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 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
German conservatives are destroying Europe with austerity, says economist Thomas Piketty
Man dies instantly after shooting firework from top of his head
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...