Politicians in Harrow have called for greater recognition of non-Christian religious festivals in the UK.

Gareth Thomas and Bob Blackman, MPs for Harrow West and Harrow East, were among those to request public holidays for other popular religions in the country.

At a parliamentary committee, they mentioned the importance of festivals such as Diwali, Eid-al-Fitr and Yom Kippur.

The Government has been reluctant to extend the number of public holidays in the UK, which currently stands at eight, despite calls for recognition of religious events and cultural celebrations like St George’s Day.

But the Harrow MPs said it was vital that members of all communities feel as if their needs are being met.

“I strongly support the principle of providing more public holidays – we have far too few in this country – and I strongly believe that we should base them around the major religions, to demonstrate that we celebrate all religions,” said Mr Blackman.

“In our much more diverse country, as it is now, we have great adherence to religious faith, particularly among the great religions. Why not recognise that fact and give everyone the opportunity to have a day off and recharge on that basis?”

Harrow is an especially diverse borough, with sizeable Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Jain communities.

Both Mr Blackman and Mr Thomas pointed out that religious adherence in their areas is particularly high, and the issue of holidays is an important one to them.

They added that both Harrow and Brent Councils do not hold meetings on days of significance and urged the Government to take a similar approach.

The Government rejected a petition put forward calling for public holidays to be observed on Eid-al-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha, Diwali and Dasara.

It explained that increasing the number of days off could damage the country’s economy and said there is now more flexibility in place for employers to assist with religious obligations.

“As a government, we will continue to encourage business to respect people’s views and meet their needs,” said business minister Kelly Tolhurst.