HC Deb 12 June 1980 vol 986 cc951-72

Queen's consent having been signified

10.26 pm
Mr. William van Straubenzee(Second Church Estates Commissioner)

I beg to move, That the Diocese in Europe Measure, passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for Her Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament. If a Minister were moving that a Bill be read the Second time, he would be expected to give a detailed explanation of each clause. The advantage of our procedures, by which Measures such as this are first considered by a Joint Committee of the Commons and another place—the Ecclesiastical Committee—is that we have a report of that distingushed Committee on the Measure. We also have a report from the legislative committee of the General Synod. The House will wish me to say something about what the Measure provides, but it will not be necessary for me to detain the House to give the detail that might be otherwise be necessary.

It might be helpful if I put the Measure into context. The Anglican churches were planted throughout the world and they came to full independence as the years passed. Many of them have found their way to fully independent provinces in their parts of the world. That can be seen in the old Commonwealth countries and in Africa. In some dioceses they have become so isolated that that has not been possible. Sometimes political problems have been associated with the territorial area in which they are situated. We understand the political delicacies affecting a diocese such as Hong Kong.

Other isolated areas have been brought to full independence within a province. There is one in the South Pacific, a province in New Guinea and the Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. That, briefly, is the background to the historic jurisdiction of the Bishop of London in northern and central Europe and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Gibraltar.

Given that background, the problem facing the Church of England was how to discover the appropriate way forward and how that amalgam should be dealt with in terms of its association with a wider entity. It seemed desirable to bring it within the ambit of wider ecclesiastical unity. The problem was, where? The obvious solution was to associate it with the Church of England in England.

The Measure makes provision for a diocese not of Europe, but a diocese in Europe. The Measure does not create a diocese. It assumes the relinquishment by the Bishop of London of his historic jurisdiction. He has made known his intention so to do. The Measure records the intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to exercise his metro-political jurisdiction over the areas so surrendered and over the areas within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Gibraltar, and from these to create one diocese in Europe.

The Measure provides for representation of the diocese in the General Synod and in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, it provides, as hon. Members have no doubt seen, for the Church Commissioners to provide for stipends in exactly the same way as is done with the clergy in the Church of England and, incidentally, for their pensions. It also provides, for example, for so human a measure as pensions for deaconesses and lay workers—that matter was before the House not long ago—to apply to such persons in exactly the same way as it does here.

There will be no diocesan synod for the diocese in Europe. It may be that that would in some ways be desirable, but I am sure hon. Members will understand that there would be huge problems of expense in travel and so on. I think that it must be right that the functions of a diocesan synod—those that would be fulfilled in an Anglican diocese in England—will be fulfilled by a bishop's council and standing committee.

Nor will the bishop be appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as are, of course, the diocesan bishops of the Church of England within England. The bishop will be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and an episcopal member of the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. For the avoidance of all possible doubt, and to meet a reasonable question that might emerge later, may I say absolutely clearly that the statute law of this country is so framed that the bishop will not be eligible to sit in another place. The reference for that is the Bishoprics Act 1878, as amended, an Act that I am sure is constantly in the minds of hon. Members.

Let me deal for a moment with what I quite understand could for some be an objection. Is it right, as it will be if the House gives its assent tonight, for someone who is not a British subject to be a member of the General Synod? The General Synod, as we all understand well, not only has its own legislative powers but, though the power is used sparingly, can amend Acts passed by this House. My answer to that is that that is nothing new. Though it may at first seem so, the Measure is not charting new ground in that respect.

Let me give an example. Suppose that there were a Swedish national who had been episcopally confirmed by a bishop in Sweden. The Church of England is in communion with the Church in Sweden. Let us assume, further, that either by residence or by habitual worship that Swedish national is on the electoral roll of the Church of England in England. He is quite clearly, as the law stands, eligible to be on that electoral roll and eligible to be elected to the General Synod. He is wholly eligible to be elected, and there is no requirement that he must, for example, taken an oath of allegiance.

I am, together with one other hon. Member present tonight, a member of the General Synod, and neither of us by virtue of our membership of the General Synod is required to take an oath of allegiance. Nor by virtue of their membership of the General Synod are our clerical brethren. I think, though, that all of them will have taken an oath of allegiance by virtue of some other matter such as their being bishops of the Church of England or having been presented to livings in the Church where that is a requirement.

I found helpful the report of the Ecclesiastical Committee which brought out so clearly that the Church of England does not confine its operations to England and that membership does not depend upon nationality. I hope, therefore, that this Measure will commend itself to the House as a logical, practical and sensible of the work of the Church, bringing those concerned within the ambit of the larger ecclesiastical unit, giving them the rights of membership of the General Synod which are so clearly set out.

I need detain the House no longer, but with the leave of the House I shall reply to any major points that are raised. I commend the Measure to the House.

10.36 pm
Mr. Frank R. White (Bury and Rad-cliffe)

Before the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) opened our debate the House had concluded an interesting debate on the problems of the construction industry. I congratulate the hon. Member on directing the thoughts of the House to a very different problem of reconstruction, but an important one none the less.

In the present climate of debate within the Parliamentary Labour Party and in the country as a whole, it is with a little trepidation that one approaches any subject that has a European context. We fear, quite rightly, invoking the wrath and indignation of the pro- and anti-Marketeers. Therefore, I stress that I do not regard this measure as in any way launching the Church of England into the red-hot furnace of the argument about the EEC. Whatever the outcome of the political arguments concerning this country's continued membership of the EEC, the Church of England, as a result of our history and regardless of our future role in Europe, has and will continue to have a role to play in the European Christian community.

The days are long gone when the Continental chaplaincies of the Church of England chiefly served the wealthy and leisured expatriates doing the grand Victorian tour of Europe. The Church serves not only thousands of holiday-makers in growing numbers but business men and British members of international organisations whose families live and are educated in Europe, as well as providing the traditional services to embassy and consular staff. In many places in Europe there are also retired Britons and British widows of local nationals, who place great value on this link with their mother country. As is explained in the report before the House, the mix differs from place to place, but the chaplaincy can be expected to serve a wide cross-section of people drawn from the wider area of the country in which it is based.

The demand is growing. Just as our resident commercial and industrial involvement in the Continent grows, so does the work of the Church. In January there was a revision of the electoral rolls of the European chaplaincies. There were 8,659 persons on those rolls. There are approximately 200 chaplaincies, of which 96 have resident clergy. Hon. Members may judge the importance of this group of people by comparing them with the 139 benefices in the diocese of Portsmouth or the 143 benefices in the diocese of Bradford.

I do not intend to recount the history of the chaplaincies outside the country ; the hon. Member for Wokingham has already taken us through that. I do not intend to take the House through the historical development of the Anglican chaplaincies from the Order in Council of Charles I in 1633, or the Crown Letters Patent establishing Gibraltar in 1842. Again, the hon. Member has dealt with those points adequately. I will not test the patience of the House by repetition. I trust, however, that I have removed any fears regarding Europeanisation. I merely state that I support the arguments put forward by the Second Church Estates Commissioner about the constitutional issues involved when considering the Measure.

I wish to direct the thoughts of the House to the present, and to what I believe to be the simple basic facts of life about the proposal before us. The House must start by realising that there is an increasing desire from both clergy and laity in the European chaplaincies for a closer association with the Church of England, especially for a share in its synodical institutions. If we put it in terms of an industrial or commercial analogy, management and staff of the European enterprise wish to be given greater job satisfaction and a place on the consultative committees of the corporation in order to enjoy the levels of participation and industrial democracy of other affiliated organisations. That request seems completely understandable, especially when put in those terms. Surely it is unreasonable to expect a growing section of the Church to de denied access to the top tier of decision making. To reject that desire completely out of hand would be to rebut the very basis of the Church Assembly.

The second basic point that the House must consider is the spiritual work of the Church. Will the Measure promote or detract from that objective? The involvement of Ecclesia Anglicana in Europe goes back centuries, beyond the Reformation, and even beyond the Norman Conquest. I believe that the early Saxon bishops gained a reputation for dogged single-mindedness in what must have been the first Community renegotiation. That involvement is shown in more modern times by the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury through the diocese of Gibraltar.

I believe that in passing the Measure we shall provide positive benefit to the work of the Church in Europe, especially our relationships with other European churches with which we enjoy spiritual communion, and even with those of other Christian fellowships.

I wish to return to a comment that I made when I first spoke in these debates, when I stated that the House should be able to demonstrate serious concern before disagreeing or refusing any Measure passed by the General Synod. I do not say that we must give carte blanche, but we must have deep-held justification before refusing any Measure.

I do not know the record for consultative discussion, but the Measure seems to have experienced a great deal. In 1973 the then Bishop of London initiated a reference to the standing committee of the General Synod of the Church relative to this proposal. In October 1975 the Archbishop of Canterbury presided over a London conference, in which bishops, clergy, committee members and, more importantly, the clergy and laity of European chaplaincies, fully participated. That conference produced an agreed statement, and the proposals contained in the statement were widely discussed in the European chaplaincies, were voted on, and gained the full support of all but two.

In November 1976 the General Synod passed a motion of support and instructed that the necessary legislation be prepared. The prepared document was introduced in the General Synod in February 1979, and it received general support. It was again discussed on revision in November of that year. In February of this year the Measure was given final approval. Following that, the Ecclesiastical Committee also gave its approval, having decided, after a full scrutiny whatever the concern about some controversial points it was not sufficient to reject the Measure.

The document before us has received the most widespread degree of consultation possible. Despite the reservations of a few, it has received both enthusiastic and overwhelming support. In the light of the results of those consultations, and the subsequent debates in Synod, and bearing in mind the detailed scrutiny of the Ecclesiastical Committee, I support the measure on behalf of the Opposition. I ask the House to give it its full support.

10.44 pm
Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

I simply want to say a few words in support of the Measure. I should tell the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White) that the Church moves very slowly in these matters. I was involved in discussing a possible diocese of Europe in the late 1960s, when for a number of years I was treasurer of the Commonwealth and Continental Church Society. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) will know, we had, and still have, a large number of chaplaincies in Europe, from one end to the other.

I am glad that this Measure has finally reached this stage, and I hope that the Church of England will now press on with it after we pass it. It will give to the Church in Europe a sense of unity and belonging which it perhaps did not have before. For many years, the Church comprised a number of loosely knit chaplaincies. As the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe said, in Victorian days those chaplaincies each had an individual entity of their own, because many English people lived in various places in Europe and the chaplaincies were quite prosperous and full.

That has somewhat changed. Those chaplaincies now have a new role. They have a minimum congregation at certain times of the year and at other times they have a congregation which ought to be increased considerably, and many congregations are, by the influx of holiday makers. This job can justify a good deal of attention by the Church of England through its societies, including the one with which I am still connected as a trustee, although the name has been changed to the Intercom Society. Other societies in Europe are also involved in this work.

I have always found it strange that we have had the diocese of Gibraltar, yet it is only now that we are coming round to a diocese in the northern part of Europe. It is fascinating that this is happening at a time when Spain is seeking to join the Common Market. I do not know what that will do with regard to our negotiations with Spain over Gibraltar, just at the time when we are making Gibraltar the centre for the new diocese in Europe. Perhaps that is another good reason why we should not hand Gibraltar over to the Spaniards. Equally, it may be the case that the Church, in so far as it has a greater influence in Europe, will be able to advise the Government on how to negotiate with the Spaniards so that we can reach some agreement on this matter.

The fact that it will be called the diocese of Gibraltar in Europe—although it will, in fact, be called the diocese in Europe—gives a new meaning to the words of Christ himself, when He said : upon this rock I will build my church". I simply rise to wish the Measure well. It is good that the House should discuss these matters and that some of us at least should take an interest in what the Church is doing. It means that the Church and the State have a real meaning. This latest venture will create a new outpost which will be much closer to us than ever before, both because we belong to Europe and because people now go there in much greater numbers than they have done in the past. That makes this Measure even more important.

10.50 pm
Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

It is a little dangerous to quote super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meant in the context of a debate about the Church of England, as it is a text that has often been discussed in relation to the Church of which the Church in England—not of England—was once a part. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White) distorted history a little in relation to the Church in England. It is true, I think, that an English missionary became the first Archbishop of Mainz, the principal archbishopric of the Holy Roman Empire and of Germany. That was when there was one church throughout Western Europe. It was long before the Church of England—a somewhat nationalistic enterprise of the sixteenth century—was created.

This Measure is not one that any hon. Member wishes to oppose by vote on the Floor of the House at this time of night, but a few points should be made. It is not as perfect a measure as may have seemed to be the case up to now. It was not immediately approved by the Ecclesiastical Committee, which held two sessions on the matter. It approved it in principle during the first session, but it redrafted the report in the second session.

It is a slight misfortune that, although the Ecclesiastical Committee is a Joint Committee of both Houses, it is not a Joint Committee in the normal sense in which we use those words. It is not a combination of two Select Committees, following the procedures of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, although it seems to be when one is a member of it. It is set up by statute. The result is that in this report the proceedings of the Committee are not included in the way that they would be included were it a normal Select Committee of the two Houses. That makes it difficult for any hon. Member who was not a member of the Committee to know what happened.

Perhaps I can use the fact that it is sui generis and a statutory creation to talk about the proceedings, because if it were a Joint Select Committee of both Houses I would not be allowed to do so. Although the overwhelming majority of the Committee voted for approval of the measure, nearly everyone who voted for it expressed some reservation. Its title and the title of the diocese is a little odd. As the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Lewis) said, it is to be known in practice as the diocese in Europe. Its official title is the diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. It is nice to be told that Gibraltar is in Europe. But it is even more peculiar if we remember that that includes Morocco and Turkey and, as I understand, it includes the part of Turkey that is in Asia, as well as Morocco, which is in Africa.

I should like to ask the hon. Member Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) a point in relation to the other diocese included. What does Northern and Central Europe include? In the history of the Anglican Church, at one time Northern Europe included Russia. In the sixteenth century there was an Anglican chapel opposite the Kremlin. I am a little concerned about the question of foreigners being allowed to vote in a law-making institution of the United Kingdom. Does that include Russian citizens? It may well not. But what does Northern and Central Europe include? People from Morocco or Turkey would have indirect rights to elect representatives in the General Synod. That is the essential criticism of this Measure.

I asked a question in the Ecclesiastical Committee, since the Measure adopts a completely opposite principle to that of the European Communities. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Rad-cliffe said that it does not bring Europe into this issue. He is quite right. It does not do that, because it adopts a highly nationalistic English way of looking at things and does the exact opposite of what the European Commission has proposed in relation to EEC countries. My hon. Friend may recollect that what the Commission has proposed is that everyone throughout Europe should have civil rights and legal rights in the country in which he resides, irrespective of his nationality. That has not happened yet. But it would, for example, enable my hon. Friend, if he happened to be living in Lyons, to vote for the Lyons town council, just as he could vote for, say, the Greater London Council if he happened to live in London, irrespective of whether he was a British or a French citizen.

This is the opposite principle. This says that irrespective of the country of which one is a citizen, and of where one lives, one can vote for people to be elected to the General Synod of the Church of England. In this respect, the General Synod is "in" England as well as "of" it. That is what is odd about it.

What is odd about it really—and this is why this Measure is not worth formally opposing—is that we should be doing any of this at all. In the sixteenth century we took the legislative power over the Church away from the Pope and gave it partly to Parliament and partly to the Crown. There were arguments between Parliament and the Crown about how to exercise it, but that we can ignore.

Earlier in this century we substantially took those legislative powers away from Parliament except in the ultimate and gave them to the General Synod of the Church of England, as it is now called, under a procedure laid down by statute. All that Parliament—the House of Commons and the House of Lords—has left is the right formally to approve or formally to disapprove. But the fact is that what is being done is the law of the land.

If it were just the rules and regulations of the Church it would not matter very much. The General Synod is entirely entitled to decide for itself all that it wishes to decide about the Church of England. The trouble is that that is not what actually happens. The General Synod does not decide for itself. The House of Commons and the House of Lords have to approve, through the procedure of the Legislative Committee and the Ecclesiastical Committee. The reason why they have to approve is not just some sort of ancient tradition or piece of arrogance, or something of that kind. The reason why they have to approve is that the General Synod is almost not limited in any way whatsoever as to what piece of law it can change.

As far as I am aware, the General Synod might well be able, for example, subject to the approval of both the Lords and the Commons, to reverse past history and say that if a person does not belong to the Church of England he cannot become a Member of the House of Commons. It would be capable of changing any Act of Parliament or any piece of legislation. It could do even that, in theory, I think. Of course, we all understand that no one would dream of doing it and that it would have to be approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

But the fact is that it goes far wider than the normal decisions of a normal Church in most of the world. There is an Anglican Church in the United States—a Church in communion with the Church of England—that will not be electing representatives to the General Synod, unlike the Anglican Churches in Europe and part of Africa and part of Asia, which will. In the United States, the Anglican Church, or Episcopalian Church—whichever one cares to call it ; the one in communion with our Church of England—will make rules and regulations governing itself, its own members, its bishops and its priests. It may even admit women to the priesthood, for example, in a way in which the Church of England will not yet do. That does not mean that it becomes part of the law of the United States of America, or of one of its 50 or so states. In Britain, the General Synod can go beyond that and can amend, reverse, repeal or change an Act of Parliament or regulation. It can change the law of the land.

It would be better to have a Commission to consider that. Indeed, the hon. Member for Wokingham played a distinguished part on such a Commission. The General Synod should not need the approval of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords for its actions. On the other hand, it should not have the power to change the law of the land. It should have the power to govern the Church of England alone. If the Roman Catholic Church can govern itself quite successfully in England and other countries without having the power to enact legislation, I should have thought that the Church of England could.

It is peculiar that the Measure is necessary. The complexities of the issue demonstrate that. We may not be setting a precedent, but we are saying that certain people will be added to the General Synod. Those people may or may not be British citizens, and may or may not live in Europe, North Africa, Turkey, and so on. Although the Ecclesiastical Committee did not oppose it, it expressed its views well. In the fourth paragraph on page 4 of the report, it states : The central objection, it seems to the Ecclesiastical Committee, is that which is expressed in paragraph 21 of the Comments and Explanations in the following terms. The Committee then quotes from the Church of England statement, which says : ' if the Constitution and the Measure comes into effect for the first time one of the dioceses represented in the General Synod will not be part of the "Established Church" '". Reverting to the Committee's own words, it says : The Ecclesiastical Committee have reservations about the way in which this objection is there expressed. If it is said that the Ecclesiastical Committee approves of the Measure, I must point out that it has probably never disapproved of a Measure. Perhaps I am wrong. The House of Commons and the House of Lords have never disapproved of a Measure, although a Measure was once struck off the Order Paper in this House.

The Ecclesiastical Committee is usually most appreciative of all the Measures put forward. "Reservations"—in the polite language of the Committee—is the nearest that it is likely to come to saying that it would have been better if the Measure had never been introduced. It says : The Ecclesiastical Committee have reservations about the way in which this objection is there expressed because it might suggest to some readers that the new dioceses would not be part of the Church of England. There can be no doubt that if the new dioceses were created the Church of England would in no sense be the established church in Gibraltar, much less in any other country in Europe, any more than it is at present. It seems to the Committee, however, that the new dioceses would be part of the Church of England though its Bishop, clergy and people would not share fully in the privileges and responsibilities which part of ' the establishment ' was generally understood. In the view of the Committee the objection mooted in paragraph 21 of the Comments and Explanations is in substance one based on territorial considerations. It can be expressed in the proposition that if it is not fitting to accord to representatives of the Church from overseas the right to participate in the General Synod. This proceeds on the footing that, although the Church does extend its operations overseas, the Government of the Church is peculiarly a matter for the United Kingdom, the Church being established by law in England within the fabric of the Constitution of the United Kingdom, and within that constitution alone. It later explains that the Church in America would not have the right to elect people to the General Synod.

Therefore, we are creating a peculiar anomaly. The hon. Member for Wokingham will probably tell me that the anomaly has been about for centuries in one form or another and he will be quite right. Nevertheless, here we are saying that some communities of the Church of England—those who happen to live in Europe, Morocco or Turkey—shall have rights that those who happen to Live in America or anywhere else in the world shall not have. Those who live in Europe, Morocco or Turkey—described as the diocese in Europe by somewhat doubtful geography—will have the rights of people who live in England in relation to the Church of England, as distinct from people who do not. That is roughly what the Measure says.

It is an anomaly and it would be impossible to describe it otherwise, although it is based on the fact that anomalies have been around for a very long time. But not this one. It is unusual, and we are bound to bring the attention of the public to the fact that for the first time we are allowing a law-making body, the General Synod of the Church of England—perhaps it should not be a lawmaking body, but it is—to be influenced by people elected from outside the United Kingdom, who may be totally unrelated to the United Kingdom in any way except through religion, in which case they are unique compared with other people sharing the same religion in other countries.

11.7 pm

Mr. Tim Sainsbury (Hove)

The hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) tempts us to follow constitutional arguments which perhaps might detain the House rather longer than it would wish. I hope that British citizens living in Europe will soon have the same opportunity of voting for their representatives in this House as those who are resident in this country. Therefore, it seems increasingly anomalous that the large British community in Brussels is prevented from doing so at present.

Mr. English

Is the hon. Member seriously saying that the proposals of the European Community are reprehensible because they say that every citizen of an EEC country should have the right to vote for the legislature of the country in which he resides, not the country of of which he is a national?

Mr. Sainsbury

The two arguments are not necessarily contradictory. Perhaps both opportunities will be accorded. However, I do not think that it would be right to pursue those constitutional channels at this time.

I am sure that the House is grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) for his clear and succinct exposition of the Measure, which seemed even more succinct in relation to what followed. In my experience, as a traveller in Europe, I have valued the work of the chaplaincies. Perhaps it is appropriate that we should be discussing this matter now, becaue one of the oldest-established, and perhaps best supported of the Church of England's chaplaincies is that in Venice, where my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is now taking part in an important international meeting.

I support the Measure as I believe that it is a logical and sensible extension of the work of the Church in Europe. It provides an opportunity for those in Europe to participate and be integrated in the general body of the Church.

I ask my hon. Friend five questions in relation to the Measure. First, am I correct in assuming that the bishop would be the person most responsible for seeking to adapt the deployment of the clergy in the diocese to new patterns of tourism and settlement? Reference has been made to members of the Anglican community who live in, retire to or take holidays in Spain. I am reminded of the lines in the ballad of the "Revenge"—namely : Sink me the ship, Master Gunner—sink her, split her in twain! Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain ! I understand that in Spain there are particular difficulties in establishing resident Anglican chaplaincies. Are the deployment of clergy and the negotiations that might be necessary to establish new chap-liancies responsibilities that would be expected to fall to the bishop of the new diocese, or would we expect that still to be negotiated centrally?

Secondly, would there be authority for the diocese to share churches? It seems probable that in the widespread diocese of Europe there would be occasions when churches, which perhaps because of long historical connections are part of the Anglican chaplaincy, could happily be used on other parts of the Sunday, or on other parts of the week, by other Christian communities and vice versa, and where the establishment of an occasional Anglican service could best be done not through establishing a church but by using the church or chapel of some other community.

Thirdly, I ask about the deployment into Europe of clergy to meet the seasonal demands of tourism. In recent years one of the greatest growth areas of tourism has been skiing. One of the most popular times for families to go skiing is Easter, which is a time when one would hope that all Anglicans would have an opportunity to attend a service. Many of the resorts are close together. It is probable that quite a few Anglican clergymen would be happy to get a break—not of a limb—away from home, enjoy some sunshire. skiing and sun, and have the opportunity to take services in a number of centres during the season.

Would clergy deployed into Europe to meet this demand, who would not be going to regular, established chaplaincies, come under the diocese, or would arrangements be made otherwise?

My fourth question occurs to me because of a connection that I used to have much more strongly with a certain retailing organisation. I recall that there used to be a habit of advertising in London stores the seaside resorts where branches of a particular concern were to be found. Could not the Church do more to make available to tourists, or those who are travelling on business or for any other reason, the locations in Europe where they may find an Anglican church where services are held seasonally or every month? Should there be some sort of central clearing house at which travellers could inquire about the availability of Anglican services?

Finally, I ask about the geographical boundaries of the diocese. Will its area of responsibility extend into the areas where we talk of the Church in chains? It is unfortunate that behind the Iron Curtain the work of every Christian community is appallingly hampered and persecuted. The Protestants faith had one of its earliest firings in Czechoslovakia. It is one of the worst places for the persecution of Christian communities. Will the diocese have responsibility for the establishing and the working of the Anglican community in such areas?

I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to reply to some of my questions now or at a later stage. I repeat that I support the Measure.

11.15 pm
Mr. Selwyn Gummer (Eye)

As the junior member of the Synod in this House, I also should like to welcome and commend the Measure which we have in front of us. I am not afraid of saying that it is, of course, in some sense, an anomalous measure—but the situation itself is anomalous. Here are we, of the Church of England, whose only real claim upon the faithful is that it is, and sees itself as, the Catholic Church of this land. Outside this land it does not have that claim and can in no sense maintain it. However, it has a number of congregations and must meet the needs of those who are Anglicans in this country and who travel or live abroad. It is anomalous, too, in the sense that nobody, in theological or political terms, could justify the curious way in which the Church of England's governance is operated. I hope that no one would seek to justify it. We have to accept that it is as it is because it is.

Therefore, for the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) to apply the degree of—I should not like to use a word which was deleterious—scrutiny which might befit the study of a law specifically of this place to something which is actually a Measure designed to meet a situation in which logic does not have a total application is to misplace his usual careful scrutiny.

We are trying to provide for people who happen to be Anglicans in areas where there are not many Anglicans and where they should be part of the Church of England.

Mr. English

Has not the hon. Gentleman missed the whole point of my argument? I am not suggesting that the House should have to approve this Measure. I am saying that the General Synod should look after itself in a way similar to, say, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church or the Anglican Church in the United States. If the hon. Gentleman considers the point a little further, will he think of an individual who happens to be in the Anglican communion but who is an American citizen living in America? That person will not have any rights to elect anybody to the General Synod. If he moves to live in, say, Gibraltar and goes to the local Anglican church, I presume—I do not know—that he will suddenly acquire rights to elect someone to the General Synod. If the same American person moved to Britain, if my recollection serves me right—and I am open to correction by the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), who is the expert in ecclesiastical law in this House—he would lose those rights again. The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Gummer) shakes his head. It may be that he would have those rights in England.

The truth of the matter is that an American in America would not have those rights, whereas if he moved to Europe, outside England, he would, under this Measure, acquire them. It seems a little odd.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman proved my point. It seems a little odd because it is a little odd. We have to accept that, because the Church of England, in that sense, is a little odd. It is the result of a long history. We accept that. To make such a fuss about it is to put it right out of the court in which we are discussing the matter.

We must sort out this situation. This is a sensible way to do it. Even the name itself is sensible. "Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe" gets over the problem of saying, in actual legal terms, "Diocese in Europe". We in Britain are in Europe. We are in it geographically and because we are part of the European Community. We are in it for every other reason. The idea, therefore, of having a diocese in Europe in legal terms would be embarrassing. One must welcome this delicate and pleasant way of getting round the problem so as not to embarrass the hon. Gentleman.

I hope that the House will recognise that the Church of England in the rest of Europe has a particular duty in furthering unity. I have always been worried about the concept of these little churches, because I think that one of the great privileges of travelling abroad is to join in the living life of the parish of the place, which is actually the indigenous parish. I have experienced a great deal of valuable worship with Roman Catholics in communities where they are the church of the community. I very much hope that it will be taken by this diocese as a special part of its duty to work most closely with the parishes in the place so that we do not make this the kind of divisive body which in the past and in some areas it has been. I pray that such divisions will not be extended.

I welcome the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sains-bury) on the sharing of churches. It would be splendid if in new circumstances the Anglican parish could worship in the Roman Catholic church at a different time or even at the same time as the Roman Catholics. However, the language may make that difficult. The problem is language. Many people find it easier to worship in the language that they feel for and can understand and use.

In the Church of England we have a unique relationship with the State. It is not justifiable in logic and it would not occur now if we were starting afresh. Our history goes way back beyond the Reformation. We see ourselves as the historic Church of this land and as the Church standing in the apostolic succession from the time of Christ.

We do not want the Measure to suggest that we are setting ourselves up in competition with the Church of God in the countries in which these groups of Anglicans live. We need to provide for their spiritual needs. We do so in great humility. An anomaly of the Measure is that it recognises the sad and scandalous division of the Church. It is a pity that the Church of England has to make provision for Anglicans in other countries of Europe. In so doing we are admitting yet again that we have failed to reach that historic unity for which our Lord prayed and which we are still guilty of not discovering.

I support the Measure with that great reservation. It is another statement of the sad divisions of the Church. I hope that it will be a means of healing and not perpetuating them.

11.22 pm
Mr. van Straubenzee

I am grateful to hon. Members on both sides of the House for their contributions.

I understand the reservations of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). From his careful study of this matter in the Ecclesiastical Committee, the hon. Gentleman will remember that there are legal trust reasons for incorporating the name "Gibraltar". I felt that it was a happy compromise to have a diocese that was entitled one thing but cited another. The definition of the diocese of Gibraltar is set out in the Ecclesiastical Committee's report as being under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury…and covering Anglican chaplaincies in Southern Europe, Turkey and Morocco". The historic jurisdiction of the Bishop of London at present includes Russia in Europe, which will pass to this diocese in Europe.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) asked five questions. First, I believe that the bishop of this new diocese when it is set up will have the ability to take cognisance of the new patterns of tourism. I am happy to remind my hon. Friend that there are a number af chaplaincies already in Spain, which will pass to the new diocese.

It is important to state—and here I pick up a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Gummer)—that this is not a proselytising operation, and none of us would wish it to be. It is bringing the Church into closer fellowship with the Church of England in England and giving it an organisational link. It is not a hostile, proselytising operation.

My hon. Friend asked about the sharing of churches. There is nothing in the Measure that makes that more difficult. There are a number of cases where it already happens, and it also happens the other way round. That ties in with a telling point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eye, because at Strasbourg the list of chaplaincies includes one that worships in the Eglise des Pères Domin-caines. That is a good example of how it works the other way round, and I sense that it is the feeling of the House that it hopes that, in appropriate circumstances, that will be extended.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove also asked about the deployment of the clergy seasonally. I speak as a layman, but I should have thought that the fact there is the bishop and his suffragan and small contingent of clergy and laity in the General Synod would assist that process. It is so often done by contact and discussion.

As to the advertising of services, I remember when I needed to know what services were held in Switzerland and what chaplaincies were available. I did not find it difficult to obtain a leaflet. Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me gently to pull his leg. Having a financial mind, I wondered whether there might be a great emporium—I have no name in mind—that might come into partnership. It could have its name on one part of a leaflet and we could have the services on another.

Mr. English

Does the hon. Gentleman mean Marks and Spencer?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for Hove asked me about the geographical boundaries. I hope that I have already answered that question.

Mr. English

If the Measure is passed, an Anglican communicant in, say, Gibraltar will have the right to elect some representatives in the General Synod. The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Gummer), when talking about disunity among Churches, seemed to be referring to Anglicans who live in Roman Catholic countries. What is the position of an Anglican who lives in a Protestant country? Would an Anglican communicant in Aberdeen, for example, have a right to elect representatives in the General Synod of the Church of England?

Mr. van Straubenzee

We must be clear that we are talking about those who are elected to serve in the General Synod from the diocese. Of course, those in Gibraltar take part with others but they do not do it alone. Those in the diocese may be living in countries that are predominantly Protestant or Catholic or in countries that predominantly do not have a Christian bias. I do not think that it is a major problem.

Mr. English

What about Aberdeen?

Mr. van Straubenzee

We are dealing with the diocese in Europe.

Mr. English

And Aberdeen is not in Europe?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Aberdeen is in Europe, but it is not within the area covered by the diocese in Europe.

Mr. English

But Morocco is?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Morocco is, and I do not think that our friends in Aberdeen would find it helpful to be equated with Morocco.

I hope that I have explained the Measure sufficiently so that the House may feel able to give its assent.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Diocese in Europe Measure, passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for Her Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament.