§ Lord Airedale asked Her Majesty's Government:
§ What conclusion they have arrived at after studying the present advantages and disadvantages of implementing the Easter Act 1928 whereby Easter would always be celebrated during the first half of April.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)
My Lords, the Answer is essentially the same as was given by my noble friend Lord Bathurst 32 years ago on 21st June 1961 when the first of these annual Questions was asked. The conclusion is that the status quo should obtain.
§ Lord Airedale
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl, as always; but as regards the great Christian celebration, does not history show that it matters not when Easter is celebrated so long as it is celebrated? Regarding the secular public holiday, with people looking forward to the first open air holiday after the Winter, although Easter should not be allowed to run too close to the May Day holiday, is there not every chance of better weather out-of-doors in April than in March?
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, confuses the two issues. One is religious and the other is secular. The important point on the religious side is that Good Friday and Easter Day are the most solemn dates in the Christian calendar, and it is therefore desirable that any agreement to move those dates should be agreed by all the Churches. The secular side follows from the religious.
§ Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone
My Lords, does my noble friend agree that there may be a group of eccentrics, including myself, who like Easter to fall on different days in different years so that we can enjoy different phases of our glorious Spring in peace and quiet?
My Lords, that also is a secular observation. I agree with my noble and learned friend that he may well be eccentric. He is not alone in that. If Easter is to be moved as it is a religious festival, that should be done with the agreement of the Churches.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, why is it all right to separate the secular and religious aspects at Whitsun but not at Easter?
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl should consult the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, as regards what the Answer to the Question should be. I 716 congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, in his absence, on the perception which he displayed 32 years ago in giving a sensible Answer to the Question.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for his comments. However, I should have preferred it if he had congratulated me on the Answer that I gave to the Question.