Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#Equality?: MP's to debate petition calling for Diwali to be made a Bank Holiday

A petition to make Diwali and Eid public holidays in the UK is to be debated in Parliament.

The e-Petition has been signed by more than 123,000 people since it was created earlier this year.

The petition states: "I believe that given the number of Muslims and Hindu's in this country it is only fair that we allow them to have the most important days in their faiths recognised in law.

"By giving them public/bank holidays for these days we would be going some way to help to recognise the importance of these faiths to many within the country."

In June, the government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills rejected the petition saying it would be detrimental to the economy.

In its response to the petition, the government said: "Whilst we appreciate a new national holiday may benefit some communities and sectors, the cost to the economy remains considerable and any changes to the current arrangements would not take place without a full consultation."

A number of leading British Asian community figures also refused to support the petition with Vinod Popat, Chairman of the British Hindu Voice, saying the move would result in the country "grinding to a halt".

However, Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, whose constituency in Harrow East is home to a large South Asian migrant community, has thrown his support behind the petition.

He is set to encourage ministers to reconsider the petition during a debate in the House of Commons on Monday.

Mr Blackman argues that more than a million people in Britain celebrate these holidays and that public holidays should not be restricted to Christian festivals.

If an e-petition gets 10,000 signatures, it is eligible for a written response from the government.

If it reaches as many as 100,000 signatures, a parliamentary committee will consider whether it merits a Commons debate if an MP wants to propose one.

Ministers will reconsider the petition during a debate at Westminster Hall at 4.30 pm on Monday 21 July.



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