Councils secure right to say prayers
Councils today regain the power to say prayers before meetings following a Government intervention that it trumpeted as a victory over political correctness.
The move by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, came a week after a High Court ruling that Bideford town council in Devon had broken the law.
Although the court ruled that holding prayers did not breach the human rights of non-Christians, it said councils had exceeded their powers under the Local Government Act.
Under a parliamentary order coming into force today, local authorities will be given a "general power of competence" to do anything unless it was specifically banned by law.
Mr Pickles said the move would give councils the legal standing to ensure they could hold formal prayer sessions. He said: "Last week's case should be seen as a wake-up call. For too long, the public sector has been used to marginalise and attack faith in public life, undermining the very foundations of the British nation. But this week the tables have been turned."
He said: "By reversing that illiberal ruling, we are striking a blow for localism over central interference, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism, for Parliamentary sovereignty over judicial activism and for long-standing British liberties over modern-day political correctness."
The move comes into effect today for most English councils, apart from parish councils which gain it from next month.
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital in London where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Nepal earthquake: Rescuers forced to dig with their bare hands in search for survivors as images show damage to historic buildings
Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson in angry clash live on BBC's Andrew Marr Show
Bali Nine executions: British grandmother on death row in Indonesia Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...