Clause 72 - Interpretation of Part 6

Part of Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 15th January 2002.

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Photo of Phil Willis Phil Willis Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 4:30 pm, 15th January 2002

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman takes such a close interest in Liberal Democrat policy. He raises a fair point, so let me assure him that that is not my party's intention. He was not a member of the Conservative Government when they introduced post-1988 the idea of clarifying religious education. They wanted to achieve consensus about how religious education should be taught in schools and the religious syllabus. That was all positive. The dividing line comes with indoctrination. That is where we cross from educating young people about religion in its broader sense—that must be a multi-faith approach, because we live in a multi-faith society—and using the state system to indoctrinate people in a particular faith.

Those two viewpoints are fundamentally different. As a practising Christian, I do not want religious education removed from schools, but my party and I are determined to ensure that other faiths are equally celebrated, and that young people have an understanding of faiths throughout the world, and the benefits and virtues that those faiths—