HC Deb 27 April 1934 vol 288 cc2021-5
Lords Amendment

In page 1, line 15, after "Act," insert: except in so far as it amends the Foreign Marriage Act, 1892.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. Brocklebank.]

11.20 a.m.


When we raised a protest a moment or two ago and asked for some information from the Treasury Bench as to what these Amendments meant, we did not have a reply at all. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman representing the Minister of Health will not be so discourteous as not to explain to us what these Amendments actually mean. We cannot possibly understand them merely by having them read from Chair, and, therefore, the Attorney-General, or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, ought to explain to the House exactly what each of the Amendments implies. The Bill is, I think, a very reasonable measure, although we have never had it discussed on the Floor of the House of Commons. The Bill says that in future marriages shall be solemnized in this country between the hours of eight o'clock in the morning—


I would remind the hon. Member that this is not a Second Reading Debate.


We ought to have an explanation at any rate as to what the Amendment actually means. I do not want to offend the hon. Gentleman, but I doubt whether he himself knows what it means yet. When he has had time to study the Amendment, perhaps he will have the courtesy to tell the House what the Amendment actually means in relation to the Bill.

11.21 a.m.


The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. B. Davies) is so frequently on his feet that I must apologise to him that I did not get the opportunity of explaining the Amendment before he had jumped up and had reached the Box. The Amendment is really a very simple one. It is a technical Amendment, and I am very much obliged to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health for his careful scrutiny of this Bill and for finding out that it might give offence to some parties if the Amendment were not accepted. The Bill itself does not apply to Scotland, but it was pointed out in another place that the Foreign Marriage Act, 1892, provides a procedure under which British subjects may be validly married in foreign countries. It states in Section 8 of that Act that the marriages should be solemnized between eight in the forenoon and three in the afternoon. The present Bill substitutes 6 p.m. for the 3 p.m. contained in this Section, so that, assuming that the Bill becomes law, if a person domiciled in England wishes to be married in France, at, say, five o'clock, the marriage will be valid. And the framers of the Bill, of course, intend this to apply to all British subjects.


On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. You were good enough to call me to order for doing exactly what the hon. Gentleman is now doing.


I do not think that the hon. Member can find fault with me on that point. The hon. Member for Fairfield (Mr. Brocklebank) is trying to explain the actual Amendment before the House. He is not making a Second Reading speech.


With regard to the domicile of the man in England no question arises, but, if a man domiciled in Scotland or Northern Ireland asked to be married in, say, France, at five o'clock, some question might arise as to whether the marriage were legal or not. Therefore, I repeat that I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health for suggesting in another place these very simple words which make it quite certain that were that question to arise, a marriage in France, or Spain, or in any other foreign country would be valid up to six o'clock for all British subjects.

11.24 a.m.


The position is remarkably awkward. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Fairfield (Mr. Brocklebank) has very carefully explained the position as far as he understands it, but he is not a Scottish Member nor is he a law officer. The Amendment, as far as I understand it, is to safeguard the provisions of the Foreign Marriage Act, 1892, so that a Scotsman can get married in France up to six o'clock in the afternoon. That is the whole point of the Amendment as far as I am able to understand it. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Northern Ireland?"] I wish to deal with Scotland first. I am not sure whether other Amendments may not deal with Northern Ireland. We do not know the position yet. It is wrong that we as English Members should abrogate to ourselves the laying down of Amendments of this kind on a Friday morning as far as Scotland is concerned.

There is no Scottish Law Officer present representing the Scottish Office, and there is no Scottish Member in the House. There is, however, one representative of Scotland here, the Minister of Mines, but he comes from Torquay. He obviously knows the question inside out. With his great knowledge of procedure, his great knowledge of Scottish law and his great knowledge of marriage, he might explain to the House whether it is really the desire of Scottish people that they should be able to marry in France up to six o'clock in the evening. No Scotsman has ever approached me on the subject. I have had no letters on the point. On behalf of some of my friends in Scotland, I do not think it is right that we should deal with this matter purely on the experience of English Members. I think I approve of the Amendment, certainly I wish to approve of it, but I must have an explanation of it and not allow it to go through in any harum scarum way. We all appreciate what the hon. Member for the Fairfield Division of Liverpool (Mr. Brocklebank) has done in regard to the Bill, and we appreciate the clear statement that he has made, but we would like to understand the matter better. We know that the Minister of Mines is so generous that he always likes to draw on his great fund of knowledge. Perhaps he will help us in the matter. There in no other Scottish Liberal Member present, and no Scottish Socialist Member has come to the help of Scotland in this time of trouble.

11.27 a.m.


We are in a difficulty in not having the Lords Amendments before us. There is one particular point in regard to the Amendment on which I should like some explanation, and I should like to know whether it has been considered. It has not yet been possible to fix summer time in this country the same as in other countries, and there may be a Scotsman who will find himself with more hours in France during two or three weeks in the year during which he could marry, as a result of the difference in summer time. It may be desirable that that should be so, but we ought to have some explanation either from the Parliamentary Secretary or from the hon. Member in charge of the Bill as to what the position would be in that case.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 54; Noes, 14.

Division No. 218.] AYES. [11.12 a.m.
Balfour. Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Crooke, J. Smedley Galbraith, James Francis Wallace
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Grimston, R. V.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Denman, Hon. R. D. Hacking. Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Clayton, Sir Christopher Elmley, Viscount Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Copeland, Ida Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Hunt, Sir Gerald B.
Inskip, Rt. Hon. sir Thomas W. H. North, Edward T. Spens, William Patrick
James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Palmer, Francis Noel Tate, Mavis Constance
Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Pike, Cecil F. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Rathbone, Eleanor Turton, Robert Hugh
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Rickards, George William Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
McConnell, Sir Joseph Ropner, Colonel L. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Maitland, Adam Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Runge, Norah Cecil Withers, Sir John James
Mayhew, Lieut-Colonel John Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Moss, Captain H. J. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Mr. Brocklebank and Major S. E. Harvey.
Attlee, Clement Richard Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William
Cape, Thomas George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Daggar, George Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Edwards, Charles Leckie, J. A. Mr. Banfield and Mr. Tinker.
Division No. 219.] AYES. [11.30 a.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. sir Francis Dyke Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ropner, Colonel L.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Rosbotham, Sir Thomas
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Runge, Norah Cecil
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Knight, Holford Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Lock wood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Clayton, Sir Christopher McConnell, Sir Joseph Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Magnay, Thomas Spens, William Patrick
Copeland, Ida Maitland, Adam Tate, Mavis Constance
Crooke, J. Smedley Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil] May hew, Lieut-Colonel John Turton, Robert Hugh
Denman, Hon. R. D. Meller, Sir Richard James Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mars) Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Moss, Captain H. J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Galbraith, James Francis Wallace North, Edward T. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Grimston, R. V. Palmer, Francis Noel Withers, Sir John James
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Pike, Cecil F.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Rathbone, Eleanor TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Rickards, George William Mr. Brocklebank and Sir Gerald Hurst
Attlee, Clement Richard Edwards, Charles McEntee, Valentine L.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cape, Thomas Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Daggar, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Leckie, J. A. Mr. Banfield and Mr. Tinker.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William