§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Chorley.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD AILWYN in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ 1.—(1) Subsection (2) of section one of the Legitimacy Act, 1926 (which restricts the operation of that Act in relation to any illegitimate person born when his father or mother was married to a third person) is hereby repealed.
§ (2) In relation to an illegitimate person to whom it applies by virtue of this section, the Legitimacy Act, 1926, shall have effect as if for references to the commencement of that Act there were substituted references to the commencement of this Act.
§ LORD CONESFORD moved to leave out Clause 1. The noble Lord said: In the debate on the Second Reading on June 16 I gave notice that, when the Bill reached the Committee stage, I should move the Amendment which I am now moving, to leave out Clause 1. Those attending the Committee this afternoon are not necessarily the same noble Lords who were present on that occasion, and I must apologise to any who were present on the previous occasion if I repeat, necessarily, this afternoon some of the arguments which convinced me, and which I hope will convince the Committee, that this clause is a bad one.
§ Since 1926, under the Act of Parliament of that year, the law of England has allowed legitimation of an illegitimate child by the subsequent marriage of its parents, provided always that neither of those parents was married to a third person at the time of the birth of the child. This reform of our law made our law substantially the same as it had been for many centuries in Scotland. There was the slight difference in the Scottish law that the requirement of being unmarried to a third party had to be fulfilled at the date of conception, and not the date of birth; but, subject to that difference, the law of England since 1926 has been the 685 same as it has been for centuries in Scotland. The reform of our law by the Act of 1926 was, I think, universally recognised as a humane measure. It benefited some innocent children, and it harmed no one. The law as it stands today, both of England and of Scotland, draws a clear distinction between promiscuous intercourse of the unmarried and adulterous intercourse in which one party at least is married. It is that distinction which Clause 1 of this Bill seeks to abolish, and I propose to give reasons to the Committee why this distinction should be maintained.
§ My view that the distinction should be maintained is supported not only by the views of this House when the matter was debated in 1924, and by the view of the most reverend Primate and the Bishops at that time: it is also strongly supported by the large majority of the recent Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce. My noble and learned friend Lord Morton of Henryton and eleven of his colleagues strongly advised against the change in the law which Clause 1 of this Bill proposes. I agree with almost the whole of the reasoning of those twelve members of the Royal Commission. I would make only this one modification. I have never argued, and I do not argue now, that the prospect of the child's being illegitimate constitutes a deterrent against adultery. I have never used the argument of deterrence. But I agree with the views expressed by the majority of the Royal Commission, that the implication of the change in the law now proposed is deeply injurious to the whole institution of Christian marriage, and indeed of monogamy.
May I read again a few words?—
It is untrue to say that the principle underlying the present law is that of penalising the child or its parents. So long as marriage is held to be the voluntary union for life of one man with one woman, that conception is wholly incompatible with the provision that one or other of the parties can, during the subsistence of the marriage, beget by some other person children who may later be legitimated. This, indeed, is the essence of the objection to the proposal. Legitimacy is the status held by a lawful child of the marriage. Any departure from that conception can only be made by ignoring the essential moral principle that a man cannot, during the subsistence of his marriage, beget lawful children by another woman.
May I invite the Committee to consider separately the case where the mother
is unmarried but the father of the illegitimate child is married, and the other case where the mother herself is a married woman? Let me take first the case where the mother is unmarried. In that case, the wife of the father of the illegitimate child is entitled to seek a divorce, but she is not compelled to seek a divorce. She may well think that her duty lies in seeking to preserve the marriage. She may be led to that conclusion by the deepest religious convictions, or by other considerations—by considering the interests of the children of the marriage, or perhaps by her love for her erring husband. Any of these reasons may induce her not to seek a divorce and to do everything in her power to preserve her marriage. I find it abhorrent, as I think other noble Lords may find it, that such a woman should have a new pressure brought to hear upon her, that people should say that she is cruel in not seeking a divorce because thereby she is preventing the child from being legitimated. Not only is that conception abhorrent to me; I very much doubt whether noble Lords who take the other view can be quite satisfied that the legitimacy of the child should depend on the decision of the injured wife whether to seek a divorce or not.
§ Let me pass to the other case, where the mother of the illegitimate child is a married woman. In that case, the child will not be born illegitimate at all. It will be born apparently in wedlock, and the presumption of legitimacy will apply until that presumption is displaced. The child is born the legitimate child of the existing marriage of the mother. If Clause 1 of the present Bill becomes law, it will be possible first to bastardise a child in relation to the family into which it was born and then to legitimate it as the child of the subsequent marriage of its natural parents.
In the debate on Second Reading, I ventured to quote some sentences from the speech of Lord Phillimore, which he made in the debate in your Lordships' House on February 21, 1924. I shall not repeat the whole of the quotation, but let me remind the Committee that Lord Phillimore considered the case where the mother, unknown to the husband, had a lover and the illegitimate child was the result. The husband remained ignorant of the intrigue until his
death. What then became the position? Let me quote Lord Phillimore's words dealing with the child [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 56, col. 260]:
Is he then to be the legitimated child of his actual parents? Is he to he bastardised from being what he has always grown up in the belief that he was? He has always supposed that he was the son of the husband of his mother, he has lived with his brothers and sisters in that belief, and has enjoyed all the comforts of the family. Is he then to find that his real parents are going to say that he was their child, and therefore he is to be legitimated as their child, and necessarily bastardised as regards the position he has always been in before?
I pointed out that this was not an imaginary example or difficulty, and that two earlier Lord Chancellors, Lord Finlay and Lord Cave, had spoken in the same sense in the debates in 1924. I am delighted to see on the Cross-Benches my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds, and to know that he will be intervening later upon this Amendment.
§ On Second Reading, when the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor came to deal with this passage in my speech—I will not quote his exact words but I know that he will not quarrel with my description—he said quite fairly that the problem of the bastardisation of the child might conceivably arise apart from the present measure altogether and, secondly, that the courts would be able to sort the matter out when the question arose. Let me say a word about each of these points. I admit that this question of the bastardisation of the child could conceivably arise apart from this Bill altogether, but I think that noble and learned Lords will probably agree with me when I say that in most cases it is unlikely that the presumption of legitimacy could be displaced unless the mother were prepared to give evidence to secure that result, and that the mother would have little reason to give evidence to secure that result, unless the bait were held out to her by Clause 1 of the present measure, whereby she could secure the legitimacy of the child with a different father.
§ I do not doubt for one moment that, if we were so ill-advised as to allow Clause 1 to become law, our judges would sort out the ensuing problems. It is not any doubt about the ability of the 688 courts that troubles me. What I ask your Lordships to consider is this: whether your Lordships feel that such legal proceedings, first to bastardise and then to legitimate a child, is in the interests of that child. I ask your Lordships to assume a sensitive child, perhaps of seven years of age, who has grown up happily in a family with elder brothers and sisters, a child who loved the husband of his mother, who always believed that that husband was his father and who always called him "father". Then that husband dies. On that man's death the child can then become the victim and the subject of these hideous legal proceedings, first to bastardise him, and then to legitimate him under a new name. To me, if words have their ordinary meaning, such treatment of the child is cruelty.
§ I know that noble Lords who take differing views on the merits of Clause 1 all wish to benefit the child and to do the best for the child. But if the innocence of the child is itself a ground for the legitimation of that child, then all children are innocent; and that is a ground, not for this Bill, but for the abolition of illegitimacy. Illegitimacy could be abolished by law, as I pointed out on the last occasion; but it is not done by Clause 1 of this Bill. The authors of this Bill seem to waver by making too little of marriage, on the one hand, and too much of it, on the other. They make, in my opinion, too little of marriage when they say that a husband during his marriage can beget a legitimate child by some mother other than his wife. On the other hand, having done that, as it seems to me, great wrong, they then say that the child can be legitimated only if the parties, who have already outraged one marriage, go through the form of entering another. Quite frankly, my own view is that less injury would be done to the institution of Christian marriage, and indeed to the institution of monogamy, if all illegitimacy were abolished by Act of Parliament and the law said frankly that legitimacy had nothing to do with marriage at all.
§ There is one other argument that might conceivably be put forward against me. It does not concern the merits of Clause 1, but concerns the propriety of our reaching our own decision on those 689 merits. It may possibly be urged that Clause 1 of the present Bill is a most important clause, perhaps the most important in the whole Bill, and that the House of Commons has passed it. If such an argument against our voting on the merits is put forward, I shall be very happy to deal with it in reply; but I think I shall best serve the convenience of the Committee if I do not deal in advance with an argument which no noble Lord may put forward. I believe that Clause 1 of the present Bill is unprincipled and wrong, and I believe that, if it were passed into law, it would cause more misery than it cured. I ask the Committee to reject it. I beg to move.
Leave out Clause 1.—(Lord Conesford.)
§ 5.44 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
I should like to support this Amendment and to oppose Clause 1, for the reason that it seems to me quite clear that this clause undermines the principle upon which English marriage law is based—that is to say, the principle of monogamy—and, indeed, is totally inconsistent with it. For by this clause the law will be made to say that it is possible for a man Legally to beget children of two women during the same time. That seems to me to be completely inconsistent with monogamy. The clause will make the law say that the law can pretend by means of a legal fiction that a man married at one time to a particular lady was nevertheless, for the purpose of the legitimation of a child, at the same time to be deemed to be married to another lady. That seems to me to be totally inconsistent with the principle of monogamy.
This whole question arises, of course, as an offshoot of the legal device of legitimation by subsequent marriage; and that device has a very ancient history. It was the brain child, I believe, of the first Christian Emperor, Constantine. He devised it as a temporary measure in order to persuade persons living in the quasi-legal state of concubini to advance from that into the state of full legal marriage. It was a temporary bribe, so to speak, to get rid of concubini, so far as possible, and to substitute for it proper marriage. The 690 Emperor Justinian made this temporary provision a permanent part of the Roman Law; and so it remains.
The years passed by; the Empire was divided, and the jurisdiction of marriage questions in the West of Europe passed into the hands of the Church. But this law of Justinian was never entirely forgotten, although there was a doubt as to whether or how far it applied. I am glad to think that it was a predecessor of mine in the See of Exeter who, tired of the conflicting opinions of lawyers and irritated by the ambiguity of the law, wrote to the then Pope to ask for a clear answer; and he got one. The very clear answer was that subsequent marriage legitimates children born before the marriage of two people in all cases—not only of concubines, but in all cases—except the issue of an adulterous union or the issue of incest.
The extension of this device of legitimation by subsequent marriage had as its motive, for the most part, sympathy and understanding for children otherwise illegitimate. There is no question here of hard-heartedness on the part of the Church or of the Christian lawyers. Nor was the exception depriving of this benefit the children of an adulterous union the result of hard-heartedness or lack of sympathy; it was the result of a refusal to allow the heart to rule the head. Legitimation by subsequent marriage has a workable principle. It is that the father and mother may be deemed to have married one another at the time when the child was either conceived or born. And so considerate were lawyers of those days of the interests of the child that they made it a principle that the date should be either the conception or the birth, whichever was more favourable to the child: it had not to be always one or the other, as is the case now in England and in Scotland.
The principle was that the law might pretend that the father and the mother married one another at the time of the conception, or else of the birth, But, of course, in those days, when the legal formalities for marriage were not so precise and clear as they are now, and when a marriage could be established by repute—that is to say, by the private exchange of vows between the man and woman, followed by a period of cohabitation and the setting up of a general 691 reputation that they were man and wife—it was not altogether unreasonable to assume that the marriage had, in fact begun at the moment when the two parties first had intercourse and the child was conceived. In the Middle Ages it was often difficult to say with absolute certainty of any marriage, other than a marriage formally celebrated in facie Ecclesiae, precisely at what date the marriage did begin. Lawyers therefore implemented these types of legitimation by subsequent marriage, assuming always the father and mother did marry in facie Ecclesiae and put the marriage beyond all doubt.
The law is indeed very powerful, but I cannot for the life of me see how it lies even within the power of the law to be able to pretend that a man and a woman were married to one another at a time when that same law says it was legally impossible for them to be so married. I cannot see that this is to do anything but hold the law up to contempt—to presume that the law can just imagine, pretend and deem what it itself says is impossible. It is distasteful to oppose this clause, because it exposes anybody to the objection that he is unsympathetic, unimaginative and indifferent to the sufferings of those who are illegitimate. I wonder why it is that, if the main motive of the promoters of this Bill is simply that illegitimate children, some of whose misfortune can be remedied by the proposed terms of this Bill, they have not at the same time taken the opportunity to amend the Act of 1926 by extending the provisions of legitimation by subsequent marriage to the succession to titles of honour? After all, if that restriction is left, in some cases at least the purposes of this clause may be totally defeated.
I will not take an example from your Lordships' House. If it is, or was, the privilege of your Lordships in the common mind always to be titled, it is, or was, the common view that baronets were always bold and bad. The bold and bad baronet commits adultery and begets a son. He is divorced by his wife, he marries his mistress and in a year or two he has another son. Ten years later, having mellowed and become more cautious and less bad, he sends these two boys to a preparatory school. He 692 sends them to the same school because he is less bad, and there is only one best school in the country and he wants both boys equally to go to it. There we have them in the fifth form, Smith Major and Smith Minor. The baronet has the misfortune to break his neck in the hunting field, or more probably on the Great North Road or the Preston Motorway; and then, all of a sudden, before the astonished gaze of all the other small and curious preparatory school boys, Smith Major becomes Smith Minor and Smith Minor becomes Smith Major; and the preparatory schoolboys, like so many Cornishmen, will know the reason why, and the whole purpose of this clause is destroyed. If this clause becomes law these two little boys are exposed to what seems to me an unnecessary ignominy.
It is from no lack of sympathy or understanding that I and other noble Lords oppose this clause. But one must face the truths of life. It does happen that the fathers eat sour grapes and it is the children's teeth which are set on edge. We are tempted to think that that is in all cases unjust. That may be because our human conception of justice is imperfect. I do not wish to impose upon the House a tedious theodicy, but it is possible that we underestimate the close nexus there is between children and their parents and the two-way traffic of credit and discredit, advantage and disadvantage, and benefit and evil which is continually passing between the two. Every child owes a great deal of gratitude for good to its parents. One must tell them, also, how they have received a certain amount of evil in, by or from their parents. That has to be taken and set against the many benefits which they have received. So it comes that the father has eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. But it is not necessarily so very unjust as is sometimes maintained. However that may be, it is a fact that the sins of the fathers have evil consequences for the children, and we cannot always do anything about it. We hang a murderer, or we sentence him to life imprisonment, but the matter does not end there. A heavy cloud of shame hangs over the heads of the children for the rest of their lives. But no one would argue that, because the children are innocent, they ought not to suffer that shame and that 693 therefore the murderer should be reprieved The interests of justice would not permit it.
I think that here is a similar position in a matter of less importance. The parents commit adultery, and the children are not born of a lawful marriage. I should have thought that the right way for society to discharge its duty of mitigating the evil consequences to the children as much as possible was not by setting up a legal pretence that their parents were married when in fact they clearly were not, but so to manage our own behaviour as to remove from illegitimate children the very last vestiges of social stigma. I cannot think that illegitimate children suffer very much because of their legal disabilities. I can imagine that they would suffer a good deal if they were made the object of scorn, or were treated differently in ordinary matters of day-to-day living from a legitimate person. If that is so, if they are so treated, that is a grave indictment on us, on society; for what it means is that, in effect, we are condoning the sins of the parents and passing moral judgment on the children. We could correct that if we could cease to pass any moral judgment on the children but passed a much more severe moral judgment on the parents. Then, I believe, there would be fewer illegitimate children born; the stigma which attaches to them would he more bearable, less onerous than it is now, and society would not be threatened at its very roots, the principle of monogamous marriage.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, I find the arguments that are being used a little puzzling. It has been argued by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford—and he quoted the Royal Commission in support of the argument—and also by the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken, that if this Bill passes, a man who begets a child by his mistress will be held to be begetting legal children by two women during the currency of his marriage, and that therefore the institution of monogamous marriage will he completely undermined. Surely that is not so. A man who makes an adulterous union with his mistress and begets a child will beget an illegitimate child. It will be born illegitimate; 694 it will remain illegitimate all its life unless the previous marriage is subsequently dissolved in accordance with the law and the child is subsequently legitimated.
Surely the fallacy of this argument can be seen by the parallel case of the law of marriage. A man may live with his mistress and he may be divorced by his wife on that account. Subsequently he marries his mistress. According to the secular law of this country the second marriage is perfectly valid. No one argues that because the first marriage is dissolved and the second is legal, therefore at the time he entered into the adulterous union with his mistress he was in fact contracting two marriages at the same time. I think the parallel is exact. In each case, during the currency of the first marriage the union is adulterous, the offspring is illegitimate. The union may become regularised if the first marriage is dissolved, and by the same logic the offspring of that union may become legitimated in the same circumstances.
§ LORD KEITH OF AVONHOLM
My Lords, as one who supported this proposal on the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce, may I say a few words? Of course, I recognise that this proposal is contrary to the Canon Law, to the law of Scotland and to the law of England as it at present exists. But we are faced here with a real problem. As the noble Lady who has just spoken has said, the question can never arise so long as the first marriage is maintained. But there are two situations: first, the married man may have intercourse with a mistress and beget by her a child. That child can never be legitimated so long as the marriage subsists. But it may happen that the wife of that man brings divorce proceedings against him on the ground of adultery and obtains a divorce. In that case, if the man then marries his mistress, this Bill, if passed, would legitimate that child.
The other case may seem, and I think it is, a more difficult case. A married woman as a result of adulterous intercourse has a child, and again so long as that marriage subsists the child can never be legitimated. If the husband brings an action of divorce against his wife, as he may very well do if he is aware of this adulterous intercourse, and 695 obtains a divorce, then the adulterer and the adulterous wife may marry, and again, if this Bill passes, the child will be legitimated. That is a situation that, as things exist, however much we may regret it, is happening very frequently.
A great deal has been said about a child being at once a legitimated child and a bastard, or bastardising the child that is presumed to be legitimate; and, of course, a child that is born during wedlock is presumed to be legitimate. But it may well be that the husband of the marriage in which that child is born may repudiate the child merely because he is satisfied that the child is not his child, and on that ground he obtains a divorce. I am going to say nothing—because I am not entirely familiar with it—about the procedure of having that child declared an illegitimate child in England, but there would be no trouble about it in Scotland. It may well be that the husband may bring an action to have it declared that that was not his child and that it was a bastard. In Scotland I think that that could be done. It may be that the other interested parties—it may be the father of the child or the mother of the child—could bring similar proceedings. And, of course, in that situation I can see that no harm could be done by that child being legitimated by the marriage of its parents.
That is the sort of situation which is arising one might almost say daily. During the war it was a situation which obviously arose. A child would be born to a married woman. The husband had been away for two years or longer at the war; and it was perfectly obvious that that child was not a child of the marriage. It was born in wedlock in the sense that the marriage was still subsisting, and it would be presumed legitimate until in some way it was found or declared to be illegitimate. And, again, in that situation the child could be legitimated, if this were the law, by the marriage of the parents. That is, as I see it, a real situation that is happening to-day. So long as the marriage subsists of course there can be no question of legitimation at all. But if the marriage is dissolved, then the proposal is that in that case, if the father and mother marry, the child should be legitimated.
696 Extreme cases have been suggested by my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford. I must confess that I myself have some difficulty in thinking that the cases that he suggests are cases that are very likely to arise. I can hardly imagine, in the case of a child who was born in wedlock, who has not been repudiated as the child of the husband, where the marriage has subsisted for ten or fifteen years and the child has gone to school and so on as the legitimate child of that marriage, that after that long period of time the child is going to be bastardised and going to be legitimated by the subsequent marriage of the parents. Theoretically it is the sort of case that can arise, but in real life and real fact I hardly see that it could arise. For those reasons I am prepared to support this clause.
§ 6.10 p.m.
I should like to ask for some explanation about this Bill as it stands. I come from a country where it was so extremely necessary for poor people to have children that for many ages it was the custom for unmarried people to live together and only to marry when it was clear that a child was to result from the marriage. Among the wealthier classes it was the case that often before their marriage they had to get a dispensation from the Pope which, if it was given at all, took three years to come. That led to the system of hand-fasting, as it was called, and it was perfectly natural. But in the Bill as it stands we are asked to extend that to cases where children are born in adultery—I will put it that way.
It seems to me that two questions arise. First, is it wise to legislate in such a fashion that you say a thing is a fact when it is not a fact? I have read a great deal in the Press about the stigma of bastardy. As a matter of fact, in my experience I have known many people who are illegitimate and I do not think that they really suffer very much from the stigma—and, as we know, it was a title not of shame but of pride to William the Conqueror. But if there is a stigma, I would point out that it is not affixed by the parents, it is affixed by the people; and it seems to me that in this case we are merely adding another term of abuse to the English language in the word "legitimated." But the question 697 that worries me is, does legitimation convey rights to property and rights of succession? It seems to me that that is a most important question. I do not know the law of England and I should be most happy if some noble Lord would enlighten me.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
When I had the temerity at the end of the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill to ask for some indication of the Government's views on the issues raised by Clause 1, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor gently rebuked me by saying that it was hardly for me to reproach the Government for their silence when I had not expressed any view of my own. Well, I do not complain about that; I think it was what I believe is called, in legal parlance, "fair comment." But actually, I still think it rather odd that the Government have no advice at all to give to the Committee on this particular clause. After all, I think it is generally agreed, whatever view we take about it that the clause raises most important issues, both of law and of morals. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, to whom the House always listens with such respect—I am sorry not to see him here this afternoon—made this clear when he said at the outset of his speech on Second Reading [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 216, col. 1190]:Your Lordships are asked this afternoon to set your seal on a great change in the law of England.Those were Lord Denning's words. The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in the same debate, said that the Bill raised great moral issues on both sides.
This, as I see it, is not in fact, as the Lord Chancellor seemed to think, an ordinary Private Member's Bill dealing with some question of secondary importance which does not matter very much one way or another. I submit that it is a measure—this is particularly true of Clause 1—that raises very wide issues indeed. In those circumstances, I cannot help regretting that the Government have thought it right to adopt the attitude that they have no particular views of their own as a Government, but would be content, to quote the words of the Lord Chancellor:to be guided by the wishes of the House.698 However, having said that in my own defence, I feel, in view of what my noble and learned friend has said, that I ought at any rate to try, though with great deference, for I am not a lawyer, to give my views, for what they are worth, on Clause 1. Quite briefly, I am against Clause 1 for the simple reason that, as I understand it, it requires the law to lend itself to something that is patently not true. The broad principle of legitimacy as it has been long understood in English law is, after all, clear, simple and unequivocal. It is defined with crystal clear accuracy in the great new English Dictionary. There it is said that the definition of "legitimate" isOf a child having the status of one lawfully begotten; entitled to full filial rights.There then follows a note which I would commend to the particular attention of the Committee. This note says:According to English law all children are legitimate who are born in lawful wedlock, and no others.That is a perfectly clear, simple, definite statement, and that, I think, is a fair definition of what Lord Denning in his speech on Second Reading called "the old Common Law argument", which has been, I believe I am right in saying, the basis of British law on legitimacy for many centuries now.
But, as I understand them, the promoters of this Bill say that, while that may be good law, it is very hard on the child who, through no fault of his own, but entirely through the fault of his mother (in the case with which I am particularly concerned), has to bear throughout his life the stigma of illegitimacy. I think that that is a fair statement of their point of view. In their view, that is a wrong which must be expunged. They say that it is not very difficult to expunge it; all that is needed is to make use of a legal fiction. By this convenient fiction the court, should the matter come to court, will, in certain circumstances, be empowered legally to declare that a child that has hitherto been regarded as the offspring, born at a certain date in lawful wedlock, to a certain woman and one man, shall henceforth in certain circumstances be legally transformed into the offspring, born equally in lawful wedlock, on one and the same date, of the 699 same woman and an entirely different man. That, in effect, is, as I understand it in plain words, what Clause 1 proposes.
I do not for one moment question the purity of the motives that have actuated those who support this Bill. I fully realise that their only motive is to try to save the child from the unhappy results of his mother's sin. But that does not, to my mind, alter the fact, however one may try to wrap it up, that, apart from any injury which the proposal does to the institution of Christian marriage—the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Exeter, has already dealt with this—what the clause asks the law to do is solemnly to declare something which the judge, counsel and everybody else in court will know to be nothing else than a thumping lie—and that is what it is. All those people must be aware that at the date of the birth of the child—and I would say, if I may, to the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger that that is the relevant date, and not some subsequent date—the natural father and mother of it were in fact not joined in lawful wedlock with each other. On the contrary, at any rate one, and maybe both, were joined in lawful wedlock with somebody else. How can any legal fiction, however ingenious and well-intentioned, alter that hard fact?
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, if I understood his speech aright, thought that the institution of marriage was so tarnished already that to besmirch it a little more would not matter very much. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 216, col. 1192]:In the present day, we have divorce and people can re-marry. When the union is made lawful by marriage, the fruit of that union, either before or since, should be rendered legitimate too. The only argument one can find against it is the old Common Law argument.…With all deference to the noble Lord, I still prefer what he dismissed briefly as "the old Common Law argument." At any rate—and I will say this to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keith of Avonholm—it does not condone adultery. If I am told that the principle of the Common Law has already been breached by the Act of 1926, I would answer that, whether it was right or wrong to make that breach—and we are 700 not concerned with that to-day—the deviation from this great principle in the 1926 Act, as the most reverend Primate himself recognised in the Second Reading debate, is very different from that proposed in the present Bill. For the provision in the 1926 Act applies only to persons who at the time of the birth of the child, though not married to each other, were, at any rate, not married to anyone else. Surely, in comparison with the present proposal that may be described as a "white" legal fiction.
It may be pointed out by those who support this clause that in all I have said I have not spoken one single word about the position of the children who are the fons et origo this particular measure. If I have not, it is not because I have not the deepest sympathy for those who suffer from the result of their parents' sin. But, as has already been pointed out, there is the question: will their situation really be much better as a result of this Bill? A child may be quite happy to be regarded as a child of Mr. A. Will it really help him to have the true story exposed in court? Will it help him to be declared a bastard of Mr. A. and then a legitimate son of Mr. B., when everybody there and everybody outside will know perfectly well that in fact Mrs. A. and Mr. B. were not married at the time of his birth? And what would happen if Mrs. A.—a lady of very free and easy morals—had two children by two lovers? That is something which happens, I am sorry to say, not infrequently. That is a possibility which your Lordships must not ignore.
In the event of the happy disappearance of Mr. A. by divorce or death, which father of the children does she marry? Under the Bill one child can be legitimised and one cannot. Who does Mrs. A. choose, and how does she choose? I feel that it is an impossible dilemma for her and very hard on the other child. I am putting that particular instance forward not in any frivolous spirit, but merely to indicate into what deep waters we may get if we depart from the fundamental principles which hitherto have governed the laws of legitimacy in this country. I believe that this Bill, however well-intentioned—and I am sure that it is extremely well-intentioned—is based on sentiment and not on morality; and we really must not confuse the two. For that reason, 701 reluctantly—because I sympathise so deeply with the motives of those who have promoted the Bill—but with deep conviction, I shall be obliged to vote against this clause if the matter is carried to a vote. That is the reason why I believe that, whatever personal feelings noble Lords may have, the Committee would be wise to reject this clause.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SIMONDS
I propose to be very brief. Indeed, after the powerful speech of the noble Lord who moved the rejection of this clause, and other speeches that I have heard, I should not have thought it necessary to say one word but for the fact that my noble friend Lord Conesford, in opening, said he had my support, and that I took the view which my predecessors in office as Lord Chancellor had taken of this clause in the years 1924 and 1926. I want to say at once that having given, I hope, the most earnest consideration I could to this matter, I do most heartily support the Amendment. I regard this as a bad clause, had in principle and in law, and likely to undermine, to some extent, the ideal of Christian marriage and to lead to grave confusion in the administration of the law.
I am going to ask something very pedestrian. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who moved the Second Reading of the Bill in language which, if I may say so, was temperate and fair, said something which caused me great astonishment. I am not for one moment disputing the importance of this Bill, because the status of 100 or even 10 children is a matter of great importance; but I am wondering whether, in its scope, it is not far less wide than the noble Lord said. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, V01. 216, col. 1183]:I have obtained the figures for 1955, when the total stood as 32,000, and for 1957 when it had reached as many as 35,500—an increase of 3,500 in two years. I am, of course, giving round figures. Quite a substantial number of these illegitimate children must have been born in wedlock.I wonder upon what foundation that statement was built. Let me say at once that, had I had anything to do with it, I should have supported the Bill of 1926, which did remove the slur or stigma which rested on illegitimate children; but I find very great difficulty in sup- 702 posing that even a substantial number of this 35,500 were children born in wedlock.
Let me remind the House of the position. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has already done so. I should like to quote from the Third Edition of a book which I have reason to hope, and indeed believe, is an accurate statement of the law. I refer to Halsbury's Laws of England, where it is stated:Every child born of a married woman during the subsistence of the marriage is prima facie legitimate and the presumption of legitimacy arises also where the child is born not more than the possible period after the dissolution of the marriage by death or other wise.That means the period of gestation which the law admits. I am dealing now, as your Lordships will see, with the case of an adulterous union with a married woman; for this purpose, it does not matter whether the man is married or not. Now the married woman has a child, and that child is regarded as legitimate and born in wedlock; and that presumption can be displaced only by the most cogent proof. Anybody who has any experience of these matters knows how difficult it is to displace that presumption of legitimacy; and when the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, speaks of 35,000 in respect of whom that presumption has been displaced I must say that I wonder how he got his figure.
Let me again cite from the book to which I have referred:Where, however, in any legal proceedings the enforcement of a legal right or the establishment of a claim to property or a dignity or the making of an order for custody or maintenance of a child of the marriage depends on the legitimacy of a particular person, the court in determining the existence of the right or claim will determine also the question of legitimacy. Where, however, no such right or claim is involved the court will not entertain the question of a person's legitimacy on the application of any person but himself.How many cases have there been where the court, in such proceedings as that, has bastardised a child? If I may say so, it is not at all fair to take the case of the period during the war when, of course, there were very special circumstances. But how often does it happen in the experience of any of your Lordships that a person in such proceedings as I have mentioned is declared to be illegitimate? I am saying that only for 703 the purpose of showing that the scope of the Bill, even if it becomes law, will be small. The number of grievances of illegitimate children removed will be comparatively small, but there will be a grave violation of the principle for which we have always stood and for which the Law of Scotland has stood until this moment. And let me add this: I am sure of one thing in the world: that my noble and learned friend Lord Keith of Avonholm would not dare to get up in Scotland and make, in regard to the law of Scotland, a proposal that he is prepared to sanction in regard to the law of England.
Now I said I would be brief, and I will be brief. I regard this as a grave intrusion upon our law. I would just add this, because I know some of your Lordships have referred to it. There is the case where there has been a divorce and where the suggestion may be that the woman is pregnant with the child of her lover. That may be; but there again may I venture to quote what I have found written somewhere:The presumption of legitimacy is not affected by the fact that the wife is shown to have committed adultery with any number of men. It must be affirmatively proved, before the child can be bastardised, that the husband did not have sexual intercourse with his wife at the time when it was conceived.It is not a matter of the gossip in the market place or anything of that kind; it must be strictly proved in court, in proceedings in which such a matter is admissible, that the child is not legitimate. I would regret anything which made any intrusion upon that whatever, and, as I say, not only is this a violation of a principle which many people hold sacred and which therefore your Lordships should, I think, be very reluctant to impinge upon, but I believe it will cause quite as much difficulty and hardship as the law as it now stands.
§ LORD KEITH OF AVONHOLM
May I just say that I would not say for England what I was not prepared to say for Scotland, and as a matter of fact the minority in the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce was composed of quite a number of Scotsmen and Scotswomen, including one of the present incumbents of the Scottish Bench.
§ VISCOUNT SIMONDS
My noble friend must allow me to say that he has not the opportunity of saying it in regard to the law of Scotland.
§ 6.33 p.m.
I venture with some hesitation to speak after the speeches of my two learned brethren. Let me say at once that I particularly agree with one observation made by the noble Marquess regretting the absence of my noble and learned friend Lord Denning; and I would only add that I regret even more the absence of the most reverend Primate. I had the good fortune to hear his speech on the Second Reading and I read the whole debate, and in the end I found myself completely convinced by what the most reverend Primate and my noble and learned friend Lord Denning said. I had hoped on this occasion to leave it to them to repeat what they said and to remain silent, but in their absence I feel I must just state briefly my reasons for differing from my noble friend Lord Conesford and my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds.
First of all, I would refer to the definition which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, quoted from the dictionary—the definition of "legitimate" as born in lawful wedlock. It seems to me, while fully accepting that definition, that that pass was sold when the Legitimacy Act was passed. My main reason for supporting Clause 1 of the present Bill is that it seems to me a reasonable and logical extension of what was then done. I quite recognise that it may give rise to difficult cases. I confess that, despite the high authority from which it came, I was not impressed by the citation that my noble friend Lord Conesford gave as from Lord Phillimore, backed, as I understand it, by what Lord Finlay and Lord Cave said in a previous debate in this House, because I regard that as a case so unlikely to occur that it can be safely disregarded.
If I followed him aright, what he said was that we were to deal with the position of a child born of an adulterous union with a man but living for years in happy belief with the original husband and wife, when after an interval the husband died and then proceedings started. I 705 cannot think it likely that, if nothing had been done before that, after that interval of time steps would be taken to bastardise that child. I would add that I should have thought that that was so exceptional a case that it was not a reason for leaving in this position a disputable number of children—I agree with my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds on that point; but at any rate a substantially larger number than there would be in the position of the case cited by the noble Lord. I think that that was not sufficient reason for abandoning what I believe to be a good change in the law.
Then there was the case given by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter of the bold, bad baronet. That is a possible case. But there, again, I think it is such an exceptional case that it is not a reason for deviating from what would otherwise, one would believe, be the right principle. My chief reason for supporting this proposal—if I may cite just one passage from the speech of the most reverend Primate made in the previous debate—is to be found in his words where he says [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 216, col. 1186]:The purpose of the Bill is a very simple one and one that attracts our natural sympathy; it is to relieve some children, or perhaps I should say some more children, of the title and status of illegitimacy which they derived from the moral illegitimacy of their parents. They were born out of wedlock. Nothing can ever alter that fact. The fault of it is in no sense the fault of the children, but they are penalised by bearing the stigma of illegitimacy for what is not their fault. Is that to go on?My Lords, I believe it ought not to go on, and that we can do justice and treat kindly these children without adding any further serious risk to the moral principle which the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter has stated and with which I respectfully agree. My noble and learned friend Lord Simonds has said that we should be altering the question of the onus of proof. I do not think that that is so. I think the proof would still be where it lies now, and it is a difficult onus to prove. We certainly might increase the number of cases in which the courts had to decide, but the difficulty of that decision does not seem to me to be a reason why we should continue to leave these children exposed for life to the slur of illegitimacy. I must 706 apologise for detaining your Lordships, but I thought I ought to state my reasons for opposing this Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
As I understand it, my noble friend Lord Salisbury chides me for two reasons—believe me, when I say "chides" I do not mean that I am in the least offended, but I should like to answer them because I value his opinion. I think the first was that the Government of which I have the honour to be a member did not take up a governmental view on this point. Well, I would remind my noble friend that in 1926 when this actual point came up in an Amendment to the Bill in the House of Commons, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, my noble friend Lord Swinton and Sir Winston Churchill (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) were—I am sure my memory is right—members of the Government and voted for the principle of Clause 1; as did the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, who were not members of the Government. Those three members of the Government voted for the principle of this clause, which was defeated, and the two prospective Prime Ministers whom I have mentioned also voted for it. But I think that it is fair to say that this Government is not taking up an attitude which is unusual, and my noble friend was inclined——
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I think that what actually happened was that the Government put up the Under-Secretary at the Home Office to make a speech, and he spoke, presumably representing the Home Office view, in the contrary sense to which Sir Winston Churchill and I and others voted. Oddly enough, apparently, he voted against the Government.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
At any rate, it was not a Government view. If three so distinguished members of the Government as my noble friend Lord Swinton, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, and Sir Winston Churchill voted the other way, I think it is fair to say that there was no Government view de facto—though I am not prepared to argue whether there was one de jure. But I think I am right that, in regard to Sir Alan Herbert's Bill in 1937, the Government, of which the noble Marquess was a member, left it to the House, and after the House had approved the principle 707 they then gave assistance to it. I hope, therefore, that the noble Marquess (I think his uncle was still a member of the Government in 1926; and he himself was a member of the Government in 1937) will not suggest a higher standard of perfection for a Government of which he is not a member than for one of which he was.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think it is fair to say that, if I was a member of the Government, I was an extremely junior member, and certainly not a member of the Cabinet. I do not know what view I would have taken then. I do not say that I would have taken a different view; but I was not consulted on the line the Government took on that important matter.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
If the Government took the view that they should get the opinion of the House, of course it was open to the noble Marquess to make an objection to their taking that view; but history does not relate that he did so: and after twenty-two years he must be taken to have acquiesced, whether he agreed impliedly or not. Therefore, on that point, I hope that, on reflection, he will not continue to chide the present advisers of Her Majesty's Government.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Marquess may not know it, but I have firmly resolved to encourage interruptions from everybody who wants to interrupt me. I am looking forward to someone beating the record of the most reverend Primate and to interrupt me more than nine times in one speech.
That was the first point. Therefore, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, I think that it is in accordance with precedent that, on a matter of this kind, Her Majesty's Government leave it to the House to declare its view. The second point on which my noble and learned friend chid me was that he said that this involved very important legal matters and that I had not advised the House. That is an entirely personal imperfection. I spent some two to three columns of Hansard informing the House of the difficulties that arose on this point, 708 and I did my best to put before noble Lords the legal difficulties and the full implications of the clause. My noble and learned friend Lord Conesford was good enough to deal with my arguments to-day, and to say that of course the clause is workable; and he went on to argue, as he was perfectly entitled to do, that it is undesirable.
I only wanted to make these points because I should like to assure my noble friend Lord Salisbury that I did my best to put the legal difficulties that arose, and I leave it to noble Lords who were present and who listened to my speech to decide whether I fulfilled my duty on that point. I have tried very hard, ever since this matter was mooted, to see if it was workable, because it naturally would be the duty of the Attorney-General in another place and myself to inform the House if we did not think it was workable. I still come to the conclusion that it is workable; but, as those of your Lordships who are good enough to listen to me (very often, I am afraid) in your Lordships' House know, there is nothing on which I am more reluctant not to express my own opinion. I call it my firmness of opinion; my friends call it my crass obstinacy, which is one of my characteristics. Whichever it is, I do make the habit of expressing my own opinion; and while I take the view—and so do Her Majesty's Government—that this is not a matter for a Cabinet decision or a Government decision, I should not like my noble friend Lord Salisbury to feel that I was afraid to express my view and to give my reasons for it.
I have tried to weigh up what it comes to at the end of the day—and that is, on the one side, as the majority of the Royal Commission put it, the harm that may be done to the institution of marriage; and, on the other side, the position of the child. My noble friend Lord Keith of Avonholm has told us his view to-day, and I hope he will agree with me that I put it fairly when I repeat my summary of his view—and I ask him to correct me if I am wrong. They called it illogical and unjust that in some cases the parents should be able to regularise their union while the innocent child was deprived of the benefit of legitimation and was left to suffer the stigma of illegitimacy; and they found no reason 709 to suppose that the restriction was in any way a deterrent to illicit unions, particularly as the parents could, for all practical purposes, legitimate the child by the circuitous and somewhat absurd method of adopting it. I think that summarises the view.
Now I come to the issue which has been put before your Lordships with such strength this afternoon. I have listened with great care and attention to the most eloquent speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford, and to the most moving and strongly expressed view of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter. I find that they cannot expel from my mind the view put forward by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. This is, I think, essentially a matter for our consciences and moral views. At the foot of column 1188 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 216], after dealing with the position of the Church and with the arguments that we have heard to-day, he said:Personally, I think it is more straightforward, and therefore morally preferable, to drop the legal fictions of any kind"—such as adoption—and to argue as follows. This child was born out of wedlock and in adultery. The adulterous parents have, by divorce, set themselves legally free to marry one another. They, the natural parents, are now legally married. Therefore, let the child have the status which by nature belongs to him, and of which he has been deprived by the ill-doing of his parents; and let it be called, naturally and legally, the child of its parents—that is, legitimate it.That language has neither the emphasis nor the force, in a fundamental sense, of the language used by my noble and learned friend and the most reverend Prelate in their speeches, but it seems to me to set out in simple, natural and, above all, kindly terms one great argument for the principle of this clause.
The other passage from the most reverend Primate's speech which I venture to quote (it appears in the middle of column 1189) is this:Indeed, my Lords, I think that, on the whole, if the clause be passed, it may help Churchmen and others in our by no means unsuccessful attempts to restore the waste places of married fidelity and integrity; for we shall not be using a legal argument to prevent the bringing of relief to an illegitimate child.I find those words sufficient, for my own moral views and conscience, to support 710 this clause. I am not going to detain your Lordships longer; but in view of what had been said, I felt that I should not have slept easily to-night if I had not expressed my own view.
My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Viscount one question? In the case of an intestacy, under the law of England, does a child so legitimated derive a title to property to defeat other claims which might otherwise be put forward?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the position was fully explained on Second Reading. The noble Lords, Lord Chorley and Lord Conesford, will correct me if I am wrong. For this purpose this Bill becomes part of the Act of 1926. Speaking without the book, Section 10 (I think it is) of the 1926 Act states that legitimation under the Act does not affect succession to honours or property. Therefore, this clause makes no difference to the succession to honours or property from the position under the 1926 Act; and the 1926 Act, in turn, made no difference from the position before it. I think that there is no disagreement on that point. I should welcome being told if anyone takes a contrary view.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I will not say that my name has been taken in vain, but a vote which I gave in another place a good many years ago, in very good company, has been cited in this debate, and therefore I should like to say shortly why I shall give a vote to-day if this matter goes to a Division. As I remember it, the debate in another place, apart from the speech of the Under-Secretary, was wholly in favour of the argument for which I voted and which is now to be found in the first clause of this Bill. To-day we have heard, as forcibly and sincerely as we could possibly have them, the arguments against this clause. With much more hesitation than in 1926 I shall still adhere, if this comes to a Division, to the vote which I then gave, and I shall support the clause in the Bill—and entirely for one reason.
I have tried to look at this matter from the point of view of what is in the best interests of the children themselves, and I cannot resist the conclusion that 711 the clause in the Bill is in the better interests of these children. I am impressed by the argument that, in a sense, this is a legal fiction. I would rather it were put more simply, but I think that what we have to look at is the result. I do not feel that this is going to be a great incentive to more people to commit adultery. If I thought that this was likely still further to undermine the greatest of all human institutions, perhaps, the institution of marriage, I should vote against it. But I cannot believe that. After all, the adultery has taken place in these cases, and it has taken place in spite of the law being what it is to-day. I do not believe—it is entirely a matter of opinion—that there will be more or less adultery because of this Bill, or that this clause will act as an incitement.
I was impressed by the example given of the child who has been born legitimate and has lived for years as a member of the family. I have myself known an instance of that kind. It would be very hard on that child if it were bastardised years and years afterwards, but I think that it is extremely unlikely that that would happen. If, as I originally thought, a sort of automatic bastardy followed in this case, then I should be against this clause, but that is not so. In the case of parents who on the face of it have lived happily together, although somebody may have committed adultery a long time ago, and who have brought up a family together and the family is happy together, I do not think that the survivor, on the death of one of them, is going to take steps to bastardise the child. Therefore, for the reason that I believe it is in the interest of the child that this ought to happen, if this matter goes to a Division, I shall support the clause in the Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, would your Lordships allow me to make an explanation? My noble friend Lord Saltoun asked me a question rather suddenly. The position is that the 1926 Act did not affect a disposition which came into operation before the Act, but a disposition which came into operation after the Act would treat the child as legitimate except in the case where property was connected with an honour, in which it would not affect it. It 712 made special provisions for the order of seniority of the original and legitimated children. I must apologise to my noble friend. When I gave my answer, I was thinking of Section 10 which deals only with dispositions which were made before the Act came into force and before the children were legitimated.
My Lords, I should like to say in a few words that I am opposed to this Amendment and 100 per cent. in favour of the clause. Clause 1 is designed with one object, and one only—that is, entirely out of kindness to the children. If we are to look for legal principles, we can find legal principles, if we want to, to prove that the earth is flat and not round. We shall get nowhere if we are going to be bound by ancient legal principles. Amongst other matters, Parliament exists for the purpose of displacing old legal principles and creating new ones. In this case, everyone, I know, is actuated by kindness and good feeling towards the children. If your Lordships do not vote in favour of Clause 1, I shall be greatly disappointed.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I think it would be a mistake to detain your Lordships for more than a minute or two but, on the other hand, I feel that I ought to say a few words about this matter. The arguments which have been deployed, particularly by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, are so powerful that I do not wish to go over that ground again. But I do feel that I should remind your Lordships of a point made by my noble friend Lord Conesford: that this Bill was passed by the other House by a large majority, only four people voting against it on the Second Reading, and that in the subsequent proceedings there was no Division against it at all. The defeated minority accepted the position and the Bill went through.
I do not think one could do better than adopt the position taken up by the most reverend Primate himself in regard to this matter, as was emphasized by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, when he said that this clause was attacked on the ground that it would weaken the institution of matrimony, and that that was guesswork. I ask your 713 Lordships to accept that view and to say that what this Bill does to legitimate children, and to remove the stigma on many thousands of children—because I maintain that that will be so—is concrete and not a question of guesswork at all.
The problem here is whether we are going to help these children. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter said—and I paraphrase: "The sins of the fathers have evil consequences for the children, and we too often cannot do anything about it." This is one of the occasions when we can do something about it: we can do it by passing this clause into law. I ask your Lordships to take that view and to reject this Amendment.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I only wish to say a word in response to the last point raised—namely, how the House of Commons voted. On the Second Reading there voted 45 in the "Aye" Lobby and 4 in the "No" Lobby. If you add the four Tellers, that makes a total of just over one-twelfth of the House of Commons. I submit to the Committee that the other House has certainly no legal, and certainly no moral right to insist that this Bill should go through unamended, against the convictions of your Lordships, in the present Session. But fortunately it is unnecessary to decide
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
EARL ST. ALDWYN
It has been agreed that we should postpone further consideration of this Committee stage, and therefore I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ that question to-day. There are later Amendments on the Marshalled List by the promoter of the Bill himself, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. Therefore, in any event, if those Amendments are adopted, the Bill will go back amended to the other place. If the Committee adopts my advice, then it will be for the other place to decide whether or not they agree with the Amendment to leave out Clause 1. The matter will then come back to this House. I do not disguise my intention to ask the House again, if necessary, to reject it; but the House may not follow that advice. Your Lordships do not bind yourselves to-day as to what you will do in those circumstances. I shall not repeat the arguments. I believe that this is the most important Amendment on which I have ever had the honour to address this House.
§ LORD CHORLEY
The noble Lord knows perfectly well that it is not practical politics to oppose this Bill at this stage, and for the Bill to go backwards and forwards between the two Houses in that way.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents 27; Not-Contents 19.713
|Ammon, L.||Craven, E.||Iddesleigh, E.[Teller.]|
|Atholl, D.||Denham, L.||Jessel, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Dormer, L.||Morley, E.|
|Baden-Powell, L.||Exeter, L. Bp.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Birdwood, L||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Pakenham, L.|
|Braye, L.||Gainsborough, E.||Salisbury, M.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Goschen, V.||Saltoun, L.|
|Conesford, L. [Teller.]||Grantchester, L.||Simonds, V.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Swanborough, Baroness|
|Amulree, L.[Teller.]||Keith of Avonholm, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Lucan, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Chorley, L.[Teller.]||Merrivale, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Cohen, L.||Merthyr, L.||Uvedale of North End, L.|
|Crook. L.||Meston, L.||Williams, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Baroness||Stansgate, V.||Wootton of Abinger, Baroness|
§ Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Earl St. Aldwyn.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.