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British Government urged to reinstate full-time minister for faith

The post was created under the coalition Government to ‘promote faith and religious tolerance

Prime Minister Theresa May is being urged to reinstate the minister for faith to a full Cabinet position.

The post was created under the coalition Government with the remit that “the minister works with religious and community leaders to promote faith, religious tolerance and stronger communities within the UK.”

As a senior Foreign Office minister the first holder of the post, Baroness Warsi, attended Cabinet meetings. After she resigned from the Government over its “morally indefensible” response to the Gaza war the post went to Eric Pickles, then the Secretary for State for Communities and a full Cabinet minister.

But then the role went to a junior minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Baroness Williams of Trafford, who as well as looking after “faith and integration” was responsible for the HS2 rail link amongst much else.

It has since passed to Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, who is responsible within DCLG for community cohesion, race equality, troubled families, domestic refuges and travellers policy, as well as being in charge of the Syrian Refugees Programme. In addition he is a junior minister in the Wales Office, responsible for energy, environment, defence, local government, localism education and law and order.

Neither Baroness Williams nor Lord Bourne attends Cabinet.

Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds, chair of Christians on the Left, has called for the post to be restored to full ministerial level in a standalone role. He told Christian Today: “Understanding and valuing faith communities is paramount to a successful, cohesive, inclusive society. Faith communities deliver positive social change through pastoral support, youth activities and welfare provision such as foodbanks, yet too frequently come under fire when tensions rise. Engaging with them is a big job and should be seen as such.”


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