HC Deb 05 March 1856 vol 140 cc1928-30

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he would now beg to move the second reading of this Bill, which was almost identical with a Bill which had passed the House last Session. Its object was to remove the objections felt against what wore called "workhouse marriages;" and it would do that by substituting an advertisement to be put up in the Registrar's Office for the notice now read before the board of guardians. It also proposed to allow a marriage by a licence, procured from the Registrar, to be celebrated one day, instead of a week, after the granting of such licence. The object of the Bill, in short, was to put Dissenters' marriages on exactly the same footing as the marriages of Churchmen, both as regarded expense and every other particular.


said, that the Bill, as it now stood, would not carry out the hon. Gentleman's wishes. While a dissenting minister might refuse to allow a marriage to take place in his chapel, the clergyman of the Church of England would be compelled to celebrate any marriage for which the Registrar's certificate had been obtained. This had been felt as a serious hardship by many clergymen, and last year words had been inserted to place them on the same footing as dissenting ministers; but those words were not in the present Bill.


said, the words in question had been put into the Bill during its passage through Committee, and their insertion was the reason why the Bill did not pass, because it was considered in another place that clergymen would be relieved from certain legal liabilities, which were now incumbent upon them, and from which it was not proper they should be released.


said, he believed that the objection to the words had been taken by the Registrar General; and for what reason he really could not possibly understand. If a person regarded marriage only as a civil contract, the law allowed him to go before the Registrar; but if he wished to be married at church, what conceivable reason was there why he should not submit to those canonical rules which had been laid down with regard to giving notice? This matter had been pointed out to the hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill last year, and he had at once inserted words to give to clergymen the same privileges in this respect as to dissenting ministers.


said, that unless the act of justice now demanded were done in Committee he should oppose the further progress of the Bill; for he did not quite understand the new doctrine of religious liberty which had been propounded that night, namely, that Dissenters should have everything they asked for, and Churchmen nothing.


said, that if he understood the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) to say that the mere insertion of the words in Committee would be fatal to the measure, he (Mr. Gladstone) should be inclined to vote against the second reading at once.


said, that it would be quite open to any hon. Member to propose to insert what words he pleased in Committee. What his noble Friend said was, that those words having been inserted last year, the House of Lords refused to assent to the measure; and it had, therefore, been brought in now without them.


said, he must deny that the House of Lords refused to go on with the Bill; it was the noble Lord on the woolsack who had done so.

Bill read 2°.

The House adjourned at half after Five o'clock.