HC Deb 18 March 1823 vol 8 cc623-4

The House having gone into a committee on this bill,

The Attorney-General

said, that the object of the bill was, to bring back the law to the same state as it was under the act of George 2nd, with respect to licences and the solemnization of marriages; in short, in every respect, save the invalidating marriages, when some of the provisions of the latter act had not been complied with.

Dr. Phillimore

said, that so far as the object of the present bill was to repeal all that part of the act of last session which had proceeded from the House of Lords, and to retain all that had originated with the House of Commons, it was impossible he could object to it. It was valuable also, because it contained a distinct recognition of the principle for which he had so long struggled. But he thought the bill objectionable, because on the face of it, it purported to be a temporary measure; that was, it took off several restrictions, intimating that some months hence other restrictions would be imposed. The House might depend upon it, that when the other restrictions were imposed, however lenient they might be, they would excite clamour and discontent. This was an unfortunate expedient, a vacillation in a most delicate branch of legislation, which he wished had been avoided. The same bill which took, off the restrictions, ought to have imposed those which were to be substituted for them. The bill as it came from the Lords was objectionable on another ground; it was so ill drawn, as to be totally unintelligible; and it actually did not accomplish by its enactments its own object, clearly showing its descent from the same parent stock which had produced the clumsy amendments of last year. The attorney-general had obviated this difficulty by the alterations he had proposed, which were so extensive, that when the bill reached the other House, their lordships would not find above two or three lines of the enacting part of it sent back to them. He should offer no opposition to the passing of the bill, though he regretted it was not a permanent and final regulation of the law.

The amendments, and also a clause, brought up by Dr. Phillimore, for directing the king's printer to send copies of the act to the officiating ministers of the several parishes and chapelries of England and Wales, were agreed to.