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Prisons: Ministers of Religion

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL3350, tabled on 20 November 2017

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compatibility with equality and human rights legislation of section 7 of the Prison Act 1952, which mandates that every prison must employ a clergyman from the Church of England to fulfil its chaplain position before members of other religions or beliefs can be considered for employment.

Answered on

4 December 2017

All prisons have multi faith chaplaincy teams to provide religious and pastoral support to prisoners. Chaplaincy provision reflects the faith/denominational requirements of the prison and prisons appoint chaplains on the basis of need, which will include a Church of England Chaplain. Church of England Chaplains are appointed under section 7 of the Prison Act 1952, and other Prison Chaplains under section 10 of the Prison Act.

We believe that the provisions on prisoner religion in the Prison Act 1952 and the Prison Rules 1999 are compatible with Articles 9 and 12 of the ECHR, and therefore we believe that HMPPS meets its obligation under the Human Rights Act 1998 to act compatibly with convention rights.

These provisions are also in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, in avoiding discrimination on grounds of religion, whether directly or indirectly. Where new prisons open, the aim is to have a fully functioning multi faith chaplaincy team appointed before the prison becomes operational.