HC Deb 20 March 1969 vol 780 cc727-8
31. Mr. Booth

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will implement the provisions of the Easter Act, 1928.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

My right hon. Friend awaits the result of the consultations being undertaken by the World Council of Churches.

Mr. Booth

Does not my hon. Friend think that the 40 years which have passed since the Easter Act was put on the Statute Book have afforded ample time for consultation with all these bodies, and that it ill-becomes a modern dynamic Government not to have taken a decision on this matter before now?

Mr. Rees

My hon. Friend may care to know that the World Council of Churches has sent a questionnaire to 230 member Churches, and that so far there is a majority in favour of a fixed Easter. Although the Catholic Church, through the Vatican Council, has declared in favour of the principle of a fixed Easter, it has let it be known that it will not go ahead until agreement is reached with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Consultations are now to take place between the Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Secretariat for Unity. I think that this is not a matter in which a good dynamic Government should interfere at this pitch. My hon. Friend may be interested to know that a great deal of progress has been made in the last five years in this respect, just as he knows a great deal of progress has been made in other respects.

Mr. John Hall

Will the hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of having a fixed Christmas Day as well?

Mr. Rees

I think that in all these things it must be one thing at a time.