Like most people, I am concerned about the spread of Islamic law in Britain. I thought it important to report last week that the law lords had condemned sharia law in Lebanon as "arbitrary and discriminatory" because it would have prevented a mother from bringing up her own child.

But before condemning the Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice, for her written answer in Parliament on Thursday, I think it is important to consider exactly what she said.

The minister was asked what guidance had been issued on the validity of fatwas and of other rulings issued by religious authorities to decide matrimonial disputes.

"We do not issue any guidance on the validity of fatwas or other rulings by a religious authority," she replied, "because there is no need for such guidance. Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales and there is no intention to change this position.

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