On this morning’s Sunday AM Shadow Home Secretary David Davis made it clear that he would be voting against the attempts by the Government to force the Catholic Church to consider placing the very vulnerable children in its care with gay couples. Mr Davis, who has long championed the welfare of ‘looked-after children’, will – like all other Tory MPs – enjoy a free vote on the issue.
Mr Cameron’s silence on this issue has frustrated Tory traditionalist MPs throughout the week. Edward Leigh was on yesterday’s Week in Westminster attacking the Labour policy and the anxieties of John Hayes and Julian Brazier are spotlighted in today’s Sunday Telegraph.
The issue is important for all of the reasons stated in an excellent article (with a misleading headline) by Matthew d’Ancona. At the heart of Mr Cameron’s ‘social responsibility agenda’ is a belief that faith-based groups can do a better job at welfare than the state. But a big part of the reason for the efficacy of faith-based groups is the religious ethos that drives them. If Government insists that faith-based groups adopt an ethos that is less authentic to their traditions (and more like that of government departments) the faith-based projects will decide that they had better remain independent of government. There is a deep and unresolved tension between David Cameron saying that he wants public policy to encourage more faith-based social action but then hesitating to support the freedom of faith-based groups to behave authentically.