Today, the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House of Lords recommended that the House be reduced to 600 Members, and its size capped at that number, in a move that would – for the first time in history – establish a maximum size of the House of Lords and link its composition to general election results. The committee believe this system, which is driven by the House’s desire to reduce its numbers, would result Continue reading
Sero sed serio…
… as until Friday, we thought it was going to be a quiet week for news, despite the MPs’ return to Parliament after the break for Party Conferences. In addition to our Saturday posts on Sex segregation in school, and the disposal of Ian Brady’s remains, reviewed below, shortly after the publication of this round-up, the Church of England issued a statement concerning the meditation that had taken place with the sexual abuse survivor known as “Gilo”; this prompted a response from Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc.
Sex segregation in school
On Friday, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services And Skills v The Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School  EWCA Civ 1426. The issue of principle before the Court was
“whether it is direct discrimination, contrary to sections 13 and 85 of the Equality Act 2010 for a mixed-sex school to have a complete segregation of male and female pupils over a certain age for all lessons, breaks, school clubs and trips” . Continue reading
A typical eclectic mix of news from the world of law and religion…
Organ donation – presumed consent
One aspect of the Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday that received relatively little media attention was her announcement of plans to move to a system of presumed consent for organ donation under which everyone would be presumed to agree to the removal and reuse of body parts after their death unless they opted out, rather than the present situation in which it is necessary to opt in to organ donation. However, the issue is not straightforward and the approach of different faith groups to organ donation complicates the matter. Continue reading
Brexit (inevitably), school dress codes, clergy employment, humanist marriage, religious karaoke – another mixed bag…
On Monday, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was given its second reading: Ayes, 326: Noes: 290. The Bill stands committed to a Committee of the whole House for eight days of detailed debate.
The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government both declined to recommend that legislative consent be given to the Bill by their legislatures unless it is amended to address their specific concerns.
Primary school uniform
Also on Monday, we reported the case of a husband and wife who had withdrawn their six-year-old son from his Church of England primary school after a boy in his class was allowed to wear a dress to school. 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 IICSA seemed in crisis yet again, another burkini ban was slapped down and the size of the House of Lords came under fire …
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
The woes of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse seem to continue undiminished. On 28 September it was announced, and confirmed on 29 September, that the senior member of the Inquiry’s legal team, Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers, had been suspended from duty; and on the following day he resigned from the role of Counsel to the Inquiry. At the same time, it came to light that Elizabeth Prochaska, Emmerson’s immediate deputy, had already resigned. The BBC reported her as saying:
“I can confirm that after 15 months working on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I resigned from my position as Junior Counsel with effect from 15 September 2016. I very much valued the experience of working with the Inquiry and I wish all my former colleagues the best as they continue their work.”