§ 2.35 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, since it has been announced that His Holiness the Pope has summoned an Œcumenical Council to be held in 1962, they will now take steps to ascertain the opinion of the Churches; and, having done so, bring into operation the Easter Act, 1928.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government will, of course, take account of any opinion officially expressed by the Roman Catholic Church on this matter, following the deliberations of the Œcumenical Council. But on the information at present available the Government would not feel justified in initiating action to bring the Easter Act into force.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, can my noble friend say what would happen if, in the interests of commerce and tourism and the country at large, we decided to fix the date of Easter without reference to anybody else? What would happen? Would the world come to an end?
My Lords, I do not think the world would come to an end. That would not happen in the light of the expression of opinion in your Lordships' House in 1951. I think it would be a most unlikely event.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM
My Lords, would the noble Earl agree that one of the first steps in arriving at the right solution of this problem is to ask Western Churches to get in touch with Eastern Churches to see whether there could be any agreement of that kind?
My Lords, that would certainly be one of the points that would be at issue with regard to Easter. That is quite true.