Religious Dress and Symbols: Workplace

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 2017.

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Photo of David Amess David Amess Conservative, Southend West 12:00 am, 20th April 2017

What assessment the Church of England has made of the implications of the European Court of Justice ruling of March 2017 on wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church of England was very concerned by the judgment of the European Court of Justice that stated that blanket bans on the wearing of political, philosophical or religious signs do not amount to cases of direct discrimination, because that conflicts with the pre-existing rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. By leaving the European Union, we presumably stand some chance of resolving such inconsistencies.

Photo of David Amess David Amess Conservative, Southend West

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is yet another reason to be pleased that last year the British people took the decision to leave the European Union? The ruling was deeply offensive to people of all faiths and totally unnecessary.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Yes, and it was completely at odds with the statutory purpose of the Church of England, which was put far better than I possibly could by the head of the Church, Her Majesty the Queen, when in 2012 she made it clear that the Church of England

“has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”

That is what we should be able to do if we can resolve this inconsistency.