All 1 Debates between Baroness Flather and Lord True

Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill

Debate between Baroness Flather and Lord True
Friday 13th March 2015

(9 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True
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No, I am certainly not saying that. However, I would vastly prefer it if the National Secular Society did not go round the country seeking to drive out aspects of faith in public life. I would leave well alone and live and let live. I wish to draw my remarks to a close. It would be a great pity if this Bill were not allowed to proceed. I think it would be a disaster if we voted on this issue. I cannot think of anything more calculated to bring division where there is none than taking to a Division the issue of whether we should or should not have prayers, and having that backed by email campaigns and other campaigns. The whole idea is absurd in my opinion.

Baroness Flather Portrait Baroness Flather
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I take issue with the noble Lord’s remark about bringing division where there is no division. This country is not what it used to be. I first came here in 1947 and I have lived here ever since then. It is changing all the time. Huge change has occurred in each decade. The National Secular Society is giving voice to the opinion held by many people. That society is not run by just three or four people. As I said, I am an atheist but I respect everybody else’s faith. I opt out of the Prayers in the House of Lords. I would prefer not to have to do that and would prefer the Prayers to be more inclusive of atheists. There should be quiet reflection or much more inclusive prayers. It is not a case of what the National Secular Society is advocating; the rest of us have changed.

Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I wanted to conclude my remarks but I must respond to those comments. My local authority has, and has had, councillors of all faiths and none, including many atheists. My deputy leader is a strong atheist but is very happy to attend the prayers for the reason that I gave. The campaign run by the National Secular Society is of a very different order from the position mentioned by the noble Baroness. This is a process which brings people together, has long had a place in public service and should continue. I strongly support the Bill and hope that these amendments will be rejected.