To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions the (a) Church of England and (b) Church in Wales have had with (i) other religious and faith bodies, (ii) the Government and (iii) the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the exemption of those bodies from equality legislation for appointments and provision of services.
The Equality Act 2010 contains provisions that allow religious organisations to apply a limited range of religious occupational requirements to comply with the doctrines of the religion or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious beliefs of a significant number of the religion’s followers. The ability to apply religious occupational requirements arises where the employment is “for the purposes of an organised religion” and is not specific to the Church of England.
The Church of England has regular discussions with other religious and faith bodies, with HM Government, and with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on matters of mutual interest. From time to time these will include reflections on the importance for religious freedom of the provisions that protect faith and belief in the Equality Act.