RAXEN Programme

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th December 2000.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 12th December 2000

If he will make a statement about the discussions he has had with European Union Ministers about the RAXEN programme. [141962]

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

RAXEN, the European racism and xenophobia information network, is an information-sharing network established by the European Union's monitoring centre on racism and xenophobia. European Union Ministers agreed the programme in 1997. The Government are committed to combating racism and promoting diversity in Britain and across Europe. We will continue to support RAXEN and the European monitoring centre in any way that we can.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury

I thank the Minister for that reply. I am sure that the whole House shares the Government's desire to stamp out racism and xenophobia, but is not that organisation trying to stamp out the undesirable emotions that the European Union itself is creating? The creation of a European army and other moves that take us towards a European superstate, such as economic and monetary union, are likely to foster xenophobia and racism. Is not the real way to combat those undesirable emotions to allow each independent nation state to remain exactly that, independent?

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I know that the hon. Gentleman was a member of the Freedom Association, but I thought that his views might have matured since he joined the House of Commons. RAXEN and the monitoring centre do excellent work. He may have prepared his supplementary question before he realised that this was not a question about the rapid reaction force. It is about an effective organisation that is doing very good work. It is right that we should celebrate the diversity of cultures in the European Union. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman and Conservative Members do not support that work. I suggest that he uses one of his visits as a Member of Parliament to go to Austria and see those people, and then he will know what excellent work they do.