HL Deb 16 February 1937 vol 104 cc167-9

Oaths to be Taken by the Regent.

3. I swear that I will inviolably maintain and preserve the Settlement of the true Protestant religion as established by the laws made in Scotland in prosecution of the Claim of Right, and particularly by an Act intituled "An Act for Securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government" and by the Acts passed in the Parliament of both Kingdoms for Union of the two Kingdoms, together with the Government, Worship, Discipline, Rights, and Privileges of the Church of Scotland. So help me God.

VISCOUNT HALIFAX moved, in paragraph 3, after "preserve," to insert "in England and Scotland." The noble Viscount said: The third Oath in the Schedule at it is printed is (if any of your Lordships have been sufficiently interested to compare the two Oaths) in a somewhat more expanded form than that provided in the Regency Act of 1910, and such deviations as there are in the form in which it appears in this Bill from the form in the Regency Act of 1910 are due to the alteration in the Accession Oath consequential upon the passing of the Church of Scotland Act, 1921, and to the ensuing union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church. In making the necessary changes in the wording of the Regent's Oath, the possible implications of the earlier form of Oath as it was in 1910 as affecting England might be thought to have been varied, and in the form in which the Oath is at present printed in the Bill it would clearly have no application to England at all. It has, therefore, been thought desirable, to avoid all possible misconceptions, to make the Amendments that are now proposed in order to make it plain that the form should not suggest that the Regent's Oath in this respect only applied to North of the Tweed.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 11, at end insert ("in England and in Scotland").—(Viscount Halifax.)


I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for introducing this Amendment. It was brought to my attention by some constitutional lawyers and by two members of your Lordships' House that, whilst provision was made by this Schedule in the case of Scotland, there was no similar provision in the case of England. Your Lordships are aware that the Sovereign is, and the Regent would be, required in the case of Scotland to take the Oath which is set down in this Bill. In the analogous case of England the Sovereign's obligation is imposed upon him partly by the Declaration prescribed by Act of Parliament (and this obligation he must discharge either before both Houses of Parliament or on his Coronation, whichever is earlier) and partly by the Coronation Oath; but, as it stood in this Schedule, it seemed to me very strange that, while provision was ma de in these important matters in regard to Scotland, there was no similar provi- sion in regard to England for a Regent not under the same obligations as those imposed on the Sovereign. Your Lordships are aware that the Oath of Scotland is taken at the Accession, and the large place which the taking of that Oath occupies in the ceremony of Accession must be always very gratifying to Scottish pride, but there are these ocher provisions in the case of England which had been omitted in this Bill.

I cannot say I am wholly enamoured of the actual words in which this Oath is now put before the Regent—it seems to me a very awkward combination of two separate things—but it does meet the main point, and for that reason I am grateful that the Government, when attention was called to the matter, should have endeavoured to put it right. Let me add that of course there is no question of the personal position of the Sovereign or the Regent. That is governed by Section 3 (2) of the Bill and by the Act of Accession, which prescribes that whoever succeeds to the Throne shall join himself in communion with the Church of England.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 12, after ("established") insert ("by law in England and as established in Scotland").—(Viscount Halifax.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.