HL Deb 01 July 1937 vol 105 cc969-70

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House do now resolve itself into Committee.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—.(The Earl of Lucan.)


My Lords, before you go into Committee I would like to say one word on this Bill, as it came before me in the Committee on Unopposed Bills. If your Lordships will turn to page 5 of the Bill, which refers to the Church of St. John, Shotley, you will see that the Church was duly consecrated for the performance of divine service on the thirtieth day of August one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven but the church was not licensed for the solemnization of marriages until the eleventh day of November one thousand nine hundred and thirty-six. Therefore, as your Lordships will see, it was unlicensed for very nearly a hundred years.

As the Provisional Order says, divers marriages have nevertheless been solemnised. These were not legal marriages until your Lordships passed this Provisional Order. Naturally, a number of the people who were married during those hundred years are now dead, many of the children, who were not legitimate, are also dead, and possibly there were some people who were divorced but were never married at all and need not have been divorced. I should like to take this opportunity of emphasising—and I have already done so once before in your Lordships' House on a similar Provisional Order Bill—the great necessity for all authorities, ecclesiastical and civil, to see that all churches where marriages are solemnised are really places where such solemnisations are legal. Things of this kind are obviously very inconvenient, and they do happen fairly frequently.

I would also like to add this—it does not refer to the churches mentioned in this Bill because they all are now places where marriages can be solemnised—that I think it ought to be laid down that when a Provisional Order of this kind legalises the solemnisation of marriage in a church, which before was not in order, that church should be made a legal place for the solemnisation of marriages. In a case which happened some time ago—it was in my own County, the County of Surrey—the Provisional Order made the marriage that had taken place correct, but the incumbent, or whoever it was, did not take steps to make the church for the future a legal place where marriages could be solemnised on the ground that it would not be wanted. That is very unfortunate, I think, because people will certainly conclude that a church in which marriages have been solemnised, and in respect of which a Provisional Order has been made, is a place where they can be married. All sorts of complications may arise, and fresh Provisional Orders may have to be made. It is therefore desirable that the position of all churches should be carefully examined where marriages are solemnised and, if anything is wrong, it should be considered so that there should be no need for such Provisional Orders in the future.


May I ask the noble Earl how many illegal marriages have taken place in this church?


I do not know. I did ask the Home Office, but they had not the information. I imagine it is a considerable number.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly: Bill reported without amendment.