The government kicks the Sharia debate into the long grass
Because our Parliament discusses little of significance anymore, most of the public tend to ignore it. The perception that the weekly silliness of Prime Minister’s Questions constitutes Parliamentary business is enough to put any normal person off. And apart from that weekly bun-fight, even the media barely bothers to report on the work of either House any longer.
Occasionally something still happens in the Commons or the Lords that is worthy of serious attention but because of its form elsewhere, such occasions fail to get the attention they deserve.
Such is the Bill proposed by Baroness Cox, which had its second reading in the Lords on Friday. Beneath its title (‘The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill’) lies a debate which heads straight at one of the most important issues of our time: whether this country will make a stand on the principle of ‘one law for all’ or whether competing laws will be allowed to operate unchallenged by a timid government and weak legal system. As Baroness Cox said in her opening remarks:
‘Awareness of the need for the Bill arose from mounting evidence of serious problems affecting some women in this country from the application of Sharia law. I immediately reassure your Lordships that I am not anti-Muslim. Indeed, I am deeply concerned that Muslim women enjoy their full legal and civil rights under the law of this land. If women from other faiths experience comparable problems of systematic discrimination, the provisions of this Bill would also be available for them as it does not name any religion. (continue reading...)