HL Deb 19 February 1959 vol 214 cc421-2

5.45 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I am informed that at about five minutes to six your Lordships' House will want to adjourn for the purpose of a Royal Commission but I am hoping that between now and ten minutes to six what I have to say will dispose of the Second Reading of this Bill. In the words of the Long Title it is a Bill: to increase the sum to which a surviving husband or wife is entitled by virtue of the Intestate Husband's Estate (Scotland) Acts, 1911 and 1919, and section five of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act. 1950 This is a Private Member's Bill which the luck of the ballot has enabled my honourable friend, Mr. John Rankin, to promote in another place. There, after debate but without opposition, it has passed its separate stages, and it now comes to your Lordships' House for your consideration and, as I hope, approval. It is a short Bill, divided into two clauses. The first clause seeks to increase from £500 to £5,000 the amount to which a surviving spouse in an intestate estate is entitled. The second clause brings the Act into operation one month after its passing into law.

It is a modest measure, raising no controversial issues. It introduces no new principle. It is merely a logical extension of legislation already in force; it brings the present figure of £500 more into line with current values and so will remove some of the hardships that are still encountered. It did not seem to me necessary for the purposes of this limited measure to refer to the wider issues dealt with in the Mackintosh Report on the Law of Succession in Scotland, because this Bill, in so far as its purpose is dealt with in the Report, does implement the recommendation relating to the surviving spouse's preferential claim where there is no lawful issue. I should like to feel that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to support this measure. I myself see no reason why it should not be adopted. With that, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

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


I rise only to say that Her Majesty's Government welcome this Bill. The Government spokesman in another place, after congratulating the sponsor of the Bill on his good fortune in the ballot and the manner in which he had used it, went on to say [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 596 (No. 24), col. 794]: He has already explained why the Bill is necessary and what it does, so that there is no need for me to expand on his admirable commentary. I do not propose to become involved in the Scottish law relating to intestacy. Knowing that we have only another minute or two I would only echo those words and apply them to what the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, has said. I commend the Bill, and I hope that it will pass without mishap through all its stages in this House.

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

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.