HL Deb 28 June 1837 vol 38 cc1674-6

The Lord Chancellor moved the third reading of the Marriages and Registration Act Amendment Bill.

The Bishop of Hereford

was understood to say, that the clergy of the Church of England intended to continue marrying by publication of bans, as heretofore. He thought there was some ambiguity in the 18th Clause of the original Bill, and added that there was no necessity for interfering with the Dissenters, but he would contend that the Church of England ought not either to be interfered with. He was not then prepared to suggest a remedy, but he objected to further restraints upon the members of the Church.

The Earl of Shrewsbury

expressed a hope that the House would consent to retain the 33d Clause, which had been struck out in conformity with the motion of a right hon. Prelate yesterday, during his (Lord Shrewsbury's) absence. In the Act of last year the words "separate buildings" had been introduced, the effect of which had been entirely to exclude the Roman Catholics from its operation, inasmuch as there were very few chapels belonging to that persuasion which did not form a part of some school, college, or mansion. The clause which he desired to retain would remedy this defect, and he should therefore move its re-introduction.

The Earl of Malmesbury

suggested, that as points of objection were raised up, which had not been urged before, it would be better to adjourn the debate till to-morrow, in order to give time for the consideration of those objections. It would be hard that the Roman Catholics should be excluded from the benefits of the Act, which was intended for the relief of all who dissented from the Established Church.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that the delay suggested by the noble Earl might have the effect of defeating the Bill altogether, for it was necessary that the Bill should become a law on the 1st of July.

Lord Ellenborough

had no objection whatever to the Roman Catholics partaking of that relief which the Bill intended for them, as well as for other parties dissenting from the Established Church, for he was sure that they would make no improper use of the houses which might adjoin their places of worship. His only difficulty was, that the amendment suggested by the noble Earl would make a distinction between Catholics and other Dissenters, which, he believed, had not hitherto been made by Parliament.

The Earl of Malmesbury

said, that the difficulties in which the House was placed with respect to this Bill arose from the very late period at which it had been sent up to their Lordships from the other House, from which it was received only on the 19th of the present month. Their Lorships had not had time for its due consideration, and they were now told that if they did delay to consider some important parts of the Bill, they would endanger its not passing within the time fixed for its becoming a law.

The Bishop of Hereford

said, that his objection to the discussion of the suggested amendment at present was, the absence of the most rev. Prelate who had objected to the clause, and who would no doubt have attended if he had thought that any further discussion on the measure was expected. With respect to the proposed amendment, he could assure the noble Earl that he had not the smallest possible objection to it; on the contrary, he would cordially support any clause which would enable Roman Catholics to marry in their own chapels according to their own religious rites, for their Lordships had a general assurance in the great strictness of the Roman Catholics in the observance of their religious rites, that no improper use whatever would be made of any building adjoining to their places of worship. It appeared to him, however, that the suggested amendment would make a general rule for Dissenting as well as Roman Catholic places of worship, and to such general rule he could not consent.

The Earl of Fingall

thought, that the difficulty might be got over by the insertion of the words "or buildings appointed to Catholic worship." Unless some such words were introduced, the Catholics would be deprived of the benefits which the Bill intended to give them, for their Lordships were well aware that the Chapels of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry and many public places of Catholic worship were attached to private residences or other buildings.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, that the present Bill afforded another illustration of the manner in which Bills were sent up from the other House. This Bill had been brought into the other House on the 21st of April, and was sent up to their Lordships on the 19th of June. The other House had had two months for its consideration, and yet their Lordships were expected to get it through in six or seven days.

Debate adjourned.