Press Release on Edinburgh Secular Society’s petition to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Secular Society welcomes Petition 01498 to remove the statutory requirement in
law for religious representatives on Scottish Educations boards, however it is our view that
this petition does not go far enough.
The petition calls for the repeal of Section 124 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, as
amended by Section 31 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, which places a statutory
obligation on local authorities to have one representative from the Church of Scotland, one from the
Catholic Church and one other on every education board in Scotland, with a requirement for two
others in the northern isles. This outdated requirement, which calls for no qualification other than a
position within a religious organisation and excludes all others from holding those posts regardless
of their skills or suitability, is in our opinion anti-democratic and a form of religious privilege to
which we are opposed.
The petition gives no option for how these places would in future be allocated, which leaves the
local authorities free to appoint them as they wish. In essence, while there is no legal requirement
for the appointment of religious representatives, nor is there anything to stop the council arbitrarily
appointing such representatives. It is our view that if there are to be any places not filled by
councillors, they should be filled through democratic process, either by election or by interview
and appointment of the most qualified and worthy candidates.
We support this petition and would urge all to sign it and join us in our call for proper, open and
democratic appointment of any extra seats on education committees. These places should be open to
all interested parties regardless of faith, not reserved for the few because of their faith.