§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD STANMORE
My Lords, the first clause of this Bill is intended to facilitate the registration of irregular marriages in Scotland. Under the present system an application is made to the sheriff for a warrant to register a marriage, and the application is then handed back to the applicants for conveyance to the registrar. Experience has shown that in many cases the warrant never reaches the registrar, as the result either of ignorance or of 708 carelessness on the part of the married couple. The danger of these marriages escaping registration is greatly increased by the number of irregular marriages that have taken place since the outbreak of the war. The total number of these marriages in the six chief towns in Scotland has increased from 2,800 in 1913 to 6,300 in 1915, and of the latter figure about 3,000 are estimated to be soldiers marriages. Clause 1 provides that the application to the sheriff for a warrant to register must be accompanied by a schedule containing all the particulars for the registration. Noble Lords will notice that a copy of this schedule is attached to the Bill. Secondly, the application, instead of being handed back to the parties after the warrant is signed, is transmitted direct with the schedule to the registrar, who is then in a position to register the marriage. Clause 2 of the Bill is the penalty clause. Clause 3 is designed to end what is really an abuse in an old Act of 1661. Clause 4 was inserted in the Bill to meet the views entertained by the Churches, and to secure that the large number of marriages of soldiers and sailors on short leave which at present take place shall be regular. The intention to marry is sometimes formed after the beginning of a short furlough, and very often the furlough does not extend to seven days. The clause, therefore, provides for the issue of the registrar's certificate after notice of the intention has been posted for one day instead of seven. The fifteen days residence in the parish on the part of the bride necessary on the publication or proclamation under the Marriage Notice Act of 1878 is retained in this clause of the Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Stanmore.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.