§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any proposals to make for the constitution of local family courts, and, if so, what they are.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD HAILSHAM OF ST. MARYLERONE)
My Lords, the possibility of constituting new courts with jurisdiction in family matters falls within Item XIX of the Law Commission's Second Programme of Law Reform. It is expected that the Commission will be in a position to undertake, in consultation with the Government Departments and other bodies affected, a detailed study of the questions involved later this year.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, while thanking- the noble and learned Lord for that Answer, may I ask him first, knowing his great interest in families, whether he does not think it has always been anomalous that disputes between husband and wife as to separation and maintenance, and so on, should be decided in the local criminal court? Secondly, does he not think that, following the establishment of a Family Division in the High Court. it would be a natural corollary that we should have local family courts? If this is so, is it a reform which he expects to be able to get through during his tenure of office?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, considering how long I hope my tenure of office will be, I am very hopeful indeed. I am reluctant to prejudge 980 the outcome of the study by the Law Commission. A predecessor of mine said that law reform was either by consent or not at all. I am generally favourable to the idea contained in the proposal. It is an extremely complex subject and there are a large number of interested bodies and, incidentally, a large number of Government Departments who will have to be consulted. The Law Commission have not a particularly easy task in front of them, but they have my good will.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, would not the noble and learned Lord agree that the law of chance is the determining matter in tenure?