HC Deb 06 December 1968 vol 774 cc589-90W
Mrs. Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what study he has made in considering the recommendations of the Grant Committee, of the official proposal in England that undefended divorce cases should be held in county courts; and what estimate he has made of the saving to be derived in Scotland from allowing undefended divorce suits to be heard in sheriff courts.

Mr. Ross

The conferring of a jurisdiction on the sheriff court in undefended cases of divorce would be a wholly new departure, quite unlike the effect of Section 1 of the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1967 which, although formally giving county courts in England and Wales a similar jurisdiction, in practice confirmed an existing situation in which a large majority of such cases were heard by county court judges sitting as Divorce Commissioners. I do not therefore think that any special study of the English position would be particularly helpful in considering the recommendation of the Grant Committee that a change in jurisdiction should not be made in Scotland.

As regards the second part of the Question, I have made no estimate other than that given in my reply to the hon. Lady's Question on 11th March, 1968; nor, given the various factors involved, do I accept the assumption that there would necessarily be a net saving to public funds if undefended divorce suits were heard in the sheriff court.—[Vol. 760, c. 218.]

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