HL Deb 29 April 1981 vol 419 cc1237-48

7.17 p.m.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

My Lords, I beg to move that the Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received—(Baroness Wootton of Abinger).

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, may I invite the noble Baroness to consider recommitting this Bill? The extent of the amendments make it almost a completely new Bill. This is not a particularly full House but I have to say that the amendments tabled in respect of Scotland are not acceptable, and I have authority to say that from the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Archbishop of Glasgow for the Roman Catholic Church, and the acting Primate of the Episcopal Church. We had a very thorough examination of this whole question in 1977 and, so far as I am aware, nobody in Scotland wishes to change the existing situation. I should have thought that it would be better and easier for the noble Baroness to recommit this Bill in order that the new clauses might be more thoroughly examined.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

My Lords, if this Bill is further delayed there will be no prospect of its getting through Parliament this Session and therefore I should be extremely reluctant to recommit the Bill. I think adequate notice has been given on this occasion although amendments were tabled at a very late date. I am not prepared to recommit the Bill.

7.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the Report shall be now received?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 36; Not-Contents, 32.

Airedale, L. Maelor, L.
Birk, B. Mountevans, L.
Blease, L. Northfield, L.
Boothby, L. Oram, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Chorley, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Robbins, L.
David, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Dowding, L. Stone, L.
Faithfull, B. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Hale, L. Tweeddale, M.
Hampton, L. Underhill, L.
Jacques, L. Vaizey, L.
Jeger, B. Vickers, B.
Lockwood, B. Wells-Pestell, L.
McGregor of Durris, L. [Teller.] Winstanley, L.
Wootton of Abinger, B.
Alport, L. Hereford, Bp.
Barrington, V. Hylton, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Ingleby, V.
Cathcart, E. Lauderdale, E. [Teller.]
Colville of Culross, V. Lawrence, L.
Crathorne, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
de Clifford, L. Milverton, L.
Exeter, Bp. Mottistone, L.
Ferrier, L. Norwich, Bp.
Fortescue, E. Rochdale, V.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. St. Davids, V.
Galpern, L. Saltoun, Ly.
George-Brown, L. Selkirk, E. [Teller.]
Greenway, L. Spens, L.
Halsbury, E. Torphichen, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Westbury, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly: Report received.

Clause 1 [Marriage between relations by affinity not to be void]:

7.29 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 10, at end insert— ("and (b) neither party has at any time during the previous 10 years been accepted by the other party as a child of his family.").

The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, may I make one preliminary observation before speaking briefly to my amendment. That is, in the name of all of us, to welcome back the noble Baroness, to say how glad we are that she is better again after being unwell and that she is back here to continue her doughty work on this, as I see it, attack which I believe underlies this Bill on the stability of marraige and the family. But it is lovely to have her back well and strong and doughty as ever in the House, though, using the carefulness of our language in this House, I do not agree with her.

Having said that, as a preliminary remark, if I may make it, I speak not on behalf of the Bishops' Bench, because each of us by custom speaks for ourselves, but after consultation with a number of bishops who would have liked to be here but cannot be, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester who spoke so well on Second Reading and in Committee. The right reverend Prelate is in the Channel Islands. This is, of course, nothing to do with holidaying; the Channel Islands is part of his Lordships' See, and once he gets to the Channel Islands it is almost impossible to get back again. But I have gathered from conversations with right reverend Prelates that there is very strong general opposition to this Bill, and we speak to amendments today reserving our position to speak and divide the House, if it seems wise, even on Third Reading.

Having said that, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 10, at end insert— ("and (b) neither party has at any time during the previous 10 years been accepted by the other party as a child of his family.")

Your Lordships will remember that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, speaking on behalf of the Government, for the Home Office, but maintaining a judicial balance in his speech, made two points in Committee. At column 1233 on 25th March, 1981 he said: The Government fully understand the concern which is felt in many parts of the Committee about the effect of the Bill in relation to stepchildren to whom a stepfather had acted in loco parentis, and the desire of some of your Lordships to limit the application of the Bill in such cases". Your Lordships will remember that in the next column, column 1234, he went on to say that if the amendment moved by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester and myself was agreed and accepted by the Committee: …the amendment of the right reverend Prelates would place persons who had at any time been a child of the family during minority in much the same position as a child by adoption, inasmuch as a marriage between parent and stepchild would therefore be prohibited for all time". The noble Lord, Lord Boston—whom I erroneously had called "the noble and learned Lord", and I apologise for that remark, but I notice that it was heeded in the highest quarters and within a week of that statement he was immediately made a Queen's Counsel so I am encouraged in saying that—also made the point that this would make a prohibition for all time.

Therefore, my amendment is simply an attempt to do something about the very real danger in which, for instance, stepdaughters of a young age would find themselves. Admittedly, I am glad to say that owing to the good amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, calling for an age of 21 years, they would not be in danger of being persuaded into a hasty marriage by an avaricious or even lascivious stepfather. We have to legislate for real situations and not just for comfortable and sentimental ones.

Therefore, my amendment is an attempt to deal in, I think, a fairly gentle way with that particular point. It seeks to suggest that a 10-year period should be provided. A 10-year period means that at the outside only 10 years, from the age of 18 to 28, would be needed but if, in fact, the stepchild was anything of 23, 24 or 25 years of age, a mere four, five, six or seven years would be provided. So the amendment which I propose today is less severe in that it would not make such a marriage impossible for all time; it would simply delay it.

My amendment, therefore, seeks to put a term of years between when the child-of-the-family stage ends, which happens at the age of 18, and such a marriage taking place, and the number of years is set at 10. Therefore, in effect, a stepdaughter would have to be aged 28 before she could marry her stepfather. Surely that is the least that we need to do in order to meet the very real fears that have been expressed about the danger to family life which would occur if this Bill is ever passed into law.

As we have had to spend some time in which nearly half your Lordships' House have expressed a general desire for the Bill in toto to be recommited, I shall not speak further to this amendment, because it seems to me to be such an obvious one and it meets so fully the general feeling of our debate in Committee that I hope it will be the sort of amendment that would be accepted by this House without division. With confidence, I ask your Lordships' persmission to move the amendment standing in my name. I beg to move.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

My Lords, during the Committee stage of this Bill a number of amendments were proposed which were, I think, not unfairly described as "wrecking amendments". Therefore, I am particularly grateful to the right reverend Prelate that on this occasion he has produced an amendment which is moderate in scope and which definitely could not be described as "wrecking". Nevertheless, I see great difficulties in accepting it. I think that it ought to be clear to people without dispute whom they can marry and whom they cannot. I was willing to accept, though with a little reluctance, that the minimum age for marriage in these cases should be 21, because that is definite and you cannot have a dispute about it; either you are 21 or you are not 21. But whether you have been accepted as a child in a family is by no means so clear, and cases will arise—and I shall presently quote a case of which I know which will be very much in point—where it may be very difficult to decide whether or not a particular young person falls within that category.

The right reverend Prelate might also like to consider what will happen if someone protests a decision that he or she—and in the kind of case he envisages it is more likely to be she—was not accepted as a child; she appeals the case and it goes to court. Almost certainly what will happen is that the stepfather and the stepchild will live together as man and wife, though they cannot sanctify that relationship in marriage because, if she is over 16 and not married to anyone else there is absolutely—and this seems to be generally ignored—no barrier in law why they should not cohabit as man and wife. This will be a direct inducement to them to do so until the necessary period has elapsed, when they may or may not decide to get married. That may be one of the obvious consequences of the amendment.

Perhaps I could quote the actual case, which is extremely relevant in this context. A man whom I know personally, at the age of 25, married a divorced woman who had a little girl of 13. He played no part in the divorce and he had never met the woman's previous husband. Five years later the wife died. The child was left in the care of guardians and was at boarding school, and five years later she was approaching the age of 18. She left school and she wished to acquire further professional qualifications, so she came to London. As far as I know, but I cannot say for certain, she lived in her stepfather's house under her stepfather's roof. She was accompanied by another student from the same school, so that the two girls were together. After a year or two the couple—the stepfather and the stepdaughter—announced their intention to marry, and the child's guardians gave consent. None of them was aware of the bar in law, neither was the vicar, and the church wedding was duly arranged. Only at the last moment was it discovered that the marriage would be void.

Now supposing that girl had been one year younger, or two years younger, the question as to whether she was still a child would surely be open. According to the estimates that the right reverend Prelate gave, childhood would seem to continue for a long time, as he spoke of children of 22 and 23. A child in law is a child at different ages for different purposes. A child is a child at one age for going to school; at another age for appearing at a juvenile court, and so on. One would have to settle the age at which childhood would cease for this particular purpose, and the point in time at which this young person might, or might not, have ceased to be accepted as a member of the family. I do not know what she did in her school holidays, for instance; whether that would make her a member of the family. I should therefore not he willing to accept something so vague, because in order to establish it—whatever definition of childhood is taken for this purpose—it would be necessary to make very intimate inquiries as to the relationships of the parties over a period of years. I think this is one thing that is greatly to be deplored, and the one thing that we ought at all costs to avoid.

Then there are procedural difficulties. There are procedural difficulties because the amendment which I am to move next, which is a substitute for Clause 1, and a rather more elaborate substitute, does not take account of this particular amendment, and it would be necessary to re-amend the amendment that I am about to move if that should be accepted. There would be further procedural difficulties with a number of the other later amendments. I have not a list of them to hand at the moment, having only just woken up to this. On these two grounds—that I think that we ought not to impose conditions which involve intimate inquiries and that there are procedural difficulties—I would resist this amendment.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, we have listened with great interest to the noble Baroness, who is always so much quicker to take up difficult points than some of us. I found this a difficult thing to follow so I am in some difficulty about the way to answer what she said. Taking the last point first about the procedural difficulties, surely there is nothing in our procedure which would make it impossible, if this amendment is carried, for the noble Baroness to bring forward at the Third Reading stage her substitute Clause 1, suitably altered to take account of this. That is a perfectly legitimate procedure so far as I am aware.

She has fallen back—I have to say, as has been commonly the case in the many debates we have had on this Bill and its predecessors over the past several years—as usual on a familiar hard case. I beg your Lordships not to be influenced by the sentimentality of the hard case. We all know that hard cases make bad law. She has asked what happens if this hypothetical couple are denied a valid marriage? She says, "Oh, they simply live together". I should like to make the point that that may in her view be the alternative. It is not the view of all of us.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

My Lords, would the noble Earl allow me to intervene? If I have always used the hard case, I have always used the actual case. My opponents have always used, so far as I can see, the hypothetical case.

The Earl of Lauderdale

Well, my Lords, we will let that point go because I am not an expert in this subject and I do not go around finding actual cases. I have not the leisure for that purpose. But there are in the noble Baroness's arguments—and we have had this over and over again—two alternatives. A couple want to marry and for some reason are refused a valid marriage, and the alternative that she presents is that they live together. There is a third alternative; that they live in continence. This point has not been made often. I think it should be made repeatedly. It is from that standpoint that I believe that her argument is fallacious. Just because two people cannot marry does not mean that they must, or should, or necessarily even will, live together. Even if in terms of human probability and human weakness the likelihood is that they will live together, that is no argument for sanctioning as a pretended marriage what would in fact be void.

The noble Baroness has put her finger on one point, not directly but by inference, which is that there is, or there can be, a great problem of ambiguity. She did not ask, although I thought she would, "How do you define 'child of the family'?" I am advised by legal friends—and one or two of them cannot be here to night but wanted this said—that, as a matter of fact, the term "child of the family" is well known in law. If a marriage is proposed, and it comes to the ears of the registrar that there is an impediment, then it is up to the registrar to make inquiries. If the result of those inquiries is negative from the point of view of the applicants, they can then apply to a family court. I am advised that such matters are well within the competence of a family court, and therefore one need not really be too disturbed about the problems of ambiguity in that case.

The noble Baroness said just now before we voted on the question of whether to go into the Report stage that if there is any further delay on this Bill she might lose it. May I say to her with the very greatest respect, and in as friendly a way as I can, that if she does not accept reasonable, moderate, compassionate amendments she will find a lot of trouble on Third Reading—a lot of trouble—and she may find more trouble tonight. If she really wants to get the Bill to another place for the possibility of consideration there despite all the hazards of their procedures, I wonder whether she may not feel that it might be in her interest to concede this amendment, and I very much hope that she will do so and not force us to divide on it.

7.48 p.m.

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, there is one point to begin with on which I would agree with the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, on this amendment, and that is the point at which he said that the definition of "child of the family" is one which is known to the law: indeed it is well known. I think that references were made to the fact that it is well known to the law in our last debates in Committee by, among others, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, when we were considering similar matters.

Before coming further to the substance of the amendment, I should like to thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich for his kind remarks about me. I should also like to join him in welcoming back to these proceedings on her Bill my noble friend Lady Wootton. Not only am I in the position of being pleased and delighted but I am also immensely relieved that she is back in charge of her Bill. It is clear that this amendment has been tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich with the very best of intentions. As he has explained, it seeks to limit to the 10 years prior to a proposed marriage the period during which neither party has been a child of the other's family.

I think it is right and fair to say that to this extent it seeks to meet a criticism that was made at Committee stage of an amendment proposed then by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, which would have prevented anyone from marrying a person who had been a child of the family of the other party at any time. Because it sought to meet one objection which was made by those of us who found themselves unable to support the earlier amendment, one approached this amendment with a very sympathetic attitude. Unhappily, like my noble friend Lady Wootton, I am afraid that I do not find myself able to support this amendment either.

In the first place, I believe that this amendment seeks to impose a time limit which is an arbitrary one, despite the explanation which has been given by the right reverend Prelate in his speech. In my submission we are bound to ask ourselves, what is the basis for a limit of 10 years? I must confess that I do not find myself persuaded that there is any substantial or logical argument in support of that, or indeed of any other particular time limit. As we have heard in the debate so far, such a time limit could still prevent marriage in some of those cases which are felt to be particularly deserving.

Perhaps I could take the case of a proposed union between a stepdaughter and a stepfather. She may have become a child of the family half way through the 10-year period. There may be other, very much younger, children. Their mother and her mother died, let us say, soon after she—the stepdaughter—became a child of the family. And she—the stepdaughter—has helped to bring up those other younger children. After a while, perhaps a few years, the stepdaughter and the stepfather decide that they would like to marry. I cannot believe it is really right that those younger children should be denied the loving care, of those who were already caring for them as parents. The young children may be at a particular stage of their lives—in their schooling for example—where it may be especially helpful for them to have parents once again.

Again, a person may have become a child of the family for only a very short time and then have gone away. After the death of that person's parent, the stepchild and the stepparent may decide that they wish to marry. There seems to be no real reason why they should be denied that chance, while in a similar case outside this proposed time limit those concerned would be allowed to marry.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House whether he is talking about hypothetical cases of the kind which I cited, or whether he is talking about actual cases of the kind cited by the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton?

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, I am trying to examine the sort of cases which we might well find would arise.

The Earl of Lauderdale

Then, my Lords, the noble Lord is talking about hypothetical cases?

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, we are talking about a proposed amendment to a Bill which is not yet an Act. Therefore, if we are to do justice in debating this Bill we have to contemplate cases which have yet to arise. We must try to do justice to hypothetical cases and I am trying to join your Lordships in doing both—that is to say, to acknowledge the very real and quite sizeable numbers of actual, practical cases in being of the kind which the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton, has placed before your Lordships on previous occasions as well as tonight, and also to try to do justice to the other half, the hypothetical cases, as well.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

My Lords, if my noble friend will forgive me, I have an actual case of precisely the type which the noble Lord has just described.

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, once again, I am delighted and relieved. We should not overlook the fact that a child—and this has been touched upon a little in tonight's debate—may be or may become a child of the family at any age at all. There may be a tendency for people outside your Lordships' House to imagine a child of the family as being essentially a minor, which would of course be a mistake. There is no doubt that a time limit of this kind could prevent from marrying some of the very couples who my noble friend's Bill is designed to help—some of the cases which we have felt to be especially deserving.

In my submission, there is another fundamental objection to this amendment. Let us look at the definition of a child of the family, and I return to the point which was made by the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, about the definition. In Section 52(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973—and the same words are repeated in the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates Court Act 1978—it is stated: 'child of the family' in relation to the parties to a marriage means— (a) a child of both those parties". We are not concerned with that category, of course, but it goes on to state: and (b) any other child, not being a child who has been boarded-out with those parties by a local authority or voluntary organisation, who has been treated by both of those parties as a child of their family". The question of whether a child has been accepted and treated as a child of the family may be open to dispute, as I and other noble Lords ventured to point out in Committee. If that is open to dispute the courts will have to be brought in to resolve such a dispute; there is no provision in the Bill proposed here—either in this amendment or elsewhere—as to how that should be done. As the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, has mentioned, it is quite true that this particular definition, and an attempt to interpret it, is not something that is foreign or unfamiliar to our courts as they stand. But, with respect, I would say that that is not the question which arises here. The question which arises here is whether a dispute and the courts should be allowed to be brought in at all on matters of the kind which are being dealt with by my noble friend's Bill.

Here, as in other matters witnesses may need to be called; the parties may need to be represented; if there has been a divorce it is possible that old wounds will be reopened on these matters as on some of the others which we were discussing and contemplating in Committee. If one looks at the actual wording of the right reverend Prelate's amendment it states: (b) neither party has at any time during the previous 10 years been accepted by the other party as a child of his family". Of course the fact that those words "by the other party" are included in the amendment would not prevent an earlier spouse of that other party or indeed that earlier spouse's family, from intervening in any dispute and court proceedings with the necessary representation which would have to arise as a result of that.

For example, he himself may say that his proposed spouse has never been accepted or treated as a child of the family. On the other hand, his deceased wife's family may say that she has and may therefore enter into this dispute and be called and represented at court proceedings. Alternatively, the man's divorced wife or his divorced wife's family may wish to intervene and give evidence as to whether or not he is right in saying that his proposed spouse has never been accepted or treated as a child of the family.

We can immediately see just the sort of situation arising which so many of us saw arising if the courts were to be brought into this matter. There would of course be costs and the likelihood of delays. Again, where as the result of court proceedings the child is found not to have been a child of the family, one is bound to point out that such a dispute, with its accompanying court battle involving the families, is hardly the best way to start a marriage.

I hope, especially with the safeguard now in the Bill that both parties must be over the age of 21, which my noble friend Lady Wootton accepted, that we shall not encumber the Bill with further restrictions but will adhere to what I believe to be the clear, understandable and indeed sustainable and justifiable principles embodied in it. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, under the Adoption Act 1958, when a child is adopted by a family, think I am right in saying that the wording of the Act says the child is "of the family". Does that come into this category?

Lord Boston of Faversham

I am not sure how the two statutory provisions line up, my Lords, but the point I would make on that in connection with this measure—one which on earlier occasions has been alluded to by my noble friend Lord Mishcon—is that for these purposes an adopted child would anyway be in precisely the same position as a natural child of the couple concerned; that is to say, neither in the case of that natural child nor in the case of an adopted child could there ever in any circumstances whatever be any question of a marriage of that kind arising. Indeed, the question of adoption is perhaps something which could be used more frequently to avoid difficulties arising in the future.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I had not intended to speak to the amendment until I heard the noble Lord, Lord Boston, who seemed to make very much a point for not having the Bill at all, let alone, in his opinion, not making this amendment. One wants to relate the complicated picture he presented on the one hand to the real cases which the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton, told us about, because I suspect that the real cases are all from what one might call honest, sensible Christian people. One should remember what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich said; namely, that we need to see the outcome of this in the real world.

We must accept that there are avaricious and lustful people, and we must see how the children will benefit against that framework. Against that background—though there may be technical difficulties which perhaps can be put right on Third Reading, particularly if the next amendment is accepted—the principle of what the right reverend Prelate said is in my view a sound basis to protect persons who have been brought up as children in a happy family and who suddenly find themselves transformed. I should have thought we should accept the amendment with a view perhaps to having it further amended on Third Reading should that prove necessary for technical reasons.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, concerning the remarks of my noble friend Lord Mottistone, it may be necessary, if the amendment is agreed to, to look at its wording again. I shall not express a view on the merits of the amendment, because the Government have all along maintained neutrality on the merits of the Bill. While the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich made it clear that the effect of the amendment would be to prevent, for instance, a stepdaughter marrying her stepfather, provided she had been as a member of his family before the age of 28, I would say that I am not convinced that the wording of the amendment would actually achieve that objective. That is the first technical point I would put to the right reverend Prelate.

The second is that the expression "child of the family" occurs in the amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Wootton, referred to this aspect and the noble Lord, Lord Boston, referring to the Matrimonial Causes Act, explained the different definitions of "child" to be found in that legislation. If one looks at the Matrimonial Causes Act in, for instance, Sections 29 and 41, one finds that it is possible for a child to be defined as an adult person. Therefore on that ground, again, I think it would be necessary, if the amendment were agreed to, for its wording to be looked at at the next stage of the Bill.

As the House will recognise, it would be undesirable for legislation to be enacted in a form which required an application to the court to be made to ascertain with confidence whether or not a particular couple had the legal capacity to marry one another, and I felt it was right for that reason to point out those two technical points to the right reverend Prelate.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, while I thank the Minister for those remarks, may I ask whether he can help us a little further? I gather that since Committee he has been able to discover other and newer ways in which other English-speaking countries are dealing with the particular problem that underlies the amendment. I hope the amendment is clear, in that it is meant to protect people until the age of 28. I can understand the problem the Minister raises about whether the wording is effective or defective. However, I gather that the research he has been doing—and we are grateful that he has been doing it—may help us, because I gather that there are better ways in other English-speaking countries than we have so far heard of, although I appreciate that without notice he may not be able to answer that question or comment.

Lord Belstead

I have with me a wealth of information about foreign law, my Lords, but I do not think I have anything which would help the House in regard to the amendment, and I therefore do not feel I can add to what I said.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, in the light of the full discussion that we have had, I wish to press the amendment.

8.8 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 24; Not-Contents, 37.

Auckland, L. Ingleby, V.
Barrington, V. Lauderdale, E.
Birdwood, L. Lawrence, L.
Cathcart, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Crathorne, L. Milverton, L.
de Clifford, L. Mottistone, L.
Exeter, Bp. Norwich, Bp. [Teller.]
Ferrier, L. St. Davids, V.
Gainford, L. Saltoun, Ly.
Halsbury, E. [Teller.] Selkirk, E.
Hereford, Bp. Spens, L.
Hylton, L. Torphichen, L.
Airedale, L. McGregor of Durris, L. [Teller.]
Birk, B.
Blease, L. Mountevans, L.
Boothby, L. Northfield, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Oram, L.
Brockway, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Byers, L.
Collison, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Robbins, L.
David, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Dowding, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Hale, L. Tweeddale, M.
Hampton, L. Underhill, L.
Jacques, L. Vickers, B.
Jeger, B. Wells-Pestell, L.
Lee of Newton, L. Winstanley, L.
Listowel, E. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Lockwood, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

8.16 p.m.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger moved Amendment No. 2: Leave out Clause 1 and insert the following new clause:

("Amendment of provisions of Marriage Act 1949 relating to marriages within prohibited degrees

.—(1) In the Marriage Act 1949

(a) the following subsection shall be inserted after section 1(1):— (1A) A marriage solemnized between a man who is under the age of twenty-one and any of the persons mentioned in the first column of Part IA of the First Schedule to this Act, or between a woman who is under that age and any of the persons mentioned in the second column of the said Part IA, shall be void.";


(b) there shall be added at the end of Part I of Schedule 1:—

Forward to