Thursday 23 August 2012

Who allows who to do what?

One issue on which the UK government is finding itself in some difficulty at present is the question of same-sex marriage.  Not only are they facing objections from some religious organisations, most notably the English state church, they are also facing a backlash from some of their own supporters.
It's not a problem which is limited solely to London.  Alex Salmond and the SNP government seem to be experiencing some similar difficulties with religious organisations in Scotland, primarily the Catholic Church.
In both cases the government seem determined to push ahead with their proposals.  That is to ignore the weight of opposition expressed in the clearly well-organised response to the consultation, and no doubt they will incur further ire for that. 
Personally I think they are right to do so.  Whilst I respect the right of religious organisations not to be compelled to hold same-sex ceremonies against their own religious viewpoints, the idea that they should be able to impose their own religious views on the rest of us is equally unacceptable.  This is an issue on which Parliament can and should decide to change the law.
To date all the proposals put forward by the UK government have specifically excluded extending the provision of four same-sex marriage to religious organisations.  And in turn, it seems that some religious organisations themselves who are willing and keen to perform same-sex ceremonies are objecting to their exclusion.  It should not be beyond the wit of man to devise a form of legislation which allows organisations to perform such ceremonies if they wish without placing an obligation to do so on others.
But one interesting aspect of the change of heart by the government on this was conveyed by the first line of this story, which declares that "Nick Clegg will allow Parliament…".  Call me old-fashioned, but I'd always thought that the constitutional position – in theory at least – was that Parliament allowed ministers to do things; not the other way around. Previous liberalisation of the law in this area came about as a result of Parliament itself expressing a view, not through government-sponsored legislation.  It is hard to imagine that happening today.
Theory and practice are two very different things; and that first sentence in the story reflects the reality very well indeed.  The Executive exercises far too much control over what the legislature can do, and the degree of such control has increased over recent decades.  But such control exists only because our legislators allow it.  They have become far too tame.  It sometimes seems as though the only thing they'll stand up for is their own perceived status and their own interests.


G Horton-Jones said...

Spot on
51% of Tory funds from the City
27% from hedge funds, financiers and private equity funds.
£50000 from each of 50 donors with exclusive access
It would seem that democracy is truly dead

What is the point in MPs when power is held by so few.

Could Cameron and shadow be the new poodle of Angleland

Peter D Cox said...

As I have got older I have become more republican (excuse abuse of English absolutes),more anti-establishment (the folly of the honours patronage), and - in spite of my cathedral-chorister youth, totally opposed to legalised religion.

Just sack the religious law lords, break the established status of the church (does it apply in Wales?), let Liz stay as head of church if she wants to, not being Queen solves the problem.