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 Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 3:15 pm, 22nd April 2013

My Lords, like several noble Lords who have just spoken, I take the view that this would insert into the Bill an unnecessary recital with no legal force. It would have the complication, as has been mentioned, of making it more complex and difficult to obtain agreement among all the 16 realms that need to agree to the proposals.

The intention of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, is to seek further reassurance that despite the removal of the ban on Catholic marriages, no Catholic could ever succeed to the throne. He and others have made this point with some force throughout our debates. However, I wonder, as the noble Lord, Lord Deben, said, whether we are not pushing too hard on this point. Obviously the case has been made in an attempt to ensure that the Anglican supremacy is preserved. However, all that it serves to do is push our attention further toward the fact that the removal of the ban on Catholic marriages-obviously a welcome measure in itself-exposes the religious discriminations that remain. That is, no one who is a Catholic or who is not in communion with the Church of England can succeed to the throne.

It has been said that we are where we are, and I have some sympathy with that. However, we as a Parliament will need to return to some of these points in the not too distant future.