HC Deb 07 July 1836 vol 34 cc1309-10
Mr. Wilks

was desirous of calling the attention of the House to a mistake of considerable importance which had been suffered to creep into the Marriage Bill which had recently passed through that House. That Bill contained a proviso that a declaration should be made by the parties about to have the marriage solemnly performed before the civil authorities to the following effect:—" I have a conscientious scruple against being married in church or chapel, or by a religious ceremony." In the votes of that House it appeared that a question had been raised to leave out the clause containing this declaration, and the motion was made that the words left out do stand part of the Bill. On which the House divided, when there appeared, ayes 67, noes 108. This decision determined that the proviso should be left out, and it was with very great surprise that he (Mr. Wilks) found that his proviso formed part of the Bill in the other House, and was in the printed orders of the Lords. This discovery excited great dismay and alarm among all the Dissenters, who held a meeting yesterday, at which he attended, and the alarm excited was indescribable. They resolved to petition Parliament on the subject, as rather than have the Bill passed with such an obnoxious clause they would abandon it altogether. On inquiry he ascertained, that on engrossing the Bill, the proviso was inserted through mistake. He would, therefore, move that a message be sent to the Lords requesting to have the Dissenters' Marriage Bill returned, to have objectionable parts expunged.

Sir James Graham

thought that a precedent would be necessary before adopting the resolution of the hon. Member.

The Speaker

said, that no doubt those who had the engrossing of the Bill acted wrong in not exercising more diligence in a matter of such importance, and affecting the religious sentiments of such a large and respectable body as the Dissenters of Eng gland; but so many alterations had been made in it, that there were ample grounds for palliation of the error. It would, how ever, be for the House to decide how the difficulty could be removed, and the Bill altered to the state in which it had passed that House.

Lord John Russell

thought an under standing might be come to, and the mistake rectified. There was a precedent, he believed, for the returning of Bills from the Lords under nearly similar circumstances. It would, then, be the best way to send a message, and at the same time to be pre pared with a precedent.

Mr. Wilks

would not then press his motion, but renew it to-morraw.

Back to