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Hansard 1859 - featuring some unlikely claims about divorce and far fetched parallels involving the working day

The Divorce Court Bill:

"THE ATTORNEY GENERAL said that this measure, as originally brought in by the Government, was intended simply to improve the procedure and facilitate the transaction of business in the Divorce Court. The Act of Parliament provided that the power of dissolving marriages should not be exercised except by a full Court, composed of the Judge Ordinary and two of the Common Law Judges, taken from the Chief Justices and Chief Baron, or the three senior puisne Judges...the Bill therefore provided that all the Judges in Westminster Hall should be competent to preside as members of the full Court"

Which would not lend itself to either speed or economy.

However, John Hennessey (Con - the first Irish Catholic Tory MP, apparently)was not keen: "but believing also that the Act thus to be rendered more powerful is the worst Act of Parliament which Her Majesty has ever sanctioned—believing it to be an Act which, on political, social, moral, and religious grounds, should never have been passed, I cannot hesitate about moving that this supplementary Bill be read this day three months.... [Clause VII] is is an indirect and covert way of getting Ireland under the action of the Bill. I hope the Government will not venture to support this clause. Not a single petition was ever presented from Ireland praying for divorce. Not a single Irishman ever expressed any desire to have this Court exercise any jurisdiction at the other side of the Channel.

Other less than happy MPs:

MR. M'EVOY hoped that the Motion for the rejection of the Bill would be pressed, feeling, as he did, the strongest objection to a measure which he believed would be detrimental to the interests of morality.

MR. MALINS said, that he had anticipated that great public evils would arise from passing the Act constituting the Court, and experience justified his anticipations. When they saw, day after day, that marriages were dissolved quicker than they were solemnized, they might well look with alarm at the institution of the Court.

Further thoughts on combinations, strikes and reduced working hours:

THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH (Con) said, that as he understood it, the persons engaged in the strike wanted to have nine hours' work instead of ten, at the same wages as they received for the ten. He should not enter into the question what the effect of that would be on capital, and in diminishing the profit on capital; but what he would say was, that the effect of the movement, if it succeeded, would be to, at one blow, strike away one-tenth of the manufacturing power of the country. It would be just as reasonable to diminish that power by decreasing the population of the country to the amount of 2,800,000 persons.

Ellenborough, incidentally, divorced in 1830, and presided over one of our previous engagements in Afghanistan while Governor General of India.



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