I don’t have enough brain to understand the arts of politics, though perhaps I should. Maybe I will as an older and (perhaps) wiser vicar, but for now I plead ignorance m’Lud. Our Archbishop of York has made two contributions to the house over the last couple of days which had some weight, and I applaud him for it. I did however spot a note a little lower down that relates more to our considerations of church school policies. Again, I make not comment, but it’s worth being aware of.

15 Dec 2009 : Column 1483

Baroness Turner of Camden:
…There are, however, some provisions in the Bill relating to religious organisations which may need further examination when the Bill is considered in Committee. The issue of employment in state-funded faith schools has recently been brought to my attention. It would appear that religious requirements can be imposed on teachers in such schools that would not otherwise be imposed without the need to establish that it is an occupational requirement.
Schedule 9 sets out a number of exceptions to the requirement not to discriminate. This would appear to permit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation as a,

“proportionate means of complying with the doctrines of the religion”

That could leave the way open to discrimination against individuals doing teaching or administrative work, and I think that that would be unacceptable.

The Bill also has specific exceptions to allow religious organisations to discriminate in employment and in service provision on religious grounds when they are working under contract to provide public services or performing public functions. This was dealt with in more detail by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Tradeston. I say in passing that I am a vice-president of the Humanist Association.
To read John Sentamu’s contribution, the see the links

http://bit.ly/6GCP8a on protection of exemption for Christian charities and
http://bit.ly/5zVUap for the ordination of women Bishops

Shortlink   http://wp.me/pDlJe-1M