Law and religion round-up – 20th January

Prayers in the House of Commons, opposite sex civil partnerships, the Human Rights Act – and Brexit, about which the less said, the better…

Prayers in the House of Commons

On 11 January, Crispin Blunt tabled the following Early Day Motion in the Commons:

“That this House recognises that religious worship should not play any part in the formal business of the House of Commons; believes that parliamentary meetings should be conducted in a manner equally welcoming to all attendees, irrespective of their personal beliefs; further believes that Parliamentary Prayers are not compatible with a society which respects the principle of freedom of and from religion; urges that prayers should not form part of the official business of Parliament; and calls on the Procedure Committee to consider alternative arrangements.”

This has attracted the support of two MPs in addition to its six sponsors; Keith Vaz has also tabled an amendment to the motion which would effectively negate it. Subsequently, another group of MPs has put down its own Early Day Motion on “the importance of prayer”. It is highly unlikely that either EDM will be debated.

The Parliamentary website states: “EDMs are used to put on record the views of individual MPs or to draw attention to specific events or campaigns … By attracting the signatures of other MPs, they can be used to demonstrate the level of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view”. Verb. sap.

Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill

On Friday, the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, a private Member’s bill introduced in the Commons by Tim Loughton, was read a second time in the House of Lords and committed to a Committee of the whole House. Replying to the debate for the Government, the Minister of State at the Home Office, Baroness Williams of Trafford, said that the Bill included “many important issues that the Government fully support”: in short, a “yes” to the reform of marriage registration, to opposite sex civil partnerships and a possible extension of coronial jurisdiction in relation to stillbirths, but a “no” to special provision for humanist weddings. We shall publish a fuller summary in due course.

Abortion in the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man’s Abortion Reform Act 2018 – which, basically, decriminalises abortion – has received Royal Assent. However, the Act remains to be brought into force by an appointed day order.

Human Rights Act 1998: here we go again

The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee reports that, in response to a letter from the Sub-Committee, the Government has failed to give assurances that it will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act. The Sub-Committee wrote to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke in December regarding the rights of citizens post-Brexit, seeking an explanation for the dilution of the Government’s commitment to the ECHR. According to the Sub-Committee, the response from Edward Argar MP, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, pledged an unchanging commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms but ended with reference to the Government’s intention to revisit the Human Rights Act once the process of leaving the EU is concluded.


IICSA 7th preliminary hearing on Anglican investigation

The Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) held its 7th preliminary hearing on Tuesday 15 January 2019 in advance of the further two weeks of hearings planned for 1 to 12 July 2019. We summarized the hearing here.

GDPR and Preparation of Electoral Roll 2019

The Parish Resources GDPR page includes the following update [emphasis added]:

“We are aware that GDPR has raised some concerns regarding the renewal of the Electoral Roll. As the law currently stands, there is no need to amend the electoral roll forms, consent is not required. An informative note explaining the legal bases will be added to the forms in due course but the legal position is not dependent on this note.

The Church of England’s GDPR Team have produced guidance to clarify these issues (link below). They have also produced an electoral roll Privacy Notice which explains the GDPR issues for those individuals applying to the electoral roll. You should publish this on your website and/or give it to people who request an application form.

Download Guidance on the Electoral Roll and GDPR

Download Electoral Roll Privacy Notice“.

The above two documents are dated “2019” although the FAQs and specific guidance note elsewhere on the page are dated April 2018.

And on Brexit?

On Tuesday, the motion in the Commons to approve the EU Withdrawl Agreement was defeated by 230 votes: on the following day, however, the Government survived a vote of no confidence by 325 to 306. Speculation, we suspect, is pointless.

Quick links

And finally…


Oh dear: should’ve read The CJEU and the ECtHR: an idiot’s guide

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