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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:39 am on 9th June 2009.

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William Fittall: We want to say that you need to proceed with a bit of care in this area. If you look at schools, you have 1 million children in Church of England schools and many people in Roman Catholic schools and other faith schools. That is necessary,  accepted by the Government, and the Bill allows it to continue. The distinctive ethos of those schools should be preserved. Yes, there is public money going in, they are part of state education and they have to observe a lot of public requirements, and quite rightly so, but the notion that the Catholic, the Anglican or the Jewish identity of the school should be safeguarded by requiring that the head teacher is of that particular faith does not seem at all a strange proposition. The Government recognise that, and that is preserved by the Bill, although I know that the British Humanist Association is not happy with that. However, on that score, we want the Bill to remain as it is. If you are going to have faith schools as part of the state system, you need to allow them to preserve their ethos.