HL Deb 30 May 1861 vol 163 cc222-3

, in moving the re-commitment of this Bill, said, that as regarded marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics no Bill had been introduced for many years which had met with so favourable a reception as the one now on their Lordships' table. The Bill bad been referred to a Select Committee, when several alterations had been made. The most laudable and salutary objects of this Bill were to avoid clandestine marriages and to ensure proper evidence of marriage after it had been celebrated. He believed that all or most of their Lordships were agreed upon the provisions of the Bill, except the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees, who had, without notice, introduced a number of Amendments, some of which, although unnecessary, he would not oppose. This Bill was declared to be read along with Lord Lyndhurst's Act of 1854. One of the Amendments of his noble Friend proposed that there should be a registration of marriages under this Act; but he thought it better to reserve that for the Bill now before the House of Commons respecting the registration of all marriages in Ireland, whether Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Quaker. But his noble Friend proposed two other Amendments to which he could not agree, as calculated to give offence to our Roman Catholic fellow subjects. One of these was that there should be a return of all places of religious worship in the Roman Catholic persuasion, and that this return should be made from time to time by the police. He thought this wholly unnecessary and objectionable. The other Amendment declared that any Roman Catholic who celebrated a marriage under this Act, but neglected compliance with any of its provisions, should be guilty of felony. This was wholly unnecessary, as this Bill was declared to be read with Lord Lyndhurst's Act, which already contained that provision. He trusted after these explanations his noble Friend would not think it necessary to insist on those two latter Amendments.


apologized for not having given notice of the Amendments introduced. He was very much occupied at the time with the business of the House, and his attention was not drawn to the Bill till a very late period. The Amendments were actually written while he was in the House; and the moment his noble and learned Friend raised an objection he assented that the Bill should he recommitted and the Amendments printed, allowing ample time for their consideration. His noble and learned Friend having assented to the larger portion of the Amendments proposed, he would only say with regard to those objected to that he had no wish to do anything offensive or unnecessary, and, therefore, he would not insist on that Amendment with respect to priests neglecting to comply with certain of the provisions of the Act, as the noble Lord assured him that they would be guilty of felony without any such enactment; at the same time he did not see what offence could be given by declaring that to be felony under this Act which, according to the noble and learned Lord, was and ought to be felony. With regard to the registration of places of worship he thought it very desirable that there should be no doubt, and no room for any question being raised after the event, as to whether the place used for the celebration of a marriage under this Act was a lawful place for the celebration of such marriages; and although he understood that there was an objection to register on the part of the priests themselves he did not see why the police should not be required to make a return of the places of public worship for Roman Catholics in Ireland. His belief was, that unless the places were registered where marriages under this Bill took place in Ireland, one of the best securities against clandestine marriages would be lost. He would not, however, press that Amendment now, but unless it could be shown that the return by the police would be justly objectionable to Roman Catholics, he would ask their Lordships to give their assent to the clause on the Report.

After a few remarks from the Bishop of DOWN and CONNOR, who was understood to support the registration clause,


said, he would not offer any further opposition.

House in Committee (on Re-commitment).

Amendments made; The Report thereof to be received on Monday next.