HC Deb 28 May 1840 vol 54 cc687-8

Mr. Langdale moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend the Marriage Act. By the existing law a party was obliged to be married in the district for which he obtained a certificate of residence; but it often happened that there was no place of worship in the locality, and he meant to propose that no registrar should give a certificate of marriage out of his district, but that he should have the power, if a party proved that there was no place of religious worship in his district, to permit the marriage in the nearest place in which there was.

Mr. Goulburn

did not wish to oppose the motion, but he warned the House that they should be careful in tampering with existing law.

Mr. Shaw

thought there was some danger by the proposed legislation of throwing a doubt on the validity of past marriages.

Dr. Lushington

assured the right hon. Gentleman there was not the least ground for any such alarm.

Lord John Russell

said, that after what had fallen from his right hon. Friend, there could be no doubt upon the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The words of the act were to the effect that after a marriage had been solemnized, it should not be necessary to give proof of residence. With respect to the bill proposed to be introduced by the hon. Member, he conceived there could be no objections at the present stage. He believed the case to be as the hon. Gentleman had stated, and that for some time after the act had passed, it was supposed that the law was actually as the hon. Gentleman now proposed to make it. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in what he had said with respect to the validity of marriages, and trusted that the hon. Gentleman would consider well the definition of the word "near," whether it might not be taken to mean places within a certain distance. It appeared necessary that some limits should be fixed.

Leave given.