§ MR. KNATCHBULL - HUGESSEN
asked the Secretary of State for the 226 Colonies (with reference to an answer given by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies on the 18th of January last), Whether the Bill passed by the Colonial Legislature of Western Australia for legalising marriage with a deceased's wife's sister, which, having been amended according to the suggestions of the Law Officers of the Crown, was received at the Colonial Office on the 22nd of October 1877, has now received Her Majesty's Assent, and, if not, what is the reason of the delay; whether a similar Bill has been received from Natal, and whether the Royal Assent has been given to such Bill; and, whether similar Bills have been received from any other Colonies besides those whose Bills have received the Royal Assent?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
Sir, the Bill passed by the Colonial Legislature of Western Australia for legalizing marriage with a deceased's wife's sister has received Her Majesty's Assent. No similar Bill has been received from any other Colony except Natal, and the Royal Assent has not been given to that measure. It was the first occasion on which a South African Legislature had passed such a Bill; the measure was opposed by considerable and increasing minorities on its various stages, and was finally only carried by the Speaker's casting vote. Under these circumstances, I did not consider myself justified in advising Her Majesty to sanction the establishment for the first time of a different law in Natal from the rest of South Africa on a subject like marriage, as to which it is obviously important that the law in neighbouring communities should be uniform, and which was, doubtless, on this account included by the South Africa Act of 1877 among the subjects to which the legislative authority of the Union Parliament should extend, in the event of the union of the South African Colonies under one Government. The matter is, therefore, left open for further consideration in the Colony.