HL Deb 18 March 1952 vol 175 cc765-6

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, whether any more knowledge of the value of the court officer recently appointed to protect children in divorce cases is now available, and whether the time has now come to appoint some more.]


My Lords, I am glad to say that the Judges of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court are making increasing use of the services of the court welfare officer in divorce cases. Since the present officer was appointed in December, 1950, he has been consulted in nearly seventy-five cases in which there has been a dispute about the custody of, or access to, children. He has also helped the court to effect reconciliations in appropriate cases. I do not think that there is any need to appoint further officers at present, and I should prefer to review the matter again in the light of any recommendations which may be made by the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce.


Can the Lord Chancellor say what percentage those seventy-five cases represent of the possible cases in which the officer might have been consulted; and, also, whether it is possible for him to be consulted in cases which are not heard in London but are heard elsewhere in the country?


My Lords, I would rather defer a reply to these questions until a recommendation has been made. In any case, it is clearly quite impossible to answer the noble Viscount's first supplementary question unless I am first told in how many cases it would have been possible for the officer to be consulted. The matter must be purely one of opinion.