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General Synod: Equality Bill

Mr Clive Scowen (London) asked the Secretary General:

Q. Have any representations been made to HM Government, or briefings given to members of Parliament and peers, concerning the Equality Bill currently before Parliament, in particular relating to the likely impact of its provisions on Christian employers wishing to recruit committed disciples of Christ wishing to fashion their lives according to biblical precepts and, if so, what in outline was the substance of those submissions and briefings?

Mr William Fittall replied:

A. There is a copy on the Church of England website of the substantial submission produced by the Archbishops’ Council in response to the Government’s earlier consultation exercise. We produced a briefing document for MPs for the Second reading of the Bill and I gave oral evidence to the Bill Committee on 9 June at which, with representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Board of Deputies I argued strongly against the narrowing of the provisions for religious organisation in relation to employment. Our lobbying, in partnership with others, continues both publicly and privately.

Two supplementaries were asked:

  • The first one asked if there was any evidence of the effect of this lobbying? My contemporaneous note summarises the reply as “We are still at an early stage of this bill, nothing more until November, hard to predict…” but I have not yet been able to listen to the audio to check this for accuracy.
  • The second question asked why the CofE thought the bill constituted a narrowing of the existing law, particularly in light of the Amicus decision of 2004? This was ruled out of order by the chair, on the grounds that it was asking for an expression of opinion.

The materials mentioned by Mr Fittall can be found:

Submission to the earlier consultation (A Framework for Fairness)

Briefing for 2nd Reading

Oral evidence on 9 June

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