§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill now be read a third time. I should like first to express my thanks to noble Lords who have taken a special interest in this Bill, including, in particular, the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, my noble friends Lady Summerskill and Lord Mitchison, and the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh. I venture to think that this Bill is a useful piece of law reform, clearing up many anomalies which in the course of years have arisen in this branch of our law. My forecast that it would not be long before the Committee on illegitimate children, of which Lord Justice Russell 208 was the Chairman, reported, has been proved to be right. The Government will have to see, after they have considered this Report, what view is taken by informed opinion, and will then, of course, make their own decisions as to which, if any, of those recommendations should be implemented. I am still not unhopeful that it may be possible for the Government to do this in time to implement such recommendations as they may think should be implemented on the Committee stage of this Bill in another place. I beg to move.
§ Mover, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I think it would perhaps be a little graceless if I did not also say "Thank you" to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the very considerable part he also has played in getting this Bill right. There have been considerable discussions between him and his Office and those who have had points of view to put forward, and they have, as usual, been most helpful and friendly, and extremely rapid. I think we should be grateful to him and his staff for that. So far as the Russell Committee Report is concerned, I have no doubt that the proper course now would be to look at it and decide whether specific legislation is needed to deal with the different topics in it, which cover a wide field, or whether we ought to take advantage of this particular Bill in another place to deal with some only of those matters. I tend to think that it might be more satisfactory to have a specific Bill, because if we incorporate some of the recommendations in this Bill it may be that the others will not be implemented at all for a long time. This is something for discussion at a later stage. Meanwhile, we should like to thank the noble and learned Lord.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, may I add my thanks, on behalf of all those women who will ultimately benefit from the humane provisions embodied in this Bill? I have had many letters from women's organisations in which they have expressed their appreciation at the Lord Chancellor's concern with the position of the widow. The Report on illegitimacy has arrived, I feel, at an auspicious moment, and I am very 209 glad to hear that the noble and learned Lord is now giving consideration to it. I was particularly appreciative of his promise on Second Reading that if a decision could be made by the Government before the Bill reached another place it might be embodied in the Bill then.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I think I should say, for the Record, that if the recommendations of the Russell Committee cannot be implemented on the Committee stage of this Bill in another place I see no prospect whatever of legislative time being found for a separate Bill this Session or, possibly, next.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.