Succession to the Crown Bill — Third Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 22nd April 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative 3:30 pm, 22nd April 2013

My Lords, I am grateful to those who have taken part in this brief but, I think, important debate. I listened with particular care to the speech of the right reverend Prelate and, of course, to what my noble and learned friend said. I believe that we have gone some distance in our three debates. We now have certain statements on the record that I believe are helpful to those of us who have concerns but are in no sense anti-Roman Catholic. My noble friend Lord Deben knows that when he left the Anglican Church to become a Roman Catholic, I honoured him for that decision. A similar decision was made by Miss Ann Widdecombe. I myself agonised at that time although in the end, instead of joining the Roman Catholic Church, I found myself elected to the General Synod to take the place that my noble friend had vacated.

I believe very much in the importance of our established church. However I may die, whether as an Anglican or as a Roman Catholic, I hope that the Church of England will continue as the established church of England. It is because of that, and because our constitution, as has often been said, is like a beautifully constructed watch, in that if you take one little piece out the whole thing will fall apart, that I have expressed my concern in three brief debates. The last thing I wish to do is to cause offence to anyone, particularly Roman Catholics, as I hold the Roman Catholic Church in high regard and always have. I very cheerfully pray, as we do frequently in Anglican churches, for the Pope. I would have liked to have seen something in the Bill that made explicit what is implicit, but I understand the points that have been made, particularly by the noble Lords, Lord Janvrin, Lord Fellowes and Lord Luce. Because I think that we have moved some distance, I will spare the House the exercise of going into the Division Lobbies.

On a final note, I hope that something can go into the Library of the House, as requested by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne. When I concluded my speech at the end of Report, I expressed the hope that at a fairly high level there could be an exchange of letters, and I hope that that is still possible.

I thank my noble and learned friend for the concern and sympathy with which he has listened to the arguments advanced. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord James of Blackheath

2: The Schedule, page 3, line 28, at end insert-

"Union with Scotland Act 1706

6 In Article XXV, Section 2 of the Union with Scotland Act 1706, for "preserve the foresaid Settlement of the true Protestant Religion with the Government Worship Discipline right and Privileges of this Church as above established by the Laws of this Kingdom in Prosecution of the Claim of Right" substitute "preserve the declaration, uphold and maintain the rights and subject specified therein".

Accession Declaration Act 1910

7 In the Schedule to the Accession Declaration Act 1910, for "according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne of my Realm, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers according to law" substitute "according to the true intention to the declaration, uphold and maintain the rights and subject specified therein"."