HC Deb 22 February 1907 vol 169 cc1151-215

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the Second Reading, said it was just six years ago that he had the honour of introducing this Bill, when its supporters obtained the largest majority ever secured for it; and he hoped again it would be sent up to the House of Lords with the seal of a very large majority behind it. Some had hoped that the subject would be taken up by the Government, but on the whole non-party Bills were perhaps best left in the hands of unofficial Members. It was now rather the fashion to run down the private Member, but after all, he was simply a Member of Parliament without a salary, and he did not see why derision should be poured upon his efforts. He thought it was very desirable that there should be Members who did not require office, and who yet were anxious to serve their country without fee or reward. The time at the disposal of private Members had been so very much curtailed of late years that it had become very difficult to get Bills through the House. Under the new procedure rules there were only two days left for the three stages through which Bills of this kind had to pass. If he put this measure down immediately after Whitsuntide it was true he would have first place for a while, but other Bills which had passed through Grand. Committee would take precedence. It was therefore absolutely necessary, under the present rules of the House, that this Bill should be referred to the Standing Committee on Law. Last year a great evil was remedied by the passing of the Colonial Marriages Bill, but that was a law for the rich rather than the poor, inasmuch as a rich man who wanted to marry his deceased wife's sister could establish himself in the Colonies and there legally marry her, a course which was obviously not practicable for the poor. When he was in New York he met the son of an old Conservative Dean of Norwich, who had settled in New York because he wished to live as the lawful husband of his deceased wife's sister. That course was impossible for poor people to take under similar circumstances. He would like to read to the House a few words used by Cardinal Newman on this question. He said— If he looked upon this question as one affecting the rich, he should perhaps think the marriages were inexpedient; but if in the interests of the poor he thought they were expedient. The passing of the Colonial Marriages Bill was an additional reason why they should extend the system to the United Kingdom. There could not be two standards of morality in the British Empire. What was morally wrong in London must be morally wrong in Montreal or Toronto, and what was morally right in the Colonies must be morally right in the United Kingdom. As this was a new Parliament perhaps he might be pardoned if he gave a short history of this question. Up to the time of Henry VIII. marriages within certain degrees of affinity were prohibited by the Church, but dispensation was granted very freely by the authority of the Pope. That disposed at once of the arguments about immorality and religion. During the reign of Henry VIII. an Act was passed, not in the name of religion or morality, but for personal reasons, which enacted— That all and every such marriages, as within the Church of England shall be contracted between lawful persons, as by this Act we declare all marriages to be lawful that be not prohibited by God's law, shall be by the authority of this present Parliament deemed, judged, and taken to be lawful, good, just, and indisputable. And that no prohibitions, God's law excepted, shall impeach any marriage without the Levitical degrees. After that marriage within the prohibited degrees only was voidable, and validity could only be questioned if the marriage was pronounced null and void by a competent ecclesiastical tribunal within the lifetime of both father and mother. That law continued until seventy years ago. Then came Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1835, and that was a passage in our history which we could not look back upon without shame. The head of a certain noble family married two sisters, and had a son by the second. If the legitimacy of that son had been impugned during the lifetime of the father and mother, the marriage would have been declared null and void by the Ecclesiastical Courts, and the title would have gone in another direction. At the instance of the interested parties Lord Lyndhurst introduced his Bill, and a certain amount of opposition to it arose in another place. Finally, by an arrangement with the Bishops, the Bill passed through the House of Lords in the form that all past marriages should be declared valid, whilst all future marriages of this kind were prohibited. The Liberal Party in the Commons protested against this clause and struck it out, and Sir William Follett, who was in charge of the Bill, declared that he could not be responsible for the measure if that clause was struck out. At that time there were a good many Members of Parliament who had married their deceased wife's sister, and therefore they were anxious to secure their own position. Late in September the clause was reinstated, and the Bill was allowed to pass in the form in which the law stood at the present time. Consequently all such marriages up to that time, including that of the particular nobleman to whom he had alluded, were made valid and all such marriages in the future were made invalid. There was a pledge given at the time of the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act that the limitation should be remedied as soon as possible, but the pledge had never been carried out. He would like to say a few words about the prohibited degrees. There was a table in the Church Prayer Book which no doubt they had all read. That table was issued in 1853 by Archbisop Parker, who recommended that it should be posted on all church doors throughout the kingdom. That table had never been confirmed by the Synod of the Church. It did not appear in any of the old Prayer Books, and it was not included in the index of the present Prayer Book. The only place where it was indexed was in the copy in the House of Commons Library where it had been inserted in the index in pencil in the handwriting of an opponent of this Bill. Since that time incessant efforts had been made to remove this anomaly, and a Bill to accomplish this object had passed both Houses, but never simultaneously. It had passed through the House of Commons over and over again, and there had been a constantly growing feeling in favour of it both in this House and in the country. Of course it had been rejected in the House of Lords, but the Upper Chamber gradually came to the view of this House, and in 1882 it was rejected by only four votes. In 1883 the Second Reading was passed in the Lords by seven votes, and it was rejected on the Third Reading by five votes. In 1896 the Bill was again passed by the Lords by a considerable majority in a House much larger than the one which had adjudicated upon the Education Bill, but when it came down to the House of Commons it was blocked. Since that time repeated majorities in this House had asserted themselves in favour of the Bill. Since he had had the honour of introducing this measure it had reached the Second Reading twice, and on one occasion it encountered obstruction so gross that they could only look back upon it with shame. Consequently it had not reached the Lords again. This was the eighth Parliament in which there had been a majority in favour of the Bill, and if hon. Members wished to see the strongest argument in favour of the Bill he did not think they could do better than read the report of the Royal Commission on this subject which sat in 1847, from which he would quote one paragraph— The feeling against these marriages is in a great measure founded rather on a vague and misinformed assumption that they are prohibited by God's word than on a mature examination either of the Scriptures or the law of the Church. He had already quoted the opinion of the Roman Catholic body, and he could also give the highest Rabbinical authority in favour of his Bill. So strong was the conviction amongst the Jews in favour of these marriages that it was the practice to allow a man who had children by his first wife to marry his deceased wife's sister earlier after the death of his wife than if he wished to marry another woman. Hon. Members would understand that as he had been fortunate enough to get this opportunity, he had been obliged at once to present the Bill which had been put into his hands, because he should not have been treating the House with respect if he had not had it printed immediately. He had endeavoured to follow the lines of the Bill passed by the House of Lords eleven years ago. The Bishops had represented that a clergyman in one parish might refuse to solemnise such marriages whilst the clergyman in another parish might consent. It was represented that in this way a certain amount of want of discipline would be infused into a Church which was not remarkable for discipline, and in deference to that opinion a provision to meet that case had been introduced. If a man contracting such a marriage wished to be married by a clergyman, he would have to go to the registrar. At the present time they were obliged to register the birth of a child or the death of any person, but marriages had always been exempt from registration. He thought it would be much better if all these marriages had to be registered, and that would be the case if this Bill passed. The second clause had for its object the saving of existing rights and interests. It seemed an extraordinary thing that a marriage of this kind which was not a marriage could be annulled, but he had been informed that there were cases where decrees of nullity had been made against marriage with a deceased wife's sister. The latter part of the clause had been inserted in deference to the opinion of the late Solicitor-General. He asked the House to pass the Bill in the interest of morality, because under the present law if an unscrupulous man succeeded in marrying his deceased wife's sister, he could afterwards desert her without incurring the legal consequences which otherwise would attach to his conduct. He asked them to pass the Bill in the interest of fairness, because it was grossly unjust that a deceased wife's sister should be considered so near a relation as to be within the prohibited degrees of marriage, and yet for the purposes of the succession duty should be held to be a complete stranger. He asked them to pass the Bill in order to remove a great injustice from all parties, but one which weighed more especially on the poor, and had been for many years a blot on the law of this country

MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said he offered no apology for seconding the Motion, and thus connecting not only himself but the majority of those with whom he acted with the desire to see this question finally settled. When one looked into the history of this question, the more one was surprised that Parliament had not long ago removed it from the stage of controversy. As the mover of the Bill had said, it was very difficult to find arguments against the proposal. He would like to bring to the notice of the House very briefly the way in which the present law operated against one great section of the community. It appeared to him that the present: position was one distinctly against the working classes. The position had been so ably stated by one of the most respected Members who sat above the gangway on the Opposition side of the House that he could not do better than quote the statement. One of the Members for Sheffield had put it in the following way— Can there be a more unhappy and humiliating state of things than that which is thus presented to us. You not only have a law which is continually evaded; you not only have a law which leads to perjury and immorality; but you have a law which is so little in accordance with the feelings of the people, and with the natural affections, and so inefficient in preventing those connections, that thousands and thousands who are placed under daily and unavoidable temptation, and yet debarred from marriage, are living, and by the law are almost compelled to live, in a state of degradation and concubinage. The question here is not one of persons of profligate degraded life. On the contrary, it is proved that the great majority of persons who have contracted these marriages are persons of moral habit and sound religious feeling, and persons who do not otherwise offend against the law. The mover of the Bill had pointed out that those who possessed the means could go to other countries and contract a marriage. He was fully aware that when they returned to this country they were exposed to unworthy taunts, and that it had been not infrequently suggested that they were living absolutely in adultery. But a working man widower, left possibly, as in many cases, with a fairly large family, was not in a position, because of his economic condition, to provide the necessary nursing and attendance to have his children properly cared for, and he often felt that no one could possess the amount of motherly feeling and affection for his children as could the sister of their mother. If that man felt that he would like her permanently to care for his children, he found that because he had not the necessary means he was unable to follow the example of his social superior and go to another country to contract a marriage. He found that although the sister might have been in the household with him, he had either to recognise her as a servant, or turn her adrift, and take somebody else into the house. They might be told, as they had been told in previous debates on this subject, that it was essential to maintain the present position in order to maintain the observance of the Divine law. If he thought that the suggested alteration of the law was going to be a violation of the Divine law he would be one of the last in the House to be a party to the bringing about of such a change. He believed in the necessity of getting the people of this country to observe to the very fullest extent the Divine law, but he claimed that in proposing this change they were not inviting the people to have less regard for the Divine law. They were not asking the people to undo the Divine law. It might be said—and there was a great deal of truth in it—that what they were asking people to do was to refuse any longer to accept ecclesiastical orders, but he had yet to learn that all ecclesiastical orders were supported by the Divine law. There appeared to him to be in the opposition to this proposal a contempt for public opinion which he had never been able to understand. It was generally admitted that the function of this House was to give legislative expression to the will of the people. The will of the people, rich and poor, in every way in which it had been tested, had been proved to be in considerable volume in favour of the change which this Bill proposed. Many of the clergy were in favour of the change, and even a large number of the clergy of the Church of England had petitioned in favour of an alteration of the law on this subject. He thought he was right in saying that every time the question had come before this House, there had been a majority in favour of a change of the law. The Parliamentary position had not ebbed and flowed on this question as was the case with some other questions, according to whether the Government was Liberal or Conservative. That appeared to him to be a very strong point in favour of the proposed change. So far as this House was concerned, the opinion had always been consistently in favour of the measure. The opinion of the churches had also gone strongly in the same direction. The majority of the conferences of the free churches last year had passed resolutions in favour of a change in the law. The Wesleyan Conference, with which he had the honour to be associated, represented a very great section of the religious life of the community, and last July, at Nottingham, it passed the following resolution— That in view of the present social difficulties and serious civil disabilities arising from the illegality of marriages with a deceased wife's sister, and especially in consideration of the facts that no authority of Scripture can be urged against such marriages, that Bills in favour of legalising them have passed each House of Parliament, that the laws of our Colonies and English-speaking people generally permit them, and that a very large section of public opinion approves them, the conference shall be asked to declare that the Government should promote a measure to legalise them in England. He did not believe the religious sentiment of the country, as expressed by the conferences of the free churches, would be in favour of the change if it could be shown that the making of the change would mean the bringing about of a violation of the Divine law. He hoped that the House would end this controversy for ever by giving the Bill the largest majority that had yet declared in favour of the change, and that the measure would this session be placed on the Statute-book, so that there would be removed one of the greatest disabilities which now rested on a large section of the community.

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

LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

said he was conscious that in addressing the House on this subject he did not command the assent of the majority of hon. Members; but holding, as he did, a very decided opinion that this Bill should not be carried into law, he would be wanting in his duty as a Member of Parliament if he did not express his view candidly to the House. Before he came to deal with the Bill itself, and with the arguments for and against it, there were one or two observations which he wished to make in regard to the speeches of the hon. Members for Norfolk and Barnard Castle. The hon. Member for Norfolk had given a very interesting history of this Bill and had passed very strong animadversions—not a whit too strong—upon the proceedings which attended the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act. No one, he thought, approved now of that Act. The hon. Member, although he did not say so, left the impression on the House that marriages with a deceased wife's sister were not illegal before that Act. That was a misapprehension. Such marriages stood in precisely the same illegal position both before that Act and under it, as all marriages which depended for their legality upon affinity of the parties. Therefore, he thought it was obvious to all that the Act was only to make a certain rule as to marriages void by affinity which did not extend to marriages void by consanguinity. The idea that the Act had anything to do in connection with marriages with a deceased wife's sister, was owing to a want of knowledge of that Act. Another argument on which the hon. Member for Norfolk relied was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer treated the deceased wife's sister as a stranger for the purposes of succession. He had a great respect for the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he certainly would not be surprised to learn that any Chancellor of the Exchequer regarded a deceased wife's sister as a stranger for the purposes of the succession duty of 10 per cent. He would not be surprised at all to hear that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer treated a step-daughter as a stranger for succession purposes. In fact it was quite possible that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might do anything. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle had quoted very fairly a resolution passed by the Wesleyan Conference. He very heartily concurred in the tribute of admiration which the hon. Member paid to that body, but when he went on to say that by assenting to the principle of the Bill the Wesleyan Conference proved what was the religious sentiment of the country in regard to it, with all respect to the hon. Gentleman, he thought that was going too far. [Cries of "No, no."] He quite understood that hon. Members were not prepared to admit even the right of conscience on the part of the Members of the Church of England. However, he desired to draw attention to the terms of the Bill. When the House was asked to read a Bill a second time it was important to see what that Bill would enact. He ventured to say that both in its drafting and in its substance there were certain objections to it which really ought to be brought to the attention of the House before it was read a second time. As to the matter of drafting, almost the first words appeared to him as very strange. It said that— It is expedient to amend the law as to marriage with a deceased wife's sister. As a matter of fact there was no law on the Statue-book "as to marriage with a deceased wife's sister." Then the Bill went on to say that— No marriage heretofore or hereafter contracted within the realm or without shall be deemed to have been or shall be void or voidable, as a civil contract"— he did not know whether the promoters of the Bill knew what the effect of those words would be— by reason only of the affinity of the parties thereto. And then came a limiting provision, that— unless it shall be hereafter contracted in England by solemnisation according to the rites of the Established Church of England, between a man and his deceased wife's sister. He thought that was the most astonishing drafting of a Bill he had ever heard of. He did not know whether the promoters of the Bill intended it or not, but the effect would be not to apply the Act to any marriage that took place out of this country. Then the proviso went on to say— Provided that in case, before the parsing of this Act, it (the marriage) shall have been annulled, or either party thereto (after the marriage and during the life of the other) shall have lawfully married another, it shall be deemed to have become and to be void upon and after the day upon which it was so annulled, or upon which either party thereto lawfully married another as aforesaid. In other words, they were going to compulsorily legalise those marriages whether the parties desired it or not—even if they had been separated for years and would have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The hon. Member for Norfolk had said that there was some provision made for the children of such marriages, but he could see nothing of it in the Bill. He supposed that might be inserted later. Quite irrespective of those objections to the drafting of the Bill, there were two important principles which compelled him to object to making marriage with a deceased wife's sister lawful. First, this Bill was made retrospective; and secondly, it established two absolutely distinct classes of marriage. There were to be marriages which were to be lawful from a civic point of view, and marriages which were still to remain unlawful from an ecclesiastical point of view. To make a law retrospective was a complete departure from the practice of Parliament, and in this instance it would whitewash by the authority of the State people who had committed a moral wrong. He quite admitted that if they were going to make this law at all workable, they had to provide some loophole out of the difficulty which would compel a clergyman of the Church of England from marrying such persons. But they must not conceal from themselves the fact that in introducing for the first time two different kinds of marriage, they for the first time established that the State had one standard of morality and the Church another. [Cries of "No, no."] Such changes in the law ought not to be introduced without very great need indeed. What were the reasons alleged in favour of the Bill? He had tried to ascertain them by reading. The hon. Member for Norfolk did not think it necessary to go into the reasons, relying as he did on previous debates. What were they? In the first place, the strongest reason was that these marriages were lawful in the Colonies and that it was a great hard- ship for colonists who came over to this country and found that they were, according to the law of England, unlawfully married. That undoubtedly was a strong argument, but was met by the Government last session passing a Bill with almost unanimous assent on both sides to recognise such marriages. But the argument still remained that these marriages were lawful in a large number of foreign countries, as well as in the Colonies, and that we ought to follow suit. Personally, he did not like the argument of following suit. He thought this country was quite capable of deciding for itself. [Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear."] He was glad that the recollection of hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to other proposals obviously induced them to share that statement. But he would point out that in all countries where the Greek Church was established these marriages were unlawful, and so also in the case of Italy. In France, Belgium, and Holland these marriages were lawful subject to a dispensation from the Chief of the State. In Germany they were lawful, but so were a very large number of other marriages which no one desired, at any rate at present, to make lawful in this country. There was no doubt that in a very large number of our Colonies these marriages were lawful, and it was also true that in a considerable number of those Colonies the whole of the marriage law was very different from the law here. The facilities for divorce were very different from what they were in this country, and he doubted very much whether any conclusion could be drawn from their laws in regard to what had been proved to be desirable here. The same observation applied perhaps with more force to America, but there again he was prepared to say, with more confidence than he could of any other country, that he was not willing to take his morals from America. The reason the change was desired was that it was said that it would be greatly for the convenience of a large section of the community. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle had drawn an eloquent word-picture of the desire of the working man that his wife's sister should keep house for him. That was the whole position. Were they to treat the wife's sister as being in the same position as the husband's sister? Was she his sister or not? If she was, she could without objection go and keep house for the man as she did in many cases. He was sceptical as to the public demand. He did not think that the condition of the House showed that there was a large demand. [An Hon. Member: Look at the divisions.] He was perfectly well aware of the figures in the divisions, but people often divided the House and voted in favour of a Bill of which they profoundly disapproved. He therefore thought that the condition of the House showed that there was not a great amount of public interest taken in this question. He was not asked a single question about it during the election and had only had one letter upon the subject. He did not think that anyone of his constituents cared two straws about the question. The real grievance which underlay the promotion of this Bill was pity for those who had stone through the form of marriage with their deceased wife's sister and those with whom they had entered into this relationship. They were thought to be deserving of a great amount of sympathy, and there was a great desire to relieve them from the consequences of their acts. That idea seemed to him to be most subversive of the whole law of the country. Even assuming that it was an unreasonable and perverse law, there were people who, knowing the law, deliberately contracted these marriages, and who had deliberately broken the law. Then they came to this House and asked to be relieved from the consequences of their act. He utterly and emphatically protested against any such doctrine. If the promoters simply proposed to deal with future marriages, he would feel very differently, although all his objections would not be removed. There was no strong case for the Bill, and in spite of the utterance of John Bright, who was usually very dogmatic in his opinions, which had been quoted, he contended that very strong arguments could be urged against the Bill. We must have some regulation of the marriage law; it could not be left entirely to human instinct. The Royal family of Egypt, the Ptolemys, used to marry their own sisters. [An Hon. Member: The whole nation married them.] Perhaps the whole nation did, but he only knew about the Royal family. They made these marriages as a matter of course. Therefore they could not regard human in- stincts; they must have some regulation either by law, or by some ecclesiastical ordinance. If they were satisfied that these marriages were forbidden, not by the Church of England, but by other bodies, and the prohibition was recognised by the whole Christian Church, it seemed to him that the House would do wisely to make that decision the foundation of the legislation of this country. He was grateful to the hon. Member for Barnard Castle for plainly saying that this was a matter of religion, but he said that there was a sharp distinction between the law of God and the law of Churches. Would the hon. Member tell them who was to satisfy them what was the law of God? Was it to be settled by those who desired to marry their deceased wife's sister, or was it to be settled by the great current of opinion of religious men who had considered the question, whether they belonged to this Church or the other? He did not wish to set up as a judge of what was or what was not the law of God, but he would rather take the opinion of eminent divines than that of those who desired to marry their deceased wife's sister. The principle upon which the law rested was that husband and wife were one, that the relations of the husband were the relations of the wife, and that the relations of the wife were the relations of the husband. That principle was accepted in every case except that of the deceased wife's sister. It was not proposed to allow a man to marry his stepdaughter or his niece, or a stepmother to marry her stepson or a woman her nephew. Therefore it was proposed to make a solitary exception to that principle upon grounds which had no support except from the people who desired the change. He thought the number of these people was exaggerated. [An Hon Member: Common sense.] He would like the hon. Member to tell them upon what principle of common sense he relied in order to make this exception to the general principle which governed the law of marriage. He quite admitted that underlying this question there was a fundamental difference of opinion, but hon. Gentlemen who relied upon what they called common sense took, he thought, a view which if carried into effect would be disastrous to the country. They really took this view—that because a man and his sister-in-law were not connected by blood they should marry. [An Hon. Member: Common sense.] Exactly; that was what was called common sense. He protested against this materialistic conception of marriage. He denied that marriage was a State institution for breeding children, but that was really the principle which underlay the "common sense" view. At any rate, this materialistic view of marriage, whatever might be said—and he addressed now hon. Members who, though he disagreed with them upon ecclesiastical questions, were as earnest Christians as he himself—was not the view of the majority of the Christian people of this country. He regretted much that he was not the kind of person who could describe the view of the majority in such a way as would carry conviction with it, but he might, without offence, go as far as to say that the Christian view of marriage was not materialistic; it was not an agreement entered into between a man and a woman merely for the sake of raising children. It was something more than that, and hon. Members must, and he trusted would, when considering this question, look upon it not merely as an isolated matter with which they could deal by this Bill, but as part of a great movement which had swept over this country. It was part of the great movement of materialism which was threatening the country. He was quite aware that hon. Members would not agree with him, but they would so far agree as to admit that such a movement did exist. No one could look at the literature provided for the greatest number of readers, the halfpenny paper, without being struck with the extremely materialistic view that was taken of life; no one could attend, or see the programme of popular places of amusement, without seeing the same tendency. When travelling recently he entered into conversation with a commercial traveller, who, like all commercial travellers he had met, was a man of great intelligence. That gentleman described to him what he considered to be the great change which had come over the mass of the population of the north. It was undoubtedly a greater desire for amusement, and amusement occupied a greater place in their lives. Hon. Members who had read Mr. Shadwell's interesting work on industrial efficiency would remember that he had arrived at the same conclusion, whilst those who had read Mr. Charles Booth's "Life and Labour in London" would note that in various passages he had emphasised that fact. Mr. Charles Booth was a perfectly impartial witness in this matter. He was not a member of the Established Church, and had no religious axe, as it was termed, to grind. He merely stated the facts which he found to exist, and the conclusions he was forced to draw from an examination of those facts. If he (Lord Robert Cecil) was right in thinking that this Bill was really the outcome of a more materialistic view of marriage, then he asked the House before passing it earnestly to consider, not what would be the actual effect of the measure if passed, but what would be the moral effect. The standard which this House set up in matters of morality and religion would have a lasting effect on the welfare of the country. He begged to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.


in seconding the Motion, said his first surprise upon reading this Bill was to find a very large extension as compared with the proposals in the Bill on former occasions. In the year 1903, when the Bill was referred to a Standing Committee, the first clause ran— No marriage heretofore or hereafter contracted within the realm or without, other than a marriage hereafter contracted in England by solemnisation thereof by a clergyman of the established Church of England, shall be deemed to have been or shall be void or voidable by reason only of having been, or being contracted between a man and his deceased wife's sister, and so forth to the end of a long clause. That Bill was entitled, and the words carried out the idea, a Bill for Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister. The first clause of the present Bill was— No marriage heretofore or hereafter contracted within the realm or withont shall be deemed to have been or shall be void or voidable, as a civil contract, by reason only of the affinity of the parties thereto, unless it shall be hereafter contracted in England by solemnisation according to the rites of the Established Church of England, between a man and his deceased wife's sister: Provided that in case, before the passing of this Act, it shall have been annulled, or either party thereto (after the marriage and during the life of the other) shall have lawfully married another, it shall be deemed to have become and to be void upon and after the day upon which it was so annulled, or upon which either party thereto lawfully married another as aforesaid. He did not know what the Chairman of Committees would rule when they came to the Committee stage, but that certainly struck him as being a remarkable extension of the Bill beyond the title. The long title dealt only with the marriage with a deceased wife's sister. The short title said the Bill might be described as the "Deceased Wife's Sister Bill." He ventured to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the provisions of the Bill went far beyond the title either long or short. Whether they would be amended or not he would not venture to say, but he submitted that it was not quite fair either to the religious communities of this country or the country as a whole to parade this Bill in the newspapers and describe it as a Bill dealing with marriage with a deceased wife's sister when they found the Bill itself had a far wider scope. That was not dealing with the public fairly, and he felt very great regret that such a method should be adopted with regard to a Bill of this magnitude. He hoped the Member in charge of the Bill would amend the titles when they came to the Committee stage, so that if it ever came into operation the Bill would not be a misleading or mischievous statute. The history of the Bill was strangely complex. It had not always been adopted by the House. It had experienced the neap as well as the spring tides of success. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle had referred to the action of the free churches upon this question, but, without any want of respect to those highly intelligent, deeply religious, and extremely well organised bodies, he might remind the House that the Church of England was opposed to it as also was the Roman Catholic Church. As his noble friend in the opening of his speech reminded the House, in many countries these marriages were absolutely and entirely forbidden, and in the Roman Catholic Church they were only provided for by dispensations which were the solemn acts of the highest authority of that Church, and in that community to-day there was condemnation of the practice. He was not quite sure what the opinion of the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading was as regards the duty of the clergy. Many of our clergy had a conscientious objection to performing these marriages. Did the hon. Member understand that if this Bill passed as it now stood every clergyman would be bound in his own parish to celebrate a marriage between a man and his deceased wife's sister? He heard no reply. He had heard that question asked when the Divorce Act was before the Committee, and then as a clergyman could not be compelled to marry a divorced person if it was against his religious convictions so to do, that was left optional. He was quite certain that many of the clergy would strongly object to marry persons under the sanction of this Bill, and it would be a great encroachment on their consciences to compel them to do a thing which they thought to be irreligious and wrong. He did not intend to enter into a long argument against the Bill; it had occupied the attention of the Standing Committee at no less than nine sittings, and the arguments adduced against it, although not effectual, were pressed very strongly by the then Solicitor-General Sir Edward Carson, who said— They were going to marry people who now, either by agreement or disagreement, were living apart and who were not at present legally married. Would those parties who had separated by mutual consent or for matrimonial offences have a right to bring a suit for restitution of conjugal rights from the fact that an Act of Parliament had married them or remarried them again? Was it the intention, where a man had married his deceased wife's sister, and one of the parties was now living in open adultery, that the pair were to be compulsorily married again by this Bill? Were they to he compelled to come and live together again? What was worse, the Bill was going to legitimise the children of the man who had been living in adultery, and so leave illegitimate the children of the man who had married again or gone through the form of getting annulled a marriage that was no marriage at all. The Bill would give rise to all sorts of conundrums, such as, When was a marriage not a marriage? When was adultery not adultery? When was desertion not desertion? Great statesman like the Duke of Argyle and great and eminent lawyers like Lord Selborne and Lord Hatherley had expressed opinions strongly adverse to the Bill. Some years ago when this Bill was before the other House Lord Selborne said— My noble and learned friend (Lord Hatherley), having taken great pains to ascertain the facts among the poor of Westminster, has borne the same testimony. If we were to bring together all the aberrations of our law in matters relating to the connection of the sexes we should no doubt have a very alarming and very lamentable catalogue of evils. But does any one suppose that by adapting our law to such a state of things we should not produce a greater amount of mischief? For these reasons my Lords, I earnestly entreat you not to agree to the Second Reading of this Bill. In respect to the working man argument, he was struck by the observation of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Second Reading to the effect that the Labour group was not unanimous upon this question. That was a very important admission. The hon. Member did not seem to regard what was regarded in the middle classes as the position held by the wife's sister. The hon. Member spoke of the position of the sister of the wife, if the law was changed, living in the respectable home of the workman as a member of his family. As the law stood now that was her position, but if the law was changed the position of the sister of the wife in the working man's dwelling, necessarily confined in area, became so painful as to be almost impossible. This was a Bill to expel from the dwelling of the working man the sister of the deceased wife. He looked upon that as a great hardship, and he did not think members of the working classes who supported the Bill had considered that difficulty. He was aware that some ecclesiastics were in favour of the Bill, of whom Dr. Hood of Leeds was one, but those ware exceptional cases. The great body of clergy, those who knew most of the real interests of the working classes, were as opposed to the Bill now as they had been in the past. He took some part in the discussion of the Bill in 1904 and also in the debates in the Standing Committee, which sat nine times and in which Lord Hugh Cecil took a prominent part and, strongly supported by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, settled the fate of the Bill. What the fate of this Bill would be he would not say, but he insisted on the necessity of the title being made to agree with the Bill, so that no deceit should be practised on the public. He hoped the House would reject the Second Reading

Amendment proposed—

"To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.' "—(Lord Robert Cecil.)

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

*SIR J. JARDINE (Roxburghshire)

said he had been greatly interested in the noble Lord's argument for making the municipal law conform to the law Divine, but surely this was hard to do, in the absence of an infallible interpreter of the Divine intentions. This Bill used to be opposed on the religious ground that it was contrary to a certain passage in the Book of Leviticus, but the argument had now been shifted and they heard no rule of Holy Scripture quoted against these marriages. The noble Lord took objection to the retrospective provisions as contrary to ecclesiastical traditions and the Canon Law of the Church. But it should be remembered that the rule which allowed a later matrimony between the parents to legitimate bastard children was long ago in most solemn form propounded by the Church in plain direct opposition to the common law of England, which allowed no such retrospective legitimation. Doubtless some English Churchmen might be averse to the proposal of the Bill, but he believed Cardinal Newman had expressed himself in favour of it. Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, and Congregationalists approved of it; and in solemn form their conferences had stated that these marriages were not forbidden by the Word of God. So they found the various Churches differing, and there was no infallible guide, not even the Pope; nor could Parliament place any great reliance on the views of kings like Henry VIII. or old Lord Chancellors. All experience showed that in dealing with the institution of marriage opinions changed from age to age and from one generation to another. The safest rule, therefore, was to impute a sort of Divine sanction to what conformed to the highest public utility, and to ascertain that by means of public opinion, and such statements as had been made by the hon. Member for Barnard Castle.

MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)

said it was difficult to avoid going over ground which had been covered in previous debates on the question in either House. Before entering upon the Bill, he must say that he thought they were entitled to some explanation as to the extreme difficulty which the mover said he was in by reason of the Bill having been printed in hurried circumstances. They were entitled to claim some explanation of why he had brought in this particular Bill. The hon. Gentleman was one of those who last year introduced a Bill which dealt with the matter in a very different manner from that proposed by the present Bill. Many points were raised in Grand Committee, where the Bill was thoroughly discussed and dissected, and where additions were put in consequent upon the undoubted strength of the arguments used. But in this present Bill the hon. Member had apparently suddenly changed his mind, and gone back to what he might call the primitive opinion, disregarding the counsels of this House, disregarding the careful consideration given to the subject in Grand Committee, and disregarding his own settled conviction in connection with the matter last year. If that were so, he thought surely they had some claim for an explanation as to why the hon. Gentleman had shifted his ground so entirely in reference to the question of how to deal with the matter in the easiest manner. It was impossible for the hon. Gentleman now, under the rules of the House, to give his explanation, but he thought it ought to be given by some one before they divided. With reference to what had been said by the last speaker, supported by one of the previous speakers, it seemed to him an extraordinary argument to lay down, in matters which really affected the root of our whole Christian system, that they were to be guided not by tradition, not by expert opinion, but by the ever varying phases of public opinion of the moment. That might be very well for ordinary political subjects, but surely they could not be guided by such a rule in matters of conscience.

Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted; and forty Members being found present—


said he thought it was hardly fair to adopt the history of the matter which had been given by the hon. mover of the Bill. After all, that history went back only to a period comparatively modern. But in considering this question they must be guided by the fact that for fourteen hundred years there had been no doubt whatever as to the grounds of consanguinity in connection with marriages. It was surely to curious that those who repudiated in any shape the priestly power of any man, however exalted, whether Pontiff or chief priest, should desire to claim in support of their views the fact that in certain eases some person in high ecclesiastical authority was given the power to make legitimate marriages which would otherwise be void according to canon law. It was an argument which they could hardly put forward with any great strength. It had been said, however, that general public opinion was in favour of this change. He would like to quote an instance affecting himself. He passed through the general election of 1900, and, although he was fighting what one might call an ecclesiastical battle, he was never asked a single question about the subject of the present Bill. But after the election he received a communication from a society which took great interest in this matter, in which they informed him that they had canvassed his constituency and had found that nearly everybody they asked was in favour of this Bill, to which he was understood to be opposed, and they asked him why he did not consider public opinion on the point. The natural answer was that it seemed curious that they should have sought to ascertain public opinion after the general election, and not at the time when he was standing for the constituency. They assured him that this census had been taken, and they represented that the opinion was so unanimous that he appealed to his constituents, but he had never received a single question from any admirer of the Bill, though a good many communications had been sent to him by those opposed to it. He agreed with the noble Lord beside him as to the general trend of opinion on this subject among a large number of the public; but he confessed that he did not think in this case they ought to reverse the dictum laid down by the right hon. Gentleman who was now Chief Secretary for Ireland, when he said that minorities must suffer. This was a case, however, where the minority sought to make the majority suffer; because, after all, he did not think any hon. Member would say that the larger number of men desired to marry their deceased wife's sister, and there were a great many more sisters-in-law in existence than would be likely to come under this Bill. But the position of these women would become unfortunate if this Bill became law. The speech of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle, who spoke with thorough conviction and in an admirable manner, naturally met with the sympathy of the House. But the point which the hon. Member raised had often been dealt with. Although there might be hardship on the one side there was still greater hardship on the other. What was the description given of this matter by various religious bodies in this country? They said— This is abolishing, in effect, the entire relations of brothers and sisters-in-law. A woman who may eventually become a man's wife never can be his sister. The familiar attentions of a brother he may not show to her, nor may she accept them at his hand. In the same hour in which marriage becomes possible with her sister's husband, she must for ever pass out of the shelter and sacredness of sisterhood, and, at the best, be in his house simply as any other friend, or more distant relative, would be. At present she may, without embarrassment or suspicion, be constantly under his roof, showing his children, as their aunt, all fond attentions, and, as his sister-in-law, receiving from him expressions of familiar brotherly endearment. But once let it be made possible for the sister-in-law to become the wife, and the aunt the step-mother, and all is immediately changed—and not changed, be it borne in mind, for those households only where these marriages are not disapproved of, but, out of regard to their interests, changed for the whole families and households of the country. This was the matured opinion of trusted ministers of Nonconformist churches in England, ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, the United Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the original Secession Church. It was now reissued with the additional concurrence of Ministers and Professors of the Presbyterian Churches in Ireland as well as Scotland. It was really, as he had said, the fact that if they did this injustice, it would be an injustice to the majority. It was in order to meet what might be a few unfortunate cases that supporters of this Bill were seeking to bring in a new system which would upset the old conditions of things, and do a great injustice to a large number of very worthy women in this country. It had been put as if it was a question between rich and poor. Those who opposed the Bill had been sometimes taunted with having changed their line of argument, that they did not now depend on the old Scriptural argument from the old Testament, but had adopted other arguments on rather different lines. But it was the supporters of the Bill who had changed their line. This Bill, in its origin, had, it was said, its strength in the support which came from the richer and not the poorer classes, but now appeals were made on behalf of the poor. One, however, who knew the poor very well, the Bishop of London, had expressed in the very strongest terms, chat his experience, and his great knowledge of the working-class parts of the Metropolis, convinced him that this was not a question in which the poor could be used as an argument, and to say that this was a Bill for the poor, in his opinion did not justify them in altering a very ancient tradition, in altering the condition of the law, which at all events was symmetrical, and which had something behind it at present. Once they admitted the principle of the Bill they would be carried on to many further exceptions to the present marriage law, and might not even stop at other degrees of affinity which they did not contemplate touching at the present moment. In opposing this measure in previous years they had often had the Colonial aspect brought up, and when that question was presented in a tangible and independent position, as was the case last year, he agreed that it should be dealt with. If, as a State, they gave their assent to Bills of that nature for the Colonies, it was only right that they should acknowledge the status of those people who were married legally in the Colonies, and, for that reason, he welcomed the Bill brought forward by the Government last year. At all events, the Colonial Marriages Bill had removed a grievance which, in his opinion, was a genuine one. The passing of that measure showed that the Government felt that there was a real grievance in regard to those Colonial marriages, and so they dealt with it. But the question dealt with in this measure was not one which he thought the Government ought to take up, and before they passed from this debate he hoped they would be informed as to the attitude of the Government in regard to it. In former years, under their old procedure, private Bills of this character could be discussed upon their merits, because they felt that such measures always had to go on unofficially, and depend upon the position they obtained in the ballot. But the whole condition of things in regard to private legislation had been altered, and Bills might now be introduced on a Friday in order to make it convenient for the Government to adopt them later. At the present time they never felt certain whether they were dealing with a private Bill or a Government measure, and therefore they were bound to make sure what was the actual position of the Government upon all the Bills that came up for discussion on a Friday after noon. Many large questions had been dealt with on Fridays after comparatively short debates, because everybody knew it was simply a discussion to ventilate the matter and that the Bill would not proceed any further. That state of things had now been altered, and consequently they were bound to insist upon knowing whether the Government intended to adopt any particular private Bill as a Government measure. He regretted that the Under-secretary of State for the Colonies was not present in order to give his view. No doubt the House would be glad to know whether the Under-Secretary's opinion upon this measure was the same as it used to be, or whether it had undergone any change. As to sending this measure to a Grand Committee, their experience in the last Parliament ought to convince anybody that there could not be a more unsuitable body for dealing with such a Bill, because upon this question Parties were divided, and it was impossible to constitute a Grand Committee of a satisfactory character. It did not matter so much whether there was a large or a small number opposing this measure, because they did not oppose it upon any grounds of an ordinary political character. It was a matter upon which no political exigency or majority could possibly alter their views. Those who favoured a relaxation of the marriage laws, and alterations in reference to divorce, naturally supported Bills of this nature; but, on the other hand, those who believed that there was nothing in the Christian religion which was so sacred as the bond of marriage, holding it to have been based on the firmest lines by the founder of Christianity himself, could not agree to any tampering with the principle which had obtained during all these centuries, and which had been firmly held by the great Christian churches of the universe, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Church, the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church and other religious bodies. These were the considerations which obliged the opponets of this measure to hold firmly to their convictions. It was because they valued beyond measure the advantages gained by Christianity, and because they believed that Christianity held its power by the fact that it alone, of all the ancient, religions, had placed marriage in the highest and foremost position, that they opposed this Bill, which, in their opinion, tampered with the marriage laws, and was founded upon the same principles that had, in the past, led to a relaxation of the marriage laws and the law of divorce. They had seen the disadvantages of such a relaxation in the United States, where the marriage law was in a most unsatisfactory condition. Consequently they felt bound to use every legitimate means at their disposal, as representatives of the public opinion of the country, to prevent any further relaxation of the marriage laws. For these reasons he was very glad indeed to associate himself with the mover of this Amendment.

*MR. SMEATON (Stirlingshire)

said that, coming, more or less as a neutral, to hear both sides of the question, he had been struck by a significant admission made by the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone. One of the statements made by the noble Lord seemed to him to be the strongest possible argument in favour of this Bill. He had stated that if in its operation the retrospective character of the Bill could be eliminated, his whole opinion in regard to the measure would be changed.


said what he stated was that it would make a considerable difference, but it would not convert him and he should not even then be in favour of the Bill.


asked if the noble Lord would say how far the concession of non-retrospective operation would alter his opinion, because an admission of that kind was very significant indeed. He did not see where his point came in with reference to its being immoral or irreligious. Even the noble Lord would admit that a division of morality and religion into two classes—retrospective and prospective—was absurd. The main pillar of the Opposition thus fell to the ground, and he hoped the Bill would pass.

LORD EDMUND TALBOT ( Sussex, Chichester)

said that a question of this kind would naturally attract the attention of anyone who, like himself, was a Catholic. It was remarkable that, although this question was so closely associated with religion his co-religionists were free, owing to the way in which this measure had been brought forward, to vote as they liked in regard to it. They could, however, only do so on the ground of expediency. Marriage with a deceased wife's sister was against the law of the Catholic Church, and was absolutely forbidden by it, and it was only possible under their law of dispensation that occasions did arise where such marriages were made lawful. He was not going to enter into a discussion as to the law of dispensation, because that was a subject which was not likely to meet with much sympathy in that House. The law of dispensation was not a matter which affected a very large number of people in this country, but it was one which concerned his co-religionists, and them alone. It was the existence of this law of dispensation in the Catholic Church, and its being applicable, to marriages of this character, which alone made it possible for members of the Catholic religion to support a measure of this kind, if they so wished. He frankly confessed that when he considered the question some years ago he was strongly inclined to support such a change on the ground of expediency, but further reflection had convinced him that he would be much wiser to stick to the principle of the condemnation of these marriages by the Catholic Church, notwithstanding that in individual cases a certain amount of hardship might arise. He believed that it was at the present time of more importance to maintain a rigid adherence to the actual marriage laws of the Church than to weaken them in any sense. He had not had the advantage of hearing the speech of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle, but he understood that he had supported this measure because there was a great demand for it amongst the poor people. He agreed with the hon. Member to this extent: that if ever there was a question upon which there ought to be one law for the rich and another for the poor, this was the question. They could all understand how, in this country, in the crowded cities, cases might arise where it was advisable to make an exception with regard to marriages of this character. The Catholic Church recognised that such rare occasions might arise, and in such cases it granted a dispensation. But he was extremely sceptical as to the demand which was said to exist for such marriages. A very distinguished Bishop of the Catholic Church who died two or three years ago told him that in the whole course of his career as a parish priest and Bishop he had hardly ever come across a single case. He remembered being told, a short time before his death, by the late Cardinal Manning, who was Archbishop of the Catholic diocese of Westminster for a period of over thirty years, that the number of applications which had been made to him with a view to obtaining dispensation for a marriage with a deceased wife's sister was extremely limited. If that was the case with a community which admittedly possessed in this country an enormous percentage of very poor people, and in a community where it was possible to obtain ecclesiastical sanction for such marriages, he thought went to show that the demand was not so great as some hon. Members would lead the House to suppose. Where two parties had contracted such a marriage in accordance with perfectly conscientious convictions, and they had been placed at some disability on that account, it might be advisable that such marriages should be allowed. Upon this question he thought that a great change had come over the opinion of a great number of his co-religionists, more especially among the ecclesiastical authorities of the Catholic Church, in recent years, not only in this country, but also abroad. He was sorry to see the misery which had been caused in this and many other countries by the weakening of the marriage law, which had made the ecclesiastical authorities of the Catholic Church tend to the opinion that any further weakening of that law would be a dangerous step, and detrimental to the moral welfare of the community. It was upon these grounds that he should certainly oppose this Bill. He joined in the appeal to the Government to declare their intention in reference to the matter.

*MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)

said that ever since he had been a Member of the House of Commons he had taken considerable interest in this matter. He had risen to take part in the debate because he happened to be a member of the Committee to which this Bill was committed on the last occasion of its passing the House on Second Reading. It was no exaggeration to say that if this had been not merely a measure for removing a disability and relieving a number of people from a hardship, but one making it compulsory for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister, it could not have been resisted on the Committee with more pertinacity than was the case on hat occasion. In his opinion this was essentially a poor man's Bill. If it were not, he would not care at all to take the interest in it which he did. The hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division had spoken for the working men of England who were interested above all others in the passing of the measure. Some of his own constituents were specially interested in the matter. He represented a great number of workers, and he would give the House an instance to illustrate what some people suffered under the present state of the law. A poor man had written to him as follows— My young wife died leaving me with two little children; her sister, then with a husband living, took charge of them, brought them up and was a mother to them. She is now left a widow herself with young children of her own and no one to support her. It is not right we should marry and I should make a home for us all? This poor man could not afford to maintain two establishments, and he appealed to the House of Commons. It was possible that this widow might have to beg the parish for relief. The noble Lord the Member for the Chichester Division had stated that the Roman Catholic Church condemned such marriages because they were not moral, and yet he admitted that in certain cases dispensations were granted. He had never heard a confession which afforded a clearer exemplification of the doctrine that it was possible some time to do wrong in order that good might come. Hon. Members opposite could not claim that Holy Writ was opposed to the principle of this Bill, for the Jews had no objection even to marriage with a living wife's sister. There, was the well-known case of Jacob marrying both Leah and Rachel. Under our present law very close cases of consanguinity were allowed. He knew of a case in which two brothers married two sisters, and the son of the one marriage married the daughter of the other. Here, the blood being the same all through, these last were virtually brother and sister.

*MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)

said this was not a Party question in any sense. The Bill had been before the House for many years, and his name had been on the back of it on former occasions. He felt deeply the necessity for this Bill from the point of view of morality and religion. Some of them on his side were not guided by those ecclesiastical laws and traditions which had been alluded to. He believed, if the Bill became law, it would be, in the highest sense, in accordance with every law, both human and Divine. It was true that the effect of the law was not the same for the rich as for the poor, because the rich could always go abroad and get, at any rate, the sanction of the law there, which satisfied the conscience and feeling of the woman. They all knew of highly respectable, good-living people who had adopted hat course and were not at all affected in their own minds or in the minds of their fellow-citizens, by the fact that the law of their own land did not sanction what they had done. But the poorer classes, the working men, could not afford a trip to Switzerland, and many were obliged to suffer obloquy in consequence. He believed our law was almost the only one that did not sanction such marriages. Years ago he looked into the question of how this law affected working men, and he could tell the House from his own knowledge of many cases which were typical of a multitude in which a working man who had the misfortune to lose his wife looked to her sister as the natural protector of the children. Therefore from the natural and common-sense point of view—the point of view of convenience, in which sensuality and desire had no place—there ought to be a change in the law. The people who contracted this tie led exemplary lives, were faithful one to the other, and were man and wife in all things but for this ostracism. From the higher point of view he did not believe that the people who contracted these marriages had committed any sin. They had been prevented by artificial barriers, and by circumstances over which they had no control, from contracting legal marriages. Those who voted against this Bill, in accordance with their conscience, and perhaps in obedience to some ecclesiastical law, were doing something to perpetuate what in the eyes of society was wrong. The noble Lord the Member for the Chichester Division had said that the Roman Catholic Church did not wish to weaken the marriage law. None of them wished to do so. It was the highest institution, on which not only the domestic life, but the economy of the nation was based. But the present law did weaken the marriage law in the highest degree; it violated human instincts by creating an artificial barrier. He could not understand the opposition to the Bill. If it were proposed to pass a law to compel a man to marry his deceased wife's sister he could quite understand the opposition. But that was not the object of the measure. The present law was a presumption founded on ecclesiasticism which he for one rejected. The opposition to the measure was most illogical. It partook of that terrible demand which was the basis of the inquisition that ecclesiastics should regulate not only the lives, but the thoughts and opinions of men. Happily they had not the power now that they had then, but the spirit was the same. They ought not to stamp as a crime that which was not wrong in the eyes of God or man.

*MR. S. COLLINS (Lambeth, Kennington)

said that as a Free Churchman he admired the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone not only as an individual but also as an earnest Christian worker in the great Church which he adorned, but he protested against his description of the object of the Bill. He would give three instances of men who had suffered under the present law —respectable men and Free Churchmen. One married his deceased wife's sister—a most earnest Christian worker, and now they were living very happily together and were respected by everyone. Another was a tradesman who was a good earnest Christian worker. He had not married his late wife's sister, but he was living with her. He had not gone so far as marriage because he thought that if he got married he would be breaking the law. Another man in the Free Church, a Christian from his boyhood, had his wife's sister living with him as his housekeeper. He knew they loved each other, yet these two persons were suffering because of their high conception of religion, and because they would not break the law; they preferred to suffer. The noble Lord had said that a wave of materialism was sweeping over the land. If that were so one way to arrest it would be by passing this Bill, thus making it easier for people to do right, and more difficult to do wrong.

*MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)

said he wished to ask the hon. Member who introduced the Bill as to the intention of the first clause. He understood it was intended to relieve the scruples of the clergy of the Church of England. Did the words that no marriage should be void or voidable "as a civil contract, by reason only of the affinity of the parties thereto," mean the opening of the door to the legalisation of all marriages of affinity?


said that the words quoted by the right hon. Member must be read with the words at the end of the section "between a man and his deceased wife's sister." The clause only applied to that extent.


said he could not congratulate the hon. Member on the drafting of the clause. However, that could be put right if the Bill were accepted. The effect of the argument of those who supported the Bill appeared to be that because the Church of Rome granted dispensations for these marriages, that showed that they could not be wrong in themselves, but only wrong ecclesiastically. If that was really their contention, then he was afraid that they were going a great deal further than they intended. The Roman Church, as must be well known to every student of history, had granted dispensations in cases which would be abhorrent to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, as, for example, and in recent history, of a man marrying his own niece. If that was the interpretation of the hon. Member for Norfolk, that the mere fact of the dispensation being granted made such a marriage right, and only wrong ecclesiastically, a man might marry his niece without breaking the moral law.


said he did not believe in dispensations at all, but he, and those who agreed with him, maintained that since the Roman Catholic Church granted dispensations in favour of marriage with a deceased wife's sister, it could not be said that the prohibition was based upon morality. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University had referred to him as a baronet, to which he strongly objected. He had never been guilty of putting down blocking motions, or talking against time, or committing any of those crimes which were justly punished by the infliction of a baronetcy! The right hon. Gentleman would forgive him if he said did not belong to what he had heard called the aristocracy of the middle classes.


said he wished to press home this matter about dispensations, and to show to the House of Commons that this was part of a great question. His noble friend the Member for East Marylebone, in a tone and with eloquence which he could not emulate, but with which he agreed, had emphasised the fact that in dealing with this question they were not dealing with it alone; but that it was part of the fundamental question of polity both in Church and State, and that in touching the marriage law they were doing a very perilous thing. He was fortified in that opinion by the experience of the Colonies and of the United States, which had gone much further than the proposals contained in this miserable Bill. Were the advocates of the legalisation of marriage with a deceased wife's sister prepared to go the same lengths? He did not hesitate to say that in countries where these relaxations of the law of marriage had been permitted, other relaxations infinitely more perilous, such as the relaxation of the law of divorce, had almost inevitably followed. ["No, no."] He maintained that to pass this Bill was to take a long step in weakening the foundations of morality and of marriage itself. ["No, no."] He called the attention of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading to an abstract from the proceedings of the Standing Committee which considered a similar Bill in 1903. Mr. Boscawen proposed to leave out two lines of the clause, as follows: 'Or unless either party thereto has (after the marriage and during the life of the other), before the passing of this Act, lawfully married another.' He argued the Amendment on the ground that all these marriages should be treated alike, and no invidious exceptions made. Sir G. Parker said that if a man took advantage of his legal position to throw over a marriage with a deceased wife's sister in order to marry somebody else, that could not be helped. Mr. Talbot regarded the reply as an admirable illustration of the hopeless illogicality of the Bill. A man, insolent and depraved, was to be allowed to throw over an unhappy woman and contract a lawful alliance with, another woman, and then they were to say to the poor creature who had been decoyed into an illegal marriage that she was to have no rights in future, although at the same time they were legalising this class of marriage for all other purposes. A more cruel treatment of women he had never heard of.


That is what this Bill is designed to prevent.


said that they were told that the working classes of England were almost unanimously, or very largely, in favour of this Bill. If that were so, it was very strange that they did not take measures to show it. If they wanted a Trade Disputes Bill, or any other social measures, they lost no opportunity of making their views known. Where were the bodies of working men in favour of this Bill?

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

On these (the Labour) Benches.


Then why was it that they had never had petitions from them in favour of the Bill? He himself had presented many petitions from working people against the Bill. Where were the public meetings in favour of it? Where was the Member who could stand up and say that he had been returned to vote for this Bill? [Several Hon. Members: Here.] There might be exceptions; but he asked hon. Members when they went home to put it quietly to themselves whether this was a matter on which their constituents were anxious. He would like to say a word about the feeling of the working women in the country. Unless he was misinformed, a large majority of women of all ranks were opposed to the Bill. ["No, no."] Though he himself was opposed to the woman suffrage movement, he held that it would be a strong argument in favour of it if, on a subject affecting the position of women more than that of men, an opportunity were afforded to make their voices heard on this subject. His last point was what was the position of the Bill in this House? He saw the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who took a great interest in this question, present. He asked him what was the position which the Government meant to take up in relation to the future progress of this measure? Last year had shown that Bills brought in by private Members were suddenly adopted as Government measures. With their large majority the Government could "star" a whole lot of private Bills. If this was to be made a Government Bill, then its treatment in the House and in the Standing Committee would be very different from what it otherwise would be. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton was of opinion that there was a class of measures which ought not to go to the Standing Committees upstairs; but were the Government changing their views on that question as they had done on others? If ever there was a limit which ought to be drawn about sending Bills to the Standing Committees, it was reached by this Bill. Whilst he honoured and respected the conscientious conviction of people who believed that this measure was calculated to secure the well-being of the middle and other classes of the country, he trusted that they would do him, and those who agreed with him, the credit of believing that their opposition to this measure was equally conscientious. Conscience, after all, was not the sole possession of hon. Members on one side of the House; and it was because this Bill was against his conscientious convictions that he opposed it.

*SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

said that there were many Members on both sides of the House who supported this measure, but were influenced by no desire in any way to lessen the moral law of marriage or the purity or the sanctity of domestic life. They held conscientious opinions, however, that this reform ought to be carried out on grounds of common justice, believing that its moral effect would in the end be beneficial, and not injurious. The Government were going to adopt, exactly the same course in respect of this Bill as was adopted by their Conservative predecessors when in office with a large majority. The decision would be left to the judgment of the House. The Government wished to ascertain what was the unbiassed judgment of the majority of the House, and when they knew what the majority was, it would be time enough to discuss what future steps the Government intended to take. He congratulated the noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill upon having worthily filled the place of his distinguished and eloquent brother as an opponent of this legislation. But he took exception to a good deal of what the noble Lord said as to the past and also with reference to the future. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill had given a history of the movement, but many of the speeches delivered against the measure had assumed that this was a modern attempt to deal with a grievance which had almost been created in the lifetime of hon. Members present. The beginning of this legislation was not a pleasant chapter to contemplate. The original measure was brought in at the instigation of an ex-Prime Minister to meet the case of a noble Duke who had married two sisters. The measure was brought in by Lord Lyndhurst in 1835 to prevent that marriage from being declared void. According to the noble Lord that and all other such marriages were absolutely void; but that was not so. They were voidable, but if no legal proceedings were taken to declare them void in the lifetime of both the husband and the wife, they were regarded as valid. When Lord Lyndhurst brought in that Bill to meet a particular case, what he proposed to do was to legalise all preceding marriages already contracted, provided that no legal proceedings had been taken within a certain time. The two eminent Bishops who conducted the negotiations with the then Lord Chancellor did not object to this proposal, provided that these marriages were rendered absolutely void for the future. On such a foundation as that the attempt was now being made to build a great structure of morality.


What I pointed out to the House was that the Act, the secret history of which I know nothing, had nothing to do with marriage with a deceased wife's sister. It dealt with marriages between persons within the prohibited degrees of affinity, and that only.


said that they were very astute draughtsmen in those days. They knew how to draw a Bill to carry out what they wanted. The dissatisfaction with that legislation lasted ten or twelve years, and the upshot was that the Ministry of the day advised Her Majesty to issue a Royal Commission, whose Report was almost the only authoritative statement of the case available. That Report was deserving of the greatest consideration and to be received as an authority of the greatest weight. It was not a Commission filled with advocates, but the duties of the inquiry were entrusted to men outside the House of Commons who were experts and impartial. It was a great example of how a Commission should be formed. He would just like to tell the House the names of the Members of this Commission. [An Hon Member: What was the date?] The date of the Commission was 1847, the first Act being passed in 1835. At the head of the Commission was Dr. Lonsdale, Bishop of Lichfield for many years, a great scholar and a man who was competent to form an opinion on any question of theology or ecclesiastical law. Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams, a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, was also a member of the Commission, as was Dr. Lushington, one of the most eminent ecclesiastical lawyers and a most eminent Judge. In addition there were Mr. Stuart Worley, who afterwards became Solicitor-General. Sir Andrew Rutherford, afterwards Lord Rutherford, and Sir Anthony Bateman, who was a lay member of the Commission and a distinguished man in his day. That Commission dealt with and gave its opinion on the question which they were now discussing. That was in the year 1847, and the whole trend and force of opinion in this country from that time till now had strengthened the opinion which they then expressed. They gave their opinion as to what was the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church, of the Protestant States of Europe, of the American States, of the Greek Church, especially in Russia, of the Jews, of the Nonconformists, and of the Church of England upon this matter. He would give their findings on this question. They said that the various bodies of Dissenters in England did not seem to entertain the opinion that these marriages were interdicted by Holy Writ, or that they were in themselves reprehensible. The Commissioners said they had been particularly desirous of ascertaining the opinion of he Church of England on two questions, namely, whether marriage with a deceased wife's sister was prohibited by the law of God, and if not, whether it ought to be interdicted on any other ground. The number of clergy was very great so that they could not collect the opinions of all of them, but they said they were satisfied that a great diversity of opinion prevailed among the clergy of the Established Church on these questions. They believed that many of the clergy did not believe that such marriages were prohibited by the law of God, but that the majority objected to them either on this or some other ground. He need not trouble the House with various other topics with which that Report dealt, but they considered that if it was an existing evil, it was a greatly continuing one and that the number of these marriages must amount to thousands. The evil was so great that it was far beyond all doubt that if such marriages celebrated in England and Ireland were annulled it would disastrously affect the whole community. They considered that the feeling against these marriages was in a great measure founded upon a vague, uninformed assumption that they were prohibited by God's Word, which was to be found in the Scripture, and which was enforced by the law of the Church. There was one other remark which he might mention in connection with the speech of his hon. friend the Member for Barnard Castle. The Commission reported that the number of these marriages was small in the upper class, considerably greater in the middle class, while in the lower classes the evidence showed that these attachments and marriages were of frequent occurrence. The Commission found that the relations and friends of both parties had in some cases readily assented to such marriages and in other cases had not hesitated to sanction and give approval to a connection of this kind already formed. Among the poorer classes the Commission said they believed that in the great majority of the cases in which the sister of the deceased wife became an inmate of the household, the end of such a state of things was marriage or concubinage. The first incident naturally produced the second. When a poor man with a family had the misfortune, to lose his wife some assistance in his domestic concerns became essential, and that was assistance for which he could not afford to pay. This assistance must be rendered immediately and through the circumstances of the case devolved upon the sister of the deceased wife, and once she became a permanent inmate of the house, the result the Commission declared in this class of life was almost invariably cohabitation. On a review of this subject in all its bearings, they expressed the belief, that the statute prohibiting these marriages had failed to attain its object, and they doubted whether any other such law would be effective. That was the unbiassed opinion of what one might call seven eminent Judges. There certainly was no Nonconformist on the tribunal, which was eminently representative of the Church of England. He thought therefore that the noble Lord was not entitled to quote the opinion of the distinguished men to whom he had alluded as final, and he hoped before he sat down to show that the view of the hon. Member for Ashford, that the present law—Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1835—met with the approval of all the Christian Churches was incorrect.


said he had never alluded to Lord Lyndhurst's Act at all.


replied that he had only montioned Lord Lyndhurst's Act because it was the law which at present regulated this question.


said that he was referring to a time 200 years before Lord Lyndhurst. He was alluding to the ancient provisions which prevailed up to the time of Henry VIII., and he was carrying the history of the question further back than the mover of the Bill had done. He mentioned the fact that at the time of which he was speaking all the churches held these marriages to be illegal.


said he was dealing with what might be called the foundation of the noble Lord's argument. The noble Lord had said that there must be a law regulating human marriages and that he believed that to be the foundation of civilisation. He (Sir Henry Fowler) agreed with the noble Lord, but he submitted that that law must be founded on a distinct and definite prohibition to be found in Holy Writ or upon some overwhelming public necessity which demanded prohibition. Of course this House would be a most improper place to discuss whether or not there was a Divine prohibition, but he might say that there was no consensus of opinion on the subject. He would not question the fact that there was a large body of authority in the Church of England which regarded these marriages as prohibited by Holy Scripture, but there was also a large section existing in the Church of England which did not agree with that opinion and regarded such marriages as allowable. He found that while the opinion of the noble Lord had been held by high authorities the contrary opinion had been held by Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England and by other dignitaries of the Church.


Not by living Bishops of the Church of England.


replied that some were living and some were dead. He was only quoting that fact against the idea that it was the universal opinion of the Church of England that these marriages were illegal, and in order to show that that was not the opinion of a large and influential section inside the Church of England as well as of some people outside whose opinions carried weight. It certainly was not the opinion of the Episcopal Church of America; it was not the opinion of the Churches in the Colonies, and many of his Nonconformist friends would contradict him if he was wrong when he said that the opinion of the great mass of the Nonconformist Churches of this country was against there being a Divine prohibition of these marriages. The last time that the question came up it was said that the Church of Scotland prohibited these marriages, but two eminent members of the Church of Scotland who were two of its greatest modern divines, Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Norman McLeod, had both expressed the opinion that these marriages were not prohibited by the Bible, and the same opinion was held by the Presbyterian Churches of America and Canada. The Roman Catholic Church could not be quoted as condemning these marriages as immoral, or as forbidden by Scripture. Cardinal Wiseman, one of the greatest casuists in the Church of Rome, who was examined before the Commission of 1847, said that the Roman Catholic Church did not hold that these marriages were prohibited by Scripture; it was a matter of ecclesiastical legislation. Dispensations were granted from a regulation of the Church and not from the prohibition of Scripture. From this it was clear that the Roman Church did not regard these marriages as immoral. If a marriage was morally wrong, there could be no dispensation. No authority could grant dispensation from the Seventh Commandment. Cardinal Wiseman said that he had had many cases, and he had never known a dispensation to be refused. Then they were referred to the Greek Church, and it was said that these marriages were prohibited by that Church. That was not so. It was only prohibited to the members of the Greek Church but not to others. A Russian subject who was a member of the Greek Church could not contract such a marriage, but any other Russian subject could if he was permitted by the law of his own Church. That was exactly what the supporters of his Bill wanted. There was no desire to interfere with the law of the Church of England. He repudiated entirely any such idea, and he would be no party to forcing any clergyman to celebrate these marriages if it was against his conscience to do so. He would not force any man's conscience. What they said was that if a man was a member of the Church of England and thought that that Church prohibited these marriages, let him hold to the law of his Church. In other words, let those who regarded these marriages as wrong avoid them. But there was no reason why they should enforce that opinion upon Nonconformists and a large number of English Churchmen who did not believe such marriages to be wrong, and there were a large number of members of the English Church who did not believe them to be illegal or improper. What were the circumstances which rendered it impossible for the husband's first wife's sister to live in the house without marriage under present circumstances? He thought the answer to the Archbishops and Bishops who opposed this change would be found in the Report of the Royal Commission, and it was a question which must be answered by common sense. But some speakers had said that there was no evidence whatever that this difficulty arose or that there was any demand for the Bill. It was said by the Bishop of London that the necessity did not arise in the East End of London. He had no doubt that the Bishop of London's remarks were based upon what be believed to be the facts, but there were other Bishops and clergymen in manufacturing towns who expressed precisely the opposite opinion. Dr. Hook, when vicar of Leeds, was converted to the necessity of legalising these marriages in the interests of morality by his work among the poor. He thought it was Dr. Hook who convinced Mr. Gladstone to seeing the necessity that this change should be made in the law, in the interests of the morality of the poor in large towns, where immense populations were gathered together. The present law was a hardship upon the poor. He did not think anybody could deny that. An hon. Member had asked why should the minority lead the majority, and had quoted the words of his right hon. friend the late Minister for Education, "minorities must suffer." He did not think minorities should suffer when Parliament could relieve them. Why, it was asked, should they relieve parents from the consequences of their own sins and misconduct? But it was not the parents who were punished. How about the children of these marriages? They were stamped with the badge of bastardy. They were injured socially and personally, and throughout their careers it was a disadvantage to those who wished to rise in the world to have this blot on their names. The noble Lord had asked why we should follow the example of our Colonies. That was a. new Imperialism. At present there was not a single self-governing Colony where this law had not been abrogated. Certainly in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand these marriages were allowed. He was amazed to see hon. Gentlemen opposite taking credit for the Colonial Marriages Act of last year, when that question had been a serious matter between the Mother Country and the Colonies for many years. How was it possible to condemn on the grounds of morality marriages which bad been approved by the Crown under the advice of Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Salisbury, and Mr. Gladstone? There could not be two moral standards for the Empire—what was morally right in Toronto, Melbourne, and Sydney, could not be morally wrong in London. But last year's Act had intensified the evil. It had enabled people who were rich enough to pay the expense to go to these countries, acquire a domicile and get married and return to this country, whilst if those marriages took place in this country they were illegal. The thing was farcical. What had been the history of this Bill in Parliament? It had passed Second Reading in the House of Commons eighteen times, and it had been passed in the House of Lords. But to defeat it there had been displayed organised, unreasoning obstruction of the most determined kind in Grand Committee. He thought the Government would have a duty to discharge in reference to that question if the Bill were sent to a Standing Committee; and if the House adopted, as he hoped it would adopt before Easter, the Resolutions of which the Prime Minister had given notice with reference to the proceedings of Standing Committees, he thought they would then provide a remedy for obstruction of that character. It was a singular fact that on this question, upon which several speakers had said there was no public interest, the largest majority and the biggest division ever recorded was when the late Prime Minister was Leader of the House; and after every general election of modern times, 1880, 1884, and 1900, there had been increasing majorities in its favour. Many said they did not put this question to their constituents, but he did not believe in a Member of Parliament being a mere delegate to register the mandates of those whom they represented. They represented their constituents on all questions, and they had given no vote either this session or last which did not represent the feeling of their constituents, and he thought all the votes that had been given on this question in the past had been the opinion of the constituents. The great leaders of this House in the past, irrespective of politics—Lord John Russell, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and Lord Palmerston—had been in favour of this change; and Mr. Gladstone, whom Lord Salisbury called the great Christian statesman, and who would never have supported anything which he believed to be immoral, or not sanctioned by Christianity, had felt bound to do what he could to assist a similar Bill. The noble Lord opposite had spoken of the weakening of the law of marriage and the growing materialism and love of pleasure of working men. He did not think that was confined to one class. He did not think the law of marriage had been weakened in one class exclusively. He agreed that the disclosures of the Divorce Court were a disgrace to this country; but admitting all that, he did not think that the working men of the country were deteriorating. He believed that never in our history had there been so large a number of working men belonging to the Christian Churches, doing what they could for their fellowmen; and he believed that Christianity as a whole was stronger in the working classes than it had been for many a long year. At any rate, Parliament had no right to deprive them of what they believed to be their legal and moral rights for fear of some imaginary danger. For these reasons, remembering that this question had been before them for a long series of years, he thought it was time that this controversy now ended. He trusted that the majority that afternoon would be large enough really to give the quietus to this perpetual opposition, by but a small section, to a measure on which the country had set its mind.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

MR. EVELYN CECIL (Aston Manor)

expressed his surprise that the hon. Member should desire to move the closure at so early a stage. His action was the more significant from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in stating the views of His Majesty's Government, had been anything but clear. It was said that the Government were going to leave the question free to the House to decide, and afterwards to determine what they would do. That was exactly what happened last year. On two occasions last year the Government did the same thing, and at a later stage gave facilities to two Bills which were closured after having been discussed for a short time on a Friday afternoon. Anybody who opposed any Bill in this House had a right to object to such a procedure, and, in view of the right hon. Gentleman statements, the question became much more than the simple one of whether they should divide against this Bill or not. There was a great deal in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which required reply. The right hon. Gentleman had said that children of such marriages were most to be pitied; that they were branded as illegitimate; that it was not their fault and that the House should remove such a stigma. But the right hon. Gentleman's argument applied to every other illegitimate child in the Kingdom, and therefore it was not an argument which in his opinion could be used with effect for a single moment. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the history of this question. With regard to that he wished to say that the whole common law of this country from earliest times had prohibited these marriages. There was no doubt about that. There was no question about it for many centuries. It was not until the 15th century that any dispensation was granted to enable such marriages to take place. If hon. Members consulted history they would find the common law had always been against these marriages, and that the Act passed in the reign of Henry VIII. was merely declaratory. So far as the Royal Commission of 1847 was concerned, it only showed that there were two opinions throughout. What was to be deduced from history was that the original standpoint from which these marriages were prohibited remained; that they had only been allowed by dispensation in the Roman Catholic Church; and that no law in this country had established any different conclusions. Then, with regard to the Colonial arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, he did not wish to dwell upon them except to say that they had no logical bearing because of the present condition of the law. The circumstances surrounding this kind of legislation were very different from the broad question of political and Imperial unity of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. This was a matter of opinion which did not involve any great political objects, and in view of the Colonial Marriages Act, passed last year, those arguments had ceased to have any effect. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman in respect of the argument of social purity, and perhaps it weighed with him more than anything else. Instances had been truly quoted where the deceased wife's sister was the best person to come to attend to the poor widower's children. Touching pictures had been drawn of what had taken place and of how much could be done by the sister in the case of a man so afflicted. He agreed with that argument. He thought the sister was the best person to take charge of the children. But then the right hon. Gentleman the member for the Bordesley Division had said that bearing this fact in mind he could not understand anybody objecting to this Bill, and that the Bill was not compulsory. Why, supposing a sister of the deceased wife went to take charge of the children of a widower, it went far to put the widower under compulsion to marry that sister-in-law or to send her away. ["No."] If the man wished to do neither, but merely to keep her in his house to look after his children, he would not everywhere be free from the risk of gossip and scandal. That was one of the difficulties that would arise in the case of the widower who wished to have his sister-in-law with him. From the point of view of the wife there were also grave objections. To her the idea that her sister might be her successor might be repulsive. If the wives of this country were asked whether they would like to regard their sisters as their possible substitutes the replies they would give would be, he believed, in the negative. He would suggest that the Government might very well shelve this question until the question of women's suffrage was decided, and then they would be able to get what was the real view of women on the subject. He ventured to say that it would be found to be very different from the view expressed by the majority of Members of this House at the present time. He believed that that would apply to women as a whole, whether they were rich or poor. Some people said that in certain districts there was a tendency to desire to marry the deceased wife's sister, but in East London at any rate there seemed to be no such tendency. There were many rich and many poor who had no desire for this Bill; there were many more who were absolutely indifferent on the subject. There was no public opinion on the matter. During the general election he was not asked a single question on the subject in his constituency, nor had he had a single letter on the question for years. The introduction and passage of such a measure as this would distinctly tend to destroy the indefinable sanctity of the relationship which now existed between brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. In not too scrupulous families it could not, in his opinion, make for social purity for a man to know that his sister-in-law was a kind of Parliamentary alternative to his wife. That was the feeling which appealed most earnestly to those who were opposed to this proposed legislation. This Bill infringed the simple principle of the marriage law that a man should not marry any of his wife's relations any more than he should marry any of his own, and it infringed that principle for the benefit of a few only. Why should they make this change? If it was made they could not stop at the deceased wife's sister. If a man might marry his deceased wife's sister, why not her niece? And if a man married a widow and she died, why not her daughter by another husband? There was no necessary limit. And how about a divorced wife's sister? This was only a beginning by which might be introduced much more serious breaches into the marriage principle. There was one more argument against the Bill. It was that this Bill was made retrospective. He could not understand the justification of legislating for law breakers. Men had broken the law and married their deceased wife's sister, and the House was now asked to legislate in order that their, misdeeds might be put right. He should not have approved of this Bill even if it had not been retrospective, but it seemed to him infinitely worse to bring up a Bill containing a retrospective provision which was entirely opposed to wise and judicious legislation. Upon all these grounds he resisted the Bill. He feared that in some cases it would affect the familiar relations which had hitherto existed so happily, and diminish the confidence and innocence of the domestic happiness which the English nation enjoyed.

SIR JOHNKENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)

congratulated the House on the very high level at which the discussion had been maintained. He contended that the Bill was intended to overthrow a state of things which had prevailed in this country ever since the introduction of Christianity, and to set up something very different. It went to the deepest feelings of society. He submitted that such a change ought not to be brought about without the strongest evidence of its necessity, and of a very urgent demand on behalf of those who were specially interested. The House had been told that it was demanded especially by the working-classes, but there had been very little evidence of that during the debate. One representative of the Labour Party had spoken, but he told the House that there was a great divergence of opinion among the Members of that Party.


said he had made no such statement in the course of his speech.


apologised for having misinterpreted the words of the hon. Member, but pointed out that he had had a very attenuated support from the Members of his Party during the afternoon. It was said that for many years there had been a strong demand for legislation of this kind, but though in many Parliaments a large number of Members had voted in favour of this Bill their opinion had never been translated into an enactment. The House had been told that the religious feeling of the country was in its favour. Some of the greatest Christian men who ever sat in this or the other House had contended to the utmost of their ability against the measure, because they were deeply convinced that it would be most dangerous to the moral welfare of the people. He had heard of the difficulty of the working man who was unfortunate enough to lose the partner of his joys and sorrows, and he fully admitted the difficulty; but there was also the argument on the other side that whilst in some cases a man might marry his deceased wife's sister, in many more cases it might result in the wife's sister being driven from the home. What made him anxious in the matter was the fact that those Colonies and America which had adopted such legislation had gone very much further in making regulations which tended to break down the sanctity of marriage. He feared that if this barrier were broken down in England there would be danger of the sanctity of marriage being less respected

If this measure was so urgently wanted, why was it not brought forward by a Minister, and supported by all the weight and authority of the Government? The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton had spoken earnestly in the matter, and perhaps after what he had said the right hon. Gentleman would bring the matter before his colleagues.


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

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

The House divided:—Ayes, 255; Noes, 40. (Division List, No. 14.)

Acland, Francis Dyke Cawley, Sir Frederick Fenwick, Charles
Agnew, George William Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore. Ferguson, R. C. Munro
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Chance, Frederick William Fiennes, Hon. Eustace
Ashton, Thomas Gair Cheetham, John Frederick Flynn, James Christopher
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Atherley-Jones, L. Clarke, C. Goddard Fuller, John Michael F.
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Clough, William Gibb, James (Harrow)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.) Gill, A. H.
Barker, John Cobbold, Felix Thornley Glendinning, R. G.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Goddard, Daniel Ford
Barnard, E. B. Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm Gooch, George Peabody
Barnes, G. N. Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Grant, Corrie
Beale, W. P. Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)
Beauchamp, E. Cooper, G. J. Greenwood, Hamar (York)
Beaumont, Hon. Hubert Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Gulland, John W.
Bellairs, Carlyon Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.
Berridge, T. H. D. Cory, Clifford John Hambro, Charles Eric
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis
Billson, Alfred Cowan, W. H. Hardie, J. Keir (MerthyrTydvil)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cox, Harold Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)
Black, Arthur W. Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hart-Davies, T.
Blake, Edward Cremer, William Randal Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.
Bowerman, C. W. Crombie, John William Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)
Brace, William Crooks, William Haworth, Arthur A.
Branch, James Crossley, William J. Hayden, John Patrick
Brigg, John Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan Hedges, A. Paget
Bright, J. A. Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Brocklehurst, W. B. Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Henry, Charles S.
Brooke, Stopford Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Higham, John Sharp
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Hodge, John
Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Cheshire Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hooper, A. G.
Bryce, J. Annan Dolan, Charles Joseph Hornby, Sir William Henry
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Dunean, Robert (Lanark, Govan Horniman, Emslie John
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Hudson, Walter
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Elibank, Master of Hyde, Clarendon
Cameron, Robert Essex, R. W. Idris, T. H. W.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Everett, R. Lacey Jackson, R. S.
Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Fell, Arthur Jacoby, Sir James Alfred
Jardine, Sir J Norton, Capt. Cecil William Soares, Ernest J.
Jenkins, J. O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid Spicer, Sir Albert
Jones, Leif (Appleby) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)
Jordan, Jeremiah O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.) Steadman, W. C.
Kearley, Hudson E. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Kekewich, Sir George O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Kelley, George D. O'Dowd, John Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) O'Grady, J. Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend) Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Laidlaw, Robert Partington, Oswald Summerbell, T.
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster Paul, Herbert Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Lambert, George Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton) Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)
Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke Thorne, William
Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central) Thornton, Percy M.
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington) Pullar, Sir Robert Tomkinson, James
Lehmann, R. C. Radford, G. H. Torrance, Sir A. M.
Lewis, John Herbert Randles, Sir John Scurrah Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Raphael, Herbert H. Verney, F. W.
Lough, Thomas Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Lupton, Arnold Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)
Lyell, Charles Henry Rees, J. D. Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Wardle, George J.
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Richardson, A. Waring, Walter
Mackarness, Frederick C. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Maclean, Donald Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Macpherson, J. T. Roe, Sir Thomas Waterlow, D. S.
M'Callum, John M. Rogers, F. E. Newman Watt, H. Anderson
M'Crae, George Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert Wedgwood, Josiah C.
M'Micking, Major G. Rose, Charles Day Weir, James Galloway
Maddison, Frederick Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire
Magnus, Sir Philip Rowlands, J. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Mallet, Charles E. Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) White, Patrick (Meath, North
Manfield, Harry (Northants) Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool) Whitehead, Rowland
Markham, Arthur Basil Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Wiles, Thomas
Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston) Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Marnham, F. J. Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Meagher, Michael Sears, J. E. Wills, Arthur Walters
Menzies, Walter Seaverns, J. H. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Micklem, Nathaniel Seddon, J. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Money, L. G. Chiozza Seely, Major J. B. Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Montagu, E. S. Shackleton, David James
Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Brampton Gurdon and Mr. Arthur Henderson.
Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Morley, Rt. Hon. John Sloan, Thomas Henry
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Murray, James Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F. Fletcher, J. S. Murphy, John
Ambrose, Robert Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Nield, Herbert
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Bowles, G. Stewart Halpin, J. Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Carlile, E. Hildred Hervey, F. W. F (Bury S. Edm'ds Reddy, M.
Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W. Hogan, Michael Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Joyce, Michael Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dalrymple, Viscount Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Delany, William Kennedy, Vincent Paul Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lundon, W.
Duffy, William J. MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Robert Cecil and Sir Frederick Banbury.
Farrell, James Patrick M'Kean, John
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Patrick A.
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Morpeth, Viscount

Question put accordingly—"That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes, 269; Noes, 34. (Division List No. 15.)

Acland, Francis Dyke Crossley, William J. Jones, Leif (Appleby)
Agnew,George William Dalrymple, Viscount Jordan, Jeremiah
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Davies, W. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Kearley, Hudson E.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Kekewich, Sir George
Asquith Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S. Kelley, George D.
Astbury, John Meir Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Kennedy, Vincent Paul
Atherley-Jones, L. Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. King, Alfred John (Knutsford)
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Dolan, Charles Joseph Laidlaw, Robert
Barker, John Duffy, William J. Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominst'r)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)
Barnard, E. B. Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Lambert, George
Barnes, G. N. Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.
Beale, W. P. Elibank, Master of Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareh'm
Beauchamp, E. Essex, R. W. Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington
Beaumont, Hon. Hubert Everett, R. Lacey Lehmann, R. C.
Bellairs, Carlyon Fell, Arthur Lewis, John Herbert
Berridge, T. H. D.) Fenwick, Charles Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Ferguson, R. C Munro Lough, Thomas
Billson, Alfred Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Lupton, Arnold
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Flynn, James Christopher Lyell, Charles Henry
Black, Arthur W. Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)
Blake, Edward Fuller, John Michael F. MacIver, David (Liverpool)
Bowerman, C. W. Gibb, James (Harrow) Mackarness, Frederic C.
Brace, William Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Maclean, Donald
Branch, James Gill, A. H. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.
Brigg, John Glendinning, R. G. Macpherson, J. T.
Bright, J. A. Goddard, Daniel Ford McCallum, John M.
Brocklehurst, W. B. Gooch, George Peabody McCrae, George
Brooke, Stopford Grant, Corrie McMicking, Major G.
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Maddison, Frederick
Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J.T. (Ches. Greenwood, Hamar (York) Magnus, Sir Philip
Bryce, J. Annan Gulland, John W. Mallet, Charles E.
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Manfield, Harry (Northants)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hambro, Charles Eric Markham, Arthur Basil
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil Marnham, F. J.
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) Menzies, Walter
Cameron, Robert Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Micklem, Nathaniel
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hart-Davies, T. Money, L. G. Chiozza
Causton,Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E. Montagu, E. S.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wor Haworth, Arthur A. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Chance, Frederick William Hayden, John Patrick Morley, Rt. Hon. John
Cheetham, John Frederick Hedges, A. Paget Morpeth, Viscount
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W. Morton, Alpheus (Cleophas
Clarke, C. Goddard Henry, Charles S. Murray, James
Clough, William Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. E'm'ds Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.) Higham, John Sharp O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Hodge, John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Holden, E. Hopkinson O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm'gh'm Holland, Sir William Henry O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Hooper, A. G. O'Donnell. C. J. (Walworth)
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Paner's W. Hornby, Sir William Henry O'Dowd, John
Cooper, G. J. Horniman, Emslie John O'Grady, J.
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Houston, Robert Paterson Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Gr'st'd Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Partington, Oswald
Cory, Clifford John Hudson, Walter Paul, Herbert
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Hyde, Clarendon Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Cowan, W. H. Idris, T. H. W. Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton
Cox, Harold Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Jackson, R. S. Pullar, Sir Robert
Cremer, William Randal Jacoby, Sir James Alfred Radford, G. H.
Crombie, John William Jardine, Sir J. Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Crooks, William Jenkins, J. Raphael, Herbert H.
Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Shipman, Dr. John G. Wardle, George J.
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Simon, John Allsebrook Waring, Walter
Rees, J. D. Sloan, Thomas Henry Warner, Thomas Courtney T.
Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Richardson, A. Soames, Arthur Wellesley Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Soares, Ernest J. Waterlow, D. S.
Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Spicer, Sir Albert Watt, H. Anderson
Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Roe, Sir Thomas Steadman, W. C. Weir, James Galloway
Rogers, F. E. Newman Stewart, Halley (Greenock) White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert Stone, Sir Benjamin White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Rose, Charles Day Straus, B. S. (Mile End) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon) Whitehead, Rowland
Rowlands, J. Stuart, James (Sunderland) Wiles, Thomas
Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Summerbell, T. Williams, J (Glamorgan)
Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire) Williams, Llewelyn (Carm'rth'n
Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark) Wills, Arthur Walters
Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Thorne, William Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde) Thornton, Percy M. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Sears, J. E. Tomkinson, James Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Seaverns, J. H. Torrance, Sir A. M. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Seddon, J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Seely, Major J. B. Verney, F. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Brampton Gurdon and Mr. Arthur Henderson.
Shackleton, David James Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.) Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir AlexF. Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Patrick A.
Ambrose, Robert Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Nield, Herbert
Banbnry, Sir Frederick George Fletcher, J. S. O'Kelly, James (Rose'mm'n, N.
Garry, E. (Cork, S.) Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Power, Patrick Joseph
Bowles, G. Stewart Halpin, J. Reddy, M.
Bull, Sir William James Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Carlile, E. Hildred Hogan, Michael Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cave, George Joyce, Michael Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G.(O'f'd Univ.
Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W. Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lundon, W TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Robert Cecil and Sir Francis Powell.
Delany, William MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- McKean, John
Farrell, James Patrick Meagher, Michael

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes,263; Noes, 34. (Division List, No. 16.)

Agnew, George William Black, Arthur W. Cawley, Sir Frederick
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Blake, Edward Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Bowerman, C. W. Chance, Frederick William
Astbury, John Meir Brace, William Cheetham, John Frederick
Atherley-Jones, L. Branch, James Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E. Brigg, John Clarke, C. Goddard
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Bright, J. A. Clough, William
Barker, John Brocklehurst, W. B. Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Brooke, Stopford Cobbold, Felix Thornley
Barnard, E. B. Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.
Barnes, G. N. Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Chesh.) Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm
Beale, W. P. Bryce, J. Annan. Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)
Beauchamp, E. Burns, Rt. Hon. John Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.
Beaumont, Hon. Herbert Burnyeat, W. J. D. Cooper, G. J.
Bellairs, Carlyon Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)
Berridge, T. H. D. Cameron, Robert Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Carr-Gomm, H. W. Cory, Clifford John
Billson, Alfred Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Cotton, Sir H. J. S.
Cowan, W. H. Jordan, Jeremiah Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Cox, Harold Kearley, Hudson E. Rose, Charles Day
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Kekewich, Sir George Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Cremer, William Randal Kelley, George D. Rowland, J.
Crombie, John William Kennedy, Vincent Paul Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Crooks, William King, Alfred John (Knutsford Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Crossley, William J. Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Dalrymple, Viscount Laidlaw, Robert Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan) Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Sears, J. E.
Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lambert, George Seaverns, J. H.
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Seddon, J.
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham Seely, Major J. B.
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington Shackleton, David James
Dolan, Charles Joseph Lehmann, R. C. Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)
Duffy, William J. Lewis, John Herbert Shipman, Dr. John G.
Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan Lough, Thomas Simon, John Allsebrook
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Lowe, Sir Francis William Sloan, Thomas Henry
Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall Lupton, Arnold Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Elibank, Master of Lyell, Charles Henry Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Essex, R. W. Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Soares, Ernest J.
Everett, R. Lacey MacIver, David (Liverpool) Spicer, Sir Albert
Fell, Arthur Mackarness, Frederic C. Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)
Fenwick, Charles Maclean, Donald Steadman, W. C.
Ferguson, R. C. Munro Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Macpherson, J. T. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Flynn, James Christopher McCallum, John M. Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry McCrae, George Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Fuller, John Michael F. McMicking, Major G. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Gibb, James (Harrow) Maddison, Frederick Summerbell, T.
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Mallet, Charles E. Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Gill, A. H. Markham, Arthur Basil Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Glendinning, R. G. Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Goddard, Daniel Ford Marnham, F. J. Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Gooch, George Peabody Menzies, Walter Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Grant, Corrie Micklem, Nathaniel Thorne, William
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Money, L. G. Chiozza Thornton, Percy M.
Greenwood, Hamar (York) Montagu. E. S. Tomkinson, James
Gulland, John W. Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Torrance, Sir A. M.
Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Trevelyan, Charles Philips.
Hambro, Charles Eric Morpeth, Viscount Ure, Alexander
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Verney, F. W.
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Murray, James Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) Newnes, F. (Notts. Bassetlaw) Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)
Hart-Davits. T. O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid Wardle, George J.
Haslam, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Waring, Walter
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Haworth, Arthur A. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Hayden, John Patrick O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Hedges, A. Paget O'Grady, J. Waterlow, D. S.
Henry, Charles S. Partington, Oswald Watt, H. Anderson
Hervey, F. W.F. (Bury S. Edm'ds Paul, Herbert Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Higham, John Sharp Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) Weir, James Galloway
Hodge, John Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Holden, E. Hopkinson Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Holland, Sir William Henry Pickersgill, Edward Hare White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Hooper, A. G. Pullar, Sir Robert Whitehead, Rowland
Hornby, Sir William Henry Radford, G. H. Wiles, Thomas
Horniman, Emslie John Randles, Sir John Scurrah Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Houston, Robert Paterson Raphael, Herbert H. Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Williams,Osmond (Merioneth)
Hudson, Walter Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Wills, Arthur Walters
Hyde, Clarendon Rees, J. D. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Idris, T. H. W. Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Richardson, A. Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Jackson, R. S. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Jacoby, Sir James Alfred Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Jardine, Sir J. Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Brampton Gurdon and Mr. Arthur Henderson.
Jenkins, J. Roe, Sir Thomas
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Rogers, F. E. Newman
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F Ffreneh, Peter Meehan, Patrick A.
Ambrose, Robert Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Nield, Herbert
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Fletcher, J. S. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Power, Patrick Joseph
Bowles, G. Stewart Halpin, J. Reddy, M.
Bull, Sir William James Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Carlile, E. Hildred Hogan, Michael Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cave, George Joyce, Michael Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W. Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lundon, W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Robert Cecil and Sir Francis Powell.
Delaney, William MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers McKean, John
Farrell James Patrick Meagher, Michael

Bill read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Law, etc."—(Sir Brampton Gurdon.)


asked why the Bill should not follow the normal procedure. His right hon. friend the Member for Sheffield, a supporter of the Bill, before the Select Committee last year, in dealing with this particular Bill, said it was the least desirable kind of Bill to send before a Standing Committee. Were they to undertand that all Bills, where the Members in charge desired their reference to a Standing Committee, were to be so referred?


said the hon. Gentleman had asked him a question which it was impossible for him to answer. The Committee on Procedure had presented their Report, and his right hon. friend the Prime Minister

had given notice of a series of resolutions, and had intimated that he would take the earliest opportunity possible to deal with that Report, and the whole question of Grand Committees. Meantime, he could only act on the law as it now stood. It was no secret that what the Select Committee proposed was that in the normal condition of affairs every Bill, unless the House otherwise ordered, should go to Grand Committee; and in order to make that plan workable—it was unworkable before, under the regime of obstruction—they proposed to ask the House to give the Chairman of the Committee the same power that the Chairman of Committee of the whole House possessed—in fact, that the whole of the procedure of Grand Committee should be similar to the procedure of Committee of the whole House.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 257; Noes, 41. (Division List No. 17)

Agnew, George William Beale,W. P. Branch, James
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Beauchamp, E. Brigg, John
Ashton, Thomas Gair Beaumont, Hon. Hubert Bright, J. A.
Astbury, John Meir Bellairs, Carlyon Brocklehurst, W. B.
Atherley-Jones, L. Berridge, T. H. D. Brodie, H. C.
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E. Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Brooke, Stopford
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Billson, Alfred Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)
Barker, John Black, Arthur W. Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Chesh.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Blake, Edward Bryce, J. Annan
Barnard, E. B. Bowerman, C. W. Burnyeat,W. J. D.
Barnes, G. N. Brace, William Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles
Cameron, Robert Houston, Robert Paterson Rea, Russell (Gloucester)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'
Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Hudson, Walter Rees, J. D.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Hyde, Clarendon Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wor. Idris, T. H. W. Richardson, A.
Chance, Frederick William Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Jackson, R. S. Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Clarke, C. Goddard Jacoby, Sir James Alfred Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)
Clough, William Jardine, Sir J. Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.) Jenkins, J. Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Jones, Leif (Appleby) Roe, Sir Thomas
Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birming'm Jordan, Jeremiah Rogers, F. E. Newman
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Kearley, Hudson E. Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Paner's, W. Kekewich, Sir George Rose, Charles Day
Cooper, G. J. Kelley, George D. Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Kennedy, Vincent Paul Rowlands, J.
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grins'd Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James Runciman, Walter
Cory, Clifford John Laidlaw, Robert Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster Samuel, Hrebert L. (Cleveland)
Cowan, W. H. Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Lambert, George Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Cremer, William Randal Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham Sears, J. E.
Crombie, John William Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington Seaverns, J. H.
Crooks, William Lehmann, R. C. Seddon, J.
Crossley, William J. Lewis, John Herbert Seely, Major J. B.
Dalrymple, Viscount Lough, Thomas Shackleton, David James
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Lowe, Sir Francis William Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Lupton, Arnold Shipman, Dr. John G.
Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S. Lyell, Charles Henry Simon, John Allsebrook
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh. S.) Lynch, H. B. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Macdonald. J. R. (Leicester) Sloan, Thomas Henry
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Mackarness, Frederic C. Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Dolan, Charles Joseph Maclean, Donald Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Duffy, William J. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Soares, Ernest J.
Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan Macpherson, J. T. Spicer, Sir Albert
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) M'Callum, John M. Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.
Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall M'Crae, George Steadman, W. C.
Elibank, Master of Maddison, Frederick Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Essex, R. W. Mallet, Charles E. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Evans, Samuel T. Manfield, Harry (Northants) Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Everett, R. Lacey Markham, Arthur Basil Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Fell, Arthur Marks, G. Cropdon (Launceston) Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Fenwick, Charles Marnham, F. L. Summerbell, T.
Ferguson, R. C Munro Menzies, Walter Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Micklem, Nathaniel Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Flynn, James Christopher Molteno, Percy Alport Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Money, L. G. Chiozza Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Fuller, John Michael F. Montagu, E. S. Thorne, William
Gibb, James (Harrow) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Thornton, Percy M.
Gill, A. H. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Tomkinson, James
Glendinning, R. G. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Torrance, Sir A. M.
Goddard, Daniel Ford Murray, James Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Gooch, George Peabody Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Ure, Alexander
Grante, Corrie Newnes, Sir George (Swansea) Verney, F. W.
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Gulland, John W. Nuttall, Harry Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)
Harcourt. Rt. Hon. Lewis O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid) Wardle, George J.
Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Waring, Walter
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Warner, ThomasCourtenay T.
Hart-Davies, T. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E. O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Dowd, John Waterlow, D. S.
Haworth, Arthur A. O'Grady, J. Watt, H. Anderson
Hayden, John Patrick Partington, Oswald Wedgwood, Josiah C,
Hedges, A. Paget Paul, Herbert Weir, James Galloway
Henry, Charles S. Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Higham, John Sharp Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Hodge, John Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Holden, E. Hopkinson Pickersgill, Edward Hare Whitehead, Rowland
Holland, Sir William Henry. Pullar, Sir Robert Wiles, Thomas
Hooper, A. G. Radford, G. H. Wiles, Thomas
Hornby, Sir William Henry Randles, Sir John Scurrah Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Horniman, Emslie John Raphael, Herbert H. Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen
Williams, Osmond (Merioneth) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Brampton Gurdon and Mr. Arthur Henderson.
Wills, Arthur Walters Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N. Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F. Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Nield, Herbert
Ambrose, Robert Halpin, J. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Harry, E. (Cork, S.) Hervey, F. W.F. (Bury S. E'm'ds Power, Patrick Joseph
Bowles, G. Stewart Hogan, Michael Reddy, M.
Bull, Sir William James Joyce, Michael Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Carlile, E. Hildred Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Cave, George King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W. Lundon, W. Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S. Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Delany, William M'Kean, John Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Farrell, James Patrick Meagher, Michael
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Patrick A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Talbot.
Fletcher, J. S. Morpeth, Viscount
Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Murphy, John