Moved by Lord Trefgarne
At end insert “but that this House regrets that the Measure does not address the issue of marriages no longer being able to be registered at the church where the marriage takes place.”
My Lords, I am most grateful for what the right reverend Prelate has been able to say. It has been very helpful. I accept that the Measure before us does not directly relate to this matter and therefore we can only talk usefully rather than make effective changes. In that circumstance, it would be better if I did not say anything more and I will withdraw my amendment at the end of this debate.
My Lords, I agree entirely with what the right reverend Prelate has said. The Measure came before the Ecclesiastical Committee, of which I am the chairman, and I am happy to inform the House that the committee deemed it expedient—that has been the word we have used since 1912—that this Measure should come before Parliament. Consequently, I am happy to report that to the House.
The matter raised by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, is an important issue that will need to be resolved at some stage. I agree entirely with what the right reverend Prelate has said about it. I hope that the Government will listen and that there will be some flexibility. I share her view that, when you are married, you look forward to all the good things and do not want to have to carry a piece of paper to the register office to get your marriage certificate. This is something that needs to be looked at, but in fact it has nothing whatever to do with the Measure currently before the House. I very much support the right reverend Prelate and hope that the Measure will be accepted.
My Lords, I am totally unsure about procedures at this point, but I hope that I am in order to address a word to this amendment. I approve of, entirely agree with, and understand perfectly—which is even more important—the explanation given by the right reverend Prelate. I also understand the concern that has been raised in the tabling of this amendment. Having heard both statements, I feel—a Methodist always likes to pontificate about Church of England affairs—that we on these Benches can take note of the fact that this has been raised as a genuine concern and look forward to those measures that will be taken subsequently to address it in a more appropriate context.
My Lords, I will say a few words on this. The right reverend Prelate brought forward a series of orders and so on that I feel would be difficult to disagree with; they seem perfectly sensible.
However, the main meat of this discussion is on something else. I commend the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, on his ingenuity, perhaps, in trying to move this forward. The Measure starts with “Members of religious communities” and then we have talked about marriage; it is a lovely juxtaposition. In some of the better weddings I have been to, the last thing anybody involved in those receptions wanted was to have a very important piece of paper on them at the time. A system has been devised which, whatever else its faults, is very low on red tape. Making sure that that principle is preserved is something that we might embrace. I look forward to hearing how the Government propose to deal with this. It should not be beyond the wit of man to make sure that we do not end up with something less convenient than what we have now, even knowing that one or two changes will need to be made.
On the substantive matters before us, I have no objection.