§ Order for Consideration, as amended (by the Standing Committee), read.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
rose to move that the Bill be recommitted to a Select Committee. Although the procedure which he recommended was somewhat unusual, ho thought that on this occasion it was justified. The Bill was an old friend of Parliament and had on many occasions been before the Houses of Lords and Commons In 1858 the Bill first passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons. That was seven years after the formation of the Marriage Laws Reform Association, and no doubt its passage on that occasion was largely due to that fact. It was rejected by the House of Lords. In 1862, 1866, and 1870 it was rejected either by the House of Commons or the House of Lords, and since that time, with perhaps the exception of 1904 and 1905, it had come before Parliament every year and had been rejected. He suggested therefore that the number of times which this Bill had been before the House did not go in any way to prove that all the facts of the question were known. All it went to prove was that the demand for the 963 passing of the Bill had not been so great as had sometimes been alleged, otherwise it could not have gone on for half a century without reaching the Statute-book. It could not be adduced from the number of times that the question had been before Parliament that this Bill in particular was based on sufficient knowledge. Of the various discussions that had taken place some had been of an academic character and some of a real character, the nature of discussion varying as it must vary with the remoteness or the nearness of the possibility of such a Bill passing into law. He had never taken very much interest in the question, because he was always under the impression that it was not seriously intended, and that in the majority of cases in which it had been brought forward it was discussed more as an academic question than as a practical proposal. The Bill had never had the authority of the Government behind it; it had always been introduced by private Members. Now, however, when it seemed likely to pass into law he thought it was necessary for the House to consider whether the Bill as it stood actually gave effect to the principle to which the House committed itself upon the Second Reading. A Bill initiated by a Member of the Government, and having the advantage of the draftmanship available only to Members of a Government, had a great advantage over a Bill drafted by private Members. Although this Bill had had that perfunctory examination which most Bills got before Standing Committees he did not think anyone would say that such a Bill was as good as one which had gone through the hands of a Government draftsman and then through a Committee. If there had been any recent inquiries upon the subject he would not have so much objected to it, but the latest inquiry was the Royal Commission of 1847, and so far as he had read the evidence given before that Commission, that given by eminent ecclesiastics seemed to him not to bear out its recommendations, which were so exceedingly vague that he could not quite make out what was actually recommended. The Commission of 1847 was largely intended to inquire into the working of Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1835. That Commission sat only twelve years after the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act. That was a very short time 964 in which to get any valid or valuable experience of the working of such an Act. The number of cases were strictly limited, and to get evidence of any value a much longer period than twelve years must be allowed to elapse. The Bill was largely recommended because the Colonies had allowed such marriages to take place, Acts legalising them having been passed in Canada, Melbourne, in 1872, New Zealand, in 1875, and in Cape Colony as recently as 1892. The experience which must exist in those Colonies had not been regarded in any way whatever. It would have been interesting to know what had been the effect in Australia, Canada, and Cape Colony of such a measure, and he submitted that before they passed the Bill such information ought to be secured. It was not as if the Bill was of a trifling character. When they were about, as he believed, to pass a Bill which would be a great shock to the consciences of the people his argument that it should not be done without full consideration was strengthened to an overwhelming extent. If they proved that the religious aspect could be obliterated from people's minds, they might perhaps pass the Bill without much injury being done. But could that be proved? No doubt opinions changed as to the reading of the Scriptures. In the light of the greater knowledge of the ancient tongues which was constantly being obtained, disputed passages in Scripture did no doubt assume new meanings, and he submitted that strict inquiry as to the true meaning of the particular passage in Leviticus, upon which the supporters of this measure relied, would be of the greatest value and assistance. The 18th verse of the 18th chapter of Leviticus, which was the only verse in the Scriptures upon which supporters of the Bill could rely was capable of a totally different interpretation from that which was placed upon it. No one would deny that the Bill if passed in its present shape would create a serious divergence between ecclesiastical and civil law, and it was a step that should not be taken without the greatest consideration and deliberation. If that divergence was to be created it, at all events, ought to be by a Government Bill, and they ought first to see if ecclesiastical and civil law could not be brought into conformity. He need not labour the 965 social and domestic effects of the Bill. To break down in one degree the principle that affinity and consanguinity in relation to marriage wore almost synonymous terms would make a great alteration in all domestic relations. It would not affect only those who desired to marry a deceased wife's sister, but also those whose wife was alive and had a sister. It would affect the domestic relations in every branch of the family life. It would prevent very often a man's daughter going to live at the house of her uncle and aunt, and it would narrow the domestic circle by compelling a man to cease to regard his wife's relations as his own. For these reasons he asked for further inquiry and investgation before assent was given to the principle involved in the Bill. Then there was the legal aspect of the question and the way in which the Bill prejudicially affected personal rights. He did not know who the legal experts might have been who had drawn up the particular clause dealing with that matter or whether it was valid in law. He did not suggest that ho would be content if it had been drawn up by the Government draftsman, but on these legal questions it was always as well to get the opinion of more than one member of the profession. He would feel inclined to question that clause. He might be told that the clause absolutely safeguarded existing rights, but in an old country like this, where there was every conceivable kind of complicated right, vested or in expectancy, he would like to know whether it absolutely safegaurded them all. Again, the paper issued by the Colonial Office in 1904 with reference to the marriage laws of the Colonies gave no information as far as he was aware of the effect of the retrospective action of such laws. When he saw twelve or fourteen new clauses on the Paper dealing with these legal difficulties he thought he was justified in moving that the Bill should be recommitted. If, as he hoped, his Motion wore carried, it might be possible to obtain from the Colonies information as to whether marriages of this character had created any legal difficulties or not, and as to the effect of the retrospective action of Bills of this nature; and with the information they would then have before them the House would be able seriously to consider the Bill.
§ EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)
said he rose to second the Amendment on somewhat different grounds from any which his noble friend had advanced. The Bill would seriously derange the social life of the community and alter the point of view from which many people had hitherto regarded the marriage law. There was no evidence of a very great demand for the Bill. For a great many years it had been passed by one House and rejected by the other, and in no single case, so far as he was aware, had there been the slightest expression of dissatisfaction at its rejection. The truth was that the great majority of the people were indifferent upon the subject, a small minority was in favour of it, and a strong minority against it. He personally thought there was a strong case for inquiry. It was quite true that, even if the Bill wore re-committed, and came back to the House in an amended form, he would still oppose it as strongly as he could, because he thought these marriages were contrary to the law of God, and he would do his best to prevent the House passing a law which he believed to be against Christian principle. But although ho objected to it on principle he would not object to it nearly so strongly if the Bill was so framed and so carefully worded as to prevent many of the evil effects which, he thought, were perfectly certain to result from the carrying out of the principle in the form proposed by the promoters. He would put his argument in this way. His major premiss was that, in the form in which it came down to them that day, the Bill was absolutely unworkable and must, if carried out in that form, produce the most serious and disastrous effects. It must have two consequences, at all events. It would create, in the first place, a disastrous conflict between the canon law, on the one hand, and the civil law on the other, and it would throw into hopeless confusion the existing law with regard to marriage in all its aspects— legitimacy, succession to property, and divorce. His second premiss, was that, under the Rules of Procedure, it was practically impossible to discuss in Committees of the House any method for carrying out the principle which would be less open to objection. His conclusion was that the only reasonable and practical course was to refer the matter to a Select Committee, which would be capable 967 of taking evidence and of considering the subject in all its bearings, and would then present a Report to the House containing their conclusions as to the best and most reasonable method of carrying out the objects which the promoters had in view. They could not legalise marriage with a deceased wife's sister without ipso facto setting aside the principle of the canon law upon which the English marriage law had hitherto been based, namely, that of the tables of affinity. They were going to create for, he thought, the first time in English history a class of marriages which was regarded as valid by the law of the State and as sinful and unlawful by the law of the Church. It might, perhaps, be urged that they were doing precisely the same when they legalised marriage between divorced persons, but he thought that such marriages stood on a totally different footing. The objection to marriage between divorced persons was totally different. According to the view of the Church, and according to the words of the Marriage Service, "Until death do us part," such a marriage was a contradiction in terms and sinful. For the first time they were setting up a class of marriage which was to be recognised as legal by the State, but which was denounced as invalid and sinful by the Church. As every reason-able person would admit, that was a very serious consequence. They had the Established Church at the present moment— he could argue the advantages and disadvantages of establishment if it were in order— and every one would agree that so long as they had the Established Church it stood before the public as the official exponent on all public occasions of the view of the Christian religion, and it was undesirable that the point of view of the Church as regarded legislation should differ from the point of view of the State. A fortiori it was most pernicious that the law of the Church and the law of the State should actually be in conflict. That was one aspect of the Bill which he thought had been insufficiently considered. The promoters of the Bill had shown that they were conscious of the scandal which would be created if the State, not content with setting up machinery of its own for the legalisation of those marriages, were actually to con- 968 demn people, who were members of the Church, to seek the consecration by the Church of those guilty of what the Church regarded as sinful, because, in the Bill, as originally introduced and discussed on the Second Reading, they inserted a clause expressly providing that if these marriages were celebrated by a clergyman of the Church of England ipso facto they were to be regarded as invalid. That provision had been dropped in Committee. The arguments against its insertion were almost equally strong as the arguments against its omission. He merely instanced it to show that the dropping out of the clause produced a wholly new situation by which they were confronted since the Second Reading, and it opened up a large number of problems which, so far as he knew, had never oven been considered at all. No clergyman was to be obliged to celebrate an illegal marriage. Was he to be obliged to lend the use of his church? In the Divorce Act it was expressly provided that the clergyman should be exempted from the necessity of celebrating marriages of divorced persons, but it was expressly laid down that he must lend the use of his church to any other person who was willing to celebrate them. That point, at all events, should be made quite clear in regard to marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Supposing a clergyman did not wish, in what he conceived to be obedience to his ordination vow, to grant the privileges of church membership, communion, or oven burial in consecrated ground, to persons who had contracted such marriages, was he to be allowed to withhold them or not? The right hon. Gentleman, he observed, pre- served a very significant silence. Supposing a clergyman of the Church of England did celebrate such a marriage, was he to be loft subject to all the penalties, including deprivation, which might be inflicted upon him by his ecclesiastical superiors? Supposing, if the Bill passed into law, that anybody wished to institute a prosecution in any of the Ecclesiastical Courts in England or Scotland against persons who had contracted these marriages, was the law to protect those persons whose marriage was legalised by the Bill from suits of that kind? It seemed to him a very serious scandal to create — to set up, on the one 969 hand, legalised marriages, while, on the other hand, the persons who had contracted the marriages might ho prosecuted in the Ecclesiastical Courts for having contracted thorn. To his mind, if they were going to legalise by the law of the State marriages which were not recognised by canon law, the only rational course was to lay down some broad principle upon which they proposed to go.
§ MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
asked whether it was in order for the noble Lord to discuss the principle of the Bill over again on the Motion before the House.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said the fact that the House had accepted the principle of the Bill ho did not think seemed to be quite relevant to the Motion which would be made directly: "That this Bill be referred to a Select Committee," in order that certain things might be inquired into more carefully than they could be inquired into in Grand Committee or in Committee of the Whole House. All the arguments should be addressed to that point, to show that certain matters connected with the Bill could only be properly examined before a Select Committee.
§ EARL PERCY
said if the hon. Member had waited a few minutes he would have seen the relevancy of his point. Ho submitted that the proper and reasonable remedy was to lay down some broad and general principle that marriages between relations of affinity should no longer be regarded as illegal, but they should only be recognised as valid if they had been celebrated before a civil registrar. He thought that would be in the interest of the people who contracted such marriages. Clearly the slur would be less upon them than under the system proposed. The Bill as it stood bristled with problems which the promoters fore- saw but for which they were unable to furnish a solution. They were asked to devise in a few hours discussion a solution for all these legal perplexities and technicalities which had baffled, apparently, the Solicitor-General in Committee upstairs.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir W. ROBSON (South Shields)
said ho did not 970 admit that they were baffled by anything which took place.
§ EARL PERCY
said they were left, at all events, to solve these legal perplexities with the conviction in their minds that the only satisfactory solution would be found on lines which it would be out of order to discuss. He passed from the question of the conflict between the canon law and the law of the State, to the equally important point of the disastrous confusion which would be introduced into the civil law as affecting the status of wives and children of valid marriages in this country. The authors of the Bill appealed to their pity. They said that the people who contracted those marriages were doing what they thought was right, and, consequently, the State should not arrogate to itself the right to say that the children of those marriages should not enjoy the rights of legitimate children. Ho did not see why that view was not equally applicable to any kind of marriage into which it was possible to enter and which the law forbade. The position of the children of the deceased wife's sister was not harder than that of the children of the deceased husband's brother. If the argument was true at all, clearly the only remedy was to treat these marriages as if they stood on the same footing as marriages hitherto regarded as legal. The promoters of the Bill had always pretended that that was what they intended to do. Did they, as a matter of fact, do that in this Bill? So far as past marriages were concerned, the children, by the retrospective clause of the Bill, were in the same position as the children of legitimate marriages; but they would not be entitled to succeed to a penny of property, and if their father chose to got married again during the lifetime of their mother they would be branded for all time with the stain of illegitimacy. That seemed to him a most scandalous state of things to sot up. Was it not a great scandal that the State should say that marriage with the deceased wife's sister was valid, and that they should then proceed to pick and choose between the children of precisely the same kind of union? He asked the House to consider whether that was the result of the Bill. When the Bill passed, the children of a marriage between a man and a deceased wife's sister would stand in three different classes. There 971 would be, to begin with, the children of marriages which had occurred before the passing of the Act, both parties to which marriages were dead. Those children would be regarded as legitimate by the State, but not entitled to any of the privileges which went hand in hand with legitimacy in the case of children of any other marriage. Then there would be cases in which the father had married again during the lifetime of the mother, The children in these cases would not be regarded as legitimate at all. Lastly, there would be cases of marriages which occurred after the Bill had come into operation, the children of which would be regarded as fully legitimate, and enjoy all the rights which attached to legitimacy. If the State could pick and choose in that sort of way it would be absolutely farcical. In the case of marriage to a deceased wife's sister, if the man subsequently married another woman, the State insisted on branding for all time that unfortunate woman as a mistress. Hitherto bigamy had been considered a crime in this country, but in the event of this Bill passing it would be regarded as no crime at all. It would be the first occasion on which bigamy had been hold by law to invalidate, not the second marriage, but the first. The first marriage under this Bill was not to be regarded as valid at all. Supposing a man married his deceased wife's sister and subsequently became an adherent of the Church of England and was persuaded that that marriage was wrong, and, therefore, no longer desired to be married to his deceased wife's sister, the moment this Bill became law ho would be married by force whether he liked it or not, and his deceased wife's sister would be entitled to bring a suit against him for restitution of conjugal rights. It would be the first time that the State had arrogated to itself the right to force a man's conscience in that way. The second clause of the Bill provided that marriage with a deceased wife's sister was not to be held to invalidate a will previously made. Supposing a man married his deceased wife's sister and died without making a will, not a penny of his property would pass to the unfortunate woman or her children. Moreover, the Bill was not clear in regard to the guardianship of the children, and that was certainly a point which should 972 be provided for. He did not believe it was possible to deal satisfactorily with the Bill by way of Amendments. He thought the Government themselves ought to put in a new claues to deal with this point. The law officers of the Crown ought to let the House know their views on the question. [Cries of "No, no."] He did not see why they should not, because they were the guardians of the legislation for the time being and they were bound to see that no serious in justice was done. The crowning absurdity was a new clause which had been inserted in Committee. It provided that nothing in the Bill was to remove a, deceased wife's sister from the class of persons adultery with whom constituted a ground for divorce. If a deceased wife's sister appeared as co-respondent in a divorce case she was to be regarded by the law as standing in the same position as the man's blood sister, but the moment the divorce was obtained her marriage with the man would be valid. Could a more preposterous thing be imagined? That was a convincing illustration of the hopeless task of putting the Bill into shape. They were asked to try and put into a workable and rational shape a Bill which began by laying down that marriage with a deceased wife's sister was to be valid, which said that the children of such marriages were to enjoy none of the privileges of legitimacy, and concluded by asking them to assert that adultery with the deceased wife's sister was still to be regarded as an odious and atrocious crime. However the objections he had raised might be answered it was not open to the promoters to say that, he had not challenged the principle of the Bill. He objected to its principle in toto, although he accepted the statement of the House of Commons that the present Parliament was determined that marriage with a deceased wife's sister should be legal. The principle laid down was that the English marriage law was no longer to be based upon the canon law of the Church, and that was a purely negative principle. From the standpoint of social expediency and morality it was desirable to have some principle by which people should be guided when they wished to know whether certain relationships might morally be entered into or not. It would be found impossible to devise adequate machinery for the carrying out of the 973 objects of the Bill. He suggested that the best course to adopt would be to send the Bill to a Select Committee. Ho did not say that such a Committee should be empowered to take evidence as to the extent of the demand for the Bill. It was true that an inquiry did take place a long time ago which showed that there had been about 1,600 of these marriages, but only about forty of that total had been celebrated between persons belonging to the poorer classes. That showed how little demand there was for such a Bill amongst the poor classes and how essentially this was a rich man's measure. He did not, however, press that the Committee should be empowered to inquire into the demand, but that they should take evidence which bore directly and immediately on the way they were going to translate the principle of the Bill into action. The Select Committee, he suggested, should be empowered to take evidence as to the history of such marriages in foreign countries and in British colonies. He did not believe that this kind of marriage had ever been legalised in British colonies and at the same time made retrospective. There was not: a British colony which had legalised marriage with a deceased wife's sister whch had not also legalised marriage with a deceased wife's niece. In Germany, marriage between uncle and niece was legal, and in the United States it was legal for a man; to marry the widow of his own father. If the Committee thought it reasonable and desirable that more relationships should be legalised for the purpose of marriage than this Bill proposed, let them all be legalised at once. The third question to which he wished the proposed Committee to look into, was the effect the Bill would have in producing conflict between the civil law and the law of the Church. Lastly, they ought to inquire into the best means of carrying out the principle of the Bill, and cat the same time preserving, what the promoters recognised the necessity of doing, the principle of divorce, He knew only one objection which could be urged to the adoption of the proposal, namely, that it would mean the postponement of the Bill for this session and a certain amount of delay in carrying it into law. Unless the Government was willing to accept re- 974 sponsibility for the Bill, it was practically impossible that it could pass in the time remaining for private Members' Bills. One of the chief reasons which had made it impossible for the Bill to pass in former sessions was that a great number of people who were not prepared to oppose it in principle, deeply feared that in active operation it would involve great hardships and a great number of complexities which the promoters of the Bill had not unravelled. A Select Committee could take the evidence of competent people conversant with the ecclesiastical and canon law, and, having the recommendations of the Committee before them, the House would be able to legalise the marriages in a form which would not be hurtful. If the promoters of the Bill were not willing to accept the suggestion, it seemed to him to amount to a confession that they were not ready to face the ordeal of a Select Committee. It was ridiculous to say that the urgency of a Bill which had been before the House for 100 years was so great that it could not be postponed for a year. If after the inquiry, there was a general consensus of opinion as to the means by which it could be carried out, the Government itself would be in a stronger position to make themselves responsible for it and to commend it to the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be re-committed to a Select Committee."—(Viscount Helmsley.)
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
said the speech of the proposer of the Amendment carried its own condemnation. There was ample literature in the library of the House for anyone to make himself completely conversant with the subject. The Commission of 1847 consisted of the most eminent men of the day, and the fact that it took place some time ago did not affect the subject. The subject of marriage with a deceased wife's sister had been the same since the beginning of the world. This Bill had received full and ample consideration upstairs and the promoters had endeavoured, whenever they reasonably could, to meet the views of its opponents. They conceded what they thought they ought fairly to concede, and now he found that a provision which was included in the Bill at their request was the very one that 975 they objected to. The promoters had endeavoured, and would endeavour, to be fair and honourable with their opponents. He hoped the opponents of the measure would be fair and honourable with them. Allusion had been made to the fact that the Bill was introduced by a private Member. He did not think that because a man did not receive a salary he was, therefore, unfit to undertake the Parliamentary duties imposed upon him. If the Bill had not been introduced by a private Member, it would have been very justly pointed out by hon. Members opposite that it should have been so introduced. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment was probably not aware that the Bill followed the wording of the Bill of 1896, the legal provisions of which were framed in consultation with the highest legal authorities of the day. With all due respect to the Government draughtsmen, he did not think they could, be superior to Lord Herschell, Lord Halsbury, and the others who wore consulted.
§ EARL PERCY
Does the hon. Member suggest that Lord Halsbury had a share in the framing of the Bill?
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
said ho thought Lord Halsbury was consulted in the framing of that Bill. Of course, he knew that his Lordship was not in favour of the principle of the Bill, but he had a hand in the framing of some of the clauses. A great many phrases were inserted on his suggestion. He did not wish to pursue that matter farther. He hoped the House would be allowed to proceed to the consideration of the measure.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said ho agreed with the hon. Member opposite, that a private Member was as entitled to bring in a Bill of this kind as a member of the Government. He had no great admiration for the members of the Government as such. The mere fact that they were in office did not make them wiser or better Members. The point made by the noble Lord the Member for the Thirsk Division was that the Government had at its disposal more machinery for inquiring into the effect of legislation and for drafting a Bill. When they came to deal with a matter of importance it was at any 976 rate a recommendation that the Bill had been considered and discussed by a Government Department. The law officers had specifically stated that they considered this a matter of importance, but that they did not take any responsibility for the drafting of the measure or for the legal difficulties it would raise. Therefore, the opponents of the Bill were endeavouring to see that the legislation of the country was in proper shape and form. He could not agree with the hon. Member opposite that the Bill had received full and ample consideration in the Grand Committee. He did his best to see that the discussion was not perfunctory, but the supporters of the Bill took as little part in it as they possibly could. Without desiring to say anything offensive, he must say that they gave as little assistance as they could to the Committee in considering the Bill. The Government marked their sense of aloofness during the whole of the proceedings by practically not attending the Committee at all. The Chancellor of the Duchy was there, he thought, on one occasion. [An HON. MEMBER: He is not a member of the Committee.] The Solicitor General was there for one full sitting and part of another. Protests were continually raised in Committee because the Government had not thought it right to have a law officer present to assist them in their discussions. Questions of the greatest difficulty and complexity were constantly before the Committee. They were raised by his hon. and learned friend the Member for Kingston and others, and they were not dealt with at all. He saw an hon. Member opposite who did his best to assist the Committee, but he was not yet in the Government. The hon. Member was a kind of volunteer who dashed in when the regular troops of the army declined to advance. The Committee did make some Amendments, but it was difficult to say whether they were right or not. He thought some of them wore right and that others were wrong. But did the promoters of the Bill really suggest that the inquiry before the Grand Committee was one likely to result in good and efficient legislation? He ventured to say that no one who was present at the Committee discussions would make any such suggestion. It was said on behalf on the promoters of the Bill that some of the clauses had been settled by Lord Herschell, Lord 977 Halsbury, and other legal authorities. When they said that, they thought they had answered the whole difficulty; but surely before the Bill was passed there ought to be a proper inquiry. If this was not one of those questions on which hon. Members had ceased to attempt to think impartially, he could not imagine that they would dissent from the statement that there ought to be thorough and complete inquiry before a change of such importance took place. They were for the first time asked to make a complete innovation in the marriage law. Up till now they had acted on the principle laid down hundreds of years ago, and widely adopted in the civilised world. That was a change of enormous importance, and the question whether it was right or not was another matter. There was another principle of enormous importance involved, namely, that the legislation was to be retrospective, and that the marriages already contracted were to become legal. A number of people, with their eyes open, and who knew exactly what they were doing, had chosen deliberately to break the law, and they were to be told that they never broke it. That was a principle which went to the root of civil and constitutional government. No one yet could tell what the result of retrospective legislation of that kind would be. Clause 2 had been inserted for the purpose of saving existing rights and interests, but there were many instances in which that provision would be insufficient. The retrospective action of the Bill was certain to load to a large number of hardships and difficulties of a very complicated character, and the only way to guard against those disadvantages was by means of a thorough inquiry, with witnesses on oath. It had been said that the Bill had been put forward because there was a general demand for it by people who really wished to marry their deceased wife's sister; but on the other hand, that was as strongly denied, especially among the poorer people. Under these circumstances, they were entitled to know by investigation what were the actual facts of the case.
§ *MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
thought that the Committee had not dealt with certain aspects of the case which ought to have been investigated. He did not agree with the hon. 978 Member for North Norfolk that there was no need for inquiry into the question of demand. The petitions on the file of the House in favour of the Bill were very few, whereas there were a great number against it.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.),
on a point of order, said that the hon. Member was raising the whole question of the general principle of the Bill, which had been thoroughly discussed on the Second Reading.
§ *MR SPEAKER
said that ho understood the hon. Member to argue that if an inquiry were held it would be found that the strength of the feeling against the Bill was greater than some hon. Members imagined it to be. He, therefore, thought that the hon. Gentleman was entitled to raise the point.
§ *MR. CAVE
said that the Westminster Confession of Faith set out that a man might not marry any of his wife's kindred nearer in blood than his own; and the Presbyterian ministers of Scotland some time since presented a strong address against the principle of the Bill. Apart from that, he thought that the inquiry proposed would be useful in showing the Roman Catholic attitude towards the Bill. Many Roman Catholics were in strong opposition to it, although on somewhat different grounds from those of the Presbyterian ministers. A Select Committee might find out what was the basis of their opposition to the measure. There was another point, that women ought to have their view presented. It was an extraordinary thing that in these days it should be proposed that while a man was to be allowed to marry a blood relation of his wife, a woman was not to be allowed to marry a blood relation of her husband. He had never been able to ascertain on what principle that distinction was founded. He thought it was Mr. Gladstone who said that by passing a measure of this kind they would open a floodgate which no power on earth could shut; and he believed that there was a great deal in that saying. For these and other reasons he insisted that a Select Committee should be appointed, empowered to go into the whole question. The noble Lord the Member for South Kensington had referred to a question which a Select 979 Committee ought to deal with, and that was how far the principle of the Bill would lead us. If he remembered aright, Mr. Gladstone had said that in certain parishes a census had been taken as to irregular marriages, and the result was that the largest number were marriages with a deceased wife's sister; second, bigamous marriages; third, marriage with a woman's deceased husband's brother; and fourth, marriage of a man with his deceased wife's niece. Surely, then, the demand for a change, as indicated by those figures, could not be adopted as a safe guide. He was confident that if a Select Committee wore appointed some things would come out in evidence which would affect the minds of hon. Members who took an interest in this matter, and who were now in favour of the Bill. Again, it was a matter of no small importance that the retrospective action of the Bill would greatly affect the tenure of property. The law of property was very complicated, and the effect of retrospective legislation was often far-reaching. It was quite true that in the Committee upstairs Amendments were moved dealing with the question of tenure of property, but although they were dealt with very fairly, he was convinced that the Committee missed the importance of some of the questions which had been raised and that other questions of equal or more importance had not been raised at all. The general public had not as yet looked into the matter as one affecting property, but if a little more time were given, and there was a special inquiry, they would come forward with details which would enable the House to prevent injustice being done. Another matter into which the Select Committee might inquire was the effect of the Bill upon our relations with the Colonies in which there was an
§ extraordinary diversity of practice. As hon. Members knew, in some of the self-governing Colonies a man might marry his deceased wife's niece, and in New Zealand a woman might marry her deceased husband's brother. He did not propose that the Colonial law should be adopted, and, indeed, he would very vigorously oppose any such proposal, but it was essential that the matter should be gone into thoroughly and if that was done it would be found, he thought, that they could not pass a Bill dealing with one branch only of the subject. He thought that he had shown that there were really matters of substance which would not in the ordinary course be considered by the Standing Committee and which could not be considered without the evidence of experts and others. If the demand for the Bill was as great as had been alleged, it was remarkable that His Majesty's Government, which claimed to be one of the strongest Governments of modern times did not introduce a Bill on the subject and did not now support the Bill, and although the Law Officers were present they said they were there only as private Members and not as representing His Majesty's Government. There, was no such urgency in the matter that the Bill could not be referred to a Select Committee, in order that when the facts had been ascertained the matter might be finally dealt with.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
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, 179; Noes, 27. (Division List No. 218.)981
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Bowerman, C. W.||Cooper, G. J.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bright, J. A.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Brodie, H. C.||Corbett,C. H. (Sussex, E.Grinst'd|
|Bilker, Joseph A(Finsbury, E.)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Cory, Clifford John|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Byles, William Pollard||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cairns, Thomas||Cox, Harold|
|Beale, W. P.||Cameron, Robert||Craig, Herbert J.(Tynemouth)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cheetham, John Frederick||Crombie, John William|
|Benn,W.Tw'r Hamlets,SGeo.||Cleland, J. W.||Crooks, William|
|Bertram, Julius||Clough, William||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Billson, Alfred||Clynes, J. R.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.|
|Black, Arthur W||Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W.||Dickinson,W.H.(St Pancras,N.|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lehmann, R. C.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hartley)||Lever, A Levy(Essex, Harwich)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Edwards. Frank (Radnor)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Esslemont, George. Birnie||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Schwann, Sir C. E.(Manchester)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Macdonald, J.M.(FalkirkBg'hs||Scott, A.H.(Ashtonunder Lyne)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Seddon, J.|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Shackleton, David James|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Callum, John M.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gill, A. H.||Maddison, Frederick||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Grant, Corrie||Marnham, F. J.||Smith, F.E.(Liverpool, Walton)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Menzies, Walter||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Harvey, W. E (Derbyshire, N. E||Morse, L. L.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Murray, James||Summerbell, T.|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Myer, Horatio||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Napier, T. B.||Thomas, Abel(Carmarthen, E.)|
|Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Hervey, F.W.F.(BuryS.Edm'ds||Nicholls, George||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nicholson, Charles N.(Doncaster||Tomkinson, James|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Toulmin. George|
|Hope, W Bateman(Somerset, N.||O'Grady, J.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Parker, James (Halifax)||Ure. Alexander|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)||Verney, F. W.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Hudson, Walter||Pirie, Duncan V.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Price, Robert John( Norfolk, E.)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Priestley, W.E.B.(Bradford, E.)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Pullar, Sir Robert||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rees, J.D.||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Jones, William(Carnarvonshire)||Renton, Major Leslie||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Jowett, F. W.||Richards, T.F.( Wolverhampt'n||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Kelley, George D.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roberts, S.(Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Robertson, SirG.Scott(Bradf'rd||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|King, Alfred John(Knutsford)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Winfrey, R.|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Robinson, S.|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Tellers for the Ayes—|
|Lamont, Norman||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Sir William Brampton Gurdon|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Rothsehild, Hon. Lionel Walter||and Mr. Arthur Henderson.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hogan, Michael||Talbot, Lord E.(Chichester)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Joyce, Michael||Talbot,Rt HnJ.G.(OxfdUniv.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Kennaway.Rt. Hon.Sir JohnH.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Butcher. Samuel Henry||Mooney, J. J.||Younger, George|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Cave, George||Percy, Earl||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Cecil,Lord R.(Marylebone,E.)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Mr. Bridgeman and Mr. William Redmond.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Rawlinson,John FrederiekPeel|
|Crean, Eugene||Smith,Abel H.(Hertford,East)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Smith, Hon. W.F.D.(Strand)|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Bill be recommitted to a Select Committee."982
§ The House divided: Ayes, 29; Noes, 182. (Division List No. 219.)983
|Ashley, W. W.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cavendish, Rt, Hn. Victor C. W|
|Balcarres, Lord||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E,|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cave, George||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Crean, Eugene||O'Doherty, Philip||Talbot,Rt.Hn. J.G.(Oxf'd Univ|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Percy, Earl||Torrance. Sir A. M.|
|Hardy,Laurence(Kent,Ashford||Rawlinson,John Frederick Pee||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hogan, Michael||Redmond. William (Clare)||Younger, George|
|Joyce, Michael||Smith,Abel H.(Hertford, East)|
|Kennaway,Rt.Hn.Sir John H||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lundon, W.||Smyth,Thomas F. (Leitrim.S.)||Mr. Carlile und Mr. Bowles.|
|Mooney, J. J.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Agnew, George William||Hervey.F.W.F. (BuryS.Edm'd||Rees, J. D.|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Higham, John Sharp||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hobart, Sir Robert||Richards.T.F.(Wolverhampton|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Baker,Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.||Hope,W.Bateman(Somerset,N||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Horniman, Emslie John||Robert,S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beale, W. P.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robertson,SirG.Scott(Bradford|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Hudson, Walter||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Benn,W.(Tow'rHamlets,S.Geo||Hyde, Clarendon||Robinson, S.|
|Bertram, Julius||Idris, T. H.W.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Billson, Alfred||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Jardine, Sir J.||Rothschild, Hon.LionelWalter|
|Black, Arthur W.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Jones,Sir D. Brynmor(Swansea||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Schwann. C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Bright, J. A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Schwann, Sir C.E.(Manchester)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Jowett, F. W.||Scott,A.H.(Ashton underLyne)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Kekewich, Sir George||Seddon, J.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Kelley, George D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Cairns, Thomas||Kinnedy, Vincent Paul||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Cameron, Robert||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Shipman. Dr. John G.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Laidlaw, Robert||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Cleland, J. W.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Clough, William||Lamont, Norman||Smith,F. E. (Liverpool,Walton)|
|Clynes, J, R.||Leese,Sir JosephF.(Accrington)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lehmann, R. C.||Stanger. H. Y.|
|Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W.||Lever,A.Levy (Essex,Harwich)||Stanley.Hn.A.Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Steadman, W. C.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Macdonald, J.R. (Leicester)||Stewart. Halley (Greenock)|
|Corbett,C.H.(Sussex,E.Gr'nst'd||Macdonald,J.M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Summerbell, T.|
|Cory, Clifford John||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Thomas,Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Cox, Harold||M'Callum, John M.||Thomas,David Alfred(Merthyr)|
|Craig,Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||M'Larne, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Crombie, John William||Maddison, Frederick||Tomkinson, James|
|Crooks, William||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Toulmin. George|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Marnham, F. J.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Menzies, Walter||Ure, Alexander|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Verney, F.W|
|Dickinson,W.H. (St.Pancras.N.||Money, L.G. Chiozza||Vivian, Henry|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Morse, L. L.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Murray, James||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Myer, Horatio||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Napier, T. B.||Wason, JohnCathcart(Orkney)|
|Foster, Rt, Hon. Sir Walter||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Nicholls, George||White, George. (Norfolk)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Nicholson, CharlesN.(Doncaster||Whiet, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Gill, A. H.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Luke (York. E.R.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Whitehead. Rowland|
|Grant, Corrie||O'Grady, J.||Whitley. John Henry(Halifax)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson', Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Pearson Sir W. D. (Colchester)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Wladen)||Wilson. P. W. (St. Pancras, S.|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Winfrey. R.|
|Harvey.W.E. (Derbyshire,N.E.||Priestley, W. E. B.( Bradford,E.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||'TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Sir William Brampton Gurdon|
|Henderson,J.M.( Aberdeen, W.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||and Mr. Arthur Henderson|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill as amended, considered.
ruled out of. order the Amendment standing in the name of the Member for Aston Manor providing that it should not be lawful for a man to marry the sister of his divorced wife during the lifetime of such wife.
§ LORD R. CECIL
asked the Deputy-Speaker if he could not reconsider his decision. He submitted that since the result of the Bill would be to legalise marriage with a divorced wife's sister, the Divorce Act providing that upon a divorce taking place the marriage was to be dissolved in the same way as it would be by death, a Member ought to be permitted to move a clause declaring that marriage with a divorced wife's sister would not be legal.
said he thought the clause ought to be an Amendment to the Divorce Act, and was not in order on this Bill. He had carefully consulted Mr. Speaker on the question of whether it was in order on this Bill.
§ EARL, PERCY
asked whether ho understood from Mr. Deputy-Speaker's ruling that it would be in order to move this as a new clause at the end of the Bill. He pointed out that the Divorce Act did not deal with marriages at all.
said his point was that it was out of order because it was outside the scope of the Bill.
§ *MR. CAVE
said that the clause which he now proposed to move was intended to make the effect of the Bill somewhat clearer than it was. The word "sister" in the talk of affinity did, no doubt, include a sister of the half blood, and he knew it had been suggested that if so they could rely on its having the same meaning in an Act of Parliament. He did not think that was so; the rule of construction of Acts of Parliament was not quite the same as the rule in the case of ecclesiastical documents. He thought it would be a good thing, therefore, to put in a definition clause, showing clearly that the sister of the half blood came in exactly the same relation as the sister of the whole 986 blood. The point was a short one and ho hoped he had made it clear to the House.
§ MR. LAWRENCE HARDY, (Kent, Ashford)
in seconding, pointed out that a definition of the word "sister" in this Bill was quite as necessary as it was in the Workmen's Compensation Act of last year, where the family of the person to be compensated was interpreted to be brother, sister, half brother and half sister.
In this Act the word sister' shall include a sister of the halt-blood."— (Mr. Cave.)
§ Brought up, and road a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ *SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
said this point had been raised in Committee, and he had pointed out then that the word "sister" legally included "half sister." As the word "sister" was the only word used in the table of prohibited degrees it was absolutely unnecessary to add this clause. The hon. Member had agreed with him in Committee and had withdrawn the Amendment.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
said, of course, he could not offer any objection to it on legal grounds, but he would like to ask the Solicitor-General to state his views upon it.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said the Amendment was entirely unnecessary. The words might be added, but they were not required. All that was wanted were words co-extensive with the prohibition.
§ LORD R. CECIL
thought it would be a desirable Amendment to introduce. Although it was quite true that neither in the Table of Affinity or the Bill was there any definite reference to a sister of half blood, they were not dealing with the canon but with an Act of Parliament, and they should follow not the word ordinarily used by the canon but that ordinarily used in Acts of Parliament. He thought that as in the case of the Workmen's Compensation Act of last year, it would be necessary to insert these words
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said the argument advanced by his noble friend was absolutely unanswerable. Ho was no lawyer and could not controvert the argument of the Solicitor-General. It might be true in law that it was not necessary to add these words, but in his opinion when they abrogated ecclesiastical law and substituted for it civil law, it was absolutely necessary that they should define exactly what they meant. He was at a loss to understand what the objection to this definition was. If the hon. Member had no objection to include the half-sister why did not he accept the clause. He emphasised the necessity of anybody who wished to take advantage of the Act clearly understanding what the Act really did.
§ Clause added to the Bill.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved a new clause providing that the Act should not apply to Ireland. He said that his reasons for doing so were that the vast majority of Irish people were Roman Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church did not recognise these marriages, though in special cases it gave dispensations to enable such marriages to take place; secondly, that there was no demand in Ireland for such a measure; and, thirdly, that the people in Ireland should be consulted and it should be left to them to say whether they desired anything of the sort. He hoped the Members for Ireland who were present were authorised to speak for their Party on this matter. So far as he was concerned, he was in this case trying to preserve to Ireland the right in domestic matters to legislate for itself. No doubt if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was in his place he would tell the House that Cardinal Wiseman, a prominent member of the Roman Catholic Church, had told him that there was no particular objection as a matter of expediency to this particular Bill. But the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church had held from time immemorable that these marriages were not lawful, 988 although they had arrogated to themselves the right to grant dispensations. It was enough for the purposes of his argument to say that this custom of the Roman Catholic Church was sanctified by long usage, and was not lightly to be interfered with. As to the demand in Ireland for this Bill, his noble friend the Member for Kensington had stated that he did not care whether there was a demand or not. Ho himself would not go so far as that; he thought there was a small demand in England, but so far as he knew there had not been any demand on the part of Ireland. Lord Cairns, speaking on this very question in 1883, said that, so far as he knew the temper of Ireland, the preponderating vote would be entirely against the Bill. For fifteen out of the twenty-four years which had elapsed since then, he had had the honour of a seat in the House of Commons, and of being present at many Second and Third Readings of this Bill, but he never remembered its being advocated by the elected representatives of the people of Ireland. He did not wish to impose upon the Irish people anything which they did not like, and he moved this new clause entirety with the desire that they should have an opportunity of considering the question for themselves. There might be something to be said upon the question of property, but in such cases everything could be left by will. A question could only arise upon entailed property; but there was very little entailed property in Ireland at the present time, and very soon there would not be any at all. He begged to move.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
seconded the clause for the reason that, however undesirable the passing of the Bill might be for England or for Scotland, it seemed to him to be outrageous when applied to Ireland, where a huge majority of the people belonged to the Roman Catholic faith. It was a well-known spiritual rule and canon of the Roman Catholic Church that these marriages were absolutely illegal, and that they were not marriages at all. He was informed that the opinion of the hierarchy of that Church had undergone a considerable stiffening in that direction, and that while there were years ago many prominent divines 989 who might have boon in favour of such a measure, it was impossible now to find one who would not say that such unions were against public policy. What would be the consequence of throwing on the people of Ireland such a law as this? It was said that it was a permissive Bill, and that no one was bound by it. But the effect of it would be that the law said that such unions were legal and proper, while the religious persons in that country would believe that they were not marriages at all. To introduce such a state of affairs into Ireland was, in his opinion, wrong, and he would be greatly surprised if the House consented to it.
This Act shall not apply to Ireland." —(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Brought up, and read a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
said he had been a Homo Ruler all his life, but he thought it was desirable that in such a matter the same law should apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. He did not wish to do anything to offend the religious views of anyone. He thought that a majority of the Irish Members had, as a fact, voted in favour of the principle of this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY
questioned whether the complications which would ensue if this Bill was in operation in Great Britain and not in Ireland would not result in a worse state of affairs than if the Bill was in operation in the whole of the United Kingdom. The arguments used in favour of the clause led to a somewhat different conclusion from that to which the hon. Baronet had arrived, namely that the Bill, which, if it was to be workable, must apply to Ireland, ought not to be passed at all. The hon. Baronet had spoken of the Roman Catholic faith and the dispensations which the Roman Catholic Church had allowed on occasion to enable such marriages to take place. But those dispensations were very rare, and it had boon laid down over and over again that they should only be 990 granted for great public utility. A dispensation was allowed in the case of princes in order to make peace between two nations which were at war and where it was desirable that the heads of those nations should form a matrimonial alliance for the sake of peace. In such a case the Roman Catholic Church gave a dispensation because she thought the public benefit far outweighed the private wrong which she held such a marriage to be.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
asked whether the noble Lord would quote the evidence upon which he made the extraordinary statement that these eases were very exceptional, because Cardinal Wiseman said the exact contrary—that they were always granted.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY
said that, oven so, the question of whether or not they had been granted in the past did not really invalidate his argument, because the right hon. Gentleman would admit that the principle of these marriages had been contrary to the faith of the Roman Catholic ever since the Church had existed.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
said he did not admit any such thing. Cardinal Wiseman said it was not a question of faith but of discipline.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY
said it was a question not only of discipline but of rule and doctrine. He believed he was right in saying that the view of the Roman Catholic Church was strongly against these marriages. Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, although he strongly objected to the Bill being applied to Ireland, he could not support his hon. friend because the inconvenience that would arise if it applied to Great Britain and not to Ireland, would be very great indeed.
§ EARL PERCY
said he agreed with the observation of the right hon. Baronet that it was not in the abstract desirable 991 that there should be a fundamental difference in the marriage law which obtained in one part of the United Kingdom from that in another. But in one point of view he felt some reluctance on the point, and that was that Ireland was a Roman Catholic country, and the Roman Catholic Church did grant dispensations in certain circumstances of an exceptional character. Therefore, as a result of these marriages in Ireland they at present laboured under greater disability than in the rest of the United Kingdom. Therefore, if the Bill were passed at all, there was far more ground for pity and sympathy, and for applying the Bill to Ireland, than to any other part of the United Kingdom. It would be impertinent for people who did not belong to the Church of Rome to discuss what was or was not her doctrine. But was it not a remarkable fact that the very country where they might expect that the present state of the law would undoubtedly create a real grievance, and where they might expect that the Church and the majority of the representatives of the country would come to the House and ask for relief, was precisely that part of the Kingdom in which there was no demand at all? So far as he recollected, in not,a single instance had a representative from Ireland declared that this Bill ought to be extended to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Roman Catholic Church regarded these things as contrary to the Christian faith. He had read the evidence given by Cardinal Wiseman, he had read public statements made and private letters written at a much later period by the great authorities of the Church of Rome, and he must say that they certainly did not express themselves in that way. For more than fourteen centuries the Church of Rome never gave a dispensation for marriage with a deceased wife's sister. There was not a single instance of such a dispensation until the year 1410, when it was given to Victor Emanuel. The Roman Catholic Church had allowed dispensations for a great number of other marriages; she allowed a dispensation for a marriage between an uncle and a niece; and the Church of Rome had always held that it was she and not the State who was to be the interpreter of the will of God. He could well understand that if the State was to enact this law, the result in Ireland might 992 be that a number of sincere Roman Catholics might be tempted to contract these marriages in spite of the fact that they did not obtain a dispensation from the authorities of their own Church. Clearly it was an incitement to Roman Catholics to disobey the law of their own Church, and from that point of view he thought it was a very strong argument against forcing this Bill upon the people of Ireland.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said the solicitude for Ireland of the noble Lord and the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London was most touching. But the Catholics of Ireland knew their own business in this matter. They knew the teaching of their own Church. The Irish Members must differ with regard to this Bill just as did Members in other parts of the House. They were not, however, going to take the doctrine of their Church from the noble Lord who had gone back to the fifteenth century. Although the Catholic Church did grant dispensations in certain cases, yet she was the best judge of the hardship of any particular case. Where she granted dispensations it was for good and sufficient reasons; but the hardship of the matter was that the law as it stood at present did not legalise those marriages and the children were regarded as illegitimate.
§ EARL PERCY
was understood to say that that would apply equally to the children of other marriages by dispensation, which were not recognised by the civil law.
§ MR. FLYNN
said he was not discussing the point; he was merely referring to it with special reference to the noble Lord's solicitude which was so very touching. He knew that in the city and the county of Cork there had been scores of such marriages for which dispensations had been granted during the past ten years, and they included some of the most respectable members of the community. But by the law of the State those marriages were illegal and the children were regarded as illegitimate; the stain of illegitimacy was on respectable offspring. He would not take part in any game of hon. Gentlemen above the gangway. Irish Members, whether Catholics or Protestants, knew their own minds, and 993 understood what suited them better than did the noble Lord.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
said he had great doubt whether he could support the Amendment. He was opposed to the Bill. The hon. Member for North Cork had called attention to the fact that members of his religion were in a very awkward and peculiar position. As a matter of expediency it was quite lawful for Catholics to vote for the Bill if they chose to do so. If he thought that Home Rule would be granted to Ireland at the same time that this Bill became the law of the land, he would then feel that the question might well be loft to be settled by the Irish themselves. He admitted that, opposed as he was to the Bill, if it became law in this country and Ireland was exempt, his co-religionists in Ireland would be placed at a great disadvantage, and for this reason. They would not, at any rate he hoped and believed they would not, contract these marriages without the permission of their Chancellor. Having got the permission of their Chancellor, then, according to their own consciences, being fully entitled to contract these marriages, they would cease to obtain the legal advantages for their children which would be granted to their co-religionists in this country. He would like, before he came to a decision as to how he should vote on the Amendment, to hear further opinion from his co-religionists in Ireland as to how the Bill would act.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that if the motion to recommit the Bill had been adopted it would have been infinitely more satisfactory in every way. With regard to the attitude of the Irish Members and the Irish people towards the Bill, he could only point out that in this matter, as in most other, matters of general importance, and not specifically affecting Ireland alone, there was a strong divergence of opinion amongst Irish Members. He had taken the opportunity of referring to the division list on the Second Reading of the Bill, and on the Motion to send the Bill to the Grand Committee. He found that the Irish Members were very markedly divided on the question, although he thought it was only fair to say, from 994 what he could gather, that the majority of those present, irrespective of religion altogether, appeared to have voted for the Second Reading and also for sending the Bill to a Committee upstairs. There was absolutely no means of ascertaining at the present time, or in the course of a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon, what was the real settled opinion of the Irish people on the matter. The noble Lord had been good enough to tell Catholics what the actual view of the Catholic Church was.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY,
as a matter of personal explanation, stated that he was really alluding to the historical aspect of the Roman Catholic Church and not so much to its attitude in recent years, about which he confessed he did not know.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that if the noble Lord and the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London knew what the exact attitude was which the authorities of the Catholic Church adopted, they must have had access to some means of information not open generally to persons interested in the Bill. His own position was, that while ho quite admitted the accuracy of the quotations made from Cardinal Wiseman and from other high authorities of the Catholic Church of many years ago, ho had not heard any distinct statement of a similar kind, made by the authorities, in a similar way, in recent times. There was no doubt that since the date of the inquiry when Cardinal Wiseman and others who had been quoted gave evidence, a very considerable change had taken place, and he thought that was altogether an argument in favour of a further inquiry which would lay all doubt at rest, and let them see exactly what was the opinion of those concerned from an ecclesiastical point of view. It was true that he had voted on more than one occasion for the principle of the measure; and if he refrained from voting for the Second Reading this year, it was because he found himself exactly in the position he was trying to describe. He found that there was unquestionably a great movement of opinion in regard to the advisability of such a Bill being passed.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said his hon. friend was no doubt as good an authority as himself on these matters.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he had heard the opinion of the Catholic Church interpreted in various quarters of the House that afternoon, but he must really draw the line at the hon. Member for North Down. He submitted that there should be no reliance upon the Royal Commission of half a century ago, but that there should be a full and searching inquiry into the state of public opinion, and that all the heads of the great Churches, and others who desired to have their position known, should be afforded an opportunity of coming forward and saying exactly what their view was. Undoubtedly the matter had been before the country for a great many years. But the general degree of interest felt in the question was fairly well illustrated by the state of the House during the whole of that day. He had himself repeatedly entered the House since twelve o'clock, and had found hardly a quorum present. He submitted that the circumstance afforded proof that there was no strong, steady, convinced, and settled opinion on the matter. He did not see why any person should object to a full and free inquiry, or how any man, from a reasonable and commonsense point of view, could be satisfied with the findings of a Royal Commission which sat in the year 1847. What question of any sort, kind, or description was there which would be considered adequately dealt with if it was decided on the strength of the Report of a Royal Commission which sat half a century ago? He thought a clear case had been made out for an inquiry. The noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench and others had said that if this Bill wore to pass into law it would be unfair and inconvenient that it should be limited either to one country or the other. If it was going to be the law, it ought to be the law for England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and therefore he did not think the Amendment of the hon. Baronet ought to be taken 996 seriously. What was wanted was a thorough inquiry, not to ascertain the opinion of the people of England, but to find out definitely and distinctly what was the desire of the people of Ireland and Scotland, and the attitude taken up by the Churches. The hon.. Member for Cork had voiced the opinion of a section in Ireland which was very strongly in favour of the Bill; but there were other Members representing Ireland whose opinions were in a contrary direction. There was a division of opinion, and there was nobody in the House in a position to speak with authority on behalf of the Catholic Church or of any other Church in Ireland. That being so, it would be an unsatisfactory thing if the Bill were rushed through without a full and up-to-date inquiry.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
said ho would not follow the hon. Member who had just spoken into the question whether there should or should not be an inquiry into the matter. The subject had been discussed for an hour and a-half —
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the question was decided by the application of the Closure without any hon. Member from Ireland having been hoard, although two Catholic hon. Members stood up to address the House.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
replied that he would not go any further into that question. He desired to contradict a statement which had been made by the noble Lord opposite as to the Church of Rome prohibiting these marriages, and that only a few exceptions were; made.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY
said he was referring to historical times, and not to the action of the Roman Catholic Church in recent times.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
said he would quote on this point from the evidence of Cardinal Wiseman, who was asked, with reference to Scripture, "Is such a marriage held by your Church as prohibited?" The answer of the Cardinal was "Certainly not." Cardinal Wiseman laid down definitely that such marriages were not prohibited by the Catholic Church.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT
said that if the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Catholic Church allowed these marriages as a matter of principle, he was wrong.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
said he was simply quoting the evidence of Cardinal Wiseman on the point, who said that though marriages within the degree of relationship would be considered unlawful by the Church of Borne, there was a power of dispensation exercised. The instances of these unlawful marriages in the eyes of the Church of Rome occurred generally in the middle and poor classes, and, in these circumstances, the Cardinal indicated in his evidence that that would be considered fair ground for granting a dispensation. He submitted, therefore, in opposition to hon. Gentlemen opposite, that it was not fair to convoy the impression that the Church of Rome had no opinion on this question, and that the opinion of the Church had to be interpreted through the private Members of the House who belonged to it. The argument was that the Christian Church was not in favour of allowing these marriages on moral grounds. To that objection ho answered that the Church of Rome allowed them. ["No, no," and cheers.] It granted a dispensation; could they grant a dispensation for immorality?
§ EARL PERCY
said that the Church of Rome had granted, and did grant, a dispensation for a marriage between an uncle and a niece.
§ persons with immorality of the worst description, and the Bill was being fought on the ground that such marriages were immoral and wrong. That was why he had ventured to quote the opinion of Cardinal Wiseman, and to record his objection to the argument that the measure was proposed solely in the interest of the rich.
§ *MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
said that they had just listened to some very old arguments in favour of this Bill. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten the very strong testimony against it which came from the Liberal side, from such men as Lord Hatherley, Lord Selborne, and Lord Coleridge. Irish opinion seemed to be divided upon this question. How could they determine what was the real feeling of Ireland in the matter? By having an inquiry such as his noble friend had proposed. The question of the dispensation granted in regard to these marriages in the Roman Catholic Church was a somewhat thorny question. It should not be forgotten that that Church was still granting dispensations in other instances besides a marriage with a deceased wife's sister, and the difficulty of reconciling dispensations with the law of the land would not be got over by this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 215; Noes, 34. (Division List No. 220.)1001
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Beale, W. P.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beauchamp, E.||Byles, William Pollard|
|Alden, Percy||Bellairs, Carlyon||Cairns, Thomas|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Bennett, E. N.||Cameron, Robert|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Berridge, T. H.D||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cleland, J. W.,|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Billson, Alfred||Clough, William|
|Baker,Joseph A.(Finsbury,E.)||Black, Arthur W.||Cynes, J. R.|
|Baring,Godfrey(Isle of Wight)||Boulton, A. C. F.||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Baring,Capt.Hn.G( Winchester)||Bowerman, C. W.||Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras, W.|
|Barker, John||Bright, J. A.||Cooper, G. J.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bryce, J. Annan||Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Corbett,C.H.(Sussex,E.Grinst'd|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Jardine, Sir J.||Robinson, S.|
|Cory, Clifford John||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jones,Sir D.Brynmor(Swansea||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Coy, Harold||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Cremer, William Randal||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Crombie, John William||Jowett, F. W.||Samuel, HerbertL.(Cleveland)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Kekewich, Sir George||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Kelley, George D.||Schwann,Sir C.E.(Manchester)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Scott,A.H.(Ashtonunder Lyne)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Laidlaw, Robert||Seddon, J.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Shackleton, David James|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Lamont, Norman||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lee,ArthurH.(Hants.,Fareham||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dickinson,W.H.(St.Pancras,N.||Leese,SirJosephF.(Accrington)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lehmann, R. C.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness||Lever, A. Levy( Essex,Harwich)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lewis, John Herbert||Smith,F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Elibank, Master of||Macdonald.J.M. (FalkirkB'ghs)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Stanley,Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|Evans, Samuel T.||M'Callum, John M.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Maddison, Frederick||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Fell, Arthur||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Mansfield,H.Rendall (Lincoln)||Strauss, E. A.(Abingdon)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Marnham, F. J.||Summerbell, T.|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Menzies, Walter||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Molteno, Percy Alport||Thomas,Abel(Carmarthen,E.)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Thomas,DavidAlfred(.Merthyr|
|Gill, A. H.||Morse, L. L||Thomson, W.Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Murray, James||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Grant, Corrie||Myer, Horatio||Tomkinson, James|
|Greenwood. G. (Peterborough)||Nicholls, George||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Nicholson,C'harlesN.(Doncaster||Toulmin, George|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Verney, F. W.|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Hart-Davies, T.||O'Connor, James(Wicklow,W.)||Vivian, Henry-|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Grady, J.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Harvey,W.E.(Derbyshire,N.E.||O'Malley, William||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds,S.)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Ward,John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Partington, Oswald||Wason,JohnCathcart(Orkney)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Philippe, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Henderson,J. M.( Aberdeen, W.)||Pirie, Duncan V.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Hervey,F.W.F.(BuryS.Edm'ds||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh,Central)||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Price,Robert John(Norfolk,E.)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Pullar, Sir Robert||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Hope,W. Bateman(Somerset,N.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Rees, J. D.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Paneras, S.)|
|Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Renton, Major Leslie||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Richards,T. F.( Wolverhampton||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Hudson, Walter||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wortley.Rt, Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Roberts,S.(Sheffield,Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Jackson, R. S.||Robertson,SirG.Scott(Bradford||Sir William Brampton Gurdon|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||and Mr. Arthur Henderson.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt.Hon.SirH.||Craik, Sir Henry||Hardy,Laurence(Kent,Ashford|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Crean, Eugene||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Dixon-Hartland,SirFredDixon||Hogan, Michael|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Joyce, Michael|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lundon, W.|
|Cave, George||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||M'Kean, John|
|Percy, Earl||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Younger, George|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim.S.)|
|Power, Partick Joseph||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Redmond, William (Clare)||Talbot,Rt,Hn.J.G.(Oxf'dUniv.||Mr. Evelyn Cecil and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Smith,AbelH.(Hertford,East)||Williams, Col. R, (Dorset, W.)|
§ Question, "That the clause be read a second time," put accordingly, and negatived.
§ *SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
moved a new clause exempting Scotland from the operation of the Bill. He said he would not have moved the clause if the Bill had been referred to a Select Committee. Had that been done evidence would have been brought forward and considered from the Scottish point of view. He admitted that there were serious difficulties in separating the case of Scotland from that of England, but still greater difficulties would arise if they made the Bill applicable to Scotland without further consideration of Scottish feeling in the matter. Scottish Members were too apt to turn their attention to those Bills which bore in the title the word "Scotland." Considering that they had the almost exclusive privilege of dealing with such Bills, they were apt to lose sight of the quite as important function of Members of Parliament, from whatever part of the country they came, of exercising their prerogative with regard to those even more important Bills which applied to all parts of the United Kingdom. Now that there was a Grand Committee to deal with Scottish matters, he was certain that at least some hon. Members opposite shared his fears that thereby they would often be deprived of the opportunity they ought to have of sharing in the consideration of Bills of great importance which extended to England as well as to Scotland. He admitted that purely Scottish Bills had perhaps a predominant interest for Scottish Members, but he failed to see why they were not equally interested in Bills which, although they did not contain the word "Scotland" in the title, affected the rights and privileges of Scottish citizens as much as those of English citizens. A much greater knowledge of the statutes than he possessed would be required to enable him to go at length into the legal aspects of the Bill, but it was a matter of common knowledge 1002 that the marriage law of Scotland was different in many serious respects from that of England. Was it possible that they could pass a large, sweeping, and universal measure of this sort without at least considering how it would affect the marriage law of Scotland in its peculiar aspects? The application of this restriction to Scotland by law was a matter of very recent years. It was forty-six years since one of the leading decisions of the Court of Session was given on the subject, and to that decision lawyers felt that certain difficulties attached. One of the contracting parties was, he thought, English; at all events both of them were domiciled in England. It was not until 1895 that a case involving this point in the marriage law came before the Courts of Scotland for careful consideration. So difficult was the question of the application of this restriction to Scotland, that it was not heard by a single Judge, or by the First or Second Division of the Court of Session, but it was referred, according to a usage rarely followed, to the whole of the twelve Judges of the Court. It was held then— only twelve years ago— that the restriction applied to Scotland as well as to England. It might be said that in view of a decision so recent the abolition of the restriction would not effect so great a change in the law of Scotland. But there was another aspect of the question. Although the restriction was only imposed by a strict legal decision given twelve years ago, it had been followed as the custom of the country, as the religious belief of the country, and as the settled practice of the country from time immemorial, and nothing was more certain in the social history of the country than that these marriages not so long ago were looked upon with quite as much disfavour as in England. He thought it would be well if they had the opinion of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, than whom no one was more competent to express an opinion on the question. The hon. Member had studied the question and was one of the leading authorities on marriage law both in England 1003 and in Scotland. The fact that an important Bill of this sort had been dealt with by a Committee upstairs had prevented the hon. Member from having an opportunity of expressing his opinion upon it, and he hoped the House would have a statement of his view before leaving the legal aspects of the proposal. He was quite prepared to admit that the canon law had not for a long time exercised the influence in Scotland which it did in England. They did not need to go into prehistoric times to find that there was a period when the canon law did affect Scotland, and, though for the last three centuries it had ceased to have authority there, yet Scotland travelling by a different road had reached the same goal as England. The opinion of Scotland, ho was certain, up to recent years, had been not less strong than that of England, that for the purpose of marriage consanguinity and affinity were, if not exactly on the same level, very closely akin. The principle of the canon law in the matter, he contended, had on other grounds been long the customary view and opinion of the Scottish people, it had moulded their habits, and it had been confirmed by their general religious belief. It was perfectly easy to show by looking back on the records of Presbyterian Scotland that that was their belief. The late Lord Cairns was impressed from his earliest days with Presbyterian views, and he retained in his later years strong sympathy with the Presbyterian Churches. In moving the rejection of a Bill similar to this in 1883, Lord Cairns, speaking in the House of Lords, said —I know there are some petitions from Scotland in favour of the Bill, but everyone who knows Scotland will know that the heat and bone of Scotland are against this measure. I had the honour of presenting to-day a petition from the Free Church of Scotland against the Bill; if I am not mistaken, the feeling of the Established Church of Scotland is also against 1004 it; it is the same with the Episcopal Church, and I think it may be taken that the preponderating vote of Scotland would be entirely against the Bill.That was twenty-four years ago, but at a later date a joint communication was made by the Established Church and the Free Church to the Nonconformists of England against the Bill, and seeking to form an alliance in opposition to it. No doubt there had been changes in the religious attitude of Scotland in recent years— changes that were kaleidoscopic in their rapidity. He was proud of his countrymen for the activity of mind that was thereby indicated. But he would advise hon. Members who thought that this represented the permanent view of Scotland to hesitate before they accepted that view. If there was anything in which action and reaction took place it was in the religious and social views of a community. They know quite well that the latitudinarianism in Scotland at the end of the eighteenth century was succeeded by the most strict evangelicalism. Afterwards it became stricter still, and in his own early days nothing could have been more strict and formal than the Sabbatarianism of Scotland. They knew the present attitude of the United Free Church of Scotland, which was entirely revolutionised from that of a few years ago. Changes in social and religious opinions were bewildering in their rapidity. For the moment there might be an apparent body of support in Scotland for such a measure, but he knew that there was a deep.feeling against attempting to tamper with the ties of the marriage bond. He had endeavoured to the best of his ability to ascertain what was the opinion of Scotland. There was no evidence of any ardent enthusiasm for this proposed change in the marriage law. [Cries of "Yes, there is."] They 1005 knew the views of the Roman Catholics and of the Episcopalians. So far as Presbyterians were concerned had there been any petitions presented from Scotland in favour of the Bill? The three General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland met recently. They presented no petition in favour of the Bill, nor did he believe that they supported it. Why was that? He was convinced that the great bulk of the people of Scotland were opposed to the proposed change. He had consulted a leading layman and a leading clergyman from Scotland. They told him that, they themselves had formed no very strong opinion on the matter, and that they wore not pledged to one view or the other. They found, however, so far as they could ascertain that while some people were bitterly opposed to the Bill, amongst its supporters there was a singular apathy in regard to it. He thought he had said enough to show that there was no pronounced opinion or keen enthusiasm for the proposed change. He noted that not a single Member for Scotland had spoken in favour of the measure, and that in the Committee upstairs they had no guidance from law officers of the Crown in Scotland. Ho begged to move.
This Act shall not apply to Scotland."— (Sir Henry Craik:)
§ Brought up and read a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the. clause be read a second time."
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
said that the sumo argument applied to 1006 this Amendment as to the last. The hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities had said that there was no strong feeling in Scotland in regard to this measure. He only wished that the hon. Member had the correspondence which he had had in regard to it. There was an overwhelming majority of the Scottish Members in the House in favour of it.
§ * MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said he was sorry that on this occasion ho could not agree with his hon. friend. He believed that most of the hon. Members for Scotland were at the present day in favour of such a Bill; and ho thought that a Bill of this sort ought, if applied at all, to be applied not only to England but to he United Kingdom as a whole.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said that the hon. Member for North Norfolk regarded this Amendment as similar to that which had just been rejected in regard to Ireland; but this Amendment had been moved by the Member for a Scottish constitutency. He could not understand why other hon. Members from Scotland should have been so coy in regard to giving their opinion on the subject. It should be remembered that there was no material difference between the marriage laws of England and Ireland; they were very much the same. But there was a very material difference in the marriage laws of England and Scotland. He contended that there was a body of religious opinion in Scotland against the Bill, and that was an argument in favour of giving an opportunity for the reconsideration of the measure by the people of Scotland. It was for that reason that he would support the Amendment.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL (Aston Manor)
said he would like to know why it was that the only voice they had heard from Scotland in regard to this measure was strongly against it. He would ask hon. Members from Scotland whether they had ever been at their election "heckled" in regard to this question of marriage with a deceased wife's sister.
§ MR. STEWART (Greenock)
said that he had been asked questions a score of times on the subject, and he had always promised to support the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: — Ayes, 33; Noes, 240. (Division List No. 221.)1009
|Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt.Hon.SirH.||Fardell, Sir T. George||Smith. Hon. W. F. D. (Strand|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim.S.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hardy, Laurence( Kent, Ashford||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hogan, Michael||Talbot, RtHn J.G.(Oxf'dUniv.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Joyce, Michael||Vincent. Col. Sir G.E.Howard|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir JohnH.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent. Mid)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||M'Calmont. Colonel James||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Cave, George||Percy, Earl|
|Cavendish, Rt.Hon.VictorC.W.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone,E.)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Sir Henry Craik and Mr. Evelyn Cecil.|
|Crean, Eugene||Rawlinson,John FrederiekPeel|
|Dixon-Hartland,SirFredDixon||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clynes, J. R.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Allen,A.Acland(Christchurch)||Collins,SirWmJ.(S.Pancras,W.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Cooper, G. J.||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Corbett,A.Cameron(Glasgow)||Gill, A. H.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Corbett,CH(Sussex,E.Grinst'd||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Astbury, John Meir||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Grant, Corrie|
|Baker, JosephA.(Finsbury,E.)||Cory, Clifford John||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough|
|Baring,Godfrey(Isle of Wight)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Baring,Capt.Hn.G( Winchester||Cowan W. H.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Barker, John||Cox, Harold||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cremer, William Randal||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Crombie, John William||Hart-Davies. T.|
|Bcale, W. P.||Crooks, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Harvey,W.E.(Derbyshire, N.E.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dalziel, James Henry||Harwood, George|
|Benn,W.(T'w'rHamlets,S.Geo.||Davies, M.Vaughan-(Cardigan||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Bennestt, E. N.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Billson, Alfred||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dickinson, W.H.(St.Paneras,N.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Doughty, Sir George||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Hervey,F.W.F.(BuryS.Edm'ds|
|Bright, J. A.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Hope,W.Bateman(Somerset,N.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Elibank, Master of||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Byles, William Pollard||Esslemont, George Birnie||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Cameron, Robert||Evans, Samuel T.||Horridge, Thomas Gardner|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Everett, R. Lacey||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Causton.Rt. Hn. RichardKnight||Faber, George Denison (York||Hudson, Walter|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Fell, Arthur||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Cleland, J. W.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Clough, William||Flynn, James Christopher||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Illingworth, Percy H||O'Connor,James (Wicklow,W.)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Jackson, R. S.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||O'Grady, J.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Summerbell, T.|
|Jones,SirD.Brynmor(Swansea)||Partington, Oswald||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire,|
|Jowett, F. W.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Thomas, DavidAlfred(Merthyr|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thomson, W.Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Kelley, George D.||Price, C. E.(Edinb'gh,Central)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Price,RobertJohn(Norfolk,E.)||Tomkinson James|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Pullar, Sir Robert||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Toulmin, George|
|Lamont, Norman||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Lee. ArthurH.(Hants,Fareham||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')||Ure, Alexander|
|Leese,SirJosephF. (Accrington||Rees, J. D.||Verney, F. W.|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Renton, Major Leslie||Vivian, Henry|
|Lever,A.Levy (Essex,Harwich||Richards, T.F.(Wolverh'mpt'n||Walters, John Tudor|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Ridsdale, E. A.||Walton,SirJohnL.(Leeds.S.)|
|Lockwood,Rt.Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Ward,John(Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Ward,W.Dudley(Southampton|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts,S.(Sheffield,Ecelesall)||Wason, John Cathcart( Orkney)|
|Macdonald. J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson,SirG.Scott(Bradf'rd||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB' ghs||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Weir, James Galloway|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitbread, Howard|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|M'Laren,,Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Samuel,HerbertL.(Cleveland)||Whitley, JohnHenry(Halifax)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Whittaker,SirThomasPalmer|
|Maddison, Frederick||Schwann,SirC. E.(Manchester)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Scott,A.H.(Ashton-under-Lvne||Williams, Llewelyn(Carmarth'n|
|Marnham, F. J.||Seaverns, J. H.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth|
|Menzies, Walter||Seddon, J.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Seely, Major J. B.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Shackleton, David James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Morse, L. L.||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Murray, James||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wortley,Rt.Hon.C.B.Stuart-|
|Myer, Horatio||Sloan, Thomas Henry||Yoxall. James Henry|
|Nicholson,CharlesN.(Doncast'r||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William '||Smith,F.E.(Liverpool, Walton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Spicer, Sir Albert||Sir William Brampton Gurdon and Mr. Eugene Wason.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Stanger, H. Y.|
|O'Brien,Kendal(TipperaryMid||Stanley,Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Steadman, W. C.|
§ EARL PERCY
rose to move a new clause providing that the Act should come into operation on the 1st day of January, 1909.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
asked the Speaker whether the new clause was in order. He did not see how a retrospective Act could come into operation at a future date.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The Bill may be retrospective now, but it does not follow that 1010 when it goes out of this House it will be retrospective.
§ EARL, PERCY,
continuing, said that he did not particularly care whether the date fixed for the Bill coming into operation was 1909 or 1910 or any other date. The object which he had in view was that they should allow time for the parties affected to make fresh arrangements in order to avoid the disadvantages which otherwise they might be subjected to when the Act came into force. They were told that it was merely an enabling Act, and that all that it did was to enable people to do legally what they believed already they had a 1011 perfect right to do, and that there was no compulsion upon people to do anything. Supposing a man married his deceased wife's sister and afterwards came to the conclusion that the marriage was illegal. There were provided in the Bill only two practical ways of escaping from the position thus created. He must either go and marry somebody else or procure the lawful annulling of his marriage with his deceased wife's sister. For himself he did not propose to give men who had married their deceased wives' sisters time to desert them and marry somebody else, still less did he intend to give thorn time to concoct a case which would enable them to get the marriage annulled; but it was obvious that some machinery should be devised and some time should be allowed to parties who had contracted these marriages, but who did not desire that the marriages should continue, to escape from the dilemma in which they wore placed. He did not at present see any way for them to do so except by means of the Divorce Act. If, therefore, the operation of the Bill were postponed to 1909 it would give them time to bring in an amending provision of the. Divorce Act. So much for the parties to the marriage, but when ho came to the case of the children and those connected with the parties it was quite clear that some time should be given to people to alter their testamentary dispositions. Let the House suppose that he, being unmarried, left all his property by will to the children of his brother; he did not say the children of what wife, but, not contemplating that his brother would marry again, meant the children of the then living wife. Let them suppose further that that wife died and his brother married his deceased wife's sister. He had the strongest possible objection to mar- 1012 riages with a deceased wife's sister, and even after the Bill was passed would regard children born of these marriages as illegitimate, and would not desire a penny of his property to pass to them. [Cries of "Oh."] Well, he might be wrong, but that was his opinion, and in his judgment if the Bill passed he ought to be given time to make a fresh will. The case was even stronger if he, having made a will in favour of his brother's children, had died before his brother had married his deceased wife's sister. He thought that Parliament should try as far as it could to carry out the wishes of testators, but if this Bill passed it would be impossible to do so, and the children of his brother's first wife whom he intended to benefit, whom he wished to inherit the whole of his property, and who had been brought up with the idea of inheriting a competency, might find themselves deprived of it by means of the operation of this Bill. The children of his brother's first wife might, with the idea of inheriting this competency, have adopted no profession or have taken up a most unremunerative one, and time ought to be given to them to consider their position and take up a profession or select another which would enable them to earn a livelihood. He begged to move.
This Act shall come into operation on the first day of January, nineteen hundred and nine."—(Earl Percy )
§ Brought up and read a first time.
§ Motion made and Question proposed,"That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. RAWLINSON,
in supporting the clause, said it was the first time he had intervened in the debate on the Bill, and he 1013 did not want to say anything against it. In what he had to say in favour of the proposal he wanted to assume that this was an admirable Bill which the House desired to pass. He did, however, wish the House to pass the new clause for certain legal reasons which it was very desirable to consider. His noble friend had not exhausted the subjects which should be debated on this proposal. They were introducing a great change, and whether one regarded marriage as a civil contract or as a religious rite it had always been regarded as a contract to which both parties agreed. If this Bill passed, however, it would in many cases unite two parties who did not wish to be united. He would instance a case which was within his knowledge. Four years ago a man married his deceased wife's sister and lived unhappily with her for a year. After that the wife lived with somebody else, and the husband also was now living with somebody else. It was absolutely ridiculous by a Bill of this kind to unite those two people compulsorily when they did not want to be united. The mere fact, however, of the Bill, which was of a retrospective character, passing into law would force those people to become husband and wife, which they did not desire to be, and which they were not under the existing law of the country. Other cases could be brought forward in much larger numbers where the facts were not so extreme, but where as a matter of fact parties to such marriages had agreed to live apart. By this Bill, however, they would be made man and wife. He was not going to argue whether that was right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, but the only way out of the difficulty was for those parties to get the marriage annulled before the Act came into operation. It was for that reason, therefore, he asked that the operation of the Act 1014 should be suspended for a year, otherwise great hardship would be created. Let them assume that they wished to make marriage with a deceased wife's sister valid, should it not be made valid altogether, and should not the children be legitimate? The promoters of the Bill, however, had chosen a sort of halfway house and had brought about a sort of lawful wife, and a sort of legitimate children. The wife was to be a lawful wife for some purposes and not for others. If a man married his deceased wife's sister and died intestate, his second wife would not be entitled to a penny of his property under the Bill, and she was to be treated as his mistress and not as his wife. It was not merely a question of money but of titles. In the case of a Baronet, for instance, the quasi-legitimate child could not succeed to the title or property, but the brother's son would step in. He assumed that under those circumstances a man who had married his deceased wife's sister would not wish such an injustice to be done to his son by his second marriage, or that he should be cut off from the entail or the baronetcy. What would he do? He would take advantage of the loophole which the Bill provided, and which the promoters had perhaps unintentionally given him, get his marriage annulled and remarry, so that under the Bill his wife, so far as money and titles were concerned, should become his lawful wife. On the whole he thought he had demonstrated to the House valid reasons for postponing the operation of the Bill.
§ SIR BEAMPTON GURDON
thought there were very good reasons why the promoters could not accept the new clause. The only point raised was in regard to the annulment of marriages, and the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to have been rather unfortunate in the 1015 instances which he had given, because they only showed the fallacy that ran through the whole of the argument against the Bill. It was said that there were cases in which a man had married his deceased wife's sister and the parties lived unhappily and agreed to separate. Such cases were rare and of course might happen, but there were other cases in which an ordinary marriage had taken place and the man and woman only lived together for a year and then separated. They did not, however, under those circumstances allow them to divorce each other. He did not think that they ought to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Oswestry)
spoke against the Amendment, and said it seemed to him that if a man had married his deceased wife's sister and had got tired of her and wanted to get rid of her in order to marry another woman, he was a man against whom the public should be protected, and he did not particularly wish to give a man of that sort any more time in which to marry a third person than could possibly be helped. It seemed to him from that point of view it would be a pity to postpone the operation of the Act, because by doing so they would put the ladies of the country in danger of being proposed to by that sort of man. Therefore, although he agreed with a good deal of what the noble Lord had said, he was unable to follow him on this particular point.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he did not agree with the observations of the last speaker, and he was amazed that the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had not accepted the new clause. If he had looked at the clauses of his own Bill, he would have seen the necessity of giving some oppor- 1016 tunity to people to reconsider their position, and to pass it without some such proviso as this would really be the essence of bad legislation. There was clearly a case for giving time to those who had made these irregular marriages, to reconsider their position, not only from their own point of view but from that of their children, and enabling them to make some fresh arrangement. The first clause dealt with marriage only as a civil contract, and the ecclesiastical law was not altered by the measure, because it was provided that no clergyman in holy orders was to be bound to celebrate these marriages, which so far as he could make out, according to ecclesiastical law were invalid. Therefore it seemed to. him that if a clergyman, being subject to ecclesiastical as well as to civil law, were to celebrate one of these marriages he would be answerable to the ecclesiastical law and have to pay the penalty.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said that was his reading of the canon law under which these marriages were good only as a civil contract, and which did not make them ecclesiastically good.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said that no canon law could subsist if it was contrary to a Statute passed by Parliament.
§ LORD R. CECIL
agreed, but said the canon law did not deal with marriage as a civil contract, but as an ecclesiastical matter. They were only dealing under this Bill with marriage as a civil contract, and it would be a grave question for a clergyman whether he should treat people married in this way as being married at all under the ecclesiastical law.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said that any law passed by Parliament stood good in spite 1017 of anything there might be in ecclesiastical law. It was an Act passed by the State, and any action on the part of a clergyman or of an ecclesiastical authority in defiance of any Act of Parliament was punishable.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said that, that being so, it was scandalous that a Bill of this kind should be drafted and brought forward by a private Member and not by the Government. There was not a single Member in the House who would read the clause in that sense, because it said that it was not altering the ecclesiastical, but the civil, law of marriage. He quite agreed that Parliament was able to alter the ecclesiastical law.
§ Parliament could do anything, but it Parliament did not deal with the ecclesiastical law, it remained as it was, even although the civil law was changed. Under those circumstances, and in view of the importance of the questions raised, time should be given for the consideration of such matters before they asked the Crown to alter the ecclesiastical law of the country. He therefore thought the commencement of the operation of the Bill should be postponed until a later date than that on which the Royal Assent was given.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 39; Noes.; 237. (Division List No. 222.)1019
|Ashley, W. W.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt Hon.SirH.||Dixon-Hartland,Sir Fred Dixon||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Remnant, James Farquarson|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Fardell, Sir T. George||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Helmsley, Viscount||Talbot,Rt,Hn.J.G. (Oxf'dUniv.|
|Boyle. Sir Edward||Hogan, Michael||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Joyce, Michael||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Kennaway,Rt,Hon.Sir.John H.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Lundon, W.|
|Cave, George||M'Calmont, Colonel James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Cavendish, Rt.Hon.VictorCW.||Nield, Herbert||Mr. Laurence Hardy and Mr. Rawlinson.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston.Manor)||Doherty, Philip|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Percy, Earl|
|Crean, Eugene||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Acland. Francis Dyke||Berridge, T. H. D.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Corbett.C H.(Sussex,E.Grinst'd|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Billson, Alfred||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Anstruther-Gray,Major||Boulton, A. C. F.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Bowerman, C. W.||Cory, Clifford John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bright, J. A.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bryce, J. Annan||Cox, Harold|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Cremer, William Randal|
|Baker Joseph A. (Finsbury. E.)||Burt, Rt, Hon. Thomas||Crombie, John William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Byles, William Pollard||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Baring. Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cameron, Robert||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan|
|Barker, John||Causton,Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Chance, Frederick William:||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol. S.)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Cheetham, John Frederick||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Cleland. J. W.||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-.sh.|
|Beale. W. P.||Clough, William||Dickinson,W.H.(St. Pancras, N.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Clynes. J. R,||Doughty. Sir George|
|Beckett. Hon. Gervase||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness|
|Bean, W.(T"w'r Hamlets,S.Geo||Collins.SirWm.J.(S.Paneras; W.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)|
|Bennett, E N.||Cooper, G. J.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)|
|Elibank, Master of||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lyell, Charles Henry||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Lynch, H. B.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T, (Hawick B.)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Macdonald,J.M.(Falkirk B'ghs||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Fell, Arthur||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Flynn, James Christopher||M'Callum, John M.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Smith,F.E. (Liverpool,Walton)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Maddison, Frederick||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Stanley,Hn.A.Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Marnham, F. J.||Steadman, W. C|
|Grant, Corrie||Menzies, Walter||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Stewart-Smith D. (Kendal)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Morse, L. L.||Tennant, H.J. (Berwickshire)|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Murray, James||Thomas,David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Myer, Horatio||Thompson, J. W. H (Somerset.E.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Nicholson,CharlesN (Doncaster||Thomson,W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Capt Cecil William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Tomkinson, James|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Nuttall, Harry||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Brien,Kendal (TipperaryMid||Toulmin, George|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tuke, Sir John" Batty|
|Hervey.F.W.F. (BuryS.Edmd's||O'Connor,James (Wicklow,W.)||Ure, Alexander|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Verney, F. W.|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||O'Grady. J.||Vivian, Henry|
|Hope, W.Bateman(Somerset,N||O'Malley, William||Walters, John Tudor|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Partington, Oswald||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Ward,W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Wason,John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Hudson, Walter||Pirie, Duncan V.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Price,Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Whitbread. Howard|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Pullar, Sir Robert||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Ilingworth, Percy H.||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Jackson, R. S.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Rees, J. D.||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Jones, Sir D.Brynmor(Swansea||Renton, Major Leslie||Wiles, Thomas|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Richards,T. F. (Wolverhampton||Williams, Lleweryn(Carmarthen|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Ridsdale, E. A.||Williamson, A.|
|Jowett, F. W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Roberts,S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Kelley, George D.||Robertson,SirG.Scott( Bradford||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Robertson, J. M. (Tynseide)||Wilson, W. T (Westhoughton)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wodehouse. Lord|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C.B. Stuart -|
|Lamont, Norman||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Lee,ArthurH (Hants.,Fareham||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Leese.SirJoseph F.(Accrington)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Sir William Brampton Gurdon|
|Lever, A.Levy (Essex, Harwich||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||and Mr. Eugene Wason.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Schwann,Sir C.E. (Manchester)|
|Lockwood.Rt.Hn. Lt.-Col.A.R.||Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyne|
§ And, it being after Five of the clock, further Proceedings on Consideration, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended in the Standing Committee, to be further considered upon Friday next.1020
§ Whereupon Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at fourteen minutes after Five o'clock till Monday next.