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Wife's Savings (Ownership)

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to the recent decision in the Appeal Court that a wife's savings from house-keeping are the property of her husband; and whether he will consider amending the Married Women's Property Act, 1882, in order that a wife who exercises thrift may not be penalised and her work in the home given some monetary recognition?

My attention has been drawn to the case referred to which, of course, turned on its own facts. Husband and wife are free to enter into any arrangements with regard to money or other property which they like. In the absence of any special arrangement the balance of money given by one to the other for a special purpose and not used for that purpose belongs, according to ordinary principles, to the giver. With regard to the last part of the Question, legislation, even if in principle desirable, would clearly be very difficult. It would have to define the services and provide how the monetary recognition was to be valued. In any case the Government could not in present circumstances consider legislation of this kind.