HC Deb 08 August 1871 vol 208 c1087

asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether his attention has been directed to the report of a case recently decided in the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, that of "Smith v. Reeves falsely called Smith," in which decree of nullity of marriage was pronounced because the bans had been published in the name of John Smith, the plaintiff's real name being John James Smith; whether such a state of the Law does not appear to him to demand reform; and, whether the intervention of the Law Officers of the Crown as public prosecutors is not called for in such cases, when the misrepresentation of the name has been made wilfully, and for the purpose of concealment?


, in reply, said, he fancied there must be some inaccuracy in the recital given in the Question; but he admitted that our Marriage Law required re-consideration, and for his views on the subject he would refer the hon. Member to a speech two Sessions ago by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), in the greater part of which he entirely concurred. As to the intervention of the Law Officers of the Crown in such a case as that named, the Law Officers were not public prosecutors; a Bill had been introduced to make the Attorney General one, but it had not passed. All Government prosecutions were instituted by the Home Office, and not by the Law Officers of the Crown.