HL Deb 25 June 1888 vol 327 cc1108-9

asked Her Majesty's Government, Whether they intended to bring in a Bill to remedy the inconveniences which arose from the present Foreign Marriage Act? He pointed out that none but clergymen of the Church of England could marry British subjects abroad, and that only in the Embassy Chapel. The Consuls had no power to marry English couples unless both parties had been resident in the city in which they sought to get married for one month. He urged that all this was very inconvenient and worked great injustice, and he trusted the noble Marquess would be able to inform the House that some general Bill would be introduced.


I am afraid the difficulty of passing general Acts, or any other Acts, is very considerable at this time, and I doubt whether it would be in our power to introduce any measure at this period of the Session which would have any chance of passing. I entirely sympathize with the views of my noble Friend. It is clear that any impediment to the marriage of Nonconformists resident abroad who wish to be married is entirely contrary to justice and to good policy, and I shall be very glad to look into the state of the law as it at present exists to see whether, with the existing power, we are not able to remedy the grievances my noble Friend has referred to. I do not concur with him in thinking it desirable to get rid of that provision which restricts the power of the Consul to the marriage of couples who have been resident a month. I am afraid we should have a renewal of Gretna Green in more convenient and accessible circumstances. Any couple that desires to be married, even if under age, could, without any difficulty, cross the water and get it done. But any obstacle on account of a difference in religious opinion is clearly inconsistent with the policy of the present day, and ought to be put a stop to as rapidly as possible.