DCMS has commissioned Steve Holliday, former CEO of National Grid plc, to chair an independent Full-Time Social Action Review. The review will consider what the voluntary sector, industry and, if needed, Government can do to support full-time volunteering, defined as at least 16 hours a week of social action activities on average, for 6 months or more. The review intends to consult the voluntary sector, young people, employment and regulatory experts, economists and parliamentarians. 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Also on Monday, we reported the case of a husband and wife who had withdrawn their six-year-old son from his Church of England primary school after a boy in his class was allowed to wear a dress to school.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
The House of Commons private Members’ ballot bills were presented yesterday. Two of them may be of particular interest to readers:
- [No 5]: Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.): “Bill to provide that opposite sex couples may enter a civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of the names of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of stillborn deaths; to give coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths; and for connected purposes” – to be read a second time on Friday 2 February 2018 (Bill 11); and
- [No 6] Geoffrey Robinson’s Organ Donation (Deemed Consent): “Bill to enable persons in England to withhold consent for organ donation and transplantation; and for connected purposes” – to be read a second time on Friday 23 February 2018 (Bill 12).
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
This morning, 15 March, Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities “if she will make a statement on the recent Court of Justice of the European Union ruling allowing employers to ban workers from wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace”. Following is a quick summary of the most important points.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (Caroline Dinenage) replied as follows:
“The Government are completely opposed to discrimination, including on grounds of gender or religion, or both. It is the right of all women to choose how they dress, and we do not believe that the judgments change that. Exactly the same legal protections apply today as applied before the rulings. In both the Achbita case and the Bougnaoui case, the judgment was that there was no direct discrimination, but that there was some discrimination. A rule is directly discriminatory if it treats someone less favourably because of their sex, race, religion or whatever. A rule is indirectly discriminatory if, on the face of it, it treats everyone the same, but some people, because of their race, religion, sex and so on, find it harder to comply than others do. Indirect discrimination may be justifiable if an employer is acting in a proportionate manner to achieve a legitimate aim. Continue reading
We understand that there is to be an Urgent Question in the Commons after Question Time today, 15 March, on the impact of the CJEU judgments in Achbita and Bougnaoui on wearing religious clothing in the workplace. We shall report it as soon as the uncorrected Hansard is available on the Commons website.