HC Deb 04 July 1854 vol 134 cc1090-1

said, that since the Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill came down to the House of Commons, another Bill had been introduced to the House of Lords relating to the questions of matrimony and divorce—a branch of the same subject that fell within the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts; and it was not improbable that another Bill would be brought in with regard to Church discipline next year. These three measures would embrace the greater part of the matters affecting the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts. He wished to know, therefore, if the Lord President of the Council thought it right to proceed with the Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill this year, and if it would not be advisable to have all the Bills relating to the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts before the Houses of Parliament prior to legislating upon any part of that question?


said, that since he had been last asked respecting this question, he had communicated with the Lord Chancellor upon the subject; it had also been considered by the Government. The Lord Chancellor had introduced to the House of Lords a Bill on the subject of divorce. With respect to Church discipline, however, no Bill had been prepared, though undoubtedly it was a matter that would receive early consideration. He found that there was much difference of opinion with regard to the nature of the Court to which these matters should be referred—whether to a branch of the Court of Chancery itself, or to a separate Court, although not altogether resembling, the present Ecclesiastical Courts. These questions were undoubtedly of very great importance, and, considering the late period of the Session, Government had arrived at the determination not to proceed with the Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill. With respect to the Divorce Bill, he believed the Lord Chancellor proposed to make some alterations in that measure, as there was a part of it founded upon the Report of the Divorce Commissioners, which had no reference to Ecclesiastical Courts or ecclesiastical jurisdiction in matters of real property. It was, indeed, a separate question, and the Lord Chancellor was of opinion that it should be treated separately; but he reserved any decision on that part of the question for the present.