The government will keep a policy that effectively prevents the Church from opening new free schools

The Archbishop of Liverpool has condemned the British government after it broke a manifesto promise to allow new Catholic schools to open.

The government announced on Friday that it had dropped a manifesto pledge to lift the faith school admissions cap – a policy that forbids new faith-based free schools from selecting more than 50 per cent of their intake from their own faith. The cap effectively prevents any new Catholic free schools from opening and it would require them to break Canon Law.

Prime Minister Theresa May had consistently promised to scrap the cap, and the Conservative Party’s 2017 manifesto explicitly mentioned the detrimental effect it has on Britain’s Catholic community.

However, Education Secretary Damian Hinds – who is himself Catholic – has now said the policy will stay.

Instead, the government will allow the creation of new “voluntary-aided” faith schools that can select all students based on faith. However, unlike free schools, they are under the authority of local government, raising concerns that local councils may prevent them from opening.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon said: “In their general election manifesto, the Conservative Party made a commitment to the Catholic community that the unfair rule effectively stopping the opening of new Catholic free schools would be lifted.

“Today the government has broken this promise, dropped the pledge they made to our country’s six million Catholics and ignored the tens of thousands of Catholics who campaigned on this issue.”