The dates of UK bank holidays in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are available on the government web site UK Bank Holidays, and next year Good Friday will fall on 25 March 2016. However, at the end of the last parliamentary season, Sir Greg Knight’s question to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills “If he will bring into force the provision contained in the Easter Act 1928 to fix the date of Easter; and if he will make a statement. ”, received the following written answer from Jo Swinson on 24 March 2015:
“My Rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills does not intend to bring the Easter Act 1928 into force in the near future. The Easter Act 1928 would set the date for Easter to fall on a Sunday between 9 and 15 April each year. The Easter Act 1928 remains on the Statute Book, but has not been brought into force. To do so would require an Order in Council, with the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The Act also requires that, before the Order is made, and “regard shall be had to any opinion officially expressed by any Church or other Christian Body”; there is no indication that the Churches are keen to move to a date for Easter fixed in accordance with the Easter Act 1928.”
This is not the first time Parliament has been reminded of the 1928 Act, and a search on Hansard and UK Parliament sites will show for the periods up to 2005, and subsequently. The recent exchange is not dissimilar to the debate in 1930, [Commons Hansard 26 February 1930 Vol 235 Cols 2253-4]:
Mr Freeman: asked the Home Secretary whether it is the intention of the Government to take any steps under the Easter Act, 1928, to secure a fixed date for Easter; and, if so, what is the date proposed?
Mr Short In reply to a question by the hon. Member for the Waterloo Division (Captain Bullock) on the 25th November, the Home Secretary explained that His Majesty’s Government was eon-suiting [?consulting] the other European Governments with a view to common action if possible, as was foreshadowed by his predecessor when the Bill was read a Second time. Until there has been time to receive and consider the replies of the various Governments, no further steps can be taken.
Sir W Davison: When does the Under-Secretary expect that a reply will be received and a statement made in the House on the matter?
Mr Short: I am unable to make any statement in that connection”
An insight into the early support of the Act by the Church of England may be gleaned from the speech of The Most Reverend Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1932, [House of Lords Hansard, 15 March 1932 vol 83 cols 868-80], which incidentally followed their Lordships’ third reading of the Chancel Repairs Bill:
“THE EASTER ACT
My noble friend Lord Desborough is always entitled to our congratulations, because I think he is the only member of the House who has really mastered the intricacies of the present methods of deciding the date of Easter, and I congratulate him on his monopoly of that distinction. I think also he is very much entitled to our sympathy. Year after year he has brought the matter forward. In 1928 he seemed to be within sight of the attainment of his long-desired object, and yet there is this delay. I think the delay is the more regrettable because on three points there is very general agreement. There is general agreement upon the convenience of stabilising the date of Easter. There is almost unanimity on the part of the representatives of industrial, commercial, educational and judicial interests. There is general agreement among ecclesiastical authorities that there is no objection to the proposals of this Act on the grounds of dogma or of essential principles. The objections which are felt, and often very acutely felt, are sentimental, and I use the word “sentimental” in the best sense.
in 1929, after the passing of the Easter Act of 1928, each House of the Convocation of Canterbury passed the following resolution: In the event of general ecclesiastical concurrence with the object of the Easter Act, 1928, this House is of opinion that the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April should be adopted as Easter Day. The Upper House of York Convocation adopted that resolution, but apparently the Lower House took no action. But your Lordships will see that that resolution is confined to the acceptance of the choice of the date, and stresses again the need of general ecclesiastical concurrence.
In 1930 I took advantage of the presence of the Metropolitans and the 300 Bishops who were present at the Lambeth Conference of that year, and they were unanimously of opinion—unanimously—speaking, many of them, for the great Dominions, that they were cordially in favour of the principle of stabilising Easter. They recognised the general convenience which would thus be met, but they were also unanimous that they could not contemplate consenting to it unless it had the concurrence of the great religious communions of the world.”
Whilst the Church of England’s The Date of Easter and Other Variable Dates currently provides information up to 2040, we assume that this does not reflect a more entrenched position than government.
On 5 April 2015, The Independent took up the story with Move Easter to a fixed week in April to help parents and businesses, say campaigners, stating “[t]he next government will face immediate demands to enforce a law from the 1920s that would fix the date of Easter.” We would hope that there are more important items on the legislative agenda.
The BBC has produced Orthodox Easter 2019: Why are there two Easters? – an “explainer article” on Easter in the Orthodox Church.