HC Deb 16 May 1972 vol 837 cc79-80W
Mr. Latham

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the steps taken to eliminate discrimination on grounds of sex from those fields of law and administration which are within the control of his Department; and in which matters such steps have not yet been taken.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The information requested is noted below. I should explain that in a number of respects Scottish law and practice does not contain those elements which have been the subject of criticism in England and Wales. In certain other areas action has been deferred pending completion by the Scottish Law Commission of studies dealing with or affecting the matters under consideration. For example, questions relating to the enforcement and collection of maintenance, on which the Commission's review of the law of diligence will clearly have a bearing, and the questions of equal parental rights of guardianship, to which its study of the capacity of pupils and minors will be relevant, will be further considered when the relevant reports are received.

Following is the list of measures already taken or in prospect: Maintenance: the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, 1972, which facilitates recovery of maintenance from husbands or former husbands who are resident abroad, applies to both Scotland and England. Guidance has recently been given to legal practitioners in Scotland about the assistance available from Government Departments in the tracing of husbands or former husbands who are failing to meet their maintenance obligations. Polygamous Marriages: the Matrimonial Proceedings (Polygamous Marriages) Bill, which will enable parties to a polygamous marriage to seek matrimonial relief in British courts, applies to both Scotland and England. The Bill's most immediate effect will be to confer on the wife of a polygamous marriage the right to seek the courts' assistance in securing adequate financial provision from her husband or former husband. Widow's Damages: the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. 1971, provides that in assessing damages payable to a widow in respect of the death of her husband, no account shall be taken of her remarriage or prospects of remarriage. Domicile: a Bill presented by the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) is down for Second Reading on 16th June, 1972. The Bill would enable a married woman's domicile to be established by reference to her own individual circumstances, making it no longer dependent on the domicile of her husband. Street Offences: a working party is considering the Burgh Police Acts, the provisions of which deal with soliciting and other street offences.