Petitioner: Mr Colin Emerson on behalf of Edinburgh Secular Society
13 December 2013
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to bring forward legislative proposals to repeal Section 124 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, as amended by Section 31 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.
This would end the legal obligation on local authorities to appoint three unelected religious representatives to sit on their education committees.
14 January 2014: The Committee took evidence from Colin Emerson, Vice-Chair, and Norman Bonney, Honorary President, Edinburgh Secular Society. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, COSLA, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, the Association of Directors of Education Scotland, the Church of Scotland Education Committee, the Scottish Catholic Education Service, the Educational Institute of Scotland, Interfaith Scotland, the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland. Link to Official Report 14 January 2014 (417KB pdf)
18 March 2014: The Committee agreed to refer the petition, under Rule 15.6.2, to the Education and Culture Committee to consider it alongside petition PE1487 on religious observance in schools. Link to Official Report 18 March 2014 (378KB pdf)
6 May 2014: The Education and Culture Committee noted the draft proposal for a Member's Bill on local government accountability and transparency and agreed to close petition PE1498. Link to Official Report 6 May 2014 (432KB pdf)
1. Is it fair and democratic that unelected representatives should advise and decide on local education matters, simply because they espouse a particular religious belief?
2. Would it concern you to learn that, at least one religious representative identifies himself as a 'young earth creationist'?
3. Do you think that people who hold a religious belief have any particular skills not found amongst those with no religion?
4. Is it right that a statutory requirement (see above) treats the non-religious as second class-citizens by virtue of granting the religious a privileged position on local education committees.
More info at www.edinburghsecularsociety.com