Thursday, 8 October 2015

Our Bailiff, Who Art in the States

Deputy Tadier had said that there was some hypocrisy in the States Chamber. He said that if Jesus were alive today he would not be at the Conservative Party conference - he would be standing up for the little guy.

The Bailiff told him that the remark fell foul of rules against "offensive, objectionable or unparliamentary language" and told him to withdraw it, but the Deputy refused. Mr Bailhache told him to leave the Chamber - prompting Deputy Tadier to say that the Bailiff was abusing his own powers.

Bailiwick Express

The Assembly voted to adjourn the meeting for an hour and when they returned Mr Tadier was allowed to continue his speech without apologising or withdrawing it.

BBC News

The Bailiff, William Bailhache is clearly rather out of touch and presumably has not read any House of Commons debates since the time of Queen Victoria.

I say that because he said that mention of Jesus was not "parliamentary" and would be offensive to Christians, later clarified to "offensive to some".

Now if he is going to make statements about "offensive, objectionable or unparliamentary language" with regard to the name of Jesus Christ, he could at least do his homework, and review the situation in the Mother of Parliaments, that of the United Kingdom.

I have spent about an hour looking through past Hansard speeches, and I can say categorically that it is taken as a quite acceptable part of the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate.

Had Mr Bailhache done his homework, he would have seen that there are a good many comments, both in the Commons, and made by the noble Lords in their Chamber, which refer to Jesus, sometimes in very much the same fashion as Deputy Tadier. The Speakers in the Commons have never intervened or told the member of Parliament that those comments "would be offensive to some" and should be withdrawn.

One can only hope that the appointment of Dr Mark Egan – a chief clerk from the House of Commons - as the new Greffier will mean that William Bailhache can at last be enlightened as to what is acceptable as parliamentary language, and desist from imposing his own personal prejudices upon the States.

Clearly the present Greffier, Michael De La Haye, with whom the Bailiff conferred, has also not kept up to date with of what is "parliamentary" in the House of Commons.

I say "kept up to date", but in fact I can see the mention of Jesus in Parliamentary debates going back at least as far as the 1960s. If the States are to look to Erskine May, as the Greffier informed me they do, then they should certainly also look to established precedent in speeches in the Commons.

The States Chamber should not be a place in which a Bailiff, acting as speaker (although unelected), use his position to make interventions in a way which would be thought unthinkable in the House of Commons.

This has many of the hallmarks of the kind of mistaken intervention that Bailiff Frank Erault made when effectively banning the Life of Brian, which led to the setting up of a Bailiff's Panel, as it was judged that such arbitrary powers should not be subject to the whim of one individual.

Here is a small selection of many showing that back in the 1970s such language was acceptable, as it was even in the 1990s and also is today.

HC Deb 18 December 1972 vol 848 cc927-91

Sir E. Brown

He claimed: We had to push the unions from below. They were reluctant to have the strike. Only the weight of feeling we uncovered forced the strike to escalate. Let me quote Lou Lewis. Do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite know him? He is a carpenter—

Mr. Skinner: So was Jesus Christ.

Sir E. Brown Yes, but he was on the other side.

HC Deb 02 May 1973 vol 855 cc1337-96

If the Price Commission goes on in the lamentable way in which it has started, I can see the day coming when the present chairman will write a book like that written by Mr. Aubrey Jones about the Prices and Incomes Board, showing that everybody was wrong but Mr. Aubrey Jones—"There goes Jesus Christ; everyone else was to blame." If he had only been allowed a free hand, he would have solved all our problems——

Mr. Heffer: We all know what happened to Jesus Christ.

HC Deb 27 July 1976 vol 916 cc399-483
Mr. Canavan

I frankly do not believe that those who religiously abstain from alcohol on Sunday have a monopoly of belief in God or a monopoly of belief in Christianity or any other religion. Even Jesus Himself turned the water into wine. Perhaps the Reverend and hon. Member for Belfast. South (Mr. Bradford) can quote me the Biblical reference and tell me whether He did it on the Sabbath or not. Even if He did not perform that particular miracle on the Sabbath, I am sure that Jesus Himself must have had many a drink on the Sabbath day.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie) Is my hon. Friend aware that when Jesus changed the water into wine, it was ginger wine?

Mr. Canavan: I was not aware of that I should have thought that Jesus has more taste than that.

HC Deb 16 March 1990 vol 169 cc795-850
Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Too often, Churches and Church leaders simply engage in political diatribes which are useless and unhelpful for families, who want leadership, saying, "Let us have an end to easy divorce and let us put children first in marriage and in every way." That is what Jesus taught. He was not concerned with the illegal immigrant who broke the law 15 times and was expected to be deported from a church in Manchester back to Sri Lanka. That was not the business of the bishop of Manchester, who should be teaching his flock the word of God, the gospel and how that relates to family life, and the relationship of the broad family of God with the nuclear and wider family.

HC Deb 21 May 1992 vol 208 cc509-60
Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

As a nation, we bask in the unconscious realisation of our effortless superiority. Whether or not it is true that Jesus was born in Bethlehem—and we doubt it—we know that God is an Englishman, and that, had we not become a secular society He, God, would have gone to Maastricht on our behalf and pulled down the temples of Europe.

HC Deb 01 July 1993 vol 227 cc1120-32
Mr. Rooker

Sheffield student union organises help for 26 local campaigns, such as Crisis at Christmas. Is it political to provide breakfast in the cathedral? It may be nasty party politics to Tory Ministers, but it is what Jesus Christ would have done.

HC Deb 26 May 1993 vol 225 cc949-1014
Mr. Morgan

I recall the words of a Texas senator when the question first arose as to whether Spanish should be taught in the primary schools of San Antonio, near the Mexican border. He said that if the English language was good enough for Jesus Christ it should be good enough for the Texas school board.

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