Lifting the bar

MOST of today’s newspaper profiles of David Cairns mention that he’s a former Roman Catholic priest and that legislation – the Removal of Clergy Disqualification Act 2001 – had to be introduced specifically to allow him to take his seat.

What’s not being reported (because it’s not really relevant, I admit) is that until this law was passed, no member of the clergy, other than Church of England, could become an MP. That included Church of Scotland ministers, who can now take their seat but wouldn’t have been able to before 2001.

Not a lot of people know that…


Filed under Banned, Church, Parliament

8 responses to “Lifting the bar

  1. This is all very perplexing. I thought all right thinking people “know” that left of centre governments only ban things and relentlessly oppress their populations…

  2. Johnny Norfolk

    Thanks Tom I was not aware of the detail. There must be many laws from years ago that are not relevant to today. Mr Cains appears to be a decent chap. I think he has done the right thing. If you think about David Davies he did the right thing as well. I thought there were no honerable men or women left in politics but there are a few, but not in the cabinet.

  3. John

    I disagree with you Tom (now there’s a surprise) I read this fact in every online paper (Times,Indy,Telegraph etc) I’ve looked at, both last night and this morning.

  4. And now we do, cheers for that.

    Is it true that Catholics can’t be Prime Ministers? Any reason why that one’s not been abolished?

    Not that, as an ex-altar boy, I’m harbouring grand plans or anything….

  5. jeff – you’re good to go. There’s no legal bar against a Catholic becoming prime minister. But you’re not allowed to marry Prince Charles. Sorry about that.

  6. O

    Tom, it was both Church of England and Church of Scotland clergy who were excluded by the House of Commons (Clergy Disqualification) Act 1801: “No person ordained a priest or deacon, or being a minister of the Church of Scotland, shall be capable of being elected a member of the House of Commons….” The reference to being an ordained priest or deacon covers Anglican clergy.

    On the other hand, there was no such bar against non-conformist ministers, such as the self-styled Reverend Ian Paisley.

  7. richard

    If memory serves the law was brought in at a time when it was thought that clergy could use their influence to force their parishioners to vote for them. Not really an issue nowadays when 95% the people in Churches are Polish and don’t vote anyway.

  8. Another famous nonconformist minister who was an MP was David Lloyd George, who was also a minister in the Scotch Baptist chapel.

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