HC Deb 28 June 1836 vol 34 cc1021-39

The Marriages' Bill, on the motion of Lord John Russell, was then read a third time.

Mr. Goulburn

moved the addition of a clause, whereby it was required that in all cases where marriages were solemnized not in a church or chapel according to the rites of the Church of England, the parties should make the following declaration:— "I do solemnly declare that I have conscientious scruples against the solemnization of marriage according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England.'' The right hon. Gentleman said, that there were Dissenters as well as members of the Church of England, who thought a religious ceremony requisite to the validity of a marriage; and nothing more was required by this clause than that those who considered marriage as purely a civil contract, should make a declaration to that effect. The object of the clause was to prevent members of the Church of England from adopting this form, which might have serious consequences, and to limit it to persons who really had conscientious scruples upon the subject. He did not wish to enforce forms which were objected to, but members of the Church of England were convinced of the necessity of retaining the awful denunciations against improper marriages, which would be omitted in the mere civil contract. All he asked the House to do by this clause was, that where marriages were to be celebrated as a mere civil ceremony, the persons requiring them to be so performed should make this declaration. The effect would be, that marriages in registered buildings would be confined, as they ought to be, to persons who had conscientious scruples against the ceremony as solemnized by the Church, and the same awful denunciations which now existed in respect to marriages so solemnized would be retained as regarded all members of the Established Church, who would be bound by the same obligations as at present, and instructed in the same duties.

Clause was brought up.

Dr. Lushington

said, that if this clause was adopted, it would defeat the great object and principle of the Bill. If he understood its principle and intent, it was to afford relief to the great body of Dissenters by having them that to which they had a clear righ—the power of contracting marriage without being subject to a religious test; and he understood this clause to be a religous test. A great many persons attended Dissenting chapels who did not cal them yes Dissenters, and who communicated with the Church of England; but the great bulk of the Dissenting body claimed the right he referred to, and he would state the footing on which they claimed it. They considered the rite to celebrate marriage according to their Own rites and ceremonies as a natural right, and that Parliament itself had no title to prescribe forms and ceremonies for that rite, except so far as the general benefit of the community required the prevention of clandestine marriages. The Dissenters said, and he said with them, that the right of marriage was given by Providence, and it was not for man to impose restrictions on it. He would go a step further, and say that, as to marriage, the Dissenters had a right to be put on the same footing with the members of the Church of England. They had a right to have chapels in which they could solemnize marriage, according to the forms in a manner most binding to their own consciences, and Parliament had [no right to force them to declare that they conscientiously disapproved of the proceedings of the Church of England. They claimed the right of marriage without being compelled to unfold their religious opinions. The right hon. Gentleman wished to violate this first and greatest of rights, for what advantage? The argument of the right hon. Gentleman was, that, in his opinion, the addition of a solemn religious rite, gave to the measure a binding and obligatory force. The Dissenters say, we do not think so. The right hon. Gentleman had assumed that there would be no religious ceremony. He had no reason for so assuming. The great majority of Dissenters would solemnize their marriages with the same feelings as members of the Church of England. There was another point upon which he disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman. He had never yet heard that in any country in which marriage was deemed a civil contract with the religious ceremony, it was not considered an obligation binding upon the consciences of those who entered into it, and he had never yet heard that it was considered capable of being dissolved because one party might say, "I will not fulfil the contract," and the other might repudiate it. There was no reason to anticipate any of the ill consequences which the right hon. Gentleman had imagined. This proposition would necessarily lead to many inconveniences. Marriages between parties not belonging to the same communion, as between a Dissenter and Churchman, and vice versa, were of daily occurrence. If a Dissenter married the daughter of a Churchman, was he to make an ex parte declaration that he disapproved of the ceremonies of the Church of England? Was the exposure of the circumstance of husband and wife being of a different faith, likely to be productive of any advantage? He opposed the clause for this reason, that it went to do that which was directly contrary to the spirit and feeling of the Bill from beginning to end.

Sir Robert Inglis

said, that the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman would have been more suitable if this clause had been proposed on the first introduction of the Bill, but it was inconsistent with the Bill as it now stood; for the very same test which his right hon. Friend proposed as a protection to the Church of England, was actually, totidem verbis, introduced into the Bill as it stood, with the sanction of the noble Lord. In the 18th Clause were these words—"I do solemnly declare that I have conscientious scruples against marrying in any church or chapel, or with any religious ceremony." If the hon. and learned Member had adverted to this clause, whatever other objections he might urge against that of his right hon. Friend, he would not have objected to it because it introduced a test.

Mr. Babies

said, that such a clause would deprive the Bill of all its efficacy. If he stood alone, he would divide the House against its adoption. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford had certainly shown that the Bill, as it stood, contained a provision of a similar character. He (Mr. Baines) was shocked and astonished when the right hon. Gentleman read it; and how it came there he was utterly at a loss to conceive. He hoped, however, that the House would fulfil the pledge which they had given to the Dissenters, and would strike out so obnoxious a clause. The right hon. Gentleman had no right to call on the Dissenters to declare that they had a conscientious scruple to the performance of the marriage ceremony according to the rites of the Church of England. They could not make such a declaration. They might have a moral objection—they might have an objection of feeling; but they could not say they had a conscientious objection. To attempt to pass the Bill with such a clause would be to confer a benefit with a very bad grace; and he was persuaded that it would be rejected by the Dissenters. In some cases in which the general interest, or the interest of (he Church, might be supposed to be endangered, a test might with less impropriety be required"; but here the whole affair was between the parties themselves, and therefore it was impossible to imagine a more ungracious proceeding.

Lord John Russell

agreed in opinion with those who had said that the words of the clause would deprive the Bill of all efficacy as a relief to the Dissenters. The great majority of the Dissenters claimed the performance of the marriage ceremony in their own chapel; but if this declaration was necessary, it was impossible for the great majority of the Dissenters, who might not have conscientious scruples, to take advantage of the Bill, which would thus be rendered nugatory. The hon. Baronet, and the hon. Member behind him, had taken advantage of the clause which related to the civil contract; in which a declaration had been introduced, it was said, with his sanction. It had been introduced on bringing up the Report, prima facie, in consequence of what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Tumworth. He had understood that the hon. Baronet stated, that he preferred to vote, and he did vote, for all the clauses which recognised marriage as a civil contract before the superintendent, without any religious ceremony; but he had contended that it should not be the policy of the State to encourage members of the Church of England and of the different sects to consider this as a civil ceremony merely; and that the effect of that clause went beyond its intention—that it was intended for the relief of persons objecting to marry in the Church, and according to any religious rites, and who claimed to regard marriage as a civil contract only; but the right hon. Baronet's argument was, that its effect would be not only to allow such marriages, but to encourage, contrary to the policy of the State, the making the marriage ceremony a civil ceremony. He had had no communication with the right hon. Baronet out of the House, but he owned that it struck him that there was some force in what he stated, and a declaration had been accordingly introduced into the Bill. This had undoubtedly! given an advantage to the hon. Baronet, who said, that the words so introduced | were a justification of the words proposed by the right hon. Gentleman; but they did not appear to him to afford such a justification; but if he was told, that the words in this clause must be maintained unless the others were struck out, he should have no hesitation in stating which course he should prefer to take. He admitted the force of what had been stated by the right hon. Baronet, but if he was told that it was inconsistent to admit the words in the 18th Clause, and to resist the clause proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, he should have no hesitation in rejecting the words in this clause, and in voting for the exclusion of the words in the other clause. He did not think that the words in the 18th Clause introduced anything like a religious test into the Bill; but it seemed as if they were so considered, and he preferred restoring the Bill to the state in which it was in the Committee, to introducing a clause so liable to objection, and so fatal to the object of the Bill, as that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Law

rose to support the amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn). He was ready to concede to the Dissenter every thing that the Dissenter could fairly require; but he apprehended that the Dissenter was not ashamed of his dissent, and that upon the most solemn arrangement of his life he would not wish to deal otherwise than openly and fairly; and he apprehended further that the Legislature had a right to require from the Dissenter, as well as from the member of the Established Church, an observance of that form of marriage which should be supposed to be most binding upon his conscience. The proposition of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goulburn) went only to this: that before a man was permitted to disengage himself from any religious ceremony in matters of marriage, he should declare that he entertained either a religious or a conscientious dissent from the form prescribed by law. He (Mr. Law) thought that proposition to be perfectly reasonable. The noble Lord had intimated his intention of rejecting the clause; he must concede to the noble Lord the merit of consistency and of pliancy to his party. Was it not the pressure of the moment upon his flank that induced him to abandon the clause? The Legislature had no right to unchristianize matrimony. It had been said we should be liberal to the Dissenters; was no liberality to be shown to the Church of England? All that was required was, that before going to a marriage-broker, a declaration of religious scruples should be made.

Mr. Warburton

said, he was no advocate for the desecration of the marriage rite. But what was the object of an oath? The object was to bind the conscience, and the State, in prescribing oaths, was compelled to allow persons to appeal to false gods and even devils. The object of an oath and of a marriage ceremony was to bind the conscience, and to make it obligatory on those who contracted marriage to observe the duties consequent upon it.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

begged to remind the House, that the principle on which the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) introduced his Bill on a former occasion was, that marriage ought only to be regarded as a civil contract, and not as a matter of religious ceremony. He certainly thought that the Legislature ought not in matters of this kind to strain the conscience of any man.

Mr. Arthur Trevor

thought that the solemnity of marriage would be degraded, and a series of evils be inflicted on the community at large, by the adoption of a Bill of this kind, He had no hesitation in declaring that as his conscientious belief; and upon that ground he felt it to be his duty to protest against the measure, as one of a most mischievous and most dangerous character.

Mr. Hardy

expressed his determination to vote against the proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman, and to support the clause proposed by the noble Lord.

Sir Andrew Agnew

rose for the purpose of requesting the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) not to persist in his motion. He thought that the noble Lord was entitled to the gratitude of the Dissenting body for the course he proposed to pursue.

Colonel Thompson

hoped that nothing which proceeded from the opposite side would induce the noble Lord to disappoint the expectations which had been raised in the mind of every friend of religious toleration. If he did, it would go forth to the country, that the Government which was afraid to oppress the great Dissenters, was not unwilling to oppress the small. The Dissenters at large would feel that dust and ashes were mingled in what was offered to them as a boon, and a gross insult would be conveyed to them, where they had looked to receive a favour.

Sir Robert Peel

thought it quite unnecessary, however natural it might be, for the noble Lord to disclaim having had any communication with him on the subject of this clause; still, however, he was desirous of adding his positive declaration to the assurance of the noble Lord, that all which had passed between them had transpired publicly in that House. Having made his proposition, to which at the time no human being made any opposition, the noble Lord, from a perfect conviction of its justice, had voluntarily, and without any communication with him, adopted and introduced it as a clause in the Bill. He repeated, the noble Lord had given no intimation whatever of his intention to introduce that clause, and therefore it had been forced on him by no hostile display on the part of those on that (the Opposition) side of the House. He merely stated, that it would be a great satisfaction to the religious community to come to an arrangement upon this subject, without making any distinction between the members of the Establishment and the great body of the Dissenters; and the arrangement which he wished to see effected with respect to marriage was this— there being no objection whatever on the part of the members of the Church of England to be married according to its ceremonies, he was anxious to leave the members of the Establishment bona fide exactly as they now stood, he would not interfere with them at all; no human being, a member of the Church of England, having expressed any objection to its rites; he did think it unjust, in giving relief to the Dissenters, unnecessarily to interfere with what gave universal satisfaction to a church. At the same time, he had no hesitation in saying, although the avowal might possibly subject him to the disapprobation of some, that the arrangement he also wished simultaneously to be made was one which would give entire relief and satisfaction to the feelings of the Dissenters. He wished to see Dissenters placed on the same footing as the members of the Church of England; he wished to see their religious ceremonies held, in point of law and practice, as of equal obligation with those of the members of the Church. He believed this Bill would effect that object. Indeed, it appeared to him. that this Bill possessed an advantage over that which he had introduced, because, requiring as it did, that in almost all cases the ceremony should be performed in places of worship, it certainly appeared to give an additional sanction to the contract of marriage. The words proposed by his right hon. Friend were intended with the view, not of wounding the feelings of the Dissenter, and requiring from him any religious test which could be considered as a mark of the slightest inferiority, but to guard against the possibility, in giving relief to the Dissenter, of interfering with the practice of the Church of England, which gave entire satisfaction to its members. As the Bill now stood, the Attorney-General had stated, that it was not the intention to interfere with the rights of the Church of England, and the object of his right hon. Friend's proviso was merely to guard against the embarrassment which might possibly arise in certain cases, the members of the Church remaining precisely as they now stood, bound to conform to rites with respect to which they had expressed no dissatisfaction; that the religious ceremony of the Dissenter should be equally respected, and all should join in discouraging, or at least in not encouraging, exemption from the religious ceremony. He saw no connexion whatever between the amendment of his right hon. Friend and the proviso contained in the 18th Clause, with respect to which the noble Lord had announced his intention to strike it out of the Bill altogether rather than agree, in consistency with the proviso the noble Lord had introduced into the Bill, to the amendment of his right hon. Friend. Now, he did not think there was any occasion for anticipating the dilemma contemplated by the noble Lord. If his right hon. Friend's proposition were negatived, the noble Lord would have an opportunity of fighting manfully in defence of his own proposition, and he hoped the noble Lord would not on that occasion be shamefully deserted by those who sat behind him. But he hoped the disagreeable alternative would not be presented to them, and he ventured to prophecy that the noble Lord would be enabled success" fully to resist his right hon. Friend's sug- gestion, and then to rally round him powerful body in defence of his own proposition. That was his prophecy; but the noble Lord, before committing himself, might at least have waited until the painful dilemma had occurred. In fact, there was no necessary connexion between the two propositions, and there were many persons who might dissent from his right hon. Friend, and still cordially approve of the proposition of the noble Lord. What, he asked, was the proposition of the noble Lord? It stood thus:—We invite you to perform the religious ceremony—we tell you, members of the Church of England, that it is open to you to be married according to the rites of the Church; and with respect to you, Dissenters, we will register your places of worship, and respect your religious ceremony. But there may be a limited class, whose conscientious scruples are so excessively fastidious that no church, no chapel, no Dissenting meeting-houses, no registered place of public worship will please them; and we say to you, you also shall have an opportunity of being married; our wish is to encourage the religious ceremony, but not to enforce it; and therefore all we ask of you is, to say, that you dissent from the Church of England. Anything more reasonable, by way of respect for other men's religious opinions, he could not very well conceive. Could any man deny, taking an enlarged view of society in general— could any man deny that it was for the benefit of the public at large that the marriage contract should be enforced by the religious ceremony, and that the policy of the Legislature should be to encourage it? He, for one, was prepared to give his assent to the proposition of his right hon. Friend; but, at the same time, he did not think that those who objected to it were involved in the slightest contradiction if they still declared their wish to afford some encouragement on the part of the Legislature to the religious contract. This was a matter in which the Church of England had no separate interest. If, therefore, the clause proposed by his right hon. Friend should be rejected, he still hoped, without any reference to party considerations, there would be a prevailing feeling in favour of the very mitigated and qualified enactment of the religious contract afforded by the noble Lord's proviso, superadded to the civil one, so that the noble Lord would be enabled to main- tain the clause he had adopted without compulsion on his own deliberate opinion, because the suggestion of his political opponent was founded in truth and justice.

Mr. Townley

said, that whatever might be the fate of the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, he hoped the test in the 18th Clause would be excluded, because it was most offensive to those for whose benefit the Bill was said to have been intended. He should certainly oppose that part of the clause in question.

The House divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 132:—Majority 64.

List of the AYES.
Alsager, Captain Hogg, James Weir
Arbuthnott, hon. Hugh Jackson, Mr. Sergeant
Ashley, Lord Inglis, Sir Robt. H.
Bagot, hon. William Irton, Samuel
Baring, Francis Knight, Henry Gaily
Bolling, William Knightley, Sir Charles
Borthwick, Peter Law, hon. C. Ewan
Bramston, Thomas W. Lincoln, Earl of
Calcraft, John Hales Lowther, John Henry
Chichester, Arthur Mahon, Lord Visct.
Clerk, Sir G. Norreys, Lord
Codrington, C. W. Packe, Charles Wm,
Cole, Lord Viscount Palmer, George
Compton, H. Combe Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Duffield, Thomas Peel, Edmund
Dunbar, George Perceval, Colonel
Egerton, Sir Philip Pigot, Robert
Egerton, Lord Francis Praed, W. Mackworth
Estcourt, T. Price, Richard
Estcourt, T. Pringle, Alexander
Finch, George Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Follett, Sir William Rushbrooke, Colonel
Forbes, William Russell, Charles
Gaskell, Jas. Milnes Scarlett, hon. Robert
Gladstone, Thomas Shawart, hon. Fred.
Gladstone, W. Ewart Sheppard, Thomas
Gordon, hon. W. Sibthorpe, Colonel
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Trevor, hon. Arthur
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Hale, Robert Blagden Twiss, Horace
Halford, Henry Wilbraham, hon. B.
Hamilton, Geo. Alex. Wynn, rt. hon. C. W
Hay, Sir John TELLERS.
Hayes, Sir E. Samuel
Henniker, Lord Ross, Charles
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Goulburn, Sergeant
List of the NOES.
Adam, Sir Charles Bentinck, Lord Geo.
Aglionby, Henry A. Bernal, Ralph
Agnew, Sir Andrew Bewes, Thomas
Ainsworth, Peter Bish, Thomas
Andover, Lord Visct. Blake, Martin Joseph
Angerstein, John Blamire, William
Bagshaw, John Bowring, Dr.
Bainies, Edward Brady, D. Caulfield
Balfour, Thomas Bridgeman, Hewitt
Bannerman, Alex. Brocklehurst, John
Barnard, Edw. Geo. Brodie, Wm. Bird
Brotherton Joseph Marsland, Henry
Buller, Edward Morpeth, Lord Visct.
Campbell, Sir J. Morrison, James
Cavendish, hon. C. Mostyn, hon. Edw.
Cayley, E. Stillingfleet Mullins, Fred. W.
Chalmers, Patrick Murray, rt. hon. J. A.
Childers, J. Walbanke Nagle, Sir Richard
Clive, Edward Bolton O'Connell, M. J.
Colborne, N W. Ridley O'Loghlen, Michael
Collier, John Palmerston, Lord Vis.
Cookes, T Henry Parker, John
Cowper, hon. W. F. Parrott, Jasper
Crawley, Samuel Pattison, James
Dalmeny, Lord Pease, Joseph
Dillwyn, L. Weston Pechell, Captain
Donkin, Sir Rufane Pelham, hon. C. And.
Duncombe, Thomas Pinney, William
Dundas, hon. T. Plumptre, John P.
Ebrington, Lord Visct. Potter, Richard
Etwall, Ralph Poyntz, W. Stephen
Euston, Earl of Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Ewart, William Rolfe, Sir R. Monsey
Ferguson, R. Rooper, J. Bontoy
Fergusson. rt hon. R. C. Rundle, John
Fitzroy, Lord Charles Russell, Lord J.
Fitzsimon, Nich. Russell, Lord
Folkes, Sir William Ruthven, Edward
Forster, Chas. Smith Seymour, Lord
Gaskell, Daniel Sheil, R. Lalor
Gordon, Robert Smith, R. Vernon
Grey, Sir George Smith, Benjamin
Hardy, John Steuart, Robert
Hastie, Archibald Stewart, P. Maxwell
Hawes, Benjamin Stuart, Lord James
Hawkins, J. Heywood Talbot, J. Hyacinth
Hay, Sir A. Leith Talbot, C. R. Mansell
Hector, Cornth. John Talfourd, Mr. Serg.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Thomson, rt. hon. C. P.
Hodges, Thos. Law Thompson, Colonel
Hodges, T. Twisden Thornely, Thomas
Horsman, Edward Trelawny, Sir William
Howard, Philip H. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Howick, Lord Visct. Tulk, Charles Aug.
Hutt, William Villiers, C. Pelham
Jephson, Chas, D. O. Wakley, Thomas
Johnstone, J. J. H. Wallace, Robert
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Warburton, Henry
Lennard, T. B. Wason, Rigby
Lennox, Lord George Williams, William
Lennox, Lord Arthur Williams. W. Adams
Lister, E. Cunliffe Wilson, Henry
Lushington, Dr. Winnington, Sir T.
M'Leod, Roderick Winnington, H. J.
M'Namara, Major TELLERS.
Maher, John
Marjoribanks, Stewart Baring, Mr.
Marshall, William Stanley, Mr.
Mr. Warburton

said, that after the intimation given by the noble Lord, and the decision which the House had come to on the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge, he should content himself with simply moving the omission of the declaration contained in the 18th Clause.

Lord John Russell

said, that after the advantage which had been taken of the words of that declaration, and the inferences which had been drawn from its introduction by the hon. Gentleman opposite, he could not but feel that the words were contrary to the general principle of the Bill, and, therefore, not wishing to sanction any deviation from its principle, he thought it would be much better to omit them altogether.

Mr. Estcourt

thought the clause as it now stood in the Bill ought to remain unaltered.

Sir Robert Inglis

maintained, that he had not intended to bring any charge of inconsistency against the noble Lord for having introduced into the Bill a proviso contained in the 18th Clause. He only wished to urge the adoption of his right hon. Friend's clause, in order to bring the provisions of the Bill in harmony with each other.

Mr. Goulburn

was anxious to point the attention of the House to what must be the state of marriages, with respect to the Church of England, if this proviso were adopted. As the Bill at present stood, including this proviso, there was nothing to prevent the son or daughter of any member of the Church of England from contracting the most imprudent marriage, and having it celebrated without any-religious ceremony whatever, or in a Dissetting meeting-house. That was an evil. It opened a door within the pale of the Church of England for the contraction of marriages civilly and in a clandestine manner. But if this proviso were removed, they would go a step further, and declare that marriage migh be contracted in contempt of every religious ceremony which heretofore had sanctified it, and in this way any individual who wished to seduce a girl might go with her at once to the superintending registrar, the sanctions hitherto surrounding marriage being entirely dissolved, and marry her in a clandestine manner.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill—Ayes 67; Noes 108:—Majority 41.

Declaration struck out.

List of the AYES.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Balfour, Thomas
Alsager, Captain Bentinck, Lord G.
Ashley, Lord Bolling, William
Bagot, hon. William Borthwick, Peter
Bramston, T. William Irton, Samuel
Calcraft, John Hales Knight, Henry Gally
Colborne, N. W. R. Knightly, Sir Charles
Compton, H. Combe Law, hon. Chas. Ewan
Dillwyn, L. Weston Lincoln, Earl of
Duffield, Thomas Lowther, John Henry
Egerton, Sir Phillip Mahon, Lord Visct.
Egerton, Lord Francis Norreys, Lord
Estcourt, T. Packe, Chas. William
Estcourt, T. Palmer, George
Finch, George Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Forbes, William Peel, Edmund
Forster, Chas. Smith Perceval, Colonel
Gaskell, Jas. Milnes Pigot, Robert
Gladstone, Thomas Plumptre, J. P.
Gladstone, W. Ewart Praed, W. Mackworth
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Price, Richard
Goulburn, Mr. Serg. Pringle, Alexander
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Hale, Robt. Blagden Rushbrooke, Colonel
Halford, Henry Russell, Charles
Hamilton, G. Alex. Scarlett, hon. Robert
Hardy, John Shaw, rt. hon. Fred.
Hay, Sir John Sheppard, Thomas
Hayes, Sir E. Samuel Trevor, hon. Arthur
Henniker, Lord Trevor, hon. G. Rice
Herries, rt. hon. J. C Wilbraham, hon. B.
Hogg, James Weir Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
Jackson, Mr. Sergeant TELLERS.
Inglis, Sir Robert H. Clerk, Sir George
Johnstone, J. J. H. Ross, Mr.
List of the NOES.
Adam, Sir C. Ferguson, R.
Aglionby, H. A. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Angerstein, J. Fitzsimon, N.
Bagshaw, J. Folkes, Sir William
Baines, E, Gaskell, D.
Barnard, E. G. Gordon, R.
Bernal, Ralph Grattan, H.
Bewes, J. Hastie, A.
Bish, T. Hawes, B.
Blake, M. J. Hector, C. J.
Blamire, W. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J
Bowring, Dr. Hodges, T. L.
Brady, D.C. Horsman, E.
Bridgeman, H. Howard, P. H.
Brocklehurst, J. Hutt, W.
Brodie, W. B. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Brotherton, J. Lennard, T. B.
Buller, E. Lennox, Lord G.
Campbell, Sir J. Lennox, Lord Arthur
Cavendish, hon. C. Lister, E. C.
Cayley, E. S. Lushington, Dr.
Chalmers, P. M'Leod, R.
Childers, J. W. M'Namara, Major
Clive, E. B. Maher, J.
Collier, J. Marjoribanks, S.
Cowper, hon. W. Marshall, W.
Crawley, S. Marsland, H.
Dalmeny, Lord Morpeth, Lord
Donkin, Sir R. Mostyn, hon. E.
Duncombe, T. Mullins, F. W.
Dundas, hon. T. Murray, rt. hon J. A.
Ebrington, Lord Nagle, Sir R.
Etwall, R. O'Connell, M. J.
Ewart, W. O'Loghlen, M.
Palmerston, Lord Talbot, J. H.
Parker, J. Talfourd, Sergeant
Parrott, J. Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.
Pattison, J. Thompson, Colonel
Pease, J. Thornely, T.
Pechell, Captain Trelawney, Sir W.
Pelham, hon. C. A. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Potter, R. Tulk, C. A.
Poyntz, W. Stephen Villiers, C. P.
Rolfe, Sir R. M. Wakley, T.
Rooper, J. B. Wallace, R.
Rundle, J. Warburton, H.
Russell, Lord Wason, R.
Ruthven, E. Williams W.
Seymour, Lord Williams, W. A.
Sheil, R. L. Wilson, H.
Smith, R. V. Winnington, Sir T.
Smith, B. Winnington, H. J.
Steuart, R.
Stewart, P. M. TELLERS
Stuart, Lord J. Hay, Sir And. Leith
Talbot, C. R. M. Stanley, E. J.

On the question that the Bill do pass,

Sir Andrew Agnew

rose to ask the hon. Member for Leeds, if his present vote were consistent with his speech on the occasion when the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, introduced his bill to the House, which bill the hon. Member approved of.

Mr. Baines

said, it was consistent. He had approved of the bill of the right hon. Baronet, but he had slated at the time that he should have liked it better if it caused the civil contracts to be accompanied with a religious ceremony. He now supported the Bill of the noble Lord, because he thought it went farther towards the attainment of his wish in that respect, than the measure of the right hon. Baronet —[an Hon. Member, "Not by law."] No not by law, but he was so certain, that the civil contract would be seldom unaccompanied by a religious ceremony that he felt satisfied.

Sir Robert Peel

It was just the kind of Bill which was at total variance with the course pursued by the hon. Gentleman last year. The objection of the hon. Gentleman to the bill which he then introduced was, that it did not impose on Dissenters the necessity of a religious ceremony. ["No, no," from Mr. Baines.] He would read to the House the hon. Gentleman's speech made upon that occasion.— Mr. Baines wished to unite his tribute of acknowledgement to the right hon. Baronet at the head of his Majesty's Government, for the friendly spirit towards the Protestant Dissenters in which this measure was conceived, and for the clear and satisfactory manner in which he had conveyed his sentiments to the House. He did not think that there would be felt amongst the Protestant Dissenters any objection to the bill, as far as related to constituting marriage a civil contract, or to the registration of their marriages through the medium of the magistrates; but there might be objections to some of the details; though those he hoped might, without much difficulty, be removed. He was afraid that there might be a jealousy created throughout the community, by requiring that the marriages of some should be celebrated by a religious ratification, whereas with others that it should be only a civil contract. To give the greater solemnity to marriage in all cases, he thought that some religious service ought to be ingrafted upon the civil contract, and that the service should be performed by the minister of the religious body to whom the parties were attached." Did he propose that? He did not go that length. All he asked was, if the party should object to the religious rite, they should precede their entering on the contract by stating that they did so object. That was all. The hon. Gentleman thought they ought to have had by law a religious contract superadded to the ceremony. His words were—"To give the greater solemnity to marriage in all cases, he thought that some religious service ought to be ingrafted upon the civil contract, and that the service should be performed by the minister of the religious body, to whom parties were attached." By his Bill, he left the parties at full liberty to take that course. It was left altogether voluntary, He must say, as the Bill now stood, it did a positive injustice to the members of the Church of England. He was desirous throughout to give full satisfaction, and afford not only a full remedy for every grievance, but believing that no remedy would be effectual unless it consulted the fastidious feelings of Dissenters, he was desirous of seeing them fully respected. But the Bill had now assumed quite a different aspect, and while it provided for the relief of the Dissenter, passed a gratuitous and most intolerable insult on the feelings and principles of the members of the Church of England. The noble Lord had, out of his own good feeling, introduced this clause under the impression that it would be more comfortable to the feelings of the religious part of the community, both of the Church of England and the Dissenters; Hansard (Third Series) vol. xxvi. p, 1097, he had now, at the instigation of those behind him, abandoned it. He was satisfied that the course which the noble Lord had pursued was without precedent on the part of one who attempted to be the leader of that House.

Mr. Baines

said, that he had not suggested that there should be a legal obligation. The word "law" was not introduced into the Bill. He had expressed, and still felt, an anxiety that the marriage rite should be attended, and he believed that, under the provisions of this Bill, it would be attended in almost every case, with a religious ceremony. That feeling he entertained then, and that feeling he entertained now. He should not have thought so humble an individual as himself entitled to obtrude his opinions on the House, had they not been brought so prominently forward. With respect to the Bill now passed, he would say it was a Bill calculated to give content and satisfaction to a body of persons who had at all times been anxious to enjoy the privileges to which they were entitled, but it deprived the members of the Established Church of no privilege which they now possessed. Did hon. Members mean to deny that? Would not members of the Established Church be at liberty to go to Church to have their marriage solemnized as before? The noble Lord was much more able to defend his own conduct than he was, and, therefore, he (Mr. Baines) would not trouble the House by attempting it.

Mr. Arthur Trevor

wished to ask the hon. Member for Leeds, if, in sober earnestness, he conceived that no wrong was done to the members of the Established Church by allowing their sons and daughters to marry by mere civil contract—that was to say, to allow the son of any gentleman in England to marry the housemaid by civil contract?

Mr. Baines

replied, that if the son of a gentleman chose to marry the housemaid, he was at quite as much liberty to do so in the Church as in any other place.

Mr. Handley

observed, that the hon. Member for Leeds had held himself out as the representative of the Dissenters. He was surprised, indeed, that the organ of a body to which he knew that many conscientious and religious men belonged, should stand up in his place the advocate of a measure which would enable not only the sons of members of the Established Church, but the sons and daughters of Dissenters, to leave their places of worship in order to contract a clandestine marriage, and go to the office of a registrar, they being presumed to have some religious impressions from having attended a place of worship all their lives, and yet the registrar not being permitted to ask them why they came there, and what objection they had to be married in a place of worship belonging to their own religious body.

Dr. Bowring

thought, that the Dissenters would feel deeply grateful to the noble Lord for his conduct to-night.

The Earl of Lincoln

said, that however grateful the Dissenters might be to the noble Lord, he was quite sure that the members of the Church of England would feel anything but grateful. Agreeing with his right hon. Friend below him in the exposition he had made of the consequences of the omission of these words— looking to the most extraordinary and unprecedented conduct of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, which he would take the liberty of saying was unworthy of a Member of the Government, or of a Member of that House—after his desertion of a clause which he had himself, on his own responsibility, introduced; and after this violation of the principles which he had himself professed with reference to this Bill, he should feel that he was wanting both to his own principles, and to those of the Established Church, if he did not move that the passing of this Bill be postponed to this day six months. He agreed with the principle of the Bill as originally introduced; but he thought, that by the omission of the words in question, the Church of England was placed in the situation of an inferior, and he must therefore press his motion.

Lord John Russell

said, that the noble Lord having been pleased to cast a censure on his conduct, he really thought himself obliged to remind the noble Lord of what he seemed to have wholly forgotten— namely, that the Bill which he now proposed to be passed, was in the same shape and on the same principle as the Bill as originally brought in. If he had introduced such a proviso as that which was just left out—if he had laid much stress on it, and said that he thought it was a necessary part of the Bill, then perhaps the noble Lord might have been justified, in that state of the facts, in using the terms which he had employed. But the noble Lord had supposed that to be a fact which was not so. He having introduced the Bill in the same form in which he now proposed that it should pass, a discussion arose in Committee, in the course of which it was suggested that this Bill might be offensive to the members of the Church of England, and a course was proposed by which this objection might be in a great degree obviated. In compliance with this suggestion, although it made no part of his original proposal, and though he would have been well content to go on with the Bill without such an alteration, he introduced a proviso to obviate the objection he had mentioned. Far from realizing his expectations, however, the result had been directly contrary to what he anticipated, since, instead of obviating objections, instead of conciliating those who had hitherto declared themselves the opponents of the Bill, it was declared that if that proviso were introduced, a further proviso was necessary, and one which put an end entirely to the efficiency of the Bill. When he found himself thus disappointed in the effect which he wished to produce, when he found that the proviso was objected to by many of his own Friends, objected to by many Protestant Dissenters, as being, in their opinion, contrary to that religious freedom, of which he and they had ever been the steady supporters—was he, then, to maintain it in the Bill, not to conciliate those who had declared that they were not conciliated by it, and who appeared to make it a mere groundwork for destroying and vitiating the Bill? He did not consider himself in the least bound, however reasonable he might think the proviso in itself, to adhere to it, and he had therefore determined on restoring the Bill to the shape in which it originally stood. If he was justified in proposing the Bill to the House in that shape, and in stating that these were the principles on which he wished to found it, he was equally justified now, at the last moment, in supporting it on the same principles, and with the same provisions which it at first contained.

Mr. Estcourt

thought that the Bill imposed great hardships on the members of the Established Church. He thanked his noble Friend for making the proposition which he had offered to the House.

The House divided on the original question; Ayes 104; Noes 54: Majority 50.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Sir C. Lushington, Dr.
Aglionby, H. A. M'Leod, Roderick
Ainsworth, P. M'Namara, Major
Angerstein, J. Maher, John
Bagshaw, J. Marjoribanks, S.
Baines, E. Marshall, William
Baring, F. T. Marsland, H.
Baring, E. G. Mostyn, hon. E.
Bentinck, Lord G. Mullins, F. W.
Bernal, Ralph Murray, rt. hon. J. A,
Bewes, T. Nagle, Sir Richard
Bish, T. O'Connell, M. J.
Blake, M. J. Palmerston, Lord Vist.
Blamire, W. Parker, John
Bowring, Dr. Parrot, J.
Brady, D. C. Pattison, J.
Bridgeman, H. Pease, J.
Brocklehurst, J. Pechell, Captain
Brodie, W. B. Pelham, hon. C. A.
Brotherton, J. Potter, R.
Buller, E. Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Cayley, E. Rolfe, Sir R. Monsey
Chalmers, P. Rooper, John Bonfoy
Childers, J. W. Rundle, J.
Collier, John Russell, Lord J.
Crawley, S. Ruthven, Edw.
Dalmeny, Lord Seymour, Lord
Dillwyn, L. W. Sheil, R. L.
Donkin, Sir R. Smith, R. V.
Duncombe, T. Smith, Benj.
Ebrington, Lord Vis. Saanley, Edward
Etwall, Ralph Stewart, P. M.
Ewart, W. Stuart, Lord J.
Ferguson, Rob. Talbot, C. R. M.
Fitzroy, Lord Chas. Talbot, J. Hyacinth
Fitzsimon, N. Talfourd, Mr. Serg.
Folkes, Sir W. Thomson, rt. hon. C. P.
Forster, Charles S. Thompson, Colonel
Gordon, R. Thornely, T.
Grattan, H. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Grey, Sir G. Tulk, C. A.
Hastie, Archibald Villiers, C. P.
Hawes, B. Wakley, T.
Hector, C. J. Wallace, Robert
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Warburton, H.
Hodges, T. L. Wason, Rigby
Horsman, E. Williams, Wm.
Howard, Philip H. Williams, W. A.
Hutt, William Wilson, Henry
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Winnington, H. J.
Lennard, T. B.
Lennox, Lord George TELLERS.
Lennox, Lord A. Steuart, Robert
Lister, E. C. Hay, Sir A. L.
List of the NOES.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Compton, H. Combe
Alsager, Captain Duffield, T.
Ashley, Lord Egerton, Sir P.
Bagot, hon. W. Estcourt, T.
Balfour, T. Finch, George
Boiling, William Forbes, William
Borthwick, Peter Gaskell, J. Milnes
Bramston, T. W. Gladstone, Thomas
Calcraft, J. H. Gladstone, W. E.
Clerk, Sir G. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Goulburn, Mr. Serg. Perceval, Col.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Plumptre, J. P.
Hale, R. Blagden Praed, W. M.
Halford, H. Price, Richard
Hamilton, G. A. Pringle, A.
Hayes, Sir E. S., bart. Rae, Sir William, bt.
Henniker, Lord Ross, Charles
Hogg, James Weir Rushbrook, Colonel
Jackson, Sergeant Scarlett, hon. R.
Inglis, Sir R. H., bart. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Irton, Samuel Sheppard, T.
Knight, H. G. Sibthorpe, Colonel
Law, hon. C. E. Trevor, hon. Arthur
Lowther, J. Hen. Wilbraham, hon. B.
Mahon, Lord Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
Packe, C W. TELLERS.
Palmer, George
Peel, Sir Robert, bart. Lincoln, Earl of
Peel, Edm. Estcourt, Thos.

Bill passed.