In December 2014 we noted Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi v Turkey  ECHR 1346 [in French], in which the applicant Foundation for Republican Instruction and Culture, which was established as a non-profit entity to manage a number of Alevi places of worship [cemevis], complained about the refusal of the Directorate of Religious Affairs to pay its electricity bills . The Directorate’s grounds for refusal had been that the mechanism for paying the bills was intended to benefit places of worship and cemevis could not be places of worship because there was no such religion as Alevism, historically or scientifically [il n’existe pas de religion appelée « la religion alévie », ni sur le plan historique ni sur le plan scientifique]. The Foundation argued that being deprived of the privilege of free electricity was discrimination, contrary to Article 14 ECHR taken together with Article 9 and contrary to Article 9 on its own. Continue reading
And in a week overshadowed by the horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower and the fallout from the General Election …
Access for Northern Ireland women to free abortion in England
- Was the Secretary of State ‘s failure to exercise his power to require abortion services to be provided through the NHS in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland unlawful as a failure to discharge his duty under s 3 of the National Health Service Act 2006 to “take such steps as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements” for services?
- Does the continuing failure to provide free abortion services in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland infringe Articles 14 (discrimination) and 8 (private and family life) ECHR?
The appeal was dismissed by a 3-2 majority, and we suggested that it is quite possible that the case is bound for Strasbourg. Continue reading
Parliament was prorogued on Thursday ahead of dissolution on 3 May …
… but first,
… there were several key pieces of legislation, of which there is a full list in Hansard, here.
Among the bills that survived the pre-Election frenzy, a truncated Finance Bill left out the trigger to start HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative, no doubt to the relief of small charities everywhere. But it will almost certainly be back on the agenda in due course, whatever the election result.
Parliament also passed the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill: a piece of emergency legislation which retrospectively resets the “14-day clock” in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that expired on 27 March and replaced it with a 108-day grace period ending on 29 June. The duty on the Secretary of State to set a date for a new Assembly election is therefore suspended, at least for a period, and he can continue negotiations over power-sharing. Continue reading
“Egg-bound” thinking by Church and State this week…
… but un oeuf is un oeuf, and so no more egg-related puns. However, we certainly didn’t expect the CofE Easter story statement to be about the “Trinity of Chocolate” (Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry). It was left to Dr Michael Sadgrove, Dean Emeritus of Durham, to inject a degree of sanity into the Church’s position in his comments to the Church Times.
Gratefully accepting a gift-horse of a metaphor, the BHA described it as a storm in an eggcup; it was a gift to the cartoonists and bloggers, while Quakers might shed a silent tear for three businesses founded by Friends. Meanwhile, the willingness of Theresa May to wade into this media-generated nonsense emphasized her lack of action on weightier matters. David Tollerton, of Exeter University, suggests that the whole affair is redolent of “dog-whistle politics”: an undercooked mess that feeds English nationalism, while Esther McConnell, a direct descendant of John Cadbury, pointed out in a tweet that, as a Quaker, he didn’t celebrate Easter anyway.
A busy week in the courts Continue reading
A week in which events were totally overshadowed by the attack in Westminster
A thoughtful consideration of those events from an insider’s point of view was presented by the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, in his Yorkshire Post article From a Palace of democracy to an Abbey of prayer, the best and worst of humanity, written just two hours after the end of the lockdown of parliamentarians and others, who had been transferred to Westminster Abbey.
Progress on Brexit
Prior to the Commons consideration of the Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] and the subsequent adjournment and lockdown of the parliamentary estate, a first reading was given to Tim Farron’s Ten Minute Rule Bill, Terms of Withdrawal from the European Union (Referendum). A second reading was scheduled for Friday 12 May – although its chances of becoming law are zero. Continue reading
The following is based on a recent submission of the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRBA) to the DCMS English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review and is posted with the kind permission of the HRBA Chairman, Trevor Cooper.
The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRBA) has called on the DCMS English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review to examine and help resolve the current confusion over whether or not parish councils may spend money on local church buildings.
Under the current law, parish councils and similar bodies raise a precept that enables money to be spent on matters that are important to, and benefit, the local community. Continue reading
Brexit rumbles on, but perhaps the most important event of the week was the outcome of the Northern Ireland Assembly Election – on which we would not presume to comment…
Son (or more accurately daughter) of Miller?
Gina Miller, who mounted the successful challenge in the Supreme Court to the Prime Minister’s proposal to trigger Article 50 TEU by using the Royal Prerogative, has said that she is looking at launching a new challenge if Parliament is not given a vote on the final terms of Brexit. Speaking to Bloomberg, Ms Miller explained: Continue reading