Ecumenical Marriage Bill – Bishop of Winchester points to difficulties

Bishop of WinchesterOn the 23rd February 2018, Lord Deben’s  ‘Ecumenical Marriage Bill’ was debated in the House of Lords at Second Reading. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, spoke during the debate to say that he could not support the Bill for reasons related to detail and due process. The Government also declined to give the Bill its support, but as is convention, it passed Second Reading to be considered further in Committee. The Bishop’s speech and the closing speeches of the Minister and Lord Deben are reproduced below:

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Deben, for giving us the opportunity to speak about issues of such importance to this Bench as the celebration of marriage and our ecumenical relationships. I first acknowledge the personal and pastoral issues raised by the noble Lord and the way that he has so succinctly put those in his four concluding points, about sacraments, the ecumenical world, the fudges and the ecumenical movement.

I am, therefore, rather embarrassed to start with something slightly more dry and technical. However, I begin by addressing what I believe to be the key issue here, which is constitutional in nature. There is a long-standing constitutional convention, with which noble Lords will be very familiar, that the Church of England makes its own legislation by synodical process. That legislation comes before Parliament for approval, having first been considered by the Ecclesiastical Committee. This Bill represents a departure from that convention. Continue reading “Ecumenical Marriage Bill – Bishop of Winchester points to difficulties”