HL Deb 31 July 1941 vol 119 cc1007-8

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee on re-commitment of the Bill read.

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


My Lords, with your permission I should like to say one word on this matter. These cases come before your Lordships' House fairly frequently, and generally, I think I am right in saying, they are due to carelessness on the part of those who arc responsible for the solemnization of the marriages. In order to make them legal they have to be put right by an Act of Parliament, which is, of course, both expensive and troublesome. I mentioned the matter before some years ago, and I feel inclined to mention it again, because this Bill came before me yesterday in Committee, and it was explained by the authorities at the Home Office. One of the wrongs it seeks to put right was caused by the fact that the gentleman who performed the marriage ceremonies had no right whatever to solemnize marriages at all. He solemnized several; but as they were not valid marriages, they have to be put right.

With another case perhaps I have more sympathy. The fact is that there were two united parishes and the incumbent—I suppose it was a new incumbent—did not know that one of the churches was not a place authorized for the solemnization of marriages. That kind of thing has happened before. In fact it often happens, and perhaps it might be suggested to right reverend Prelates that a circular should be issued to parishes which have been united calling attention to the difficulty which may arise if one of the churches is not a proper place to be married in. The incumbents should be informed of the fact. In the last case which arose, the people lived in the parish; they had been there all their lives, and wanted to be married in the old church to which they were accustomed. That was a church from which a licence to solemnize marriages had been withdrawn. That sort of thing may happen, but I think the people who are responsible should be careful to make themselves aware: of these difficulties and see that these mistakes do not take place, because they involve a certain amount of difficulty and trouble. I remember one such case which went back for two generations. We had to pass an Act to legalise a marriage which took place in 1840. So your Lordships will see that a good deal of inconvenience may be occasioned. I hope the fact that attention has been called to the matter may be of some use.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly: Bill reported without amendment.