Point of Order

European Council – in the House of Commons at 2:03 pm on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Chair, Women and Equalities Committee 2:03 pm, 14th March 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The European Court of Justice has announced today that any employer can ban the wearing of religious symbols at work, including headscarves. This overturns important existing case law from the European Court of Human Rights. What mechanisms are open to the House to obtain a swift clarification of what this means here in the UK, particularly so soon after the Prime Minister’s clear statement in this House that what a woman wears is her choice and nobody else’s?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for her point of order, which she raises not only in her capacity as a constituency Member of Parliament, but with the strength of her interest and experience as Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee. I had not been familiar with the development until the right hon. Lady notified me a few moments ago, not least because I have been in the Chair attending to my duties. I imagine that the issue will be of considerable interest and concern to a great many people in all parts of the country with a variety of different views.

The short answer is that it is open to the right hon. Lady to table a question on the matter. I have certainly received no indication of an intention by a Government Minister to come to the House to make an oral statement, but the right hon. Lady has the recourse of a question. If, as seems possible, she judges the matter to be urgent, she knows the mechanism that is available to her to bring the matter to the attention of the House and to secure a ministerial response sooner rather than later.