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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:42 pm on 8th January 2020.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 9:42 pm, 8th January 2020

I am very happy to write to the hon. Lady with a full response to that question, but let me reiterate that I know that the Charity Commission is, as I said before, investigating the matter and that, because it does not look into criminal activity, the police are reviewing these allegations. Those two things are happening.

Before we finish, I want to put the record straight on one matter. I do understand that the pastor to whom the hon. Gentleman referred went to No. 10 Downing Street, but I have been told that he did not meet the Prime Minister. I think that that is appropriate to say that. My understanding is that he attended a roundtable event along with 25 other Church leaders to discuss youth violence, and it was in that context that he was in No. 10 Downing Street.

Just before I conclude, I want to make an important point and say how mindful I am, given the context of this debate, of the important role that religion, faith and worship play in our society and what a significant and important contribution that many religious charities make to our communities. They are often the first in and last out of marginal communities, providing invaluable help and support for those most in need. That includes many black majority Churches up and down the country that support their local communities, contributing positively to wider society. That is a very important point to put on the record.

As I have said, I will write to the hon. Gentleman. He has the offer of a meeting with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department to discuss these wider issues in principle. May I thank him for calling this debate and for highlighting these very serious allegations? His concerns have been fully heard by me, by the other Ministers here and by many thousands via the media coverage that this has received. The crucial next step is for the Charity Commission and the police to investigate the allegations and to take appropriate action.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.