§ Lord John Russell moved the Order of the Day for the consideration of the Lords' amendments to this Bill, and said, that he certainly was of opinion that, generally speaking, the amendments made by the Lords, both in this Bill and in the Marriages Bill, should be agreed to. These two Bills would effect a great change, and, in his opinion, a great improvement. By means of the first, a civil registration was secured; and, by means of the second Bill, parties would be enabled to have their marriages celebrated in conformity with their conscientious principles. Now, these two important principles were preserved in the bills as they came down from the Lords; and such being the case, he thought it far better that they should not enter into a dispute with the Lords as to the amendments they had made in other parts of these Bills. If he were simply to go upon his own opinion, he would say, that he disagreed from those amendments; but as the two great and important principles to which he referred were still preserved, and as, what was more than he had expected, the Lords had assented to those principles, he thought it would be far better for them to endeavour to establish them as far as they could, by agreeing to the Bills in their present shape, and leave it then to experience to determine whether, in their practical working, these measures were calculated to carry those principles fairly into effect. His own opinion was that these Bills, as they had been sent up by the Commons, were better calculated to carry into effect the objects they had in view, than in their present altered shape, as they had been returned to them from the Lords, but for the reasons he had already stated, he thought it better not to dissent from those amendments. As, therefore, he should not move the House to dissent from those amendments, he would not now go into the objections he entertained to them. 1122 There were some verbal amendments which he should have to move, in order to carry into effect the amendments introduced by the Lords.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he perceived, that the Lords had made one amendment in the Bill, taking the appointment of the registrars from the Registrar-General, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and had vested it in an ever-changing and most unfit body for the purpose—the guardians of the poor. Such an alteration would open the door to great abuse and irregularity; and, he trusted that the noble Lord would not object to restore the original provision on that subject to the Bill.
§ Mr. Wilks
expressed his great satisfaction with the measure. He might refer with pride to the fact, that it was with him the appointment of the Select Committee on the subject had originated in 1833. The measure would be a great national improvement, and he would not give any factious opposition to the amendments made in it. The Member for Middlesex was quite mistaken in what he had stated. By the Bill as it went to the Lords, the appointment of registrars was given to the guardians of the poor, and the Lords had only introduced what appeared to him an excellent amendment as to the qualification of the persons to be chosen registrars.
§ The amendments of the Lords were agreed to, with verbal amendments.