Un-stunned meat supply to schools?

Local initiative in the absence of national provisions

Lancashire County Council is in the process of reviewing its current policy on the supply of halal meat to schools, and its on-line consultation is due to close on 7 March. The Council voted to stop supplying un-stunned non-poultry meat to schools and other establishments last October, but in January decided to reconsider its policy after the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) threatened to seek judicial review of its decision and encourage a boycott of school meals. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 18th September

And as a couple of OAPs continued to slug it out for the US Presidency, a very busy week in which another couple of OAPs carried on blogging…

…and reporting on the week’s bumper crop of developments in law and religion, (with, surprisingly, only a peripheral mention of Brexit).

Culling the Lords Spiritual?

The Government’s policy of reducing the number of Commons constituencies from 650 to 600 has produced the inevitable reactions and accusations of gerrymandering – particularly from MPs whose seats would disappear under the Boundary Commission’s initial proposals – and what the Mail on Sunday described as an “ultimatum from rebel Tories”. According to its report:

“Senior Tory MP Charles Walker branded the plans ‘ridiculous’ if they were not matched by similar measures to cut the size of the ‘bloated’ and unelected House of Lords, which has 805 members.  Continue reading

Lords debate “religious slaughter” – yet again

On 15 December,  Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts moved the motion:

“That this House regrets that, since the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015 [“the WATOK regulations”] do not in all cases specify parameters for electrical water-bath stunning, poultry in England will be afforded a less rigorous level of welfare at slaughter than available in Wales and Northern Ireland (SI 2015/1782)”, [15 Dec 2015 Vol 767(85) Column 2054]. Continue reading

PACE resolution on Freedom of religion and living together in a democratic society

On 30 September the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] (not to be confused with the European Parliament) agreed a Resolution on freedom of religion: the report on which it was based is available here. The Resolution noted the renewed importance of religion in European societies but expressed great regret and anxiety that the growth of non-European faiths gave rise to “tensions, lack of understanding and suspicion, and even to xenophobic attitudes, extremism, hate speech and the most despicable violence”. It noted that freedom of thought, conscience and religion was an established, universal and inviolable human right under the UDHR and the ECHR and, as such, “non-negotiable”. Continue reading

Religion and Law round-up – 22nd February

Your weekly mash-up of all the law & religion news that’s fit to print – and some that’s not…

The House of Bishops and the General Election

This week saw the publication of what proved to be an unexpectedly-controversial pastoral letter from the Church of England’s House of Bishops – which we duly noted. The letter poses the question “how can we build the kind of society which many people say they want but which is not yet being expressed in the vision of any of the parties?” and expresses the hope that political parties will discern “a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be” ahead of the General Election.

The tone of the letter struck us as even-handed and scrupulously non-partisan; nevertheless, it created a media storm. The Telegraph quoted Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, (late of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! – which, sad to say, someone did), to the effect that the Church is “always silent when people are seeking its voice” but “very keen to dive in” when no-one is asking for its opinion. She questioned why the bishops had not spoken out during the “spending frenzy” of the Labour Government: to which the rejoinder came that no less a figure than Archbishop Rowan himself had done precisely that in a Radio 4 interview in 2008 – reported in the Guardian under the headline Brown’s spending plans like ‘addict returning to the drug’, says archbishop. Continue reading

Religion and Law round-up – 21st December

“Participating” in abortion, marking time on humanist weddings, first same-sex marriage under Scots law – and a hitch in EU accession to the ECHR..

Abortion and conscientious objection

The big news of the week was that Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board won its appeal in the controversy over whether or not Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, labour ward coordinators at the Southern General Hospital and practising Roman Catholics, could claim conscientious objection under s 4 Abortion Act 1967 to having to supervise staff participating in abortions. Maria Strauss, an Associate at Farrer & Co, wrote a joint post on the case with Frank.

Humanist weddings in England and Wales?

The Sunday Times reported (£) that Number 10 was blocking proposals to provide for humanist marriages although the Lib Dems remained in favour. Understandably, the British Humanist Association was very disappointed indeed, not least because experience in Scotland (where celebrants are licensed rather than buildings) suggests that there is quite a strong demand for humanist wedding ceremonies.

On Thursday the Government published its response to the consultation: Marriages by non-religious belief organisations. In short, though ministers don’t seem to be against humanist marriages in principle, they reckon that the law in England and Wales on licensing buildings for the solemnisation of marriages is so complex that “it is necessary to carefully consider the legal and technical requirements concerning marriage ceremonies and registration and the range of relevant equality issues”. So they have asked the Law Commission to conduct “a broader review of the law concerning marriage ceremonies”. In short: nothing this side of the General Election. Continue reading

Religion and Law round-up – 14th December

Advent 3, and only 11 shopping days until Christmas (and 47 working days until the Church Roof Fund deadline)

The Law Society’s sharia practice note

We have commented previously on the Law Society’s ill-fated practice note on drafting a sharia-compliant will, withdrawn with apologies in November. However, Legal Futures now reports that it has become apparent, as the result of an adjudication by the Society’s freedom of information adjudicator, that the note was drawn up without any input from experts in sharia. The relevant part of the adjudication reads as follows:

“On 9 September the applicant wrote to The Law Society with questions concerning the recently published Sharia Succession Rules Practice Note (‘the Note’). He asked who the individual author(s) had been [and] whether any religious organisations or lobbyists had been consulted before the decision to publish the Note … The Society said that no ‘Sharia Law experts’ had been consulted and that no external individuals or organisations had lobbied the Society or been involved in drafting the Note” [our emphasis]. Continue reading