Charitable Registration — [Jim Dobbin in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 13th November 2012.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 2:30 pm, 13th November 2012

I agree.

With reference to openness, the Plymouth Brethren are sometimes subject to caricature, partly because often we do not know them personally, but they are far more open than people might realise. For example, they have a modern website— —which has a “Contact us” page, enabling any member of the public to find their nearest local Plymouth Brethren church and service times. Hon. Members may be interested to know that I recently attended one of their services in Liverpool and I found nothing out of the ordinary in their Christian teaching at that service.

Some of the Brethren’s practices and the way in which they seek to live out their Christian lives are not necessarily what we would want to adhere to—I would not—but all denominations have their differences. The Brethren’s women wear headscarves in services, but so do women in other Christian denominations, such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and men in other religions, such as Sikhism. They do not vote. I do not agree with them on that and we have discussed it. I can certainly say that not one hon. Member here has a vested interest in standing up for them today. They say that scripture says that God sets up and deposes authorities, and that is their principle for not voting. At least they do not vote on principle, rather than because of laziness, but they do engage with and respect the democratic process in many other ways.