§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
said that it was his privilege to introduce the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill to this House for its Second Reading. As hon. Members were aware, and most people in the country also, this was not the first time this subject had been presented for the consideration of Parliament, and he hoped, with a great many others, that in one sense it would be the last time, inasmuch as that he trusted facilities would be given for the passage of the measure through the House, and that it 1075 would eventually become law. He did not think that he need go into the history of the Bill very carefully or very extensively. The House had listened to a great many debates upon the subject, and a large number of exhaustive speeches had been made upon its historical and social aspects. But if the House would allow him indulgence, he would briefly refer to the course of the Bill in this House in the past. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wolverhampton, two years ago, gave what seemed to him a very succinct, careful, and authoritative statement of that history. Perhaps, however, he might be permitted to say that the Bill had passed its Second Reading in this House fifteen times: that it had once passed the House of Lords: that it had passed a Second Reading in the House of Lords in 1896 by a majority of twenty-nine, and a Third Reading by a majority of thirty-eight. Since 1835 this Bill had been very much before the public, and had been very much before this House. They had been told in the past that although the House of Commons had given its assent to the principle of the Bill that did not necessarily represent the opinion of the country. Well, he thought that was possibly a fair argument to use were it not the case that the House of Commons, through a great many years, had approved of the principle of the Bill; that both political parties, and the Parliamentary representative leadership of both political parties, had given their assent to the principle of the Bill. During the last twenty-five years a very great change had come over the opinion of the public in this country in regard to this measure, as was evidenced in many directions. It might be perfectly just to say that, if the Bill had only passed through its Second Reading in one Parliament, that did not represent the opinion of the country; but again, and again and again the principle had been affirmed in this House, and he thought that a fair and a just conclusion from that was that this House did represent the opinion of the country in that respect. They were asked if this question had been brought prominently forward at election times. He admitted that it had not—that was not denied. But that was an admission that need not act against the opinion of the House as to this Bill. There were 1076 a great many questions which were important to a section of the public of this country which were not necessarily election topics. Again, and again and again had this House assented to the principle of justice to the minority: and if it was urged against this Bill that because only a minority asked for it it should not be received and passed into law, then he pointed to the history of the country to show that the views of the minority were acknowledged, in order that no disability or injury should be done to them, provided that no great injury was done to the general public. The argument of the minority was the last argument which should be used in this Chamber, which had affirmed again and again, that no body in the community should be injured by the laws of this country. He had said that a great change had taken place in the opinion of the country, and he would point to the fact that while twenty-five years ago scarcely a petition was presented in favour of the Bill, since then 1,000 petitions had come from Royal and Parliamentary boroughs in Scotland, 8,000 out of 9,500 Nonconformist ministers, and 480 mayors and ex-mayors of the different towns of the country, had presented petitions in its favour. There was not a newspaper in Scotland at the present time of any importance that did not advocate this Bill. There was scarcely an important newspaper in England that did not advocate it. Of the great newspapers of London alone, thirteen were for it, and only three against it. Of fifty-two weekly newspapers, forty-two were for it, and ten against. In the provinces fifty newspapers were for it, and thirteen against. In Ireland three important papers were for it, and there was no evidence of any against it. The Synod of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland had affirmed the Bill in principle, and the Methodists, Primitive Methodists, Congregationalists and Baptists supported it
There was another point which he wished to impress on the House, because it belonged to all the arguments made in the past concerning the religious attitude towards the Bill. Twenty-five years ago 210 Archbishops, Bishops and clergy of the Roman Catholic Church within the metropolitan area petitioned this 1077 House in favour of legalising marriage with a deceased wife's sister, within the borders of the United Kingdom. Now, that came from the clergy of the Church—one of whose most distinguished Prelates, Cardinal Wiseman, said, in reply to a question put to him by the Royal Commission of 1847, that the marriage with a deceased wife's sister was purely a matter for ecclesiastical legislation, and was not contrary to Scripture. Cardinal Newman, whose evidence had been quoted before but might be again, also affirmed the principle so far as it dealt with the poor. That was the appeal which he made that day, and for the working classes, because they had less power in the land to get legislation passed by this House than any other section of the community, but upon whom this disability weighed more heavily than upon any other portion of the community. The argument of the action of the colonies in passing similar legislation had been used by the supporters of the Bill, but he did not wish to press that too heavily. There was a point, however, that he wished to press. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich had, in this House, in the past, said that if the colonies injudiciously abused the principle of self-government granted to them, that was no reason why we should not legislate for ourselves. He presumed that he had the right to suggest that his noble friend meant that the colonies had abused the right of self-government.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
I do not think that I used the word "abused." I think I said that they had injudiciously exercised the right of self-government.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER
said that he left the House to form its own judgment as to what the noble Lord meant. But he wished to say that the noble Lord, and other of his supporters in this House—for the noble Lord did lead in all matters that pertained to the Church, or the particular portion of the Church to which he attached himself—wished to convey that the colonies could do as they pleased. He submitted that that liberal spirit with which his Lordship allowed the Colonies to do just as they pleased, was best represented by the lines of the poet, for 1078 whom he suspected the noble Lord had an admiration, which ran—Abroad too kind, at home 'tis steadfast hateAnd the eternal tempest of debate.He submitted that this House, taking into consideration the Imperial significance of this Bill, should pay some regard to the view of this question adopted by the colonies. They represented 12,000,000 of well-meaning, cleanly-living people of the Empire. Moreover, the Bishops of the Colonial Church, who were consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and had a certain duty to that See from which their ecclesiastical dominion came, had, he was bound to say, not translated that duty into an opposition to the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. Only the other day the Synod of New South Wales affirmed the principle that marriage with a deceased wife's sister was not contrary to the Scripture, thereby bringing themselves into line with the law of the land. It had been said concerning the colonies and the United States, that marriage with a deceased wife's sister represented a somewhat low view of the marriage ceremony. He could not think so when he was reminded of the fact that it was a Roman Catholic who brought into the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill passed into law there. At the same time, he was reminded that there was no such thing as a divorce law in Canada. He was presenting that point for the reason that it had been said that the idea of passing the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill represented a lower order of religious intelligence—should he say?—and that there was less respect for the bond of matrimony in the United States than in this country. He believed that argument would not stand the test of the facts either in the colonies or the United States. He wished to say that if the United States had not accepted the code of marriage law as it was accepted in the United Kingdom, it was because the United States as well as Canada, Australia, and all the colonies had drawn a very sharp line of distinction between consanguinity and affinity. That lay at the basis of the law of the United States and the colonies. He had heard remarks made on this subject in this House regarding the United States which were extremely offensive to all people who 1079 understood what domestic life in the United States was. He was not holding a brief for the United States, but he maintained that the United States was to-day nearer to the symmetry of that old arch which had been held up for centuries as representative of the law of marriage, than England. In nineteen of the states of the United States marriage with cousins was not permitted; in forty-seven of the States marriage between aunts and nephews was prohibited; and it was in order to prejudice opinion in this country that it was said that because divorce was so easy there, the United States was extremely lax in its views of the marriage ceremony. That was not so. Divorce, in itself, was not necessarily a low idea of the bond of matrimony. They knew perfectly well that the Church of England had persistently opposed the law of divorce in this country.
He wished to say that he believed that all hon. Members who had opposed this Bill did so with absolute sincerity and from a very high standpoint. He believed that the marriage ceremony was not only the holiest but the most mystical ceremony within the exercise of men and women who had a duty to perform to their country. But he desired to say also that that view was not one which applied to the majority of the people in this nation, or to the majority of mankind, for at the present time they knew very well that in nearly all countries of Europe people might marry their deceased wife's sister. In Russia those who were not Members of the Orthodox Church might so marry, and in France by dispensation, and in nearly all Protestant countries by right of law. He believed that if the people of this country were appealed to they would by a vast majority give an affirmation to the principle of this Bill.
It had been said that working men had not made any appeal in favour of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. There was no hon. Member representing the working classes who had not again and again affirmed his belief that the Bill would be good for the working classes of this country. He had received a letter from the hon. Member who represented the railway servants regretting he could not be 1080 present, and stating that he believed that most of the working men of this country would strongly approve of the Bill being passed. The hon. Member also said that difficulties had arisen with friendly societies when working men had married their deceased wives' sisters, illegally and unlawfully, but not improperly. That represented a matter of conscience, which he believed was not held in low esteem in this House. At a Trades Congress not long ago the principle of the Bill was affirmed by a majority of over 90 per cent.
The matter had been dealt with so frequently that he would only make one further reference, and that he would make with due care and due anxiety, as a Churchman who was in sympathy with the practices and customs of the Church. He believed religion to be the basis of the morality and good living of every country. He believed that the Church should care for the welfare of the working man as sincerely as it cared for the welfare of the highest in the land. He believed that the working man desired this Bill; and if he did desire it, and as long as, for conscience sake, he married his deceased wife's sister illegally, it should be the duty of this House to see that facilities were given to him to become legally moral within the bounds of his own conscience. He believed firmly that the working man would profit by the passing of this Bill—profit morally, profit in character, and profit in public and civic spirit. He believed that the argument that the wife's sister would, as it were, sit upon the hearthstone waiting for her sister's death, was an absurd argument. It was petty; it was preposterous. What was the position of the working man? Take the case of a working man who earned 30s. a week. He has four or five children, he is at work every day, his pleasures are few, and his circle of acquaintances is small. His wife falls ill, and, if she has the good fortune to have a sister, the sister takes the place of the housekeeper, the nurse, and the housemaid for the benefit of the children. The wife dies, and the sister sacrifices herself, her opportunities, and her life for the family of her sister—not necessarily for 1081 the family of the man. The man is an honest man, he wishes to do right and to obey the law. He wishes to marry this woman, but his conscience forbids him, because his Church tells him that he must not do so. What is the result? Consider not only the position of the man, but the position of the woman who had sacrificed herself, and the position of the children for whom she had sacrificed herself. The argument that a wife's sister would not be admitted to the home on the same basis as before, if this Bill were passed, was not a reasonable one; and he affirmed it represented a very low estimate of the character of society in this country. As a Bishop of the American Church wrote a few days ago, the English law would apparently pre-suppose a community of intriguants such as he believed did not exist in this country. The Church told such a man that he must not marry his deceased wife's sister, because it was against the law of God, as well as against the law of the State. That argument was good fifty years ago, but it was not good to-day, because every eminent authority in the Hebrew Church admitted that marriage with a deceased wife's sister was not forbidden in the famous verse of Leviticus, which had been often used, but which had not been heard of for a long time. There was no single ecclesiastical authority outside the Church of England who did not affirm the same thing. The revisers of the Bible, by a very large majority, affirmed that marriage with a deceased wife's sister was not forbidden in the verse to which he had referred. Indeed, that argument was not now used, because the bottom had been knocked out of it. If the bottom had fallen out of that argument, where then stood the law of 1540 which said that no marriage should be performed which was against the laws of God?
Where in the whole Bible was marriage with a deceased wife's sister forbidden? It was not a question of what his noble friend the Member for Greenwich called the beautiful symmetry of the marriage law through fourteen centuries. There was no beautiful symmetry, there had never been symmetry at all. Up to the time of the fourth century the marriage laws 1082 were made to meet the peculiar and particular circumstances of the time. The patriarchal system existed, and it was to deal with the natural abuses that would spring up under such a system that those marriage laws were framed. There came a very proper revulsion against those old laws; and then there ensued the ascetic principle, which they had still in the Roman Catholic Church to-day. At that time marriages up to the seventh degree were prohibited. England received a special benefit from a certain Pope Gregory that marriages within the bounds of England should be permitted up to the fourth degree. Where was the symmetry in that? After that a certain King came to the throne who had a high office to perform so far as the Church of England was concerned, and also a personal duty, as he thought, to himself; he permitted marriages with cousins, which represented the fourth degree. Where was the symmetry there? He did not think that the argument of the arch would stand. He could find a far better figure of speech than the keystone of the arch. If a pane of glass were taken out of a window the window or the light were not destroyed, but there was let in the air. That was what he believed this Bill would do for the benefit of a great many people in this country; and, at any rate, it would help those who had as good a right to ask for help as the rich and luxurious, and as those who stood so closely to ancient and unsound ecclesiastical customs. They were told that if this Bill were passed the drift would be towards greater laxity. That had been said of a great many reforms which affected the well-being of the people. The divorce law was passed for the relief of the greatest and most serious grievance in social life. Had the offence increased because relief had been given from torture and shame? The hand that gave relief gave also a penalty; and he believed the land was cleaner and more wholesome because of the statutes that lightened the severity of ecclesiastical customs, which belonged to a period when a man was hanged for breaking into a house, and a woman was sent to Botany Bay for stealing a loaf to keep her child alive. The Church of England was a State 1083 Church, and as such she had civic and political duties to perform, in keeping with the transcendent advantages of her position. She had powers, to some degree administrative, and to an incalculable degree moral. She should not be too rigid. He believed this Bill was in the interests of morality, in the interests of the poor, and in the interests of the children. He believed it was Imperial in its significance, and that it was in keeping with the modern spirit of Christianity, which broadened its sympathies, and narrowed its phylacteries every day. He believed it would conduce to domestic integrity and serve to widen the virtues of humanity.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Gilbert Parker.)
§ SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)
said everybody must congratulate not only the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading but also the promoters of this Bill on the brilliant speech they had just heard, and he rejoiced to think the efforts of the hon. Member on this occasion had been so convincing. He had come to the conclusion, and everybody must agree, that a long debate upon this question was almost unnecessary. The Bill had passed its Second Reading on many occasions, and in the last two years it had passed by majorities of 157 and 125. There could be no doubt that the majority of the House was in favour of the Bill, and the practical question now was what position the advocates of the measure ought to take up to ensure its passage into law. It was neither good sense nor good business to weary the House with repetitions of arguments which had been urged over and over again, and of the answers which had been made to them. The House of Commons knew the arguments by heart, but he would give one or two illustrations. The promoters said these restrictions on marriages with a deceased wife's sister were a great injustice to our colonists, and they said it was monstrous that marriages which were lawful in the colonies under Acts to which the Royal assent had been obtained through the Privy Council should not be fully recognised in this country. And, further, that 1084 the children of such marriages should be under disabilities in regard to the inheritance of real property in this country in cases of intestacy, or that the children so born should be placed in the class of "strangers in blood" so far as the Death Duties were concerned And that the position of the deceased wife's sister after marriage in the colony should be socially and religiously doubtful and difficult when she returns to this country. As they knew the arguments so they knew the answers that were made to them. It was said, "We are not going to allow the colonies to make laws for us. They can make their own. We will make ours. If the child suffers an injustice in regard to real property change your inheritance laws but do not touch the sanctity of marriage. It is no part of our duty to our colonists to alter our fundamental marriage laws to make things pleasant for ladies who visit this country from Australia."
§ SIR JOSEPH LEESE,
declining to give way, remarked that the noble Lord was very fertile in his interruptions, and that he would have an opportunity of replying afterwards. Continuing, he said he had never been able to understand the so-called religious objections, and in that confession he was proud to find himself at one with the Prime Minister, who last year, on receiving a memorial signed by 315 Members of Parliament asking for facilities for the passage of the Bill, said—I have never been able to understand the religious difficulty, though I cannot say I am surprised that it is raised.But—if the deceased wife's sister—the sister-in-law of the husband and the aunt of the children be—as seemed to be admitted by both sides, the best guardian of the children, then from a religious point of view, surely it was far better that she should be entitled to enter into the state of marriage than that she should occupy that doubtful position, which with people in poor circumstances especially might lead to a state of concubinage. All these things had been said and the answers one way or another had been given ad nauseam 1085 and, of course, there were many more. They knew them all. There was no subject on which Members of Parliament had been better educated on both sides than on this one. It might truly be urged that there is nothing more to be said on this matter. The Bill was the same as that of last year. It was the same Parliament and the same House of Commons; and no change had taken place in public opinion as represented in t he House of Commons since last session. There were one or two new incidents in the history of the opposition to the Bill. One was the enthusiastic meeting at the Church House, Westminster, in October, when an important resolution was passed. Another was an appeal or a petition signed by 76,850 women all over the country, asking Members of Parliament to vote against the passing of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. The resolution passed at the meeting at the Church House was in this form:That this meeting pledges itself to resist by every legitimate means the passing of a Deceased Wife's Sister Marriage Bill.He congratulated the Opposition on this resolution. They would have a new sensation. This was a new departure. Henceforth this Bill was to be opposed by legitimate means. He supposed the House had not forgotten the disgraceful exhibition of February 5, 1902, a Wednesday afternoon, when this Bill was before the House for Second Reading. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, whose sincerity he did not in any way call into question, on that occasion made a speech which was mystical, spiritual, and almost religious. He (Sir Joseph) was much impressed by the fervour with which that speech was delivered, though he could not help thinking that it was better fitted for a pulpit than for the green benches of the House of Commons, but it was all the more perhaps, a speech, tending to lead ordinary mortals to contemplate political matters from a loftier level—a higher platform. And having got them into that mood what did the noble Lord do? He delivered what the Unionist newspaper the Spectator described as—A foul blow against the Bill, "by" sauntering and loitering in the lobbies with deliberate intent to prevent the House of Commons from dealing with the Bill until the clock finger reached the fatal hour.
§ SIR JOSEPH LEESE
The noble Lord's speech was splendid, the precepts elevating, but when it came to practice what an example of mundane trickiness for the apostle of the sanctity of marriage to set to his admiring followers! Mr. Speaker expressed his regret at the course adopted by the noble Lord—and public opinion too. And, in passing the Resolution to "resist by every legitimate means," the great meeting at the Church House registered its disapproval of the noble Lord's conduct and inferentially uttered a pious hope that it might be saved from its friends. The protest issued by 76,885 women seemed at the first blush important, but why it was necessary to go all over the country to find 76,000 protesting women was answered to-day by petitions from all over the country in favour of the Bill, including one representing 75,000 women in one district alone. In Lancashire 2,125 ladies had been induced to sign a petition against the Bill. He had taken the trouble to examine the Census Returns, and he had found that in the county of Lancashire there were 1,140,000 women over twenty years of age, while only 2,125 of these had thought it of sufficient importance to sign the petition against the Bill. In Yorkshire there were 1,500,000 women over twenty years of age. He had taken the age of twenty, because he thought it was a period at which a woman was in a position to express an opinion on a subject of this kind. Of these 1,500,000 women only 2,900 had signed petitions against the Bill. He did not think there had been any very great change in public opinion on this subject since last session; he hoped the Bill would be read a second time, and he was anxious that further facilities for its passage through Parliament should be secured. It was beaten last year, not on its merits, but by obstruction, which made further progress with it impossible, and in view of the future of the present Bill he wished once again to quote the report of what took place in an interview between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Sir H. Fowler) and the Prime Minister, when the latter was 1087 reported to have said that it might be admissible to state before the Second Reading was taken this year that the House would have an opportunity of con sidering the Bill on its further stages. He was very grateful to the First Lord for having made that statement, and he was one of those who intended to rely upon it, because he believed that in making such a declaration the word of the First Lord of the Treasury was as good as his bond.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
said that in moving the rejection of the Bill he wished to say that on one point, at any rate, he was in entire agreement with the hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke, viz., as to the spirit and tone in which the mover had brought the Bill forward. As he had to deal with old arguments he must ask the House while he was appealing to it, to pause well, even at this stage, before committing itself to the principles of a Bill which fitfully, from time to time, it had sanctioned, not, as he believed, from any strong feeling in the matter, but rather out of weariness, and out of sympathy with those who were desirous of seeing it pass. The Bill had been carried eight times in that House, and it had been rejected once during the period he had the honour of sitting in that Assembly, but the proof that it did not possess urgency was to be found in the fact that for ten years it did not appear at all on the floor of that House, namely, from 1891 to 1901. No doubt there was deep sympathy with children who were deprived of their mother. There was also deep sympathy with the husband who lost the stay of his house and the guide of his children, especially in cases where it was not possible for him to employ paid assistance. But they must be careful lest sympathy with those who deserved their sympathy in the highest degree should lead them to take a course which would endanger the sanctity of Christian marriage, the purity of the home, and the ancient Christian standard of domestic life which had stood for so many generations. These matters of marriage could not be left to instinct or convenience. There must be a law, and the question was whether this particular marriage was one which could be allowed, 1088 and whether such a relaxation could be permitted without injury to the community at large. From the earliest ages there had been a consistent and intelligent rule, understood and acted upon by the Christian Church from its very foundation, and by Christian States from their earliest establishment, and that consistent rule was founded on the central principle, enunciated four times in Holy Scriptures, that husband and wife were one flesh, and that no man could be allowed to marry any woman near akin to him, and equally he could not be allowed to marry anyone near akin to his wife, because husband and wife were one. Out of this arose the law of consanguinity and affinity. He did not wish to found any very strong argument upon that, or to bring forward in support the Jewish law, but he would point out that there was a direct prohibition which had been universally observed in the Christian Church. The e was a time, no doubt, when one of the Popes—not a man of the highest morality—gave a dispensation to the King of Portugal to marry his deceased wife's sister. The Church of England, following the Roman Catholic Church, had always held that these marriages were contrary to God's law. The Presbyterian Church of England had followed on the same line, for in 1643 it most clearly described these marriages as prohibited, and very recently some thirty-four leaders of the three Presbyterian Churches endorsed that view. Again, reformers took a similar line; Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin all followed that course. When they came to the Roman Catholic Church, there was no doubt that since the time of the unfortunate incident to which he had alluded, dispensations from time to time had been granted by which such marriages were allowed, but Cardinal Manning had stated that, during the whole period of thirty years during which he had ruled over his diocese, he only knew of six cases in which these dispensations had been granted. He trusted the House would not forget the great men of modern times who had most strongly resisted these marriages. Lord Hatherley, Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Coleridge, Lord Cairns, and the Duke of Argyll were all men who 1089 had resisted the Bill again and again, because they believed its passage would be fatal to the sanctity of marriage and the happiness of domestic life. People were obliged to submit to restraint in some matters. Natural man was impatient of restraint, and much trouble had ensued because the restraint in the garden of Eden was broken through. Society had a right to limit the freedom of the individual, if that freedom was likely to be injurious to the community. Laws relating to sanitation, vaccination and infection, greatly interfered with the liberty of the subject, but they were submitted to for the public good. It was because the opponents of this Bill believed that, if passed, it would produce moral contagion that they resisted it, and asked that the restraint should continue. There was said to be a popular demand for the change. It was difficult to discover what the feeling of the people really was, but the late Lord Hatherley, twenty years ago, could find only three cases of such marriages among 60,000 people in Westminster, while only a day or two ago the incumbent of a poor parish of 10,000 in Westminster declared that he had never heard any such desire expressed by his parishioners. No one had a closer acquaintance with the condition of the poor than the present Bishop of London, but his Lordship had recently declared the alleged demand on the part of the poor to be a myth. By passing this Bill they would be running a terrible risk for a very uncertain demand. This was a case in which the desire of the minority could not be granted without inflicting a greater injustice on the majority. No new arguments had been adduced in favour of the Bill; no evidence was forthcoming of the necessity for the change, and certainly no fresh security had been provided against the dangers which had been so clearly described on other occasions. The present law made for the greatest happiness of the greatest number; it conduced to the maintenance of a high standard of Christian morality; and it was a restriction which, in the interests of the whole country, ought to be retained. He therefore begged to move "That the Bill be read a second time this day six months."
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth),
in seconding the Motion, said he was glad to have the opportunity of saying a few words, because he wished to explain an apparent inconsistency. A year ago, without proper consideration, he supported a similar Bill to this, but he had altered his view. It seemed to him that the promoters of this Bill paid more attention to the benefit which they thought might be conferred upon certain individuals, who were suffering from a hardship, than to the general principle which must, in his opinion, underlie the marriage laws of this country. He proposed to approach this question purely from the secular point of view. The religious arguments, with which they were all familiar, had no great weight with him, and were not responsible for the opinion which he held. Whatever might be the hardships under which certain individuals suffered on account of particular disability which existed in this respect, it was clear that those individual cases and special circumstances must be subordinated to some definite and recognised principle which should govern the marriage laws. He could conceive two principles on which the marriage laws might rest. They might take the principle of hygiene, and say that the laws of health were the only consideration which ought to govern the question of marriage. If that were so, and consanguinity was to be the test, this Bill ought to contain a clause prohibiting the marriage of first cousins. But there was a higher principle upon which the marriage law might be based, and one which embraced and transcended the principle of hygiene. It was the fusion of two families by marriage, and the prohibition within certain degrees of affinity of marriage between those fused families, and the reason the social principle seemed to him to be higher than the hygienic principle was this—the family was the unit of society and the measure of civilisation. Civilised states had made very great sacrifices to establish that fact. The narrow scope of the divorce laws testified to the great importance attached by civilised states to family life. Polygamy had been discredited by civilised states almost entirely in the interests of the 1091 children who were the future citizens of the State. Civilised society always recognised this as being the most important social unit and measure of civilisation. At one time marriage between brothers and sisters was not infrequent. Many instances of this were afforded by Egyptian history.
The question had another very important aspect, and that was the peculiar relationship that existed between brothers and sisters and sisters-in-law, which marked them off as different from all other people in the world, and which was, he thought, of very great social and moral value. This Bill proposed to narrow and limit the family which had been the outcome of ages of civilisation. If a divorce may result from intercourse with the wife's sister, all idea of incest between a man and his wife's sister must fall to the ground. Far too little attention was paid to this point. The real question was, what were the relations during the wife's life and not after her death? If it were possible to marry a deceased wife's sister, that woman must occupy a very different position to what she did at the present time. It was impossible to stop here, for if a man might marry his deceased wife's sister a woman must be able to marry her deceased husband's brother. What about the wife's niece and husband's nephew? For a few cases of hardship the Bill would destroy or alter the whole condition of family life in this country. He could not see how brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law could be on the same footing if the Bill passed. It seemed to him obvious that it introduced quite a different principle, and narrowed and limited the family circle instead of broadening it, as had been the case during the past, and would make them revert to an earlier state of civilisation. It would put back the hands of the clock, and destroy one of the best social and civilising influences which the marriage law and marriage state had produced. He should most cordially support the rejection of the Bill. Sufficient reasons had not been established why the marriage law should be altered merely to suit the convenience of a number of well-meaning persons who had been injudicious in their action.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Sir John Kennaway.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
said he wished to say a few words in opposition to this Measure and in support of the Motion of the right hon. Baronet. He would confine himself to the question as to how this proposal affected his co-religionists, who were divided on this question. He looked at this subject from two points of view—there was the question of principle and the question of practice. Upon the question of principle they were all unanimous that the law of their Church condemned these marriages, but on the question of practice there was a difference amongst them. It was quite possible, and in very rare and exceptional cases it did happen, that the law of the Church allowed dispensations and marriages of this description, and the very fact that the law of the land did not sanction those marriages of course placed members of his religion, who were rightly allowed to contract these marriages in some few cases, at certain legal disadvantage in this country. But those cases were very rare, and the disadvantages incurred by them were still rarer. He was, of course, aware that eminent ecclesiastical authorities had been quoted in previous debates on this question. Two very learned ecclesiastics of his Church, the late Cardinal Wiseman and the late Cardinal Newman, had been quoted as favourable to a change of the law in this respect. He wished to point out, however, that they could never be quoted, so far as he was aware, as being favourable to the principle of allowing these marriages, and their opinion was given some time ago, when things were very different to what they were now. His Church had had an unhappy experience since then. There had been a change in the law of other countries with regard to this question, where the law of the land had not been kept in accordance with the law of the Church, and the result had been that there was a growing feeling entertained amongst 1093 ecclesiastics and laymen in his Church not in favour of the proposed change, but in favour of maintaining the law as it was at present in this country. It was quite true that in some very few cases hardship might be incurred, but in his humble opinion the principle of this question was so strong and so very important that he believed that those few people ought to suffer in order to safeguard the principle.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said it was always a difficult and unpleasant task to rise in the House of Commons in opposition to a wave of public feeling, as indicated by the serried ranks on the opposite Benches. Much reference had been made to the opinion of the working classes upon the subject. He had represented a purely working-class constituency for the last fifteen or sixteen years—more than that—and he did not think he had ever been asked a question at a public meeting about this Bill, or in private, except by a wealthy gentleman who had, in spite of the law, married his sister in-law. There was a laxity of public feeling perhaps which had given a partial success to the measure. Great weight had always been attached by the advocates of this Bill in the House to the state of the law in the colonies, and it was argued that the law in one part of the Empire should be made equal to that in another. He remembered the beginning of colonial legislation on this subject. It was soon after he went out as Governor of South Australia that a change in the law was agitated there, because, of course, the colonial law previously followed on the lines of the English law. South Australia was selected for this agitation because it was more composed of Nonconformists than any other colony. More than that, the temper of the legislation there was impatient of restrictions, and it was only necessary to tell the people that the doctrines of the Church and Churches were against the change in order to create considerable feeling in its favour. Accordingly, after an agitation in that colony, the Legislature passed the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. It was disallowed at home as being inconsistent with the law of the mother country. At last, there being in office in this country a Secretary of State for the Colonies who 1094 favoured this change in the law, the Royal Assent was given to it. For some years that was the only one of the Australian colonies where marriage with a deceased wife's sister was lawful. People in the other colonies used to come over to South Australia to reside there for the time required by law and then enter into these bonds. For many years there was only one clergyman of the Church of England in that colony who would celebrate these marriages, and he was a gentleman of no very high repute; and he was tempted by the £5 note which was payable for performing this sacred ceremony. The Presbyterians and other denominations in that colony, whose standards of religion stood in the way of such marriages, would not celebrate them any more. The Church of England was stronger in the colony than it used to be. He supposed that the clergy now numbered sixty or seventy instead of one, and he was able to state that there was not a single clergyman of the Church of England who would consent to perform these marriages, although the civil law permitted them. In the other colonies, no doubt a similar law had been passed, but he did not think these marriages were at all common there—in fact they were no more common than in this country.
In his own experience in this country he had not found any very strong feeling among the working classes in favour of this measure, and certainly in Scotland, a country with which he was very closely connected, there was no disposition to have these marriages. They were distinctly against the Church law of all denominations of Presbyterians in Scotland, just as they were against the law of the Church of England. He was an old man now, and he had sat in this House, off and on, for many years, and this subject was very much in the same position as when he entered. He was not sure but that there was a little more excitement about it in 1854 than now. Certainly the passing of the Act of 1836 unsettled the question a good deal. In the last two or three years it had gained considerable strength, partly, he thought, through the looseness and indifference which reigned in some quarters. It was certainly not from enthusiasm on the subject. 1095 His hon. friend the Member for Plymouth made a very thoughtful and interesting speech which, as all who knew him would admit, was the result of profound conviction. The hon. Member was not ashamed to say that he was going to change his vote on this subject. He had referred to the disturbance which might be caused in family life if these marriages were made lawful. This was a matter that was very often referred to, and he would state what was very strongly present to his own mind. All one's life one had been accustomed to see wives' sisters in the family treated just as sisters. The wife had no cause for jealousy or disturbance, and she saw her sisters treated by her husband in exactly the same way as he would treat his own sisters, without embarrassment or difficulty or cause for difficulty. The household relations would be greatly changed if the sister became as marriageable, in the case of her husband becoming a widower, as any other girl in the country. He confessed that it did seem to him that the relations would be so changed that English family life would not be what it had been. He had himself seen instances in the higher, the middle, and the lower ranks where the wife was dying and the sister had come to take charge of the children. It was an insult for her fellow-countrymen to say that that woman could not take care of her sister's children in such circumstances without something being said against her character. He could not for the life of him see why people who paid respect to the proscriptions of the law of the Church should not be as safe from scandal as if the man's own sister had come to take charge of the children. Reference had been made to the small number of petitions which had come from Lancashire and Yorkshire against the Bill, but he would ask how many petitions had come from those counties in favour of it? He had not looked at the report on petitions lately, but he knew that in former years there never was any great number of petitions in favour of a change of the law in this matter. He was not sure but that the number of petitions against the Bill was greater than those in favour of it. He believed that the great mass of the people in those counties, as in England generally, were so content with the 1096 present law that they did not agitate either for or against it.
His hon. friend had referred to a point which had always been present to his mind and never more so than at present, namely, the absurdity, inconsistency, and hollowness of bringing forward a measure to legalise marriage with a deceased wife's sister while leaving the law untouched with regard to all other marriages of affinity. What reason could there be for legalising marriage with a deceased wife's sister while the law made it illegal to marry the wife's aunt? If such marriages were still to remain illegal when they legalised marriage with a deceased wife's sister, did it not show t that there was something in the affinity which rendered such alliances inexpedient and that it was the indulgence of the weakness of the flesh, or some such motive, that induced people to wish to legalise these marriages. It was absolutely against our legislation if Parliament was going to interfere with the prohibition which had so long existed against marriages of affinity. Although the House had on many occasions passed the Second Reading of this measure it was quite evident that the wave of public opinion had not been strong enough to carry it further, therefore it would be absurd to say that there was a widespread feeling against the prohibition of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. If there had been such a feeling this House would have insisted on carrying the measure further. The resources of civilisation and of Parliament were not so weak that a measure demanded by the force of public opinion would not be carried into law, no matter how vigorous the opposition by a few. It was also absurd to say that those who opposed the measure did so on account of ritualism, or such things as that. Presbyterians were quite as strongly against it as Episcopalians, and Low Churchmen were as much against it as High Churchmen. The speakers in this debate would give a sufficient answer to such a statement. He did not think the hon. Member for Plymouth was much connected with the High Church party. But the fact was there was an old-fashioned attachment to the ecclesiastical and civil law, a desire to keep married life pure in this country, to preserve family life, 1097 and to avoid the dangers which undoubtedly would follow upon a relaxation of the law in this particular.
§ MR. RANDLES (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said he was as anxious as anyone to maintain the purity and sanctity of married life in this country. All the same, it seemed to him that it was quite time that the stigma which was placed upon a considerable number of our fellow-countrymen and countrywomen by the existing state of the law should be removed. He was convinced that there was substantially but one opinion among the masses of the people of this country, and that was in favour of the Bill. Why the demonstrations in favour of the Bill were not greater, and why a wave of popular feeling did not carry it to a successful issue seemed to his mind to be pretty plain. The public had seen the Bill carried to a Second Reading so often that they were satisfied that that majority would eventually secure what was wanted, and that the House would be induced to pass the Bill into the law of the land. Artificial barriers had been raised to that passage. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill referred to the change which had come over the minds of the people on this subject. His mind had not changed, but while he listened to the arguments in the debate twelve months ago, he was not very much impressed by the preaching against the Bill, although he was very much impressed by the tactics adopted by its opponents to defeat it. He then determined to do everything in his power to assist in passing this Bill into law. Whatever might be said, this was not a question that concerned so much the Members of this House as the people who were living in crowds in our cities, and with whom the idea of marriage was liable to be lowered, to be debased, by the steady resistance of this House to what they regarded as a very necessary reform. He was a member of a Church which had not yet been represented in the debate. Some Churches, like the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, were divided in their theory and practice on this subject, but there was little or no division in the Church to which he belonged, which was part of 1098 Christendom, and which had a great number of adherents in this country, America, and Australia. That Church had no law against marriage with a deceased wife's sister. One of the most eloquent preachers in that Church was obliged to leave this country because of the existing law and go to one of our colonies where he could marry his deceased wife's sister without giving any offence to his co-religionists. He thought it was a very wrong thing that we should place a stigma on people and Churchmen who held the same faith as ourselves in essentials, but not the theory held by a small and narrow section of the Church of England. It struck him forcibly that that particular section in the Anglican Church most opposed to this Bill was very largely composed of men who were opposed also to the Church Discipline Bill. He supposed that their action was on the principle to—Compound for sins they are inclin'd toBy damning those they have no mind to.The opponents of the measure had sent him extracts from the Book of Leviticus, both in Hebrew and in English. He did not understand Hebrew, but so far as he could read the English version of Leviticus there was nothing against marriage with a deceased wife's sister, but much in its favour. He begged to give his most hearty support to the Bill.
§ MR W. E. SHARPE (Kensington, N.)
said he rose with some feeling of regret to address the House in view of the speech of his hon. friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill. It was, to his mind, a very sad and regrettable circumstance that the younger Members on this side of the House, while he did not question their feeling of loyalty and political affection as regarded great constitutional questions, were many of them, like his hon. friend, nusound on Church questions. The Church was, in his opinion, at the root of the question before the House. It was not merely a question of altering the law or of meeting the wishes of particular persons who were injuriously affected by the existing law. It was, to his mind, thoroughly and entirely at the present moment a social question. They had heard repeatedly in this House religious and biblical views and 1099 arguments. He himself had mentioned some of them on former occasions; but he would not trouble the House on the present occasion with any remarks of that kind. The House should, however, dwell upon the fact that the change proposed by this Bill was one that went to the very root of society. It was a proposal to change one of the fundamental laws of the realm, which ought not to be changed. The point to which he particularly wished to address himself was that this was a great change which had never been called for by a majority of the people—far from it—which had never been called for by the women of England or by the poor of England, but which was the result of deliberate and determined persistency on the part of a powerful faction which a generation ago brought forward this proposal because some of the great of the land had themselves broken the law. The question was now a social one of a far-reaching character; and, speaking as he did as a Tory and a High Churchman, he wished to impress upon the House the fact that there was a strong feeling, both in the country and in the Church in particular, that there should be no attempt to alter the relations which existed in such a matter between the Church and the State. This Bill, if it were carried, would not only alter the relations of affinity and permanently abolish the relation of sister-in-law, but would establish a change in the law which had never been adopted, and was not likely to be adopted, by the Church of England. The Church of England inherited the traditions of the great churches from the time of the Apostles, and had continued to surround and safeguard holy matrimony in a way which commended itself to all branches of the Church; and they had had today testimony, not only from such a Low Churchman as his right hon. friend the Member for Devonshire, but from a Roman Catholic Member who was an ornament to the Church to which he belonged, namely, the noble Lord the Member for Chichester. Those were the men who took this question out of the category of party politics, and raised it to a position of a great fundamental principle, which he contended should be safeguarded and maintained by this House. As long as 1100 they had an Established Church—and he believed they would have it for ages to come—in spite of the efforts of political dissenters, they should stand by the Church, and not allow such friction to be introduced as would follow if certain marriages were allowed by the State and were not allowed by the Church. The Church in all her assemblies had declared against any such change, and the result of passing this Bill would be to establish a feeling of friction between the Church and the State. The gravity of that was so great that he wished to impress it strongly on the minds of hon. Gentlemen, and especially on the minds of hon. Members who, because of Liberal proclivities, or theoretical objections, or for the promotion of what they called liberty, were prepared to take away restrictions and safeguards which the wisdom of their ancestors put on the action of the individual. The House would do well to pause before it did I anything of that kind, and he hoped that the result would show that there were a large number of hon. Members in this House who would stand by the Church of England in her old marriage laws. He hoped the House would not give way to the cry for this Bill, which he believed was not well founded, but was merely a cry of interested persons, and particularly of persons whose only claim on the House was that they had broken the law. It was not a poor man's question or a woman's question. He knew of no lady who approved of the proposal in the Bill. There were millions of women in England whose relations would be entirely changed if this Bill were passed. They were qualified to speak, and in many cases they had spoken all the more eloquently by refusing to join in an agitation in favour of so-called liberty. He asked the House to pause before it passed the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said he did not think he would have intervened in the debate, particularly having regard to the somewhat depressing conditions as regarded attendance under which it was carried on, if he did not feel that the House was dealing with one of the most important of social problems. He wished to enter his protest against the conditions under which one of the 1101 most important topics that could be considered was being discussed. There were very few hon. Members present to discuss such a very great question, although he presumed that by-and-bye other hon. Members would turn up for the purpose of voting, possibly in favour of the Bill. He intended to approach the question much from the same point of view as the hon. Member who introduced the Bill. He did not think that any question of Divine law was at issue, so far as he was concerned. If there had been any question of Divine law, and if one thought that the matter was dealt with by Divine law, it would be no longer before the House. But he did not take that view of the question, and he was prepared to consider it on other grounds. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill said that he did not want to discuss the matter as a Church question, and he thought it ought to be looked upon from the wider point of view.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said that if it were a question of Divine law there would be no further matter for argument; but it would be a great mistake on a question of this kind to seek to raise opposition between various religious bodies, whether they were Nonconformists or members of the Church of England. He wished to argue the question partly on religious grounds—much wider than any question of Church or sect—and partly on social grounds. There was one statement of the hon. Member which he was very much astonished to hear. The hon. Member laid it down that any individual who sought liberty of this kind was to be allowed it, quite irrespective of the social and other considerations which must necessarily arise. But the question was how far the individual liberty of any individual must necessarily be restricted by the social organisation with which he happens to be connected; and whether the social organisation as it existed in Christian countries was such that this restriction ought to be placed upon the individual, in order to get the maximum of social purity and morality in everyday life. Was this alteration, which had been brought forward in this House several times, likely to conduce to an improvement in the purity and morality 1102 of ordinary social and domestic life? He held strongly the view that the question must be answered in the negative; and it was because he held that view that he was certainly opposed to the attempt to alter the marriage laws of this country in a direction leading to decadence as regarded domestic purity and morality. The hon. Member introduced a question which was generally introduced when prejudice rather than argument was wanted. He referred to it as a working class question. He would really ask hon. Members to assume that on questions of morality and purity they did not have class distinctions, any more than they had class distinctions on questions of religion; and he must say it was a nauseating argument upon a great question of this kind to attempt to separate purity and morality as though they depended on class considerations. In order to show why he was opposed to the acceptance of the Bill, he wished to go into one or two matters of history, as otherwise misapprehension might arise from certain statements made by the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading. He was aware that the historical aspect of the question had been dealt with on previous occasions, not always accurately to his mind; but if they were really in earnest on a question of this kind they must deal with it as a whole, or otherwise they would not be able to put as strongly as they would desire the case against the Bill. The great change in the marriage law was made by Lord Lyndhurst's Bill in 1835. Very few had ever been found to justify the conditions under which that Bill was passed; but, whatever the conditions were, it was certainly hoped it would have some finality on the question they were now considering. As the House was aware, up to that time those marriages only were voidable. At the time of James I the civil courts intervened, and said that there was a strong objection to declaring marriages voidable and void after the death of the parties, and that they would not allow it. After that time the ecclesiastical Courts could only declare a marriage void in the lifetime of the parties. That was also the law in Ireland; but the law in Scotland was different, as there was no distinction between void and voidable, which he thought was a most unhappy arrangement. Whatever might be the 1103 conditions under which the Act of 1835 was passed, those marriages, since then, had been void in this country. That was a very important point to his mind. Social customs grew up with the marriage laws, and ideas of social purity and social morality were very closely connected with them. Indeed, so much did purity and morality depend upon the marriage laws that they ought not to be altered without a very strong case being shown. Nothing could be more unfortunate than the tendency to tamper with the marriage laws of a country. He spoke as one having considerable experience in dealing with marriage questions in this country at the present time, and if they looked at the conditions in this country, or at the history of other countries, they ought to lay down this principle, and it was a most important one, that without something like an overwhelming case they ought to leave the marriage laws alone, because on them so much depended social custom, and social purity and morality.
The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading referred to the hardships which existed in many cases. With many of those cases he himself had the greatest sympathy. But the hon. Member brought forward nothing to show the necessity for a great social change of this kind, nor did the condition of the House bear testimony to the fact that there was anything like a wide or general interest, in a change in one of the fundamental laws on which the social structure of the country depended. There were two statements made by the hon. Member which did not contain all the facts. In Catholic countries on the Continent at the present time those marriages were looked upon as contrary to the laws of the Catholic Church. But, although they were contrary to the laws of the Catholic Church, dispensations were allowed. He did not wish to say anything that would injure the feelings of any Catholic, but, speaking on it as a matter of law, he was bound to admit that to have a law, and, at the same time, to have the power of dispensation on a question of this kind, was very unsatisfactory. He thought the marriage law ought to be 1104 maintained, and he deprecated most strongly any marriage law which was open to be dispensed with in particular cases, as such a power would possibly act in a different manner as between the wealthy and the poor classes. From that point of view, he was strongly opposed to the Catholic doctrine, namely, a law of the Church capable of being dispensed with on particular occasions. He also gathered that the hon. Member quoted Russia in favour of his proposition; but so far as the Orthodox Church in Russia was concerned, those marriages were absolutely prohibited. The hon. Member said that the Non-orthodox Russians had the power to enter into those marriages. That was perfectly true; and therefore, when the hon. Gentleman quoted Russia in his favour, he thought the facts were all the other way. He did not want to put the matter very much on ecclesiastical grounds, still less on the ground of Divine law. But he wished to point out that in Christian countries, almost without exception, one view had been taken by the Christian Churches of all denominations on this question. As regarded most of the Protestant countries on the continent the law was as it used to be in this country. With reference to America, there was no American law as to marriage at all. There they had State law instead of United States law; and it was most detrimental. The hon. Member seemed to think that if one criticised the law of a country he was casting some reflection on the people of that country; but it was quite open to anyone to criticise the American law with reference to marriage. There was a system of rules and regulations in the different States with regard to marriage and divorce; it was a most unfortunate system, and he hoped it would never be even suggested in this country. Did the law at the present time, as regarded the deceased wife's sister, conduce to the purity and morality of our social life, or was it likely to have the contrary tendency and produce those effects after the death of the wife, and when the deceased wife's sister lived with the husband, which they all must deplore if true. In the general view they must consider all the conditions and must not mix up affinity with consanguinity. He thought in the 1105 vast majority of cases the present law tended towards the morality and purity of domestic life, and that as far as possible the sister-in-law was regarded as a sister. The question had been argued far too much upon the conditions which might arise on the death of the wife, but the House must bear in mind that that was an exceptional condition of things as regards social purity and morality, and that there were thousands of homes in this country where the sister-in-law lived in the position of sister, and where no such question as that which arose under this Bill would ever arise at all. Let them consider. On one side there was the whole domestic life of the country settled on social custom in the direction of purity and morality and the other where the conditions of hardship were exceptional conditions which ought not to override that state of things.
Another matter which had to be considered was that with questions of this sort hon. Members supporting the Bill took a particular instance and thought they had proved a case against the existing conditions merely because they had that instance. Whatever system of marriage law existed, it would be always possible to point out particular instances where the restrictions worked harshly, and if we were to upset our whole domestic relationship because of a particular case of that kind, one could bring forward arguments every month, every day, and every hour, for upsetting the law, which of all should be most sacred—the marriage law of England. On the other side it was said there were cases where the disability as regards marriage with the deceased wife's sister had brought about conditions of immorality which were exceedingly deplorable. Although there were a certain number of cases, there was no evidence whatever that they were of any very great extent having regard to our social organisation at the present time. No evidence had been advanced upon this point of any weight since the Royal Commission of 1847, and he had never heard an argument sufficiently strong to justify any change in the marriage law. Until some greater interest was shown in this question than was apparent from the thin attendance of the House, he earnestly hoped that nothing would be done to upset the marriage law as it existed at the present 1106 time. This was a question which reached down deep to the roots of our religious and social life. The House ought not to allow a Bill of this kind to go forward until it had been shown—first, that the existing conditions were such as did not conduce in the highest measure to the purity and morality of our domestic life, and, second, that evils existed which needed to be remedied. No reasons of the kind had been shown to justify such an alteration of the marriage law as that claimed for in the Bill.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)
said that he always listened to the speeches of the hon. and learned Gentleman with pleasure for the learning they displayed, but he was disappointed in the speech that had just been made. The hon. and learned Gentleman put the proposition before the House—that religion was vitally interested in the question. How was religion vitally interested? What was the meaning of a proposition of that kind, urged in opposition to a Bill which simply asked that certain citizens of this country should have the right to marry certain other citizens. It might be that a large number of persons with a strong religious turn of mind, not only belonging to the Church of England, but to the Nonconforming communion as well, might object on conscientious and religious grounds to this proposed change in the law, but that did not justify the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The interests of religion, if religion meant anything real, could not be affected by any change in the law of the State. In deciding this question he had done, what he always had done since he had been a Member of this House. He had approached the question as a citizen of no mean city and as a subject of the British Empire. Marriage with the deceased wife's sister was not permitted by the law. He could imagine some people saying it would be a foolish thing to do, but that is not the question before the House. He could imagine men saying it was a wrong and irreligious thing to do, but that was not the question before the House. It was, as he thought, a question of freedom—a part of that large freedom and religious equality which we had had in this country for three centuries past. What were the 1107 reasons upon which a man might reasonably object to the alteration of the law. It was a most difficult thing to argue with those who did not agree to one's first principles. The first principles of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite were not his first principles. The hon. and learned Gentleman was too adroit an advocate to put the matter in the plain and simple form in which he was now trying to put it. The hon. and learned Gentleman in a court of justice would not be allowed to draw a red herring across the trail in this matter and obscure the real issue. The hon. Member for Devonshire brought forward for discussion this simple question, whether a subject of the British Empire should or should not have a right to do something. The hon. and learned Member in his objections to the Bill went back for his authority to the Garden of Eden, but was not very successful in so doing, because the practice then was somewhat different to the ideals of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. The hon. and learned Member advanced the theory of relationship between the Church and the State, which he denied; for without reference to any religious or ethical theory the question was narrowed down to the simple one, "Has a man the right in the United Kingdom to marry his deceased wife's sister?" A great deal of learned lumber had been brought before the House by opponents of this Bill, a great deal of which was incorrect. The hon. Member for Gravesend had stated that in early days these marriages were allowed, and he could not see why they should not be allowed now. He would not go back to the Levitical doctrine. The verse in Leviticus did not forbid them, and apart from the wrong construction which had been put upon that verse of Leviticus there was nothing in the early records of Christianity until we came to the sixth century, which suggested that marriage with the deceased wife's sister should be prohibited. He believed the first prohibition was made by an Imperial edict in Rome in the year 135, some time after the Emperor Constantine, prohibiting these marriages within the area of the Roman Empire. But that was an Imperial question; there was nothing to show that the Christian 1108 Church either approved or disapproved of it.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
Surely the hon. Gentleman must be aware it is one of the old principles of Roman law.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
The noble Lord approached the question as a biassed man, he himself was absolutely unbiassed.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
Because he approached the question simply as a lawyer and a citizen of the Empire. He had not his references with him, but, unlike the noble Lord, it was his duty, and his painful duty, before he was called to the Bar to study Roman law, and he had read it, he hoped, not without benefit to himself. His argument was that all this kind of contention was irrelevant, and therefore it should not be forced upon the House. What did he care, as a Member for the Swansea District, about the Emperor Honorius, who did, by the way, marry the daughter of his most distinguished general. Speaking from recollection he believed it was in the sixth century that the first council of the Church prohibited these unions. He put the case definitively on this ground—Why should not a man have the right to marry his deceased wife's sister if he wished to do so? It might be a peculiar case, but why should he not have the right? The Church, he believed, did not approve of second marriages at all, but as a Member of this House he did not care what the Church might think. He looked at the proposition from one point of view only, and that was in the interest of the State; if it could be shown that this vitally affected the country to which they all belonged, then he would listen to those representations, but as, whatever might be the arguments with regard to consanguinity, there could be nothing deteriorating to the race through connection with a stranger in blood he urged the House to pass the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down had stated the case from a purely secular point of view, with an eloquence and force which it was easy to see had left a strong impression upon the House. He reached the climax of his speech when he asked that great old question—"Why should not a man marry his deceased wife's sister if he chose to?" The reason was that it was against the law, which was, after all, a point of view which the hon. Member, as a lawyer, ought not altogether to overlook.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
asked whether the hon. Member proposed to promote a Bill for the alteration of the law, which was not retrospective in its action. This was a subject upon which he was reluctant to intervene, because it placed him in opposition to the hon. Member for Gravesend, with whom, on other questions and upon other subjects he had found himself in kindly co-operation. He could only regret that his hon. friend had not confined his reforming zeal to the state of the British Army, but had extended it beyond that to Christian morals. Had he confined himself to that all would have been well, but he had jumped from that into this question of social morality.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER
Docs the hon. Member consider me ineligible to discuss the question of morality in this House? Nothing that I have said could justify such an inference as that.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
For three generations his family had voted and spoken against this proposal, mainly on secular grounds. There were strong feelings on both sides of the question; but the fate of the Bill would be decided, not by those who felt strongly, but by those who did not care a row of buttons about the subject, and who only saw in the question a convenient opportunity for having a slap at the Church party. For a considerable portion of the sitting of the House, it was absolutely empty, but as the time reached the 1110 hour of about 4.15 Members would begin to come in, and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton would rise in his place, and, with all the rhetoric at his command, make a most eloquent appeal in support of the Bill, and, while the House was still under the influence of that speech hon. Members would go into the Lobby and vote for the Bill, and so add to it another majority upon which to base its claim to be allowed to pass this House, when, he believed, a similar Bill brought in by the Government would never be able to get through owing to the opposition to which it would be subjected. From a secular point of view it seemed to him that the advocates of the Bill had put forward two plain secular arguments of a practical character. First of all there was the hard case of the illegitimacy of the children, and secondly there was the discrepancy between our practice and that of our colonies, which had been dwelt upon by hon. Members.
First of all there was the case of the illegitimate children. The question of civil illegitimacy was not before the House, but it was a difficult and serious point on which modern opinion might arrive at a different or less severe decision than former generations had done. The only conceivable claim it could have on the attention of the House was the claim of the children to have a fair start in life. Every argument before the House dealt with the colonial practice. His hon. friend, the Member for Pembroke, had brought in a Bill providing that any marriage contracted in any part of the British Empire, which was lawful in the country of domicile, should be recognised as lawful in any part of the British Empire. Why had progress not been made with that Bill? It had not been opposed by the Church party, which was fully prepared to acquiesce in the passage of such a measure. But however good it might be for the colonies it would not deal with those urgent and pressing evils at home which led to the presentation of the measure then before the House of Commons. He confessed he could not help thinking there was something rather hypocritical about tactics which tried to parade the claims of the children as an excuse for the acts of the 1111 parents, and about tactics which tried to use the modern sentiment of Imperialism as a means whereby an Act of retrospective indemnity was to be extracted for the people in this country who had broken the law. He assumed that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would admit that all marriage in civilised society must rest upon some general principle. That principle had hitherto been supplied by the Church, There was a table of kindred and affinity which embodied that principle, upon which for a long time we had conducted our affairs. That principle, as he understood it, was that when a man and woman were married they became one, and that any person the man could not marry by reason of consanguinity to himself, he could also not marry if similarly related to his wife. That might be a good or a bad principle; still it was a clear principle, a principle which had received the sanction of tradition and custom. It was a principle which very nearly approximated to the laws of health and science, and it was a principle expressed in a form easily to be understanded of the people. Now to that principle it was proposed to make an exception. The Table contained sixty degrees of kindred and affinity, and one degree was to be excepted—the deceased wife's sister. That was not, perhaps, a very considerable alteration at first sight, but still it destroyed the whole symmetry of the principle; and it overturned the sanction on which the principle rested. That was a considerable responsibility for anyone to incur. What principle had they to put in the place of the system they were overturning? He was not a very ecclesiastical person; indeed his education had lain in other directions, but he had met a very great number of people who had acquainted him clearly with what was the secular view of the subject. There was a good deal to be said for that secular view. It was a very simple view. They simply said that affinity was all humbug, and that the laws of health were good enough. If marriage were healthy then no one had the right to prevent it, and if it were unhealthy no sanction could make it tolerable. That was a logical view, and he was not prepared to say it was not a practical view. 1112 It was not, however, the view of the majority of those who supported the Bill. That was proved by the fact that they had repeatedly refused to make the Bill general in its application, or to extend it to other degrees.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said people no doubt shrank very much from pushing their views to their logical conclusion. After all, if they were not to have the sanction of religion and immemorial tradition to their marriage law, let them at any rate have that of science, and let them see that their system of Christian marriage was brought thoroughly up to date. It was not only the Table of Affinity which would come under modern review, but the Table of Kindred would also have to be dealt with. Royal Commissions have already considered the subject, and they would have to ask for another. No doubt, in this case it would be better to appoint somebody outside the House of Commons—a Commission composed partly of doctors and partly of business men to investigate the delicate subject of Christian morality and sexual relations. That was a point of view from which many of those who intended to vote for the Bill would recoil. They were not prepared to put it boldly forward. Their point of view, which was more illogical, was the view of a purely materialistic school. They did not say—" Let us substitute for the principle of religion the principle of health." No, they said—"Let us have the principle of religion, and where it is inconvenient let us modify it according to our inclinations." He asked the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Swansea why in one case only out of sixty the Table should be modified. The reply was that it should be done on the ground of freedom and liberty. That was to absolutely substitute for the restrictions which canonical morality had hitherto imposed on the will of the people, the desire of any particular generation of men—absolutely to place the foundation of Christian morality and family life on the shifting sands of popular caprice. It was a peculiarity of this law-abiding country that they had a great respect for the laws of the land, and a great dislike for those 1113 who sought to put them in disrepute, and for that very reason many hon. Members on that side of the House had a general objection to retrospective legislation. It seemed an utterly irrational argument to put forward, that because a law was broken therefore it should be changed. What position did they put the State in when they invited it to solemnly declare that it had been wrong all these years, and that those who had broken the law had been right? That the lawbreakers were, in fact, the leaders of a movement for social reform, and that in the future the law was to be altered, not in accordance with the precedents of the past, but in accordance with the views and desires of the present. This was an age of expediency, an age when principles were not popular, an age when general propositions were despised. No doubt, from that fact the Bill would be supported that afternoon, but there were some of them on that side of the House who set value and store upon great principles, and would be prepared to oppose legislation which did not seek to modify principle on the ground of principle, but which sought only to modify it on the ground of indulgence pressed for for a considerable number of years by very wealthy people. When a great principle was sought to be destroyed or impaired it was dangerous for the House of Commons to be asked deliberately to adopt the line of least resistance as the path on which society was to travel. He believed that, they would vote on that occasion with confidence against the measure, and give it their steadfast and unflinching opposition.
§ MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
said this subject had been thoroughly threshed out year after year, and he would have thought it was almost impossible to adduce any fresh arguments for or against, but that his hon. and learned friend the Member for the Swansea District, to whom the House had listened with interest and pleasure, had contributed a considerable amount of freshness to that discussion. He personally had simply risen in order to bring before the House an instance of especial hardship arising out of the disability imposed by the law on the poor 1114 people of this country. He would read a letter which he had received:—Sir, I write to you on behalf of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, begging you to help all you can in its behalf. You are our elected Member for our Division, and I am one out of a dozen in a very small space of it, and I know of a great many more surrounding it that are in the unlawful and awkward position. I know of a great many that are looking forward to the time when they can call themselves man and wife, and their children being able to claim their parent's and father's name. I am one myself that lost my wife some years since, and was left with a small family. Her sister, then married, took them and reared them. She is now a widow with a small family. Would it not be a right thing for me to marry her and assist her with her little family? She has done all for mine, and they call her mother, as they were only a few months old, and it would make us all comfortable, and there are a great many more in the same position. We beg of you to help us both for peace and comfort for them and their families.Everyone, he thought, would admit that this was entirely a poor man's question. Did anyone contend for a moment that the fact that the law said that this woman stood in the relation of the man's deceased wife's sister, made it possible for her to go into the same house with him and take care of his children, and for him at the same time to make a home for her and her children? Could it be suggested that in this matter there was equality between the rich and the poor? To the rich with large houses and other relations available it might be possible, though, even then, hardly advisable. To the poor in the humble cottage, with its two or three rooms, it was not possible, except with the inevitable result of either marriage or concubinage. If they took the historical aspect of the question, they would see that there was no case against the Bill. The hon. Member for Oldham had spoken of an inquiry into these Acts, and had seemed rather to ignore any previous inquiry. Now, a Commission sat in 1847 and was composed of men of the highest repute and position.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
I never objected to any inquiry into the present state of the law; I only suggested that, if it was proposed to substitute the law of health for the present 1115 law then it would be necessary to institute a Commission in order to ascertain how such a law could be applied.
§ MR. TOMKINSON
said the Commission certainly did not report in favour of the present law. Its Report contained a resumé of the history of the law, and pointed out that it was not until after Henry VIII had divorced Catherine that the Ecclesiastical Courts dealt with those marriages by pronouncing them null and void. It was in the year 1835 that a great family used its private interest in this matter, with a view to getting rid of a special disability, and if there ever was a law passed in the interest of one great family which inflicted a hardship upon the majority of the people the present law as to the deceased wife's sister was one. He hoped that the House would bring the law into consonance with the feeling of the people, for it should be remembered that, Naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said he could not help commenting upon the extraordinary character of the debate they had had that afternoon. They had before them what was supposed to be a very popular question, a question in which, to judge from the last speaker, the poor people of this country were especially interested, and a question on which a large majority of the Members of the House were said to be determined to get an alteration of the law. Yet it had been debated in the smallest House that had ever been seen, even on a private Member's day. During the greater part of the afternoon there had not been twenty members present; the front Opposition Bench, which was particularly supposed to support the measure, had been generally empty, while on the Government Bench the solitary occupant was the Solicitor-General, who, he believed, was opposed to the Bill. He never heard a more hollow fraud than the pretence that it was a popular measure, demanded by a great majority of the people, and especially by the poorer classes of this country. He had been a Member of that House for eleven years. During that period every question in which his constituents had felt the slightest interest had been forced upon his attention by them, but he had never had one single 1116 constituent, male or female, write to him in connection with this Bill. He believed there was absolute indifference in the country in regard to it. The poor people did not care two pence about it, for it was a case in which only a certain number of highly placed well-to-do lawbreakers came to that House year after year in order to try and get their conduct white-washed. He was not inclined to make such an exception for the benefit of a few law breakers. The hon. Member who last spoke, and who had shown how little interest he took in the subject by at once leaving the House, had contended that this was a poor people's question. He did not believe the poor in this country cared in the least about it. He had never heard of any petition coming from them and he had never seen any evidence of interest on their part in it. He would like to remind them that the only authentic inquiry which had been held into this matter was that made by the Royal Commission in 1847, and that Commission found that, during the twelve years which had succeeded the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act there had been 1,648 such marriages, of which 1,608 were among the richer classes and only forty among the poorer. It was, therefore, an idle pretence to say that this was a poor man's question. They had heard it argued over and over again that the present law had been the law of Christian marriage in every country up to the present day since the foundation of the Christian Church.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
I want to know when any recorded canon of the Church prohibited marriages in this degree before the Edict of Constantine.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN
said there were absolutely no recorded canons either on the one side or on the other, but there was evidence on record that these marriages were never looked upon as legal in the Christian Church. The first evidence was that of Bishop Basil, in the 4th century, who said he had never heard of such marriages and that they were incestuous and unknown in the Church.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said the edict to which he referred was dated 1535; was that to which the hon. Member referred earlier than that?
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN
believed it was. At any rate, the earliest record of the law of the Christian Church was the opinion of a Christian Bishop, who said that such marriages were incestuous and unknown in the Church. That was the law in both the Eastern and the Western Church. As to the argument that a dispensation could be obtained by Roman Catholics in respect of these marriages, a dispensation was evidence of the law. If it was not the law there would be no need of a dispensation. But he would point out that a dispensation could be obtained in respect of a marriage in almost any degree of consanguinity or affinity. Therefore, if the law was to be altered on that ground, so far as marriage with a deceased wife's sister was concerned, marriages of every kind now prohibited on the ground of consanguinity or affinity should also be legalised. The position of the supporters of this Bill was absolutely illogical. Marriage with a deceased husband's brother stood on exactly the same footing as marriage with a deceased wife's sister; but he was told there was no demand for it. It seemed, then, that this question must be argued, not as a matter of high principle, but as a question of supply and demand. Surely that was not a very exalted or logical ground to take. He would never consent to a change in the marriage law until there had been a complete inquiry into the whole question. As to the colonial argument, he was sure that if the colonial grievance could be met by passing a Colonial Marriage Act, none of those who objected to this particular proposal would resist the passage of such a law. But to say that because the colonies had legalised these marriages they should be legalised in this country was another matter. It suggested that the colonies were to manage, not merely their own affairs, but the affairs of this country also. He opposed the change because he believed there was no sufficient justification for it, and also on social grounds. Hitherto the sister of a deceased wife had been able, without reproach, to live in the house of her brother-in-law and look after the children, giving them that love and care which nobody else could show. If once this Bill passed, and the sister became marriageable, she could no longer be treated as a member of the family, and the position which had 1118 been productive of so much good in the past would become an impossible one. He therefore asked the House to pause before passing the Bill.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University),
who was indistinctly heard, said he was one of the very few Members in the House who could say they had no doubt about the feeling of their constituents on this subject. He was convinced that if his constituents were polled a vast majority would be against the Bill—at any rate, those who were in holy orders, and surely a large body of clergy had a right to ask consideration for their views. He hoped they should hear no more of the fallacies that the opposition to the Bill came from one particular section of the Church, and that the heart of the great Liberal Party was firmly set in favour of the Bill. The first was disposed of by the fact that his right hon. friend the Member for the Honiton Divis on of Devon moved the rejection of the Bill, and the second by the inadequate representation of the Liberal Party in the House on the present occasion. If there was a strong public opinion in favour of the Bill, why did that opinion not insist on its being carried? The Unionist Party had not been in power during the whole forty years history of this measure; why had not the Liberal Party in its years of office taken it up and passed it.
§ MR. TALBOT
said that if the people of England had set their minds on the Bill the House of Lords would not have stood in the way for all these years. The reason the measure had not passed was that it was not one which any section of the community were really anxious to see on the Statute-book. If the pecuniary support were removed from this agitation and if the retrospective enactments of the Bill were eliminated, so as to make it only apply to the future, there would be not the slightest chance of its success. Among the strong Liberal Statesmen of the near past who had opposed the Bill were the late Duke of Argyll, the late Lord Selborne, and the late Lord Coleridge. 1119 He had with him extracts from speeches by each of those statesmen, but he would read only one by the late Lord Coleridge. Speaking in the House of Lords on June 25th, 1880, Lord Coleridge said—I could have some sympathy and some respect for an agitation which had for its object a reconsideration of the whole marriage law, which went upon some principle which distinguished, e.g., broadly between consanguinity and affinity, between kinsfolk and connections'. But this Bill is founded on no principle; it sets man free, but it leaves woman bound. It lets the husband marry his wife's sister, because it is said she is not his sister, but it forbids the wife to marry her husband's brother, because he is her brother. Where is the justice—the common fairness of this? It is not easy to overstate the benefits which the whole of society derives from the social relations at present possible between the husband and wife and the family of the other. Affection into which passion does not enter is the great civiliser of mankind.…Impassionate affection refines and lifts up and is the source of half the graces and more than half the beauty and delight of social life. Now your wife's sisters are your own, and the circle of impassionate affection is largely widened. But pass this Bill, and they become to you like any other woman, and the circle of impassionate affection is at once contracted.Who can count the sum of innocent delight and comfort which this relation has
§ given to men who most need such comfort, and at a time when they need it most?.… Why, for the sake of the few who do want to marry their wives' sisters, are sisters-in-law to be abolished from the vast majority of those men who do not so wish?.… I will admit that the law of marriage, having been altered in some of our colonies and altered in the direction of this Bill, somewhat complicates the question. But much as I regret this, and disagreeable as some of the consequences may be, I cannot admit that we are to change a law which we in these islands think for the general good because our colonies have passed a law which we do not think wise or beneficial."
§ Referring to the state of the Treasury Bench, which at the moment was empty, and of the Front Opposition Bench, on which the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries alone was seated, the right hon. Gentleman declared, in conclusion, that a great change in the marriage laws ought not to be made when the Ministers of the Crown and the leaders of the Opposition did not show sufficient interest in the subject to give the House an opinion for or against.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes,164; Noes, 94.(Division List No. 73).1121
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Cullinan, J.||Helder, Augustus|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway)||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead.)||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Ambrose, Robert||Dilke, Rt, Hn. Sir Charles||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Asher, Alexander||Doogan, P. C.||Hoult, Joseph|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fred k.|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Duncan, J. Hastings||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Austin, Sir John||Dunn, Sir William||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Edwards, Frank||Jones,William(Carnarv'nshire|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.)||Elibank, Master of||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Elliot, Hun. A.Ralph Douglas||Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Black, Alexander William||Emmott, Alfred||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Fenwick, Charles||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Ferguson, B.C. Munro (Leith)||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)|
|Burns, John||Foster, SirMichael (Land Univ.||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Foster, Sir Walter, (Derby Co.)||Leng, Sir John|
|Cameron, Robert||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc||Levy, Maurice|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hon J (Birm||Graham, Henry Robert||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Grant, Corrie||Lloyd-George, David|
|Coddington, Sir William||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lough, Thomas|
|Cohen, Benjamin Lewis||Hall, Edward Marshall||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg.)||Hare, Thomas Leigh||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'rgh W|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Harris, Frederick Leverton||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benj.|
|Cox, Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Harwood, George||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Craig,CharlesCurtis(Antrim, S||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn W. F.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Hayden, John Patrick||Mitchell,Ed w.(Fermanagh N.)|
|Crombie, John William||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Crooks, William||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Mooney, John J.|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd(Carmarthen)||Rickett, J. Compton||Stroyan, John|
|Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Rigg, Richard||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, S.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)||Thorburn, Sir walter|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Roche, John||Thornton, Percy M.|
|O' Brien, Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid||Roe, Sir Thomas||Tomkinson, James|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Runciman, Walter||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Russell, T. W.||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|O'Dowd, John||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Palmer, Sir Charles M (Durham||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Palmer, George Wm. (Reading||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles||Whiteley, G. (York, W. R.)|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Phillipps, John Wynford||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Williams, Rt HnJ Powell (Birm|
|Pickard, Benjamin||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Price, Robert John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Priestley, Arthur||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Younger, William|
|Pym, C. Guy||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Randles, John S.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Soares, Ernest J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Gilbert Parker and Sir Brampton Gurdon.|
|Rea, Russell||Spear, John Ward|
|Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Davenport, William Bromley||More,Robt.Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Dewar, Sir T. R.(Tr. Haml'ts||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Jos. C.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath|
|Aubrey-Fletcher. Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Myers, William Henry|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||O'Brien, P. J. Tipperary, N.)|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Bill, Charles||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Pilkington, Col. Richard|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Flower, Ernest||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Forster, Henry William||Purvis, Robert|
|Bowles, Lt. Col. H. F. (Middx.||Gardner, Ernest||Reddy, M.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Caldwell, James||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasg.)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Campbell, J. HM. (Dublin Univ||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Carew, James Laurence||Gunter, Sir Robert||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Cavendish, V C W (Derbysh.)||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfd||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Talbot, Rt Hn. JG. (Oxf'd. Univ.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tott'ham||Ure, Alexander|
|Charrington, Spencer||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Walrond, Rt Hn. Sir William H.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Joyce, Michael||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. CE (Taunton|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S|
|Crean, Eugene||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir John Kennaway and Mr. Heywood Johnstone.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lundon, W.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Malcolm, Ian|
Bill read a second time.
§ *SIR GILBERT PARKER moved that the Bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Law.
§ MR. HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
urged the House to seriously consider the question before sending a Bill of this character to the Grand Committee. Grand Committees could only work efficiently when engaged upon Bills which were not of a controversial character. [Cries of 1123 "Oh, oh."] Hon. Members who made that ejaculation probably did not know the difficulties of the case. This Bill was one upon which there would be peculiar difficulties. As was well known, the Grand Committee was constituted more or less upon a party basis, and no selection which his right hon. friend could make could possibly meet the views and opinions which were held upon this subject. It had been said that this Bill did not lend itself to controversy, but in his opinion it was one of the most controversial matters that could possibly come before a Committee of this House. But even if the question was held to be non-controversial, was it fair that a Grand Committee should be asked to conduct a lengthy investigation, the result of which would be that time would be wasted, because after the measure had been referred back to the House there were no many other Bills which occupied a better position? Consequently the labours of the Grand Committee would almost necessarily be wasted. If they desired Grand Committees to continue to work efficiently, he thought it was most undesirable to press them into doing work of such a highly controversial character. He hoped the House would remember the history of this measure and refuse to permit it to go before a Grand Committee, but allow it to take its ordinary course in the Committee of this House.
§ Sir BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
hoped the House would allow the measure to go to a Grand Committee. It sometimes fell to his lot to have to speak to an empty House, but he did not argue on that account that hon. Members did not take any interest in the subject under discussion. He thought the reason was that they did not care to hear what he had got to say. By the fortunes of the ballot they had been able to bring this matter before the House. There were no new circumstances, and this was the third year running the measure had been before the House. Therefore, he thought the best thing to do would be to take a division without any further debate.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan),
as a member of the Committee for 1124 many years, had no hesitation in expressing the opinion that the present measure was not suited for discussion by a Grand Committee. This matter was not a subject of administration, but a subject which greatly moved people's passions. There could not, in his opinion, be a tribunal more unsuited for the discussion of such a question than a Grand Committee. The hon. Member opposite had said that this was the only chance for the Bill, but he had never heard a more extraordinary Parliamentary argument. He objected to this course because it was a bad mode of procedure and surely the House of Commons ought not to take such an unsatisfactory step in order that this Bill might have its only chance. That was a reversal of their Parliamentary procedure, and of all the principles which they should insist upon carrying out. Another objection to referring the Bill to the Committee was that it would occupy the whole of the session. He thought some regard ought to be paid to other Bills. He had great confidence in the work of the Standing Committees when they were dealing with subjects which they were competent to discuss; but to refer this Bill to the Standing Committee on Law would be an almost fatal procedure, and would greatly menace the authority of the Standing Committees and would lead to disastrous results. Great injury would also be done to the principle of delegation, which was absolutely essential to the good working of the Parliamentary machine.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
said he regretted to hear the opposition to this Bill being referred to the Standing Committee on Law. This Bill above all others was one which lent itself to discussion upstairs. It was controversial, but so was every Bill upon which the House was not unanimous. Between controversy and complication there was a gulf. This was a Bill to authorise people to marry their deceased wife's sister. That might be a good thing or a bad thing, but it was not a complicated thing. He held that the Bill was particularly "adapted for reference to a Standing Committee. The only question now before the House was whether the will of Parliament should 1125 prevail, or whether it should be overridden by a powerful, but not numerically very strong, minority.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN
said he desired to call the attention of the House to the object for which these Standing Committees were originally instituted. When the Standing Committees were originally instituted by Mr. Gladstone it was most explicitly stated that they were not intended for controversial Bills. This was accordingly not a prop r Bill to go to one of those Committees which were instituted for the consideration of measures not of general importance but for specialties of law to meet various wants in different parts of the country. Was a measure dealing with the marriage law a specialty of law or a question which affected only one part of the country? Taking the original intention for which these Committees were established, there was no doubt that it was never intended that such Bills as this should be referred to a Grand Committee. Did his hon. friend who had made this proposal think they were going to gain anything by referring this Bill to the Standing Committee? This was a Bill which raised so many acute differences of opinion, upon which Amendments could be moved, that it meant simply having the whole fight over again on the Report Stage. If they wished to preserve the Standing Committees for the objects for which Mr. Gladstone intended they ought not to send this Bill to the Standing Committee on Law. In the interests of the Standing Committees he hoped this Bill would not be referred to the Committee on Law.
§ MR. SEELY
supported the reference to the Standing Committee on Law. The hon. Member who had just sat down had urged that this was not a reasonable Bill to send to the Standing Committee, but he would point out that it was not proposed to introduce anything venomous into the measure. He thought that this was just the sort of Bill that ought to go to the Standing Committee. This was a measure which did not affect the vast majority of people, and never would. It was a Bill which affected a small number of people, but 1126 although the number of cases affected was small the hardship was great, and this was just the kind of measure for which Standing Committees were intended. From the nature of the case they could not expect to have a great and popular enthusiasm behind it, but there was a general consent of the laity of this country in favour of the measure.
He urged the House to send this Bill to the Standing Committee. The hon. Member for Oldham had said that he and his ancestors for three generations had opposed this Bill, but he wished to state that for three generations he and his ancestors had supported it, and what was more they had steadily beaten the hon. Member. He hoped the House would allow the Bill to go to the Committee upstairs so that they might have a final decision upon the question.
§ MR. TALBOT
thought that hon. Members were entitled to have the guidance of the leaders of the House on this matter, and, in view of the condition of the Treasury bench, appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton to express his views. Had it been thought for a moment that measures of this kind would be referred to the Standing Committees they would never have been appointed. Mr. Gladstone's opinion had been quoted, and was he an authority whose opinion should be disregarded in this House? The Bill proposing to reform the licensing laws, and the Bill for the Regulation of the Employment of Children had been referred to a Grand Committee. He maintained that in each of these cases the House had agreed upon the principle of the Bill; they were all agreed that there should be a reform in the licensing laws, and that there should be a reform in conditions for the employment of children. These Bills had been, and were being, considered by the Grand Committee with the utmost de liberation, good temper, and good humour, and the result was, and would be, that they would emerge satisfactory measures for the consideration of the House. Could anybody say that a Bill for changing the marriage law of England was one on the principle of which the House was agreed? One section desired that the measure should be passed, but there was another section who ardently 1127 desired that it should not be passed. Was that a Bill that could be considered in such a Committee? The hon. Member for Lincoln had said that the Bill only affected a few people in the country, and that, therefore, it should be sent to the Grand Committee, but the hon. Member who said so did not understand the position. It was not because the Bill would only affect a few people that it was being opposed. The objection of the opponents, right or wrong, was that they believed the whole principle of the thing was wrong, and if they passed a Bill which was wrong on such a subject as this, it affected the whole community.
§ MR. TALBOT
said he based his appeal to the Leaders on both sides of the House on the fact that this Bill—andhe wanted to ask them whether they agreed or not—was in its essence absolutely controversial. No statement by his hon. friend or anybody could prevent it from being so.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said the right hon Gentleman had made a personal appeal to him. He was in the House when the Standing Committees were originally founded, and he well remembered the speech of Mr. Gladstone to which reference had been made; but that was in 1882, and we were now in 1903, and it was necessary to take into consideration the course of procedure on both sides since, in reference to sending Bills to these Committees. The hon. Member for Wigan had based his objection to the Bill being sent to the Grand Committee on the same ground as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University, namely, that the House was not agreed on the principle of the Bill; but the moment the House agreed to the Second Reading it had agreed to the principle of a Bill, and the Second Reading of this Bill had been agreed to in fifteen divisions, with every class of majority—Liberal, Conservative, or Unionist. Even if the most eager 1128 opponent of the Bill raised a syllable of opposition to the principle of the measure in the Standing Committee he would be ruled out of order at once. All that the Committee could deal with was the details of the Bill, and it was a Bill without details. He would remind the House of the Church Discipline Bill, on which there was the strongest division of opinion, which met with such determined opposition that Mr. Gladstone himself went up and sat on the Grand Committee, the only time he did so. The Licensing Bill of last year, which was also a controversial Bill, went to the Grand Committee; and there had been similar Bills of the present Government which had been treated in the same way. Let them not pretend shams with each other. They knew what this opposition meant. The opposition to sending this Bill to a Grand Committee had nothing to do with any regard for the sanctity of the Grand Committees or their procedure; it arose because it was thought a good way of having another fight by a most ingenious, powerful, and intelligent minority against a decision of the House, which was not a chance decision but one which had been repeated during a long series of years and after several general elections. He did not think that to take such a course was fairly to carry out the ordinary rules for the progress of business in that House.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. WALTER LONG, Bristol, S.)
said he would not have taken part in the debate if it had not been for the last words of the right hon. Gentleman. He desired on his own behalf to protest most respectfully, but at the same time most energetically, against the description given by the right hon. Gentleman of the attitude of some hon. Members who opposed the reference of this Bill to a Grand Committee. In voting, as he would, against the Motion, he was actuated by no motive like that which the right hon. Gentleman described, but by a motive quite independent of the special considerations underlying this Bill. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in his description of the 1129 class of Bill which it had generally been intended to refer to the Grand Committees. It was perfectly true, as the right hon. Gentleman had reminded them, that this measure had been debated and carried by substantial majorities in different Parliaments; but he submitted that in the minds of the majority of the Members of the House the sort of Bill which they thought ought to go to a Grand Committee was one which the great majority, if not the whole House, desired to see passed, but in an amended form, and sometimes a considerably amended form. This was a Bill which no Amendment could make agreeable to a very considerable minority; and to send such a Bill to a Grand Committee was to cast upon that Committee work which they could not do. He believed that if the House sent a Bill of this character to a Grand Committee the other Bills sent there would stand no chance whatever of being passed, because the Committee would embark on a controversial discussion which would take up most of its time. He would have voted against the Motion without stating his reasons if it had not been for the concluding remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, which appeared to him to place an incorrect and unfair interpretation on the motives of those who were opposed to it.
§ MR. HALSEY (Hertfordshire, Watford)
said he would address himself to the question whether this was a proper kind of Bill to be referred to a Grand Committee. He ventured to think that the
§ argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite with reference to the Church Discipline Bill, in regard to which Mr. Gladstone attended the Grand Committee, and which created such great controversy, was the strongest argument that could be adduced that this was not a Bill which should be sent to the Grand Committee. What happened during the passage of the Church Discipline Bill through the Grand Committee showed that it belonged to a controversial class that ought not to be dealt with by Grand Committee. He ventured to think that the proper class of Bill which should be sent to the Grand Committee was that as to the principle, of which there was no great controversy, but which contained details requiring to be carefully threshed out in discussion upstairs. In that way a great deal of the time of the House was saved and trouble avoided, and the work was equally well or better done. He submitted that such a Bill as that now before the House, which proposed a vast constitutional change in the law of this country was one every detail of which should be threshed out in Committee of the whole House, and not by a Committee upstairs. For these reasons he hoped the House would not agree to refer the Bill to the Grand Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 187; Noes, 113. (Division List No. 74.)1133
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Delany, William|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bums, John||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glos., Stroud)||Cameron, Robert||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Ambrose, Robert||Causton, Richard Knight||Doogan, P. C.|
|Asher, Alexander||Chamberlain, Rt Hon J (Birm||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J A (Worc)||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Chaplin, Right Hon. Henry||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Dunn, Sir William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Coddington, Sir William||Edwards, Frank|
|Austin, Sir John||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Elibank, Master of|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Collings, Rt Hon. Jesse||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Emmott, Alfred|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Fenwick, Charles|
|Bigwood, James||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Ferguson, R. C Murro (Leith)|
|Black, Alexander William||Cremer, William Randal||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Blake, Edward||Crombie, John William||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Crooks, William||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Dalziel, James Henry||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc)|
|Brown, Geo. M. (Edinburgh)||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Grant, Corrie||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Runciman, Walter|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Russell, T. W.|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||M'Laren, Sir Chas Benjamin||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Markham, Arthur Basil||Samuel, Herbt. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (L'ndn'de'ry||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh N)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Mooney, John J.||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Harwood, George||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew|
|Hatch, Erne t Frederick Geo.||Moulton, John Fletcher||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, S.)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Hayter, Rt Hon Sir Arthur D.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Spear, John Ward|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Stroyan, John|
|Hoult, Joseph||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Palmer, G. Wm. (Reading)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Paulton, James Mellor||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Pemberton, John S. G.||Thornton, Percy M|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Perks, Robert William||Tomkinson, James|
|Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Philipps, John Wynford||Take, Sir John Batty|
|Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Pickard, Benjamin||Ure, Alexander|
|Kearly, Hudson E.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wallace, Robert|
|Knowles, Lees||Price, Robert John||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Lambert, George||Pym, C. Guy||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Randles. John S.||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid(Cornwall)||Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Whiteley, G. (York, W. R.)|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Rea, Russell||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Lee Arthur H (Hants. Fareham)||Reckitt, Harold James||William, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)||Wilson, H. J. (York., W. R.)|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Leng, Sir John||Rickett, J. Compton||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Rigg, Richard||Younger, William.|
|Levy, Maurice||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Lloyd-George, David||Roche, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Gilbert Parker and Sir Brampton Gurdon.|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfd|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Colston, Chas. Edw H. Athole||Hasl m, Sir Alfred S.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Cranborne, Viscount||Helder, Augustus|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Crean, Eugene||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Howard, J. (Midd., Tott'ham|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Crossley, Sir Savile||Joyce, Michael|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r||Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Jos. C.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks N R.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.|
|Bill, Charles||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lucas,ReginaldJ.(Portsmouth)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fergusson,RtHn.SirJ.(Man'r||Lundon, W.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Fisher, William Hayes||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bull, William James||Flower, Ernest||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Caldwell, James||Forster, Henry William||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasg.)||Garfit, William||More,Robt.Jasper(Shropshire)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. A (City of Land.||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Carew, James Laurence||Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans||Mount, William Arthur|
|Carson, Bt. Hon. Sir Edw. H||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn||Murray, Col. Wyndam (Bach)|
|Cavendish, V C W (Derbysh.)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Myers, William Henry|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Chamberlayne, T. (Southmptn||Greville, Hon. Ronald||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Gunter, Sir Robert||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Percy, Earl|
|Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Welby,Lt.-Col A.C.E(Taunton)|
|Purvis, Robert||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wilson,A.Stanley(York,E.R.)|
|Reddy, M.||Skewes-Cox Thomas||Worsley-Taylor, Hry. Wilson|
|Remnant, Jas. Farquharaon||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford East)||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong|
|Richards, Henry Charles||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Ridley,Hon.M.W(Stalybridge||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||TELLERS FOR THE NOE—Sir John Kennaway and Mr. Heywood Johnstone.|
|Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. JG (Oxf d univ.|
|Robertson, H. (Hackney)||Tollemache, Henry James|