asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has had under review the case of two persons wishing to be married in the parish church of Chisledon, Wilts; whether he is aware that the persons desirous of entering into the marriage contract were fully entitled under the provisions of The Marriage Act, 1836, to be married in the church at Chisledon; that this right was refused by the vicar, and that his refusal was confirmed by the bishop; and that, as a result, after some weeks of delay, the marriage was celebrated at Leicester; and whether, to preclude the scandal of persons being refused by the clergy the right of legal marriage with the rites of the Established Church, he will initiate legislation in the direction of civil marriage?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have made inquiry, and I am informed that in the case referred to neither of the parties was a parishioner and no question of strict right could arise. Special permission to have the marriage in the parish church was refused by the bishop on the ground that the bridegroom was unbaptised, and therefore not a member of the Church of Christ. I can only say that I much regret that any such reason should have been advanced by a bishop of the Church of England. I fail, however, to see how the remedy suggested by my hon. Friend would meet the case. Under the existing law civil marriage is open to every one; and, if he means to suggest that civil marriage should be made compulsory, that would not remove the grievance of those who desire as in this ease to be married with the rites of the Church.