Tag Archives: Marriage

Summary proceedings of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 8th April 2014

Chairman’s Announcements

The chairman welcomed a new member of the committee, Patricia Stoat as per last month’s announcement.

Correspondence

The chairman referred to a letter to the Daily Telegraph from Jim Dobbin, Sir Edward Leigh and others on the benefits of marriage to society.  He noted the government was, belatedly, introducing a modest transferable tax allowance which seemed an acknowledgement of marriage as a public force for good.

Euthanasia of children in Belgium

The cardinal archbishop of Malines and a rabbi had issued a strong statement condemning this.

40 paediatricians had written that in their experience no child had ever requested death. However, it was now suggested the law should be extended to allow the euthanasia of children at the decision of the parents alone. The law had been signed by Philippe I, nominally a Catholic monarch.

Abortion

 This is still a live issue in parliament. Baroness Knight asked if the law on abortion was beingupheld but did not receive a straight answer. Baroness Hollins, (past president of the BMA), Lord Alton, Lord Patten and Lord Mackay of Clashfern asked about gender based abortion. The Government said it was illegal and would examine the ratio of male to female births. Fiona Bruce MP asked about abortion on “Ground E” – disability- and gave examples of trivial cases. The Chief Medical Officer had sent a letter to doctors reminding them of their duties without publishing the Contents. The Government seems very casual about enforcement of the Act and was still considering relaxation of the law to allow nurse-only abortions. It said new guidelines were in draft but again not published. Gary Streeter MP was asking for a full debate on these guidelines. There will also be debate on the RSOP (Required Standard Operating Procedures for licencing premises for abortions).

A legal case in the north of England claimed that injury to a foetus was an assault; it was considered likely to fail since legally a person did not exist until born. However, the right of the unborn have never been defined. The chairman had written to Baroness Hollins, thanking her for her intervention and had included two papers showing that mental health problems as grounds for abortion were spurious.

Mitochondrial Donation

Lord Alton had made a strong statement about MD in so far as it alters the genetic composition of future generations, would be against international law and  he claimed would make the UK a rogue state.

There had been a campaign entitled “One of Us” aimed at limiting the misuse of embryos. It had sought a million signatures to trigger a debate in the European parliament. It had obtained 1.7 million and the debate would be on 9th April.

Falconer Bill on Assisted Dying

 This is likely to be brought back to the Lords after the Queen’s speech. Opposing such measures would best done as part of a coalition, ie with the“Care not Killing” group. There are now 193 new peers and their views on this issue were unknown. “Care not Killing” would approach these and try to elucidate their views without making any effort to persuade.  In general, public opinion appeared to be moving towards assisted dying. An assisted dying bill was likely to be brought forward in Scotland at year end, after the referendum. Baroness Butler-Sloss, formerly president of the family division of the high court, has warned that assisted dying would put many vulnerable people at risk. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s brief document “Sense and nonsense on assisted dying” (circulated) was a valuable contribution.

Modern Slavery Bill and Global Freedom Network

 The Bill was intended to consolidate and simplify existing legislation and to support victims. There had recently been a meeting in the Vatican of the Global Freedom Network, supported by Catholics, and other faiths. The meeting made the following declaration:  “Modern slavery and human trafficking are crimes against humanity. The physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children condemn 30 million people to dehumanisation and degradation”. There will be a high level meeting in Rome between police chiefs, church leaders and others to establish more ties between the Church and the police. The emphasis would move from punishing the offenders to helping the victims.

Any Other Business

Same Sex Marriage guidelines: the Equality and Human Rights web site stated that holding to the traditional view of marriage is not in itself an offence if expressed in moderation; teachers will be  allowed to teach what they feel is right with regard to their faith.

It was decided that in future selected items should be highlighted from each month’s minutes and sent to the appropriate member of the Bishops’ Conference, under the guidance of the Chairman.

Chairman’s New Year Message 2014

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby, Chairman

As 2013 comes to an end we can reflect on quite a year.  We have a new Pope, and, nearer home, a  new Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh as well as several new Bishops in various dioceses across the United Kingdom.  All, it seems, is change.  Yet there are constants.  The pursuit of the Common Good in public life remains the core focus of the Catholic Union and in this regard it has been a busy year.  Much groundwork has begun in 2013 across the Committees and I would like to mention in particular, the newly-constituted Education Committee.  This Committee will be the vanguard of the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, organising seminars and lectures on Catholic education at all levels.  Stuart Sexton brings to the Chairman’s role a wealth of experience in both education and politics and will set the Committee on a good course.

The new charitable arm of the Catholic Union, the CUCT, will allow us to develop education based projects, whilst being an additional source of income within a charitable umbrella, which has not been possible up till now.  A new website for the CUCT is under construction and will link from the main Catholic Union website.

One major issue over the past year has been the Liverpool Care Pathway and its demise, following the recommendations contained in the Neuberger Report, published last summer.  Tony Cole, Philip Howard and others worked really hard to ensure that the full facts surrounding the LCP were available and understood.  It is, however crucially important that the LCP does not come back under another guise – such as presumed consent, or something similar.  The Catholic Union will continue to work with members in both Houses during the coming year to ensure that this can be avoided, as well as raising other issues of the day which affect our Catholic way of life.

Growing our membership base continues to be a priority.  Late in the autumn of 2013, we had an inaugural talk by Mike Henderson on the CU at the end of a lunchtime Mass at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London.  We hope to build on this in 2014, with more post Missam talks planned as well as the Summer Gathering at Ampleforth (25 – 27 July), together with a drinks reception for members and friends.

In his speech at the AGM, our President Lord Brennan encouraged us to undertake more activities, as well as producing more in the way of written materials.  We will be exploring this idea in greater detail over the coming months.  This combined with the work of the Outreach Committee in sourcing new donors for the work of the Catholic Union and the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, will enable us to develop a truly national reach, with an appropriate infrastructure and development plan over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Catholic Union has a great provenance and we have an opportunity to reinvigorate its activities.  It is because of you, our members, that we are able to move things forward and as always, I encourage you to get involved at whatever point you feel able.  We live in challenging times, but times that nevertheless present an opportunity to engage in the public square for the Common Good.

Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families, a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Robert Rigby

 

 

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 17th December 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

Mrs Josephine Robinson, a former Chairman (sic) of the Association of Catholic Women was elected to the Committee.

Correspondence

A letter had been written to the Prime Minister and the Dept. of Health regarding the proposal to allow the production of embryos with two mothers and one father (hoping to prevent mitochondrial disease in the child). Two near identical replies had been received, referring to an imminent consultation and to a commission of “international experts” who said there was no concern for safety. However, IVF is known to increase the risk of birth defects, cancer and mental retardation. It is irresponsible to predict no risk with this even more radical procedure. The Chairman would write to Jeremy Hunt and to his own MP, questioning the safety of this procedure and seeking the identity of the “international experts”.

Same sex marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland

The debate in the Scottish Parliament on this issue has been astonishingly abusive. It is expected that the SSM Bill will be approved by early March 2014. The Chairman is due to talk to the Political Officer of the Scottish Bishops conference. The Northern Ireland Assembly will not entertain SSM, but will accept as civil partners, those same sex couples married elsewhere in the UK.

Gender-based abortion

The Government stated that the law would be enforced, but has also said there are many grounds for seeking an abortion. It is unlikely that the Government will do anything in this regard.

Survey on Family Life

There had been 12,000 responses nationally to this Vatican survey. There was uncertainty about what the survey was intended to accomplish or what it was capable of accomplishing. It was thought it might be about how care is provided to people in family life, in particular, sacramental care from the Church.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

This Bill could obstruct free speech prior to General Elections. CAFOD is making a list of Part One Catholic lobbyists; Caritas Social Care of Part Two lobbyists with a view to joint approaches to the Government.

Extension of euthanasia in Belgium

The Belgian Parliament has passed legislation whereby children of 12 and below with terminal illness and unbearable pain could choose to die, or their parents and next of kin, where such consent is unavailable, could do so in their place When they are near to death, these children are claimed to increase in maturity. There were 1,132 cases of euthanasia in 2012; 25% up on 2011.We should note this lest attempts are made to introduce it in England. Other approaches to child euthanasia were the LCP and the Groningen protocol in the Netherlands.

Abortion on mental health grounds

The chairman had given a Parliamentary Question to Sir Edward Leigh. It said abortions were being carried out on Ground C (risk to the mother’s mental health) without mental health being assessed and by doctors not trained to assess mental health. There is a statement by the Academy of Royal Colleges that there is no difference to the mother’s mental health whether she has an abortion or gives birth What is currently going on is fraudulent.  It was suggested that the thrust of the argument should move away from time limits, to pointing out the number of fraudulent abortions being carried out in a local area, to make it real to people.  The late Phyllis Bowman (LIFE) used to say she would be perfectly content if the Abortion law were honoured. However, it would be necessary to convince juries that there is no risk to mental health. The CU and others should continue to raise awareness and press that Ground C be removed or at least observed.

Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

This Bill provides that if a nuisance or annoyance is caused to any person, they can apply for an Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (or IPNAS). The Christian Institute has pointed out this could conceivably cover carol singing, street preaching, children playing football in the street. Local Authorities, police and private security firms can also hand out Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) in order to restrict any activity deemed to have a “detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.  It was hoped that common sense would prevail in such cases.

Persecution of Christians – Westminster Hall Debate 3rd December

This debate was initiated by Jim Shannon MP (DUP). He said Christianity is the most persecuted religion at the present time. One Christian dies for their faith every eleven minutes. Persecution starts with discrimination in business, in civic life, education and politics. In some countries it was illegal to possess a Bible and there was forcible conversion to Islam. Sir Edward Leigh MP said that the worst crisis no one had ever heard of is in Pakistan. Western intervention could make things worse (lecturing by former colonial masters). However many countries persecuting Christians receive money from the UK Government.

Any other Business

Assisted Dying Bill – This had been shelved for now, but a more comprehensive version will be introduced in the next session of Parliament.  The Supreme Court is considering Article 8 rights to respect for private life for Nicklinson/Lamb.

Protection of the Vulnerable – NHS England had set up the LACDP (Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People) to advise the Secretary of State for Health by 6th January 2014, on what should replace the LCP. Dr Cole had met its chair, Dr Bee Wee, and had agreed that anyone entering hospital should have confidence that they would receive evidence-based treatment compassionately and ethically applied. “More Care Less Pathway” had been set up to counter it and seek a meeting with Norman Lamb MP, minister for health, to slow the process and give time for the counter views (now accepted by the BCEW) to be considered.

Marriage Statistics in the United Kingdom

CU Vice Chairman John Barrie writes:

Dear Members

It was brought to my attention only yesterday, Monday 9th December 2013, that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has a consultation which expires next Tuesday 17th December 2013, concerning the desirability of merging statistics for same sex couples and for opposite sex couples and for civil partnerships.

The document is entitled: Consultation Marriage Statistics Oct 2013

If you have a view on this topic you may care to complete and return the document to:

Lyn Hawkins, Consultations Co-ordinator  vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

John

UPDATE : 17th December 2013

Statement on ONS marriage and divorce statistics consultation

ONS would like to thank all users who have contributed so far to the consultation‘User requirements for marriage, divorce and civil partnership statistics given the introduction of marriage of same sex couples‘. ONS would like to clarify that it is not proposing to produce only total figures for marriages where the distinction between same sex and opposite sex couples is not available. ONS do intend to publish marriage and divorce statistics in the future where figures for opposite sex and same sex couples are shown separately. ONS are consulting on the characteristics of these marriages/divorces which are of particular interest so that published statistics meet user requirements.