HC Deb 22 March 1917 vol 91 cc2142-3

Order for Second Reading read.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

This Bill is really an urgent measure. As the House will know many clergymen have been serving as Army chaplains, and there are vacancies in the ranks of the clergy. Apart from that there is great need for the assistance of some of them in hospitals and in camps and schools and munition areas and places of that kind. There is great willingness to give this service among the younger clergy, and, indeed, among all the clergy, but there is a, legal difficulty in the way. As the House will know, certain services must be held in the churches, and there is no power to suspend them at will. The Bill has two objects: The firs tis to enable certain services to be suspended from time to time. It is not, I think, intended by the church authorities entirely to close the churches, but it is hoped there will be provision under which services will be taken alternately in one church or another. That is the object of the first Clause. Then there are certain difficulties about the publication of banns. For that purpose it is proposed to use the machinery of the Marriage Act of 1854, which applies when a church or chapel is under repair, and with the use of that machinery, to enable churches to be used for marriages in the same way. I do not think there is any opposition to the Bill. I have heard of none. I hope the House will allow us to-have all the stages on this urgent-measure.


May I ask why the necessity for a Bill in this case? Could you not do this under the Defence of the Realm Acts?


There is a difficulty in doing that. I know that a similar Bill is needed for other churches.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[Sir. G. Care]

Bill accordingly considered in Committee, and reported, without amendment; read the third time, and passed.