§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, I desire to ask leave to bring in a Bill to amend the law relating to proceedings between husband and wife in respect of domestic differences. I am proposing to do so now because the matter is one which has on more than one previous occasion aroused a great deal of attention, and no doubt there are serious reasons for dissatisfaction with the present state of proceedings. For example, all cases arising out of matrimonial differences which come before the justices are necessarily discussed in public, and the justices have no power of intervention with a view to the conciliation of the parties. Those are two serious defects which have been pointed out on many occasions when the matter has been discussed before your Lordships, and I do not know that anything has been done effectively to remedy them. With regard to hearings in public, no one supposes in these times that the matters 2 to which I have referred are matters proper for public discussion, or that there is any advantage in discussing them in public. It is rather in the nature of a public scandal. Then with regard to any organised process far conciliation, the justices cannot clear the court and say: "We must talk to you and find out what are the real differences between you. Why cannot you agree? What is the minimum which can be done, or can there be any temporary measure?" It is not necessary to enlarge upon a topic of that kind, nor would it be proper to do so now, but the Bill which I have prepared, with some experience of matters of that kind, is addressed to remedying those two great grievances. I ask your Lordships' leave to bring in the Bill and to move that it be read a first time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 1a.—(Lord Merrivale.)
§ On Question, Bill read 1a, and to be printed.