HC Deb 18 April 1888 vol 324 cc1605-68

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)

said, that in moving the second reading of the Bill he did not desire to detain the House at any very great length—firstly, because it was no new subject, and he did not wish to deal with it in any narrow spirit, but on the broad ground of right and justice; and, secondly, because he knew there were many hon. Members of the House who desired to speak upon it, particularly his hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. O. V. Morgan) and his hon. Friend the Member for West Wolverhampton (Sir William Plowden), who had got Bills on a cognate subject with regard to India and the Colonies. Holding, as he did, that the Act of 1835 was entirely unjust, he thought it was the duty of those who supported the restriction now in force to show why that restriction should continue in Great Britain, when in every other country there was freedom of marriage between a widower and his deceased wife's sister. He believed—and he thought everyone in the House believed—that a marriage between a widower and his deceased wife's sister was neither against the Divine Law nor against the law of Nature, and he did not see why it should be forbidden by a simple human enactment. He did not suppose his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt), who was going to move the rejection of the Bill, would go into the old arguments of the much controverted texts of Scripture. Those texts were fairly abandoned in the debate which took place in 1884 on the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst). On that occasion they heard very little about those texts, and Colonel Milne-Holme, who seconded the rejection of the Motion, distinctly stated that he gave them up, and did not depend in the slightest upon them. He (Mr. Heneage) had said before, and he said again, that he did not see why those texts should ever have been depended upon, because if they affected anybody they must have affected those who relied upon the Old Testament solely—he meant the Jews themselves—and these marriages had always been sanctioned and encouraged by Jews, as they had also been encouraged by Mahomedans, in obedience to the Mosaic Law and to tradition. Now, what was the case in regard to these marriages previous to 1835? Marriages with deceased wives' sisters were constantly entered into. They were perfectly legal and in accordance with the Common Law. They were very seldom interfered with; very seldom any objection was taken to them. He was perfectly aware that such marriages were voidable if they were impeached, but they were not void at Common Law. A man might marry his deceased wife's sister and have a large family and die, and yet his widow would be looked upon as his legitimate widow and his children would be regarded as his legitimate children. Therefore, under the Common Law of the land, these marriages were for all intents and purposes relied upon as not likely to be impeached. They were entered into more or less under the 32nd of Henry VIII. There it was distinctly enacted that no reservation or prohibition, God's law excepted, should trouble or impeach any marriage without the Levitical degrees; and why was the Act of 1835 brought in? It was brought in because there was a considerable doubt with regard to the Canon Law, and to prevent these marriages being impeached, because it was disagreeable to some persons who had great influence at that time. The object of Lord Lyndhurst in bringing in that Act was not to forbid these marriages, but to prevent them, after a certain time, being impeached—to prevent a man who had married his deceased wife's sister having the fear of impeachment from the day of his marriage to the day of his death. But the Bill was considerably altered in the House of Lords, and it was a very curious fact that, whilst the Bishops were willing to validate past marriages, they desired by Statute to make all such marriages in the future illegal. He supposed that by doing so they in some way appeased their consciences. Surely this was most inconsistent on their part. If they considered that the marriages were against God's Law and against the Canon Law, they ought never to have been any parties to have allowed an Act to be passed which would render past marriages of this kind legal; and if they believed such marriages were against the Common Law, why did they want an Act? Why were they willing to make such a miserable compromise in order to get a fresh Act placed on the Statute Book? He, therefore, maintained that for all practical purposes those marriages previous to 1835 were always allowable, and were contracted without any offence, and with very general consent amongst all classes of the people. But since 1835 there had been a different state of things; and he thought it was right to say that the House of Commons, to its credit, had no part or parcel in the wretched compromise which had been made. In the first place, they entirely repudiated this iniquitous and illogical bargain, and it was only on account of the late period of the Session—it was then August—that at a conference the House of Commons agreed to accept the Bill. They accepted the Bill, however, distinctly as a temporary Act, and on the condition that the whole question would be brought up again for consideration in the next Session of Parliament. The law was never accepted by the nation, and such marriages went on at the rate of 500 a-year, in spite of the Act, amongst most respectable classes of society, amongst people who had no other fault than that they desired to do what they believed was best for their children, and what they believed was in accordance, not alone with Divine law, but with the moral law. He knew that, in stating facts which occurred 50 years ago, he might be told that he could have no personal knowledge of them. It was true he had no personal knowledge of these facts, but he had gained it, as other hon. Members might, by referring to the debate which took place in the House in 1842, only seven years after the passing of the Act. Lord Francis Egerton, speaking with thorough knowledge of everything that had taken place, and in proposing the second reading of a Bill similar in almost all respects to that which he (Mr. Heneage) had the honour to have charge of, used these very important words— It is upon the records of this House that an agreement was made and a distinct understanding implied by all, and acknowledged most distinctly by those who spoke upon it, that the law was passed in its present shape, in consequence of the lateness of the period (August) of the Session of 1835; and it was distinctly understood and expressed that those who consented to it did not do so upon full and due deliberation of its ultimate bearings, but that it was a subject which called for further inquiry and consideration, and something almost like a promise was held out at an early period of the next Session that consideration should be given to it. Further on in his speech, and speaking with regard to the effect of the Act of 1835 upon all classes in the country, Lord Francis Egerton said— This law did not go forth with the authority of law consistent with the feelings of the Christian and Protestant communities of Europe—it did not carry with it that weight which secures to the statutes the obedience of all but the avowed and profligate law-breakers. I tell this house that that statute has subsequently been resisted and evaded by men of a very different description from such professed and profligate law-breakers, and I believe that I am entitled to say that it has been evaded to a large extent by men of all classes in this country, by persons of education, and by persons who had no other moral slur or taint upon their character. Lord Francis Egerton was a man who knew what had been going on. He was a Member of the House and knew well the feelings of the country, and, therefore, he was entitled to be heard upon the question. But this expression of opinion of Lord Francis Egerton did not stand alone. As he (Mr. Heneage) had just now said, these marriages were taking place at the rate of 500 a-year, and the dissatisfaction throughout all classes in the country was so great that the Government in Office in 1847 were compelled to grant a Royal Commission to give full consideration to the whole question. Over this Royal Commission a very eminent Bishop presided, and it was recorded by them that they were fully satisfied that the Act had not had any effect in stopping these marriages, which, as he (Mr. Heneage) had said, were going on at the rate of 500 annually, and being contracted by persons of the highest standard of morality. But the Royal Commissioners did not confine themselves merely to this statement, because they said further in their Report that they considered that the feeling against these marriages was in a great measure founded rather on a vague and uninformed assumption that they were prohibited by God's Word than on a mature examination of the Scriptures or the law of the Church, and they were constrained to express the belief that the Statute had failed to attain its object, and also to express their doubt whether any measure of a prohibitive character would be effectual. He ventured to say that Bishop Lonsdale and his brother Commissioners were driven to this conclusion by the fact that these marriages had increased throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles from 500 to 1,000 annually. He contended that if this Bill were passed it would be of very great benefit to the poor and labouring classes. He might quote Cardinal Newman and Bishop Philpotts in support of that view, and here he might say that, although he was in charge of the Bill to-day, he had no personal interest in the measure, neither was he connected with any associations for the reform of the Marriage Laws. He seconded the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham in 1884; and in 1886 he was requested by many Members of the House—and especially by those Members who had great pressure placed upon them, those who directly represented the labouring classes—by his hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham, his hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt), as well as by Mr. Arch and others—to take charge of this Bill. He had always considered that this measure would confer greater benefit upon the labouring classes than upon any others, because, if there was one thing which struck magistrates, it was the bad effect of stepmothers upon children. He believed that the very best stepmother a child could have was the sister of its own mother. It was for that reason, more than any other, that he had taken great interest in this question for so many years past. But what was the present state of affairs with regard to this law? In all foreign countries, Protestants, Nonconformists, and Roman Catholics alike, allowed that these marriages were legal. These marriages were allowed to be contracted in every country except in the British Isles. In the United States they were legal; in Russia and in Germany they were legal; and although in France the Roman Catholics had to obtain the dispensation of the Pope, still such marriages were recognized as legal when once the dispensation of His Holiness had been procured. He did not suppose there was anyone in the House who would maintain that if marriages could be contracted with the dispensation of the Holy See they were illegal. If they were illegal, they could not be so contracted. It was only a question of their requiring that dispensation in the same way that mixed marriages required the dispensation of the Pope. He did not think that anyone would be prepared to say that mixed marriages were in any way illegal because they required that permission. In India the Protestants alone were prohibited by law from marrying a deceased wife's sister. The Natives contracted such marriages, and the Roman Catholics, under a recent decision, were permitted to contract such marriages. In the Colonies for years the different Legislatures had been passing laws legalizing these marriages, and such laws, when they had been passed, had received the Assent of the Queen in Council, and he asserted that that Assent would not have been granted if it was known that the marriages were illegal or against the Divine Law. But what a curious position the Colonists were in now if they came to England with their wives and children! Their wives were no longer recognized as their wives, and their children were no longer recognized as their legitimate children. As a matter of fact, a Colonist who had been married for years could on setting his foot on these shores at once abandon his wife and family and leave them to pauperism. At the Conference last year which was held at the Colonial Office there was a very strong and unanimous opinion expressed as to the desirability of recognizing, for all purposes, the validity of these marriages duly sanctioned by the Crown under the advice of the responsible Minister; and he thought the Colonists had a fair right to ask that that should be the case. These mar- riages were now contracted in 9,000,000 square miles of the British Empire, and in the British Isles alone were they illegal under the Act of 1835. He thought he had fairly shown that the law had never been accepted by the British people, and that these marriages took place still with the full sanction of public opinion. He went further, and asserted that they were right, and that they were of great benefit, especially to the poorer people. He believed that they would conduce in rural parishes to morality; and he was quite certain that they would be a very great advantage to the children who were, unfortunately, deprived of their mothers. The question was a very much larger one now than it was a few years ago on account of the Colonial aspect; but he would not enter upon the Colonial part of the question now, because the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. O. V. Morgan) had a Bill upon that question, and the hon. Gentleman was desirous of speaking specially upon that subject. They had also got the revised edition of the Old Testament, so that he thought the Scriptural argument against the Bill must now be entirely abandoned by its opponents. He asked the House to pass the second reading of this Bill in a spirit of justice, and to thereby get rid of what he could not help calling the corrupt and iniquitous bargain of 1835, by removing a restriction which was not justified either by the Divine or moral law.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Heneage.)

MR. SALT (Stafford)

said, he rose to move the rejection of the Bill; but he wished at once to say that in whatever he should say he should be guided by no feeling of bigotry or hostility to those who differed from him. He frankly acknowledged that there were difficulties in this case; indeed, he would go further, and say he had considerable sympathy with those persons who had themselves, for one reason or another, felt the law to be in any way hard. He must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) upon the moderate tone of his speech, but he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would quite understand him when he thought that his arguments were such as he could not altogether accept; he certainly could not accept the right hon. Gentleman's facts. Now, he not only appealed for quiet and friendly argument with those who differed from him on this question, but he argued that this was a question which might be considered in no Party spirit. For that appeal the circumstances of the time were exceptionally convenient. The Whig Party was a thing of the past, and if there were still any hon. Gentlemen calling themselves Whigs they were merely the ghosts of a departed enterprize. The Liberal Party was divided against itself, and the Conservative Party might be made the subject of a description which would be interesting, but which would take up too much time now. There was no single Party in the House which of itself commanded a majority, so that the moment was exceptionally favourable for asking men in all parts of the House and of all opinions to approach a subject of this character entirely apart from Party feeling. There was something to be said for an institution which, in fact, existed. He acknowledged that existence was not, like possession, nine points of the law, but existence was something; because, unless a law or custom or institution was so manifestly bad as to be condemned on all sides, there must be some reasonable ground given if it was to be discontinued. But if in regard to any particular institution or custom it was possible to go much further, and to say that such a law had been founded by the most deliberate opinion of persons responsible and capable of forming a judgment, and of acting upon it; if it had been, after consideration, accepted by men of great knowledge and of great authority; if it had been accepted by many societies in many countries; and if, further, it had become so far the custom and the law of the country that it had been embodied in the habits and ideas of the people; and if it was further shown that under such a law society had flourished and domestic purity had been established, then he said that law and custom stood upon a rock, and ought not to be altered without very strong reason. He was going to quote, and he hoped the House would forgive him if he quoted many authorities, in favour of the law which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Heneage) sought to change. The quotations were very interesting, because, although they varied on certain points, they all tended to one result. He would turn first to the law of the Church of England. The Church of England in its 99th Canon stated— No person shall marry within the degrees prohibited by the laws of God and expressed in a table set forth by authority in the year of our Lord, 1563, and all marriages so made and contracted shall be judged incestuous and unlawful, and consequently shall be dissolved as void from the beginning, and the parties so married shall by course of law be separated. And the aforesaid table shall be in every Church publicly set up and fixed at the charge of the parish. That was a well-known Canon of the Church of England, and that Canon was the law of the land, and had been such for very many centuries; it was the law of the land even before this Parliament existed. That was a very strong position, and it had been accepted and understood by the people. Under that law the people had lived, and under it they had been contented. He would now refer to a different Body altogether. Some hon. Members of the House considered that the Church of England was extremely bigoted and behind the times, but the law as laid down by the Presbyterian Church was just as distinct. What he was about to read was interesting, because it was the deliberately formed opinion, not of ecclesiastics only, but of laymen also assembled in council. The Westminster Confession of Faith said— Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word of God, nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties so as those persons may live together as man and wife. The man may not marry any of his wife's kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own; or the woman of her husband's kindred nearer in blood than her own. The Westminster Confession of Faith was drawn up by a Conference of ecclesiastics and laymen between the years 1643 and 1647, and it was accepted by all the Presbyterian Churches. He took another Body of Christians, a Body for whom he had the greatest respect—namely, the Wesleyans. The Wesleyans were guided, as hon. Members knew, by certain Minutes passed in the Wesleyan Conference, and in the year 1841 three or four Minutes were passed, of which he would only read two. The Minutes were interesting, and they tended in the same direction as the quotations he had already made. The Minutes were— That on the great New Testament principle of submission 'to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake' the Conference is solemnly of opinion that the members of our societies are bound by the law of Christ to conform themselves in all arrangements concerning marriage to the institutions of their country; and especially because in the very form of their enactment there is a national recognition of the authority of the Divine Will, as made known to mankind in the Holy Scriptures. And— The Conference, moreover, deems itself now called upon to declare that it is by no means comely nor of good report for members of our societies to repair to certain parts of the United Kingdom or to foreign countries, in the hope of there finding facilities for contracting marriages within the prohibited degrees, and without any intention of fixing their permanent residence in those countries. That rule, as he had been informed after careful inquiry, was still in existence. The Wesleyan Conference was a Body for whom he had—and he had no doubt many hon. Members had—most sincere respect. Now, he took another Society of Nonconformist Christians, not so important as the Wesleyans, but still a Body whose history was one of very great interest and of no little importance in the annals of our country. Here was a Rule which was taken from The Book of Christian Discipline of the Society of Friends, and which was passed, he believed, in 1811— This meeting is of the judgment that as compliance with the laws of the land in cases wherein conscience is not violated is an acknowledged principle of Friends, the Society cannot, consistently with this principle, allow in our meetings the passing of marriages which are not authorized by the law on the subject, and which are included in the degrees of consanguinity or affinity prohibited thereby. The law of the Quakers was similar in this respect to that of other religious denominations. This regulation was passed quietly and deliberately, under no political excitement, and under no religious excitement: it was the result of the calm judgment of liberal-minded men, capable of forming an opinion and of understanding the question with which they had to deal. Now he turned to another great Body, a Body of enormous influence and weight in regard to this matter. The Body was of great importance in respect to this question because their influence and their power were not confined to this country, or to one country alone, but extended to all the countries of the world—he, of course, spoke of the Roman Catholics. He had here a letter which was written by Cardinal Manning and publicly read in 1882. He had been in communication with Cardinal Manning, and His Eminence had given him leave to read any letter of this character which he had published, saying that his opinion remained the same. Cardinal Manning put the case very clearly and nakedly. Speaking, of course, upon this subject, he said— Such marriages are prohibited by the law of the Church, and are never permitted except with reluctance and to avert greater evils. The repeal of the prohibitory law which exists in this country would, in my belief, multiply indefinitely such marriages, and, what is still more to be deplored, break down one of the most vital securities for the sanctity and happiness of homes. He (Mr. Salt) was bound to say he believed it was not the opinion of the Roman Catholic Church that these marriages were prohibited by the Divine Law, but that they were prohibited by the law of the Church, and that, he contended, was a very powerful authority in such a matter as this. Now he went to another Christian Church, of which, of course, they did not hear so much in this country, but still a Christian Church of enormous power and influence in the countries where its opinions prevailed—he spoke of the Eastern Church. He had in his possession a copy of a letter written by the Chaplain to the Russian Embassy in 1847. It was a simple statement of the law of the Eastern Church. The writer said— In reply to your inquiry concerning the marriage of a widower with his deceased wife's sister, I have the honour to inform you that such a marriage shall be judged by the Eastern Catholic Church as unlawful, and cannot take place under any circumstances; and if so unlawfully contracted, the parties shall, by course of law, be separated under certain ecclesiastical penances. That was perfectly distinct, and that law still existed. He might quote the laws of other Christian Churches. The Calvinists in 1567 declared— Let no man marry his brother's widow, nor any woman him who With her sister's husband. The Lutheran Church about the same time took the same view. In the Church of Holland, the translators appointed by the Synod of Dort in 1618–19 inserted this marginal note to Leviticus xviii., 16:— From this law it necessarily follows that a woman who has been married with one brother may not after his death marry with another brother; and, upon the same principle, a man who has been married to one sister may not after her death marry the other sister. He now took the Reformed Church of France. By the Ninth Canon of The Book of Discipline, adopted in 1559, that Church said— It is not lawful for any man to marry the sister of his deceased wife; for such marriages are prohibited, not only by the laws of the land, but by the Word of God. He (Mr. Salt) had to say, without wishing to guide the conscience or the action of any individual, that that was a tremendous consensus of opinion on the part of all the Christian Churches of the world. He now had recourse to quite another kind of evidence—he left Christianity and appealed to heathenism. It would be instructive to see what view one of the greatest heathen Empires in the world took of this question, and he would quote an authority which would not be accused of bigotry. Gibbon, in page 210 of Vol. IV. of his well-known History of the Roman Empire, said— The profane lawgivers of Rome were never tempted by interest or superstition to multiply the forbidden degrees, but they inflexibly condemned the marriage of sisters and brothers; hesitated whether first cousins should be touched by the same interdict; revered the parental character of aunts and uncles, and treated affinity and adoption as a just imitation of the ties of blood. That was a sentence written in Gibbon's peculiar style, but it showed clearly enough the laws which were passed in the time of Justinian, and threw considerable light upon the view that very able Ruler took of the social aspect of the question. He passed from the Emperor Justinian and Gibbon on Roman History to another period of history much nearer our time. He had here one authority which was especially interesting and perhaps instructive. It was the Code Napoleon, a Code which was passed in 1805, and passed by a man who, whatever else might be thought of him, had enormous administrative ability. It happened that in 1792, some 12 or 13 years before the Code was adopted, a law had been passed legalizing in France, so far as the Civil Law went, marriage with a deceased wife's sister. In 1805, when Napoleon and his advisers came to consider the laws of the country and to codify them in what was known as the Code Napoleon, they altered this law. And why? Because the alteration of the law in 1792 had proved to be so disastrous and so unsatisfactory. Napoleon altered the law on the distinct statement that the law of 1792 had brought trouble. in families, and was the chief cause of the demands for divorce then before the Courts. That was the statement of the Minister of Justice. Another gentleman—Councillor Maleville—who was present at the time, declared that all the Courts of Justice in France testified against these marriages. Now that was very strong evidence, because it showed not only the result of the change, but also the opinion of a very great Ruler. He would now go to the authority of the British Parliament, and must quote as an argument in his favour the decision which was come to in 1835. He entirely disagreed with his right hon. Friend in the description he gave of the Act of 1835. Very able men had pronounced their opinion upon the subject. Lord Hatherley and Lord Cairns spoke upon this subject, and it appeared to him that the view they expressed seemed to be confirmed by the whole course of English history, both ecclesiastical and civil. It was this—that these marriages always had been void, and that Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1835 was not to interfere with the legality or illegality of these marriages, but to deal with the operation of the Ecclesiastical Courts, which had become exceedingly inconvenient. The marriages were void, but the property of the children depended upon the action of the Ecclesiastical Courts. In fact, the Ecclesiastical Courts in England had some idea in their operation, such as that he had mentioned in regard to the Eastern Church where penance was inflicted, though he did not say that penance was carried out in this case. That he thought was the idea, and the operation of the Ecclesiastical Courts with regard to property naturally belonging to Civil Courts had become so inconvenient that Lord Lyndhurst took the opportunity of doing away with the ecclesiastical authority in this matter altogether and dealing with the matter as a civil one, seeing that these marriages by the Civil Law were void for the purposes of property. These marriages were always void, but Lord Lyndhurst's Act had not to do with the legality or illegality of the marriages as marriages. If they would read the Act carefully they would see that what that Act pointed at was the property of the children. It intended to declare that these marriages were void and always should be void with regard to property. That was the point, and that was what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Heneage) and his advisers would not see. They said that this law related to marriage as it related to property. He did not want to give a lecture upon law, but what he wanted to do was to quote the Act for his own purposes. He maintained that the year 1835 was a year something like the present time, inasmuch as it closely followed upon a great Reform Bill; a time of great progress and change made men's minds prepared for change, and willing to accept change even of the most startling character. At that particular time a Liberal Minister, Lord Melbourne, was Prime Minister, and when the Act was passed the statesmen of the day did not take the opportunity of removing the disability from these marriages, as they very naturally might have done if they had thought it well to do so. The Act of 1835 was not the creation of a new illegality; but it was a distinct confirmation of an old illegality. That, he contended, was the character of that Act, though, of course, he did not expect everyone to agree with him. Now, how did this matter stand? He desired to put before the right hon. Gentleman what he had to get over before he could prove his case. The right hon. Gentleman had got some very difficult cases to deal with; he must prove that many men had in the past been wrong, Emperors, Statesmen, Ecclesiastics, Divines, Laymen—men who on several occasions gave their deliberate opinion on the subject, an opinion which was to have the force of law, and which was given under no excitement, political or otherwise. The right hon. Gentleman had also to show that many important assemblies had been wrong, many Councils, Conferences, and Parliaments. The Act of 1835 was not the only Act of Parliament which condemned the proposal the right hon. Gentleman now made. He thought it was a very strong case against the alteration that the opinion of many countries, many men, and many assemblies was opposed to the change suggested. But, leaving those authorities, he went to another and more difficult part of the question, and that was the Biblical argument. Of course, this was not the place in which it was desirable to occupy much time with an argument of that kind, but he had had communications from persons who were interested in this matter referring him especially to the well-known verse, the 18th verse of the 18th chapter of Leviticus, in which it was said that a man must not marry his wife's sister to vex her in her lifetime. He was bound to say that a weaker argument for a great change when a law had existed for centuries could scarcely be found than the arguments which was founded upon that particular passage. In the first place, it was an argument founded only upon implied permission, and that implied permission was all but contradicted by other parts of the same chapter, because the greater part of the prohibited degrees in Leviticus were degrees of consanguinity and of affinity. Moreover, if that verse were accepted as it stood in the authorized version, to give even a weakly implied permission to contract marriages of this kind, they must also accept the very strongly implied permission of polygamy. If this Bill were founded upon the 18th verse of the 18th chapter of Leviticus the right hon. Gentleman—if he wished to be logical—must insert in it a clause permitting polygamy as well as these marriages. He did not altogether speak unreasonably about that, because he had a letter among his papers describing a gentleman who did take exactly that view, and it was a perfectly logical view. That gentleman, he believed, was opposed to all restrictions upon marriage. But he was bound to say, with regard to the Biblical argument, that they ought not to rest themselves upon this particular verse and chapter of Leviticus, but upon the whole tone and character of the Bible. He confessed he had looked at the matter very carefully, and when he first looked into this argument with a view to the discus- sion of it, he had great doubts about the strength of the Biblical argument. He looked at it with quite an open mind—indeed, he was inclined to take the view which was taken of it by his Roman Catholic friends. But as the result of his inquiry he was bound to say—and it would not be right that he should take up the time of the House by showing why he arrived at the conclusion—that the result of his inquiry into the teaching of the Bible, and the peculiar circumstances in which the Levitical Law was given—religious, social, and political—was that there was a very strong Biblical argument against these marriages. That was his conviction, and he gave it for what it was worth. Certainly, the opinion he held very decidedly after careful consideration was held by many great and good men in the country. Now, there was another matter on which his right hon. Friend had touched, and on which he very naturally touched, and that was the position of the Colonies, and the Acts which the Colonies had passed. The right hon. Gentleman laid some stress upon the Queen having given consent to certain Acts passed by the Colonies. He (Mr. Salt) supposed that if Parliament ever passed this Bill the Queen would give her consent. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that that was a very poor argument indeed, and that it was an argument which really ought not to be used, because it imposed on people who did not know any better. It was not intended to have that effect, but it absolutely did have, because it made people who did not know better say—"Oh, the Queen and the Ministry have been spending hours in discussing this question, and they have at last given their consent to the change in the law." But, of course, the right hon. Gentleman knew as well as he did that the Queen would never withhold her consent from an Act passed by the Colonies, especially one affecting their own social arrangements, except in the most unusual and extraordinary circumstances.


said, that that was hardly the argument he advanced. He argued that the subjects of the Queen were placed in a very unfair position by being allowed to contract certain marriages under a law which had received the sanction of the Queen in the Colonies, and that when they came to this country they found themselves in the position that the wives were not considered wives, and that the children were not considered legitimate children.


said, he had both the pleasure and advantage of hearing the right hon. Gentleman, who distinctly laid stress on the fact that the Queen consented to these marriages. That was one point—what the right hon. Gentleman had just said was quite another point. He frankly acknowledged it was a strong argument, and it was, no doubt, an inconvenience that there should be one law in the Colonies on this subject and another law in this country; but he reminded the House that there were many laws and many customs which existed in the Colonies which were by no means applicable to our ideas or requirements. He really saw no reason at all why, because a law was passed for the Colonies, we should ipso facto accept it. But, if that was his argument, the right hon. Gentleman did not go nearly far enough, because it was clear that if they were to say that because such and such law prevailed in the Colonies, or in any particular Colony—this law did not prevail in all the Colonies, but it did prevail in the most important Colonies—if the right hon. Gentleman said that because a law prevailed in the Colonies, therefore they were bound to pass the same law for the people of England, he must obviously bring an overwhelming argument to show that the law was beneficial and advantageous in the Colonies, and better in all respects than the law which existed in this country. But the right hon. Gentleman contented himself with a simple statement. He accepted the right hon. Gentleman's statement as evidence of his opinion, and he accepted it as tolerably fair in fact—it was not absolutely accurate in fact. If the right hon. Gentleman wanted them to adopt the Colonial Law, let him show not only that the law was good in the Colonies, but also good for us, and bettor than the law which prevailed in this country for our purposes. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Colonial Conference last year, and said that the decision of the delegates was in favour of an alteration of the law in this country. But there must have been two different reports of the same transaction; the information he had received was exactly contrary to that of the right hon. Gentleman. The matter was discussed, and either he or the right hon. Gentleman must have been afflicted with blindness or deafness, for he had got a very different report to the right hon. Gentleman. The matter was discussed at the Colonial Conference on the 14th of April of last year. There were 21 Colonial Representatives present, and out of this number only six were in favour of the change in the law. Sir Alexander Campbell, the Representative of Canada, said— The same feeling which actuated the Canadians in altering their law induced them to respect the feeling of England. Neither he nor his Colleague (Mr. Fleming) had any instructions to represent that the Canadians desired any change in the law. They had altered their law to suit their own position, and were quite willing that the people of England should retain theirs until they saw a necessity for changing it. They appeared to have got different documents, but he stood by his until he found it was really inaccurate; it certainly was absolutely at variance with the facts in the possession of his right hon. Friend. He might add that the Colonial Law was passed with a full knowledge of the Act of 1835, and of the law which had existed for generations and centuries before, and he could not help thinking that if there was any difficulty our Colonial cousins and friends were uncommonly well capable of taking care of themselves. The Colonists passed the law deliberately; they did it knowing the state of the law of England, and they did it understanding perfectly well what they were about. If any inconvenience arose—which he would deplore as much as anyone—the responsibility was not ours, but theirs. There was one other argument which his right hon. Friend discussed, and upon which he was afraid they could not get further than absolute divergence of opinion. He thought, perhaps, it was rather a divergence of opinion than of facts, although, even in this case, he was not very much enamoured of the right hon. Gentleman's facts. He spoke of the social aspect of the question. He had always voted against this Bill, because he believed it would be a great inconvenience and a great wrong socially. He believed that the passing of this Bill would result not in liberty, but in licence; he believed that real liberty consisted in maintaining the law as it at present stood. It was said in regard to the social aspect that it was a question which nearly concerned the children of the husband, and that the sister of the wife was the natural guardian of the children. He entirely agreed with the statement that the wife's sister was, in some cases—for instance, when the husband had no unmarried sister—the natural friend and guardian of the children; but if she was the friend and guardian of the children, and if supporters of this Bill wanted to make out their case, they must prove, and prove with some considerable certainty, that the sister-in-law or the aunt would be a better guardian of the children when she was also their stepmother. He happened to have among his papers a very interesting statement by a working man, who had made very great inquiries in this matter, and he said he knew of two cases—one in which the wife's sister married the husband, and then the children of the former marriage were very shortly afterwards turned out-of-doors; and in the other case, of a similar marriage taking place, the children refused to accept the aunt as mother. He (Mr. Salt) confessed he did not see why the aunt should be regarded as a better guardian if she married their father than she was before. They might say that this was especially a case for working men. Again he agreed it was; but, acknowledging and feeling as strongly as possible that it was a case of interest especially to working men, he had arrived at exactly a contrary conclusion to that of his right hon. Friend. He had some authority for this opinion, because a meeting of working men was held on the subject not very long ago. He would read a sentence or two from the speeches of two of the speakers. He was not responsible for the language if it was at all vigorous. The meeting was a meeting of the Church of England Working Men's Society, held in August, 1884, at the Cannon Street Hotel. One man said— As far as this Society was concerned, whose members were all bonâ fide working men, they would do everything that lay in their power to prevent this obnoxious Bill being passed into law, and to expose the hollowness of the arguments brought to bear on this question by those who had charge of this Bill. Another speaker said— The assertion that the working classes were demanding this measure was simply humbug. It had not the slightest foundation in fact; and he went on to say that the law was passed for the convenience of certain rich men. He (Mr. Salt) gathered, from people who had taken considerable trouble in ascertaining the opinions of working men in the different parts of the country, that they objected to a change in the law upon the ground that they considered the present law right; because they considered the change intolerable and wrong; because they considered that a good guardian in the person of the aunt would be turned into a bad guardian in the person of the stepmother; because they considered the relationship of brother and sister-in-law would be destroyed; and they maintained that further changes would follow, such as marriage with nephews and nieces, and so forth. People who had inquired into the number of these marriages had found that many other marriages against the Law of Affinity had been contracted. For instance, it was found that a man had married his wife's daughter; that another man had married his brother's wife; and that another man had married his own sister. He should say that in ascertaining the number of these illegal marriages of affinity and consanguinity it had even been found that many kinds of marriages had been contracted—not only marriages with a deceased wife's sister; and this circumstance would supply an argument rather against than in favour of the Bill. There was another part of the social question which he would urge, and that was the rights of women. He felt very strongly that it would be most unfortunate if they took any step whatever to go back on the history of the world, and put a widow in a less honourable position than she occupied at the present moment. No suggestion had been made by the right hon. Gentleman that a wife should marry her brother-in-law. Any change in the position of the woman in this respect, any retrograde step which would affect the beneficial position that woman had acquired under the influence of Christianity and civilization, would, he thought, be most unfortunate in the interests of family and family ties. He thought it would be a great misfortune to many families if they deprived them of the happy relation of sister-in-law. A wife's sister was received into a family exactly on the same terms as a real sister. If this law were passed that beneficial relationship must pass away for ever. He need not describe what would happen; but it was obvious to everyone what would be the effect to his own happy English home—whether it be a rich or a poor one—if the sister-in-law no longer could come into the house to live on easy terms. Much had been said about hardship, but they must not argue as though every man were burning to marry his sister-in-law. It was nothing of the sort; the real hardship would be this if they passed the Bill—that whereas they might satisfy 2,000 or 3,000 persons, there were thousands and hundreds of thousands of families into which it would introduce, as experience had shown, a now element of doubt and distrust. He was afraid he had wearied the House by addressing it at such length; but as he had never spoken on this subject before he was anxious to say what he had to say. He thanked the House very respectfully for their kind indulgence. He objected to this Bill for the following reasons. First of all, that there was a great consensus of opinion on the part of responsible authorities, deliberately given, and of all the leading Christian Churches. Secondly, that the law, as derived from the teaching of the Old and of the New Testament, appeared to be against the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. Thirdly, that he believed that laxity in this matter would be far more injurious to true liberty, social progress, and domestic happiness than restriction, and was not wished for by the people. Fourthly, because he deprecated any retrograde step respecting the social right of woman; and, fifthly, because the law as it stood was a custom acknowledged and respected for many generations and centuries. He contended that the law ought not to be changed without very great cause being shown, and upon the grounds he had assigned he moved the rejection of the Bill.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Salt.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)

said, he had no fault to find with the spirit in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had addressed his remarks to the House; but, at the same time, he could not help thinking that the hon. Gentleman had seemed to carry them back to the days of the thumb-screw and faggots. The hon. Member's ancient authorities in favour of retaining the law as it stood at the present moment were really astounding. He had told them the opinions of Churches and Churchmen and Conferences, and of distinguished men at home and abroad, and the hon. Member had put it to them that surely all these authorities could not be wrong. Well, that did not at all follow, and those authorities—brilliant as they might be—were very likely indeed to be wrong. It had been proved over and over again that Parliament had been wrong at some time or other. As to the Church and Convocation, and all the other institutions whose opinions the hon. Gentleman had quoted, they were one and all close assemblies in which the voices, opinions, and desires of the people had no hearing and no advocacy. When they came to the House of Commons—where all opinions were ventilated and all classes were represented—they found a different state of affairs, for the House of Commons had always been dead against the theories and opinions which the hon. Gentleman had enunciated. He was informed that during the last 50 years there had been something like 70 Divisions in the House on the present Bill, and in all of them the result had been majorities in favour of the measure. Only four years back, on the last occasion on which the subject was before the House, when he had had the honour of moving the Motion, the proposal was carried by a majority of 111, which majority was made up of hon. Members on both sides of the House. Happily, it was not a political question, but was a subject on which they all had their independent opinions, paying no regard whatever to Party prejudices. If the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford meant to say that the other branch of Parliament had decided adversely to the views of the supporters of the measure, then he agreed with him; but, at the same time, he would like to ask him what representative capacity the other House of Parliament had in the country? It was a body of landowners and Churchmen. The Church was strongly represented there by the voice of the Bishops, but the voice of the people was never heard, and, unfortunately, little regard was ever paid to it. The hon. Member had quoted the opinions of some persons who, he said, were working men, upon this point; but it would have been far more interesting to the House if he had given them the opinion of the working men in his own constituency upon the question. The next time the hon. Member spoke upon this subject, would he be kind enough to give them the opinion of his own constituency? The hon. Member had quoted the opinions of the Established Church, and also the opinion of a body called "The English Working Men's Church Defence Society," whose headquarters were not, he thought, situated in the Lon. Gentleman's constituency.


desired to say that since he bad been a Member of the House of Commons he had only received one communication with reference to this subject from his constituents, and that single communication was not in favour of relaxing the law, but of making it more restrictive. It was true that some persons representing the Society promoting the Bill had been canvassing in his constituency without his knowledge or consent, and had been asking approval of the measure by means of sending out postcards.


Yes; but the hon. Gentleman, it must be noticed, had not told them the result of that canvass.


said, the result was that a very large number of his constituents answered the post cards in favour of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), but they did it upon statements and arguments which were thoroughly one-sided. The ingenuity of the secretary to the Society by which the Bill was promoted was made manifest in the matter of those postcards; but he did not think that such action would benefit the cause. No cause advocated in that way was likely to be benefited, for, to his (Mr. Salt's) mind, the action of that gentleman went near indeed towards being a breach of Privilege. He did not mention this in his speech, as he did not wish to say anything derogatory to any Society with which the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Bill might have acted. The conduct and character of the Society in question, and the way in which its business was conducted, was very peculiar.


said, that the hon. Gentleman had now been led to make the admission that there were a considerable number of favourable replies as the result of the canvass in his constituency.

An hon. MEMBER

A very large number.


A very large number. Yes; and he thought if they put a reasonable and liberal interpretation upon that very large number, it would mean that the replies in favour of the measure were those of a very considerable majority of the hon. Gentleman's constituents. Now, he (Mr. Broadhurst) did not know whether he should be in Order in going into this matter; but the hon. Gentleman had said that the secretary to the Society to which reference had been made had been down into his constituency without his knowledge or permission or leave. Well, he (Mr. Broadhurst) must say that this was the first time he had ever heard a question raised as to the right of an English citizen to enter any English constituency for the purpose of educating it, or of ascertaining public opinion in it upon any subject under discussion in the country. As to its being a breach of Privilege, surely the hon. Member was joking when he wished to represent it as a breach of Privilege for one citizen to speak to another upon a question of this kind. Would the House allow him (Mr. Broadhurst) to give some evidence as to the opinion of the country upon this subject? He had the honour of sitting for three different constituencies in that House in the course of eight years.

An hon. MEMBER

They will not have you twice anywhere.


said, the Hon. Member for Essex was good enough to say that they would not have him twice anywhere; but he would warn the hon. Gentleman to mind that he (Mr. Broadhurst) did not take his seat next. He had the honour of sitting for three constituencies, all of which were typical working class constituencies, and even the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) would not deny that proposition. He had sat first for Stoke. In the Parliamentary borough of Stoke, under the old system, he had received a requisition signed by 25,000 capable persons, requesting him to take this subject up and bring it before the House, as he had been very reluctant to add to his work at that time, and 10,000 of those signatures were those of women of full age. Stoke was within a very short distance of the constituency the hon. Member for Stafford represented, and into it an English citizen had ventured to go without the hon. Gentleman's knowledge and permission in order to discuss this subject. Surely it was a most alarming liberty which had been taken with the town of Stafford, and he (Mr. Broadhurst) had no doubt that the hon. Member and the House would hear more of it before they had finished with this subject. Then he had had the honour of sitting for Bordosley, which was another typical working man's constituency. It would be difficult, perhaps, to find a constituency, consisting more thoroughly of working class, wage-earning people than Bordesley. Well, in that Division there had never bean, so far as he knew, a single protest against this Bill. On the contrary, he believed that the overwhelming mass of the people were in favour of it. He now had the honour of sitting for a still larger constituency, and one composed essentially of the working classes. There were 15,000 voters in the whole of that enormous constituency, and there had never been a Petition, so far as he was aware, presented to the House, or a letter written to any hon. Member, opposing the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby. He would come now to a still larger authority, which had a right to speak for the people on this subject—he referred to the Trades' Union Congress. The Trades' Union Congress was one of the most pure and thoroughly representative institutions of any kind in Great Britain. It was a representative institution elected and paid for by the Trades Unions themselves—and had a right to speak upon trade and social questions for, at least, 750,000 people. Well, that Congress was a non-political body. Trades' Unions were non-political; they did not discuss political questions. There were no party divisions arising at their annual gatherings; but, on the subject of the Bill now before the House, he believed he was correct in saying that every delegate attending the Congress had signed Petitions once or twice in favour of the proposal. It was about 12 months back, within a few days, that he had had the honour of introducing a deputation to the Prime Minister—a deputation consisting of something like 100 trade delegates, coming from all parts of Great Britain—England, Scotland, and Wales. They went to Lord Salisbury to ask him to give facilities—as head of the Government during the last Session—for the passing through the House of Commons of the Bill which his right hon. Friend was moving to-day. He could not imagine it possible to bring more conclusive or more substantial evidence before the House in favour of this proposal than he had done in mentioning the various authorities of which he had spoken. The hon. Member for Stafford based most of his arguments upon the alleged fact—and he (Mr. Broadhurst) feared it was in the main true—that the great body of the Church was opposed to this measure. But they were not all opposed to it. There were some ecclesiastical authorities who had passed the darkness which had surrounded them on this and some other questions, and had now come forward to assert their independence and advocate views which were in harmony with the present day and with the wishes and desires of the great mass of the people. In 1884, when he had the honour of moving the Motion to which he had already referred, he had received a letter from a very great and good man—a Bishop of the Church of England— a Bishop who was then in Now Zealand, but who was still as much a Bishop of the Church of England as was any Bishop resident at this moment in this country. That right rev. Prelate had written him a letter entirely approving of his Motion, and wishing every success to the proposal. He had said— I hold that this is a matter that should be left to a man's conscience. All the cases that have come to my knowledge have been cases in which the proceedings were desirable from every point of view, and in the results have been satisfactory. Surely that opinion should carry some weight with hon. Members who would be otherwise inclined to rely upon Church opinion supporting them in opposition to this proposal. He (Mr. Broadhurst) had a strong desire not to occupy too much time, otherwise it would be easy to quote many other Church authorities, both of eminence in the Church, and also of laymen belonging to the Establishment. The hon. Member for Stafford had spoken very strongly about the opposition of the Catholic Church to this proposal. That might be true partly—he did not think it was as true of the Catholic Church as it was of the English Protestant Church. He was informed on very high authority that where these marriages were contracted in the Catholic Church, and the local priest made application that they might be confirmed, that His Holiness the Pope had seldom, if ever, refused such an application. In France, which he supposed was the most Catholic country of the world—["No, no!"] Well, almost the most Catholic country in the world—["No, no!"] What did hon. Members mean? France professed the Catholic faith, and whatever religion there was in France was Catholic, as the National Church was Catholic. The hon. Member for Essex showed such a determination to oppose the Bill that he was even reluctant to admit well-known and established facts bearing upon it. France, he repeated, was a Catholic country, and he was informed that there were from 1,000 to 1,500 marriages every year in that country of the hind which it was sought to legalize by this Bill. It was incorrect to say, therefore, that the Catholic Church was opposed to the Bill of his right hon. Friend. On the contrary, many great and good Catholics were rather on the side of the promoters of the Bill; and the head of that Church, as he had already stated, did not refuse his sanction when applied to for the confirmation of these marriages. If the facts were as he had stated them, then the argument from the Protestant Church point of view and the Catholic Church point of view fell to the ground, and ought not to be brought forward again in support of the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford. And at this point, in case he should forget it, he (Mr. Broadhurst) should like to enter his earnest and solemn protest against the manner in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford had mentioned this class of marriages. He had mentioned them in connection with marriages which all civilization condemned. He had mentioned them in connection with incestuous marriages and with polygamy. He (Mr. Broadhurst) repudiated the suggestion with scorn. He contended that no hon. Member of the House ought to associate marriage with a deceased wife's sister with the class of marriages with which the hon. Member had associated them, and to which he had referred. It was an insult, a gross insult, and wrong to thousands of men and women who had contracted this marriage, believing it to be good in every respect, and as virtuous and as moral as any marriage that could be entered into. Now, he would appeal to hon. Gentlemen to-day to support the Bill, and not to be led away by the fanatical appeals of hon. Members who had opposed it, and who he was afraid were about to oppose it, and whose observations he had no hope of finding in a different strain, or being based upon more reason or having regard to more wisdom than on former occasions. He (Mr. Broadhurst) asked them to do this act of right and justice to many thousands of their fellow-countrymen. Neither the Church of England nor the Westminster Association nor Convocation, nor their conferences nor other branches of Protestantism, had any right whatever to stand between a man and woman in this relationship and wishing to contract this moral and justifiable union. This act of marriage was, perhaps, one of the most sacred acts of our secular life, and, as the Bishop of Nelson had truly said, it was a matter which, so long as it outraged no natural law, should be left entirely to the man's conscience, and to the desire of the man and the woman who were parties to the engagement. The hon. Member for Stafford seemed to imagine that there would be no injustice done by withholding permission for these marriages—that there would be no great harm done by the Bill—that there was no strong desire on the part of widowers to have the sisters of their late wives to act as second mothers to their children. But it was his (Mr. Broadhurst's) opinion, from his experience, that the Bill would be of enormous advantage to people so unfortunately situated. He would ask hon. Members if they could for a moment imagine a poor working man engaged in his business from 5 o'clock in the morning to 6 or 8 or 9 at night away from his home full of difficulties and trials? Tinder the best conditions of life he would ask hon. Members to imagine the position of this poor man when suddenly left with the great care, without a mother, to look after the interests of a large and young family. He would ask hon. Members where such a man could more naturally look for succour and help and guidance and nursing and training for his children, having no means to purchase and provide such training out of his own income—to what quarter and what direction could a man more naturally look than to the family of his late wife? There was no more natural direction, there was no more proper, just, and wise direction in which a man could look for assistance of this kind than towards the relatives of his late wife, and even to take his late wife's sister, if both agreed, into union as a second mother to his family. He did not think there could be any doubt as to the desire of the people on this subject. Parliaments, as the hon. Member for Stafford had said, had denied it; Convocation had denied it; the Westminster Association 300 years back or about that time had denied it and said it was very wrong; and a great many other authorities had denied it as a wicked thing to do. But what did Parliament exist for? What was the justification for the presence of hon. Members in that Assembly unless it was to guidance and help and effect to give the opinions and desires of the people when those opinions and desires were based upon justice and reason? It was the duty of Parliament to give effect to them, and both sides of the House had recognized that duty—neither one side more than the other, but all sections of the House had recognized this duty on 60 or 70 occasions within the last 50 years in carrying the proposal by a majority in the House of Commons, and it was only across the way that hitherto any difficulty existed in the way of this measure becoming law. He sincerely trusted that the House would that day carry the second reading of the Bill by such a decisive majority that it would have its effect on the other House of Parliament, and induce blind and prejudiced opponents of the proposal to suspend their opposition, and allow this Session to register upon the list of its works this great act of right and justice to many thousands of their fellow-countrymen and women.


said, that he regretted the tone of much that had been said by the hon. Member who had just sat down. Many of his observations were calculated to introduce into the debate a tone of bitterness and passion which would be highly undesirable. The subject before them had been so threshed out in successive Sessions of Parliament that it was hardly possible to say anything new upon it. He recognized this, but at the same time he thought it right to reply briefly to the arguments which had been adduced by the supporters of the Bill. The first prominent argument of the right hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) was that the existing law had been extensively disobeyed, and that Parliament should relieve those who had gone counter to the law and place them in the position of legitimate union which they desired to occupy. Such an argument appeared to him to be inadmissible. That people, however high their character, should choose to disregard the law, thereby placing themselves in a position of great difficulty and embarrassment, could not be held to constitute a sufficient reason for altering the law. The case was analogous to those which presented themselves when the Vaccination Laws, for example, were opposed to the feelings of some section of the population or to their conscientious convictions. It did not follow that a law must be altered because it was disregarded by persons whose convenience or scruples it did not suit. The spirit manifested by the Wesleyan Conference was the spirit that ought to govern all law-respecting citizens—namely, that as long as the law was not in conflict with a higher law it ought to be obeyed. Another of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments took the form of an attack upon the legislation of 1835, which he characterized as a corrupt and iniquitous bargain, The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of it as effecting an alteration in the law—as making unlawful marriages which were lawful before. This, however, was a misrepresentation of the facts. The law previously to 1835 was in conformity with the Canon Law of the Western Christian Church. The law was that incestuous marriages were only voidable, the Courts of Law regarding these marriages not so much as acts of which the civil power had a right to take cognizance, as acts which were sinful in themselves, and which the Ecclesiastical Law ought therefore to deal with. According to the practice which grew up in the Ecclesiastical Courts, a suit for the voidance of an incestuous marriage had to be instituted during the lifetime of both parties, the guilty relation being at an end after the death of one of them. This was the principle of the law of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and it applied to a marriage with a sister by blood just as much as to a marriage with a wife's sister. To speak of the Statute of 1835 as altering in any way the previous law of the country was to misapprehend entirely the nature of the change then effected. The recital in the Statute made the law perfectly clear. Whether it was wise or not he did not think it necessary to argue at the present moment, but it was clear that if he was right in stating the purport of the law the right hon. Member had misled the House as to what happened in 1835. The change in that year arose out of what, perhaps, he might call the prejudice then growing up against the Ecclesiastical Courts. The Act made practically no difference in the principle; it simply dispensed with the intervention of the Ecclesiastical Courts. That was the only difference made. Then the next argument was that the deceased's wife sister was "the fittest" successor, the fittest person to take charge of the children, and it was explained that not to allow these marriages was not to allow the advantages which would accrue to widowers. No doubt, any person united in ties of relationship to the children of the dead woman would be more likely to care for them than a strange woman. This prin- ciple would extend to the wife's mother or daughter or aunt. If it was good for one of these degrees of affinity it was good for them all. It seemed to him that in order to secure this contingent benefit they would lose the whole advantage of the affection and assistance of the sister during the lifetime of the wife. They would sacrifice the assistance which a wife's sister gave on all occasions when the wife was unable to attend to her household, and which she was now able to give without reproach or suspicion. All these opportunities and services would be lost and gone. Then the right hon. Gentleman had cited foreign countries, and he went so far as to cite the Natives of India. He was bound to say that a great many of the authorities did not impress him deeply. He did not feel constrained to alter the law because a number of idolatrous Natives allowed unions of this sort. He did not feel constrained to alter it by the example of foreign countries. He could not shut his eyes to the marriages which were now allowed there, and once more the argument of the right hon. Gentleman proved too much. He came more closely to the point when the Colonies were quoted. That was an argument worthy of consideration—that these marriages were legal in the Colonies, whereas, when the parties came here, the marriages were treated as invalid and incestuous. But it must be pointed out that in the Colonies they contracted these marriages with their eyes open. It could hardly be maintained that because Mahomedans practised polygamy, therefore when they came hero all their wives beyond the first should be recognized. They had, as they knew, Mahomedans coming here with more than one wife, but hero the wives after the first were treated as no wives at all. The legitimate wife was the first one. That might be a hardship for the Mahomedan gentleman, but it was a hardship with which there was not much sympathy felt by any Member of that House. But because it was a hardship they did not proceed to alter the law. He thought the hardship of Colonial couples was a very small one, and although the argument based on Colonial practice deserved some weight, it fell far short of the weight which the right hon. Gentleman seemed disposed to attribute to it. He thought, on the other hand, that the weight of the argument was enormously on the other side. The right hon. Gentleman had absolutely misstated the facts as to foreign countries. It was inaccurate to say that in Roman Catholic countries these marriages were lawful. They were prohibited on the ground that they were incestuous. It was perfectly true that with the system of the Canon Law which prevailed in Catholic countries dispensations were granted in rare cases; but except in exceptional cases and for peculiar reasons these marriages were prohibited. Again, when the right hon. Gentleman rested on those dispensations his argument went too far. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst), he imported a passion into the discussion when referring to his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) which was new to the debate. He referred to the working classes, and he said that the passing of this Bill would add to the happiness of their daily life. Here he must differ from the hon. Gentleman. If the argument of authority were appealed to, nobody could deny that the practice and opinion of Christian nations for many centuries had regarded these marriages as illegal. They had been condemned on various grounds, and the argument of authority could be retorted against hon. Gentlemen who supported this Bill with irresistible force. He agreed, however, that it was not conclusive, and that the hon. Member for West Nottingham was entitled, if he thought fit, to treat it with contempt and subordinate the authority of Synods and other Christian Bodies to that of Trade Unions; but when they were dealing with this subject of authority they must not disregard the accumulated opinion of many centuries. Another argument that was adduced by one hon. Gentleman was the condition of the children of these marriages. No doubt, everyone felt the greatest sympathy with those who, through no fault of their own, were affected with a certain amount of social discredit by reason of their parents' acts; but he need not remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite that, in spite of all the arguments that had been brought to bear upon Parliament, the English Parliament had absolutely refused to let into the law the charitable principle that subsequent marriage should make children born before marriage legitimate.


said, that he had only referred to the children of parties who had been married in the Colonies.


continuing, pointed out that this Bill dealt not only with future marriages, but sought to make past disobedience to the law good from the beginning. He believed that the opposition to this Bill rested mainly upon the fact that its opponents believed such marriages to be forbidden by Scriptural or Divine Law. Hon. Gentlemen must be aware that large bodies of sincere Christians did rely upon the Scriptural argument. ["No, no!"] Of course, he did not expect the hon. Member for West Nottingham to agree with him; but he believed the great mass of believing persons in this country relied upon that argument. But it was not an argument that was suitable to the atmosphere of the House, because it depended on difficult questions of interpretation, which could not be discussed in the House, and there was no common basis for argument between those who felt the Scriptural authority and these who denied it. Still, he thought no wise legislator could ignore the existence of that strong religious sentiment. It would be most unwise for the House to shock the religious feelings of so many in order to give even a lawful and permissible liberty to a few. After all, there were plenty of women in the world, and this necessity for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister was not so urgent that it would be worth while, for the sake of securing the right to a few, to shock the honest and conscientious scruples of a large section of the community. The hon. Member for West Nottingham had said that it behoved those who wished to enforce a prohibition to show some reason for it; but he challenged those who supported the Bill to produce any social and secular reasons which were applicable to cases of consanguinity which would not be equally applicable to the case they were now considering. Prohibitions were essential in order to keep family life sweet and wholesome. It was by means of prohibitions that family life, as it existed in this country, was maintained, and in this connection he declined to resort to the example of foreign countries. He submitted to the House the view that the exigency of the social habits and tastes of this country made the husband a member of the family of his wife, and the wife a member of the family of her husband. He believed that Englishmen always regarded their wife's sister as their own sister, and derived from the companionship of their wife's sister all the advantages of family affection. It would be a fatal mistake on the part of the House of Commons to narrow the circle of those family affections from which passion was excluded, and so to put an end to those family relations which had hitherto existed to the infinite advantage of society and social life. If once the prohibition in this case were removed, all impediments of affinity would be broken down. He was not prepared to extend the principle of this Bill to the other cases of affinity. On these grounds he, in his own name only, and not in any sense on behalf of the Government, intended to vote against the second reading of the Bill.


said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt), in his able and moderate speech against the Bill, had furnished one of the strongest arguments for it when he quoted the letter of Cardinal Manning. Cardinal Manning, in that letter, stated that the Roman Catholic Church allowed marriage with a deceased wife's sister, but allowed it with reluctance, and only to avert a greater evil. That statement afforded the very strongest reason for passing the Bill. What was the consequence of the existing state of the law? An enormous amount of immorality—sometimes unconsciously and sometimes consciously—was practised through the operation of the law. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said that they ought not to change the law because men chose to break it. That was, no doubt, a valid argument in a great number of cases—cases in which the law had public opinion beside it; but it was not so in a case where it was opposed to the feelings and wishes of the community, The right hon. Gentleman, throughout his speech, had applied the term "incestuous" to those marriages. He had called them incestuous marriages; yet, at the same time, he had told them that the Roman Catholic Church only forbade them as a matter of discipline, and allowed them by dispensation. If the Catholic Church allowed those marriages, what became of the argument as to their incestuousness? The hon. Member for Stafford had quoted a number of authorities to show that those marriages were incestuous. He had also quoted the Levitical Law. He (Sir John Simon) had believed that arguments against the measure, based on the Levitical Law, had been long ago abandoned. They were certainly abandoned in the last Parliament and thrown over as untenable, and hon. Members who were opposed to the Bill had founded their arguments not on the Levitical Law, but upon social considerations. With regard to the Scriptural argument, he would venture to remind the House that that Levitical Law was given to the Jews as part and parcel of their national polity—not as a mere theoretical expression, but as an absolute, positive law to be practised and obeyed. But what had been the usage of the Jewish people upon the subject?—and he wished the House to remember that that usage had not sprung up in a time of degeneracy and corruption, but at the time when the prophets and the inspired teachers were beside the people to guide and direct them, and to reprove them if they went wrong. The Jewish people were the interpreters, the authorized interpreters, of that law. And what had been their interpretation of it? Those marriage had come down among the Jewish people from those times to the present. When the Royal Commission, in 1847, sat to inquire into the question, the Chief Rabbi, who gave evidence, said, that these marriages were not only not considered as prohibited, but were distinctly understood to be permitted. In answer to another question, the Chief Rabbi said that his experience of Oldenberg and Hanover, before he came to England, was that those marriages invariably proved happy. Passing from the ecclesiastical authorities, he (Sir John Simon) would quote the opinion of a person of eminence, for whose opinion he had a higher respect than for any of the ecclesiastical opinions which had been quoted. He referred to Mr. Justice Storey. He was a great jurist, a man of large, philosophical mind—a man of the world, and acquainted with human life, and not shackled by the miserable pedantry of the schoolmen. Mr. Justice Storey had said that nothing was more common in most of the States of America than second marriage with a deceased wife's sister; and, so far from being doubtful as to their moral tendency, they were amongst the best of marriages, and never in his (Mr. Justice Storey's) life had he heard the slightest suggestion against them founded upon moral or domestic considerations. He thought that that authority was worth all the ecclesiastical authorities which had been quoted. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had said that the purity of our social and domestic life had been established by the present law, and that our social and domestic purity would suffer, perhaps be destroyed, by the alteration of the law. But was the House to understand that there had been no purity of domestic life before Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1835? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said that the law was not altered in 1835; but the right hon. Gentleman had made a distinction without a difference. What was the law before 1835? The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the marriages were not then void, but voidable only, by the Ecclesiastical Courts, in the lifetime of the parties. The Act of 1835 made them absolutely void. They were told that the Canon Law was the foundation of the English law as regarded these marriages, and that upon that law had been built up the domestic purity of England. But what was the Canon Law? The Canon Law upon that subject said that a man's sister-in-law was his sister. The Canon Law might be very wise and very subtle; but the Canon Law in that particular was not true. A man's sister-in-law was not his sister, and to say so was a misrepresentation which he would call a falsehood but that he did not wish to offend any man's feelings. Those marriages prevailed in almost every country in Europe; they prevailed in America; and coming to his own communion, the Jews, they prevailed among them; and there were no people amongst whom domestic life was more free, and at the same time purer, than among the Jews. Social life between a man and his wife's family, with the Jews, began as soon as the man was engaged to the girl. He was received at once as a member of the family, and from that time his intimacy with the family was like that of a relative. He ventured to say that never in his life had he heard of a single instance in which domestic life had become impure or unhappy, or where there had been a suspicion of jealousy on the part of a Jewish wife in consequence of that intercourse, or because of the possibility of a marriage between her sister and her husband after her death. As to the argument that the measure would deprive children of the care of the sister of their deceased mother, he asked hon. Members who had put forward that argument whether public opinion would not be strongly against a sister-in-law who remained long in the house of a brother-in-law after the death of his wife? It was said they had no right to shock the feelings of any considerable number of the community, and he agreed in that opinion; but, on the other hand, the rest of the community ought not to be overridden by a law founded on the Canons of a Church of which they were not members, and which they repudiated. There were, at least, as many Nonconformists in this country as there were Churchmen, and a considerable number of religious-minded men in this country were opposed to this law. He could quote opinions to that effect expressed by Dissenting ministers who were examined before the Select Committee of 1847. Much as he respected the Church of England, he objected to be governed by its Canons. It was the duty of those who supported the prohibition to make out a case for it, for it was the right of every man that he should enjoy complete freedom, limited only by the condition that he should not disturb the freedom and the rights of others. They had no right to interpose between a man and that which he deemed best for his happiness and the interests of his children. Under the present law, a widower, if he desired to marry again, must break off all association with the family of his wife, to whom he might have become attached by affection, and must seek a stranger for his wife, to whom the name of his former wife must never be mentioned. Her memory must be buried in the grave. It was a cruel and inhuman thing to drive him into this position when he had no children; but where there were children requiring the care of a mother the case was much worse. An instance had been mentioned of a deceased wife's sister having turned the children out-of-doors; but he could give many cases in which a strange woman, who had married a widower, had turned all the children out of the house, and sent them to get on as best they could. He had known of cases in which ladies in their dying moments had entreated a sister to remain with the children and wed the husband. Was it not abominable that women who devoted their lives and affections to a dead sister's children should be stamped as mistresses and persons guilty of incest? This state of the law was revolting to the natural feelings of all whose judgment was not warped by prejudices engendered by ecclesiastical absurdities. There was no ground for this prohibition, and no harm would come to society if the Bill became law. On the contrary, great good would be done in a vast number of cases where injury prevailed in consequence of the present law; and society would be all the better for such a just, wise, and proper measure.

MR. E. B. HOARE (Hampstead)

said, that in rising to oppose the second reading of this Bill he might lay himself open to a charge of bigotry and of having feelings that were seared; but that charge he must incur and bear it as best he could. But he hoped that the charge of bigotry would be in part withdrawn when he said that he could not argue this point entirely on the text of Scripture. He feared that his inexperience would lead him into many difficulties if he tried to construct a Marriage Law for this country on the basis of the Old Testament. But he could not accept the position that feeling alone should decide the question, and he would, therefore, ask the House to look at it on the simple and, perhaps, low ground of expediency. He believed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) would be in accord with him in saying that an alteration of the Marriage Law was inadvisable unless good and sufficient reasons were given for it; and the question was, were there sufficient reasons for the change? The three reasons put forward were, first, that there were many men who desired to marry their wives' sisters, and that it was a serious hardship upon them to be prevented from doing so. Secondly, that the deceased wife's sister was the best person to look after the children of the first marriage; and, thirdly, that this form of marriage prevailed in the Colonies and in the United States of America. He was rather surprised to hear the United States quoted in the House of Commons as a country to be followed in the matter of marriage law. What he had read and heard on the subject was confirmed during the short time he had spent in America—namely, that the Laws of Marriage in some of the States of the United States were not such as ought to be followed in this country; nor were the Divorce Laws there prevailing such as would receive support in that House. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there were 9,000,000 miles of the British Empire in which this custom prevailed. But the question was not over how many square miles it prevailed, but how many people dwelt in the different areas. It was said that it was a hardship on our Australian Colonies that a man lawfully married in New South Wales should come to this country to find that his wife and his children were not recognized as legitimate. It seemed that this argument might be reduced almost to absurdity by a consideration of numbers. There were 4,000,000 people living in the Australian Colonies. Take the most populous Colony of New South Wales, and there were barely 1,000,000 people living in that very large territory. How many of these were men of marriageable age, and how many of them wished to marry their deceased wife's sister; how many had married them, and how many of those who had wished to come home to settle in England? He believed the number would be found to be so small that the hardship involved would hardly justify the alteration of the Marriage Law of England. He would reduce the question of hardship to those who wished to marry their deceased wife's sister to numerical proportions. How many men were there who wished to do that? Hon. Members might, perhaps, have known one or two persons in the course of their lives to whom the law had been a grievance. The proportion must be infinitely small, for they must remember the undoubted fact that the ladies had a veto in this matter, and it might be in the personal cognizance of some hon. Members that in matters of matrimony that veto was occasionally exercised. Then how many men were there desirous of marrying their deceased wives' sisters, whose deceased wives' sisters wished to be married to them; and, finally, how many of those who were able to marry their deceased wives' sisters were prevented from doing so by the law? Surely the argument of hardship would be reduced to its smallest force by naming that small number. But as to hardship, what were they to say of the hardship of a man having a drunken wife, or, again, of the case of one who had married a mad wife? These cases were numerous; but the law gave no relief of the hardship, and he felt that the law was right. It was said that this change of the law was asked for in the interest of the children; but it struck him that their interest was really bound up in the continuance of the existing law. He agreed with the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Sir John Simon) that it was an unwise thing for a sister-in-law to live in her brother-in-law's house for a long time after the decease of his wife; but he said that this state of affairs was very much brought about by this agitation, and not only that, but if it continued she would not be able to live there at all unless "the funeral baked meats furnished forth the marriage banquet," and in the former case she could be of no service whatever to the children of her sister. He ventured to say that no sufficient ground had been shown for any change in the existing law. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) said that it was very desirable that the opinion of women should be taken in this matter. He (Mr. E. B. Hoare) had received a letter from a lady residing in his district to say that this question should be postponed until she and her sisters were able to exercise the right of voting. There was force in this; the view was a new one, and he agreed with it. It seemed to him that until women were able to express their opinion by their votes they should not alter the law. On these grounds he proposed to support the hon. Member for Stafford in his opposition to the Bill.

MR. O. V. MORGAN (Battersea)

said, that in Canada, Australia, and the other Colonies and Dependencies, there was a Christian population of something like 25,000,000, or two-thirds of the population of the United Kingdom. He was surprised at the slighting reference of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews)—who was, he (Mr. O. V. Morgan) believed, by birth a Colonist—to the condition of social life in the Colonies, and it was evident to him that the right hon. Gentleman was in a state approaching to utter ignorance with regard to the condition of Colonial society, because he implied that in the Colonies social life was not as pure and pleasant there as it was in this country. He (Mr. O. V. Morgan) having, with the exception of West Africa and Patagonia, visited all the Colonies, could tell the right hon. Gentleman that social life in them was as pure as in the Mother Country, notwithstanding the fact that they had passed the law which permitted marriage with a deceased wife's sister. He had himself down for second reading that day a Bill relating to Colonial marriages, the second reading of which he did not propose to ask the House to agree to if—as he hoped and believed it would be—the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) were read a second time. In the few remarks which he should venture to address to the House, he should limit himself to endeavouring to express the feelings of their Colonial fellow-subjects. In April last year, when, for the first time in the history of the Empire, the Representatives of the Colonies met in London, and discussed among themselves and with the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Lord Knutsford)—then Sir Henry Holland—and other Ministers of the Crown, subjects of vast importance; but he ventured to say that, next to the great question of the defence of the Empire, there was no subject to which greater interest was attached than the Marriage Laws of the United Kingdom as bearing on the Colonies. Marriage with a deceased wife's sister had become law in South Australia, Victoria, Now South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, Barbadoes, Mauritius, Ceylon, and the great Dominion of Canada; India, too, with the exception only of the European Protestants. New Zealand and Natal had also passed laws for the same effect; but they had not yet been ratified by the Crown. The Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand, had expressed himself to the effect that it would be libellous to describe these marriages as incestuous; and the Bishop of Melbourne, who was now, he was happy to say, Bishop of Manchester, was also in favour of this Bill. At the Colonial Conference, when the Marriage Laws were under discussion, Sir John Downer, Premier of South Australia, and formerly Attorney General of that Colony, was the principal Representative. The Colony which he so ably represented was the first to pass a Statute permitting marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Sir Henry Holland, the President of the Conference, asked Sir John Downer whether such marriages were recognized in all other countries? The answer was in the affirmative— That there was no country outside the British Empire in which such marriages were not recognized. Sir John Downer spoke strongly in favour of the assimilation of the Marriage Laws of the Empire. Sir Robert Wisdom, the Delegate from New South Wales, and formerly Attorney General in that Colony, in answer to Sir Henry Holland, spoke thus— This grievance tends more, in my opinion, to create a feeling of irritation than any act on the part of the Imperial Government, as tending to throw a slur upon our marriages; for this, though not directly, yet by implication, does seem to throw a slur upon them, and I know causes a great feeling of irritation. The only Colony of importance which had not attempted to legalize marriage with a deceased wife's sister was the Cape, and at the Conference the present Attorney General and former Premier of that Colony—Sir Thomas Upington—speaking for that Colony, used these words— If the Queen sanctions an Act relating to marriage in a Colony, I think that marriage ought to be looked upon as a perfectly legal marriage in England without affecting inheritance, or anything of that sort. The Australasian, a newspaper published in Melbourne, and enjoying a very wide circulation throughout Australasia, in a leading article, said— If in Victoria a man married his deceased wife's sister, his children would be considered legitimate in England until they sued for succession to property, and then they would be pronounced bastards. That is to say, they would be pronounced bastards if they claimed to inherit real property. They would be considered legitimate if they only claimed personal estate. And it concluded thus— The passage of the measure will greatly please these Colonies. The hon. Member for Stafford had tried to make a good deal of the opinion in Canada on this question. He (Mr. O. V. Morgan) was in Canada last year, and he found there a general feeling in favour of this Bill, and he could tell the hon. Gentleman that if the question were again discussed the Representative of the Canadian Government would be instructed to support the Bill. The Mail, of Toronto, a leading Canadian journal, said— It is ridiculous that marriages which are legal in one part of the British Empire should be illegal in another; and it seems even more absurd that, while England sanctions certain Colonial marriages, her laws of inheritance should cast the stigma of illegality upon them. The effect is that certain persons validly married in the Colonies, under laws sanctioned by England, are looked upon in a social light, when they go to that country, almost as persons not married at all. Notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. E. B. Hoare), he maintained that the Marriage Laws of the United States were just as good as the Marriage Laws in this country, and that it was the abuse of those laws of which the hon. Gentleman ought to complain. He (Mr. O. V. Morgan) hoped he had proved that Colonial opinion was strongly in favour of the Bill of his right hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby. To him it appeared that, instead of creating difficulties between ourselves and the Colonies, it was our duty, as clearly as it was our interest, to do all in our power to assimilate the laws, and thus remove difficulties between Great Britain and the Colonies. Why should the Crown give its consent to marriages in Canada and Australia, and then, when those who had been married under laws sanctioned by the Crown came to this country, in which they were probably born, find themselves classed as outcasts? Happily for the whole Empire, the people at home, and those who lived in the Colonies, and who yet spoke of this country as "home," were becoming year by year better acquainted. Ideas were afloat which might lead, sooner than some of them expected, to a scheme of federation, which would, indeed, make this the greatest Empire the world had ever seen. In the meantime, he hoped they would do all they could to strengthen the ties of goodwill and affection which now so happily existed between the different sections of the British Empire. For these reasons he should most gladly support the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman.


said, that having an Amendment on the Paper he desired to say a few words on this question. The Marriage Law was of such enormous importance, forming, as it did, the basis of the social fabric of the nation, that it seemed to him that this question was one which should not be taken up by a private Member, however well qualified, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) undoubtedly was, to lay it before the House. It appeared to him that a responsible Government were alone entitled to take up a question of this great importance, and then only when they were in possession of that information which could not be obtained by any other means than a Royal Commission or Select Committee. It had been assumed by hon. Gentlemen who supported the Bill that there was in the country an exceedingly great desire for this change in the law. But if that were so, how was it that it had not been made a question at any Election? He bad gone through five contested Elections, and in no instance had he been asked a question with reference to the Marriage Law; and therefore he took it to be purely a piece of imagination that a great demand existed for such a change in the law. The question had been debated for more than 50 years, and the opinions of those who took different sides with regard to it were no nearer together than they were formerly, and if the question continued to be debated there would be the same difference of opinion at the end of another 50 years. He was free to confess that if the question could be settled at all, it could only be settled by compromise; and he noticed that they had the Bill before them this year in a now form. In the clause which dealt with future marriages, places of worship were left out altogether, and the Registrar's office substituted. That was a long stride towards civil marriages. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) held that marriages should be civil contracts made at the Registrar's office, and that it should be left to the religious bodies, if the parties so desired, to bestow their blessing upon those unions according to the laws which governed them. They would, by passing this measure, begin the separation of Church and State by a side wind; and though under the Bill no clergyman would in future be compelled to celebrate these marriages, he would be compelled to subject himself to severe penalties if he refused to admit to the Holy Communion those who contracted these marriages, and who, in the eyes of the Church, were living in open sin. This state of things would give rise to a fresh crop of clerical martyrs, which was a condition of things which he was sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) did not desire to bring about. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had mentioned one or two only of the great men who had been strong opponents of this measure. He thought they might look to the great legal authorities for guidance on this point, and among the Judges and ex-Lord Chancellors he found an immense preponderance of opinion against this proposed change in the law. Lord Hatherley, Lord Coleridge, Lord Selborne, and the late Lord Cairns had spoken repeatedly against the Bill; and when he came to those laymen who took the greatest interest in the welfare of the working classes, there was none whose opinion commanded more respect than that of the late Lord Shaftesbury; and he stated that it was neither desirable nor beneficial for working men that these marriages should take place. On the other side, he had only to set Lord Westbury—the most cynical lawyer, perhaps, who ever sat on the Bench—and Lord Bramwell, on whose opinion no great stress was to be laid, because he treated theology and astrology as twin sciences. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) had poured contempt upon Conferences, Canons, and everything pertaining to the Church, but placed great reliance on the opinions of Trade Unions. For his (Colonel Makins') part, he did not know what they had to do with this question. He thought they were organized and maintained for a very different purpose. He entirely agreed with what had been said against the Bill on the ground of expediency by the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. E. B. Hoare). With regard to the prohibited degrees, there was one argument almost given up on the other side—namely, that nothing but consanguinity ought to be advanced in prohibition of marriage; but he might remark that in the table of prohibited degrees there were only 10 of consanguinity, while there were 20 of affinity. It seemed to him a most one-sided proposal that a man should be allowed to marry a deceased wife's sister, while a woman was not to be allowed to marry a deceased husband's brother. That was binding the woman and leaving the man free; it was for the first time introducing into matrimony an inequality between the sexes. Finally, he could quite understand that women, who had no franchise or opportunity of making their views on this subject known, should write such letters as that which had been referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead. He should vote against the Bill, and in the event of the second reading being carried, he would, if he had the opportunity, ask leave to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.

MR. HENRY H. FOWLER, (Wolverhampton, E.)

said, the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken was rather satirical about quoting the opinion of Trade Unions on a question of Ecclesiastical Law. But his hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham referred to the opinion of Trade Unions only because the hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill laid great stress on the assumption that the working class, ac a class, were not in favour of the measure. In his very able and temperate speech the hon. Member for Stafford, in moving the Amendment, had approached that grave and difficult question in a spirit which they would all do well to imitate. It was not a political or a Party question, and they ought on both sides to recognize each other's conscientious convic- tions and motives in regard to it. The hon. Member for Stafford assigned several reasons for opposing the Bill. In the first place, he contended that there was a general consensus of opinion among Christian Churches against the lawfulness of those marriages. Now, while he admitted that there was a strong body of opinion among Christian Churches against the lawfulness of those marriages, he asserted that there was also a strong body of opinion among those Churches in favour of their lawfulness; and, in those circumstances, he thought that the House would be entering on delicate and dangerous ground in assuming the power to decide a question as to the lawfulness of those marriages from a theological point of view. The hon. Member had specifically referred to the Church of Rome, the Wesleyan Methodists, and the Society of Friends as disapproving those marriages, and he had read the letter of Cardinal Manning, in which the Cardinal expressed an opinion adverse to the lawfulness of those marriages. But when that subject was previously debated in the House, the right hon. Member for Grimsby called attention to the fact that, although Cardinal Manning had expressed himself adversely to those marriages, Cardinal Newman, whose opinion was entitled to great weight, had stated that if he looked on that question as it affected the poorer classes he was in favour of a relaxation of the law; but that, as far as it affected the richer classes, he was in favour of the law as it existed. The Home Secretary, while maintaining on the one hand that those marriages were absolutely void as being of an incestuous character, and therefore morally wrong, in another part of his speech said that the Church of Rome did not condemn them as unscriptural, but only held them to be unlawful as prohibited by the Church, and the Church of Rome allowed them to be contracted by dispensation. Now, the late Cardinal Wiseman, a very high authority on Canon Law, was examined before the Royal Commission in reference to this subject, and when asked whether marriage with a deceased wife's sister was held by his Church to be absolutely prohibited by Scripture, he answered, "Certainly not; it is considered a matter of ecclesiastical legislation." Again, being asked whether in his Church the general prohibition of those marriages was a matter of discipline, permission to contract them being granted or not according as the Church thought would be most advantageous, the Cardinal replied in the affirmative. Being further asked whether Catholics who entered into those marriages were received with the same kindness and good feeling as those who contracted ordinary marriages, Cardinal Wiseman said—"With a dispensation, perfectly so. It is not thought disgraceful or improper the moment the Church has given permission." His Eminence also stated in his evidence that when they were contracted without a dispensation those marriages were regarded by the Church as absolutely null and void. Now, the object of the present Bill was to put Protestants in this country on the same footing as Catholics were put by the Church of Rome, and to allow them to contract those marriages if their consciences sanctioned them. Cardinal Wiseman was asked whether in ordinary cases a dispensation for that purpose would be refused, and he said—"No, I think not;" and he added that he had had a great many cases of that sort, and that a dispensation had never been refused. Then, as to the Wesleyan Body, the hon. Member for Stafford had quoted a Minute of the Conference expressing the opinion that it was the duty of members of that denomination to conform in all respects as far as marriage was concerned to the general law of the land. Well, that was a sentiment to which every sensible, law-abiding man would subscribe. As long as the Marriage Law was unaltered it ought to be obeyed. With regard to that Minute Dr. Bunting, an eminent Wesleyan, was asked a question, and he said that before the change of the law was effected by Lord Lyndhurst's Act there were from time to time cases of marriages even of some Wesleyan ministers with sisters of their deceased wives, which were not generally regarded as so disparaging to the parties as to call for an expression of disapprobation or an exercise of Church discipline, it being felt that, in the absence of legal prohibition, the matter must be left to individual discretion; but after the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act it must be admitted that it was the duty of all Christian people to conform in all matters concerning marriage to the actual laws of the Realm. It was now disclosed in a very recent biography that a distinguished Methodist minister expatriated himself and became a domiciled citizen of Canada in order that he might, under very special circumstances, marry his deceased wife's sister. A year passed, the lady died, the minister returned to England, and the Wesleyan Conference almost unanimously elected him to the highest position which it was able to bestow on him. Then the hon. Member had quoted the case of the Society of Friends; but, in the opinion of that body, the plain and obvious meaning of the passages quoted from Leviticus allowed marriage with a deceased wife's sister. References had been made to the Biblical argument, which was hardly suitable for the House of Commons. That Assembly was certainly not the tribunal to which he would go for an authoritative opinion upon a disputed text of Scripture. He preferred to take the opinion of an Archdeacon, Canon, and Professor of Hebrew who was a strong opponent of the Bill before the House. Archdeacon Watkins, to whom he referred, said— I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that the letter of the Levitical Law does not forbid, but by inference permits, marriage with a deceased wife's sister, To those who urged that there was a strong religious conviction against these marriages, he was entitled to reply that there was a strong religious conviction the other way, entertained by distinguished Churchmen, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and other Nonconformists. It was their duty as individuals to obey their consciences, but they were not entitled to impose their conscientious convictions upon other people. Those who said that these marriages were morally wrong and incestuous ought to remember that in a very large part of the dominions of the Queen they were perfectly legal and right. There could not be two standards of morality. If marriage with a deceased wife's sister was immoral in London it must be immoral in Canada and Melbourne. Mention had been made of the fact that the Queen, upon the advice of her Ministers, had given her Assent to these marriages in the Colonies. Would that Assent have been given if these marriages were really immoral? To a Colonial law legalizing an immoral union, such as that of a man with his own sister, the Assent of the Sovereign and her Advisers would, of course, never be given. They had heard that day a very ingenious and imaginative view of the circumstance under which the law of 1835 was passed. They had heard it gravely stated that Lord Lyndhurst passed his Marriage Law in consequence of the prejudice then prevailing against the Ecclesiastical Courts. To make such a statement was to play with educated men who knew the history of the Act of 1835. The real facts were these:—The head of a certain noble family had married two sisters, and had had a son by the second marriage. The family knew that by a suit instituted in the lifetime of the parties that marriage might be rendered void, and in order to prevent such a catastrophe Lord Lyndhurst was induced to introduce his Bill, the sole purpose being to legalize that particular marriage. Lord Lyndhurst proposed that if a marriage within the prohibited degrees should not be called in question within two years after the celebration of the marriage the legitimacy of the children should be indisputable, and that in the case of marriages already performed the legitimacy of the children should be indisputable unless proceedings were taken within six months after the passing of the Bill. It was clear, therefore, that the measure was not brought in to forbid marriage with a deceased wife's sister. The Episcopal Bench, led by two very astute Prelates, the Bishop of Exeter and the Bishop of London, agreed to allow the portion of the Bill referring to past marriages to pass if a prohibitive clause were inserted with regard to future marriages, and Lord Lyndhurst agreed to the compromise, his chief object being to legalize the one marriage then in question. The House of Commons, however, struck out the prohibitive clause in Committee, upon which the Member of the Government in charge of the measure refused to be responsible for its fate. As hon. Members who were still in the House remembered well, strong pressure was brought to bear upon Members to induce them to consent to the re-insertion of the prohibitive clause, a distinct pledge being given that it would be repealed in the next year. There were at the time in the House of Commons men who had contracted these marriages, and of course they wished them to be legalized. The result of the negotiations was that the compromise offered by the Government was agreed to, and the House of Commons, as had happened before and since, accepted a Bill payable at a future date, which in the end was dishonoured. Against the legislation of 1835 there had been a chronic antagonism ever since. The law as it at present stood undoubtedly promoted immorality in our large towns. He was sorry to hear the Home Secretary say that all great nations were against these marriages, and arguing as if this was a proposal to follow in the steps of heathen tribes. The Home Secretary appeared altogether to forget that these marriages were perfectly legal in our own Colonies of Australia and Canada, and also in the United States. It was, therefore, rather astonishing to hear the right hon. Gentleman laying down the doctrine that there was a strong feeling in all religious parts of the world against such marriages. The Home Secretary facetiously remarked that there were plenty of women in the world whom men could marry as the law at present stood. But that was not the way to deal with a question such as this, which came home to the hearts of many people, and affected the morality of a large portion of the population. There was no getting over the fact that in certain classes there prevailed a strong feeling that a deceased wife's sister became the natural guardian of her children. No satire would remove this conviction. If the affection that sprang up could be prevented, the case would be different; but no Acts of Parliament could do this, and therefore, for the sake of morality, if for no other reason, such marriages should be permitted. It was no use talking about legalizing marriages with one's sister. The case of a sister-in-law was very different from that of a sister, for natural feeling revolted against marriage with the latter and not with the former. That House was not competent to decide doctrinal or theological questions, and he asked hon. Members to support a measure which would remove from the subjects of the Queen residing in the United Kingdom disabilities under which they would not suffer if they dwelt in one of the Colonies of Her Majesty. There was the further argument based on the case of the children. There was many a man who had contracted a marriage in one of the Colonies—perfectly valid according to the law of that Colony and of the Church in that Colony in which he might himself have been born—yet who, upon having to take up his residence in England, found his children stamped with the brand of illegitimacy, and his wife with the brand of immorality. He asked the House to remove this injustice, and to show that it really represented the general feeling of the people on this question.


said, the House was aware that the Government did not regard this as a political or Party question; but, notwithstanding some Members of the Government individually felt strongly upon the subject of this Bill, and he being one of them, desired not to give a silent vote. He understood that the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) had stated that it was now generally admitted that there was no valid religious objection to such marriages as this Bill proposed to legalize.


said, what he had stated was that the religious argument had been practically abandoned in the discussion in 1884.


said, that was much the same thing. He did not admit that the religious argument had been abandoned. But he was not going to discuss the question from that point of view, and he should be ashamed of himself if he did not state that conscientiously he had the strongest feelings that such marriages were contrary to the law of God, whether based on the Old or the New Testament. But he recognized that that House was not a proper tribunal before which to argue the subject, and he should, therefore, not pursue it further. As to the law of the Realm, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) appeared to be under a misapprehension as to the historical position of the question. It could not be contended that the Bill would place matters exactly as they were previous to 1835, and it was an entire mistake to suppose that before that Act these marriages were regarded as legal. In the course of a debate in the House of Lords in 1883, Lord Cairns, whose statements of the law were never coloured by any prejudice or personal feeling, but were always strictly accurate, pointed out this and added—"They were voidable because they were void." That was that noble and learned Lord's dictum, and everyone would admit that he was a great authority upon whatever legal subject he expressed an opinion. The Courts did not make the law, but only administered it; and the ground upon which they declared a marriage void, when applied to to do so, was that the marriage was unlawful and therefore void. It certainly would be very objectionable to revert to the state of things existing prior to 1835—either these marriages ought to be lawful or absolutely unlawful.


said, he never contended that these marriages were lawful prior to 1835, nor did he suggest that he wished to revert to the state of the law then existing. But before the Act of 1835, the validity of the marriage could only be raised during the lifetime of the parties.


continuing, said that if these marriages were to be allowed, they would next be asked to sweep away the other regulations prohibiting marriage within certain degrees of affinity. He would not argue the question in a spirit of satire and take extreme cases, but he would urge the case of nieces and stepdaughters, and he would ask, if the House broke down this principle of illegality and prohibition in cases contemplated by the Bill, how would it be possible to defend it afterwards? It was very difficult to get at information in this matter; but, as far as it was possible to do so, it was clear that there had not been a large number of breaches of the law; but was it not a serious thing to break down the principle that man and wife were one flesh? That principle had been recognized for upwards of 300 years, and if the House recognized that as the true principle, there was no difficulty in following it out to its logical conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman opposite made use of an expression which, though he sympathized warmly with it, could, he thought, be turned against himself. The right hon. Gentleman said there were a number of people who desired to put themselves in a proper position. But there was no disguising the fact that there was a large number of people in this country whose feelings would be outraged, and whose religious views would be affected by such a state of things as the Bill would bring about. He believed that for one widower who desired to marry his dead wife's sister there were 20 or even 50 widowers who preferred that their dead wife's sister should be able to live in their houses without thinking of matrimony. He was astonished to hear the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Sir John Simon) say that if the Bill did not pass, no sister-in-law would be able to live in her brother-in-law's house after the death of her sister. He could quote many instances of the wife's sister doing so without any idea of the necessity of matrimony. It did not always follow that a widower must fall in love with his sister-in-law, or wish to marry her. The relationship of brother and sister—a relationship without a spark of passion—commenced as soon as an honest and pure engagement took place, and the feeling which was likely to bring about the relationship of matrimony did not arise in the minds of those who were thus members of the same family. The passage of this Bill would put an end to that principle for once and for ever; for after that no sister could, with any degree of propriety, continue to reside in the house of her deceased sister's husband, after the death of her sister. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that the natural mother of a dead woman's children was her sister, who would guard them as her own. A woman would make that sacrifice from pure affection, and from the various motives of family life; and over and over again admirable families were to be heard of in which children had been brought up by their dead mother's sister, without the latter ever entertaining a thought of matrimony. It had been said that this was a poor man's measure. That he absolutely and entirely denied. Speaking of election speeches, he thought the opinion of nearly every Member of the House would be that they had scarcely ever been asked a question on this matter on election platforms. He wanted to know upon what information the advocates of the measure came forward and described it as a poor man's measure? He did not believe that instances of a deceased wife's sister going to live with the widower were nearly so common in the case of poor people as in the case of persons in other ranks of life. On the contrary, this agitation had been kept alive for years by the money and efforts of men who were comparatively well-to-do—very estimable, no doubt, in other matters—but who had broken the law. It was well known that there were many instances of men—otherwise of the highest character—who desired to get the law altered for their own purposes, and the onus rested on those who advocated the change to satisfy the House that there was a large and widespread demand for it. If this change were made it would not only affect domestic arrangements after the wife's death, but that enemy to domestic happiness—jealousy—would become much more common. From whatever point of view the matter was regarded, the House ought to be satisfied that the majority of persons who were likely to suffer from the existing state of the law desired the change. The logical position was the recognition of the principle that the man who married a woman became one flesh with her, and she with him, and if that principle was not recognized he was sure horrible results would ensue. He entertained respect for the opinions of others, but as he felt strongly on this matter he hoped the House would not assent to the proposed change of the law. In conclusion, he would say that he did not believe there was any evidence to show that there was a widespread demand for the measure among the working classes.


said, that, so far from this being a poor man's question, from the inquiries he had made he found that the majority of these cases arose not amongst persons of that class. In the community of which he was a member the great majority of applications came from persons who were comparatively well-to-do, and very few of the poor had anything to do with them. They had had pamphlets and leaflets distributed with regard to the opinions of ecclesiastical authorities. They had had the opinion of Cardinal Newman quoted in a fragmentary and misleading form, and they had had certain passages read out from the evidence of Cardinal Wiseman before the Royal Commission of 1846, and certain Petitions to this House signed by Catholic Bishops of England and of Ireland which were calculated to impress Members with the notion that Catholics were in favour of the present Bill had been circulated. Well, now, the answer to all these was very simple. If these Cardinals, and Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic Church were in favour of the present Bill, why were they not also in favour of the abolition of the ecclesiastical prohibition against the marriages in question? If they said that the Civil Law ought to be altered, why did they not say that the Ecclesiastical Law ought also to be altered? None of those who had solicited the opinions and testimonials of the Catholic Bishops had ever said to them—"Will you propose the abolition of the ecclesiastical prohibitions?" Those people knew that there was not a single Catholic Bishop in the world who would for a moment entertain any such proposition. And why? Because the experience of the ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church—and he referred to them not in a religious way, but merely as a portion of an historic and educated community who had the interests of mankind generally at heart—was this, that it was salutary and beneficial and necessary for the preservation of the integrity and sanctity of the home that these limitations and these prohibitions should exist. They had recognized that certain exceptional extreme cases might arise from time to time, and with that tender care that they had ever manifested in matters of this kind had arranged for dispensations when there were good and strong grounds set forth. Now, what was it that these Archbishops and Bishops and priests asked the House to do in the Petitions they presented to it? Why, not to abolish the prohibition, not to do away with the limitation, not to disregard the degrees of affinity altogether, but to recognize civilly those dispensations which the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church thought fit to grant. Now, was the House prepared to take up that position? If the House was prepared to say that where the Pope and where the Catholic Bishops had granted dispensations, they, the civil authority of the United Kingdom, would recognize the validity of the marriages, but not in other cases? If they would do that they would accede to the Petition of the Catholic Bishops, because the Catholic Bishops did not ask them to go any further than that. They were not in favour of the policy of the present law, and they would not for a moment entertain the idea that the ecclesiastical jurisdiction should be done away with. Now, if this Bill were passed, the ecclesiastical authorities of the Catholic Church would maintain these prohibitions and rules intact with perfect disregard of the Legislature. They would no more consider the Act passed by that House than they would consider an Act repealing the Ten Commandments. The prohibition of the marriage of a widower with his deceased wife's sister would be as complete in the Catholic Church as it was now. If such was their conviction—if the conviction of the Catholic members of this community was so strong in favour of prohibition that they would still be prosecuted for entering into such marriages, why should the non-Catholic portion of the community be exposed to the social and moral dangers which these prohibitions were intended to prevent? As a Catholic, he himself was perfectly prepared to accept the dispensing power of the Church as sufficient for the purpose, and yet in the interests of the non-Catholic portion of the United Kingdom he should certainly oppose the present Bill. If they could devise in this country any dispensing power analogous to that which existed in the Catholic Church, as to the possibility of which he offered no opinion, then he could conceive that they would get over the difficulty; but he was satisfied of this—that if they allowed such a measure as the present one to become law, they would be letting loose upon society in England all those evils which had been appreciated and foreseen and guarded against by those whose judgment was most valuable through all the centuries during which Christianity had existed. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had talked about the enactment of Justinian, but it should be borne in mind that centuries before that enactment the laws of the Romans, of Valentinian, Theodosius, and others, were upon this subject of the strongest and most expressive kind. Not only did the Roman Code forbid such marriages, but there were provisions dealing with the dissolution of such unlawful unions which were of singular force. No matter under what circumstances or by what mode the original marriage took place it was dissolved, and never once did the Roman law recognize the propriety of a marriage between a widower and his deceased wife's sister. But that was in the very earliest ages of Christian influence in the Roman Empire, and from these early days of Christianity up to the present time it would be found that the Christian community constantly opposed these marriages, except that in very exceptional and rare cases dispensation or authority had been given, but very grudgingly given. It was perfectly true that in certain of our Colonies the law was different to what it was in this country, and that the Colonists complained of the difference of the law. Well, if the law was to be altered in one place or the other, why should it not be altered in the Colonies? Those in the Colonies who objected to the present law in this country entered on their present marriages with the full knowledge of what the law was, and the laws of the Colonies which authorized these marriages were passed with full knowledge of the disqualifications and impediments prevailing in this country. But whatever might be the views of politicians with regard to marriages of this kind—however their constituents might influence certain individual Members of the House in voting for the present Bill—he could not understand how any Catholic Member could, under any circumstances, consent to a scheme which was profoundly and essentially opposed to every instinct and every tradition of Catholicism.


said, he would not detain the House for more than a few moments, but he could not abstain from asking the House to consider that it was not the Roman Catholic Church alone which entertained a rooted and fundamental objection to the class of marriages that it was thought desirable to render lawful by this Bill. All branches of the Christian Church entertained the same opinion. [Cries of "No, no!"] At all events, the National Church of England and all the Presbyterian Churches did so. It was not at all necessary to go back to the Mosaic Law. It was the Christian Law of Marriage in its principles to which they appealed to show that these marriages were detestable in the eye of the Christian Church. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) had stated the principles upon which such marriages were repugnant to Christianity; but if it were desirable to break down the present law forbidding marriage, let it be on broad grounds, and not for the convenience of individuals. He had seen something of the manner in which this law permitting the marriage of a widower with his dead wife's sister was passed in the Colonies. He was Governor of South Australia when the Act in that country was passed legalizing those marriages. He was witness of the factitious means made use of to induce the Legislature of South Australia to pass the Bill. It was an agitation got up from home, and got up with money. It took root in a fertile field, and amongst a community some what impatient of ecclesiastical restrictions. In this country we did not look upon ecclesiastical restrictions as binding, unless they rested on principles which we acknowledged to be just, and he thought it would be admitted that in this country the ecclesiastical restriction against marriage with a deceased wife's sister rested on the strongest principles of propriety and justice. The Christian marriage was an alliance contracted under the sanction of Christian principles. It was a sacred symbol, and would in itself be greatly deteriorated if its relationship was made other than the absolute union of man and woman. The Bill would place a man in a hateful and detestable position towards his sister-in-law, who, but for the existence of such a measure, he would be entitled to look upon in terms of infinitely closer regard than any other woman not related to himself. The passage of such a Bill would place the English family life on a totally new footing, changing the whole of its relations. And if such a change were desirable in one instance, it would be equally desirable in another, and Parliament could not consistently consent to introduce new principles and allow marriages in one degree of affinity, when it did not permit them in another and similar degree. Yet the House would shrink, it would hardly dare to legalize marriage with a deceased husband's wife or with other relations more remote. Though the House had on previous occasions accepted similar Bills to this, he ventured to think that the mature judgment of the country had never been enlisted in its favour, whilst there was evidence of a deep-rooted aversion against the principle it contained on the part of large sections of the community.


said, that they had had a very friendly debate on both sides, and he trusted that now they would be allowed to proceed to a Division.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 239; Noes 182: Majority 57.

Abraham, W. (Glam.) Coddington, W.
Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.) Colman, J. J.
Corbett, A. C.
Acland, A. H. D. Cossham, H.
Agg-Gardner, J. T. Courtney, L. H.
Allison, R. A. Cozens-Hardy, H. H.
Anderson, C. H. Craig, J.
Asher, A. Craven, J.
Asquith, H. H. Crawford, D.
Atherley-Jones, L. Cremer, W. R.
Austin, J. Crossley, Sir S. B.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Crossley, E.
Ballantine, W. H. W. Crossman, Gen. Sir W.
Banes, Major G. E. Darling, C. J.
Barbour, W. B. Davies, W.
Barclay, J. W. De Cobain, E. S. W.
Barran, J. Dillwyn, L. L.
Bass, H. Dixon, G.
Beaumont, H. F. Duff, R. W.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C Ebrington, Viscount
Bickford-Smith, W. Elcho, Lord
Biggar, J. G. Elliot, hon. A. R. D.
Bigwood, J. Elliot, hon. H. F. H.
Bolitho, T. B. Ellis, J.
Bolton, J. C. Ellis, J. E.
Bolton, T. D. Ellis, T. E.
Bradlaugh, C. Esslemont, P.
Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Fenwick, C.
Bright, Jacob Ferguson, R. C. Munro-
Bright, W. L. Finucane, J.
Broadhurst, H. Firth, J. F. B.
Brown, A. H. Flower, C.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Foley, P. J.
Brunner, J. T. Forster, Sir C.
Bryce, J. Fowler, rt. hon. H. H.
Buchanan, T. R. Fry, L.
Burt, T. Fry, T.
Buxton, S. C. Fuller, G. P.
Caine, W. S. Gane, J. L.
Cameron, C. Gardner, H.
Cameron, J. M. Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-
Campbell, Sir G. Giles, A.
Campbell, H. Goldsmid, Sir J.
Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H. Gourley, E. T.
Gray, C. W.
Causton, R. K. Grey, Sir E.
Cavan, Earl of Grove, Sir T. F.
Cavendish, Lord E. Gully, W. C.
Channing, F. A. Gurdon, R. T.
Childers, right hon. H. C. E. Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A.
Clarke, Sir E. G. Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.
Cobb, H. P.
Hardcastle, F. Price, T. P.
Hartington, Marq, of Priestley, B.
Havelock-Allan, Sir H. M. Provand, A. D.
Pugh, D.
Hayne, C. Seale- Puleston, Sir J. H.
Hermon-Hodge, R. T. Randell, D.
Hingley, B. Rasch, Major F. C.
Hobhouse, H. Rathbone, W.
Howell, G. Reed, Sir E. J.
Hoyle, I. Reid, R. T.
Hunter, W. A. Richard, H.
Illingworth, A. Richardson, T.
Isaacs, L. H. Roberts, J. B.
Jacoby, J. A. Robinson, T.
James, rt. hon. Sir H. Roe, T.
James, hon. W. H. Roscoe, Sir H. E.
Joicey, J. Rothschild, Baron F. J. de
Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.
Rowlands, J.
Kenny, C. S. Rowlands, W. B.
Knowles, L. Rowntree, J.
Labouchere, H. Russell, Sir C.
Lalor, R. Russell, T. W.
Lawson, Sir W. Samuelson, Sir B.
Lawson, H. L. W. Samuelson, G. B.
Lea, T. Schwann, C. E.
Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S. Sellar, A. C.
Sheehan, J. D.
Legh, T. W. Simon, Sir J.
Lewis, T. P. Sinclair, W. P.
Lubbock, Sir J. Spencer, hon. C. R.
Lyell, L. Spencer, J. E.
Lymington, Viscount Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Machines, M. Stephens, H. C.
Maclean, F. W. Stepney-Cowell, Sir A. K.
Maclean, J. M.
Maclure, J. W. Stevenson, F. S.
M'Arthur, A. Stewart, H.
M'Arthur, W. A. Stuart, J.
M'Donald, Dr. R. Summers, W.
M'Ewan, W. Sutherland, T.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Swinburne, Sir J.
Maitland, W. F. Taylor, F.
Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E. Thomas, A.
Thomas, D. A.
Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story- Thorburn, W.
Tollemache, H. J.
Mattinson, M. W. Villiers, right hon. C. P.
Menzies, R. S.
Mildmay, F. B. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Montagu, S. Waddy, S. D.
Morgan, right hon. G. O. Wallace, R.
Walsh, hon. A. H. J.
Morgan, O. V.
Morley, A. Waring, Colonel T.
Morrison, W. Warmington, C. M.
Mundella, right hon. A. J. Watkin, Sir E. W.
Watt, H.
Neville, R. Wayman, T.
Newnes, G. West, Colonel W. C.
O'Connor, T. P. Whitbread, S.
Parnell, C. S. Wiggin, H.
Paulton, J. M. Will, J. S.
Pease, A. E. Williams, A. J.
Pickard, B. Williamson, J.
Pickersgill, E. H. Williamson, S.
Picton, J. A. Wilson, H. J.
Playfair, right hon. Sir L. Wilson, I.
Winn, hon. R.
Plowden, Sir W. C. Winterbotham, A. B.
Portman, hon. E. B. Wodehouse, E. R.
Potter, T. B. Woodall, W.
Powell, W. R. H. Woodhead, J.
Wortley, C. B. Stuart- TELLERS.
Wright, C. Heneage, right hon. E.
Wright, H. S. Kelly, J. R.
Aird, J. Fletcher, Sir H.
Allsopp, hon. G. Flynn, J. C.
Allsopp, hon. P. Forwood, A. B.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Fraser, General C. C.
Baden-Powell, Sir G. S. Fulton, J. F.
Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.
Baird, J. G. A.
Balfour, rt. hon. A. J. Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.
Baring, T. C.
Bates, Sir E. Gedge, S.
Bazley-White, J. Godson, A. F.
Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.
Beach, W. W. B. Granby, Marquess of
Beadel, W. J. Grimston, Viscount
Bentinck, W. G. C. Gunter, Colonel R.
Bethell, Commander G. R. Hall, A. W.
Hall, C.
Blundell, Colonel H. B. H. Halsey, T. F.
Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Bond, G. H. Hamilton, Lord E
Bonsor, H. C. O. Hanbury, R. W.
Boord, T. W. Hankey, F. A.
Borthwick, Sir A. Hardcastle, E.
Bristowe, T. L. Harrington, E.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Hastings, G. W.
Hayden, L. P.
Burghley, Lord Heath, A. R.
Campbell, Sir A. Herbert, hon. S.
Campbell, J. A. Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.
Carmarthen, Marg. of
Chaplin, right hon. H. Hoare, E. B.
Charrington, S. Hoare, S.
Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E. Holloway, G.
Houldsworth,Sir W.H.
Compton, F. Howard, J.
Corbett, J. Hubbard, hon. E.
Corry, Sir J. P. Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.
Cranborne, Viscount
Cubitt, right hon. G. Hulse, E. H.
Curzon, Viscount Hunter, Sir W. G.
Curzon, hon. G. N. Jarvis, A. W.
Dalrymple, Sir C. Jeffreys, A. F.
Davenport, H. T. Jennings, L. J.
Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
King, H. S.
De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P. Knightley, Sir R.
Dimsdale, Baron R. Lafone, A.
Dixon-Hartland, F. D. Lawrance, J. C.
Dorington, Sir J. E. Lawrence, W. F.
Douglas, A. Akers- Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Dugdale, J. S. Lees, E.
Duncombe, A. Leighton, S.
Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H. Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-
Edwards-Moss, T. C. Lewis, Sir C. E.
Egerton, hon. A. de T. Lewisham, right hon.
Elton, C. I. Viscount
Ewing, Sir A. O. Llewellyn, E. H.
Feilden, Lieut.- Gen. R. J. Lowther, hon. W.
Lowther, J. W.
Fergusson, right hon. Sir J. Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.
Field, Admiral E. Mackintosh, C. F.
Finch, G. H. M'Calmont, Captain J.
Finlay, R. B. M'Donald, P.
Fisher, W. H. M'Laren, W. S. B.
Fitzgerald, R. U. P. Madden, D. H.
Malcolm, Col. J. W. Robertson, J. P. B.
Mallock, R. Ross, A. H.
Matthews, right hon. H. Round, J.
Russell, Sir G.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Seton-Karr, H.
Milvain, T. Shaw-Stewart, M. H.
More, R. J. Sidebotham, J. W.
Moss, R. Sidebottom, T. H.
Mount, W. G. Sidebottom, W.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Smith, A.
Mowbray, R. G. C. Stanhope, rt. hon. E.
Murdoch, C. T. Stanley, E. J.
Newark, Viscount Stewart, M. J.
Noble, W. Stokes, G. G.
Northcote, hon. Sir H. S. Sullivan, D.
Sykes, C.
Norton, R. Talbot, J. G.
O'Brien, J. F. X. Tapling, T. K.
O'Brien, P. J. Temple, Sir R.
O'Connor, A. Theobald, J.
O'Neill, hon. R. T. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Paget, Sir R. H. Trotter, Colonel H. J.
Parker, hon. F. Tyler, Sir H. W.
Pearce, Sir W. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Pelly, Sir L. Webster, Sir R. E.
Penton, Captain F. T. Weymouth, Viscount
Plunket, right hon. D. R. Wharton, J. L.
Whitley, E.
Powell, F. S. Whitmore, C. A.
Power, P. J. Wroughton, P.
Price, Captain G. E. Young, C. E. B.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Rankin, J. TELLERS.
Reed, H. B. Makins, Colonel W. T.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Salt, T.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Friday 27th April.

Main Question put, and agreed to.