HC Deb 17 June 1997 vol 296 cc114-5
34. Mr. Cohen

To ask the President of the Council if she will review the arrangements relating to the taking of the oath by hon. Members. [2319]

Mrs. Ann Taylor

I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Cohen

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the oath needs to be reconsidered because it has nothing to do either with allegiance to the country or to democratic government? The oath seems feudal and to smack of freemasonry. My right hon. Friend will recall that the Tolpuddle martyrs got deported for taking an oath. I am keeping my fingers crossed that my right hon. Friend will agree to review the taking of the oath.

Mrs. Taylor

On this occasion, I cannot agree with my hon. Friend. There may be things we could do to speed up the process. Changes were made on the last occasion when Members took the oath, following recommendations from the Procedure Committee. Further improvements might be possible, but I do not accept the basic idea behind my hon. Friend's question: that we should either abolish or change significantly the oath itself.