HL Deb 31 July 1906 vol 162 cc608-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a Bill on which I do not think there can be two opinions. It is one in which the noble Marquess opposite, when he represented the Foreign Office in another place, took especial interest, and I hope he will give every assistance in passing it into law. There are two main clauses. The first is with regard to the marriage of British subjects with foreigners abroad. Some foreign countries demand that when their subjects marry a foreigner, there should be a certificate from the country to which the foreigner belongs to the effect that there is no impediment to the marriage. In this country we have no machinery by which that certificate can be supplied. This has given rise to considerable inconvenience, and the Home Office have done what they could to enable people to get that certificate in a roundabout way.

Again, more than one case of hardship has occurred in respect to the marriage of foreigners with British subjects in the United Kingdom. Some foreigners come into this country and marry an English woman, and then perhaps go and live abroad. Probably not even during the lifetime of the husband is anything found out. It is only afterwards that unkind relatives intervene and point out that the marriage is illegal, and the unhappy widow is left without any provision and is deprived of the money to which she has been looking forward. This is a subject in which the Bishop of London has also taken an interest, and I venture to hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a." —(Earl Beauchamp.)


My Lords, as far as we are concerned who sit on this side of your Lordship's House we shall offer no opposition whatever to the passing of this Bill. The two points dealt with, though widely dissimilar in character, involve grievances of rather an urgent kind. I can assure your Lordships that when I had to deal with it I found the law in such a condition that in respect to the marriage of a British subject abroad the difficulties were sometimes almost insuperable; and it was only by directly approaching the Government of the foreign country concerned and securing a certain dispensing power which they possess that in one particular case I was enabled to help a gentleman of my acquaintance who desired to marry a German lady. The position of foreigners marrying in England is also a very difficult one. I have not studied with any very great care the actual wording of this Bill, but I presume from the speech of the noble Earl that it is in the main taken from the Bill which was drafted when we were responsible for affairs, and therefore I have no doubt it is admirably drafted.

On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.