HC Deb 02 September 1835 vol 30 cc1289-91
Mr. Serjeant Talfourd

moved for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the Marriage Act Amendment Act which had received the Royal Assent on Monday last. The House was aware that the Bill came from the House of Lords with the provision that all marriages celebrated two years before the passing of the Act should be declared valid. That he considered inconsistent with the intentions of this House, in passing the measure; but in the House of Commons it was proposed, not that marriages should be legalised which took place up to the time of the passing of the Act, but those which were solemnized previous to the printing of the Act, which took place on the 10th of July. His proposition was, that the Act should be amended, so as to provide that those marriages should be valid which took place before the 10th of July, the time of the printing of the Act; provided there was no suit at that time pending: and if any suit, so pending had become abated by reason of the death of one of the parties prosecuting, that if they chose to revive it, they might have the opportunity of so doing, placing it in the same situation as before. He considered that if his proposition was not agreed to; but these marriages were made valid up to the time of the passing of the Act, it would be an advertisement to parties fraudulently to marry and keep their marriage conealed up to the very day of the Act, receiving the Royal Assent, when they would publish it, and it would be perfectly legal and valid. That he considered would be a fraud on the Act, and as it never could have been the intention of the framers, of the Act, he had no doubt that the House would grant him leave to bring in his Bill.

Mr. Warburton

hoped the House would not consent to bringing in this Bill. It was intended to meet a particular case; and he did not consider it just, that a general Bill should be introduced, narrowing the beneficial effect of the Act to all, in order to meet one or two singular cases of fraud and concealment.

Mr. Sergeant Wilde

supported the motion on the general grounds laid down by his lion, and learned Friend, the Member for Reading. It was true the Bill was not introduced without a knowledge that there was at least one case of fraud:—a case in which the marriage was concealed up to the very day of the passing of the Act; but it was also introduced with the strong conviction that there were other cases of the same description.

Mr. Ruthven

opposed the bringing in of the Bill on the ground of its being an ex post facto law.

Dr. Nichol

supported the motion. If the Bill when brought in, carried out the principle contemplated by the hon. and learned Gentleman it should have his cordial support.

The Attorney-General

objected to the Bill on the ground, that the Act having passed, the line was now drawn between the marriages celebrated before and after the passing of it into a law: it would therefore, be the height of injustice again to disturb the decision of Parliament, and though his inclination would lead him, from his friendship and regard for his hon. Friend, the Member who supported the Bill, to give it his consent, yet on the ground of public duty, he felt himself obliged to oppose it.

Mr. Freshfield

thought, the Bill necessary to remedy cases of individual hardship.

The Solicitor-General

himself bound for the reason stated by his hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, to oppose the motion for bringing in this Bill. There might be a vast number of cases in which marriages of this description had been unavoidably postponed to the day or two before the Act passed, and he could not agree, for the sake of one case of fraud however gross, to do such a flagrant injustice as to render all these marriages without exception void.

Mr. Hawes

also opposed the motion and protested against a slur being cast upon the character of those persons in their absence, who had contracted marriages of this kind—many of which promised to be most happy.

Mr. Sergeant Talfourd

replied stating that his chief reason for advocating the Bill was the supposition that there must have been an error in the Act.

Motion negatived.