HC Deb 05 February 1902 vol 102 cc424-500

Order for Second Reading read.

*(12.26.) MR. RUTHERFORD (Lancashire, Darwen)

By the fortune of the ballot, it is my privilege to move the Second Reading of a Bill to Amend the Law as to Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister, and, in doing so, perhaps I may be allowed to say that I have taken up this Bill entirely on my own initiative, believing in its justice. I wish also to state that I have no personal interest, either directly or indirectly, in the question. I make this statement because it was said last session, without any proof, that the purpose of the Bill was to whitewash, by Act of Parliament, a certain number of wealthy people who had broken the law.

There is a stereotyped phrase which has been used on previous occasions when similar measures have reached their Second Reading stage, to the effect that it would not be necessary to detain the House at any great length, for the subject has been so frequently debated. That is not less true on this occasion. There is also another phrase which might well be stereotpyed, used by the hon. Member in moving the rejection of the Bill last session, when he said he was afraid he would have to go over old ground and use old arguments, but they had been sufficient to defeat the Bill in the past. Sir, I, too, shall have to recall some old arguments, but I have the satisfaction of knowing they have been sufficient to carry the Second Reading of similar Bills to this on many previous occasions, and last session by the largest majority that has ever been recorded in favour of this principle, and in my opinion the reason the Bill did not reach a further stage is not to be found in the arguments against it, but from the fact that, as a private Bill coming up for Second Reading at a much later period of the session than this, it was unable to pass through the rocks and over the quick-sands of Parliamentary procedure.

The opponents of the measure say there is no demand for this change in the law. I reply that the representatives of the electorate in this House have shown by their votes that there is at any rate a very strong desire for the removal of this restriction in our marriage laws. The House has on fourteen occasions affirmed the principle of this Bill, and the Bill as a whole has passed through all its stages seven times. Last session in a House of 401 there voted, ayes 279, noes 122, being a majority of 157, and on analysing the division list I find that the desire was by no means confined to one part of the United Kingdom, for among the English representatives 179 voted in favour of the principle, 95 against, majority 84; among Scotch representatives 36 for, 8 against, majority 28; Irish representatives 45 for, 20 against, majority 25, and Welsh representatives 19 for, I against, majority 18.

Before dealing with the provisions of the Bill, it is necessary to briefly consider the somewhat curious history of the marriage law so far as it affects this question. Prior to the Reformation, marriage was entirely subject to the Canon law. After the Reformation and during the reign of Henry VIII., marriages became for the first time subject to statutory law, for historical reasons well known to this House. By an Act of Parliament passed in 1540 all marriages which were not prohibited by the Law of God were made legal. Some years later Archbishop Parker ordered his Table of Affinities to be printed and set up in the Churches of the Province of Canterbury, but this table never received the sanction either of the Reformed Church or of Parliament. The Canons of the Church, made in the reign of James I., confirmed Parker's Table of Affinities, and, as the Ecclesiastical Courts at that time administered the marriage laws of this country, the tables became part of the law of the land, till the Civil Courts interfered and prevented the Ecclesiastical Courts from declaring this class of marriage void after the death of either party, the effect therefore being that, during the joint lives of the parties, the marriage was only voidable: and so the law remained till 1835, in which year the marriage laws of this realm were fundamentally altered by an Act which was introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Lyndhurst, not in consequence of any demand from the country, but wholly in the interest of one noble family. This Act was ably commented upon by the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton last session, so that I need only state shortly that its effect was—while making legal all marriages with a deceased wife's sister previous to the 31st August, 1835—to make all marriages of that class solemnized after that date absolutely null and void. That Act was allowed to pass this House on the assurance that the question should be re-opened the following session, but there the law has remained up to the present time.

Now, Sir, the Bill before the House is identical in its terms with the Bill of last session, and its provisions may be briefly summarised as follows:—(1) That all marriages between a man and his deceased wife's sister, whenever and wherever contracted, shall be made legal and valid. (2) That the consciences of the Clergy of the Established Church having regard to the Canons of that Church shall be fully protected, and that the disciplinary powers of their diocesan shall be maintained. (3) That all rights as regards property shall continue intact. And (4) That the operation shall be confined to the United Kingdom, though, of course, the effect will be to make similarmarriages, already lawful in the Colonies, valid also when the parties to them visit or settle in this country.

The familiar objections which are raised to this Bill may be placed under two heads, religious and social. As to the first of these objections, I am content to take one opinion of such a scholar and proctor in Convocation as the late Dr. M'Caul, Professor of Divinity and Hebrew literature in King's College, London, who wrote:— I confess that when I entered upon this inquiry I had not an idea that the case of those who wish a change in the present marriage law was so strong. I had thought that the opinions of grave and learned students of the Bible were more equally divided, and that, as authorities were pretty evenly balanced, they who had contracted such marriage must bear the inconveniences arising from doubtful interpretation. But I do not think so now. Confirmed by the testimony of antiquity and the judgment of the most considerable interpreters at the Reformation, and since the Reformation, I now believe that there is no reasonable room for doubt—that there is no verse in the Bible of which the interpretation is more sure than that of Leviticus xviii. 18; and I think it a case of great hardship that they should by the civil law be punished as transgressors, whose marriage, according to Divine law, is permitted and valid; and harder still, that the children of such marriage, legitimate in the sight of the infallible Judge, should be visited with civil disabilities. Amongst many other eminent Divines holding similar views, I can name the late Dr. Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Musgrave, Archbishop of York, Dr. Bickersteth, Bishop of Ripon, Dean Hook, who was described by Mr. Gladstone as the first parish minister in England, Cardinals Wiseman, Newman, Cullen, and McCabe, Drs. Chalmers, Norman McLeod, and Eadie, all honoured names in Scripture learning and Divine teaching, and I believe not one single Rabbi throughout the whole Jewish community condemns these marriages. Therefore all I will say is that if an assertion should be made during the course of this debate that there is a Divine Law which prohibits these marriages, I reply in anticipation that in my opinion the weight of ecclesiastical authority is against that view.

I now pass from the consideration of religious objections to the social. It is said that if a man can marry his deceased wife's sister the knowledge of that fact will breed family discord and jealousies, to the danger of the happiness of the home, and to the disruption of family ties. It is also urged that whereas now a deceased wife's sister can, and often does, live in her brother-in-law's house after her sister's death, she could not do so, were this Bill to become law, without scandal. Sir, if I thought the passing of this Bill would prejudicially affect our British homes, I would not support it, but would vote against it. So far as I know it has never been shown that before the passing of the Act of 1835, when there was virtually no prohibition, when those who wished could and did contract such marriages, the intercourse between the husband and his sister-in-law during the wife's lifetime was less free, pure, and happy than it has been since. Nor do I believe anyone will say that in our possessions beyond the seas, where these marriages are legal, they have had the tendency of causing any discord in the home life. In the United Kingdom the prohibition has failed to prevent these marriages, which are not confined to any one class, and so we find the Commissioners reporting in 1847: We cannot avoid the conclusion that the Statute of 1835 has failed to attain the object sought to be effected by its prospective enactments. After all, who is so fit to look after the children when their mother is dead as her sister; and if there is no natural objection, as there is not by reason of consanguinity, persons ought not, in my opinion, to be debarred by statute from contracting such marriages. There is also the question of the offspring of these unions, whose case is one of great hardship, being punished for acts committed by others. As Mr. John Bright said:— Although you pity them because of the injustice of the law, there is not a man of you cruel enough—I had almost used a harsher word—to point to those children by the almost odious name of bastard. Then there is the question of our Colonies, where marriage with a deceased wife's sister is valid under a law sanctioned by the Crown. This Bill, if passed, will remedy a grievance which our fellow-kinsmen have long been appealing to the Imperial Parliament to redress, and almost every Colonial statesman of prominence has asked that the disabilities now existing should be removed. Sir John Cockburn, Agent General for South Australia, voiced the general feeling in the Colonies when, at the commencement of an historic tour, he wrote:— The most acceptable message which the Heir to the Throne, that symbol of Imperial unity, could bear from Great Britain in his historical mission to her sons beyond the sea, would be that a term had at last been placed to the present illogical, unsympathetic, impolitic, and untenable position, and that the Colonies were no longer denied by the mother country the legal recognition of their lawful children. The Bishop of Hereford, too, evidently recognises these claims, for, in seconding a Resolution in the Upper House of Convocation of Canterbury in opposition to the measure before the House, he is reported to have said:— Had those Members of the legislature who were moving in the matter, contented themselves with a Colonial Disabilities Marriage Bill, he should personally have offered no objection, because he felt that if the Crown had sanctioned a law in the Colonies which had been recognised and acted upon bona fide, it might be a hardship to some of our fellow-subjects to come to England to suffer disabilities for carrying out that law. Personally, I cannot understand that a question of this importance is a matter of longitude and latitude, for it seems to me that if it is right and moral in one part of the Empire, it cannot be wrong and immoral in another. One of the aims of this Bill is to legitimise marriages in the United Kingdom which, at the present time, are lawful in the Colonies, but which, on some illogical reasoning, are illegal in the mother land. Believing, Sir, that there is no Divine law against marriages of this kind, and that the social inconvenience will be felt in very few instances, I hope the House will again pass the Second Reading by no uncertain voice, for should the Bill become law, it will do justice to a large number of people, to a great many more innocent children, and remove an illogical position imposed on our Colonies. Thanking the House for its courtesy, I beg to move the Second Reading of the Bill.

* (12.35.) SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)

I should not have supposed that in a debate of this kind it was necessary for a Bill so often introduced to be seconded, but I resolve to do so, because I desire to place before the House what seems to me to be an almost unanswerable argument in regard to the measure. I refer to the argument from the Colonies. I have noticed in the debates which have taken place in this House on this Bill a strange disinclination on the part of hon. Members who oppose the measure to face fairly and squarely the question from the Colonies. A good many of them ride oft on some such statement as this—made sometimes, I must admit, in an injured tone, "We are not going to take our legislation from the Colonies: we are not going to have our hands forced by the Colonies; if any example is to be followed, let the Colonies follow our example."

In my humble view, important and necessary as I believe this Act of Parliament to be in the interests of the people of this country, I consider that when the Colonial question is properly understood the case for it will be found to be overwhelming. It is on this account that I am going to ask the House to permit me to put shortly what I conceive to be the real position of the Colonial question. For that purpose it may be necessary to say a few words in respect of the legislation which has taken place in the various Colonies concerned. The first Bill was introduced, and subsequently became an Act of the Legislature of South Australia in the year 1870. It was a Bill which legalised marriage with the sister or daughter of the sister of a deceased wife. This apparently was the pioneer of Colonial Bills, and in respect of this as well as of other colonies in Australia the procedure has been somewhat remarkable. Let me explain that the governors of these Colonies have no power to give the Royal Assent to Bills which have been passed in their local legislature in cases where the provisions of the Bills are, amongst other causes, repugnant to the law of England. Under these circumstances the Bill when it has passed the local legislature is reserved for Royal Assent. In order to get that, it is sent to this country, and the assent must be given within two years of the reservation. This particular Bill of which I am speaking passed the South Australian legislature no fewer than five times, and on four occasions it was refused the Royal Assent. Finally, it received the assent of the Queen in Council on the 30th May, 1871. Therefore you have this country sanctioning by Royal Assent the action of the local legislature of South Australia. The same thing has happened in regard to other Australian colonies, Tasmania followed in 1873, New South Wales in 1876, Queensland and Western Australia in 1878, New Zealand in 1881, and later on Canada, Natal, Barbadoes, and some smaller places. All these Colonies have passed Bills legalising marriage with a deceased wife's sister—marriages within the prohibited degrees of affinity.


Did the Bills contain any other degree of affinity except the deceased wife's sister?


I will come to that presently. All these Bills, in the enacting parts of them, are very short, but in all cases, while being pithy, they are very much to the point. All except one deal only with marriage with a deceased wife's sister. For instance, the New South Wales Bill enacts: That every marriage—otherwise lawful—which has been heretofore, or shall be hereafter celebrated within New South Wales by any person with a deceased wife's sister, shall be valid, any law or custom to the contrary notwithstanding. Queensland was even more to the point, and almost peremptory in its style: No marriage between any man and the sister of his deceased wife shall within Queensland be voidable or in any wise impeachable, upon the ground only of such affinity between the parties, any law, custom or usage to the contrary notwithstanding. Western Australia enacts that: No marriage that has been or may be contracted between a man and his deceased wife's sister shall within Western Australia be deemed otherwise than a good and valid marriage, merely by reason of affinity between the parties, and that from and after the passing of the Act a man in this Colony may lawfully marry his deceased wife's sister. I think the only Bill which legalised marriage with a deceased wife's niece was the pioneer Bill of South Australia.

EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at present under the law of Canada a man may marry his deceased wife's sister's daughter?


The noble Lord must answer his own conundrum. He will have an opportunity when his time comes to speak. As to Canada, the Act 45 Vic., Cap. 42, repeals all laws prohibiting marriage between a man and his deceased wife's sister, both as to past and future marriages, as if such laws never existed. I think it is deserving of notice that the language used in these various statutes gets stronger as time goes on, and further that there is no common form, but each legislature chooses the strongest language it can find. The general effect of all is to deal vigorously with the past, present, and future evils arising out of the system existing before these Acts were passed. It is quite certain that these changes in the Colonies were adopted for the best reasons, viz., for the general public advantage. All academic distinctions between affinity and consanguinity, all statutory objections, and all canonical subtleties were waived aside as retrogressive fictions. Unhappily these fictions hold the field in this country, and they are supported in this House with zealous vigour, much ability, and much laborious searching after some new subtlety, by a band of men who, I am sure, will not take offence if I say that in their views they are very reactionary, certainly reactionary as viewed by the light of modern Toryism. The effect of the present law, then, is practically that we say to our Colonial fellow-subjects, "True, you were married legally in Australia or Canada, true, your children in Canada and Australia are legitimate, but the moment you leave those Colonies and land at Liverpool or Southampton, the moment you put your foot on the English shore, that moment by the law of England your wives become your mistresses or concubines, and your children are disgraced by the stigma of bastardy. We are obliged to tell you that if you settle in this country it is a pure toss up if you will be kindly received as neigh- bours, and whether the full enjoyment of the rights and privileges of Church membership will be accorded to you, and when you die, so far as the inheritance and succession to your property is concerned, your children will be called upon to distinguish in a very real and costly way between what lawyers and schoolmen call the lex loci contractus and the lex situs, that is the law of the place where the contract was made, and the law of the place where the property is situated. Under the first, it is quite true your personal property will pass to your children just as if they were legitimate, and they will pay but a small succession duty, because the lex loci contractus governs the marriage and impresses upon your children the personal status of legitimacy. But with regard to your real estate, the claimant, as child, must prove that he is your child according to the law of the place where that real estate is situated, and that your unfortunate child, being the offspring of a marriage with a deceased wife's sister, could not do according to the law of England. Consequently, the child of a deceased wife's sister can only claim property if he is named in your will, and if so named he will be placed in the class of 'strangers in blood,' and be called upon to pay a very heavy death duty. The effect of this is that he is legitimate for personalty, but a bastard in respect of the real property of his father." I cannot help saying that that is a real Colonial grievance, and, when the position is understood, the colonists have a great deal to say in respect of the old country, and at a time when all English hearts ought to be full of supreme gratitude to those Colonies who have shown their splendid loyalty in the nation's crisis. I, at any rate, am one of those who are extremely unwilling by the obstinate adherence of this country to a useless and antiquated set of superstitions, to add further to the annoyance which the colonists are justified in feeling against us.

I want to say further, in regard to this Colonial question, that the Government of this country is already more than half committed to the principle of the Bill now before the House. It seems to me to be compromised almost up to the point of what lawyers call "estoppel," for it has said and done so much in favour of the Colonial view and against its own law in regard to these marriages that it is difficult now to understand how it can still be heard in its continued refusal to grant the principle of the Bill. Let me illustrate the point I am trying to make. Prior to 1835, marriages within the prohibited degrees of affinity were voidable only by sentence of the Ecclesiastical Court pronounced during the lifetime of both parties. The practical effect of that was that where the husband or wife—the wife being, of course, a deceased wife's sister—desired to separate, they could, by instituting proceedings in an Ecclesiastical Court, cause the marriage to be declared null and void, with the terrible consequence to the children, if any, of being stigmatisedas bastards. And not only could this result be obtained by one or other of the parties to the marriage, but the same distressing conditions would follow the intervention, during the lifetime of both parties, of any person who might be viciously or sordidly inclined, to say nothing of the obvious misery and unhappiness to both husband and wife, as well as to children, where threats of exposure were made by persons for purposes of blackmail and extortion. I do not agree that there was no ground for legislation prior to 1835. I say there was abundant reason for it. The effect of the Act of 1835 was to make all marriages within the prohibited degrees prior to 1835 valid, while by a later section such marriages subsequently contracted were to be null and void. I pause here for a moment to point out that some very strong opponents of this Bill have gone the length of saying that to alter the law would be to alter the universal law of Christian marriage which has prevailed from the very earliest times—to alter what has been laid down by clear, Divine command. It has been said man cannot serve two masters, but if ever this feat was performed by any Government, it was performed by the Act of 1835. If it is against the Law of God that these marriages should be permitted, what justification could there be for passing the Act of 1835 which legalised all such marriages prior to that year? The inconsistency of that Bill is clear. My point is this. That, having so acted, the British Government has shown that there is no such sentiment behind it. It has declared marriages of this kind to be valid, and surely what was true in 1835 is equally true in 1902. If the opinions of the noble Lords opposite and those who cheer them are to be taken as sound, the British Government has pandered to the powers of darkness by giving the Royal Assent to the Colonial Bills, I cannot help thinking there is no logic in the decision to withhold the benefit of this Bill from our own people and our Colonial fellow-subjects. The Government has sanctioned the application of the principle of the Bill to Colonies peopled by men of the same race and same faith; yet it is clear that for criminal purposes, and in the interests of law and order, the Crown would regard a marriage within the prohibited degrees as bigamy, and a man would be liable to be tried in our criminal courts for that offence.

I do not wish to trespass much longer on the time of the House, but there is just one thing more that I want to say. A favourite argument advanced against this Bill is, that it does not go far enough. There is some logic, perhaps, in that objection. They say that it is illogical, one-sided, and unfair to legislate for the deceased wife's sister, and not to touch the deceased husband's brother, or the deceased wife's niece, or any other degrees of affinity in the prohibited degrees. It is a very curious thing that at this period of the political history of our country—our country above all others—one should have to remind hon. Members who try to raise this objection seriously, that if you cannot do all the good you want that is not a reason for doing no good at all. Such an argument seems to me to indicate a lamentable want of that due sense of proportion, or, it may be, of practical research, which marks the attitude of those who use this argument. There was a Royal Commission in 1847 which has been referred to by the hon. Gentleman who to-day moved the Second Reading of this Bill, and I should like to quote a passage from its Report. It said: We have directed our inquiries to the laws of other countries with respect to marriages within the prohibited degrees of affinity, and more especially to marriages with the sister of a deceased wife. From the evidence which we have taken, there can be no doubt that this last class of marriage is of all those within the prohibited degrees by far the most frequent, so much so that it necessarily forms the most important consideration in the whole subject. When, therefore, for the future we speak in this report of marriages within the prohibited degrees, we intend, when it is not otherwise declared, to confine our observations to marriages with the sister of a deceased wife. There is sufficient justification in this passage alone for our bringing in this Bill to-day. The only evidence we have at all which is available, is the evidence taken by this Royal Commission, which has declared that these marriages form the most important part of their investigation. After that statement I think the House will conclude that if that argument, freely used by the opponents of this Bill in the debate of last year, should be repeated in this debate to-day, it can only be justly estimated as padding to the otherwise eloquent speeches which may be delivered. It is an extraordinary position for men to take up who, apparently hating the proposed change, oppose it on the ground that they want more of it. I thank the House for being so patient, and I hope I may have contributed a little to the clearing away of some of the dialectical and academic cobwebs that have been so cleverly woven round this subject. I am almost ashamed to meet my Colonial fellow-subjects while this possible disgrace hangs over their heads, for disgrace it must be considered to be.

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


I have ventured to place on the Notice Paper the following Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill— That this House, having regard to the fundamental character of the law of marriage, cannot agree to the Second Reading of this Bill. I have ventured to assume a prominent position in this debate to-day, because I am one of the few surviving Members of the House who were present at the discussion on this subject in 1858, and secondly because an hon. Member in the course of the debate last session stated that the Bill was only opposed by one section of the Church of England. It is the privilege of the lay members of our Church not to be attached to any of the sections into which our Church is divided. The clergy, by the necessity of their position, become entangled in a way from which laymen are happily free. I speak, representing no section whatever of the Church, but as a simple member of the communion, to which I am fondly attached.

The first argument is that the proof that there is a necessity for the change must be made by the movers of this measure. I say that this change ought not to take place without its being shown that there is not only a good cause, but that there is the best possible cause. The injury of this Bill will extend very widely; the benefit of it will be confined to a limited class; because fortunately the sisters of deceased wives themselves are a limited class, and those whose affections are drawn to these ladies are more limited still. Therefore the Bill would be an act of great injustice, and would injure a large number of people for the supposed benefit of the few. It was stated in debate last year that some of the speeches then delivered might have been fitly spoken fifty years ago. In dealing with scientific subjects, such as telegraphs or telephones, it is quite true that arguments become antiquated; circumstance change, and observations which were valid fifty years ago, are deserving of no weight, validity, or authority now. But I think this question is of a totally different class. It does not depend upon the uncertainty of Parliamentary majorities, the case rests on a principle which cannot change; upon considerations which are absolutely of an immortal character. There can be no doubt that these marriages have, as a matter of fact, been forbidden throughout Christendom. That is certain. They are not admitted in any section of the Christian Church, and therefore I say that for us, in the beginning of the twentieth century, to make this change is a proposition that cannot be supported, except upon arguments wholly beyond challenge, to which no answer can be given. I shall not on the present occasion enter, even by allusion, into the theological and ecclesiastical argument. I do not think the House of Commons always appears at its best when discussions of that character take place. I think we then get into a line of argument more fit for discussion by trained theologians than for Parliament. But leaving that view aside, at any rate for the moment, I venture to suggest that those who are opposed to this Bill asked a question in 1858 which has been put again and again from that time and to which until to-day no answer has been given. We ask if we allow this concession, where are these concessions to stop? Are we to obliterate altogether the restrictions as to affinity as against consanguinity? As I understood the hon. and learned Member opposite, he wished to remove every restriction, and the terms which he used in respect of them were terms of contempt and almost of derision.


I did not speak in derision. I said Colonial Legislatures had waved aside fine-drawn distinctions of affinity and consanguinity, and had taken a common-sense view.


I think the House will agree with me that to describe the distinction between affinity and consanguinity as a fine drawn distinction is not far removed from the nature of a derisive observation. The confession made by the hon. Member really has completed that part of my case, and it is scarcely necessary now that I should follow any further that thread of discussion. I venture to say the principle that we have adopted upon this question is a sound principle, and that when you break it down you do not know where you are going to stop. The hon. Member who interrupted me placed the matter in a clear position, and the issue before the House now is whether we are to abolish the distinctions and the prohibitions of matrimony with regard to affinity as distinct from the prohibitions of consanguinity.

The hon. Member made some reference to some evidence given by Roman Catholic prelates before the Royal Commission some years since. I have not had an opportunity of refreshing my memory as to that Report, but I believe it will be found that they dwelt more upon the practice of their own Church than upon Scripture; and we know that the Roman Catholics do give greater power to their authorities in respect to this matter than any members of a Protestant community. Reference has been made to-day to the United States of America. I should be rather surprised to hear any debate in the House on this subject without a reference to our cousins across the Atlantic, but I think we ought to be slow to follow the example of the United States of America in matters of this kind. There is much in America that we admire, and nobody regards with more satisfaction than myself the tone of the bond of unity between ourselves and that country. But there is one weak part of the American law, and that is the part with regard to marriage and divorce. Each State makes its own law, that of one State being often inconsistent with that of another. As regards the Colonies, the case might well be left with the speech made by my right hon. friend the Member for North East Manchester when he addressed the House last year, with all the authority and experience of a Colonial Governor. I think that if we are to follow as far as we may the practice of the Colonies, they may be asked in return to follow in some respects at least our own practices and usages. We granted the Colonies a large measure of Home Rule, and I think it is now for us to ask the Colonies for some little privilege of Home Rule in return. I think the Colonies, much as we admire them and desire to increase our affectionate relations with them, are asking too much when they claim to be the rulers of matters of domestic life in the old country.

Then comes the question of liberty and freedom. There used to be a maxim of law, which I believe still prevails, that you must not exercise your freedom and liberty to the detriment of the community. I do not see myself why these marriages ought to be sanctioned, giving a liberty to certain persons when the exercise of that liberty deprives others of a liberty which they now exercise and which contributes largely to the happiness of their lives. The liberty now exercised by the sister of the deceased wife living in the desolated home and acting as mother to the unhappy children will be taken away. Why should there be taken away the freedom they now enjoy in order that new freedom should be given to others? Then another argument is put forward in this debate, the argument of cruelty. This change would be a cruel one; it would be cruel to those who deserve more than the few this Bill will benefit. If it passes it will be cruel to many innocent relationships, and to those who are entitled to everything at the hands of the father. It was stated last year more than once that this change was opposed by only one section of the Church of England. That is not true. References have been made to Dr. Hook. Archbishop Henson stated in the House of Lords that Dr. Hook, in the latter part of his life, after prolonged experience, changed his view on this subject. Use has been made of the great authority of Dr. Lee of Manchester. The same Archbishop, who was a pupil of Dr. Lee, said in the House of Lords that Dr. Lee was entirely opposed to the change of law proposed by this Bill.

I shall not refer to the formularies of the Church, the tables of affinity, or the canon law. I have already said I shall not to-day deal with the doctrinal side of the question, but I may refer to what took place last week in Convocation. The Upper House of Convocation dealt with the subject, and three prelates, thoroughly representative men, spoke against the Bill. One was the Bishop of London, who knows the working classes well, who has passed much of time in the East End. and who is as much at home in the dwellings of the working people as any clergyman ever was. If the Bishop of London had thought that this Bill would be a benefit to the working classes of London, he would have been the first to support it and to desire this House to pass it. Then there was the Bishop of Hereford who, as we know, is a man of tender conscience, and who, if he feels that any injury is to be done to any class, is the first to speak in favour of that class and against the injury: he spoke against the Bill. Then came another name, honoured by all, but perhaps honoured more in connection with such a subject as this than any other—the Archbishop of Canterbury. Any one who has been brought into communication of a close character with that great prelate, will agree with me that the whole tendency of his mind is in favour of liberty; and, when I find that that distinguished Archbishop is adverse to this Bill, I feel that his opinion is one of the strongest arguments which can be adduced on this momentous question.

My concluding remarks have reference to the condition of the public mind. It has been my fortune to take part in more elections than any other Member of this House, but in the whole course of my many contests, I have not had a single question put on this subject. As regards the anxiety of the public mind, I must say that it is an anxiety of a very patient and forbearing character. In the course of yesterday evening, I interested myself in examining the Report of the Committee on Public Petitions, dealing with the Christmas session of 1900 and the full session of 1901, and I found that, as regards petitions on this subject, England was entirely silent, there was not a voice from Wales, and a melancholy forbearance from expression of opinion pervaded the whole of Ireland. There was in favour of this Bill one solitary petition. The Provost, magistrates, and councillors of the Royal Borough of Linlithgow set their seal to a petition in favour of the Bill. That distinguished body, no doubt acting according to precedent, as becomes an ancient corporation, affixed their seal, and the Committee on Public Petitions said that their single seal counted for two signatures. I should have thought, if there had been fervour, passion, or earnestness on the part of the public with reference to the subject, a new Parliament would at least have been approached by an eager band of petitioners.

I thank the House for the kind attention they have given to the observations I have ventured to make, and in conclusion, would say, that we now have uniformity—a symmetrical code. If the Bill passes, we shall have incongruities and inconsistencies. As the law now exists, we have a settled system. If the Bill passes, you will unsettle everything in a branch of our life in which everything ought to be settled. You will settle nothing. You will not only open the door to new agitation, but you will invite new agitation; and, for many years to come, our debates will be occupied by discussions, injurious, because disturbing while they continue, and probably infinitely mischievous to society in the legislative results which may ensue.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House, having regard to the fundamental character of the law of marriage, cannot agree to the Second Reading of this Bill,'"—(Sir Francis Powell)—instead thereof:—

Question proposed—"That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

*(1.23.) MR. EVELYN CECIL (Aston Manor)

I do not propose to apply myself to the Scriptural arguments, because I think they cannot be at all appropriately discussed in this House. Nor do I propose to apply myself to the merely historical arguments; they will be dealt with by my noble friend behind me, But there are one or two new aspects of the question to which I desire to call attention. We have heard a great deal lately about the lawlessness in the Church of England. This House has had more than one debate on the subject, and has taken a somewhat active line in the matter. I am entirely with it so far as it desires to enforce obedience to the bishops, and to ensure that those who are recalcitrant to the law of the Church of England and the Book of Common Prayer should be brought to obey the bishops. That being so, is this a suitable moment to bring forward a Bill which flies flat in the face of a unanimous Episcopal Resolution passed the other day? The Upper House of Convocation last week unanimously passed a strong Resolution against this Bill, and it appears to me to be a very strange attitude for hon. Members to assume if they come with, in one hand, a protest against the lawlessness in the Church and the want of obedience to the bishops, and in the other, a Bill which is entirely opposed to a strong and unanimous Episcopal Resolution.

This Bill, in my opinion, strikes at the root of family life, and injures, if it does not abolish, that impassionate and most happy relationship of brother and sister-in-law. That is a relationship which a large number of the population greatly value, and it is much easier to say that than to express precisely the reason for it. It stands on a pedestal by itself. That relationship is struck at by this Bill, and, I believe, if the measure passes, a large proportion of the population will feel themselves to be seriously injured. There comes a time in the lives of some, but fortunately not in the lives of the majority, when it is the unhappy lot of man to lose his wife in early life, He has to pass through a very afflicted time, and what better comfort can he obtain than that which is given by his sister-in-law? The passage of this Bill would alter all that; a man would not be able to receive the comfort of his sister-in-law on that sad occasion, without feeling that at the back there was somehow a parliamentary hint that her comfort was given as a step towards future matrimony. It is a somewhat indefinable position, but it is a feeling which many people in this country have very strongly.

As to the statement of the mover of the Second Reading that by this Bill you would not prejudicially affect the happiness of our British homes, I at once join issue. It affects family and national life, and, in doing so, it lowers the tone of national life, and lowers the sanctity of the relationship of marriage. I do not believe that the divisions in this or the other House are a real reflection of the opinion of the country. In my opinion, there is no popular demand for this change, and I assert with the utmost confidence that if a poll was to be taken of the nation, and more particularly of the women of the nation, whom this Bill especially concerns, there would be a large majority against any change in the law. Where, indeed, it is asked, are you to stop? Reference has been made to the Colonies, where this alteration in the law has been introduced. It is idle to come to this House and say that by assuming this attitude, we are assuming an attitude which is somewhat hostile to the Colonies; that we are not considering the Imperial community, and not fully alive to the strong sentiment which obtains in some of the Colonies. Surely those are arguments which can be set aside. I do not think that questions of this kind affect the national interests of our Empire, and they are questions which ought to be considered entirely apart from that as questions of religious principle. To my deep regret, the Colonies have taken a different view from ourselves, and I am extremely sorry for it; but if I believe their principle is fundamentally wrong, I do not see why I should be compelled to adopt it. We are told that there are other alterations to come, and that this Bill may not stop here, and may go, as I understand the hon. Member for Accrington, as far as an extension to a deceased wife's niece.


That was not my contention. All I said was that one of the Australian Acts had reference to marriage with the deceased wife's sister and a deceased wife's niece.


Then the hon. Member does not propose this?


I must not be cross-examined upon that point. I adhere to what I have said.


The hon. Member said that he could not be called upon to solve conundrums, and he said that the questions of affinity dealt with in these Acts were fictions and superstitions which might be swept away. He said they were dialectic and academic cobwebs. If he treats these objections in that light, I assume that he will not offer much opposition to the extension of this Bill. The hon. Member implies now that he stands by this Bill, and I will briefly deal with his remarks on that ground. I say that this measure is a Bill of exceptions and nothing else. The fact that it is a Bill of exceptions appears in every section. Clause I says:— No marriage heretofore or hereafter contracted is to be invalid. Why is the Bill to be retrospective? In my opinion, that is certainly an exception to the ordinary rule of legislation in this House. Most of the Acts of Parliament passed in this country are not made retrospective unless there is some ex- tremely good reason for it. When I turn to ask what is the reason for making this measure retrospective, I am a good deal puzzled unless it is in order to establish a new law to set right those people who have broken the old one. I have a rather shrewd suspicion that this is intended to be the case, and of all improper grounds to make an alteration in the law, I should say that ground is the very worst. I do not want to say anything offensive, but it seems to me that a proposal of this kind is very analogous to what a Bill would be in America to legalise the practices of Mormons.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

That is absurd.


The hon. Member may call it absurd, but there is an analogy all the same. I have stated that this is a Bill of exceptions; let us look at the second section. The second section is one to exempt persons from pains or penalties, and it provides that— Nothing herein contained shall relieve any clergyman from any ecclesiastical pains or penalties to which he would otherwise he liable if this Act had not been passed, by reason of his solemnising a marriage between a man and the sister of his deceased wife, or by reason of his contracting, or having contracted, or living in marriage with his own deceased wife's sister. So that, according to this provision, marriages are only to be carried on before a registrar, and that in itself suggests that great uneasiness is felt as to whether these marriages are recognised by the Canon law or not. In the third section we have another exception, and it is not necessary to particularise what is provided for in this section. Hon. Members will recollect that this particular section was not included in former Bills which were presented to this House. The promoters of the measure have seen the absolute necessity of introducing section 3 into this Bill because this measure proposes to make enactments which are against the Canon law from the earliest time. I say that these constant exceptions show upon what an illogical basis this Bill rests. I hope that the House will not commit itself to the passing of this Bill when there are such very strong grounds against its becoming law.

*(1.43.) SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)

A debate of this character is generally followed by statements in the newspapers about stale, old arguments being used, but in a matter of this kind the arguments can hardly be expected to be new. I think the old arguments only prove the consistency of hon. Members on both sides of the House. It will not be necessary, after the able speeches which have been made in support of the Bill, that I should introduce any of those stale, old arguments at this stage. I would, however, make an appeal for fair play in this matter. Judging from the reception and the cheers which were given to the statement made by the First Lord of the Treasury in regard to the provision in the new rules for referring Bills to the Grand Committee, I think that course will be followed without opposition.


That change will be very much opposed on this side of the House.


I think the proposal of the Leader of the House will be found to command the approval of hon. Members opposite.

MR. VICARY GIBBS (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)

The hon. Member is mistaken. The proposition of the First Lord of the Treasury was, that there should be no separate debate on the question of sending a Bill to the Grand Committee.


I asked the First Lord himself whether it might not follow after 5.30 as a consequential Amendment, and he replied that that would be the case. I do trust that we shall not be in danger of being put in a worse position than those Bills which are later on the Order Book, and I hope that we shall be allowed to go to the Grand Committee. I hoped last year that I should have been able to carry this Bill to a Committee of the whole House, but the number of Amendments put down on that occasion show that it is necessary to go to a Grand Committee. I believe that a good many of the Amendments put down last year were out of order. However, I am bound to assume that they were bona fide and not intended to obstruct. Those Amendments were mostly put down by the two noble Lords opposite. One of the Amendments put forward last year was that the word "heretofore" should be left out, and that was a very cruel hardship on those who had contracted marriage and whose children would be made bastards for ever. Another Amendment was that the word "hereafter" should be omitted, but that was ridiculous, and I think out of order. One of the noble Lords opposite proposed that the Act should only have effect inside the United Kingdom, and the other noble lord proposed that it should only operate outside the United Kingdom. As I am obliged to assume that these were bona fide Amendments, might I suggest that the two noble Lords opposite should fight out their differences in the Lobby and not in the Committee Room. In some Amendments where four or five consecutive words were required to be struck out, each word was put down as a separate Amendment. Another Amendment was moved to leave out the words In any part of His Majesty's dominions, and I hope that nothing of this kind will be done in the case of the present Bill. The effect of this last proposition would of course have been to legislate for foreign countries only. Another of the Amendments was a proposal to re-enact clause 2.

I need not trouble the House with any more of these Amendments, but I must call attention to one proposal which was made last year to this effect that Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to alter the Table of Kindred or Affinity in the Book of Common Prayer. But that is not in the Book of Common Prayer at all. During the vacation I occupied myself in examining the old family Prayer Books in my possession, and I find that Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book of 1559 has no Table of Affinity. The next one I examined was dated 1607, which is 44 years after Archbishop Parker had drawn out that Table of Affinity, and the Table did not appear in that Prayer Book. The earliest Prayer Book I could find that table in was dated 1734, and even this makes my argument stronger because it appears in this Prayer Book as a fly-leaf, and it is not contained in the Book of Contents. It is merely a fly-leaf, and it might have been added like an advertisement for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, stating that the Prayer Book might be obtained at a certain price. While upon this point I should like to ask which hon. Member or noble Lord has added in pencil the Table of Affinity to the Table of Contents of the Prayer Book kept in the library of this House. I should like to know whether the noble Lord or other hon. Members are warranted in imposing upon others by defacing the books which are provided for us. I see that one noble Lord proposed last year that the Bill should not apply to Scotland, and another noble Lord proposed that it should not apply to Ireland. That is also a matter that they should fight out between themselves. We have not heard any very new arguments from hon. Members opposed to the Bill on this occasion, but I was rather astonished to hear the hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of the Bill, suggest that we make a fine-drawn distinction between consanguinity and affinity. Our argument is that there is all the difference in the world between consanguinity and affinity, and this Bill is founded entirely on that basis. The hon. Baronet also alluded to the late debate in Convocation. I was very sorry to see that the Bishop of London suggested that it was a Bill for the rich man and not for the poor man. He ought to know better than that. A rich man can go abroad and get married to his deceased wife's sister in one of the colonies. A poor man cannot leave his house and home, and it is for him that this law is deeply desirable. Most of us who take an interest in the Bill have read the excellent Report of the Committee that inquired carefully into the subject. They strongly laid down that it was for the poor man that this law was required. It remained for the Bishop of London to bring forward a new argument against the Bill. The report in The Times says that the Bishop of London quoted several stanzas from Rudyard. Kipling's poem "The Islanders." I am glad I was not there to hear them. I congratulate Rudyard Kipling, for I think it is the first time that any subject of His Majesty, in any part of the British dominions, has spoken of that poem with approval. The Bishop seems to imagine that any man who marries his deceased wife's sister becomes a "flannelled fool" or a "muddied oaf." I would rather see a man who has married his deceased wife's sister playing cricket or football than see an unmarried widower spending the whole of his time playing ping-pong. The Dean of Winchester, referring to the proposal to legalise marriage with a deceased wife's sister, said:— It would be a change for the sake of the minority, which would inflict a terrible hardship on the majority. I believe that a vast majority of the electors of the United Kingdom are in favour of the Bill. I frankly admit that the vast majority do not want to marry their deceased wife's sister, but they are not obliged to do so by this Bill. I do not know how long we shall have to din into the heads of our opponents that the Bill is not compulsory. It is astonishing the number of letters I get from people who imagine that it is. I have received a letter from a lady who says that she knows a man who married the eldest of seven sisters, and she says:— Would it not be a terrible thing if this Bill were to become law and his wife were to die, that this unfortunate man should be compelled to marry all these six sisters at once. Why!" she says, "it would be no better than a harem. It is because of the arguments used by hon. Members who are opposed to the Bill that this idea gets into people's heads. I do not know whether the House is aware of the decision of Chief Justice Denman that a man who marries his sister-in-law while his wife is alive is guilty of bigamy, though his marriage to the same woman if his wife were deceased would not be legal. It seems to me that that is a very strange inconsistency in the law. The hon. Baronet alluded to the statement I made last year that the opposition to this Bill emanated chiefly from the English Church Union. Well, objection has been taken to that statement and I freely admit that the hon. Member for Tunbridge is not a member of the English Church Union. The hon. Member for Kirkcud bright thire is above all suspicion. He is one of the staunchest Protestants in the House. But is not this the old old story we have heard so often. It is the Protestant cat that is made to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, but it is the High Church monkey who stands behind.


Does the hon. Member mean to suggest that the prominent opponents of the Bill are members of the English Church Union?


I do not quite know. I have not the list of members.


If the hon. Member does not quite know, he should not state it as a fact.


I know that the opposition emanates from the English Church Union.




I should be glad to be favoured with a list of the members of the union.


Does the hon. Gentleman mean to question my word? [Cries of "Withdraw."]


I shall not pursue the subject further. I ask the House to remember that marriage with a deceased wife's sister is valid in almost every country in the world except the United Kingdom and the Transvaal; and I think all will agree that the late Government of the Transvaal was not a progressive or an intelligent Government. During the Coronation year there will be many colonial visitors to England, some of whom no doubt, have married according to the laws of their country, and I implore the House to remove from the Statute-book a law which—I do not like to use strong language—I say is an insult to them directly they land on our shores. I earnestly hope that this year—the year of the Coronation, we shall remove from the Statute-book this blot which has so long defaced it.

*(1.53.) MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)

The hon. Member who has just sat down commenced by saying that he would not use any of the stale old arguments of last year, but it seemed tome in listening to his speech that he used no arguments at all. He began by a long discussion of the Amendment put down to last year's bill by the noble Lord. I venture to say that that part of his speech was both irrelevant and out of order. [Cries of "Order."] If it was not ruled to be out of order it was not relevant to the discussion of the Second Reading of this Bill. In the second place, he proceeded to make a large number of very trifling remarks on what I think is a very serious subject. I regret that any Member proposing to the House a measure of such serious importance should have ventured to introduce into the discussion remarks of so light and trifling a character as he has done. Then he proceeded to make out once more that the opposition to this Bill only came from one section of the community. He was good enough to admit that I did not belong to the English Church Union. He admitted with far more reluctance that the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich did not belong to the English Church Union. In my own case he suggested that even I was subject to suspicion because he alluded to the hon. Member for Kirkcudbrightshire as being entirely above suspicion. But the suggestion was that if we were not actually members it might be said that we ought to be. I will read to him a few words from a man who, I think he will admit, is entirely above suspicion.—I mean, the late Bishop of Liverpool Dr. Ryle, who I believe was at one time secretary of the Church Association, which I may venture to remark is not precisely the same thing as the English Church Union, [the hon. Gentleman read an extract from a speech by Dr. Ryle in 1884, and continued:] I venture to think that that is sufficient proof that the opposition to the Bill does not come only from the Members of, or those who are tainted with suspicion of belonging to the English Church Union. No, the opposition to this Bill comes from the great body of churchmen in this country, and from many who do not belong to the Church of England. We hold as the seconder of the Bill holds, that this is only a first step. We hold that you are trifling with and making a fundamental change in the Christian law of marriage. We hold that you cannot step there. We quite accept the dictum of the hon. Member, the seconder of the Bill. We know that there is no argument in favour of this change, which cannot be used in favour of other changes far more serious than the one proposed. Let us take for example the argument used by the hon. Member who has just sat down. He told us that we were the only country in the world which did not permit marriages with a deceased wife's sister.


Except the Transvaal.


Well, except the Transvaal. It is the best thing I have heard about the Transvaal. But in the first place the hon. Member is entirely in error.


I said "almost."


Almost; very well. At all events, I think the hon. Member mentioned France.


No, no.


You did not mention France. Well, I will mention France. In France it is not permitted except by dispensation.


Everybody can get a dispensation.


What does dispensation mean? If you have to get a dispensation, it shows that the law is against you. The very fact that there is a dispensation is the strongest argument for saying that but for the law a dispensation would not be required. The same is true in every one of the great communities—Russia, Greece, and the greater part of the East which belong to the great Eastern Church. In the Eastern Church this kind of marriage is not permitted, even with a dispensation. Are we going to be one with that great branch of that Christian Church, or must we conform to those places where this law is permitted? Take America. In the State of New York it is permitted, but in that State not only is this permitted, but a great many other things are permitted. There you may not only marry a deceased wife's sister, but you may marry first of all a widow, and then her daughter. Now, I venture to say, that that is the point we make. You cannot stay where the hon. Member wishes us to stay. You cannot interfere with the laws of marriage in one respect only; and every single example given as a reason why we should copy other countries in regard to legislation of this kind, is a reason why we should copy them in other respects. The hon. Member opposite, in reply to the noble Lord the Member for South Kensington admitted that in Canada and South Australia, marriage with a niece was as permissible as marriage to a deceased wife's sister. What is the truth about these Colonial laws? These have been passed to meet the needs of a particular state of society; but is that a reason why we should follow their example? The hon. Member who seconded the Motion said that what is true in the moral sphere in the Colonies is also true in the moral sphere in London, and every part of the Empire. That is a most dangerous doctrine. If what is true in the moral sphere in Sydney is also true in the moral sphere in London, then what is true in the moral plane in Calcutta is true in the moral plane in London. But that is an argument either for abolishing polygamy in Calcutta or legalizing polygamy in London. I do feel that we want to treat our Colonies perfectly fairly in the matter. What is the Colonial grievance? They say that if a man marries his deceased wife's sister in the Colonies, which is perfectly legal there, and he comes to England afterwards, his wife is regarded as his mistress and his children as bastards. But that is not the case. Lord Cairns, in discussing this very Bill said— My view of the law upon the point is this, that if a man, being domiciled in a colony in which it is lawful to marry a deceased wife's sister, does marry his deceased wife's sister, his marriage with her is good all the world over. Whereas if the man is a domiciled Englishman, not domiciled in the colony, but merely resident there, his marriage with his deceased wife's sister in such circumstances is bad everywhere, because he carries the impediment of his domicile to such a marriage with him. It is therefore idle to say that such a marriage may be valid in one of our colonies and invalid in this country. The question depends on domicile, and the only hardship is where an Englishman goes to the Colonies in order to marry his deceased wife's sister. I submit that that is not an argument for a change in the law, because he goes to the Colonies to evade the law. We respect and we love the Colonies, and wish, so far as we can, to be one with them and to repay them for all they have done for us. But is that an argument for allowing them to dictate to us on a matter which we hold most sacred in regard to the law of marriage? Imperial sentiment is a very serious thing, and I am delighted to see it spreading on the Opposition Benches, but is the assistance which the Colonies have given to the mother-country in the present war to be exploited for a change in our law of marriage, not in accordance with our own ideas but in accordance with Colonial ideas? I will not defend everything that was done under the Lyndhurst Act. There was much that was wrong in that Act; and if there was a sordid bargain in it, that was not our doing. But the Lyndhurst Act did not apply only to marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Before that Act was passed all these marriages within the tables of consanguinity affinity were voidable, because, as was said by Lord Brougham, they were void. The Lyndhurst Act applied to all degrees of consanguinity as well as degrees of affinity, and provided that such marriages were in future to be not only voidable but void.

This Bill will tamper with the marriage law, which lies at the root of family life, and that is a very dangerous thing to do. If passed, I believe that social impurity would follow. I oppose it not merely on religious grounds, but because I believe that these particular marriages have been invariably prohibited by the Christian Church and only allowed in a few cases by special dispensation. I oppose it on social grounds, because I think it a very happy state which now exists in so many families, where the sister of a deceased wife comes to look after her sister's children without any suggestion of wrong or immorality. That is a good thing for the country, and it would be an evil thing if by alteration of the law it were rendered impossible. I oppose it also because I do not believe there is the slightest real demand for the Bill. My hon. friend who moved the rejection of the Bill stated that he had fought more elections than any other Member of this House, and that he had never heard the question mentioned; and, with my more limited election experience, I have never heard the question mentioned at an election. The only times it has been mentioned to me have been when I received letters—and a good many of them—urging me to do all I could in opposition to the Bill. I made that statement last year, and if there had been any strong public opinion in favour of the measure, I am sure I would have had some protests against my speech and action; but I have not had a single letter of protest. I oppose the Bill because I am thoroughly convinced, whatever may be said to the contrary, that this is not a poor man's Bill but a rich man's Bill. It is a Bill brought in to legalize the wrongful acts of certain rich and influential people. I do not see why, if people have broken the marriage law, or any other law, an Act of Parliament should be passed to repeal that law. It is a Bill for which there is no popular demand, and to which the women of England have almost unanimously presented an unbroken opposition. Therefore though we were defeated last year on the Second Reading, and perhaps will be again to-day, I shall feel it my duty to offer my most strenuous opposition to the Bill at every stage. (2.33.)

(2.45.) CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)

There seems a to be notion that the promoters of this Bill, if the measure is carried into law, are desirous that everybody should be compelled to marry his deceased wife's sister. I can assure the House there is nothing more remote from the wish of the promoters. What we seek are facilities to enable a widower, where he so desires it, to contract such a marriage. The hon. Member for Aston Manor has, from a hostile point of view, criticised the Bill, and he asks what precedent we have for seeking to make our proposals retrospective. The answer to that question is very easily found. We have the precedent of Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1833, under which marriages, which, before the passing of that Act, were voidable, were made legal. I think the hon. Member was a little hard on the promoters. In this Bill, as compared with the measure of last year, we have made a very considerable concession to the feelings—a very natural one—of members of the Established Church, in that we propose that no pains or penalties are to be incurred by any clergyman who refuses to officiate at such a marriage, and I think it is somewhat ungenerous of the hon. Member not to have acknowledged that concession. Then I turn to the speech of the hon. Member for Tunbridge. We maintain that, in practice, marriage with a deceased wife's sister is allowed all over the Continent. My hon. friend referred to France. I can assure him that in France it is perfectly easy for a man to get a dispensation. It may be said that it is therefore necessary for a man to be a Catholic, but that is not the case, for, of whatever religion he may be, he can go to the Minister of Justice and obtain a dispensation for such a marriage. That this follows in practice is very clear when we find, according to French statistics, that over 1,000 such marriages take place every year. In the case of Russia, it is well known that the orthodox Church forbids all marriages of affinity and spiritual relationship up to the seventh and eighth degree. On the other hand, the State allows all who are not of the orthodox faith, to contract these marriages.


Oh yes—


My hon. friend says "Oh yes," but will he be willing to permit in this country those who are not of the orthodox faith to contract these marriages?




That is precisely my case. That is the hardship of which we, who are members of other communities than the Church of England, complain. The hon. Member says he is not prepared to allow that, and that is one of our grievances. In another portion of his speech the hon. Member referred to the Colonies. Relying on a speech by Lord Cairns, he denied that the children of Colonists who, having made such a marriage in the Colonies, came to this country were in an illegitimate position. But the words upon which that statement is based were not a judgment of Lord Cairns; they were simply an opinion expressed by him in the course of a debate in the House of Lords. Everybody must respect anything said by Lord Cairns, but I would call particular attention to the fact that these words were not in a judgment delivered by him. A Colonial Marriages Bill has often been brought before the House to remedy this alleged grievance, and the Premiers of all the self-governing colonies have petitioned the Government in support of such a measure, whereas if Lord Cairns's dictum was correct, there would be no necessity for such a Bill at all.

I now come to the view of religious communities outside the Church of England, and I will simply take the words of Dr. Adler, the Chief Rabbi. In his evidence before the Royal Commission of 1847, as to the view taken by members of the Hebrew persuasion, he said— The marriage of a widower with his deceased wife's sister is not only considered prohibited, but it is distinctly understood to be permitted. and he went on to say— These marriages are considered proper, and even laudable, when there are children, and the usual time for remaining a widower is abbreviated in such cases. That is the practice of those professing the Jewish faith. I believe that that is also the opinion of the Nonconformists of the country, although it is not my place to speak for them, but doubtless somebody will represent what they have to say on the subject. As regards the Catholics, all I can say is that two very eminent Catholic Cardinals have expressed their opinion in favour of these marriages. I refer to Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Wiseman.


Can the hon. Gentleman state what they said—whether they ever professed that they were in favour of the State legalising these marriages?


I cannot give an answer on that point, but I know that Cardinal Wiseman said that if these marriages were expedient in the interests of the poor—


By dispensation of the Church.


Quite so; but I do not wish to enter into controversy with the noble Lord as to whether it was by dispensation of the Church or not—


I think the answer to which the hon. Gentleman refers was in this form: If, in the interests of the poor, he thought it was expedient—


I have not the exact words by me, but perhaps later in the debate the hon. Member will quote the words preceding those he has just read. The position, however, amounts to this, that the Church of England alone does not countenance these marriages. Nonconformists, Jews, and Roman Catholics do allow them. I quite admit that it is absurd to say that the opposition comes from only one section of the Church of England. I do not I think there is any considerable division of opinion on the matter in the Church, although I happen to know one eminent divine of the Church of England in my own constituency, who admits that he is in favour of these marriages. But I would ask the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, who is going to speak presently, whether or not it is the fact that in early times there were other marriages then not approved by the Church of England which now are allowed? I mean such marriages as between first cousins. Were they not at one time prohibited by the Church of England? And surely at one time clergymen or priests were not allowed to marry. I will not presume to discuss matters affecting the doctrine of a Church to which I do not belong, but it seems to me that there is a certain want of continuity in the practice of the Church of England itself, as to the view it takes of different kinds of marriages.

A great deal has been said about public opinion in this matter. We had been told that no petitions have been presented recently. Everybody knows that it is very easy to get up petitions and public meetings on behalf of either side. But in reply to the hon. Member who said there had been no expression of opinion on this subject, I may say that his constituency was canvassed very recently on the question, and those in favour of the present Bill were in the proportion of 28 to 1. But be that as it may, I think too much attention cannot be paid to the result of the division of last year. The mover of this Bill laid stress on the fact that in all the four countries there was a very good majority in favour of this Bill. Upon the last occasion when this measure was before the House there was a very large House, and the majority was 157 out of 400. Therefore, it is not necessary to try and agitate. Surely the Members of the House of Commons represent in some way or other more less the opinions of their constituents, If so there are many hon. Members in favour of this measure and it is fair to presume that they represent the feeling of the country. [An Hon. Member: What about the women?] As far as I can ascertain, the women are not opposed to this Bill. If the noble Lord will pardon me I may inform him that I have seven sisters-in-law, and they all say the same thing that they quite approve of this measure. For many years the House of Lords has thrown out this Bill, but on the last occasion when they considered it, it is very interesting to know that His Majesty the present King and the present Prince of Wales both voted in favour of the Bill—[Ministerial cries of "Order, order."]

It is said that this is a Bill for the rich, but I strenously deny that contention. There is absolutely no doubt that, except for the social inconvenience, the present law is no very great hardship to the rich, because they can go abroad and get married, and they have done this over and over again. They can go and live in other countries, where they can go through a form of marriage, but they cannot go even through a form of marriage with a deceased wife's sister in this country. Therefore the present state of the law is a very great hardship upon poor people. I maintain that this Bill does not in the least try to extend or do away with the principle which has been laid down. The measure simply removes a particular standing grievance. It is no argument to say "why don't you go in for sweeping away the whole principle?" My answer is that we must move with the times, and do what the times demand. If we were trying to sweep away the whole principle of affinity, I could quite understand hon. Members opposite taking a much more firm stand than they do. They say to us "Your measure will upset the whole principle. Why don't you bring in a bigger Bill than this and upset the whole marriage laws?" We reply "one thing at a time," and that is our answer. I do not agree with this principle of affinity in the least, but that has nothing to do with the case of my hon. friends who are promoting this Bill. They say we only want it in this particular case and we do not wish to go any further. I do not say that that is my view, but I am sure that that is the view of the majority of the promoters of this Bill. They say that this question presses, and we want this grave injustice done away with. I hope the House will pass this Bill by a very large majority. I wish it to be clearly understood that this Bill is not brought in in the interests of the rich, to whom the grievance is a light one, but in the interests of morality and of the poor in this country.


I am sure that I do not want to say anything severe about the hon. Member for South St. Pancras, but I must protest in the strongest way possible against the introduction of His Majesty's name for the purpose of influencing the votes of hon. Members of this House. I think if there is one thing to be deplored more than another it is this. Now let me take the argument my hon. friend has used to illustrate the intention of this measure. The hon. Member who spoke last said they wished to go one step at a time. At the present time we have a clearly defined restriction upon marriage in this country, and that restriction relates to certain degrees of affinity contained in the table of affinity in the Prayer Book. If this affinity is to be broken into there is no argument which could not be introduced later on in favour of any further alteration. [Opposition cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, there is none at any rate which has so far been adduced in this House, and, if we are to break into the laws of affinity, let us do so because those laws are unreasonable and unnecessary, and because they put an unfair restriction upon His Majesty's subjects. That is the whole tone of the argument addressed to this House, more especially by the hon. Member for Accrington. This is a very curious position for hon. Members to adopt. We ask you to proceed upon some logical ground and give us some finality. If our marriage laws are to be altered, which we much deprecate, at any rate show us that there is some chance of reaching finality and that you are not opening an endless discussion, endless alterations and confusion in men's minds, producing discomfort, distress, quarrels and disputes.

Let me illustrate in this way the mischief which I think will arise if this measure becomes law. Consider for a moment Clause 2, on page 2, which I presume has been put in at the instance of Lord Halifax, and has its inspiration from him. It has been inserted with the object of enabling clergymen who conscientiously disapprove of these marriages to refuse the rights of the Holy Communion to these persons. What is the position? It is going to say to the laymen, "here is a perfectly lawful and expedient step for you to take," and at the same moment it is inviting the clergy of the Established Church to turn upon these men and treat them as men living in fornication and as men to whom the sacred rites of Holy Communion are to be refused. This Bill contains an invitation to the clergy to refuse the rites of the Holy Communion to the laymen of our Church if they think fit. Is that not bringing a sword into every parish in this country? Imagine the result of this in country parishes where the clergymen take a strong and conscientious view that such marriages are morally wrong. Imagine the case of a man who has made one of these marriages and who comes under the influence of such a priest, and that priest tells him it is his duty to put his wife away and live away from her. [Opposition cries of "Oh, oh."] That is not an argument of my own, but it is a view which will be taken in the case of a priest who believes that a man by such a marriage is living in sin. Is that going to improve the social condition of this country? For the sake of benefiting a mere handful of men who have broken the law, you are going to inflict an injury and arouse dissension among a large number of law-abiding citizens of this country.

I am glad to see in his place the hon. Member for Accrington, and should like to make one or two remarks upon what he said earlier in this debate. He was very strong indeed upon the importance of assimilating our marriage laws to those of the Colonies, and I hope he will pardon me for saying that with gross exaggeration he described the condition of a deceased wife's sister who had been married by a man domiciled in Australia, and who came over here as being that of a concubine. That is an extraordinary statement for a lawyer to make, although I could imagine anybody else not acquainted with the law making such a statement. The hon. Member must know that that is not the position of such a woman. The hon. Member says that at present it is a mere toss up whether this woman would receive the benefit of church membership or enjoy social advantages when she comes over here. The hon. Member cannot have read this Bill. Such a case cannot be affected by the law, and it can only be affected by public opinion. Then there is the other point of church membership. There is every arrangement made in the Bill to prevent the unfortunate woman getting church membership. If we are to alter our own fundamental marriage laws for the sake of making things pleasant for the ladies who visit the country from Australia, what are we to do for the lady whose position is unpleasant on account of other matters connected with the marriage law? Why is she not to be protected by the hon. Member? Why should her children not be legitimitised? Why should she be looked upon as a concubine? We tried to get the hon. Member to say whether this was satisfactory in his judgment or not. Did he want to go further or did he want to stop here? We could not get it out of him. He got up and explained, and he only darkened counsel. I suppose he thought it would embarrass us and make it more difficult for us to reply. He left us entirely in the dark whether he wanted to go forward or whether this would satisfy him. My point is that you cannot assimilate the marriage laws of the Colonies so long as the Colonies have different marriage laws one from the other. I deny the claim of the Colonies that we should alter our marriage laws to suit them. I do not think it has ever been put forward by any responsible statesman. I should like to see the marriage law the same in the whole of the British Empire, but that, I think, is a counsel of perfection which we cannot possibly attain. One Member said what a preposterous thing it is that the law has been defined by Mr. Justice Denman, that a man who goes through a form of marriage with his wife's sister is guilty of bigamy, and yet if he goes through that form of marriage after his wife's decease the marriage is not a marriage at all in law. The matter is very simple to any one with an elementary knowledge of the law. The offence of bigamy is made, not by going through a form of marriage which the law says is bad, but because the woman may have been induced to marry under a false pretence, and for that offence the man is most properly punished by the law.

The hon. Member for North Norfolk brought forward a new point when he said that apparently there was an omission from the Prayer Book table of contents. He said there was no reference in the table of contents to one important passage. I think that is trifling with the House, and it is not judicious in his own interest, if he desires this measure to become law, that he should put forward such trivial remarks to people who feel earnestly on this matter. Do give us credit for feeling very strongly about this. We are appealed to over and over again to consider the feelings of Nonconformists in regard to things which seem to them quite right and proper. I would ask hon. Members to remember that when they attack our marriage laws in a way that practically destroys affinity, and that they take up an attitude which must logically land them in a position where a man can marry a widow, and afterwards her daughter, whom he may have brought up from childhood. The House should not be surprised if we offer the most determined opposition to this measure, not merely now but in Committee. I cannot conceive that this measure will be sent to a Grand Committee; it would be such a monstrous abuse of the procedure of this House as it at present exists. Do not be surprised if we use every form in this House we legitimately can to oppose a measure which we are convinced is profoundly against the interests of the country, and do not be surprised that we are incensed when we are trifled with by such trumpery stuff as has been put before us by the hon. Member for North Norfolk.

*(3.22.) SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)

I rise to support the Amendment. I could wish that the House had been fuller than it has been up to the present time, and that Members would not flock in and vote when the division is taken, for I maintain fearlessly that the debate has gone all one way. We have really had no conclusive arguments on the other side at all. The hon. Member for South St. Pancras disclosed a fact which certainly, if he had stated it in a full House, must have had a damaging effect on his own side. He in effect said, "We will to-day vote for this Bill and allow a man to marry his deceased wife's sister, and next year we will allow a man to marry his stepmother, we will allow a man to marry his wife's niece and so on." Well, all I can say is that if the House of Commons is going to play—for it is not serious legislation—with the marriage laws in this fashion, they must have very little to do on Wednesday. My friend the mover of the Bill spoke as if all Scotland was unanimous in approval of the measure. He did not give his reasons for that, beyond stating what was the percentage of Scottish Members who voted last year in the division lobby, but I am satisfied that there is a very strong feeling in Scotland against the Bill. That feeling was exemplified some years ago in a somewhat remarkable pamphlet, signed by thirty-four of the leaders of the Established Church, the Free Church, and the United Presbyterian Church—the three great Presbyterian bodies of Scotland—and although I will assume that some of those in a exalted position may have changed their views, at the same time you will find a tremendously strong under-current not only among the divines of the Church of Scotland, but among the people of Scotland against the Bill. I am satisfied that I am speaking the truth when I say that if such a bill were discussed in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and in the courts of the sister Churches you would find the preponderating view would be against it. During the ten contested elections I have fought I have never been asked a question on this subject. There is absolute indifference on the part of the people, and although you may fan into flames on a Wednesday afternoon some occult views which have not been heard for many years, yet I say that it is a fallacy to suppose that the people of Scotland are in favour of such a scheme as this without taking some means to ascertain their views, and to see what they really feel on the subject. There are some who would give anything to have the law changed, but it is not for the good of the Church or the people of the country, but for the good of them- selves, and these are the last persons who ought to influence the House of Commons in a debate of this character.

I am satisfied the proposed change in the law would do great harm to the social conditions under which we live. I have seen, over and over again, sisters-in-law looking after their sister's children, and whom can the brother-in-law get to do that better? The widower would lose all that advantage. I have known men express the strongest hope that the law will never be repealed. We know perfectly well that the sanctity of the law of marriage has been greatly shaken by the Divorce Courts. If you begin to tinker with the law of marriage you will do a great deal of harm to the country. As a Scotchman I cannot say that I approve altogether of the marriage laws in that country. I want, as a Conservative, to keep all that we have. We know where we are, but if we were to pass this measure there would be no possible finality, and we might run into difficulties that we know not of. We have heard of the Lyndhurst Act. I am not going into the reasons for which that Act was passed. They were clearly stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton. It did not alter the law; it altered the machinery of the law. Although Lord Cairns's speech in the House of Lords was not a judgment, every one who knows the wonderful mastery he had of the principles of law must give credence to what he said. Lord Cairns's stated that when the man was domiciled in a Colony, and married there his deceased wife's sister, the marriage would be lawful, not only in the Colony but be recognised as lawful in this country and everywhere. We have heard a great deal to-day about the unfortunate woman who comes over to this country and is not recognised because she has married her deceased sister's husband. Lord Cairns went on to say that the existing law prevented people domiciled in England going to a Colony to contract a marriage with a deceased wife's sister, and claiming such marriages as valid on their return home. I cannot see any great hardship in keeping the law as it is; and I think that to pass an Act to whitewash people who break the law is too ridiculous.

I ask, Sir, is it expedient to raise this question? There are many persons who have a strong view of the sanctity of marriage as we find it in parts of the Old Testament; and they believe that if you break in on that you destroy a fundamental, and if you destroy a fundamental you lose the whole thing. For 1,400 years after Christ you will not find a single authority in favour of such marriages. That is surely a strong point to consider. We ought to go back and look at what our forefathers, who were certainly as good judges as we are, thought on this important matter, and trust to their judgment. In no Christian country, except in our own Colonies, so far as I know, is this proposal entertained. We know that public opinion in France and Holland is against it. Of course they get a dispensation sometimes, but that does not prove that the people approve of such marriages; it only proves that in certain circumstances a dispensation is given. Then the Greek Church is not in the least favourable to this view. Why should we therefore have this view forced on an unwilling people? In some States in the United States, a man can marry his niece, and in other States a man can marry his father's second wife. We do not want to bring that in here. Then, if the attitude of the Church of England is looked at, I question whether opinion was ever more solid against marriage with a deceased wife's sister than at the present time. When you have the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, who knows the views of the working men as well as any one, and the Bishop of Hereford coming to the same conclusion that on no account should this Bill pass, I say that the House of Commons would undertake a great responsibility if it takes the matter into its own hands and gives the Bill a Second Reading.

(3.35.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

I beg hon. Members to dismiss the argument that a reasonable reform should be rejected because unreasonable proposals may possibly follow. That is an argument that has been employed against any kind of reform ever made in this country, and it is an argument which shows that very few good reasons can be offered against the Bill. Here is a measure which has received, I should say, more parliamentary sanction and approval than any other measure passed into law since I have been in this House. I am afraid to tell the number of times that the principle has been sanctioned by the House of Commons. The Bill has passed through all its stages in each Chamber of the Legislature, and has only escaped being passed into law and placed on the Statute book by the clumsy machinery of Procedure of the House, and the pertinacity, obstinacy, and factiousness of a small opposing minority. Now, if I were to condemn the action of a small minority I might be regarded as a Cataline preaching against conspiracy: and it may be said that I should apply the principle to myself, and that it is an insult on the intelligence and power of the majority of the House of Commons, that a small body of men should be able to defy the will of Parliament. All I can say in reply to that is, that, if a measure were to apply to Ireland and had received the support of such large majorities as this Bill has received, the two noble Lords opposite would have voted for a Resolution which would have stopped the mouths of all the Irish party.

Let us look at the position of the religious communities in regard to the question of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. These marriages are approved of by practically the whole of the Nonconformist Committees of England; they are practised and sanctioned by the Jewish community in this country; they are not encouraged, but they are permitted, in the Catholic Church. [Hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches "Dispensation."] I will come to Dispensation immediately, if I get dispensation from interruption. These marriages are further approved of by a large body of members of the Church of England. When I take up the division list of last year on this Bill I see that for the Second Reading there were 279 "Ayes" and 122 "Noes." Of these 279 "Ayes"96 were, I am told, Conservatives and Liberal Unionists, and the majority of them were members of the Church of England. To what position are we driven on this question? That the opinion and practice of all the religious communities of this country are to be opposed by a small section of a section of the Anglican Church! [An Hon, Member: "No."] The hon. Gentleman who interrupts me does not say that the Church of England repre- sents all the Protestant bodies of England. I say, and the votes in the lobbies prove it, that the Nonconformist opinion is practically solid in favour of this measure; but a few hon. Gentlemen opposite, in a narrow spirit of Sectarianism, insist that because they disapprove of these marriages every other religious opinion should subject itself to their opinion. I have never heard the doctrine of religious intolerance more nakedly and courageously avowed than by the representatives of that small section of a section of the Church of England. Really, some of the speeches of the question seem to me to have been made by gentlemen who have not read even the title of the Bill, because some on these speeches would lead one to suppose that this is a compulsory Bill, and that every man must immediately proceed on his wife's death to marry his deceased wife's sister. May I point out that if it be against their religious convictions to marry their deceased wife's sister they need not do it; but why should men be prevented by law from marrying their deceased wife's sister if their religious convictions sanctioned such a union? Why should they not imitate the action of Catholics in regard to the law of divorce? No earnest and consistent churchman who is opposed to the marriage with a deceased wife's sister will be compelled to make use of the law, any more than a Catholic is compelled to make use of the law of divorce.

I regard this Bill as affecting the poor rather than the rich. I entirely traverse the statement that this a rich man's Bill. I can regard the rich man as a man and a brother, like the hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I am not going to deprive him of his social rights even although he happens to be rich. But it is a well known fact that these marriages are more common among the working people than among the richor in the higher classes. The main effect of this Bill is to allow a man, in that awful hour when he has lost his wife, to give his children a second mother instead of a stepmother. I put it to any who knows anything of human nature or of married life. I put it to hon. Members with some experience of life, that if a woman died leaving behind four or five children, and she had a choice to make, would she prefer that a stranger with no tie of blood, and who would look upon them with an eye of disfavour which has made the frown of a stepmother a proverb in the literature of the world, should have charge of those children as a stepmother, or would she prefer to ask her husband to bring in a near relative like the aunt who had, perhaps, known the children from their earliest days, and perhaps had nursed and brought them up, and on whose affections she could confide? Can it be supposed that such a woman would prefer a stranger to take her place, who would frown upon the helpless young children? I do not know anything in the literature of this subject that has influenced me more than a passage from the writings of Sir Edwin Chadwick, in which he brings out a fact which is familiar to everybody who knows anything about human nature. He says that one of the reasons why so many young boys and girls leave their home and begin a career of misery which ends in vice and degradation is a stepmother who has been brought in in place of the wife. Now I do not want the stepmother brought in if the second mother can be brought in. I acknowledge that opinion is divided amongst Catholics upon the question of this Bill. I can array in support of this Bill Cardinal Wiseman, Cardinal Newman, and Cardinal Moran, of Australia, and one of the petitions presented in favour of this Bill was a petition signed I think by hundreds of the Catholic priests of Dublin and other parts of Ireland, On the other hand I believe that Cardinal Vaughan is opposed to this Bill, and I believe that Cardinal Manning is also against this measure. I fully acknowledge that the Catholic Church authorities do not encourage these matters. The mere fact that a dispensation has to be asked for these marriages is a proof that the Catholic Church looks upon them with disfavour, but nevertheless the Catholic Church gives dispensation. By this means the Catholics allow the marriage to take place. You may not approve of it, but you allow the marriage to take place, and can it be regarded with decency or humanity when you permit these marriages to afterwards bastardize these children by the law of the land? Could there be a more inhuman inconsistency than this? You give immunity to the half guilty party who make these marriages, and then you punish with shame and opprobium the innocent off springs. Has the House fully realised the sin that you are putting on tens of thousands of children who have been born within the last 40 years? [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] But there must have been at least ten thousand children as the result of these marriages within the last forty years. Can anybody realise the misery put upon these families? Anyone born with this sin of illegitimacy is made to carry an open sore all through life, and it is inhuman to ask any religious community to pass upon the children of these marriages such suffering and degradation. Therefore, I say that it is an act of humanity to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill.


For the first time in the evening during this debate we see a large proportion of the hon. Members of the House present, and I cannot refrain from saying that when we are told that there is a great popular demand for this measure it is a little strange that that demand has generally been expressed by vacant green benches. I also wish to say that this is an illustration of the impropriety of this Bill being brought forward by a private Member. The hon. Member for North Norfolk embarked upon a premature discussion of the Rules of Procedure, but he had no argument to bring forward which was worthy of the Bill.


I gave them last year.


We have been discussing a good deal whether this Bill ought or ought not to pass, and these things all hang together. You bring in a Bill to which the House is practically to devote two hours only of real discussion, and other hon. Members of the House, and myself, use the forms of the House with equal sincerity to prevent the measure passing into law. I am not surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for South St. Pancras, for we have had from him the candid and frank disclosure that this is only one step in the attack upon the marriage laws. The hon. Member says "one thing at a time," but we have not had a good attendance of hon. Members to listen to the arguments which have been urged with so much ability on one side and so little success upon the other side.

Let me take, first of all, the arguments in favour of the Bill. We are told, first of all, that the working classes want this measure. I should have thought that that was a statement which might have been made to almost any audience except the House of Commons with good effect. We have seen something of the working classes at election times, and then we have had opportunities of judging their opinions. They correspond with us frequently during the sittings of Parliament, and I ask is there any evidence at all that the working classes of this country care two straws about the matter? I am glad that my hon. friend referred to the statement of the Bishop of London upon these points, because there is nobody more qualified to gauge the opinion of the working classes than the Bishop of London. His career has been a model one, and he has been conspicuously what a Christian Bishop should be, and he has the confidence of a very large number of the working classes of this country. The Bishop of London has opposed this Bill. Therefore I set that aside as an argument that should be told only to marines or any other credulous audience.

Now, Sir, the argument upon which the promoters of this Bill rely most strongly for convincing the House of Commons is, that this Bill would be agreeable to our Colonial fellow-subjects. Nobody is more proud than I am of the great Colonial Empire of which this country is the owner, and nobody appreciates more than I do the devotion and loyalty which they have displayed. But I am persuaded that if this argument was to be admitted for a moment it would be a disastrous blow at the whole doctrine of Colonial self-government. It has been put to us that, this country having assented to certain Colonial measures, therefore we are committed to this Bill. The whole idea of Colonial self-government is that they should govern themselves, and if they are not allowed to do sometimes what we disapprove of, then they would not be governing themselves, but we should be governing them. The test is that they should be allowed to do what we think is wrong, but what they think is right. I am sorry to have to explain these elementary principles to hon. Members, but unless we come down to something very clear and elementary, you cannot find the bottom of many perversities in the reasonings which have been addressed to us on this subject. I am obliged to ask why the Colonial argument should be brought forward at all in connection with this Bill. It would be quite relevant to a Bill which proposes to deal with the disabilities attaching to Colonial marriages in this country, which are confined to the inheritance of real property and no other thing, for that is a very crushing disability. Whatever value the argument may have, it does not relate to this Bill at all, but to the Colonial Marriages Bill. I should like to ask my hon. friend who introduced this Bill, and who secured the first opportunity for private Members, why he did not introduce the Colonial Marriages Bill? Instead of that, he elects to try to alter the law of this country; but then, what becomes of the Colonial argument? Why are we to have this Imperialistic screen set up, from behind which people can fire at the marriage laws of this country? Why are we to have the marriage laws degraded in this way? Why is patriotism to be paraded, and I would say degraded, in this way? I recognise the right of the Colonies of self-government, but I also claim that we should be allowed to settle our own laws for ourselves. Supposing in the future we are to have a closer federation between the Empire; suppose, although it seems a long way off, we can see a legislative body sitting here for the whole Empire, we shall still retain the right of making our own laws for ourselves. Why then is this House and the Imperial Parliament not to have this right? I think that I have now disposed of two of the most powerful arguments in favour of the Bill. [Laughter.] Hon. Members who laugh did not hear the statements in favour of the Bill which we have listened to. If they had, they would know how weak was the case for the Bill, and it is difficult for one to speak of them as arguments at all.

Now I pass to the third point, which is the history of Lord Lyndhurst's Act. That is a very interesting point, because of a statement made in a speech of great ability delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton last year. In last year's debate there was a great controversial victory for the opponents of the Bill. Lord Lyndhurst's Act treats all marriages exactly in the same way. When we are told that before Lord Lyndhurst's Act every marriage was voidable if not void, that applies to marriage of every degree, even to the most hideous acts of incest, precisely in the same way. I really think the way in which this case is got up, and the way hon. Members, who know very little about it themselves, are instructed to argue it, is very disgraceful to the gentlemen who coach them, because the misrepresentation with regard to the law of the country is most stupendous. My hon. friend described the law of the country, but the description was a tissue of misrepresentations. He said there was no statutory law earlier than Henry VIII. forbidding marriages of this kind; he did not say, however, that the reason of that was that Christianity, being a part of the common law of the country, regarded, as a matter of course, these marriages as illegal. Early in the reign of Henry VIII. other restrictions of less importance were made, but this restriction was never questioned, and in Charles II.'s reign it was actually enforced. So that the law on this subject is absolutely unbroken—this was always an illegal marriage. The law was occasionally evaded by most abusive practices, which were put an end to once and for all by Lord Lyndhurst's Act. As I am speaking from the point of view of the morality or immorality of this proposal, I should like to ask why hon. Members who are in favour of it propose that it should be a retrospective law? Why, if it was wicked of Lord Lyndhurst's Act to sanction law-breaking in the past, is it not wicked for hon. Members to sanction it now?

I wish to say a word as to one rather singular argument of the hon. Member for the Scotland division of Liverpool. His argument was that the deceased wife's sister was a more eligible stepmother than anybody else, and that we ought not to stand in the way of such a desirable substitute for the existing mothers. Let me say at once that that is a question about which women themselves are much better judges than we, and if the hon. Member consents to this Bill going before a Select Committee we will have before us some representative women of the country and hear what they say, and I do not think that the hon. Member will find that the beautiful fancy picture which he draws of the wife summoning her sister to her deathbed to take her place, will assimilate with the views of the great majority of the women of the country.

Now let me turn to the arguments which may be urged against the Bill. This is a part of the question which cannot be treated without grave consideration. First there comes, preliminary to all the questions of social convenience, the moral right or wrong, or what is called in cant political discussion, the religious argument. I hope I shall be pardoned if I deal somewhat thoroughly with this part of the question, because it is a matter upon which there is more misapprehension than on any other part of this subject. Let me remind the House that in all questions affecting the relation of the sexes we must recognise a spiritual and transcendental side—no moralist has ever suggested it, but conscience is vehement on that side. No one can treat the relation of the sexes as a mere material matter. It is quite true that in recent years there has grown up a small section of thinkers who take that line and approach the subject from that point of view, but those are thinkers from a non-religious point of view. The great majority of thinkers, of all schools of thought, have recognised that there belongs to the relation of the sexes a peculiarly spiritual side. If that were not so, the whole doctrine that the honour of a woman is dearer than her life and dearer than the lives of other people, which is founded on this spiritual relation, would be lost; if it was a mere animal question such a thing could not arise. There is something here which lies outside the range of reasoning analysis; you cannot approach it from a strictly animal point of view; you cannot weigh and balance it; and you cannot arrive at it by a study of ancient records; it belongs by universal consent to the spiritual world. I am anxious to emphasize this point because, although the House may regard it as a truism, it so often happens that an essential feature of this kind is kept out of sight, and the rest of the argument seems ineffective because this is not kept in view. The truth is that the human body is the most marvellous of all the works of creation; it is the bridge which connects the physical and material with the spiritual world. How wonderful it is that by a purely material agency in the brain, communicated by a purely material agency to the hand, a book may be written which may contain profound spiritual thoughts, such as the tragedy of Hamlet, or the Epistles to the Romans, which endure for all time; that through a material agency should be enforced all these strictly spiritual thoughts and inspirations. Is it not wonderful that such divine functions, such a sublime light, should be hemmed in by material conditions? I should like to call attention to two sentences in a book which has created some little notice, and which represents the opposite point of view. It is Mr. Well's "Anticipations." Anyone who reads the concluding chapter sees that he anticipates a development which is only to be derived from strictly material grounds. His attitude is, that the relation of the sexes is merely a matter of indulgence; the whole idea of moral purity is banished from the question altogether. I put that to drive home the argument. What is the point of view of every hon. Member? He would deny that; he would say, there is such a thing as moral purity; it is cherished throughout the country; but it lies beyond our power of analysis; we cannot precisely delineate its limits by our own reasoning.

We have, therefore, to have recourse to two authorities—the authority of conscience, and the authority of revelation. The authority of conscience includes moral purity, but it can only determine the main proposition. You cannot determine nice questions, every little precise detail of the problem you will have to solve, except by an appeal to some other authority. Premising so far, I come very briefly to the authority of revelation. When you study the New Testament, the first impression is that you are confirmed in the opinion which you have formed of the mystical character of the relations of the sexes, and in particular of marriage. The language throughout is that which can only be appropriate when relating to the relations of the sexes, and in particular, the unity of man and wife is described in language which shows it to be of a peculiar character, far beyond any knowledge obtained from Christian law, and not as evidently created by marriage. What does that extend to? To what extent does it go? It is not generally denied that a marriage with a deceased wife's daughter or a deceased wife's mother is an unlawful union, but then you come to this; you have a unity established which renders it unlawful for a man to marry his deceased wife's mother or his deceased wife's daughter, and the question we have to solve is, whether it is also unlawful for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister. What we know of Divine law would never lead us to think it was permissible; therefore, before you approach the question of conscience authority at all, you find this inherent improbability in the suggestion that these unions are not unlawful. For the first 1400 years of Christendom nobody doubted that they were unlawful, and for the first 1400 years no authority has been placed in the opposite direction. How significant that is! Does anybody suppose that a moral proposition so testified to can be lightly laid aside? And, even if there was ambiguity or doubt, when all reason goes to show that these unions are unlawful, can anybody maintain that to enter into such a union is not unlawful? Let us notice the position of the Roman Church. I shall not be suspected by members of that religious faith of any of that disrespect to the Roman Church which sometimes unhappily characterises controversies in this country. Of course, I do not take the same view of the question as has been taken by the Roman Church, but the important thing is, that the position of the Roman Church is distinct; it is the position neither of the opponents nor of the defenders of this proposal. It is something by itself, and it is utterly vain to quote it in favour of the position of those Gentlemen who desire to pass this Bill. The Roman Church, towards the end of the fifteenth century, began to allow dispensations in favour of these marriages, but it did so only on the theory—which, of course, all Protestants reject—that the Church has in itself a high and supreme power, which can set aside in particular cases that which otherwise is binding. Nobody supposes that this House has that power. Nobody supposes that Parliament has that power. Nobody supposes that that which is immoral can be made moral by Act of Parliament. Nobody supposes—and this is more precisely the attitude of the Roman Church—that that which is inconsistent with the highest purity can be made consistent with it by Act of Parliament. The claim to this power is peculiar to the Church of Rome, and is not admitted by the whole body of Protestant opinion, nor, I may add, by the whole body of Oriental opinion.

Now, Sir, I perfectly understand Roman Catholics accepting that as their theological position; they are always perfectly logical. The last imputation one could make against Roman Catholics is, that they do not severely argue out their position, and no one would complain of their accepting these dispensations and regarding them as being consistent with their own theory. But I confess I cannot restrain a smile when I find zealous Protestants urging them as an argument in favour of this Bill. What is the origin of these dispensations? One, I think, was granted by Pope Innocent III., but they did not become part of the practice of the Roman Church until the time of Pope Alexander VI. For a Roman Catholic to accept the judgment of the Pope is perfectly reasonable, because he believes in the official position of the Pope. But what of the Protestant? The Protestant denies that; he denies the official position; and he must therefore be supposed to believe in the legitimacy of these dispensations, because he has so much confidence in the moral judgment of Pope Alexander. I think that is a most singular attitude of mind for controversialists to be led to adopt.

Now as regards Protestant bodies. There is against this Bill the testimony of the Church of England, expressed with great emphasis by the responsible chiefs and bishops of that Church. There is the Church of Scotland, which, in emphatic language in the Westminister Confession forbids these unions; and there is the whole body of Eastern and Oriental opinion. Now let me put a question to hon. Members. I am not speaking now of social expediency, of the rights of colonials, or whatever it may be; I am speaking on the question of right or wrong. Are these unions right or are they wrong? Do they belong to the class of unions between the sexes which lower purity, or to the class of unions which maintain purity? To which class do they belong? The question I put to the supporters of this Bill is, can they propound one single argument of any sort or kind in favour of their belief that such a union does not lower purity, except the belief of themselves and other persons who support the Bill? The appeal is to authority, and the only authority they can bring is, that it does not appear to be shocking to themselves and to those who support the Bill. Was there ever such an argument put forward to lead a grave assembly to the doing of a grave act?

I pass now to what is to me the most important part of the subject—the question of social expediency. First of all, there is the destruction of many happy homes which now have as the centre of pure female influence a sister-in-law of the master, whether it be a poor home or a rich home. At present they live together in perfect purity, without scandal, but in future, if this Bill passes, they will be obliged to choose between marriage and separation. ["No."] There is another argument, which seems to me to be a grave one, on the question of social expediency. If this Bill passes, there will be set up, for the first time in the history of England, two kinds of marriages—a Church marriage and a State marriage. I recognise that this Bill is not open, in addition to other imputations, to the imputation of tyranny, as it would be if it attempted to force the conscience of the clergy in the matter of performing the ceremony. But could there be any more astonishing position, especially in a country with an Established Church, than that of having two kinds of marriage—people who are married from one point of view, but not from another; people who are married sufficiently to enjoy State recognition, but not sufficiently to enjoy Church recognition? I remember a very striking phrase once used to a person of my acquaintance, by a woman who had married, not her deceased sister's husband, but her deceased daughter's husband. "I believe," she said, "I am married by the law, but not by the Bible." Of course, that is a meaningless phrase now, but it will not be meaningless if this Bill passes. There will then be lots of people who are married by the law, but not by the Bible. ["There are now."] I mean, not by the Church. In particular, I would call attention to the peculiar position in which the clergy of the Church of England themselves are placed by this Bill. If a clergyman were to marry his deceased wife's sister, he would still be exposed—very properly, I think—to a prosecution for immoral conduct. Therefore, you may actually have this singular result, that Mr. So-and-So, a clergyman, who marries his deceased wife's sister, is prosecuted for immoral conduct, tried before the ordinary tribunal, perhaps finally before the Privy Council, and deprived of his benefice, while Mr. Such-and-Such, his brother, who is not in holy orders, does exactly the same thing, and his marriage is treated as absolutely valid. I ask any lawyer in the House, whether there is anything in the least resembling that in the law of England at the present moment? It is something entirely new and exceedingly dangerous

Closely connected with that there is the question of the social expediency of disturbing society from top to bottom. An hon. Member, a friend of mine, who is a great supporter of this Bill, said to me recently that he was very much pained to hear that a Bishop in the Colonies had refused to address a woman who had married her deceased husband's brother except by her maiden name. This was done in a colony which allows these marriages. I do not express any opinion as to whether that Bishop acted wisely or not, but can anybody not see that, if you alter the law and challenge a great body of religious feeling, you accentuate all this class of difficulties? At present, a good-natured, easy-going man does not pry into his neighbour's concerns. Very rightly he says, "Their morality is no business of mine; I am not to sit in judgment upon it." But supposing a man comes to you and says, "Do you think it right or wrong?" There is no one who, if he thought so, would not say he believed it to be wrong. If this Bill passes it will act as a challenge. Everybody who is married under the Bill will claim to be rightly married under the sanction of the State. Whether you complain or not, is it not likely that when that claim is made, it will be contested by those who strongly deny the morality of such Unions? Then there will be the refusal of the clergy and the difficulties which arise out of that with regard to Communion and Christian burial. I am not pronouncing an opinion, it is not my business to pronounce an opinion as to what the Church of England ought to say to anybody. But I say that you are raising very difficult questions, which will lead to friction in every parish in the country, and, human nature being what it is, result in serious scandal of the most distressing and painful description.

Will the Bill do good even to the persons in whose interest it is promoted? Do they gain more than they lose? By having the recognisation of the law on their side they do not gain the removal of social stigma. Social stigma depends on considerations other than the operation of the law. They do not gain; they lose, because at present they enjoy peace and tranquility by their neighbours recognising that they are married people, whereas now, as I say, by this Bill you raise the question, "Are these people right or are they wrong?" and everybody who entertains strong opinions will answer in accordance with their convictions. You will be introducing a sword of division in every part of the country, where now there is peace and quietness. This is only a beginning; there is likely to be a series of these Bills brought before Parliament. ["Oh."] That is so, if we are to believe the seconder of the Bill. The whole doctrine appears to be that you are to do good little by little, that you are to do one thing at a time; and then I suppose there will be an end altogether of that tranquil recognition of the unalterable law which is the very foundation of the institution of marriage.

There is one other clause in the Bill to which I wish to refer before I pass from the question of social expediency, and that is the very remarkable first clause. I shall not dwell on the extraordinary want of logic which would treat a certain kind of marriages as specially odious in one connection, and perfectly legitimate in another, but I do desire to refer to what seems to me a most shocking thing. What would happen in a case where that first clause operates? If a man were divorced for immoral conduct with his wife's sister, under this Bill those persons would actually be allowed to marry. The criminal and his accomplice would be allowed to marry. Is it not an insult to every honest man and every pure woman in this country who are married to call such a union as that a marriage? I say it is a most shocking thing. I regret that such a Bill should have been brought forward, and I should regret it still more if it ever becomes the law of the land. There will be marriages indeed, but they will be marriages very different from those between persons whom God hath joined and who are never to be put asunder. They will be marriages combining treachery and lust in a hideous degree. ["Oh"] I am speaking of the case of a man who commits adultery with his wife's sister and afterwards marries her. I say that such a result it is impossible to speak of in too strong language, for such a thing would simply prostitute the name of this country.

I have tried to deal with the arguments which have been used in favour of the Bill, and let me, in conclusion, remind the House of the immense antiquity of the institutions with which it is proposed to deal. It is many years—many centuries—since this country adopted the Christian faith and made itself bound by the Christian law. It has been able to watch the fate which has befallen those nations which have remained in paganism. Long ago our Saxon ancestors gathered round the evening fire and made the famous comparison, between the life of man and the bird that passed for a few brief moments within the walls, and went forth into the darkness again. They learned something of death and something of another mystery not less momentous than death—the mystery of marriage. They learned, they listened and obeyed, and their career was one of unbroken happiness, and Christians enjoyed the whole fulness of the earth. And now it seems that in every part of Christendom there is coming the shadow of an approaching apostasy. It seems that where religion touches so closely on life, and where the maxims of religion are strong, they are beginning to be felt too irksome and difficult, and I believe it is true that this feeling is only part of a great movement against the marriage law. We hear of the Colonies and foreign countries which I think have not gone beyond this Bill. They have adopted a Divorce Bill which, to our idea, is very objectionable. There seems to be a general weakening all over Christendom. The marriage law is the keystone of the arch of our social prosperity and power. I do not know what line this House may take, and I do not know what the majority may be, but I am certain that hon. Members will never pronounce upon a point which relates more momentously to the happiness and well-being of society. I am sure that however much the opponents of this measure may be defeated, and however much we may be in a minority, mainly owing to the fact that hon. Members have not troubled to come in to listen to the debate; however much we may have protested in vain against this threatened danger, we shall have striven in an honourable cause to maintain the unstained purity of the most precious, the most ancient, and the most essential of all the institutions of mankind.

*(4.34.) SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I addressed the House at such great length upon this question last year that I will only trouble hon. Members with a very few remarks upon this occasion, and they shall be devoted to the eloquent and powerful speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down. I recognise the purity of his motives as well as the lofty tone which he takes with reference to the religious aspect of this question. I recognise his attachment to the purity of home life and to the purity of English character and the sanctity of marriage, but I ask the noble Lord to remember, that there are many of those who differ from him who are as pure in their motives as he is, who entertain as lofty a theory about the sanctity of marriage, as he does, and who would be as unwilling as he is to take a single step that would be likely to shake the sanctity of marriage or those great I moral principles which he has set before us in such attractive language. On this point the noble Lord stands in a position of splendid isolation.—[Ministerial cries of "No, no."]—Yes, I say splendid isolation from the religious opinion of the world, and even from the religious opinion of the Church at the present moment.


No, no.


Well, I will endeavour to prove that, and state the evidence upon which I hold that opinion, but I want to make it perfectly clear to the noble Lord and to the House that we who advocate this Bill, the effects of which the noble Lord has so luridly described, entertain exactly the same opinions as he does with reference to moral purity and the sanctity of married life. When the noble Lord talks in something like an attitude of scorn of deathbed appeals and treats them as pure fiction, I can tell him a story of one of the most eminent men in the religious world of this country long since dead. After receiving the Holy Communion, the wife of this man as a dying request exhorted her husband that if ever he married again he would marry her sister. Many years after that the man was obliged to go to one of the Colonies of the British crown and under the shadow of the British flag to comply with his wife's dying request. This I think is a sufficient refutation of the idea that these are imaginary grievances.

The noble Lord has laughed to scorn the idea of the working classes being interested in this question, and he maintains that there is no feeling in the country in favour of this measure. On the contrary, I think that the feeling of the working classes is expressed in the votes of hon. Members of this House. Are we not the representatives of the people who send us here? There has been, after every general election for the last twenty years, large and increasing majorities in favour of this measure. Does that represent public opinion? At the last general election I think the party opposite perhaps had the largest majority they have ever had in the last century. And when they came to consider this question, not on party lines, but as representing their constituents and representing their own matured opinions, and being men quite as capable of forming an opinion about social relationships as those authorities which the noble Lord quoted, the House by a majority of 157 decided in favour of this Bill. They were representing their constituents and also representing public opinion. [A laugh.] As the noble Lord derides that in a still stronger manner, I should like to quote to him from the finding of the last Royal Commission which sat upon this question, which was composed of some of the most distinguished members of the Anglican Church. That Commission had upon it Bishop Lonsdale of Lichfield, a great legal authority like Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams, Dr. Lushington and others. Among many other things their final finding was this— We find that the feeling against these marriages is in a great measure proved rather on a vague and uninformed description that they are prohibited by God's word—than on a mature examination either of the scriptures or the law of the Church. Among the poorer classes, in a great majority of cases, where the sister of the deceased wife becomes an inmate of the house, the end is marriage or concubinage. When a man with a family has the misfortune to lose his wife, some assistance for his domestic concerns becomes indispensable, assistance for which he cannot afford to pay, and which must be rendered immediately. All circumstances and all feelings point to the sister of the dead wife, and when once she becomes a permanent inmate the result is inevitable. That is the report of the judicial body so far as it affects the working classes of this country.


It is a very prejudiced body.


The noble Lord has been very courageous in his arguments, but I appeal to the House whether a body of gentlemen, including Bishop Lonsdale, Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams, Dr. Lushington, can be accurately described as a prejudiced body. When the noble Lord makes that statement, he draws upon our credulity to an extent for which we are not prepared. One word about the position of the Catholic Church. The noble Lord is not accurate in his statement about the position of the Church of Rome, and he must excuse me if I prefer the evidence of Cardinal Wiseman to his own. The question put to Cardinal Wiseman was this— Taking the question with reference to scripture, is such a marriage (the marriage with two sisters in succession) held by your Church as prohibited?—Certainly not; it is considered as a matter of Ecclesiastical legislation. Then the Commissioners are to understand that in your Church the general prohibition of these marriages is a matter of discipline, and permission to contract such marriages is granted or not, according to what you may think most advantageous and proper?—Certainly. With respect to marriages of this description, do you find amongst Catholics that persons contracting such marriages are received with the same kindness and good feeling as persons who have contracted ordinary marriages?—With a dispensation, perfectly so. Would Cardinal Wiseman have said that to a Royal Commission, if these marriages had been prohibited by the Church of Rome through the centuries? Where is social stigma there? What did Cardinal Newman say? He said— If he looked upon this question as one affecting the rich, he should perhaps think such marriages inexpedient, but in the interests of the poor, he thought that they were expedient. That I think is a distinct declaration, so far as the attitude of the Church of Rome is concerned. The noble Lord talks of the law of the Church. What church?


The whole Church.


But the noble Lord cannot say that, for he cannot set aside the great Church of Rome. When the noble Lord speaks of the Church of Scotland, he should remember that that Church also prohibits marriages with Papists and Infidels.


But the Church of Rome allows many other marriages besides this dispensation.


But the noble Lord cannot say that the Church sanctions immorality. Let us go outside the Roman Catholic Church. Are the Protestant Churches of Europe outside the Church? Are the Protestants on the Continent, in England, Scotland, United States, and in every Colony of the British Crown to be regarded as absolutely out side the Church? Surely their view as to the exposition of Scripture is quite worthy to be held in some respect. Even the English Church is not unanimous on this subject.


The right hon. Gentleman can give no authority in favour of these marriages before the year 1400.


I am quite content to take Cardinal Wiseman's declaration, as to the law of the Catholic Church, and I think the House in a matter of this kind will take the same view. The noble Lord referred to the Colonies and asked what they had to complain of. These marriages were allowed in the Colonies, and yet half an hour later, the noble Lord talked of the social stigma attaching to people who contracted these marriages and who were exposed to all these disabilities. That is exactly what the Colonies do feel. It is not a very pleasant thing for a fellow-subject of ours who believes himself to be lawfully married according to the law of the land, and according to the laws sanctioned by great statesmen who have filled the position of Prime Minister or Colonial Secretary; it is a very unpleasant thing for a man under these circumstances to come to this country and find that his wife is regarded as an adulteress.


The right hon. Gentleman misunderstands me.


There cannot be two grades of it.


I was speaking of adultery committed before the death of the wife.


He says that "they made laws for themselves, let us make laws for ourselves." That is exactly what we are asking the House to do. We are asking the constituted representatives of the people of this country, the constituted authority through which laws are made in Parliament, to make a law which by any test you can apply, shows that it is the desire of the people of this country, as it will be shown in the division, that it is the desire of this Parliament as of almost every Parliament that has preceded it for many years, that these marriages should be permitted. Why should they be forbidden? Who is there that is entitled to assume the position of infallability and say that they are wrong? The noble Lord did not appeal to the Bible.


Certainly I did.


Is he prepared to impose his own views as binding upon those who take a contrary view? Is he prepared to say that the Church is more capable to interpret the Book of Leviticus than the Jews through a long succession of centuries? I ask the House to repeat the decision they gave last year and terminate, as I think this division will terminate, this long struggle which has been going on for the greater part of a century and to repeat what the noble Lord himself called an immoral Bill. Lord Lyndhurst's Bill was perhaps one of the most immoral Acts ever passed. It was a disgrace to the legislature that passed it. We ask the House of Commons practically to repeal that Act and leave individual consciences to decide for themselves whether or not these marriages are proper or improper. The noble Lord admits that the Church of England is completely guarded in this Bill, and that no one is subject to perform one of these marriages against his will. According to the theory of the noble Lord no marriage would be ecclesiastically valid, if it was not contracted in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer.


The Church has always recognised Civil Marriage as absolutely binding.


I think the Church has never assented to them, and there are some unfortunate cases—I do not wish to import anything unpleasant into this debate—where the clergy have told women who were married in Non-conformist chapels that they had never been legally married at all. I feel that injustice is done to a large section of the people of this country out of deference to the opinion, however strongly felt of a minority who have no right, especially in a matter of conscience to impose their views by force on those who dissent from them.

Several members rose to continue the debate when—


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes, 223; Noes, 124. (Division List No. 15).

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Farquharson, Dr. Robert Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F
Agg-Gardner, James T. Fenwick, Charles Mellor, Rt. Hon. John W.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith) Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.
Aird, Sir John Fison, Frederick William Molesworth, Sir Lewis
Allan, William (Gateshead) Flannery, Sir Fortescue Mooney, John J.
Allen, C. P. (Glouc., Stroud) Flynn, James Christopher Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)
Anstruther, H. T. Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.) Morley, C. (Breconshire)
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.) Moss, Samuel
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Moulton, John Fletcher
Arrol, Sir William Goddard, Daniel Ford Muntz, Philip A.
Asher, Alexander Gore, Hon. G. R. C. O. (Salop) Nannetti, Joseph P.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Gore, Hon. S. F. O. (Lincs.) Newnes, Sir George
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Norman, Henry
Atherley-Jones, L. Groves, James Grimble Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Austin, Sir John Guthrie, Walter Murray O'Dowd, John
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Hall, Edward Marshall O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)
Bain, Col. James Robert Hambro, Charles Eric O'Malley, William
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Hare, Thomas Leigh Parkes, Ebenezer
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Harmsworth, R. Leicester Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Harris, Frederick Leverton Pemberton, John S. G.
Bell, Richard Hatch, Ernest Frederick G. Perks, Robert William
Bigwood, James Hayden, John Patrick Philipps, John Wynford
Black, Alexander William Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles C. Pickard, Benjamin
Boland, John Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir A. D. Pirie, Duncan V.
Boulnois, Edmund Holder, Augustus Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Helme, Norval Watson Price, Robert John
Brigg, John Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H. Pym, C. Guy
Broadhurst, Henry Henderson, Alexander Randles, John S.
Brown, A. H. (Shropshire) Hobhouse, H. (Somerset, E.) Rattigan, Sir William H.
Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh) Hope, J. D. (Fife, West) Rea, Russell
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Hoult, Joseph Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Hudson, George Bickersteth Renshaw, Charles Bine
Burns, John Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Renwick, George
Hurt, Thomas Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Rigg, Richard
Caine, William Sproston Jacoby, James Alired Roberts, J. B. (Eifion)
Caldwell, James Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Roberts, Samnel (Sheffield)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Joicey, Sir James Robinson, Brooke
Causton, Richard Knight Jones, D. B. (Swansea) Roe, Sir Thomas
Cautley, Henry Strother Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Jordan, Jeremiah Ropner, Colonel Robert
Cawley, Frederick Joyce, Michael Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Kenyon, J. (Lancs., Bury) Sadler, Col. Samuel A.
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Kinloch, Sir John G. S. Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)
Channing, Francis Allston Kitson, Sir James Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Knowles, Lees Scott, Chas. P. (Leigh)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Labouchere, Henry Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow) Lambert, George Seely, C. H. (Lincoln)
Craig, Robert Hunter Lambton, Hon. Frederick W. Shaw, C. E. (Stafford)
Cremer, William Randal Langley, Batty Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)
Crombie, John William Law, Andrew Bonar Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Cross, H. S. (Bolton) Layland-Barratt, Francis Sheehan, Daniel D.
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Denny, Colonel Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Dewar, J. A. (Inverness-sh.) Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Dickson, Charles Scott Leveson-Gower, F. N. S. Smith, J. P. (Lanarks)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Levy, Maurice Soares, Ernest J.
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Lewis, John Herbert Stevenson, Francis S.
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Lloyd-George, David Stone, Sir Benjamin
Doxford, Sir William T. Lough, Thomas Stroyan, John
Duncan, J. Hastings Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale) Tennant, Harold John
Dunn, Sir William Macartney, Rt. Hon. W. G. E. Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)
Edwards, Frank Macdona, John Cumming Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph D. M'Crae, George Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Ellis, John Edward M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh W.) Thorburn, Sir Walter
Emmott, Alfred McKenna, Reginald Thornton, Percy M.
Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan) M'Killop, J. (Stirlingshire) Tollemache, Henry James
Tomkinson, James Whiteley, George (York, W. R. Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Trevelyan, Charles Philips Whitley, J. H. (Halifax) Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hudders'd
Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. E. Whittaker, Thomas Palmer Wylie, Alexander
Tuke, Sir John Batty Williams, Osmond (Merioneth) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Wallace, Robert Willox, Sir John Archibald Yoxall, James Henry
Walton, Joseph (Barnsley) Wilson, C. H. (Hull, W.)
Wason, E. (Clackmannan) Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts) Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.) Mr. Rutherford and Sir Brampton Gurdon.
White, George (Norfolk) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
White, Luke (York, E. R.) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.) FitzGerald, Sir Robert P. O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid).
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Allsopp, Hon. George Flower, Ernest O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary N.)
Ambrose, Robert Forster, Henry William O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow W.)
Balcarres, Lord Galloway, William Johnson O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Baldwin, Alfred Gardner, Ernest O'Donnell, John (Mayor S.)
Banbury, Frederick George Garfit, William O'Donnell, T. (Kerry W.)
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of L'don O'Mara, James
Bartley, George C. T. Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. Gilhooly, James O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Bignold, Arthur Godson, Sir Augustus F. Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)
Blake, Edward Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn Percy, Earl
Blundell, Col. Henry Gordon, Maj. E. (T'w'r Hamlets Plummer, Walter R.
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Greene, Sir E. W. (B'rySEd'mds Power, Patrick Joseph
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Purvis, Robert
Brassey, Albert Grenfell, William Henry Reddy, M.
Brymer, William Ernest Greville, Hon. Ronald Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Bull, William James Hardy L. (Kent, Ashford) Roche, John
Carew, James Laurence Heaton, John Henniker Round, James
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir E. H. Hoare, Sir Samuel Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich) Howard, J. (Midd. Tottenham) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Chapman, Edward Jackson, Rt. Hon W m. Lawies Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Charrington, Spencer Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Smith, A. H. (Hertford East)
Churchill, Winston Spencer Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Smith, H. C. (North'mb, T'yside)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir. J. H. Stanley, Hon, A. (Ormskirk)
Colston, Chas. E. H. A. King, Sir Henry Seymour Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Cranborne, Viscount Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Stock, James Henry
Crean, Eugene Llewellyn, Evan Henry Sturt, Hon. Humphry N.
Cripps, Charles Alfred Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Sullivan, Donal
Cullinan, J. Lonsdale, John Brownlee Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dalkeith, Earl of Loyd, Archie Kirkham Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxford U.)
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth) Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Davenport, William Bromley Lundon, W. Vincent, Col. C.E.H.(Sheffield)
Delany, William MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Walker, Col. William Hall
Dewar, T. R. (T'r'H'mlets, S. G. M'Fadden, Edward Warde, Colonel C. E.
Dillon, John M'Govern, T. Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Tauntn
Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D. M'Hugh, Patrick A. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Donelan, Capt. A. M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Doogan, P. C. Majendie, James A. H. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Milvain, Thomas Willoughby de Eresby (Lord)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Wilson, A. S. (York E. R.)
Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H. More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Worsley-Taylor, Hy. Wilson
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Morrison, James Archibald Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Murphy, John Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Fardell, Sir T. George Myers, William Henry
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Man'r Nicholson, William Graham TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Ffrench, Peter Nicol, Donald Ninian Sir Francis Powell and Mr. Evelyn Cecil.
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Fisher, William Hayes O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)

(5.5.) Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes, 246; Noes, 125. (Division List No. 16).

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Ellis, John Edward M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Emmott, Alfred M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone) Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Maxwell, Rt. Hn Sir H. E. (Wigtn
Allan, William (Gateshead) Farquharson, Dr. Robert Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William
Ambrose, Robert Fenwick, Charles Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Molesworth, Sir Lewis
Arnold-Foster Hugh O. Fison, Frederick William Mooney, John J.
Arrol, Sir William Flannery, Sir Fortescue Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Asher, Alexander Flynn, James Christopher Morley, Charles (Breconshire)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Moss, Samuel
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy. Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Moulton, John Fletcher
Atherley-Jones, L. Galloway, William Johnson Murphy, John
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Gore, Hn. G R.C. Orms. (Salop.) Nannetti, Joseph P.
Austin, Sir John Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc.) Newnes, Sir George
Bain, Colonel James Robert Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Groves, James (Grimble Norman, Henry
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Guthrie, Walter Murray Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hall, Edward Marshall O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Bell, Richard Hambro, Charles Eric O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Bigwood, James Hare, Thomas Leigh O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)
Black, Alexander William Harmsworth, R. Leicester O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Blake, Edward Harris, Frederick Leverton O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Boland, John Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Boulnois, Edmund Hayden, John Patrick O'Dowd, John
Bousfield, William Robert Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. O'Malley, William
Brigg, John Helder, Augustus O'Mara, James
Broadhurst, Henry Helme, Norval Watson O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Brown, Alex. H. (Shropshire) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Parkes, Ebenezer
Brown, Geo. M. (Edinburgh) Henderson, Alexander Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.) Pemberton, John S. G.
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Perks, Robert William
Burns, John Hoult, Joseph Philipps, John Wynford
Burt, Thomas Hudson, George Bicketsteth Pickard, Benjamin
Buxton, Sydney Charles Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Pirie, Duncan V.
Caine, William Sproston Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Jacoby, James Alfred Price, Robert John
Carew, James Laurence Jessel, Captain Herbt. Merton Pym, C. Guy
Causton, Richard Knight Joicey, Sir James Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Jones, David B. (Swansea) Randles, John S.
Cawley, Frederick Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Rattigan, Sir William Henry
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Jordan, Jeremiah Rea, Russell
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worcester) Joyce, Michael Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries)
Channing, Francis Allston Kenyon, James (Lancs., Bury) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Cohen, Benjamin Lewis Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth Rigg, Richard
Collins, Rt. Hon. Jesse Kitson, Sir James Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Knowles, Lees Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Labouchere, Henry Robinson, Brooke
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lambert, George Roche, John
Craig, Robert Hunter Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Roe, Sir Thomas
Cremer, William Randal Langley, Batty Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Crombie, John William Law, Andrew Bonar Ropner, Colonel Robert
Cross, Herb. Shepherd(Bolton) Layland-Barratt, Francis Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Cullinan, J. Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. Edw. H. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Dalkeith, Earl of Lee, Arth. H. (Hants., Fareham) Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Dalziel, James Henry Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington) Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S. Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Delany, William Levy, Maurice Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Denny, Colonel Lewis, John Herbert Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)
Dewar, John A.(Inverness-sh.) Lloyd-George, David Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Lough, Thomas Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Dillon, John Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale) Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew
Donelan, Captain A. Macdona, John Cumming Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Doogan, P. C. MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Shipman, Dr. John G.
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) M'Crae, George Simeon, Sir Barrington
Doxford, Sir William Theodore M'Fadden, Edward Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Duncan, J. Hastings M'Govern, T. Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Dunn, Sir William M'Hugh, Patrick A. Soares, Ernest J.
Edwards, Frank M'Iver,Sir L. (Edinburgh W.) Stevenson, Francis S.
Elliot, Hon. A. R. Douglas McKenna, Reginald Stone, Sir Benjamin
Stroyan, John Walton, Joseph (Barnsley) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.
Sullivan, Donal Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Tennant, Harold John White, George (Norfolk) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E. White, Luke (York, E. R.) Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'
Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr White, Patrick (Meath, North Wylie, Alexander
Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.) Whiteley, George (York, W. R. Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Thorburn, Sir Walter Whitley, J. H. (Halifax) Yoxall, James Henry
Thornton, Percy M. Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Tomkinson, James Williams, Osmond (Merioneth TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Trevelyan, Chas. Philips Willox, Sir John Archibald Mr. Rutherford and Sir Brampton Gurdon.
Tuke, Sir John Batty Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Walker, Col. William Hall Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.
Wallace, Robert Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk, Mid.
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Nicholson, William Graham
Aird, Sir John Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Nicol, Donald Ninian
Allsopp, Hon. George Flower, Ernest O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)
Anstruther, H. T. Forster, Henry William O'Brien, Kendal(Tipp'rary Mid.
Balcarres, Lord Foster, Phil. S. (Warwick, S. W.) O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens
Baldwin, Alfred Gardner, Ernest Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)
Banbury, Frederick George Garfit, William Percy, Earl
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H. (City of Lond. Plummer, Walter R.
Bartley, George C. T. Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St Albans) Power, Patrick Joseph
Beach, Rt. H. Sir Michael Hicks Gilhooly, James Purvis, Robert
Bignold, Arthur Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Reddy, M.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin &Nairn Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Gordon, Maj. Evans (T'rH'ml'ts Round, James
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St John Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds Sharpe, William Edward T.
Brymer, William Ernest Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Bull, William James Grenfell, William Henry Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East
Caldwell, James Greville, Hon. Ronald Smith, H. C. (N'rth'mb, T'neside
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edwd. H. Hardy, Laur'nce (Kent, Ashford Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Heaton, John Henniker Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset
Chapman, Edward Hoare, Sir Samuel Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Charrington, Spencer Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham Stock, James Henry
Churchill, Winston Spencer Jackson, Rt. Hon. W m Lawies Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ
Cranborne, Viscount Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Tollemache, Henry James
Crean, Eugene King, Sir Henry Seymour Tomlinson, Wm. Edwd. Murray
Cripps, Charles Alfred Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Vincent, Cl. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield
Davenport, William Bromley- Llewellyn, Evan Henry Warde, Colonel C. E.
Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'ml'ts, S. Geo. Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham Welby, Lt.-Cl. A. C. E. (Taunton
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Lonsdale, John Brownlee Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)
Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Loyd, Archie Kirkman Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lucas, Reginald. J (Portsmouth Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lundon, W. Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart Macartney, Rt. Hon. W. G. E. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Majendie, James A. H. Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Milvain, Thomas Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Fardell, Sir T. George Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Fergusson, Rt. H. Sir J. (Manc'r. More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)
Ffrench, Peter Morrison, James Archibald TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Muntz, Philip A. Sir Francis Powell and Mr. Evelyn Cecil.
Fisher, William Hayes Myers, William Henry

claimed, "That the Main Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes, 249; Noes, 124. (Division List No. 17)

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.) Allan, William (Gateshead) Arrol, Sir William
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Ambrose, Robert Asher, Alexander
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Archdale, Edward Mervyn Ashton, Thomas Gair
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Atherley-Jones, L. Gore, Hn. S.F. Ormsby (Linc.) Norman, Henry
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Austin, Sir John Groves, James Grimble O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Bain, Colonel James Robert Guthrie, Walter Murray O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Hall, Edward Marshall O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hambro, Charles Eric O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hare, Thomas Leigh O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Bell, Richard Harmsworth, R. Leicester O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Black, Alexander William Harris, Frederick Leverton O'Dowd, John
Blake, Edward Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)
Boland, John Hayden, John Patrick O'Malley, William
Boulnois, Edmund Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale O'Mara, James
Bousfield, William Robert Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir A. D. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Helder, Augustus Parkes, Ebenezer
Brigs, John Helme, Norval Watson Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Broadhurst, Henry Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Peel, Hon. W. R, Wellesley
Brown, Alex. H. (Shropshire) Henderson, Alexander Pemberton, John S. G.
Brown, Gen. M. (Edinburgh) Hickman, Sir Alfred Perks, Robert William
Brunner, (Sir John Tomlinson Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.) Philipps, John Wynford
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Hoult, Joseph Pickard, Benjamin
Burns, John Hudson, George Bickersteth Pirie, Duncan V.
Burt, Thomas Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Buxton, Sydney Charles Hutton, Alfred E, (Morley) Price, Robert John
Caine, William Sproston Jacoby, James Alfred Pym, C. Guy
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Carew, James Laurence Joicey, Sir James Randles, John S.
Carvill, Patrick George H. Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea) Rattigan, Sir William Henry
Causton, Richard Knight Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Rea, Russell
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Jordan, Jeremiah Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)
Cawley, Frederick Joyce, Michael Renshaw, Charles Bine
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Kearley, Hudson E. Rigg, Richard
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Kenyon, James (Lanes., Bury) Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Channing, Francis Allston Kinloch, Sir John George S. Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Kitson, Sir James Robinson, Brooke
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Knowles, Lees Roche, John
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Labouchere, Henry Roe, Sir Thomas
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lambert, George Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Ropner, Colonel Robert
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Langley, Batty Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.
Craig, Robert Hunter Law, Andrew Bonar Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Cremer, William Randal Layland-Barratt, Francis Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Crombie, John William Lecky, Rt. Hon. William E. H. Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Cross, Herb. S. (Bolton) Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham) Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Cullinan, J. Lees, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Dalkeith, Earl of Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S. Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)
Dalziel, James Henry Levy, Maurice Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Lewis, John Herbert Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Delany, William Lloyd-George, David Shaw-Stewart, M. H. Renfrew
Denny, Colonel Lough, Thomas Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Macdona, John Cumming Simeon, Sir Barrington
Dillon, John MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Donelan, Captain A. M'Crae, George Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)
Doogan, P. C. M'Fadden, Edward Soares, Ernest J.
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) M'Govern, T. Stevenson, Francis S.
Doxford, Sir William Theodore M'Hugh, Patrick A. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Duncan, J. Hastings M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh W.) Stroyan, John
Dunn, Sir William McKenna, Reginald Sullivan, Donal
Edwards, Frank M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Tennant, Harold John
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Ellis, John Edward Massey, Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Thomas, David A. Merthyr)
Emmott, Alfred Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R)
Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone) Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Thorburn, Sir Walter
Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan) Molesworth, Sir Lewis Thornton, Percy M.
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Mooney, John J. Tomkinson, James
Fenwick, Charles Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Ferguson, R. G. Munro (Leith) Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Walker, Col. William Hall
Fison, Frederick William Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Wallace, Robert
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Moss, Samuel Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Flynn, James Christopher Moulton, John Fletcher Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Murphy, John White, George (Norfolk)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Nannetti, Joseph P. White, Luke (York, E. R)
Galloway, William Johnson Newnes, Sir George White, Patrick (Meath), N.)
Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby (Salop Nolan, Jeseph (Louth, South) Whitely, George (York, W. R.)
Whitley, J. H. (Halifax) Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid.) Yoxall, James Henry
Whittaker, Thomas Palmer Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.
Williams, Osmond (Merioneth) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.) TELLERS FOR THE AYE—
Willox, Sir John Archibald Wilson, John (Falkirk) Mr. Rutherford and Sir Brampton Gurdon.
Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R. Wylie, Alexander
Wilson, Charles H. Hull, W.) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.) O'Brien, Kendal (Tip'rary Mid.
Aird, Sir John Gardner, Ernest O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Allsopp, Hon. George Garfit, William Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)
Anstruther, H. T. Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond Percy, Earl
Balcarres, Lord Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans) Plummer, Walter R.
Baldwin, Alfred Gilhooly, James Power, Patrick Joseph
Banbury, Frederick George Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Purvis, Robert
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin& Nairn Reddy, M.
Bartley, George C. T. Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r H'mlets) Remnant, James Farquharson
Beach, Re. Hn. Sir M. Hicks Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Bignold, Arthur Greene, Sir E W (B'ryS. Edm'nds Round, James
Blundell, Colonel Henry Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Grenfell, William Henry Sharpe, William Edward T.
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Greville, Hon. Roland Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Brymer, William Ernest Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd Smith, Abel. H. (Hertford, East
Bull, William James Heaton, John Henniker Smith, H. C. (N'rth'mb. T'neside
Caldwell, James Hoare, Sir Samuel Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir E. H. Howard, J (Midd., Tottenham) Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Chapman, Edward Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Stock, James Henry
Charrington, Spencer Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Churchill, Winston Spencer Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester
Coghill, Douglas Harry King, Sir Henry Seymour Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ
Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Tollemache, Henry James
Cranborne, Viscount Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Tomlinson, Wm. Edwd. Murray
Crean, Eugene Llewellyn, Evan Henry Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Cripps, Charles Alfred Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham Vincent, Cl. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lonsdale, John Brownlee Warde, Colonel C. E.
Davenport, William Bromley- Loyd, Archie Kirkman Welby, Lt.-Cl. A.C.E. (Taunton
Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'ml'ts, S Geo. Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Lundon, W. Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd
Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon Macartney, Rt. Hn. WG Ellison Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Dorington, Sir John Edward Majendie, James A. H. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Milvain, Thomas Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Montagu. G. (Huntingdon) Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Fardell, Sir T. George Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r More, Robt, Jasper (Shropshire) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Ffrench, Peter Morrison, James Archibald Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Muntz, Philip A.
Fisher, William Hayes Myers, William Henry TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose Nicholson, William Graham Sir Francis Powell and Mr. Evelyn Cecil.
Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Nichol, Donald Ninian
Flower, Ernest O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)

Main Question put accordingly, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Bill accordingly read a second time.

(5.32.) MR. RUTHERFORD moved that the Bill he referred to the Grand Committee on Law, but the Speaker informed him that it was too late. The hon. Member rose again, but his voice was drowned in cries of "Order."


Do I understand the hon. Member to rise to a point of order?


I was only rising to say, Sir, that I was able to count 249 members, and appear at the table.


May I report, Sir, that I was unable to make the Members come from the "No" lobby?


I can only say that I regret that Members did not pursue the usual course in passing through the lobbies, regardless of circumstances.

Bill committed for Monday next.

Adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Six o'clock.