Former Children’s Minister Tim Loughton has clashed with Education Secretary Michael Gove over the same sex marriage bill which recently passed its second reading in Parliament.
Mr Gove was giving evidence to MPs as they began more detailed scrutiny of the bill.
According to a report in The Times, Loughton, the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, asked the Education Secretary about teachers with a religious objection to same sex marriage.
“If a teacher said, in a Catholic school for example, that he or she was unable to take an RE lesson … unless he or she could refer to same-sex marriage as ‘a pretend marriage’, would that be inappropriate teaching and what would the repercussions of that be?”
Gove responded: “Why would the teacher want to go into the lesson with that aim and view?”
When pressed, he continued:
“I don’t know any teachers who think: ‘You know what, in the next hour, as we discuss whatever it might be, my most important aim in my 60 minutes available to me with these young people is to explain why I think this is a pretend marriage’.”
Relations between the two men are said to have been tense since Mr Loughton was removed from his position as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families in a reshuffle last September.
The debate dwelt on the issue of teachers in religious studies lessons.
Crossbench peer Lord Pannick QC said:. “I would be very surprised indeed if a teacher could be disciplined for informing a pupil in an appropriate, balanced manner, in proper language, of the general issues that he or she as a teacher considers arise from same-sex marriage.”
Mr Gove insisted that teachers would have “perfect liberty of conscience and expression”.