MP Jacob Rees-Mogg can't stop succession law shake-up
West Country MP Jacob Rees-Mogg launched a scathing attack yesterday on new laws to modernise the rules of succession.
The North East Somerset Tory told the House of Commons that major constitutional changes were being rushed through the House with just two days for debate.
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the current rules, which discriminate against women and ban royal heirs from marrying Roman Catholics, were from a “bygone age” and sent out the wrong message about modern Britain. And MPs backed the proposals, which will mean the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child, expected in July, can become monarch even if it is a girl who later has younger brothers.
The legislation, which is going through the Commons with just two days of consideration by MPs, was given an unopposed second reading. But a number of MPs raised concerns about the way the Bill was being pushed through the House and there were also questions about whether children of a royal who married a Roman Catholic would be brought up in the church, therefore losing their place in the line of succession, as Catholics remain barred from the throne.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Mr Rees-Mogg said the Bill was being “treated as if it was terrorism legislation” and it was an “insult to the nation and to our sovereign and indeed to Parliament”. He said: “We need time to consider constitutional issues properly because they have complex knock-on effects and their phraseology is crucial to how the Crown might pass in future, and if mistakes are made now we could discover that we end up with consequences that we do not want. What is being proposed is that a Catholic may marry an heir to the throne, but may not then maintain the succession by bringing up a child of that marriage as a Catholic. Now the reason I object to this is that it is an attack on the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
The Prince of Wales has reportedly expressed concerns about the Bill and his friend, Tory MP Nicholas Soames, warned of the “unwanted, unintended consequences that often flow from tinkering with legislation of this type and could damage the crucial relationship between Church and State, as well as peerage law and quite possibly interfere with accepted conventions and laws reaching back down the times”.
Mr Soames said the Government was acting “out of consideration... of political correctness on one hand and the European Convention on Human Rights on the other.”
He dismissed the Bill as coming from the “good wheeze school of Government, a doctrine much in fashion which does not receive nearly rigorous or formidable enough scrutiny”.
Setting out the case for change, Mr Clegg told MPs: “The current rules of succession belong to a bygone era. They reflect old prejudices and old fears. Today we don’t support laws which discriminate on either religious or gender grounds, they have no place in modern Britain and certainly not in our monarchy, an institution central to our constitution, to the Commonwealth and to our national identity too.”
The legislation also replaces the 1772 Royal Marriages Act which requires descendants of George II to seek the reigning monarch’s consent before marrying, without which the union is void. Instead, the first six royals in the line of succession will require the monarch’s consent for their marriage.
Tory Richard Drax (South Dorset) said: “We should respect hugely what’s gone before and I am nervous that in this case, nearly 700 years of tradition are going to be trampled on in my view in two days.”
Mr Rees-Mogg, hmself a staunch Catholic, also raised the related issues of the titles of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Dukedom of Normandy.
He argued: “The problem with this Bill is in the detail, that it hasn’t been properly and carefully considered. It is therefore full of problems.”
On the issue of religion, the North East Somerset MP told fellow members: “I think it is unreasonable of an act of Parliament to allow a Catholic to do one thing and then deny that Catholic the ability to carry out the requirements of his faith.
“I think that is an illogical position to take and I think it brings up all the anti-Catholic terminology of the Act of Settlement and the Bill of Rights, things that many Catholics can live comfortably with as part of our historic tradition lost in the mists of time, but something that when we have it brought firmly to our attention this week is a matter of the deepest concern that if a reform is to be made it should, as other members have said, be a thorough going reform.”