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My noble friend Lord Whitty and the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, both spoke about microgeneration.
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The noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, asked whether the Government have been approached by companies to demonstrate pre-combustion technologies for CCS, as opposed to post-combustion. There has been huge interest from companies for all sorts of CCS technologies. I have been particularly pleased in my job at UKTI to see so many companies from other countries wanting to come here, invest their money and bring their technology so that we can see both pre and post-combustion technology for CCS proceed. It has been pleasing to see what interest there is. While the Government are showing global leadership in supporting the demonstration of post-combustion on CCS technology, we hope that we can encourage more countries and companies to move on with pre-combustion as well. The noble Duke specifically asked whether the legislative consent Motion has been passed. The answer is no, but it is being considered later this month.
In the interests of ensuring that noble Lords can at least catch the second half, I will undertake personally to get back to all other noble Lords who raised points. I will either have meetings with each of the interested parties or get my officials to come and meet people. This is an incredibly important issue. I have been going on about it for years. The business community has wanted leadership from politicians of all parties on this for a long time.
The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, ended her remarks at the start of the debate by saying that the lights are going out all over Britain. I assure her that they are not going out all over Britain. But they will go out if the politicians of all parties of this nationand I include members of the Scottish National Party; the people of Scotland deserve better leadership than they are gettingdo not pull together as one country. Our grandchildren would rue the day that we wasted the opportunity. I look forward to further detailed debate in Committee, and ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Grand Committee.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester rose to move, That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church of England Marriage Measure be presented to Her Majesty for Royal Assent.
The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I am very glad to be able to bring this short measure to your Lordships today. It will help the Church in its work of supporting and encouraging marriage; it will help the clergy to welcome couples who come to them to be married in the Church of England; and it will also help a good many couples by making it easer for them to marry in a parish with which at least one of them has a special connection.
I am also pleased to be able to assure your Lordships that the measure is essentially a simple and straightforward one even though, inevitably, there are some technical details. It applies only to marriages in the Church of England, and they, like all marriages in England, are of course governed by an Act of Parliament, the Marriage Act 1949. Under that Act, it is normally possible for a couple to marry in the Church of England in the parish church of a parish where at least one of them is living, or is a regular worshipper and has his or her name on the church electoral roll. Indeed, such a person has, in almost all circumstances, a right to marry there. However, in today's increasingly mobile society, there are significant numbers of couples who wish to be married in some other parish than that in which one or other of them resides; for example, the parish where one of them grew up and where her or his parents are still living. When they come to the parish priest and ask to be married there, the parish priest currently has to tell them that this is simply not possible under the 1949 Act for couples who live outside the parish unless at least one of them worships there regularly for six months and then has his or her name put on the church electoral roll, or unless they obtain an Archbishop of Canterburys special marriage licence.
The General Synod is very clear that it wants a parish priest to be able to welcome couples who come to the Church to be married. It certainly does not want the Church even to give the impression of putting a couple who have a clear connection with the parish through a legal obstacle course before they can be married there. The Synod gave careful thought over a number of years to the best ways of addressing this situation, and the result is set out in the measure before your Lordships tonight. It lists seven short and simple criteriawhat the measure terms the qualifying connectionsand provides that if one of the couple can show that he or she satisfies any one of those criteria, he or she will have the same right be married in the parish church, using a Church of England marriage service, as someone who lives in the parish.
I will run through these seven criteria briskly. They cover cases where the person concerned was baptised in the parish or was prepared for confirmation there; where this person has had her his or usual place of residence in the parish for at least six months, or has regularly attended public worship there for at least six months at any time in the past; where that persons parent has had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least six months, or has regularly attended public worship there for at least six months now or at any time in the past, provided it is during the lifetime of the person who now wishes to marry in
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The reason why the Synod chose those seven criteria was, first, that they cover the most typical cases where the problem to which the measure is directed arises in practice and, secondly, because these seven are clear and straightforward, so that it will not normally be difficult for a person who falls within one of the criteria to show that to the parish priests satisfaction. The House of Bishops will be issuing guidance to the clergy on how to respond to approaches under the measure. That guidance will be made public. Arrangements are already being made to ensure that, when issued, it will be on the Church of England website. The House of Bishops hopes that it will also help couples by letting them know in advance how and to whom to submit their request to make use of the measure and what kind of information they will need to provide.
Of course, the General Synod recognises that there will always be some cases which fall outside those standard categories, but where one or both of the couple nevertheless have a genuine connection with the parish. However, the measure does not affect the special licence procedure, and it does not take that possibility away from anyone who could use it at present. It does not deprive anyone of any existing rights; it simply extends those rights to some additional categories of people, without amending the terms of the 1949 Act. The measure was finally approved by the Synod with only six voting against in a total vote of 258.
The Church of England sees it as not only a duty but a privilege to marry couples and to give them the preparation which will help them to make the best possible start to their married life together. This is a part of the church's ministry to the nation, to which it attaches great importance. In the House of Bishops document, Marriage, in 1999, among much else, we saw lifelong marriage as the bedrock of a rapidly changing society. By making a limited change in the law, the measure will help the church in carrying out that ministry. At the same time, it will be a practical help to a significant number of couples who want to commit to each other, in marriage, in a church with which they have a special connection. The measure was deemed expedient by the Ecclesiastical Committee. I therefore recommend it to your Lordships and ask the House to support the Motion that it should receive the Royal Assent. I beg to move.
Moved, That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church of England Marriage Measure be presented to Her Majesty for Royal Assent.(The Lord Bishop of Winchester.)
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, the purpose of this short measure has been well explained by the right reverend Prelate and I do not wish to add to anything that he said. He was not able to be present himself at the Ecclesiastical Committee meeting when we considered the measure, but we had a full discussion there and many questions were asked. It
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I would add only that I am always impressedI think I speak for all members of the Ecclesiastical Committee hereby the time spent and care taken by the legislative committee and the Synod, generally and in its various committees, in preparing measures for our consideration. I sometimes wish that Parliament was able to consider legislation with the same timescale and degree of care as they do. This short measure was a good example of that; it had only three substantive clauses, yet the comments and explanations extend to some 38 pages of type. We are grateful to the legislative committee for what it does. Meanwhile, I beg to support the Motion.
Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, this is indeed a good measure. As we have already heard, we were happy to support it under the superb leadership of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. I am happy to serve on that committee. We found it expedient, and used that word, as the loosening up of those strict parochial boundaries of another time is to be welcomed for our increasingly mobile society. The consequent loss of community that that freedom brings often leads also to drift. It will be wonderful if families can gather somewhere other than in a hotel: somewhere where they can retain their roots, in a place that they can return to in good times and badone for the heart and memory to return to, with the possible comfort of a priest to confide in.
I thank the right reverend Nigel Stock, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, for his patience with us and the Dean of the Arches, Dr Sheila Cameron, who was always so magnificent. We should like to add our best wishes to Miss Ingrid Slaughter, who is retiring, for an active retirement. She guided me with great wisdom and humour through my years as chairman of the redundant church uses committee and, subsequently, the London diocesan advisory committee. We wish this measure well.
Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, I merely say: where angels fear to tread, so coming in as a Methodistand a Welsh Methodist of a disestablished church at thatwhat can we do but welcome the measure from these Benches? However, it is largely a temporary measure, because we are living in an age of such rapid change. We all have to look at the ecumenical scene of joint ministries and buildings being used by more than one denomination. In keeping an eye on that changing scene, is this measure really flexible enough to meet the change of the present time and the years to come? I am sure that one of our great problems is how to have an attractive Christian marriage and not trivialise it. You can marry on a beach in Cyprus, or in a hotel, whereverin Antarctica, perhaps. There
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Here, we see that people of faith will be able to marry in a wider area than they have in the past. I should like to see people of Christian faith being able to marry in any place of worship, but that is, perhaps, the next measure. If we have restrictions, then I know, in my own circumstances, of somebody wanting to marry in a certain church and area where the registrar would ask, Sorry, do you live in that area?, so they left a suitcase of clothes in their parents house to claim that they resided there when that, in truth, was not so. We should somehow have measures that encourage substantial marriage, of courseand encourage people to be totally clear about the situation they are in and where they live at that time.
On this measure, I do not intend to be pretentioushow dare I seem so?in saying that it goes in the right direction, but that we are aware of a changing scene and of the measures that will, one day and perhaps quite soon, have to follow this.
Lord Slynn of Hadley: My Lords, I support this Motion, as I share very much the views that the noble Lord has just expressed, although I am not a Welsh Methodist. This may be as far as it is right to go now, and perhaps the church may keep this question very much under review, without necessarily being involved in the same amount of detail and hard work that has taken place. Perhaps, one day, there will be an opportunity to go a little further, for the important thing is that people should be able to be married in a church of their own faith. If further difficulties arise, other than those covered by the seven criteria, I hope very much that the church will keep that under review. Subject to looking to the future I, too, support this measure.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords for their remarks. We are consistently grateful, as the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, said, to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. He has now had to go to a dinner engagement, for which he kindly made himself late so that he could fulfil his role at this moment. The committee does its business with great expedition and, generally, with considerable friendliness as well as a proper sharpness. It was, in that instance, sharp, friendly and expeditious and we are grateful for that.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness both for her general comments and her public appreciation of Miss Ingrid Slaughter, who is present this evening and who has indeed been, and in all kinds of ways continues to be, a remarkable servant of the Church of England. In an earlier incarnation, she was also of relevance to the power industry, given our previous debate. I was then interested in the comments of the final two speakers, the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, who speaks so eloquently for the Welsh Methodist position and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Slynn. I am grateful to them and respond in two ways. First, on the Ecclesiastical Committee, those who represented
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Flexibility is extremely important, as is proper preparation. The really significant elementbecause this is the only one the Church of England can manageis marriage by a rite of the Church of England. Of course, if that were in the context of a local ecumenical partnership, where a Church of England service was taking place in Methodist premises in a parish, it would be entered in the register books of the parish concerned and that would be relevant to the measure, as it would had the parents marriage been so solemnized, as it might have been. I appreciate the noble Lords point about suitcases. Among the main drivers for this measure is the desire to try to avoid clergy kindly agreeing to break the law, and couples pressing clergy to break the law, or breaking the lawtechnically speaking, the Marriage Act 1949by being reduced to leaving suitcases and saying that that constitutes residence. It is precisely to make it easier for people with real qualifying connections to marry according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England that this measure has been brought forward. I am grateful for those two pointsencouraging us to look at it carefully as time goes on and keep it under review, and to look for any further elements of flexibility that are within our power to adopt.
That concludes my response. It now falls to me to ask the House to approve the Motion.
On Question, Motion agreed to.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majestys Government whether they will introduce legislation to ensure that the same burden of proof applies to cases alleging discrimination on the ground of colour as to cases alleging discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnicity.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have been asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey, to express her regret that she cannot be here and her support for what I am about to say.
The Race Relations Act 1976, of which I was an architect, forbids discrimination on racial grounds which include not only race, ethnic or national origins and nationality, but colour. That definition came
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Because the race directive does not specifically mention colour, but only discrimination based on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, the Government decided that it deliberately excluded colour. I believe that interpretation was contrary to European Union law and that the Court of Justice in a proper case would so decide. Among other things, Article 8 of the race directive eases the burden of proof in race discrimination cases, but because of the way in which the Government have translated it into our statute law, someone complaining of racial discrimination on grounds of colour has a heavier burden of proof than on other racial grounds. That absurd anomalous result was confirmed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Okonu v G4S Security Services (UK) Ltd last year. The anomaly was described as going even wider by Mr Justice Birtles, who said that this means that,
When the regulations were debated here on 11 June 2003, I criticised them for disfiguring the existing anti-discrimination legislation and as being contrary to the need for,
I seek an assurance in this brief debate that the anomaly I have just described will be removed soon in the much promised and greatly delayed new equality Bill.
I should like to say a few words about that Bill but before I do so I should like to say something about the role of this House in the reform process. I am very glad indeed that the noble Baronesses, Lady Prashar, of Runnymede, and Lady Howells of St Davids, are both taking part in this debate. I am sure they will remember the previous work done by this House in seeking to secure coherent legislationfor example, in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence barbarity, where we managed to persuade the Government to strengthen that Act during its passage. I refer also to my own Bill of 2003, which was passed by this House, and which drew upon the authoritative Hepple report, which won very widespread support. This House contains exceptional expertise and I am sure that noble Lords
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I look forward very much to hearing the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, explain the position of the Official Opposition on this matter. In the 1970s, a generation ago, I well remember that his party was not conspicuous in supporting effective equality legislation, although it is true that in 1989 in Northern Ireland the Administration of the right honourable Margaret Thatchernow the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcherstrengthened the law there as a result of pressure from investors in the United States.
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