§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
said, that on previous occasions he had been compelled to postpone the second reading of this Bill, and was again forced to do so, for reasons which he hoped their Lordships would allow him briefly to state. In March last he moved for some Returns on finance and business from the diocesan Courts; but up to the present time, out of 27 dioceses, seven had failed to recognize the authority of their Lordships' House, having made no Return whatever. These seven defaulting dioceses were St. Davids, Chichester, Manchester, Bangor, Worcester, Hereford, and Salisbury. Twenty dioceses had made Returns, but had made them so late that it was quite impossible to have had them printed in time for discussion this evening. With reference to the Returns relating to the registries of the various dioceses, which had long been in a most disgraceful condition, and which were moved for by the noble and learned Lord the Master of the Rolls, Returns had been received from 10 dioceses. His object in moving for Returns of the moneys received by the diocesan Courts was to satisfy the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, and several right rev. Prelates, who doubted whether the receipts were as large as he had estimated them. As far as he had been able to read them, he could not say that the Returns were very accurate. He had, however, applied to another source for information—namely, to the Registrar General's Office, in order that he might procure a Return of the number of marriages celebrated yearly by licence and by special licence. He had accordingly obtained a Return of the yearly average number of these marriages for the 10 years 1859 to 1868, inclusive. That average number was 19,861, and the fees paid to the registrars for these licences was £40,226 per annum. This sum by no means represented the whole sum paid to the registrars, for he had shown that the fees levied on the parochial clergy, no Return of which had yet been made, amounted to £20,000 a year—and, indeed, he believed 99 to as much as £30,000. In that case £70,000 a year was raised from the public and paid into the hands of the registrars, while no account whatever had been given of the way in which the money was expended. The Bill having been a considerable time before their Lordships, he thought he was justified in asking them to say Aye or No to its principle; he should, therefore, whether the Returns were ready or not, propose the second reading on Tuesday next, and, if necessary, take the sense of the House upon it.
THE BISHOP OF MANCHESTER
, as the representative of one of the dioceses described as delinquents, wished to state that, before leaving Manchester last week, he inquired whether the Retimes had been sent in or not—he had made previous inquiries and had endeavoured to expedite the matter — and he was informed by the deputy registrar that the Returns were sent in on Thursday last.
§ Second Reading put off to Tuesday next.