MPs to debate public holidays on religious occasions
On Monday 29 October, MPs will debate petitions urging the Government to hold public holidays on Muslim religious occasions in the UK (Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha) and on Hindu religious occasions (Diwali and Dussera).
The debate will start at 5.30pm and will be opened by Martyn Day MP, a member of the Petitions Committee.
The petition calling for public holidays on Muslim religious occasions, which has more than 46,000 signatures, states that: “This will give an opportunity for Muslim families to get together and share happiness with other religious communities. It is very important for Muslims to celebrate EID” later adding that despite being the second largest UK religion “Muslims don't get a lawful Public Holiday on their two special religious occasions in a year.”
The petition calling for public holidays on Hindu special occasions, which has more than 11,000 signatures, states that: “It is very important for Hindus to celebrate Diwali and also Diwali — Festival of Lights is a major holiday that is also celebrated by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.” They also note that Hinduism is the third largest religion in England but that Hindus don't get a lawful Public Holiday on religious occasions.
In response to the petitions, the Government said: “The Government has no plans to create a public holiday to commemorate religious festivals such as Eid and Diwali” adding that the “costs are considerable.”
“The Government regularly receives requests for additional bank and public holidays to celebrate a variety of occasions including religious festivals. However the current pattern is well established and accepted.”
Monday’s debate will provide an opportunity for MPs to question a Government Minister directly on these petitions.
What will the petition debate achieve?
These debates help to raise the profile of a campaign and could influence decision-making in Government and Parliament. Petition debates in Westminster Hall cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition. Creating new laws, or changing existing ones, can only be done through the parliamentary legislative process which involves a number of debates, and detailed consideration of the law in draft, in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.