Political Extremism

Oral Answers to Questions — Innovation, Universities and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 26th June 2008.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 10:30 am, 26th June 2008

What progress has been made in his Department's further education consultation on promotion of shared values and counteracting violent extremism.

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Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

Our consultation on further education providers' role in promoting community cohesion, fostering shared values and preventing violent extremism closed on 6 May. We have established a network of "champion principals" to work with us on the way forward. We will revise our guidance and work with the new Learning and Skills Improvement Service and other Government Departments to create resources and support that respond to the needs expressed in the consultation and reinforce partnership working.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

I thank the Minister for that answer. One of the best ways to counter violent extremism is to encourage vigorous open debate. What is the Department doing to ensure that education providers enable such open debate to take place?

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Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

My hon. Friend makes an exceedingly important point, and the arguments the Secretary of State just outlined apply to both further and higher education. In academic freedom and free and open debate, we have one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to isolate and challenge the very small minority who advocate violent extremism. We must look for every opportunity within further education colleges to promote that. One initiative that I am very pleased we are taking forward is the allocation of £2 million in each of the next three years to develop materials to promote the citizenship education within our FE colleges that will help such debate take place.

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