HL Deb 10 March 1842 vol 61 cc409-10
Lord Campbell,

on presenting petitions from the ministers, elders, and congregations of several chapels in connection with the general assembly of Presbyterians in Ulster, praying that the marriages of Dissenters with members of the Established Church might be declared valid, said he would take that opportunity of mentioning that he had that day received a letter from one of the judges in Ireland, stating that at the late assizes at Carrickfergus a case came on for trial, which involved the same question as that case on which the Irish judges had decided against the validity of marriages of Presbyterians and members of the Established Church by Presbyterian clergymen. As the recent decision had not given satisfaction the learned Judge thought it would be a good opportunity to have the case reconsidered by the Irish bench, and afterwards by the House of Lords, aided by the English judges, and he therefore directed the jury to return a special verdict, which they did. The case might thus be submitted to the judges of Ireland for their opinions, and afterwards to the House of Lords. Under these circumstances he (Lord Campbell) would suggest, whether it would not be better for their Lordships to suspend any further proceedings on the bill which had come up from the other House, as they would probably be soon called upon to decide upon the question as to the validity of those marriages in another way.

The Lord Chancellor

said that, supposing their Lordships should decide against the validity of the marriages, would it not then require some such measure as that now before them to settle the question? He thought it better to go on with the bill.

Lord Campbell

thought there could be very little doubt as to the way in which their Lordships would decide; and, supposing they should decide that the marriages were valid, a short declaratory act only would be required; and supposing them to declare the marriages invalid, a short enacting bill would be sufficient.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that the bill would be so framed as not to interfere in any way with any course which their Lord-ships might think proper to adopt on the subject.

Lord Brougham

expressed a hope that noble Lords would not discuss the question then, as they had referred the bill to the consideration of a committee.

Petition laid on the Table.

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