(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make a statement on the Government’s initial reaction to the recommendations in the Casey report and indicate what process the Government will now adopt for detailed consideration of its proposals and their implementation.
In July 2015, the Government asked Dame Louise Casey to conduct an independent review of opportunity and integration in the UK. Her report was published yesterday. Once again, I thank Dame Louise for her thorough and diligent work over the past 18 months. Many of her findings ring true to me personally. I have seen for myself the enormous contribution that immigrants and their families make to British life, all without giving up their unique cultural identities, but I have also seen with my own eyes the other side of the equation. For too long, too many people in this country have been living parallel lives, refusing to integrate and failing to embrace the shared values that make Britain great; and for too long, too many politicians in this country have refused to deal with the problem, ducking the issue for fear of being called a racist and failing the very people they are supposed to help. I will not allow that to continue.
We in public life have a moral responsibility to deal with the situation, and Dame Louise’s report is a crucial step in that process. I am studying her findings closely. The report touches on the work of a number of Departments, so I will discuss it with colleagues across Government more widely. In spring, we will come to the House with our plans for tackling these issues, so that we can continue to build a country that works for everyone.
I had the pleasure of hosting Louise Casey on a visit to Sheffield, where she identified both the scale and the speed of substantial Slovak Roma migration to the city, which is a significant challenge. She identified that even in Sheffield, which has a history of good community relations, those communities very often live side by side, with very little interaction, let alone any integration. Will the Secretary of State indicate his response to the detailed recommendations of the report, particularly a key recommendation for the creation of a new programme to improve community cohesion, with area-based plans and projects? Does he recognise that such a programme will need targeted funds, rather like the impact funds that the Government abolished?
Does the Secretary of State agree with Louise Casey that speaking English is key to integration? Will he agree to reverse the cuts that have been made to the funds available for courses teaching English as a second language? Does he have a view on the recommendations to promote British values in all communities, especially the values of tolerance and respect for others, which support equality on grounds of sex, sexuality, race and religion?
Given that many of the recommendations are challenging and some may be controversial, will the Secretary of State have a programme to consult elected councils and the different communities in the areas most impacted by the recommendations? Finally, after discussions with Government colleagues, will the right hon. Gentleman come back to this House with an action plan, and maybe even come to the Communities and Local Government Committee to discuss it with us as well?
First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his warm words about the report and his welcome for it. I know that this is an issue in which he has personally taken an interest for many years, and I look forward to speaking to him as the Chair of the Select Committee about the report. He will know that this is an independent report, not a statement of Government policy. Naturally, the Government will want to take the right length of time to look at each of the report’s findings and the recommendations that Dame Louise has made.
The hon. Gentleman asked about a number of the recommendations. Let me respond to some of those, without prejudging our response to the report in spring next year. He asked about the area-based plan—a more place-based view. Taking account of local circumstances is just common sense, something the Government already do with their integration and cohesion programmes, but I would like to see how we could make more of that. The hon. Gentleman asked about making resources available. Of course, we will make sure that any recommendation that the Government accept and decide to take forward is suitably resourced.
The hon. Gentleman asked about the importance of English. One of the central recommendations of the report is to make sure that every community in Britain can speak English. I remember, when I was about eight or nine years old, going with my mother when she had to visit the GP and acting as an interpreter for her. Many years later I am pleased to say that she learned English and now speaks it very well. It has transformed her life. It is great news for British society when more and more people who are going to settle here can speak English. I know from personal experience the difference that can make. That is why I am pleased that the Government already spend more than £100 million a year to help people to learn English if it is a foreign language for them. We always have to see what more we can do.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about promoting British values. He is right to stress that, and the report touches on it in a number of areas. He talked particularly about the importance of tolerance and respect, and I am sure he will agree that respect works both ways—respect of all communities for each other, including of immigrant communities for the dominant Christian culture in this country, which is sometimes lacking. We have to make sure that we are promoting British values in every sensible way that we can. We will be looking closely at the report and reporting back on its findings in the spring.
I welcome Louise Casey’s review. It echoes a number of the findings in a recent Women and Equalities Committee report on the challenges that many Muslim people face in getting work in this country. In her report she sets out the fact that women in some communities face a double barrier of gender and religion preventing them from accessing even basic rights as British residents. How are the Secretary of State and the Government ensuring that every person in this country is afforded the protection of the Equality Act 2010 and of their rights under the law of this country?
My right hon. Friend is right to raise the issue. She speaks with great experience and has done a lot to promote equality in this country through her work as a Minister and on the Back Benches. She speaks of the double barrier faced by some women. The report talks about the challenges facing Muslim women in particular. More needs to be done in that regard, not just directly by Government; it is a challenge also to Muslim communities, and particularly to some Muslim men, as to how they treat Muslim women. These findings are extremely important. We should take them seriously and see what more we can do.
I thank the Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee for asking this important urgent question. For too long as a country we have ignored these complex issues for fear of being seen as racist or as attacking cultural attitudes. Sadly, this approach has left a vacuum that has been exploited by those who exist to promote hatred. It is time that we recognised the problems and opportunities highlighted in the Casey report and addressed them in a realistic and mature way.
One of the issues that was highlighted by the Chair of the Select Committee was the ability to speak English. One of the most concerning aspects of the report is how women in some communities are denied equal rights and opportunities. We are constantly urging people who suffer sexual abuse or violence to speak out, but they cannot speak out if they cannot speak English. If they cannot speak English, they cannot even ring 999. Yet the Casey report found that the Department for Communities and Local Government spent more on promoting the Cornish language between 2011 and 2013 than it did on promoting English. Does the Secretary of State now believe that ESOL classes should not have been scrapped? In the light of this report and of his own experience as a young man, will he commit to reinstating ESOL?
The report highlights the fact that communities have been left behind. It is not acceptable to blame the people living in those communities for that, when many of the projects recommended in the report that would empower marginalised women, promote social mixing and tackle barriers to employment for the most socially isolated groups have been scrapped over the past six years as a result of devastating cuts to local government. Does the Secretary of State recognise that cuts to local government funding have contributed to these problems, and will he push for fairer funding in the coming spending review?
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the Muslim Council of Britain that although any initiatives that facilitate better integration of all Britons should be welcomed, taken as a whole the report could be perceived as a missed opportunity to emphasise that integration requires the active participation of all Britons?
The report looked at education, recommending strong safeguards for children not in mainstream education. Will the Secretary of State outline what is being done by his Department and other Departments to make sure that those children are safeguarded?
I am pleased that the hon. Lady agrees that many of the issues raised in the report have been ignored for too long by too many politicians on all sides of the House. It is good that there is general agreement on that. By taking the report as an important first step, we can start to deal together with some of the issues.
The hon. Lady asked about English language. I am a little disappointed that having started by saying that we should take a mature approach, she then made the point about the Cornish language. If she had looked more closely, she would have seen that it was an entirely misleading headline. She spoke about spending on languages by my Department, so I will tell her the facts. In the past six years the Department has spent £780,000 on the Cornish language, but in the past five years it has spent £11 million on community-based English language programmes. On top of that, the rest of the Government has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on supporting English. If we are to have a proper debate, the hon. Lady would be well advised to stick to the facts and use them in the debate.
The hon. Lady asked whether there will be fairer funding for local government. She should know that there is currently a local government fairer funding review, which will report early next year. On the Muslim Council of Britain and some of its early comments on the report, it is important to highlight that I certainly want to speak with all groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain and many others, that want to comment on the report and make suggestions on how we can take integration and cohesion forward.
The hon. Lady also asked about safeguarding, particularly of young Muslims who might be vulnerable in some way. She will know that the Prevent programme is exactly that: a safeguarding programme. That is something I hope the whole House can support.
My right hon. Friend raises an important issue that came up in the report. It is worth reminding the House that sharia councils are not courts in England and Wales; they cannot legally enforce any decisions and they must, of course, operate within the national law. However, the report has highlighted some legitimate issues. That is why I am pleased that the Government have already started a full, independent review of sharia law in England and Wales, and I look forward to reading its conclusions.
Dame Louise’s extensive report comes at an interesting time, with Brexit exacerbating hate crime and Government and tabloid rhetoric ramping up. I am particularly thankful that at least in Scotland we have the political leadership at all levels, whether that be the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who has made welcome those new Scots who have chosen Scotland and given us the tremendous honour of making Scotland their home; Glasgow City Council, which put above its front door a banner proclaiming that refugees are welcome; or the range of community initiatives across the country, such as Refuweegee, which fosters integration. The challenges of migration—[Interruption.]
Order. Why is there so much noise in the Chamber when the hon. Lady is speaking from the Front Bench? She must be listened to.
The challenges of migration are highlighted in the review, but again and again this Tory Government have been found lacking, and in some cases they are the cause. Ending austerity is the best thing this Government could do to tackle social exclusion and promote integration. Will the Secretary of State challenge the toxic rhetoric that pits groups in our society against each another? Will he look to Scotland to see how the strategies that we are implementing are providing opportunities for people to share experiences? Will he reverse the damaging cuts to ESOL, which other Members have mentioned, and will he refuse to accept the offensive suggestion that we require an integration oath?
It is a shame that the hon. Lady has to be so party political about this matter. When she can act in a more mature fashion, and when she and the Scottish National party have something useful to say, I will respond.
Has the Secretary of State had the opportunity to listen to two important radio programmes on the Deobandis—they are still available on the internet—that were broadcast by the BBC a year or so ago? They shine an important light on some of the problems that affect us. Will he join me in welcoming the section of the report on the Prevent strategy, and Louise Casey’s statement that the public servants delivering it
“should be proud and unapologetic about the important work they do to keep us safe”?
I have not listened to those radio programmes on the plight of the Deobandis, but I am well aware of the issues faced by that community. My right hon. Friend is right to highlight it in the House. The report is a reminder of all the communities that we can help through Government action. I am pleased to hear of his support for the Prevent programme. He has been a supporter of it for a while, and that is because he knows that it works.
Home schooling, as the hon. Lady will know, is an important and valuable option that we offer in this country. My hon. Friend the Minister for School Standards is here and has heard her question, and I am sure that he will respond.
I welcome the report, but one of my concerns is that it contains no reflections on the future of faith schools, and therefore the integration of young people across faiths, which I hope we will look at in particular. Can we take urgent action on one of the recommendations, which is that children who are withdrawn from school and educated at home might not receive the sort of education that we would like them to receive? Those children are at risk right now and we need to take urgent action.
My hon. Friend makes an important point. We are looking at unregistered settings, and once that review is complete it will help us deal with the kinds of issues he is concerned about. He talked more generally about faith schools, which are a hugely important part of our education system. They provide variety, but so many people choose them because, by and large, they are excellent schools. Many of them do a great job of promoting integration. One of my brothers, as a Muslim, went to a Roman Catholic school, and it taught him a lot about British society and British values. I think that we should find good practice and see what we can do to promote it.
Louise Casey is right to call out misogyny as one of the ways in which women from minority ethnic communities are socially excluded—not an issue that some of us have ever ignored—but will the Secretary of State talk to the Home Secretary about the misogynist practices of the Home Office? First of all, it excludes wives who come from overseas from accessing free ESOL for the first two years they are here. Secondly, what about those women in Britain who have been exploited by husbands cheating their way into Britain on a marriage ticket? The Home Office refuses to tell the wives, who are British citizens, what has happened to their husbands, and it refuses to collaborate with those women in reporting their husbands and removing them when it should do.
Unfortunately, I do not recognise much of what the right hon. Lady is talking about. Again, she would do well to stick to the facts. For example, she talks about helping women to learn English when they come to Britain. As hon. Members have mentioned, English is hugely important for integration, which is why the Government have put in place a requirement that anyone wishing to settle permanently in this country must first be able to speak English.
The report states:
“Too many public institutions, national and local, state and non-state, have gone so far to accommodate diversity and freedom of expression that they have ignored or even condoned regressive, divisive and harmful cultural and religious practices, for fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic.”
Does the Secretary of State agree that there is now a great opportunity for the Government to take the lead in forging a common, modern British identity that new arrivals must sign up to if integration is really going to work?
My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. As I said at the start—I am pleased to hear that she agrees—politicians, collectively, have for too long ignored this issue and there has been a fear of being branded racist, and clearly that is unacceptable. This is an excellent opportunity for us to build on.
Integration, of course, is a two-way process, and it can be assisted by central Government but has to be delivered at a local level. May I suggest to the Secretary of State that something he could do to respond to the Casey report would be to give the regional mayors in the west midlands the power to administer the training levy? They are best placed to know what kinds of employment opportunities and integration projects for better training and education should be applied.
The right hon. Lady is absolutely right about the importance of having local flexibility and local control over many integration programmes. She might be aware of the Near Neighbours programme, which has thousands of projects all run locally, often involving voluntary groups and local authorities, which I think is a good example of that. She has made a suggestion and I have listened carefully.
The Minister will be aware that the last two Muslims to be murdered in hate crimes were murdered not by Brexit supporters but by other Muslims. Does that not show the importance of implementing this report and demanding that all communities sign up to gay rights, women’s rights and the right to interpret religion in any way one wishes?
My hon. Friend highlights the importance of promoting British values and making sure that they are accepted by all communities in Britain. That includes tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, respect for democracy and so many other things. The more we can do to make sure that every community embraces those, the better off we will all be.
I do not recognise the description of the Muslim community that is painted in this report in respect of my home city of Leicester, where 20% are of Muslim origin and 50% are from the ethnic minority communities. The Secretary of State and I have been to so many dinners and other events for the ethnic minority communities, and he will know that what those communities want more than anything else is to belong, to integrate and to be ambitious for their children. In which country of the world can the son of a bus driver be a Secretary of State in the Cabinet and be talked about as a potential Prime Minister? In which country of the world can four Muslim women be sitting in Parliament today representing all their constituents? While accepting what the report says, let us also be positive about the huge contribution that the ethnic minority communities have made, which has made this country great.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the massive and positive contribution that immigrants through the decades have made to our great country and how they have made our country stronger still. He referred specifically to Muslim communities, including in his own constituency, and I think he will recognise that a lot of the issues and challenges affect a minority of the Muslim community. I think—well, I know, factually—that many members of the Muslim community recognise that there are problems and challenges that are particular to their own community, and they, as much as the right hon. Gentleman, myself and others in the House, want to deal with that.
In Bradford, we have issues of segregation and integration in our communities. I very much welcome the report and what the Secretary of State has said today. Could I invite him to come along to Bradford sometime next year to see what the Government can do to help local communities with their desire for more community cohesion and integration? In the meantime, can he be very firm with local authorities to stop them translating documents into lots of different languages and insist that those documents are all in English only?
My hon. Friend highlights some of the challenges, particularly in his own constituency, of segregation and lack of integration, but I know that he will also be one of the first to accept that different communities have helped his constituency in so many ways and brought so much for people to celebrate. I will be more than happy to come to Bradford to look at both issues with him.
While I second the invitation to Bradford from my colleague, Philip Davies, I do not second the other half of his question. How will the Minister address the structural inequalities affecting Muslim communities, and especially Muslim women, which frustrate their aspiration of progressive engagement with society?
The hon. Lady will know that a number of programmes are already in place. Since 2011-12, the Government have spent £60 million on integration and cohesion programmes, including teaching the English language to isolated communities, with many of those involved being women. However, we always have to see what more we can do, and there are some suggestions in this report. It would be wrong of me not to study them carefully and not to look at which ones to take forward and implement, and I look forward to doing that. If the hon. Lady has particular suggestions once she has looked at the report in detail, I would be happy to listen to them.
Sport does so much to break down barriers, bring people together and help promote British values in our society on an organic basis, so although we have a proud record on this in this country, will the Secretary of State see what more can be done, working across Government, to help boost sporting participation, particularly among young people?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. When I was the Culture Secretary, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport sponsored a number of programmes, particularly in cricket and football, that involved a number of young Asian men, and that did help with community integration and cohesion. He is right to raise the issue again, and we should be looking across the board to see how every Government Department can help.
I fear that the Secretary of State’s fine words mask little-England identity politics. Can he assure me, as a south- east Londoner representing the most Welsh-speaking constituency for Plaid Cymru, that British values do not equate to a British state-imposed identity, and can he commit to bringing forward a strategy addressing poverty, inequality and inter-community respect?
I agree with the Secretary of State that, for too long, we have had a soft-headed attitude towards integration, which has led to segregated communities up and down this country. I know that he has already been asked about faith schools, but could he spend some more time looking at the report, because I share its concern that faith schools further isolate young children? Does he agree that the report deserves a serious and determined response?
First, I thank my hon. Friend for the work she has already done campaigning on so many of the issues raised in this report, and I look forward to speaking to her in detail about the report and considering the recommendations. She raised the issue of faith schools, which, as she knows, is mentioned in the report. It is something that we want to look at carefully, and it is certainly something I will be discussing with my colleagues in Government.
Young Muslim women I have met in my constituency at the al-Hikmah centre and at Batley Girls’ High School are engaging and whip-smart. They are held back not by lack of integration but by lack of opportunity. Will the Secretary of State therefore look particularly closely at the recommendation to provide additional funding for area-based plans to empower marginalised women and promote social mobility?
First, the hon. Lady is right to raise the issue of opportunity—the report is about opportunity and integration. We always have to look across Government to see what more we can do to promote opportunities for all communities, including young Muslim women. The hon. Lady described young Muslim women she has come across, who sound absolutely fantastic and model citizens, but I think she will recognise that there are also young Muslim women who are being held back—sometimes by members of their own family or members of their own community. For example, as we have seen in this report, and as I have seen from bitter experience over a long time, women have been held back because they have been asked to go out with chaperones, because they are told to dress in a certain way, or because they are told that they cannot take certain jobs or that they should not go to university or pursue higher education. We want to make sure we tackle those issues as well, and I know the hon. Lady agrees with that.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while Britain should always remain a tolerant and diverse nation, it is also important that new communities feel an obligation to integrate and embrace a common British identity, and that we should never use the excuse of multiculturalism to tolerate practices that are clearly not in accordance with British laws, values and customs?
I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. I think we all realise—the report highlights this—that mistakes were made in the past. We could collectively, as politicians, have done a much better job in helping to settle and integrate new arrivals and new communities in Britain, and we should now learn from that. Looking forward, there are some interesting suggestions in the report about how we can do that, and I will be taking them very seriously.
I remember that when language classes were provided for immigrant women in Oxford, the same women went to the same classes year after year without showing any improvement in their ability to speak English. Does the report not point to the fact that it is a question not of throwing money at this, but of making language tuition effective?
I agree with my hon. Friend. We must make sure that the money we—the taxpayer—are currently spending on helping people to learn English is spent effectively, which is about making sure the programmes currently in place are effective. We must make sure that any new initiatives that we come up with as we plough through the report are effective in tackling that problem.
The report quite rightly highlights the good work of organisations such as Tell MAMA and the Community Security Trust, and it also draws attention to the upsurge of violence against people from Poland and elsewhere in recent months. Will the Secretary of State have urgent discussions with his Home Office colleagues about how to reduce the impact of the poisonous ideologies that come from other countries and cause tensions and even deaths, as we saw in Glasgow, in this country?
The hon. Gentleman mentioned two organisations in his question—Tell MAMA and the CST—that are very effective and very valuable, and the Government are proud to support them in the work they do. There are many other such organisations. That highlights the fact that dealing with these issues requires lots of groups and stakeholders, including voluntary organisations, to come together.
The hon. Gentleman asked me to meet the Home Secretary. I assure him that I regularly discuss these issues with the Home Secretary; we have a mutual interest in them. He may be interested to know that very recently—just two or three weeks ago—the Home Secretary and I jointly chaired a hate crime action panel, to which we invited a number of groups, including the two he mentioned, to discuss what more we can do.
I have read the Casey review, which considers many important aspects of integration. The Refugee Council has called for a comprehensive refugee integration strategy, and that is echoed in what we on the all-party group on refugees, which I chair, are finding in our public “Refugees Welcome” inquiry. Refugees have told us that they want to learn English, to work and to integrate, so will the Government support the expansion of the Syrian resettlement programme to create a comprehensive refugee integration strategy?
The hon. Lady is right to raise the importance of making sure that refugees are integrated quickly and properly, and of providing the resources for that. She will know that a number of programmes are in place to do just that. If she believes that there is more that can be done, I am happy to learn more from her.
I congratulate Mr Betts on securing this very important urgent question, but I think we could sometimes be a little bit more positive about this. In Wellingborough, we have an integrated multicultural community, and we have had it for a very long time. We have Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Christian—both Labour and Conservative—councillors and candidates, and we have temples, mosques and churches. I wonder whether someone from the Secretary of State’s Department might at some point come down to see how this can work well, rather than for us always to concentrate just on where it is going wrong.
I think that is a very good idea. Again, my hon. Friend highlights something that we should never forget: we are talking about the challenges and how to deal with them, but so many immigrants who, through the ages, have come to this great country have made a huge contribution to our country and made us so much stronger.
I welcome all efforts to improve integration in the UK—this is not the first study to find problems in this area—but I am concerned that there is no real understanding in the report of the simple truth that integration is a two-way street and should definitely not be used, as it so often is, as a stick with which to beat the minority communities of Britain. Given that, will the Minister consider what work can be done to understand, as Casey does not, the drivers of isolation? Alongside asking our minority communities to do more, how can we encourage our majority community to play their part too, so that integration can be truly a success for our country?
I know the hon. Lady feels passionately about these issues. She has thought a lot about them, and I think she will have some good suggestions. I am always very happy to speak to her about this. However, I think it is a bit unfair to Dame Louise Casey to say that she does not recognise that this is a two-way street. Dame Louise has come up with some specific recommendations, and I think we should take them seriously. She recognises—I have discussed this with her in the past, and it is reflected in the report—that there is a role for everyone in all communities to play.
As Bedford has been home to people of many national origins for many decades, we can see, as the report shows, that some communities follow intergenerational dispersion, with children and grandchildren living away from their grandparents, and that others follow intergenerational proximity, with children and grandchildren living next door to their grandparents. May I draw the Secretary of State’s attention to recommendation 10 on the use of housing policy to encourage dispersion, and will he consider the possibility of using planning policy to encourage the dispersion of places of worship?
I listened carefully to what my hon. Friend has said. I know from visiting his constituency with him a number of times that he takes these issues very seriously, and that he is able to look at these issues in his constituency and to suggest certain ideas. I will certainly look carefully at recommendation 10.
First, I want to echo the remark made by my hon. Friend Shabana Mahmood about integration being a two-way street. I want to highlight that the previous Labour Government set up the forced marriage unit and the community cohesion unit—I was involved in establishing both units—which did excellent work in tackling the underlying causes, particularly in relation to human rights violations. I urge the Secretary of State to make sure that we provide service providers with the resources to address those issues.
Secondly, on discrimination, ethnic minority graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed, as are white working-class graduates. I therefore urge the Secretary of State to prioritise addressing the underlying problems and barriers to equality.
Finally, I want to draw attention to social integration. I have as many challenges in my constituency in encouraging middle-class newcomers to integrate with the settled communities, which are predominately ethnic minority communities, as I do the other way around. We all have a part to play, and if we can connect those communities together through projects, mentoring and engagement, we can genuinely have a two-way process and a practical way to integrate people, rather than stigmatising certain communities—in the case of this report, the Muslim community.
Again, I know that the hon. Lady speaks from experience. To take her last point first, I know that she has done a lot when it comes to projects and community work and I have seen first hand how transformative they can be. She is right to raise the issue of work opportunities, and the Government take that seriously. I chair—I did so in my former role of Business Secretary, and I continue to do so—an intergovernmental taskforce on opportunities for black and minority ethnic people, particularly young people. We are looking across Government to see what more can be done.
The hon. Lady also raised the issue of tackling female genital mutilation, forced marriage and other serious crimes of that nature. I think she will agree with me that the Government have taken them seriously. The previous Government did so, and this Government have built on their work. In fact, much of the good work done in recent times was done by the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary.
May I tell my hon. Friend that this is his moment? His personal family experience and his sharp intellect mean that he is the right man in the right place at the right time. Dame Louise Casey tackles head-on the problems faced by thousands of Muslim women in this country, many of whom do not speak English, suffer misogyny and domestic violence at home, are oppressed by sharia law and have had their life chances diminished. Will he assure the House that he will not duck the challenge to seize the recommendations in the report and to restore full human rights to this very large cohort of oppressed women?
I can absolutely assure my hon. Friend that I will not duck the issues and the Government will not duck them. As I said at the start of the urgent question, they have been ignored by too many politicians for far too long, and that is not going to happen.
The Secretary of State will know about concerns that Prevent is undermining efforts to integrate the Muslim community. Will he set out what support the Department is giving to community-led initiatives to identify and prevent radicalisation?
The Prevent programme plays a valuable role. That is accepted by not only the Government, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and others, but many local authorities and community leaders. However, I recognise that certain people have a confidence problem with Prevent. We need always to look to see what more we can do to turn that around. Having more people involved in the community locally is one way to do that.
May I say how much I welcome the presence of the Minister for School Standards on the Front Bench? One of the best examples of community cohesion and togetherness is Moor End Academy, which Ofsted rated excellent. I attended its presentation evening last Thursday. That school has 31 different first languages and it is producing wonderful young people. Will the Secretary of State join me in praising the leadership at the school and, of course, the pupils and parents for everything they do?
Like other colleagues, I have concerns about integration in my community. That is by no means to say that things are bad, but I have certainly seen things that could get much better, and it is a two-way street. However, I ask the Secretary of State in good faith, where are the resources to do this? Where are the resources to run youth clubs to bring young people together? Where are the resources for the sports projects? Whenever something goes badly wrong, a huge amount of resource is always made available in the aftermath. We need some of that to go in before problems occur.
First, the report is independent. That means that, although there are several recommendations, we need to go through them carefully to see which ones we can take forward and build on. When I report back by spring, if extra resource is required, we will certainly ensure that it is available.
Obviously, the review was into opportunity and integration, and the report highlighted the persistent disadvantage of white working-class children on free school meals who underperform at school. When the Government produce their report in the spring, will they address that issue as well?
First, the Department for Education is taking several actions to address that problem, which the hon. Lady is right to raise. She will know that the Prime Minister has also launched a race disparity audit, which looks at all public service across government. I am chairing that process alongside the Minister for the Cabinet Office. That work has just begun, but we are also trying to ascertain how public services are provided and what the outcomes are for all communities, including white working-class boys. We are trying to learn from that information how we can improve and what more we can do.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is absolutely right to highlight the important role that we all must play in building strong, resilient, integrated and cohesive communities. It is Newcastle’s diverse and united communities that make it such a great city. However, will the Secretary of State also recognise that the toxic combination of scapegoating refugees and migrants for cuts to public services, Muslims for terrorism, minorities for segregation and the white working class for xenophobia builds barriers to integration? Will he take steps to address such attitudes, wherever he may find them?
Yes, I will. The hon. Lady is right to highlight Newcastle. It is a fantastic city, and one of the reasons for that is its diverse communities and the contribution that they all make to that great city. She is also right to say that there should be no scapegoating. We should be focused on and driven by the facts. The report is full of that, and I look forward to ploughing through it and seeing what more we can do.