Catholic Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has called on the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to lift the Government's “damaging” cap on admissions to faith schools.
One of the Conservative Party’s clearest manifesto commitments was to lift the cap on places for Catholics at new schools, wrote Mr Rees-Mogg in an article for the conservative home website.
He explained that the policy prevented the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools and has “been damaging to the provision of education to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”
In the article, entitled 'Why won't the Education Department honour our manifesto pledge on Catholic schools?’, he wrote:
“The problem with the current rules is that they limit the number of places for Catholics in new schools to 50 per cent if other, non-Catholics, wish to attend.”
“However, under Canon law Catholic bishops have certain obligations which mean that places cannot be preferentially offered to non-Catholics at the exclusion of Catholics,” he added.
The north east Somerset MP quoted the Conservative faith cap pledge as it was written in the party’s manifesto, adding that there is “no wriggle room in that sentence”.
“The Department for Education, instead of implementing the policy decision, has decided to have an enquiry to decide whether to do what was promised or not.”
Last month, the Bishops of England and Wales have launched an urgent appeal to Catholics to pressurise the government to keep its pledge to lift the 50 per cent cap on faith admissions to new free schools, amid growing concerns that the Conservatives may renege on the pledge.
A spokesman for the Catholic Education Service said the bishops wanted the Catholic community to find its voice quickly. “Every time we ask the government what’s happening, they say ‘we will let you know in due course.’ It’s what they’re not saying that’s making us concerned…Our hunch is that unless the Catholic community stands up and shows what a big issue this is, then the argument may be lost.”
It also emerged that the Bishop of Brentwood, Alan Williams, met Ms Greening along with Catholic Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh and the Director of the Catholic Education Service, Paul Barber, last month to discuss the issue.
PICTURE: Jacob Rees-Mogg ©PA