West Norfolk MP pleads: ‘Don’t penalise Christians in anti-extremism plan’

Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham ANL-150805-111717009
Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham ANL-150805-111717009

A West Norfolk MP has urged religious groups to comment on government plans to extend Ofsted inspections that he fears could have major implications for community groups.

Officials are currently consulting on proposals that, if implemented, would require Ofsted to inspect out of school education settings which children attend for more than six hours per week.

The idea has been put forward as part of a series of measures which are intended to protect children from extremism.

But North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham fears such a measure could disproportionately target church groups and other community organisations.

And he has called for Christian groups to comment on the idea before the current consultation ends next month.

He said: “We have not had a problem around Christian teaching. Neither have there been examples of corruption or brainwashing within the Christian Church.

“Therefore, the proposed Ofsted inspection of churches is totally unnecessary to deal with the problems surrounding radicalism, extremism and terrorism.

“This is likely to unintentionally cause a huge amount of red-tape, cost and bureaucracy to small voluntary church groups, and potentially prevent many groups from continuing to serve their communities so excellently.

“I am urging as many Christians as possible to respond to the consultation, which provides an opportunity for Christians to raise their serious concerns.

“If you are involved in voluntary work with children, in any capacity, please do take the time to fill out the Government’s consultation. If we do not make our voice heard, we cannot stop these proposals.”

The consultation, which ends on January 11, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/out-of-school-education-settings-registration-and-inspection.