Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Anna Soubry treats Christian concerns with "supercilious disdain"

Below is the Hansard transcript from a recent debate on a few Statutory Instruments relating to the Same Sex Marriage legislation – in particular, the Use of Armed Forces’ Chapels Regulations 2014 and the draft Overseas Marriage (Armed Forces) Order 2014.

His Grace is of the view that what's done is done, and it is now the law of the land. The state's definition of marriage diverges from the ontological reality and the historic sacrament of Holy Matrimony: the vernacular will adapt to Parliament's decree. This will not be undone. But there are loose ends (many, many loose ends) and these Statutory Instruments aim to tie up a few.

This debate is interesting for the way that the Ministry of Defence Minister Anna Soubry treats those of a Christian conscience, in this case Sir Edward Leigh (Roman Catholic) and Sir Gerald Howarth (Church of England), with utter contempt and rudeness. Those who witnessed the exchange were shocked and appalled at the Minister's arrogance. His Grace reproduces the whole exchange because context and primary reasoning are important.

The transcript is a typical Hansard version of the truth – the words are correct, but they cannot show the disdain and sheer nastiness of the Minister. For that, you need to watch the video above. Like them or not, both Gerald Howarth and Edward Leigh make sense of the world through the lens of Christianity: the Church is woven into their lives, and Christ provides their moral compass. While many may believe that compass to be skewed – or, rather, that it does not point in a ‘progressive’ direction – at least they have a moral sense. Ms Soubry is a relativist and a modernist, and in this her third career (after TV presenter, and criminal barrister) as a politician, she is being used by others to do their dirty work – in both the House and on TV. She is personally quite charming, but with a majority of just 389, she is fighting for every vote, and if that means trimming her ‘conscience’ to the secularising zeitgeist and slapping aside a few pesky Christians, that’s exactly what she’ll do.

But it may, of course, be more than that. Perhaps, as with so many of her ilk, she simply does not recognise for a second that someone who disagrees with her might be right. And certainly not a Christian.
The Chair: With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Use of Armed Forces’ Chapels) Regulations 2014 and the draft Overseas Marriage (Armed Forces) Order 2014.

Anna Soubry: It is a pleasure, as ever, to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hood. I turn first to the draft Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Use of Armed Forces’ Chapels) Regulations 2014. The purpose of these new regulations is to make provision for the registration of armed forces’ chapels for the marriage of same sex couples, or, indeed, for cancelling that registration. The Marriage Act 1949 dealt separately with military chapels for the purpose of licensing or registering them for marriage, and the provisions of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 reflect that separate treatment. As I shall explain, there are features of military chapels which mean that the civilian regime for marriages of same sex couples does not quite fit. I should explain that when I use the expression “civilian” I effectively mean non-military, as opposed to the civil law that guides marriage, canon law, and other marriages in relation to our churches. However, we have sought to follow the principles of the civilian regime where practicable.

I remind the Committee that we are only discussing registration of chapels under section 70A of the 1949 Act; in other words, for marriages using rites other than those of the Church of England and the Church in Wales. Armed forces’ chapels cannot be used for the marriage of same sex couples using the rites of the Church of England or the Church in Wales as there is no provision for such marriages to be lawfully solemnised. I should also make it clear that while the regulations are scheduled to come into force on 3 June this year, we do not anticipate any immediate registrations of chapels, or marriages of same sex couples in them. As I understand the position of the sending Churches, those Churches that send chaplains into the chaplaincy—and not all our Churches are sending Churches—none has announced any plans to opt in to the marriage of same sex couples. Only if and when they do so will the question of registration of military chapels arise, just as civilian places of worship can only be registered for marriage of same sex couples when the relevant religious organisations have opted in.

The first of the substantive regulations, regulation 3, sets out the requirement to consult the religious organisations that make significant regular use of a military chapel. The views of religious organisations are, of course, central to how the 2013 Act operates; however, for civilian places of worship, the scenario is one of a settled congregation that has an established interest in the use of the building in which it worships. The situation of a military chapel is different. It may well have a rapidly changing population, as service personnel and their families are posted in and out of a location. Indeed, on smaller bases where there is only one chaplain serving the community and officiating at the chapel, the denomination of the chaplain may change. Thus, the identity of a regular user needs to be determined in each case, rather than defined in advance.

Regulation 4 sets out the matters to which the Secretary of State must have regard in deciding whether to make an application to register a chapel for marriage of same sex couples. I have already referred to the importance of the views of the religious organisations and congregations who use the chapel, which is covered by the first item. However, this cannot be a veto in the way the Act operates for shared civilian places of worship. In contrast to a religious organisation, the Secretary of State has a duty in public law, as owner of the chapel and as employer of the service person wishing to marry, to consider the rights of the couple who wish to use the chapel. That is spelled out in regulation 4. The Secretary of State therefore retains discretion in the matter, but that is not a mandate to overrule the views of the users of the chapel, or to take an approach to the registration of military chapels for marriage of same sex couples that our civilian counterparts would not recognise. The Secretary of State will aim to be as clear as possible about how he will exercise his discretion, so that congregations and couples know where they stand.

Regulation 4(d) deals with authorised persons, and I emphasise two points. First, the draft regulations are designed to deal with circumstances in which there is a real prospect of a marriage taking place, not speculative registration against the possibility of a future request. The availability of a person to be present at the marriage, so that it can be solemnised, is therefore a sensible factor in deciding about registration. Secondly, under section 43B of the Marriage Act 1949, an authorised person may only be appointed to a particular chapel for the marriage of a same sex couple after that chapel is registered. Regulation 4(d) is therefore formulated in terms of a person who is available, but has not yet been authorised.

Finally, the two criteria specified are exactly what one would expect in the context of the 2013 Act: that the potential authorised person is personally willing to conduct a marriage of a same sex couple, and that he or she is suitable for that role. A person who is already authorised for marriages of opposite sex couples in that chapel, under section 43 of the 1949 Act, would clearly be a good example of a suitable person to be authorised under section 43B.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): The explanatory memorandum states:

“The majority of armed forces’ chapels are shared by a number of faiths, who may adopt different positions towards the marriage of same sex couples.”

I do not know the answer, but are there any military chapels that are run exclusively for the Roman Catholic faith?

Later in the memorandum, under paragraph 7.3, is stated:

“A small number of armed forces’ chapels are consecrated by the Church of England under ecclesiastical law, and will not be registered for the marriage of same sex couples.”

Those chapels are not affected, but I am worried about the majority of armed forces chapels, which are shared by a number of faiths. As far as I know, only the Quakers want to conduct same sex marriages, although I may be wrong. The overwhelming majority of Christian faiths do not wish to do so, and I wonder whether they might be dragged down some sort of slippery slope into something that they do not want to do. I want to be reassured by the Minister.

Anna Soubry: I think it is true and fair to say that throughout the whole passage of the Act and in the laying of the draft statutory instruments today, it has been made clear that no religious faith will be dragged on to any slippery slope. The legislation has been carefully crafted to ensure that.

My hon. Friend referred to the Quakers—I will deal with Roman Catholic chapels in a moment—but let us be sensible about this. What is the likelihood of a Quaker conducting a marriage, whether same sex or any other, in a military chapel, given the fundamental tenet of the Quaker religion?

I understand that some military chapels are indeed Roman Catholic. As my hon. Friend knows, one of the great features of our military chapels is that they encompass people of the Christian religion from all parts of the Christian faith, allowing them to come together under the chaplaincy and worship in the same place, although at different times to recognise the different features of any particular Church within the Christian Church. I hope that reassures him. If it does not, I am sure that he will let me know. If I have not answered his question in full or I can assist further, I am more than happy to write to him.

I now turn to the draft Overseas Marriage (Armed Forces) Order 2014. The provision for marriage of opposite sex couples is available to armed forces personnel who wish to marry at home or overseas and reflects the mobile circumstances of armed forces personnel. There is a statutory basis for armed forces marriages overseas which, until now, has been the Foreign Marriage (Armed Forces) Order 1964, made under the Foreign Marriage Act 1892. There is no reason why provision for marriage of same sex couples should not also be made available to armed forces personnel overseas. This draft order will therefore enable marriage of opposite sex couples overseas to continue, but with the added ability to enable the marriage of same sex couples. It allows for marriage of same sex couples both in civil ceremonies and, where the appropriate consents have been obtained, marriage according to the rites of a religious organisation. It will apply where at least one of the couple marrying is a member of the UK armed forces, or a civilian subject to service discipline in support of the armed forces and deployed overseas, or a dependant of either of the aforementioned.

Section 13 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 repeals the Foreign Marriage Act 1892 for England and Wales and Scotland, but not for Northern Ireland, where it is retained. This draft order replaces that regime so that it requires the couple to nominate the particular part of the United Kingdom under whose law they wish to marry, and they will be able to marry under the order if they are eligible to marry in that part of the UK.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Con): Why does this not apply to Northern Ireland?

Anna Soubry: Because this is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland, and it is for it to decide whether it wishes to introduces same sex marriage.

The draft order’s geographical extent will also be wider than the 1964 order, since British overseas territories are included in the 2013 Act, which was not the case for the Foreign Marriage Act.

The reason for the approach of nominating a part of the United Kingdom is that marriage of same sex couples by the time this instrument comes into force will be lawful only in England and Wales, and very soon Scotland, now that the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 has been enacted by the Scottish Parliament. I welcome that Act and congratulate the Scottish Parliament on passing it. The Northern Ireland Executive has indicated no intention to introduce legislation for marriage of same sex couples in Northern Ireland. I think that one day that will change as people begin to understand and appreciate the benefits of same sex marriage.

A marriage overseas, whether of an opposite sex couple or a same sex couple, must be conducted in the presence of an authorised person—a service chaplain or person authorised by the commanding officer of the force deployed overseas. The parties must give prior notice to the commanding officer, who must be satisfied that they are eligible to marry under the order. The order allows for religious rites to be used where the religious organisation agrees to the use of its rites, but specifically the marriage of a same sex couple may be solemnised only according to the rites or usages of a relevant religious organisation where the relevant governing authority has given written consent and a chaplain has agreed to solemnise the marriage according to those rites. The Act explicitly precludes the solemnisation of forces marriages of same sex couples according to the rites of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, and that is paragraph 9(4) of schedule 6.

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): The Minister has made it clear that there will be no access to Church of England rites by those who wish to engage in same sex marriage. Presumably, the chapel at Camp Bastion, which many of us have visited, has not been consecrated and is therefore available to everybody. At the moment such chapels have Christian religious artefacts, such as the cross, so does my hon. Friend have it in mind that if those chapels are to be used for other than according to the Christian rites, the furniture there will be changed?

Anna Soubry: I do not wish in any way to insult my hon. Friend, but he may not be aware that same sex marriage in Afghanistan is illegal. So a member of the armed forces cannot get married in a chapel or any other place that might be available in Camp Bastion or anywhere else in Afghanistan. Therefore, provision for same sex marriage will not be extended to armed forces in Afghanistan. I do not know why my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough finds that amusing. I am delighted to say that same sex couples who wish to get married—

Sir Gerald Howarth: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Anna Soubry: I have not finished my sentence. Same-sex service personnel who want to get married can, of course, return to the United Kingdom. If they cannot get married in a military chapel, which is currently more than likely, they will be able to get married by going to a registry office or another place that is registered for same-sex marriages.

Sir Gerald Howarth: The Minister has chosen to be particularly personal about this, but the fact is that we are about to leave Afghanistan. What if we were to engage in military operations in another theatre in which same-sex marriage may be lawful? Will she address my concerns as applied to those circumstances?

Anna Soubry: I think I was probably a little confused by the question, which seemed to be about artefacts and so on. The provisions of the 2013 Act are absolutely clear, and I have explained them in relation to those personnel or their children who wish to get married in a military chapel. I have gone through the procedure that must take place before they can even be registered. I have also explained that none of the sending Churches have indicated they want to solemnise same-sex marriages. In many ways, what we are discussing is exceptionally hypothetical. I understand that many wish to debate highly hypothetically matters, but forgive me if I am rather more interested in the reality of the situation, and in making some progress.

Sir Edward Leigh: We do take such matters seriously because we are talking about what are for us holy places. People who attach enormous importance to their religious beliefs—whether they are Roman Catholic or anything else—use the chapels as holy places. I agree that a same-sex couple will not come along to a military chapel and ask the local Roman Catholic padre to conduct a same-sex wedding. However, what is to stop them from creating some sort of new faith or device in order to use a chapel that is used by other faiths? Does the Minister understand that we are worried about that issue, which is important to us?

Anna Soubry: With the greatest respect, I do not think that my hon. Friend has listened to what I said. The chaplaincy is drawn from the sending Churches. Some Christian faiths do not form part of that collection of sending Churches. The idea that anyone could just concoct a new religious Christian faith and automatically have a right to the chaplaincy is the stuff of fantasy. That is not the situation and, if I may say so, it is exceptionally unlikely that it ever would be the situation because, as I explained, the group of sending Churches send people into the military chaplaincy.

I agree that military chapels are indeed holy places, but we must understand that they are used by our service personnel as places where they gather, notably when they are going into action. People who may be of no faith whatsoever come together in these communal places with a spiritual element. It is simply not the case that the only people who gather in our military chapels are those who subscribe to a faith.

I would like to make some progress and turn to the draft Consular Marriages and Marriages under Foreign Law Order 2014. Its purpose is to make provision for two people, of either the same sex or the opposite sex, to marry each other in prescribed countries or territories outside the United Kingdom, in one of our consulates, in the presence of a registration officer. Consular marriages are those through which British nationals abroad can get married in a consulate under UK law. Consulates can offer them only when there are insufficient facilities for British nationals to get married under local laws and the host state has no objection to the consulate providing the service.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently provides consular marriage services in six countries, all in the middle east. It also registers consular civil partnerships in 17 countries—again, where there are no facilities for British nationals to register a same-sex partnership under local laws and when the host state has no objection. The draft order will enable the FCO to offer all forms of marriage, including the marriage of same-sex couples, when host Governments do not object and local facilities do not exist. Countries or territories will be able to specify that they do not permit the FCO to conduct certain types of marriage, such as those marriages involving one of their own nationals, or marriages of same-sex couples.

As I mentioned in the context of the armed forces orders, section 13 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 repeals the Foreign Marriage Act 1892 for England and Wales and for Scotland, but not for Northern Ireland. The draft order requires the couple jointly to elect the particular part of the UK that is relevant for the purposes of the marriage, and they will be able to marry under the order only if they are eligible to marry in that part of the United Kingdom. Consular marriages in relation to Northern Ireland will continue to be solemnised under the Foreign Marriage Act 1892 and the Foreign Marriage Order 1970 and, because the marriage of same-sex couples is not lawful in Northern Ireland, only marriages of opposite-sex couples will be possible in relation to Northern Ireland.

The order also makes provision for the issue of certificates of no impediment to United Kingdom nationals who wish to marry under local law in a country or territory outside the United Kingdom when the law of that country or territory requires a consular certificate of no impediment to be issued. The order sets out a residency requirement of three days before a British national may make an application for a certificate of no impediment, and provides that the application notice must be displayed for seven days in a conspicuous place that enables objections to be made. That is significantly quicker than under current legislation, which requires a residency period of 21 days followed by a notice period of a further 21 days. The order will make the whole process quicker and simpler for British nationals who wish to marry in these countries or territories.

Charlie Elphicke: The Minister might have covered this, but will she clarify that if the armed forces chaplain or padre—call him what you will—or authorised officer decides or believes that they do not want to proceed with such a ceremony, whether or not they do so is a matter for them? Do they have full free will in such circumstances?

Anna Soubry: I am pleased to be able to make it absolutely clear that nobody will ever be forced to do anything that is against their conscience. It is perhaps unfortunate that throughout this long-running debate people seem to think that there is some intention that that happens. The 2013 Act makes it absolutely clear, with talk of quadruple locks and so on, that no one will be forced to do something against their conscience, or simply against their will. I hope that that satisfies my hon. Friend.

Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hood. I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the details of the three orders before us. I confirm that we will be pleased to support them.

It is no secret that the Secretary of State for Defence was opposed to the extension of marriage to same-sex couples. Indeed, a majority of then Defence Ministers did not support the equal marriage Bill, and I am not sure that any of them voted for it on Third Reading, which sent a concerning message to our troops. However, I know that the Minister is in favour of the legislation and I welcomed her comments.

Under the same-sex marriage Act, it is essentially up to individual religions whether they permit same-sex marriages within their faith and within their buildings or places of worship, with the exception, of course, of the Church of England. However, in respect of the statutory instrument on the use of armed forces chapels, while it is welcome that chapels can now be registered, I am a little suspicious about whether the provision is likely to lead to any registrations being approved. The Minister confirmed that, certainly at present, that was unlikely to happen. Has any work yet been undertaken on the guidelines that would be used to decide whether an application or a request for a registration would be granted? If a number of different faiths or organisations share one building, I can understand how the process would be difficult. If one faith wants to permit same-sex marriage and is happy to carry it out, but another does not, which faith trumps the other? Is there a presumption in favour of allowing a same-sex marriage to go ahead, or of allowing a faith to veto such an application?

The Minister also mentioned people of no faith using chapels, so would they be permitted to use that building for a same-sex marriage? Will she confirm whether the Secretary of State’s own views on same-sex marriage will be a factor in the decision-making process?

I am sure that the Minister is aware that the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies recently ranked more than 100 forces by their inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender personnel. It ranked the UK armed forces as joint second in being the most LGBT-friendly in the world, which I think we would welcome, although hopefully we want the No. 1 spot. However, as in all walks of life, some LGBT people in the UK armed forces come up against discrimination, harassment or bullying. I hope that our approving the order will reinforce the message that such discrimination is unacceptable wherever it is found, including in our armed forces.

We may have overlooked that issue in our discussions on the armed forces covenant, so perhaps today is an appropriate prompt for us to pay it more attention. I hope that the Committee will not mind if I read out a brief quote from Lieutenant General James Everard, patron of the Army LGBT forum and deputy Chief of the Defence Staff:

“I know the type of Army I want to serve in, and it is one where we are ‘all of one company’. We all need to care deeply about LGBT issues, until we reach the point where nobody cares about LGBT issues. This demands equality in the workplace, fairness and absolute commitment to our core Values. It is an Army where we all contribute to the greater good and are encouraged to do so to the best of our abilities. It also requires leadership, and leaders who by word and deed show their absolute refusal to accept discrimination.”

Those are wise words with which I hope no one would disagree, including the Secretary of State.

I am aware that people have deeply and sincerely held views on the matter. I would agree with the Minister that no Church should be forced into doing anything that it does not wish to do as a result of this or previous legislation. I also have deeply and sincerely held views on the issue, and I believe that it is right that we approve the orders.

Sir Gerald Howarth: I declare my interest at the outset as church warden of the Royal Garrison church Aldershot, consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester in 1863 at the home of the British Army.

Like the Secretary of State for Defence, I was wholly opposed to the legislation. I have been concerned throughout—I have raised concerns at various stages during the passage of the principal Bill—about the impact that the legislation could have on the military community, not least because of the dilemma that faces the Secretary of State, whoever that happens to be. It is helpfully set out in the explanatory memorandum to the Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Use of Armed Forces’ Chapels) Regulations:

“As a public authority, the Secretary of State”—

the Secretary of State is a human being, but for the definition, I suppose he is a public authority—

“is required, under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, to act in a manner which is compatible with Convention Rights. He must accordingly take into account, in determining whether to apply for registration, the rights of both religious organisations and their devotees, and those of a same sex couple who might wish their marriage to be solemnized in an armed forces’ chapel.”

My hon. Friend the Minister said that there is no veto. As the shadow Minister—for whom I have enormous regard, as she knows—indicated, the concern for a lot of us is that a change of leadership at the Ministry of Defence or of Government could result in a different balance and a different judgment being made. I see the Minister shaking her head, so she might be able to reassure me on that point before we conclude our proceedings. I would be delighted if she could.

The explanatory memorandum is also interesting because it talks about the consultation outcome. Paragraph 8.1 says:

“No specific consultation has been undertaken in respect of this instrument.”

It would be helpful to hear from the Minister what consultations have actually taken place. Paragraph 9 says:

“No guidance has been prepared specifically for this instrument.”

Here she is talking about events taking place within the next three months or so, and there has been neither consultation nor guidance. When I spoke to the padre last night, he said that he certainly had not been consulted, but then of course he is sent by the Church of England. Forgive me, but I am going to be critical of the Minister, because I assume that she is personally responsible for the explanatory memorandum. On consultation, it says:

“There were over 228,000 responses, of which 53% were in favour of the proposals, and a number of large petitions which were opposed to the proposals.”

If I may say so, I think that is a deceit. It is perfectly clear—

Anna Soubry: I hope you are not suggesting that I have been deceitful.

Sir Gerald Howarth: I am not suggesting the Minister has been deceitful.

The Chair: Order. I am absolutely convinced that the hon. Gentleman would not suggest for a moment that anyone on the Committee or in this place is deceitful.

Sir Gerald Howarth: I hope you heard me say before you got to your feet, Mr Hood, that I was not accusing the Minister of being deceitful. I think it is a deceit on the part of the Ministry of Defence, for which I was a Minister until relatively recently, to suggest that somehow 228,000 responses is indicative of a majority being in favour. There were 668,000 people on one petition opposed to the original legislation. It does no service to the Ministry of Defence to issue explanatory notes that are at best disingenuous and at worst deceitful. I will pass on that, because there is a key point I wish to put to the Minister.

My hon. Friend the Minister has made it clear that those institutions in the military domain and consecrated in accordance with Christian rites will be protected. I have in mind not only the interest of the Royal Garrison church in Aldershot, but the Roman Catholic cathedral in Aldershot and the Church of Scotland church in Aldershot—three military churches. I want her to make it crystal clear that none of those are affected by the proposals and that they do not fall within the definition of “chapels”. What about the Guards chapel in Birdcage walk or the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst? [Interruption.] In respect of the Guards chapel, she says from a sedentary position, “chapel”. I am sure that it is properly consecrated in accordance with the rites of the Church of England, but we need to know. What about the church of the Royal Air Force, St Clement Danes on the Strand? We need to know their status.

We know, as the explanatory memorandum says, that there has been no consultation and no guidance has been issued. I would like to see a list—I am sure that I am not alone—of all those institutions that are used by the military that are part of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Church or whatever, and those that fall for consideration under these regulations. The Minister might think that I am nitpicking, but it is the job of Parliament to hold the Government to account. When one is presented with an explanatory memorandum that says that there has been no consultation and that no guidance has been issued, we are entitled to ask questions and seek answers from the Minister.

I want to put on record that I received from the Secretary of State a letter, admittedly written in November 2012, in response to my concerns about the position of Church of England clergy in particular, which states:

“We will ensure that the need to protect the religious freedom of Armed Forces Chaplains is fully considered with their sending Churches, if legislation is brought forward as a result of the consultation on civil marriage.”

It is important that people should understand that there is that protection.

I would be obliged if my hon. Friend could say something about those who are employed by the armed forces in other capacities, beyond being chaplains and padres. What about the verger and the organist? If they are the only people available, will they, as employees of the Crown, be required to officiate at these gatherings?

Anna Soubry indicated dissent.

Sir Gerald Howarth: I look forward to the Minister putting that on the record so that we can all be crystal clear about these matters.

Sir Edward Leigh: If one of these chapels is, for the sake of argument, a Roman Catholic chapel, who ultimately is responsible? Is it the military authorities for the Secretary of State or the Roman Catholic diocese? In other words, could someone insist, through their own denomination, on having a same sex marriage in a Roman Catholic military chapel? I do not know the answer, but we need to tease them out, because the questions are important.

Sir Gerald Howarth: It is not a question of our needing to tease out these answers; we must have them. These are not matters of dancing on the head of a pin; these are serious matters and unless we address them now, they will be enacted in law and, in the biblical phrase, we will repent at leisure. I hope that will not happen.

In response to my hon. Friend, the Minister said that his concerns were the stuff of fantasy. I can only say that 20 years ago this entire measure would have been considered the stuff of fantasy, and it may well prove to be the undoing of this Administration, since neither she nor the Prime Minister, nor any of us, have a mandate for this legislation. I will only say that I am hopeful that I am reassured that at least with regard to the military, the profoundly held views of the clergy, the Churches and their devotees—whether of the Catholic Church, the Church of England or the Church of Scotland—are being taken into account, and to the extent that my hon. Friend has been able to do that, I am very grateful.

Anna Soubry: I will begin by responding to the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough. I am sorry, but it really is the stuff of complete fantasy. We have a Roman Catholic military chapel, and we all know the views of the Roman Catholic Church on same sex marriage. The first thing we have to get is a same sex couple who are Catholics. Unless one was a Roman Catholic, one would not want to get married in a Roman Catholic chapel. Call me old-fashioned, Mr Hood, but I rather thought that one got married in a place of religious worship because one shared that religion. Military chapels, like all places of worship, are not lovely venues where one can have a fairytale marriage. I thought, in theory, that people get married there because they wanted to take their oath in the presence of God, in a place that shared their values and added that religious solemnisation to their marriage vows. If you do not share those beliefs, you go and get married in the registry office or some other venue that is licensed for holding marriages. It is quite bizarre that those who say they support the tradition of marriage seem to have completely forgotten that one of the most essential elements of getting married in a place of worship is that you subscribe to that particular faith or religion. I give way.

Sir Gerald Howarth: So why on earth are they called chapels? The whole concept of chapel is a place of religious worship.

Anna Soubry: I am not saying that they are not. I think my hon. Friend is missing the point. Let me again make this clear. We have a same sex couple who are Roman Catholics, and one of them is either a member of the armed services or is the son or daughter of someone in the armed services, and they want to get married in a Roman Catholic chapel. It is not going to happen, because, as we know, the Roman Catholic Church would have to opt in. You would have to find a Roman Catholic chaplain who was prepared to conduct such a marriage, and, as we all know, we are nowhere near that situation. That is why, Mr Hood, though I do not wish to be rude to anybody, this is the stuff of total fantasy—as is any suggestion that military vergers or organists are in some way going to be forced to participate in a same sex marriage in a military chapel. The law makes it absolutely clear.

Sir Gerald Howarth: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Anna Soubry: No, I will finish my point. The law makes it very clear that in civil law under the Act, no verger or organist could be forced to take part in a same sex marriage in any place of worship, and exactly the same provisions apply to people who might be the organist or the verger in a military chapel. I do not know how many times I have said it, but the position is that not one of the Churches which at the moment supply the chaplains—the sending Churches—has indicated that they wish to opt in to same sex marriage.

I will not dwell much further on the points raised by my hon. Friend. I am more than happy to write to him to make sure that he gets the list. There are 11 consecrated military chapels. I am completely confused and at a loss to know why it might be a problem if, by some miracle—and at the moment it would be a miracle—the Roman Catholic church in Aldershot decided to conduct same sex marriages, and why that might offend somebody from the military. Such an idea rather suggests that all members of our armed services share my hon. Friend’s views on same sex marriage. I do not think they do at all. He observes that, 20 years ago, the Act was inconceivable, and he is right. I am old enough to confirm that, but I also have no doubt whatever that, in 20 years, people will look back on these sorts of debates with complete astonishment, and they will wonder what the fuss was all about.

The clock is against me. It has been a long debate, and it has been a rather good one. I am grateful to those hon. Members who have given their support, notably the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire. The first draft instrument, the Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Use of Armed Forces’ Chapels) Regulations 2014, provides a route by which armed forces’ chapels can be registered for marriages of same sex couples in a way that takes proper account of all the different interests involved. The hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire asked a number of questions, and I will try to deal with all of them. The guidelines will come out in due course. We have consulted extensively with the heads of chaplaincy in drawing up the regulations and on the guidelines that will appear.

The hon. Lady asked me about the views of the Secretary of State. It is not the Secretary of State’s views—with the greatest respect to him—that matter most, but those of the sending Churches. It is the views of the chaplains that matter most, and those of the congregations that they serve. I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not saying that people of no faith use our military chapels. What I mean is that they form part of the congregation on a regular basis.

Sir Edward Leigh: We are just trying to be reassured. We are entitled to that and I do not think that our concerns need to be treated with arrogance and disdain. The position on armed forces’ chapels, as we know from the explanatory memorandum, differs from that of civilian religious buildings. They are, with some exceptions, owned by the state and not by the religious organisations. I am not suggesting for a moment that the Roman Catholic chaplain in Aldershot is going to agree to conduct a same sex marriage, and for the Minister to belittle my arguments by suggesting that is ridiculous.

All I want to ask is this: we are discussing a building that is owned by the Secretary of State. We have a current Secretary of State, but the Secretary of State may change. There may be a change of Government with very different views. Could there be a situation in future whereby a Secretary of State who is wholly committed to same sex marriage could say to this Roman Catholic chaplain, “I am sorry, you do not own it, the diocese does not own it, I own it and therefore if somebody could find a minister of some sort or some religion to use this Roman Catholic chapel for same sex marriage, you must obey me”? Will the Minister absolutely reassure me that that will not happen? And will she not treat our arguments with supercilious disdain?

Anna Soubry: That is not surprising because, with great respect to my hon. Friend, sometimes these fanciful, hypothetical situations are so bizarre. The answer, of course, is no. How many times do those of us who supported the 2013 Act have to make it clear that clergymen are not going to be forced to marry people of the same sex any more than—

Sir Edward Leigh: I am not asking that.

Anna Soubry: Once again, interrupting when I have not even finished the sentence is not helpful—any more than any church can have some other minister. The idea that a Roman Catholic military chapel could have some minister from another faith forced into it to marry people—for goodness sake. Why on earth would a couple want to be in that situation? They would not want it. I really think a touch of reality is required.

Gemma Doyle: I am trying to get to the bottom of how the decision will be made. If there are two different faiths using one building or chapel and one wants to permit same sex marriage and one is opposed to it, how will the decision be arrived at? Given that the decision will be up to the Secretary of State, and we know the current Secretary of State’s views, what would that decision be?

Anna Soubry: The hon. Lady makes a good point. Those are exactly the sort of tussles that absolutely could be seen as a difficulty. When the guidelines are fully drafted, that is exactly the sort of tussle that will be resolved. That is a completely different point from the one made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough. He was talking about a Roman Catholic chapel, as opposed to the majority of chapels that are shared by a number of faiths. That is the difference, and the hon. Lady makes a good point. I hope that in due course the guidelines will make it clear.

Charlie Elphicke: Will the Minister give way on that point?

Anna Soubry: No—I am not being rude, but I will not give way because I do not know where I have got to in my closing speech. I do not know whether I got to the second draft instrument.

The Overseas Marriage (Armed Forces) Order 2014 is essential to allow not only the continued ability for armed forces opposite sex couples to marry, but the ability for armed forces same sex couples to be afforded the same right to marry while serving overseas in countries or territories which have not objected to the marriage of same sex couples. At the same time, however, it recognises and ensures that the necessary protections are in place for religious organisations and their chaplains who have not opted in to the marriage of same sex couples.

Charlie Elphicke: Because of the great religious sensitivity of these matters, I am not convinced that they should be left to a tussle in the guidelines. I really feel they should be in the instrument and it should be a settled matter, so that the House and everyone outside the House knows where they stand.

Anna Soubry: My hon. Friend knows that the undercurrent, in fact the heart of the Act as it went through, was the absolute desire of everyone not to force anything on anybody against their conscience. I have absolutely no difficulty in saying that that will continue through guidelines and so on. We know, though some of us may find it a little odd, that many people object to same sex marriage, and their views are respected and enshrined throughout the legislation, the statutory instruments and, in due course, the guidelines. I hope that that tolerance and generosity might be reflected by those who continue to oppose same sex marriage.

Finally, the third draft instrument, the Consular Marriages and Marriages under Foreign Law Order 2014, is essential to allow not only the continued ability of the FCO to marry opposite sex couples in a small number of consulates overseas, but also to offer this service to same sex couples in countries where there is no equivalent local service available to British nationals and where the host Government have no objection. The instrument also allows the FCO to modernise its procedures for issuing certificates of no impediment required in some countries for British nationals to marry under local law. I commend these instruments to the Committee.


Blogger Guy Jones said...

Your Grace,

I do not hold your view that what happened last year will remain unchanged. We now live in a state of lawlessness, so the former deference towards the Monarch, Government and the various authorities are dangerously misplaced. These things are utterly corrupted and are passing away. There is no joy in my heart about this situation. It is a terrible shame.

4 March 2014 at 10:55  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

YG, I think the debate can be seen here - not sure if it goes to the bitter end:


4 March 2014 at 11:25  
Blogger bluedog said...

His Grace says, 'His Grace is of the view that what's done is done, and it is now the law of the land. '

Your communicant begs to differ, believing that the SSM legislation is a temporary embarrassment that can, and will, be reversed. When the law contravenes the natural social order and the basis of human biology, that law is simply unsustainable and must fail. Religious beliefs do not come into this inevitable demise. The structure of society in the United Kingdom is based on certain empirical facts about human reproduction and child rearing that will not change on account of an ideological view such as that enforced by the supporters of SSM.

Reading through the transcript of Minister Soubry's exchanges with Christian MPs, one can only laugh when the good lady refers to 'complete fantasy'. The irony of this remark clearly escapes Soubry and such is her self-belief and conviction that she also feels entitled to be extremely rude. Now the job of a barrister is to sell guilt as innocence under oath, a task requiring considerable salesmanship. Soubry, like her fellow barrister Tony Blair, appears to have a high degree of skill in this regard. Sadly for her, instead of pulling the wool over the eyes of a judge, she confronted two experienced MPs who were neither fooled or bullied by her approach. What Soubry evidently does not understand is that her abrasive approach is entirely counter-productive, which in the circumstances is a good thing.

Bearing in mind that Soubry is actually a Conservative MP, both her attitude and her political outlook suggest that she may be better suited to Labour or the Lib-Dims. A square peg in a round hole, it would seem.

4 March 2014 at 11:30  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Bless you Mr Hendrick,

Now embedded.

4 March 2014 at 11:41  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Speaking of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, Anna said:

“Margaret Thatcher was the first woman to lead a British political party, and the first woman Prime Minister - two outstanding achievements in their own right. But she was more than that. Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and during her time she restored our economy, her legacy leaving Britain far better off in 1997 than we had been when she was first elected in 1979. Margaret Thatcher showed great courage and determination when she refused to give in to the Trade Unions, defended the Falkland Islands when they were invaded and under her premiership Britain became a leading political and economic force in the world. She will be missed.”

Her Christian faith was personally important and, more significantly, it moulded her political policies and decisions. It is well-known that Thatcher grew up in a Methodist home and that there was, in the Roberts’ household, a fusion of economic and religious values. Alf Roberts, Thatcher’s father, was shop-keeper, alderman, and local preacher and he bequeathed to Thatcher a strong non-conformist identity which incorporated all three roles. What is less well-known is the extent to which this identity influenced Thatcher throughout her life, especially her political life.

In volume one of her memoirs Thatcher writes that ‘I believe in what are often referred to as “Judaeo-Christian” values: indeed my whole political philosophy is based on them’.

How are we to judge Thatcher’s Christianity against the Christianity of her critics? There is no simple answer to this question.

For some the negative social consequences of her policies will always be their condemnation. For others the emphasis on non-conformist virtues and local community cohesion are a politics which addressed the problems of the 1970s and, in modified form, can address our own problems. What Thatcher’s Christianity illustrates is that much of the political disputes of recent times are fundamentally theological.

Strange isn't it...That people such as Soubry take just bits of Thatcher's legacy yet deny the driving force that had her arrive at that political theology?

Soubry is a poor attempt at a counterfeit of Thatcher, as most of the female MPs try to do in the party, lacking the conviction to hold true to any position..A Pure Pragmatist that says one thing but means something completely different.

Ernst is reminded of a saying that was stated by Titta Ruffo, probably the greatest sounding baritone ever..When told that his vocal legacy was the predominant style now adopted by all baritones, he sadly stated that' I can hear them but they have copied all my vocal flaws but none of my virtues!!!!


4 March 2014 at 11:44  
Blogger 45minutewarning said...

"His Grace is of the view that what's done is done..... This will not be undone"

This may well be the present situation, but I don't think such fatalistic sentiments are justified. Neither are they an encouragement to any Christian. Sure, nothing is about to change, and we aren't going to be fighting on the streets about this, but history shows that when man goes against the grain, and tries fight nature, especially human nature, and God too, it often fails. Who knows what god may bring about because of the corruption of real marriage?

There was a popular saying amongst Soviet Russians: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still".

Rolling over and playing dead only encourages vile people like Anna Soubry to continue their campaign of hatred against Christians.

Let's draw on God's hope a little and stop acting like we are doomed.

My apologies Cranmer that I didn't have time to read the whole thing (work calls), and I've just picked up on your initial comments.

4 March 2014 at 11:44  
Blogger Jim McLean said...

Anna Soubtry - "We know, though some of us may find it a little odd, that many people object to same sex marriage, and their views are respected and enshrined throughout the legislation, the statutory instruments and, in due course, the guidelines. I hope that that tolerance and generosity might be reflected by those who continue to oppose same sex marriage".

What arrogant cynicism!

4 March 2014 at 12:20  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Well, as annoying as Anna Soubry can undoubtedly be, it's the head-shaking, pen tapping, eye-rolling contempt that she shows which is astonishing, slumped in her chair as if bored beyond reason. Is this really the best we can do?

From what I could gather the military chapels will not have to conduct same sex marriages unless the religions that send clergy to them opt in (which they are not required to do – and so far none have). This does not apply to the Church of England or Church of Wales, which are excluded from opting in. Where more than one religious group uses the same chapel it is unclear as to whether a religion that is willing to marry same sex couples will 'trump' the rights of another religion sharing the chapel that does not want to. Apparently, this will become clear when guidelines are drafted.

Soubry's best efforts seem to be to dismiss genuine concerns as fantasy, believing that if something is not likely to happen then we should all relax because it will not happen. At times her faux-incredulity is entirely transparent, for example;

"The first thing we have to get is a same sex couple who are Catholics. Unless one was a Roman Catholic, one would not want to get married in a Roman Catholic chapel. Call me old-fashioned, Mr Hood, but I rather thought that one got married in a place of religious worship because one shared that religion."

She knows, as do all the readers of this blog, that inevitably a group like Stonewall will find a couple of gay Catholics who insist upon being married in a Catholic church, whether a military Catholic chapel or not, followed by the inevitable challenge in the ECHR. One imagines the paperwork on the soon to be filed statement of claim has already been completed.

I don't want to stir up the usual hornets' nest, but it does strike me as remarkable that the only religions under discussion are Christian – do not Muslims and Jews have the use of military chapels or their equivalent, by what odd racism are their sensibilities excluded from the debate.

4 March 2014 at 12:30  
Blogger The Explorer said...

When can we expect the square-sided circle?

As an equally-valid alternative to the old-style round one?

4 March 2014 at 12:30  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

"She is personally quite charming .... ".

Well, Happy Jack wouldn't want to share a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive with her.

And with such a small majority, Sir Gerald Howarth's comment may prove prophetic: "I can only say that 20 years ago this entire measure would have been considered the stuff of fantasy, and it may well prove to be the undoing of this Administration, since neither she nor the Prime Minister, nor any of us, have a mandate for this legislation."

And how very rude to say this about UKIP leader Nigel Farage - that he looked like "somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it".

4 March 2014 at 13:08  
Blogger Len said...

'Anna Soubry treats Christian concerns with "supercilious disdain"'

This is hardly surprising as the Judeo /Christian foundations have been under constant attack for decades,centuries even.
Secular Humanism (the New State religion) is taught throughout our entire education system,and promoted endlessly through the Media.
'Liberals' who demand free expression of their 'fallen natures' within our society have uprooted the entire foundations of our society and scattered them to the four winds.

Biblical Christianity will never fit in with a secular society so the secularists (and some religious) will constantly try to undermine Biblical Christianity as it proclaims every other religion as false!.

Biblical Christianity will never fit in with this present (corrupt World system ) and Biblical Christianity demands a new World and a totally new system based on righteousness which only God can provide through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Until such a time chaos (with all the present systems financial, moral,Governmental etc) will reflect the moral' values' of a fallen corrupt World.

4 March 2014 at 13:51  
Blogger Owl said...

Anna Soubry seems a fair example of DC's new political party (the one that used to be Conservative).

We can only hope that they get hammered by UKIP and that these trash politicians get swept away.

Makes me think of the Phoenix myth. Wonder why.

4 March 2014 at 14:26  
Blogger Integrity said...

You are wrong about the law not being changed. The people did not vote for it and we will see soon what they have to say about those who voted for it.

4 March 2014 at 14:31  
Blogger Integrity said...

That's interesting, I wrote a comment before this but it would not go. I am in Abu Dhabi and I wondered if their censorship intercepted it because it contained the ho****xual word?

4 March 2014 at 14:34  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Happy Jack

Nigel Farage is strongly of the opinion that the ruder, sillier and more insulting people are about him, and about UKIP the more the votes flow in, so I am sure he will just laugh cheerfully.

But this kind of thing really lacks sensitivity, grace, imagination, decency and class. I think it is most regrettable that an hon. and learned member should stoop to vulgarity, if the speaker is this lady, and would hope that her chambers would disown the statement.

For some of us this kind of talk is literally repellent, although I am aware that anally fixated dirty talk is trendy in some social circles. I think it is juvenile and retarded and the world is a worse and lesser civilised place for it.

And you cannot have it both ways. Either people are respected or their views are called "odd". If you say "your views are odd but I respect them" you cannot logically expect them not to be very wary of you, especially as you have just voted in a law which acts against their beliefs. Then you tell them that they are paranoid to think you might wish to vote to extend those rules against their "odd" beliefs. Not paranoid but rather savvy, to my mind. If the beliefs had been properly listened to and weighed these laws against Nature and common sense would never have been passed in the first place. Those who have not been properly listened to and understood are never trustful. Obvious really.

4 March 2014 at 14:36  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Leave aside the obvious duplicity of the speaker. There are a couple of important points.

1. The owner of the building determines the use of the building. A long term tenant cannot set terms of use just because he is a long term tenant. If the use of the building changes contrary to the desires of the long term tenant, then that tenant has the option of leaving. He doesn't have the option of demanding control over use.

2. There is some underlying sense that the space would be defiled by a SSM. If food sacrificed to idols can be eaten then surely a space used for a SSM can be safely used for worship. The homosexual couple might defile themselves, but they can't defile the space they occupy. A church is sanctified by those within it, and not by the objects contained therein.


4 March 2014 at 14:40  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

carl jacobs

If food sacrificed to idols can be eaten

Can it, Carl? Not in my Bible. On the contrary, we’re told explicitly not to eat it, first by James the Just (Acts 15.29) and later by Paul (Acts 21.25).


4 March 2014 at 15:25  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Man/Woman marriage is so deeply embedded in Christianity, Biblical, traditional and orthodox Christianity, that it will not be removed by a few administrations in a few countries, or even the whole of the west if needs be, attempting to create this current legal fiction, called marriage.
When human law fails to conform to Natural Law, Divine Law, it can only be a passing, fragile thing.
So I do not accept that this SS marriage arrangement is here to stay in any long term sense. No not at all. But it will succeed in causing much confusion and activity against the Christian community, who will in the longer term be proven right.
Like the monasteries of old acted as precious vessels conveying timeless Christian truth forward through turbulent times, so the Churches must, under the own traditions, and hopefully in ecumenical cooperation, transport these key, essential and unchanging wisdoms forward to future times more conducive to harmonious ways of living reflecting God's Divine Laws.
Political parties, even the Conservative party, albeit a long -lived one, are mere passing vanities when seem against the eternal timescales of God and his Universe.

4 March 2014 at 16:41  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ David Hussell
I like what you write about the ephemeral nature of these trendy departures from common sense. It reminded me of the Nativity Prayer of St Ephraim of Syria, so I thought why not quote it as he puts things better than I do, and because it can remind us of Syria, so:

The feast day of your birth resembles you, O Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy your day.
Your day is celebrated from generation to generation.
Kings and Emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
But your festival
Will be remembered until the end of time.

4 March 2014 at 17:22  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Lucy Mullen @ 17.22

Good ! There is much spiritual wisdom and power in many of these ancient liturgies, prayers and collects. Savour and enjoy them. They provide us with strength, to be harvested freely from the roadside verges, of the tracks already travelled by the earlier Pilgrim People of God.

Our job, all of us, I'm convinced is to live in the present age, witnessing to the unchanging truths and Grace of God, using culturally effective methods of speaking the Gospel to whatever country or culture we are embedded in, but without being absorbed by those cultures; remaining distinct, a "Community of Character" (Hauerwas) and always keeping our eye on the distant destination, The Kingdom of God.

God's unchanging truth goes on ahead of us, surrounds us now and guides us all forwards, in the faith. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. These passing fashions will surely collapse - Rome itself did !

4 March 2014 at 17:44  
Blogger IanCad said...

A while back I stated that any residual neutrality I might have professed on the homo rights question was wearing thin.

The same can be stated for the members of "This Monstrous Regiment of Women" who urgently need some firm handling.

I'm sorry, but I'm beginning to think that it was a black day when women got the vote.
"Barefoot and Pregnant" is looking better day by day.

BTW. Is anyone else having difficulty pasting into blogger from wordpad?

4 March 2014 at 17:48  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Sir Gerald Howarth. “and it may well prove to be the undoing of this Administration, since neither she nor the Prime Minister, nor any of us, have a mandate for this legislation.”

Absolutely Sir ! And it should be of particular concern to upstart ministers with slender majorities.

Perhaps it is, and Soubry came to the room intent on a fight, and intent on rubbing as much SSM into the carpet while she can.

Personally, one is somewhat hoping that SSM is the nadir of out of control liberalism and that in 20 years time, people will ask why consideration was given in this case to ‘fairytale unions’ involving homosexuals who are at the moment allowed to serve in HM forces, presumably for as long as they manage to keep themselves HIV negative and not be caught with paedophile pornography. As is all too troublingly in both cases, their wont…

Postscript. Soubry was an A-list candidate, which may explain why her ‘Conservatism’ is not apparent to this man. And one suspects the existence of that awful list no doubt goes a long way to explain why the Conservative Party’s ‘Conservatism’ is not apparent, again to this man. The damnable device acting as a leg up for those whose watery commitment to tried and principles would otherwise have excluded them from representation.

4 March 2014 at 18:03  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

The Inspector at this stage would like to pay tribute to the Armed Forces of the UK. The finest in the world, no less. Now, to retain this position, we must resort back to the time when commanders decided whom should have the privilege of service, NOT degenerate politicians. And that will invariably mean NO homosexuals who refuse to be celibate, and no battalions of ‘lipstick courage’ gals, save for a few in traditional girlie roles. The Armed Services are a boys thing. One is sure we’ll all agree on that.

Meanwhile, tell the unmarried mother for Broxtowe the Inspector doeth have the solution for her agonies.

It may come about that soldier gay will eventually demand a room on bases for the purposes of anus sex, among other gay delights. Next door to the crèche, perhaps. Be something to do with equality they’ll tell us. After all, we find that when gay demands, gay gets and almost unconditionally, otherwise we are all horrible bigots, as we know, and no thoroughly modern western society can be having that, we are continually told and told, what !

They can hold their sham ceremonies in the gay room, out of the way of normal people…

4 March 2014 at 18:04  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Uncle Brian

Well, sure - to avoid offending the conscience of another. But that misses the point. I didn't say it should be eaten. I said it may be eaten. There are lots of good reasons to not conduct a SSM in a church, and offending the conscience of another is a valid reason.

My point was that people don't make things unclean and things don't make people unclean. People make themselves unclean. It's not what goes into a man or touches him that matters. It's what comes out of a man's heart that matters. The idea that a building is objectively defiled for worship by a SSM is false. You wouldn't need to change the furniture or consecrate the place or whatever.

Nothing spiritual can happen to things.


4 March 2014 at 18:05  
Blogger Frank Cranmer said...

On a technical point: "What is the likelihood of a Quaker conducting a marriage, whether same sex or any other, in a military chapel, given the fundamental tenet of the Quaker religion?"

The answer must surely be "zero": not because all Friends are out-and-out pacifists (some, after all, fought Hitler) but because Quaker marriages don't work like (eg) Anglican ones. They are conducted in a Quaker meeting for worship in the presence of the Area Meeting's registering officer and there is no "minister" to join the parties in marriage.

Since (to the best of my knowledge) there is no Quaker Local Meeting that meets in a military chapel, I can't see any circumstances in which a Quaker marriage might take place in one.

4 March 2014 at 18:24  
Blogger richardhj said...

Anna Soubry. Maria Miller

And this claims to be the Conservative party. How far the party, the country and the world have fallen.

4 March 2014 at 22:14  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

richardhj. Take out the cultural Marxists, and you’ll get your Conservative party back. Meanwhile, the rest of us have moved on to UKIP

4 March 2014 at 22:43  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

By the way, the aforementioned anus room will be of course, correctly, the ‘equality and diversity facility’. Though ‘anus room’ will be one of the more printable nicknames given to it by serving troops. Incidentally, soldiers in wheelchairs welcome. There will be a place for you in the new model equality army.

God help us all, what !

4 March 2014 at 22:53  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Anna Sourpuss – she's inherited the rude gene from her French heritage then! tried to shout down Mr Farage on 7th Nov 13's Question Time in a discussion about immigration and in particular in Lincolnshire. She accused him of not quoting facts which is not true, he quotes many facts and figures and she wouldn't let him speak. So it's no surprise that she should have sought to label what Mr Howarth and Mr Leigh were saying as fantasy.

She fails to understand and take human nature into account when she says “We have a Roman Catholic military chapel, and we all know the views of the Roman Catholic Church on same sex marriage. The first thing we have to get is a same sex couple who are Catholics. (No problem plenty about and now that marriage has been redefined they will be pestering their Churches to 'marry' them.)

Unless one was a Roman Catholic, one would not want to get married in a Roman Catholic chapel. Call me old-fashioned, Mr Hood, but I rather thought that one got married in a place of religious worship because one shared that religion. Military chapels, like all places of worship, are not lovely venues where one can have a fairytale marriage. (Tell that to the homosexuals! As yet both God and the RCC do not share the values of homosexuals in partnership, but that wont stop the gays.) I thought, in theory, that people get married there because they wanted to take their oath in the presence of God, in a place that shared their values and added that religious solemnisation to their marriage vows. If you do not share those beliefs, you go and get married in the registry office or some other venue that is licensed for holding marriages. “ ( Not necessarily, it's human nature to want what they can't have. She is naive and a bit clueless. )

4 March 2014 at 23:16  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Marie, Happy Jack tends to agree Anna Sourpuss (good one) is
"naïve and a bit clueless."

She knows what she's doing - deriding Christian values. Remember, this is a woman who argued for the legalisation of cannabis whilst at the same time wanting tobacco more tightly regulated as it is "more addictive than heroin." What does she think people add to cannabis to smoke it? Tealeaves? Like all of her ilk, she is without a moral anchor for her 'cleverness' and wants to appear 'modern' and 'progressive'.

5 March 2014 at 00:34  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

God help us! Is she a friend of that Mr Slope I wonder? Encourageing hard drugs so that society becomes too out of it to notice what's going on, he'd be pleased with that sort of progress.

I shall pray tonight for common sense to prevail. Good night.

5 March 2014 at 01:28  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Marie, she may well be. That's why Happy Jack calls him "Slippery Slope" - the swine that he is.

5 March 2014 at 10:57  
Blogger Albert said...

As I read this, it seems to me that the Minister does not have the right temperament to be a minister. Like it or not, laws have to drawn up around all sorts of strange contingencies. Much of the discussion is designed to tease out how the wider principles of a law work - regardless of whether the examples are ever likely to come to pass. I would have thought that was obvious. The fact that she is so rude and flippant only heightens the anxieties, so she implies she does not have the judgement to her job as well.

We have a Roman Catholic military chapel, and we all know the views of the Roman Catholic Church on same sex marriage. The first thing we have to get is a same sex couple who are Catholics. Unless one was a Roman Catholic, one would not want to get married in a Roman Catholic chapel. Call me old-fashioned, Mr Hood, but I rather thought that one got married in a place of religious worship because one shared that religion.

Well that's just ignorant. The idea that everyone in the Catholic Church believes everything the Church teaches is just false (sadly). One wonders how we came to ruled by such ignorant bandits.

5 March 2014 at 22:04  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Still hopping mad about Soubry. If this is the Conservative Party, it damn well stole my vote in 2010...

5 March 2014 at 22:33  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


It's not ignorance. It's a convenient fiction that allows her to avoid answering the question. She doesn't want to answer the question because the answer is dangerous. It's a common political tactic: "Don't answer the question you were asked. Answer the question you want to answer."


5 March 2014 at 22:44  
Blogger Albert said...


You may be right, but she may also just be that ignorant.

6 March 2014 at 10:13  
Blogger richardhj said...

Inspector 22:43 4th March

When I read that Cameron, as Opposition Leader, had stated that he wasn't going to vote to allow Catholic adoption agencies to be exempt from "gay adoption rules", I walked over to my computer, went onto my bank account site and stopped my monthly membership Standing Order to the Conservative Party.
Indeed had it not been for the expected publicity, I would have resigned the day he became leader but as a Councillor at the time, I expected some publicity which would have been good for neither my family or job.

I haven't joined UKIP though. I have attended a couple of their meetings and done some election work for them, but the feeling at the meetings has been totally opposed to any overseas aid, and I am not sure that I can fully subscribe.

After saying that, I am considering what help I can give them in Tatton at the next election. Tatton isn't too far from where I live, and if I could help to bring down Osborne, how good would that be?

6 March 2014 at 13:13  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Marvellous stuff richardhj, and very understandable. That Cameron put the selfish and bizarre interests of a tiny and now much pampered minority of society over the welfare of children not in families scraped ones innards at the time. The reality of his lack of Conservative principles were uncovered then.

Don’t worry about overseas aid. It will continue for if it were to stop, then this country would stand in shame on the world stage. And we ARE worthy of the world stage and always will be. It will have to come down though, to a somewhat more reasonable level. One does believe that is the root of the public disquiet on this issue lately - its unreasonable largesse coupled with the questionable destination of the funds in many cases. Personally, one cannot understand why much is delivered straight to the regimes of the world’s impoverished. They’re the last people to be trusted with the loot, which is no doubt how they view it…

6 March 2014 at 18:16  
Blogger richardhj said...


I entirely agree with you over the issue as to where the money goes (as well as on lots of other things)

There must be a sensible way of getting it to the people who need it. Liblabcon only are interested in a game of "my wallet's bigger than yours" whilst UKIP only appear to be interested in how tightly the wallet is clamped shut.

Someone needs to do this properly. Maybe UKIP would do. But then I would rather them be comitted to it now, nationally and locally.

8 March 2014 at 09:21  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

That is how it is richardhj. Honest tax payers cash is handed out to these wretched countries with as much thought behind it as that given to what is probably now third generation families in this kingdom where no one has ever worked. One imagines our recipients idling their thoughts away on their walk to the pub observing immigrants doing the jobs they should be doing. A burden to us all that has become quite untenable.

However, such is Cranmer’s standing as a political forum, one is assured that your ideas will be brought to the attention of UKIP’s leadership, if not actually perused by the leader himself.

8 March 2014 at 11:00  
Blogger genghis said...

When I married my wife, some forty-six years ago, we married in Church. We married by exchanging vows before the symbols of God. Over our heads was an invisible sign which stated “Be still, and know that I am God”. We promised to love and honour each other all the days of our lives, until ‘Death do us part’.
Implicit in this ceremony was to acknowledge the fact that we would be having a family, because marriage and the conception of children have been inextricably linked, both in and out of religious belief, for almost three millennia; from the earliest days of what has become to be known as civilized society. I do not look upon the past nearly half-century as anything other than a testament to my own good fortune, in meeting, courting and finally persuading my wife that we should marry. I knew, approximately ten seconds after we first met, that she was the one for me; and the delay in our marriage of nearly two years was mainly due to the fact that I left England to join my last ship for a thirteen-month trip some four weeks after we first met. We have seen great happiness, and also great sadness in the long years together, but my view is simple; we made a promise together, and I would be a poor imitation of a man if I ever broke that promise.
So don’t ever let a set of mealy-mouthed politicians, who have joined with another, and larger set of scheming liberals and socialists equate the joy, the wonder, the sadness, the happiness and the hope of my marriage, along with millions of similar marriages; to the ‘union’ between two males or females as the same thing: because it is not, will not, and cannot be anything but a pale imitation of our promise that day, in that church; some forty-six years ago.
When the day occurs when I die, my wife shall be a widow; not ‘a woman whose spouse is dead’: if the day happens when my wife dies, I shall be a widower, I shall be shattered with grief, and diminished by that fact; but I shall not be ‘a man whose spouse is dead’!

9 March 2014 at 10:42  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

A heart warming post Genghis, and an antidote to politicians of the likes of Soubry who would have us meekly lie down to their godless dictates...

9 March 2014 at 14:29  
Blogger DP said...

Your Grace

This demonstrates how redundant much, if not most, of government is.

It also demonstrates how our government is dedicated to the destruction of the British way of life, British culture and British institutions - including government. All that government touches is turned to dross.

Pray, why do they do it?

Time for all freeborn Englishmen and women to regain their birthright.


10 March 2014 at 13:05  

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