All 1 Debates between Baroness Flather and Lord Lea of Crondall

Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill

Debate between Baroness Flather and Lord Lea of Crondall
Friday 13th March 2015

(9 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab)
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As regards there being a party line on this side which is—

Baroness Flather Portrait Baroness Flather
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I am sorry; I had not finished speaking. I am glad to hear what the noble Lord said but it is not spelled out. It is implied but we need to spell out that it is not essential to have prayers and it is for the council itself to decide what it would like to have. Perhaps it would like to have an inclusive, non-religious procedure invoking help in carrying out its business, or just a period of quiet reflection. I would prefer a period of quiet reflection as, given that I am an atheist, it is the only thing I could participate in. I could not say prayers or invoke help from anybody because I have decided not to do so. We have to think about this issue on a practical level. There is an awful lot in this Bill which makes people think that some of its measures are compulsory.

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
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My Lords, for the avoidance of doubt, as regards my reflecting a party line on this side of the House which is aligned with the views of the National Secular Society, I believe that the remarks of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester reflect the position in many parts of the country. This is not a case of religion invading a public space; it is the settled view of society at present. We have debated the establishment of the Church of England. Without going back to the time of Henry VIII, it is a fact that the monarch, as head of the Church of England, is also able to ensure that other religions are respected in this country. I have the highest regard for the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, but I do not think that the examples he gave were at all representative of people feeling excluded, any more than that is true of noble Lords being corralled outside the Chamber in some sort of terrible dungeon waiting to come in after Prayers have been said. I think there is a category confusion in the argument being advanced.