Sir R. Ferguson
wished to put a question to the right hon. the Home Secretary in regard to a subject which had given rise to considerable discussion and anxiety in the north of Ireland—he alluded to the question of the legality of Presbyterian marriages. The House would be aware that that question had been adjudicated upon in the house of Lords, on an appeal from the decision of the courts of law in Ireland, but they might not possibly be aware that great difference of opinion existed among those who pronounced judgment on the appeal—the Judges and three law Lords having given an opinion against the validity of such marriages, whilst two other law Lords had decided that they were valid. The question he had to put was, whether there was any objection on the part of the Government to lay the judgments which had been given by the House of Lords, for the present and last Sessions of Parliament, on the Table; and, secondly, whether Government had 533 made up their minds to proceed to legislate, and, if so, in what manner, on this important subject?
§ Sir James Graham
replied, that the hon. Baronet had rightly stated the opinions of the English Judges, and of the law Lords, relative to the subject of Irish Presbyterian Marriages. He was quite ready to acknowledge that it would be very desirable that the judgments in question should be laid upon the Table of the House, therefore, if the hon. Gentleman moved for them there would be no difficulty in the way of their presentation. As to the second question, he agreed with the hon. Baronet that it was impossible to overrate the importance of the subject. No final judgment had been yet pronounced upon the subject, but upon consideration of all the circumstances, his belief was that the judgment of the Irish Courts would be confirmed. In that case, it was certainly the opinion of Government that legislation would be indispensable. He knew that it was the intention of his colleagues in the other House of Parliament to propose the re-appointment of the Committee of that House which sat upon the subject last Session. It would ill become him to state what would probably be the course of proceeding adopted by that Committee, but he would state that the fullest consideration would be given to the facts of the case, and to any legislative measure which might be proposed.