§ 31. Mr. DENNIS HERBERT
asked the Home Secretary whether any, and what, 221 official was responsible for the nonexistence or non-production of licences in the cases of marriages at Oxhey recently confirmed by Provisional Order; and whether he has taken or can take any steps to guard against this kind of informality occurring in other cases?
§ Mr. SHORTT
According to the information supplied to me, the vicar of the parish was responsible. A clergyman who knowingly and wilfully solemnises a marriage without publication of banns or production of a licence is of course committing an offence against the Marriage Act and is liable to be proceeded against under that Act but I was advised that in this case there was not sufficient evidence on which proceedings could have been taken. I have been in communication with the Bishop of the Diocese who informs me that, in the absence of sufficient evidence, there is no action which he can usefully take. I am afraid there is nothing more that I can do in the matter.
§ Mr. HERBERT
If further evidence be supplied to the right hon. Gentleman's Department, will he bring it to the knowledge of the Public Prosecutor?
§ Mr. SHORTT
If my hon. Friend will give me any further evidence, I will put it before the Law Officers of the Crown, as I have done already.