Catholic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has called on Education Secretary Justine Greening to lift the “damaging” faith school admissions cap.
The Conservative politician said the policy effectively prevents the Church from opening new free schools, and pointed out that abolishing it was clearly in the Conservative Party’s 2017 manifesto.
In an article for the ConservativeHome website, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “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 bishops] naturally could not agree to establish schools which had to turn away pupils because they were Catholic.”
He said that the policy has been “damaging” to the education for both Catholics and non-Catholics as it means increased demand for places at existing schools.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s call adds pressure on the Education Secretary to drop the cap.
Last week, Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh wrote in the Catholic Herald calling for the policy “harmful”, adding: “Removing the cap doesn’t require a new law to be passed as it’s only a policy. All we need, effectively, is the Education Secretary’s signature.”
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales launched a petition last month urging an end to the policy.
“By forcing Catholic schools to turn away Catholic school children on the basis of their faith, the very principle of a Catholic parent’s right to choose a Catholic education is under threat,” the bishops said.