the noble and learned Lord has given of the circumstances in which it is presented to your Lordships is, of course, entirely accurate, and the want of co-ordination to which he refers is a very great inconvenience. It is amazing to see the waste of time that is involved in the present system, but neverthelees, having been a member of the House of Commons for many years, I think I can understand how it occurred. In any ease this Bill is here now, and we shall have to deal with it, and I rise only for the purpose of saying that the Second Reading has the full support of those of us who sit on these Benches. No doubt Amendments will have to be made in Committee, and I am not sure whether it would be fair to leave the noble and learned Lord under the impression that only those Amendments will be moved again which were accepted in the case of the former Bill. I cannot help suspecting there may be other Amendments moved, and it is really for the purpose of suggesting, for the noble and learned Lord's consideration, that the Bill should not be put down again for a week or so, that I have risen. If that is done proper Amendments can be arranged.


There I shall be most anxious to meet the convenience of opponents of the Bill, but really I am in rather a difficulty about this. The Paper is getting very full, and I was hoping that, as this matter had only recently-been before your Lordships, if I put the Bill down again for next Tuesday Amendments could then be raised. Even assuming all the Amendments were not put in on the Committee stage there would still remain the Report and Third Reading, and, indeed, it was on the Third Reading, on the last occasion, that the most important Amendment was introduced.


In answer to what the noble Lord said about what took place when a similar Bill was brought in at the beginning of the Session, I think he has forgotten that I ventured to object to the Bill on the Second Reading. Unfortunately, I had congestion of the lungs and the Report and Third Reading were passed while I was still ill in bed, and I had no opportunity of moving Amendments. I would prefer that this Bill should be thrown out.


I personally have no objection to Tuesday, except that there is a very big debate down for that day. However, I will leave it in the hands of the noble and learned Lord, who is always very anxious to meet the convenience of the House.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.