HL Deb 18 June 1925 vol 61 cc659-63

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL of DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Amendment of 49 & 50 vict. c.27.s.5 with respect to the custody and maintenance of infants.

(3) No such order, whether for custody or maintenance, shall be enforceable and no liability thereunder shall accrue while the mother resides with the father, and any such order shall cease to have effect if for a period of three months after it is made the mother of the infant continues to reside with the father.

LORD ASKWITH moved, in subsection (3), to substitute "six months" for "three months. "The noble Lord said: The clause as it stands provides that when an order, either for custody or maintenance, has been made, it shall not be enforceable while the mother continues to reside with the father, and shall cease to have effect if, for a period of three months after it is made, the mother continues to reside with the father. My Amendment is to substitute six months for three months. This is very earnestly desired by people who have gone into these matters very carefully, and they consider that six months will be much more advantageous for both parties. It will give the father a longer opportunity in which to show any amendment he may make in his conduct, and also, perhaps, to alter any unreasonable attitude that he may have adopted. It will also give the mother an opportunity of trying to remain with the father and keeping the family together, rather than at once, within the short period of three months, having to leave her home and, possibly, take the children with her. As I say, those who have studied the homes of the poor feel that, particularly in the family interest, this Amendment would be of advantage.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 22, leave out ("three") and insert ("six").—(Lord Askwith.)


My Lords, I hope that my noble friend will not feel it his duty to press this Amendment. It is connected with the provision, a novel provision, con- tained in this Bill which permits an order for custody of children and for maintenance to be made while the father and mother are still living together in one house. The Bill, which was framed in this way after considerable discussion last year and I think somewhat by way of compromise between two opposing views, provides than an order so made while the parents are living together shall drop unless they actually separate within three months after the order is made. My noble friend desires to substitute six months for three. I venture to suggest to him and to those who agree with him that that would not be a wise course to take.

Of course, if these orders are going to be obtained simply by way of threat to the father—something to be kept hanging over his head for a time, to be hung up so to speak, over the mantelpiece in the house until he mends his ways—a long period might be desirable. But I think the intention of the House was that those orders should only be applied for when there was a real desire to have custody—custody under a separate roof and maintenance connected with the custody—and that they should not he applied for simply as a threat. The purpose of the clause, from that point of view, is that a wife shall not be bound to leave her home until she knows that she will have that custody and the means for keeping the children after they have left the house with her. If that is the real intention of the Bill, I think that three months is quite enough. The intention to leave has been formed before the order has been obtained, and three months is ample time in which to carry out that intention. I entirely recognise the benevolent purpose of the noble Lord, but I hope that he will think on the whole that he need not insist upon this Amendment.


In view of the Lord Chancellor's statement of the matter, I do not think I can press the Amendment, although a good many people do not agree with the view that it would be best to have such a short period.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9:

Consents required to marriage of infants.

9.—(1) The consent required to the marriage of an infant, in the case of a marriage intended to be solemnized or contracted on the issue of any certificate by a superintendent registrar whether by licence or without licence, shall be that of the persons or person mentioned in the Schedule to this Act:

Provided that—

  1. (a) if the superintendent registrar is satisfied that the consent of any person whose consent is so required cannot be obtained by reason of absence or inaccessibility or by reason of his being under any disability, the necessity for the consent of that person shall be dispensed with, it there is any other person whose consent is also required; and if the consent of no other person is required, the Registrar-General may dispense with the necessity of obtaining any consent, or the court may, on application being made, consent to the marriage, and the consent of the court so given shall have the same effect as if it had been given by the person whose consent cannot be so obtained;
  2. (b) if any person whose consent is required refuses his consent, the court may, on application being made, consent to the marriage, and the consent of the court so given shall have the same effect as if it had been given by the person whose consent is so refused.

LORD PHILLIMORE moved, after subsection (1), to insert the following new subsection:— (2) The foregoing subsection shall apply to marriages intended to be solemnized on the issue of a licence by an ecclesiastical authority having power to issue such a licence, with the substitution of references to that authority for references to the superintendent registrar, and with the substitution of a reference to the Vicar-General of the Archbishop of the Province for the reference to the Registrar-General. The noble and learned Lord said: This Amendment is one to which I referred on the Second Reading. It touches no controversial matter and is facultative as far as it goes. The clause, which deals with the consent of parents to marriage, contemplates the intervention of the superintendent registrar in case of civil marriage and contemplates marriage by banns, but as it is drawn it does not contemplate the other form of ecclesiastical marriage, marriage by licence. A body of Chancellors of dioceses called my attention to this as an old Chancellor of a diocese and I drafted an Amendment, which has been recast by the advisers of the Government and which, I understand, in the form in which it now stands will be accepted by His Majesty's Government. I hope it will be accepted.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 25, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Phillimore.)


I think that this Amendment does fill a lacuna

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