HL Deb 11 March 1830 vol 23 cc166-7

The House went into a Committee on this Bill, on the Motion of the Bishop of London.

Lord Holland

wished to return his thanks to the reverend Prelate who had introduced the Bill, the principles and enactments of which, generally speaking, met with his warm approbation. It was very disadvantageous, very galling, particularly where property was concerned, to leave the authority uncertain by which marriages could be rendered valid. He believed that much inconvenience had arisen for want of an enactment like the first clause, and he bad to regret that it had not been made prospective as well as retrospective in its operation. It would have been desirable that a method should have been found, to render the marriages therein described valid when contracted in future. To the second clause he had no objection; the wording of the third clause he thought somewhat vague. He should like to see it stated why "banns could not be legally published in certain chapels." Like the first clause, too, the benefits of this were all for marriages already contracted, and no provision was made for future marriages of the same description. The act would not, indeed, legalize marriages contracted in chapels where banns could not be legally published; but these chapels should be so described as to leave no doubt on the subject. The fourth clause, relating to marriages celebrated in chapels of which the consecration was doubtful, wanted an additional enactment, to put an end to all doubt, as to what was or what was not a legally consecrated chapel.

The Bishop of London

said, if the noble Lord's suggestions were acted on, some of the most important clauses of the Marriage Act would be nullified. By that it was provided, that the marriage should take place where the banns were published. It had been his object to provide a remedy for doubts in past cases of inadvertence: but he would not be a party to remove the obstacles to clandestine marriages. The noble Lord was not perhaps aware, that the last clause of the Bill related only to one chapel, and that might be more particularly described. As the law stood, the bishop of a diocese had the power, with the consent of the incumbent, to authorise the publication of banns in any consecrated chapel; but he wished to give the bishop the power independently of the incumbent. He believed that at Macclesfield, which contained from 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants, most of them had to go four miles to a chapel because the incumbent refused to allow the banns to be published in any other.

Some verbal amendments were then agreed to, and the Bill ordered to be read a third time on a future day.