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Catholic MP challenges Clegg over his praise of faith schools
07 March 2014 13:40 by Liz Dodd

A Catholic MP has challenged the Deputy Prime Minister to campaign for faith schools after he praised them as “engines of integration”.

Mark Hoban, Conservative member for Fareham and a former Employment Minister, welcomed Nick Clegg’s remarks, reported in The Tablet last week.

However Mr Hoban criticised his former Coalition Government colleagues for their “absurd” decision to cap at 50 per cent the number of students a religious academy or free school can select based on their faith.

Mr Hoban told The Tablet: “[Mr Clegg’s comment] makes it all the harder to understand why the Coalition has effectively blocked new Catholic schools being established. This policy means that a new Catholic academy or free school would have to turn away Catholic children whilst admitting non-Catholics.”

He called on Mr Clegg, whose son has recently started at the over-subscribed London Oratory School, to campaign for the cap to be dropped.

“This is absurd and means that children across the country are missing out on the Catholic education that Nick Clegg’s children enjoy. Perhaps, he will join other MPs in campaigning for the cap to be scrapped,” said Mr Hoban.

His comments were echoed by the Catholic Education Service, which also welcomed Mr Clegg’s intervention. A spokeswoman said the cap prevents the Church and state from meeting the demand for Catholic places where there is a shortage of Catholic provision.