Cranmer: The Act of Settlement and Constitutional Terrorism

Today, an amendment to the Act of Settlement is being rushed through the House of Commons by means usually reserved for emergency terrorism legislation. The imminent royal baby appears to represent a threat to the Coalition’s equality agenda every bit as serious as that posed by al-Qaeda to the safety and security of the free world. There will be minimal debate and negligible scrutiny; a Commons guillotine and wave at a committee.

What Cameron and Clegg fail to realise (if, indeed they understand anything of the Constitution at all), is that those who campaign to end the ban on a Roman Catholic monarchy by focusing on the Act of Settlement are on a wild goose chase. That Act was passed by the old English parliament, which ceased to exist in 1707. The Act was also arguably incompetent, since the English parliament could not unilaterally decide on the British Regal Union of 1603-1707. The Scottish parliament recognised this fact, and deliberately countered the Act of Settlement with a Scottish settlement Act – the Act of Security of 1704.

The Act of Settlement 1701 was superseded by the Treaty of Union 1707, which, in Article 2, also prohibits Roman Catholics ‘and persons marrying Papists’ from ascending the Throne of the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union 1707 is the founding charter of the United Kingdom. Tamper with this, and the Union itself is imperilled.

It has been observed that Scottish unionist politicians do not want this truth out. They fear making Scots aware that the United Kingdom is the creature of a treaty between two equal parliaments: a living, legal document, capable of amendment and adjustment to contemporary needs.

These are the unspoken ”˜constitutional ripples’ so feared by Donald Dewar. This is why successive prime ministers of the United Kingdom and unionist Scottish secretaries of state had no intention of ending the ban on the Monarch either being a Roman Catholic or married to one, and why they were quite happy to let historically-ignorant and politically-ill-informed people continue harping on about the Act of Settlement 1701.

Until Cameron and Clegg came to power..

Read it all

See also: BBC: Royal succession: MPs debating changes, Adrian Hilton: The Coalition rides roughshod over the Constitution, Telegraph: An unseemly rush to alter the succession, and Spectator: The Succession to the Crown Bill is a constitutional can of worms


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

3 comments on “Cranmer: The Act of Settlement and Constitutional Terrorism

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I have just been watching the debate on BBC Parliament Channel.

    Sir Tony Baldry, blusterful Second Church Estates Commissioner for the Church of England said: “may I make it absolutely clear that the Church of England has no objection to this bill whatever”. He went on to say that the Church supported it unreservedly.

    Nick Clegg opening the debate asserted that there was no question of the Catholic church requiring the children of a monarch marrying a Catholic to be brought up as Catholics.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Somerset MP interrupted to quote two provisions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: the first which requires Catholics to use their ‘best endeavors’ [a high standard] to bring up any children of the marriage as Catholics; and a second which gives a bishop authority to agree to a Catholic marrying outside that church, but always subject to the requirement that the provision of the Catechism about bringing up children in the Catholic Church was maintained.

    Clegg then floundered, but the best he could do was quote this briefing by the Church of England to say that it wouldn’t be a problem if the Established Church was OK with it.

    It clearly is a problem, and one which those briefing on behalf of the Church of England just have not addressed.

    A second problem identified in the questions was that the current requirement of permission from the monarch to a royal marriage requires the monarch to observe a limited set of grounds for objection and secondly that the decision must be taken together with the monarch’s Privy Council. The new law has no such guidelines or provision for any consultation with the Privy Council, so it is left the whim of the monarch, an invitation to arbitrary refusal by a monarch, which even the original legislation had not envisaged. Now the monarch can apparently object on the ground that “she is not good enough for my boy!” or “his eyes are the wrong color”. How mad is that?

    It is absolutely clear that there has been little thought given to this rushed bill, by the government, or by the leaders of the Church of England. The warnings not to hurry this through without working out the unintended and potentially very serious consequences, including the warning by Prince Charles among others, are just being ignored.

    Sheer incompetence by State, and by Church. It may all end in tears.

  2. BlueOntario says:

    Did Andrew Cuomo have a hand in drafting this bill?

  3. Terry Tee says:

    Some further context from the world of minutiae. As a RC I was shocked when Autumn Kelly renounced her Catholic faith to marry Peter Philips, son of Princess Anne and grandson of the Queen. The Queen gave permission for the marriage, but if Autumn, from Quebec, had remained a Catholic, then Peter Philips would have lost his place in the line of succession. Well – very, very, very unlikely, short of a holocaust in the royal family, that he would ever succeed. But the issue turned out to be more complicated. If he lost said place, then whenever seated at big state events (eg St Paul’s Cathedral, banquets etc) then according to protocol he would have to be a long, long way away from the royal family. Now this may quite understandably make you roll your eyes and thank the Almighty that you folks are in a republic. But having seen the rigid protocol at the inauguration I think I would say that things are sometimes not that much different over the pond. Then again, if I had to choose between a higher seat at the banquet and keeping my Catholic faith, I hope I would choose the latter. Hmm … isn’t there a parable about this?