Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Succession to the Crown Bill 2

Updated to add yesterday’s Questions in the House of Commons

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK have published a follow-up article on the Succession to the Crown Bill: La Reine (ou le Prince) le veult?. We covered the earlier article here.

The new article looks at the proposal that an heir to the Crown should be allowed to marry a Roman Catholic, and what the Canons of the Roman Catholic Church have to say about such a mixed marriage. It also includes links to press reports that the Prince of Wales and the Bishop of Leicester (convenor of the Lords Spiritual) have expressed their concerns about the proposal.

However The Telegraph reports that Nick Clegg reassures Prince Charles and Church of England over royal succession. This refers to an answer that the Deputy Prime Minister gave in the House of Commons yesterday. It was one of several Topical Questions (and answers) that can be read in Hansard. I have extracted the ones about the Succession to the Crown Bill below.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing forward legislation on the succession to the Crown. However, does he think that it is necessary to push it through in one day as if it was emergency terrorism legislation, when Parliament has a job to do to ensure that it is correctly drafted and that any concerns or unforeseen difficulties are addressed properly?

The Deputy Prime Minister: Making a small, concise amendment to an Act that has been on the statute book since 1701 is hardly acting hastily.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): 1700.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I am being corrected by the historians on the Opposition Benches. None the less, this is something that has been on the statute book for more than 300 years. Let us remember that this is a very specific act of discrimination against one faith only. The heir to the throne may marry someone of any religion outside the Church of England—Muslim, Hindu and so on—but uniquely not a Catholic under the terms of the Act of 1700 or 1701. This is a precise change and it is being co-ordinated precisely with all the other realms that have to make the identical change in their legislation.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House that the Succession to the Crown Bill will give the public confidence that the relationship between Church and state will be unaltered, even if a future monarch should marry a Roman Catholic and the ensuing child is a Catholic?

The Deputy Prime Minister: I can give the hon. Gentleman complete reassurance that the provisions in the Bill will not in any way alter the status of the established Church in this country and the monarch as head of that Church. We have had monarchs who have married Catholics. I think Queen Anne of Denmark was married to James I of Scotland—I may be corrected by our historian, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), from a sedentary position. There is absolutely nothing in the provisions that will alter the status of the Church in the way feared by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner).

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I wish the Deputy Prime Minister a happy new year. Was one of his new year resolutions to decide that, if he thinks a policy is right, it should be rushed through in a day? Will he answer properly a question he has been asked before? Why will the succession Bill be rushed through in a day under emergency legislation procedures? Those procedures should be used only for emergency legislation, which the succession Bill is not.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I wish the hon. Gentleman a happy new year too—and Mrs Bone. It is important to stress that the Bill is not a capricious legislative initiative on behalf of the Government. It was solemnly agreed at the Commonwealth summit in Perth by all the Commonwealth realms. It has also been subject to extensive discussion between officials in the Cabinet Office and the royal household, and between Governments and officials of this country and of the Commonwealth realms. We have said that we will take the lead in setting out the legislative provisions for the other Commonwealth realms. The legislative change is very precise, which is why we are keen to proceed as quickly as possible.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 11:05am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Should the bill stipulate that any children should be brought up as members of the Church of England? Surely current RC rules require that children of mixed marriages be raised as Roman Catholics.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 12:16pm GMT

Thanks - I've updated our post accordingly.

Posted by: Frank Cranmer on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 12:47pm GMT

The deputy PM appears to have read Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch's "Thunderer " column in yesterday's Times.

Diarmaid concludes his piece like this:
"Surely modern Church leaders in Lambeth Palace and the Vatican are grown up enough to show as much sense as Anne of Denmark and James I? Calm down dear. Why don't we just face the problem when we come to it?"

It would be nice to live in a world where Lambeth Palace and the Vatican are like this.

As I remember there was an horrendous struggle over the raising of Anne's children, she wasn't allowed to see them for years at a time ............

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 1:09pm GMT

** sigh **
Is it going to be the 1500s, forever? With eternal vigilance against -- dare I say it? -- papist perfidy?
How much real power does the Pope have nowadays in England -- or elsewhere? He can't even get his own married flock, never mind other flocks, to not use preventive pills and barrier devices in the bedroom.
Will England really be rocked to its core if a future heir to the throne were to marry, or be married to, a -- run for your lives, the Inquisitors are upon us -- Roman Catholic?
It's ironic. Here we are, in Merry Olde England and in The Colonies across the Pond, debating whether two people of the same sex can marry, and what the implications are, and yet the Head of England, the very symbol of the State, who (mostly symbolically) rules over tens of millions of people at home and abroad (through the Commonwealth) can't marry a person of the OPPOSITE sex that he or she pleases, if that person uses the "wrong" form of the Lord's Prayer.
Wait until the conservatives find out the liberals want to allow a first-born girl to have equal succession rights as first-born boys!
Doom, I tell you, we're all doomed!

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 6:44pm GMT

Why should British law give a fig re RCC "must raise child as an RC" rules? The law should only care to say that the monarch/heir may marry someone who IS Roman Catholic, not who necessarily STAYS Roman Catholic (declining RC demands).

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 9:19pm GMT

You cannot insist that Catholics give up their faith or that they abandon their church's request that any children should be brought up as Catholics. They may do so if they wish, but this is not something you can legislate for.

So while making the law you have to consider the possibility that a Catholic heir will eventually succeed to the throne and become the nominal head of the Church of England.And then you ought to consider the legal and constitutional consequences of that, bearing in mind that the CoE is an established church.

There are a number of possible answers to this but ignoring the potential problem is not one of them. It is right that this question should be considered now.

It's not, a question of what century Britain lives in but a question of what to do with the laws that currently govern the country and how to change them. And to do that, it helps to be fully aware of all possible future consequences and possible pitfalls. If only to find intelligent answers to them.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 8:48am GMT

Anne of Denmark was a secret catholic .. Having married James the first she was put off by the Calvinist Church of Scotkland and joined the Catholic Church.

Other monarchs married to good Catholics ( since the Reformation)

Catherine of Aragon....should be made a Saint and patron of the innocent parties in divorce.

Charles the first married Henrietta Maria, an exemplary Catholic..who prayed for her children and most were converted.

Catherine of exemplary Catholic

Mary of exemplary Catholic.Granted a child after visisting the shrine of St Winifred in North Wales.

Mrs Fitzherbert married the future George the fourth... an exemplary Catholic.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 at 6:33pm GMT
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