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Clause 4—(Liability Of Officer To Maintain Wife And Children)

Volume 436: debated on Thursday 24 April 1947

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Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 29, leave out "bastard" and insert "illegitimate."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is rather a different matter. Hitherto, the good old Shakespearean and English word "bastard" has applied to every child born out of wedlock, whether it was the child of a soldier or a civilian. However, in another place, exception has been taken to the use of this word "bastard" in the Army Act, and, therefore, I hope the House will agree now to use on every possible occasion in relation to the illegitimate child of a soldier the word "illegitimate."

Would the Secretary of State explain why he wants to substitute this word for the good old English word? What is the reason?

Perhaps it is a matter of courtesy, in which I might ask this House to agree with another place. All I am concerned with is that the effect will be the same. The status of the child will not undergo any alteration, but perhaps it will soothe the ears of all who have to deal with the matter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that the word "bastard" is removed from the Army vocabulary?

Is it not important that as this is in the Army Act we should use the word which the soldier understands best? He it is who has to keep the illegitimate, and one wonders if we should allow this Amendment to go through so easily.

I suppose the soldier knows the word "illegitimate." Is it not a considerable advantage to drop the word "bastard," because he must hear it frequently used, not in a strictly correct sense?

Question put, and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.