Casey Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:17 pm on 6th December 2016.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 1:17 pm, 6th December 2016

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.