Succession to the Crown Bill — Third Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 22nd April 2013.

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Photo of Lord Deben Lord Deben Conservative 3:15 pm, 22nd April 2013

My Lords, I hope that my noble friend Lord Cormack will think again about this amendment. It is a very difficult situation-we are where we are-but if you read the Act of Succession, you see words which none of us in this House would like to see applied today to Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, all of whom pray for Her Majesty every Sunday and every Mass. It is very difficult for us to take what is a piece of rampant discrimination. Frankly, for many of us, particularly the ex-Anglicans, the whole concept of a secular monarch being Supreme Governor of the Church of England is very odd, but we are where we are.

I merely ask my noble friend not to rub this in by adding yet more to it. Let us accept that both sides have come to what is an uneasy compromise in a world which thinks utterly differently. If you read the Act of Settlement, you have to wonder what the rest of the world must think about us tinkering with something that frankly ought not to be part of the constitution of the United Kingdom because it does not have anything to do with our view about equality and difference in a society such as ours. It is because of our history and we understand that and do not want to raise that, but please let us accept where the Government are.

I urge my noble friend not to press this. It is bad enough anyway. This merely makes it worse, and it would be helpful for my noble friend to recognise the degree of reticence on the Roman Catholic side on this issue, for many years and again now. Following the great wisdom that we have heard from the right reverend Prelate, this seems to be the moment to let it lie and to withdraw this amendment.