HL Deb 25 October 1990 vol 522 c1646

174 Leave out Clause 53.

175 Leave out Clause 56.

176 Leave out Clause 57.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 174 to 176 en bloc.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 174 to 176.—(Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.)

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

My Lords, I wish to say a few words about the amendment, which removes the divorce provisions which were contained in this Bill when it left your Lordships' House. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate valiantly defended the proposals before your Lordships' House which went into the Bill. He appeared to be quite confident that they would stay in the Bill. Can the noble and learned Lord tell your Lordships whether the proposals have disappeared because the Government succumbed to the time pressure in another place, or is it the case—it is an understandable case—that the issue of divorce law has been at least temporarily affected by the views expressed by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor? Is it the case that consideration is being given to adopting a unified United Kingdom divorce law? There is a lot to be said for that in view of the size of the country.

Lord McCluskey

My Lords, another alternative that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate ought to consider is the one I suggested on a previous occasion. I suggested that this provision crept into the Bill originally by mistake and therefore the Government were only too glad to ditch it when they came under pressure from their supporters in the first Standing Committee.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, it neither crept in by mistake nor was it abandoned with relief. Rather, the Government have always made clear that divorce as it applies in Scotland and on this side of the Border is a matter for a free vote. There were undoubtedly time pressures and the indications were that if this provision were left in the Bill it could take up a considerable part of the committee's deliberations. In the circumstances the Government therefore decided that it should be dropped.

However, the fact that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor is considering rather different proposals for England and Wales was not a consideration when it was decided that this provision should be adjusted. The divorce laws of the respective countries have been different in detail, if not in principle, for some time. There is certainly no ulterior motive of providing a uniform divorce code.

On Question, Motion agreed to.