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Divorce Law

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 18 May 1966

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asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the unsatisfactory state of the law as revealed in recent cases such as that of Williams v. Williams, he will seek to reform the divorce laws.

This branch of the law is likely to be covered by the examination of matrimonial law currently being undertaken by the Law Commission and referred to in Chapter X of its First Programme. I think it would be better to await the outcome of this examination.

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the interpretation of the law in this and other cases—which is that a marriage that has broken down so badly must nevertheless continue, to the detriment of the two people wanting to remarry and of a child who is thereby prevented from being legitimated—shows that this is an urgent matter?

There are few who think that the law of divorce is now satisfactory, but I think it better that it should be tackled as a whole in the fundamental way in which the problem is now being dealt with.

Does not the Attorney-General appreciate that the divorce law and the family law, to be considered by the Law Commissioners, is only fourth in their list of priorities? Cannot he see that this matter of great urgency is promoted in the list?

It is true that there are priorities, but the study is continuing alongside the studies of the subjects given priority. The House will also like to know that the Report of the Commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, under the chairmanship of the Bishop of Exeter, is likely to be published some time this year. That also may prove very helpful.