HC Deb 08 February 1966 vol 724 cc348-9

Considered in Committee; reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Mr. Peter Mills (Torrington)

I am very grateful for this opportunity to say a few words on the Bill, as I do not think that it ought to pass through the House without comment. I certainly welcome the Bill and think it is a very wise move in these modern times—the Church bringing itself up to date and changing some of its ancient customs. I do not believe that it is right to insist on a common life for Parliament and the Convocations of the Church. This, to me, is a move in the right direction, another movement towards eventual disestablishment in some form or other—

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)


Mr. Mills

I should like to see not complete disestablishment but disestablishment in some form or another, and this Bill is certainly a move in that direction.

I believe that this partial disestablishment must come if the Church of England is to go forward to become the power which it ought to be in this land—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am extremely interested in what the hon. Member says, but he must discuss on Third Reading only what is in the Bill. We are not discussing at the moment the disestablishment of the Church of England.

Mr. Mills

Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Speaker. I stood up to speak during the Second Reading debate but was not called, so it looks as if I shall have to sit down now with just those few words.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. George Thomas)

I welcome the tribute which the hon. Member has paid and I should like to say that this Measure changes a custom which has endured for centuries. It is essential to the life of the Church of England and I hope that, since the Measure has gone unamended by either House—it has had an enviable record in the way in which it has passed through—the House will tonight give it a Third Reading.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, would he give an assurance to the House that this is not a precursor to the disestablishment of the Church of England? Will he also confirm that there is no intention—

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the Minister gave that assurance, interested though the Speaker is in the answer, he would be out of order.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, without Amendment.