Thinking Anglicans

Equality Bill: the purposes paragraph

The bishops say in their press release that they are supporting three specific amendments to Schedule 9 Clause 2 of the Equality Bill. Here is the detail of the third one. As before, please remember two things:

– this clause does not deal with discrimination on the grounds of Religion or Belief, that is covered in Clause 3.

– this clause deals with a variety of other requirements as listed in paragraph 4.

Amendment 100 is sponsored by Baroness O’Cathain, Lord Anderson of Swansea, the Lord Bishop of Winchester, and Baroness Butler-Sloss.

This removes paragraph 8 entirely, thus:

(8) Employment is for the purposes of an organised religion only if the employment wholly or mainly involves— (a) leading or assisting in the observance of liturgical or ritualistic practices of the religion, or (b) promoting or explaining the doctrine of the religion (whether to followers of the religion or to others).

There is no such wording in existing legislation.

Before that amendment is considered, Amendment 99A will be moved by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, on behalf of the government. This amendment inserts the following wording at the end of paragraph 6, leaving paragraph 8 unchanged. However, Baroness Royall has stated that if Amendment 99A is passed, the government will accept Amendment 100.

”( ) Employment is for the purposes of an organised religion only if—
(a) the employment is as a minister of religion, or
(b) the employment is in another post that exists (or, where the post has not previously been filled, that would exist) to promote or represent the religion or to explain the doctrines of the religion (whether to followers of the religion or to others).”

The government says that this is only a clarification of the existing law, and does not constitute any change. It refers to the statement made by Lord Sainsbury of Turville in the House of Lords in 2003:

“When drafting Regulation 7(3), we had in mind a very narrow range of employment: ministers of religion, plus a small number of posts outside the clergy, including those who exist to promote and represent religion.” [Official Report, House of Lords, 17 June 2003; Vol. 649, c. 779.]

The bishops say “the current limited exemptions for organised religions are balanced and should not be further restricted.”

What they ask is for candidates for “a small number of lay posts”, or more exactly “certain senior lay posts that involve promoting and representing the religion” to be required “to demonstrate an ability to live a life consistent with the ethos of the religion”.

There are two other amendments being proposed to Clause 2.

In Amendment 97E Lord Alli proposes to delete paragraph (4f) thus

(f) a requirement related to sexual orientation.

In Amendment 100A Baroness Turner of Camden proposes to insert three words in paragraph 8, thus:

-(8) Employment is for the purposes of an organised religion only if the purpose of the employment wholly or mainly involves etc.

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14 years ago

Wait – this is about lay positions? (I apologize for not recognizing it sooner, but things written in parliamentese confuse me.)

Against whom, exactly do they want to discriminate? If there are people who can’t be hired in certain “senior lay positions” solely because they belong to a certain category, maybe the CofE should just stop baptizing people in that category. That would solve the problem. :-/

14 years ago

So discrimination would still be legally possible for my ilk as “Lay Vicars, or Lay Clerks” due interpretation of their titles as “minister of religion” or “promoting” it.

They’d be surprised at the ranks of singers that would cover, especially the young gents from a major university an hour and one half north-north-east of London.


Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

No, choirboy, I don’t think so. The new definition the government is proposing is, among other things, intended to remove that risk which was present in the original definition. I think they are well aware of the phenomenon you describe, which occurs also at the place in a northwesterly direction from London…

Andrew Brown
14 years ago

Phew! for a moment there I was worried that choirboy was talking about Cambridge, but that’s only 45 minutes from London on the Kings Cross Line. So it must be UEA that is the den of inquity.

14 years ago

It ain’t the ship sailing across the fens…..must be better train times, seemed like a good hour out of King’s X last May when I rode Simon’s
Favorite Railway (I know how much he loves 1st Capital Connect). Andrew Brown, you get to guess which college….LOL.

Father Ron Smith
14 years ago

One can only thank God that the Anglican Communion is not circumscribed by its filial connection with the Church of England. The work of the Gospel, in fact, is being carried out by the more modern Provinces of Anglicanism in other places – notably those where the Enlightenment has already broken through the misty environs of the Crusades, The Puritans and the Middle Ages. However, there is still the prospect of the *Covenant* to be considered! With the possibility of being tied down to the ethos of discrimination still being practised by certain bishops of the C. of E., it… Read more »

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