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Denman presented a petition from certain inhabitants of Liverpool, praying that the House would take into consideration the mode of selecting Grand Juries, with a view of remedying the evils attached to it. The petitioners complained, amongst other things, that great inconvenience and injustice arose from the circumstance of a particular class of persons only being summoned to serve on grand juries. In consequence of this mode of proceeding, the grand jury of the county of Lancaster had become a sort of standing jury, the same names being continually placed on the panels. The petitioners attributed the failure of justice in the trials of the Manchester Yeomanry mainly to the manner in which the grand jury of Lancashire was nominated. One of the statements of the petitioners was, that the number of persons who had served as grand jurors in Lancashire, during the last 12 years, was only 38, whereas it ought to have been 163.
Mr. B. Wilbraham thought, that the House ought not to interfere with the province of the high sheriff in summoning grand juries.
Lord Stanley observed, that the mode of nominating grand juries in Lancashire was precisely similar to that pursued in every other county.
Mr. G. Philips said, that the subject was one of the greatest importance. He believed that the allegations of the petition were strictly correct, and that the mode of selecting the grand juries of Lancashire partook much of the nature of a monopoly. Under such circumstances, it was not improbable that the political prejudices of the grand jury should interfere with the rights of justice. It certainly had created no little surprise in his mind, that the grand jury had thrown out the bills which were preferred against the Manchester Yeomanry. He was of opinion, that the subject of the nomination of grand juries should undergo a complete investigation.
Ordered to lie on the table.
ROMAN CATHOLIC MARRIAGES.] Dr. Phillimore presented a petition from the rev. Dr. Poynter, praying that the Roman Catholics of England might be placed upon the same footing as those of Ireland, with respect to the performance of the marriage ceremony.
Lord Nugent said, that the case of the English Catholics with respect to the re
strictions on marriages was a hard one, and called for redress.
Mr. Monck approved of the removal of the restrictions on the celebration of lawful marriages by Catholic priests. In some parishes in London there were thousands of Catholics who married according to the rites of their own church, and whose children were consequently in law bastards and burthens to the parishes where they were born, instead of being removable with their parents.
Sir J. Mackintosh said, he had a petition to present from the parish officers of a large and populous district, complaining of the burthen brought upon them, and the injury to the country in general, in consequence of the law making the marriage of Roman Catholics by their own clergy, unlawful. They represented the disregard of solemn vows, the abandonment of offspring, and the profligacy and distress occasioned by this useless and absurd law. The petition was from the churchwardens, overseers, and guardians, of the poor of the parish of St. Luke's; they stated that in their parish, which contained 40,000 people, a large proportion of the population were Catholics, natives of Ireland, who preferred to be married according to the usage of their own religion and country. The children of all such marriages were in law bastards, had no natural guardians, were chargeable to the parish, from which they could not be removed with their parents, were legally orphans from their infancy, and were exposed to the wiles of seduction and to all the guilt and misery conse quent on such a state. The petitioners prayed for the alteration of this law, which alteration would be an extension of toleration, without conferring the slightest degree of political power.
Mr. M. A. Taylor thought, that some legislative measure should be introduced to remedy the evil; but many of the inconveniences complained of might be attributed to the conduct of the Catholic priests themselves; for they must know, that such marriages were null and void, and they ought, therefore, to refuse to perform the ceremony, until the parties had first been married according to the rites of the Church of England. This was done by the Catholic priests in Durham, and if adopted in other places, would obviate many of the evils complained of. At the same time, a legislative remedy ought to be provided.
Dr. Phillimore said, he had framed such a bill some years ago, but on sounding the opinions of certain individuals upon it, he found that it would excite opposition in another place.
Mr. Grey Bennet hoped the learned gentleman would not be deterred from introducing such a measure, by what he knew of the opinions of certain individuals upon the subject. The law as it now stood was a disgrace to the country. He trusted the learned gentleman would not delay the introduction of his measure.
Mr. T. Ellis expressed a hope that his learned friend would not be deterred from introducing the bill. Though not favourable to granting to the Catholics any accession of political power, he would go as far as any member to remove all their disabilities, short of the granting of such power.
be found to rescue them from the necessity of violating their own religious feelings, or of abstaining from contracting a tie important to their own happiness as well as to the welfare of society. The petitions which had been laid before their lordships, and the communications that had been made by bodies of Dissenters to the noble earl opposite, were alone sufficient to establish their case. To some of them, the higher and more enlightened Roman Catholics, the present state of the law was not particularly objectionable; but with the lower classes of Catholics the objection was insurmountable. The result was, that rather than perform such an act of conformity, they preferred contracting marriages legally invalid. Hence arose the petition of the churchwardens and overseers of one of the most populous parishes in the metropolis, who prayed that Roman Catholics might be allowed to solemnize marriages in their own churches, and according to their own rites; as, in consequence of the present practice, their parish was crowded with illegitimate children. The bill now before the House would extend to Catholics and Dissenters the facilities granted to Jews and Quakers by lord Hardwicke's Act; but with such regulations as were necessary to give security to property and to all the relations which marriage created. The religious ceremony would be left to be regulated by themselves according to their particular tenets. All that was asked was, that after having gone through the forms required by law, and having
Mr. J. P. Grant also hoped, that his learned friend would not delay the introduction of the bill. It had been stated, that the marriage of Catholics by a Catholic priest in Scotland was valid. True, it was so, because marriage, by the law of the country, was looked upon as a civil contract; but, by an act of the Scotch parliament, still in force, a Catholic priest was subjected to heavy penalties for performing the marriage ceremony between two Catholics, though the marriage would still be valid. It had happened to him to have to defend a Catholic priest, in a prosecution instituted against him, for an infraction of this law. His client was fortunately acquitted, and he believed that since then further prose-paid the fees due to the established cutions under that statute were aban doned.
Ordered to lie on the table.
HOUSE OF LORDS,
Thursday, June 12. DISSENTERS MARRIAGES BILL.] On the order of the day, for the second reading of this bill,
The Marquis of Lansdown stated, that the purport of the bill was, to relieve Protestant Dissenters and Catholics from the situation in which they were placed by the former marriage act, which compelled them, in opposition to the scruples of their conscience, to one act of conformity with the doctrines of the established church. It had been admitted by men of all parties, that they were entitled to some relief, and that some means should
church, Dissenters should be allowed to marry in their own churches, and that their marriages should be regularly registered, under the inspection of the clergymen of the parish in which they resided. He was far from thinking the bill perfect, and objected in particular to the clause which provided that marriages might be solemnized in any licenced place. He thought that marriage should only be celebrated in chapels consecrated to divine service. All the objectionable provisions, however, might be removed in the committee.
The Lord Chancellor regretted that he was obliged to oppose the motion of the noble lord. But, the very view which the noble lord himself took of it, justified him in calling on their lordships not to make so great an alteration as the bill contemplated, at so late a period of the
There were parts of the marriage-ceremony which certain sects could not conscientiously agree to; and to say to those persons, "We will either force you to go through that ceremony, or we will prevent you from entering into that state of life which is necessary for your happiness, and for the preservation of your virtue," could not be maintained to be a just doctrine. He would not, however, grant relief by a measure which, like the present, was accompanied by all the inconveniences described by his learned friend, as well as by many others which he had not pointed out. He thought no difficulty could arise with respect to Roman Catholics, who might be put on the same footing as the Quakers, and Jews; but as to Dissenters, a certain portion of the service might be omitted, if the church did not object to it. There was one provision of the bill which compelled the parties, not only where both were dissenters, but where either was a Dissenter, to be united according to the dissenting forms. Here was A, a member of the Church of England, and B, a dissenter, about to be united. Now, was it unreasonable that the conscience of each should
session. The bill was marked by a generality of provisions, which showed the impossibility of carrying it into effect. Although a firm friend to the Church of England, he thought he might say, that he took as just a view of toleration as any noble lord in that House could do: but he could not go the length to which this bill pointed. For by it, where a marriage took place between a Catholic and a Protestant, the Protestant was left entirely out of the question. The marriage must be by the Roman Catholic form, and no provision was made for satisfying the scruples of the Protestant. The bill was founded, it was said, on a tenderness for the religious principles of particular sects: but, if those principles led men to deny Christianity, were they to lend themselves to an extended toleration of that sort? To what would this bill go? It would enable persons to open a place for the celebration of marriage in every town and village throughout England; and that, not for individuals whose religious tenets were known; but it would introduce the followers of Joanna Southcot, together with ranters, jumpers, and various other sects, of whose principles they knew nothing. It went even further; for it gave protec-be satisfied, by having the ceremony pertion to all those religious opinions which might hereafter be promulgated. The bill, it might be said, could be amended: but he pressed on their lordships to consider, whether they could, with propriety, at that period of the session, set about amending a bill, having for its object such mighty changes in the law of marriage. It would be much wiser to give this bill up, and to have another measure duced early in the next session.
formed according to the rites of the two churches? But, if the bill were passed as it stood at present, they might be married in any church, as dissenters, but A. could not have the rites of her own church. This was a principle so objectionable, that it could not stand. would be a legislation against the church establishment. Another point of great intro-importance was, that the parties should be bona fide, and not nominal, Dissenters. Again, the provision, with respect to the chapel or place where marriages might be solemnized, called for revision. Under the present bill, marriages might be contracted in every ale-house. He would not, however, oppose the second reading.
The Earl of Liverpool said, he must give the bill, as it now stood, his decided negative; because it contained provisions to which he never could accede. The object of the bill he, however, admitted to be necessary and expedient, to a certain extent. He, therefore, differed from his learned friend, who wished the measure to be withdrawn altogether. Even at that late period of the session, it might be sent to a committee, to inquire whether a part of it might not be retained, if the object could not be effected by some other mode; and certainly the present measure did not appear to him to be the most advisable mode. The argument for the principle of the bill was unanswerable, after we had recognized that principle in the case of the Jews and Quakers.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said, he had heard with considerable alarm the suggestion of the noble earl, with respect to the marriage-service. It was, he believed, the first proposition ever made in that House, to alter the liturgy of the established church. And for what purpose? For the purpose of accommodating those who were not of the Church of England-to accommodate sects who founded their faith and religious belief on private and unlearned interpretations of the Scriptures. No man had a greater
respect for toleration than he had. But the extent to which it should be allowed, was the business of the legislature, and not of the church. He knew of no other just limitation to toleration than that which was laid down by the legislature. The present bill went beyond the point to which it should go; namely, that of giving relief to scruples of conscience. Under proper regulations, such relief might be given; but the present bill went further, and interfered with matters of discipline.
The Bishop of Worcester admitted that the bill was imperfect; but, with all its imperfections it might be sent to a committee, if it were only to show that the subject was deemed worthy of serious consideration. He conceived that some relief might be given; but what, he would not take upon himself to say. With respect to what had fallen from the noble earl, he had only thrown out a suggestion as to the marriage service; observing at the time, that it could not be carried into effect without the concurrence of the church, and even then he had only spoken of omitting certain parts of the service in solemnizing the marriage of Dissenters.
Lord Redesdale opposed the bill, both in principle and in detail. It would have the effect of converting the licenced meeting-houses of Dissenters into so many Gretna-greens. As the bill now stood, two individuals, not Dissenters, but members of the the Church of England, might get married under its provisions.
The Earl of Harrowby said, that, much as he desired to give relief to the Dissenters, he could not consent to give it to the extent proposed by the bill. He thought that by going into the committee a more unexceptionable bill might be produced next session.
The Bishop of Chester objected to the bill, because it affected the discipline of the church and the interests of the clergy. He thought that time ought to be given to the clergy to present petitions to the House, if they should think it necessary to do so.
Lord Calthorpe thought, that sufficient had been stated to induce their lordships to go into a committee on the bill. He looked to the agitation of the subject without the smallest apprehension; because, the more the just rights and privileges of the Church of England became the subject of consideration in Parliament, the more would that church recommend
itself to the respect and affection of the country at large. Neither the interests of religion, nor of the church, called on them to force individuals to an apparent acquiescence in opinions which, in their view, were repugnant to reason, and unauthorized by Scripture. For this reason, he wished the bill to be sent to a committee. He by no means pledged himself to support all its provisions; but it met with his qualified approbation.
The Bishop of Landaff thought, that, before the legislature consented to such a bill as this, they ought to be satisfied who were the persons by whom, and under what forms, the marriages were to be solemnized. Excepting the Jews, the Catholics, and the Quakers, no Dissenters had any peculiar marriage service of their own. Was it not doubtful whether they would admit the service which the legislature might impose on them? The moral and religious interests of the community would not be safe, if such a latitude were permitted as this bill tended to allow. He admitted that it was a question well deserving consideration: but it was one which could not be decided off-hand. He wished it to be withdrawn for the present.
Lord Ellenborough said, that the real object of the bill was, to relieve religious scruples, and nothing else. The right rev. prelate had asserted, that the moral and religious interests of the community would not be safe under the provisions of this bill. Now, he thought those interests were not much advanced by forcing persons, in despite of their religious scruples, to an occasional conformity. The right rev. prelate admitted that the subject demanded consideration. Why, then, not go into a committee, and see whether the bill could not be rendered satisfactory? With respect to the alteration of the liturgy, he doubted whether it could be effected, so as to include all Dissenters, without doing that to which he had a most serious objection; namely, converting marriage into a mere civil ceremony. There were few things which gave him more pain than to see the right rev. bench always indisposed to give relief to tender consciences. What was required of the legislature by this bill was but little; what the legislature at present required of the Dissenters was a very grievous obligation.
The Earl of Carnarvon was anxious that the bill should go to a committee.
It might there appear advisable to postpone the decision on the measure. By adopting the course recommended, their lordships would next session be better prepared to go into the discussion of this important question.
The Marquis of Lansdown said, that had it not been from the apprehension that an insurmountable objection would be found to exist to such a proposition, it would have been proposed to substitute another form of marriage in the liturgy. He had introduced the measure, although late in the session, that it might receive as much consideration as possible, with no wish, however, to press it to a complete adoption. On the contrary, it was desirable that the recess should be allowed for the purpose of further digesting the bill. At the same time, however, he could not conceal the disappointment which he felt at the objections which had been made even to going into a committee on the bill, in order to see if the existing evil might not be remedied.
Their lordships divided: For the second reading, Contents 15; Proxies 6-21 Not contents 15; Proxies 12-27. Majority against the second reading, 6.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
BARILLA DUTIES BILL.] The House having resolved itself into a committee on the Barilla Duties acts,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, it was not his intention to establish a permanent law imposing a high duty upon barilla for the purpose of encouraging the manufacture of kelp. His measure was merely temporary. There were peculiar considerations belonging to this case which induced him to extend to the kelp-makers such relief and protection as was practicable. He owned that the distress among them was extremely great: not less than from 80,000 to 100,000 persons were, in some way or other, employed in this branch of trade; and, from motives of humanity, it was necessary to do something for them. He therefore proposed a resolution for raising the existing duty on barilla from five to eight guineas; the new duty to begin on the 5th of January 1824, and to continue for five years.
Mr. Denison wished that sufficient time should be allowed to the soap-makers, to receive consignments of barilla contracted for under the duty of five guineas.
Mr. Campbell strongly supported the resolution, observing that if it were not carried, 2,000 persons on his own estate only would be thrown out of employ.
Mr. Calcraft felt himself called upon to support the resolution. Want and misery would be entailed upon the kelp-makers if it were not carried. He objected to high duties in general, but thought that in this case the injury to the merchants, &c. would be less than to a large population on the west coast of Scotland.
Mr. K. Douglas thought it would be better to defer the measure till the next session, and that the kelp manufacturers would not suffer any material injury in the mean time.
Lord A. Hamilton said, that much injury had been occasioned by the vacillating policy which had been pursued with respect to these duties. He thought that the measure could not be pressed too rapidly.
Mr. Ricardo contended, that the only ground on which the resolution could be supported was that of humanity. The same reasons that now induced this augmentation, would exist at the end of five years to warrant its continuance. He objected to temporary expedients of this kind, and to the principle on which they were established.
Mr. T. Wilson opposed the increase of the duty.
Mr. J. P. Grant supported the proposition.
Mr. Hudson Gurney said, that every statement he had heard confirmed him in the opinion, that the re-imposition of the duty on barilla would be of little or no benefit to the kelp-growers, and would, as necessarily increasing the price of soapone of the most material articles of common life-be one of the most shameful measures that could have been devised. He held in his hand a paper which had been directed to be delivered to Scotch and Irish members only; but he trusted the English members would do their duty to their constituents and not allow this bill to pass.
Lord Binning denied that the benefit was imaginary. On the ground of humanity he claimed this increase of duty, though it might be in opposition to the not care one straw for political economy cold rules of political economy. He did in a case of this kind.
Mr. Marryat condemned the variable policy out of which this proposition