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Pupils: Religious Freedom

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether his Department has made an assessment of the implications for his Department’s policies of the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the case of Lautsi v Italy on educational institutions in England. (308765)

We are currently considering the implications of this ruling but our early conclusions are that we believe that the circumstances in Italy are clearly different from those in England and that such a ruling would have no impact on our schools provision. This is because the concerns of the court in this case, which lead to the breach of human rights conclusion, were around the lack of pluralism in the Italian education system—that there was no choice for non-Christian parents/pupils in Italy since every classroom in every school must be adorned with a crucifix—as set out in a Royal Decree. This is certainly not the case in England where there is no such universal display of religious imagery. Parental choice is a key feature of our education system and the majority of schools are maintained schools of no particular religion but there is also the choice available of faith schools catering for many different faiths.