My Lords, with the permission of the House I would like to repeat a Statement made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government yesterday. The Statement is as follows:
“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the Government’s ambitious proposal to build strong, integrated communities, where people—whatever their background—live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities.
The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, published today, sets out a bold programme to deliver this vision. Britain is a great place to live. We are one of the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith societies and should take huge pride in this diversity. But, as we have seen this week with the abhorrent “punish a Muslim” letters, there is a determination among some to drive people apart. I should like to express my support for all those who have received these hateful letters, including the honourable Members for Bethnal Green and Bow, for Ealing Central and Acton, for Manchester, Gorton, and for Bedford.
While there is a lot to be proud of, there is also more to do to ensure that a diverse society does not mean a divided society. The truth is that in too many parts of our country, the norm is mistrust, anxiety and prejudice—things that prevent people taking full advantage of the opportunities that living in Britain offers. We can no longer duck this issue if we are to ensure that this is a country that works for everyone.
To that end, we have identified five factors that drive segregation in our communities. First, too many schools are segregated, even where the local population is very diverse, and unregulated settings outside school can also, on occasion, expose children to harmful views. Secondly, there is residential segregation. In 2011, 41% of ethnic minorities lived in wards where white British people were a minority—an increase from 25% just 10 years ago. This reduces opportunities for people to mix and form meaningful relationships with those from different backgrounds.
Thirdly, disproportionately high levels of unemployment and economic inactivity reduce social mobility and can increase isolation—59% of women of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity are inactive in the labour market, compared with a quarter of their white peers.
Fourthly, according to the last census, as many as 770,000 adults in England could not speak English well or at all. Without a good understanding of our language, it is difficult for anyone to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them. I know from personal experience just how much of a difference it made for my mother when she learned to speak English more than a decade after moving here from Pakistan.
Fifthly, there is a lack of meaningful mixing between people from different backgrounds. Evidence suggests that black, white and Asian Britons take up only around half the opportunities open to them to mix socially with people of a different ethnicity from themselves, all of which adds up to a conflict between religious, personal and cultural attitudes and British values and causes increased tensions within and between communities, with women and girls often at the greatest disadvantage.
The Green Paper sets out a framework of national priority actions to address these drivers of poor integration and a localised approach to delivering them. In doing so, it sets out how we will facilitate recent migrants’ integration into their communities and improve communities’ ability to adapt to migration. Success will depend on strong leadership at a national and local level. To ensure that the Government lead by example, I am asking all Whitehall departments to review their policies and to identify areas where they could do more to support integration. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary, for example, will review the “Life in the UK” test to see whether it could be amended to strengthen its focus on the values and principles of the United Kingdom by which we expect all people to live.
On education, the Green Paper includes proposals to ensure that every child receives an education that prepares them for life in modern Britain. This means giving them the opportunity to mix and form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds, and making sure that they receive a rounded education that promotes British values across the curriculum. To protect children and young people from being exposed to views that undermine our shared values, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education will be publishing proposals to strengthen the enforcement policy for independent schools that are failing to meet the required standard. He will also review whether Ofsted’s powers can be strengthened in relation to unregistered schools. We will stand up against any undue pressure on or harassment of school leaders who, having consulted, set reasonable policies that promote integration.
On employment, the Green Paper outlines how Jobcentre Plus will trial new approaches to breaking down the barriers to employment and supporting people from isolated communities into work. However, the truth is that you must be able to speak English not only to find a job and prosper, but to play a full role in society. This is why we propose developing a new strategy for English language in England and launching a new community-based English language programme.
The Green Paper also takes a robust approach to hate crime—a vile attack not just on individuals but on the tolerant and generous values that underpin British society. It proposes strengthening local partnerships so that they can identify and adopt the most effective approaches to tackling hate crime and encourage more people to report it. But it is clearly not enough to stamp out hate; we need to build hope and stronger communities, which the Green Paper aims to do through initiatives such as the integration innovation fund. This fund will allow organisations to bid to test out approaches to bring people together around shared activities and community spaces.
None of these measures dilutes the Government’s commitment to protecting people’s legitimate rights to free speech and to practise their religion within the law. Indeed, the Green Paper reaffirms the commitment. But we cannot and will not shy away from challenging cultural practices that are harmful, particularly for women and girls. The recent news about the abuses in Telford highlights just how important this is. We will also expand our Strengthening Faith Institutions programme to help a wider range of faith institutions to tighten up their governance structures, including through promoting the participation of women and young people. We will also support the training of faith leaders to practise in the British context by ensuring that they understand the British legal system, British culture and our shared values. The recent independent review of sharia law also recommended amending marriage legislation to ensure that civil marriages are conducted before or at the same time as the religious marriage ceremony. The Government share the concerns raised in the review and are supportive in principle of this recommendation. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice will therefore explore the legal and practical challenges of limited reform to the law to reflect this.
We recognise that issues play out differently in different places and for different people, so we are going to work with five very different parts of the country—Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest—to develop local integration strategies and learn how we can best address the challenges on the ground. The overall aim is to develop a set of integration measures at local and national level so that we can assess what really works. It is a sign of a mature, confident society that it can discuss these issues without lazy stereotyping or over-sensitivity. I look forward to a constructive debate with all those in this House and beyond who want to focus on what unites rather than divides us, guided by the evidence and an acknowledgement that we all have a role to play—both new arrivals in making a new life here, and existing communities in supporting them.
As the proud son of immigrants whose parents worked hard to get on and give something back, I want everyone in Britain to enjoy the same opportunities—to celebrate where they come from while playing a full and proper role in British society; to see people from all backgrounds mixing freely and without fear; and to ensure that everyone, regardless of whether they are a new arrival or can trace their ancestry back to the Norman conquest, feels proud to call this country their home. The Green Paper proposes an ambitious programme of action across government to help us achieve just that. I commend this Statement to the House”.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, for repeating the Statement delivered yesterday in the other place by his right honourable friend the Secretary of State. I draw the attention of the House to my relevant interests as a councillor and a vice-president of the Local Government Association.
I endorse the Minister’s comments on the disgusting “punish a Muslim” letters. I hope that the perpetrators of this evil hate crime are caught and punished. Such an act has no place in our society. The success of our communities has been their diversity. I am the son of immigrants who came here in the 1950s from Ireland to make a life for themselves. Immigrants from all over the world have contributed to our communities and make our country a much better place.
I am pleased to hear that the Government are committing money to the English for Speakers of Other Languages programme, though perhaps the Minister can comment on the figures from the House of Commons Library, which show that between 2009-10 and 2015-16, funding for such programmes fell from £220 million to £90 million. So although the new funding mentioned in the Statement is welcome, it will not replace the money that the Government previously took away.
In her report, Dame Louise Casey stated:
“The problem has not been a lack of knowledge but a failure of collective, consistent and persistent will to do something about it or give it the priority it deserves at both a national and local level”.
That is why it is disappointing that the Government have not announced a new policy but another consultation on a potential policy following a report they received in 2016. It is now March 2018.
On education, mixing with children from other backgrounds and religions throughout life is one of the best ways of preventing barriers being erected. I agree that children should not only be learning about British values, but living them as well. I very much hope that the Government’s Statement signals a new commitment; if so, I welcome what I have heard today, but they need to ensure rigorous assessment and evaluation of the pilots as other aspects of the Statement progress.
I have a few questions for the Minister, which I hope he can answer. If not, I am sure he will write to me and other Members of the House. Can he tell us what equality impact assessments on the funding have been made for the five pilot areas he outlined in the Statement? We heard about an aspiration to work with local authorities, which is very good. What role does the Minister believe they can play in this strategy? Perhaps he can outline that for the House. What discussions has he had with his ministerial colleagues in the Department for Education about the role of education and making sure that ethnic minorities can benefit here, particularly on issues such as childcare and so on, and how they can make sure that those minorities fully benefit from the programme?
“there are too many communities that are still very segregated and therefore divided”.
I am conscious that he has been in post for two years now. Perhaps the Minister can outline what he thinks those divisions are and what has happened in the last two years to deal with some of those barriers.
As I said, I welcome the Statement and I hope that it goes the right way to solve the variety of problems here. I hope the noble Lord can answer those points, but if he cannot, I am sure he will come back to me in the normal way.
My Lords, I draw attention to my interests in the register as a councillor in West Yorkshire and a vice-president of the Local Government Association. I start by endorsing the condemnation of the abhorrent letters received by many people—among them, one of my friends.
There is much to be welcomed in this Statement on the integration strategy Green Paper. The Government are at last thinking about the issues and the remedies. Before I comment on some of the main headlines in the Statement, I will draw attention to the thinking at the heart of this policy proposal. The Statement defines integrated communities as ones where,
“people—whatever their background—live, work, learn and socialise together”.
That is a sweeping statement. Within the majority white community, this is patently not the case and never has been, which is why I question that broad assertion. Perhaps what the Green Paper needs to focus on is those elements of our common life in this country that enable each individual to play a full part rather than to attempt a forced integration, which seems by its very nature to frown on differences. I support the Statement when it says that,
“a diverse society does not mean a divided society”, but the language used to describe the current position and the changes desired is very important, and something is lacking in some parts of the Statement and the Green Paper. Will the Minister reflect on that word “integration” and on whether “cohesive communities” may better describe the aim of the proposals?
The Government have listed five relevant areas for action if our diverse communities are to be more cohesive. Some of us in leadership roles in local government took action when funding was more available. Noble Lords may be aware that I was leader of Kirklees Council— just south of Bradford, which was mentioned in the Statement—which has had its share of difficult situations emanating from communities that were not in touch with each other. We tried a number of schemes, many of which showed successful outcomes. I hope the Government may seek to introduce some of them in the listed areas. They included: school twinning, where children met together to share activities such as art and sport; cookery classes for women from different ethnic backgrounds, where they could share recipes, which was very successful; a programme of sporting activities organised by a community group, with a community cup at the end of it, which was hugely popular and successful in bringing children and young people together, mainly to play football; and an interfaith programme, which was mainly focused on schools but also open to adults, and involved visits to mosques, gurdwaras and churches.
Of course, all these additional activities need funding, and as funding disappeared, so, sadly, did the activities. But a few remain. There is an annual cricket match between Christian church leaders and Muslim imams, and interfaith activity continues, led by a Church of England bishop and a Muslim leader. These activities did much to bring people together. Can the Minister say whether the Government are seeking to promote these sorts of activities and, crucially, whether funding will be provided at adequate levels?
I will draw attention to two areas in the Statement, the first of which is language. People who are unable to be fluent in English are at a disadvantage, and their lives are more isolated and restricted. The Government of course made the decision that support for the teaching of English as a second language was no longer needed, and slashed the funding. How schools manage to be effective in the classroom when the children are not able to speak, let alone read or write, English is a marvel to me. ESOL spending must be increased, and be sufficient to meet needs. Perhaps the Minister may be able to commit to that extent of new funding.
The other area I want to focus on is low skills—a critical factor both for white boys and young men and for those from minority ethnic backgrounds. In Bradford, this is the source of much of the inter-community distrust. FE colleges have a key role to play in enabling young people to acquire relevant skills so they can join in and have employment, which gives them some hope for their future.
There is much that must be done if the aim of the Green Paper is to be achieved. I welcome the integration and innovation fund, as long as it is adequate to meet the need. Unless it is, integrated communities will remain a distant prospect, with all the risks that that leaves behind.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, for their contributions and questions, and I shall try to deal with the points they have raised. First, I thank them for their support in condemning the dreadful and abhorrent “punish a Muslim” letter that we have seen. There are, understandably, a lot of people who feel vulnerable and frightened, and I hope we can send out messages to all our faiths, and to people of no faith, to be protective of Muslims, particularly on
I shall pick up some points made by the noble Lord and the noble Baroness and try to deal with them generically, so far as I can. First, I extend thanks on behalf of everybody for the work of Dame Louise Casey in this area. Of course, we have built on her work, and she has made a massive contribution to thinking on this subject.
English language provision is very important. I have seen that it has been transformational; I have seen and visited English language classes in the East End of London, in Whitechapel, and have seen the difference they are making, particularly for Bangladeshi women who have had their lives transformed. That does not just mean the possibility of getting a job, though it is partly that, but the ability to go out of the home and mix with other people. I totally accept the importance of this up and down the country. Of course, this is partly an issue of funding, but not totally. When I looked at the funding for Near Neighbours, I saw that some programmes were able to do far more than others. We will need to look into that, too.
The consultation has been mentioned, and it is important that we get communities to talk about these things and contribute to the consultation, which will range widely over many areas. For example, we are looking at education and issues relating to marriage. The consultation is open until
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, raised particular points about education and what will happen in the five trailblazer areas. Obviously, although they have some similar challenges the areas are all very different. We will want to speak to and work constructively and intimately with those five authorities, but the work is not limited to those five: we want the work to go wider, to all local authorities, which will be contacted about the Government’s proposals and the consultation. Again, we would encourage people to participate in that consultation. I hope the noble Lord will forgive me if I write on any points that I have not covered.
The noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, talked about forced integration but I have to say that I do not recognise that. Perhaps I may give an example of something which in no sense involves force but just provides opportunities for integration and mixing. When I visited Bradford, I met up with the Bangla Bantams from the Bangladeshi community. They now support the football team and are an intimate part of it. That had not been the case until the dreadful fire—and what an awful fire it was. However, because they lived close to the ground, people who were then without mobile phones—this was the pre-mobile age—went to their homes and said, “Can we use your phone?”, because it had been such a dreadful fire. Friendships and relationships were formed and now, a generation on, it is very natural for people from that community to be a part of the network that supports the football team. That is one example of something that happens, in a sense, by accident—an awful accident—but those are the sorts of opportunities that need to be fostered and encouraged.
The innovation fund to which the noble Baroness referred will very much be open to individual bids for the sorts of opportunities that she was talking about. Often when going round the country, we find that the things that bring people together are food, sport and music. She referred to a cricket match. In Chelmsford there is an annual cricket match between the local mosque and the cathedral, and again that has built up a relationship in the town between different people. These things are very important and need to be fostered. It is not just about that but those sorts of opportunities help to encourage integration.
I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I have missed any points. If I have, I will pick them up in a write-round letter to all those who participate in the Statement and I will ensure that a copy is placed in the Library.
My Lords, may I ask the Minister what more the Government can do to further integration in higher education? The Government have abolished maintenance grants, and that means, for example, that if you are a child growing up in a rather segregated secondary school in some of the trailblazer areas, you cannot afford to leave that area and go to another university where you will be able to mix with people from different backgrounds; you are stuck in that one area for ever. And I am sorry to say that hate speech is still flourishing on our campuses. The CPS and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are doing next to nothing to stop it and prosecute, as the case may be. Segregation, to some extent, and extremist and hate speech are going on in our universities. We have to make sure that our future leaders are fully integrated.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness very much indeed. She raised two separate points and I will bring them up in the order in which she made them. On her first point about mixing at tertiary level in universities, I think she said that ideally a university would be away from the home city, as integration would be more likely. It is a point well made. I am sure that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education, who is taking a central part in this integration strategy, will want to contribute and will have thoughts on that. In relation to hate speech, the noble Baroness will know that my honourable friend Sam Gyimah in the Department for Education is taking this matter forward. It is a serious concern that some campuses—although by no means all—impose totally unreasonable, unrealistic and unhelpful restrictions on free speech. That is not what universities should be about, and it is very much in the Government’s eyeline to do something about that.
My Lords, there is a great deal in this Statement and in the strategy that I welcome. It promises a big and positive difference in what the Government are doing to improve integration. It is good to see in the Green Paper initiatives such as the Near Neighbours Catalyst leadership programme, to which the Minister has recently referred. It is good to see that singled out for praise. However, there is some anxiety that Catalyst and other valuable Near Neighbours activity might have to come to an end as a result of a reduction in overall funding for Near Neighbours and the for the small grants fund. I am sure that that is far from the Government’s intention, and I wonder whether the Minister can give an assurance that he will look at the impact of any funding changes as part of the assessment of this new strategy.
My Lords, I can certainly assure the right reverend Prelate that we will be very mindful about any changes to funding. The Near Neighbours projects that I have seen—and I have seen a lot of them—have been doing excellent work and providing excellent value, so when we look at funding, as government departments do from time to time, we will bear that very much in mind.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that I am chairing a Select Committee of your Lordships’ House looking into citizenship and civic engagement, and we are due to report next month. Quite a lot of our work washes over into the areas that my noble friend has mentioned. One of the challenges that we have identified is that, unsurprisingly, there is no quick fix; what is needed is sustained, consistent application of government policies. Too often, initiatives in the past do not appear to have outlived the Minister who initiated them. Can the Minister, as he explained this wide-ranging programme, tell the House which department and which Minister are going to be responsible for making sure that this whole ambitious programme is driven through?
My Lords, I thank my noble friend very much indeed for his comments and for the work that he does in chairing that excellent Select Committee. Without hesitation, I can say that the person who is driving this forward is, of course, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid. He is not doing it alone, as he indicated in the Statement, because it involves many other government departments. It is cross-government and involves education in particular. We also mentioned the Ministry of Justice in relation to the situation regarding marriage. But I assure the House that the person who is driving it—and he is driving it very hard and is committed to it—is my right honourable friend Sajid Javid.
My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, on whose committee I am pleased to serve under his excellent chairmanship. I also draw attention to a non-pecuniary interest on the register. If I may bowl the Minister a bit of a googly—I suspect that he might agree with me, but he certainly will not want to say so—there is a bit of a paradox in the very welcome updating of the Life in the UK Test and the extraordinarily out-of-date booklet that goes with it, which actually ensures that those who seek naturalisation have learnt something about British citizenship while their children and, to pick up the words of the Statement, those whose heritage goes back to Norman times, do not have a mention at all in terms of education for citizenship in this document. Will the Minister inquire whether a cleaner in Downing Street could find the two or three pages that obviously got ripped out inadvertently before the document was published?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, very much indeed. I know that he plays a vital part on that Select Committee and I join in his praise of the chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson. On his question, I have great sympathy with the point he is making. I was asked by a friend to provide some testing of model questions—which did not come with model answers, rather curiously—one of which was, “Was Richard III left-handed or right-handed?”. I had absolutely no idea at all and still have no idea. I do not know whether noble Lords can help me, but it struck me as a rather strange question relating to British life. It obviously needs a little attention.
My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend for coming in as he was already on his feet at the start of the Statement. He may recall that an issue arose during Questions, and I was speaking to the House authorities about that.
I welcome the Statement, and I particularly welcome the divide in the Green Paper between integration and counterterrorism, something that many of us have been calling for for some time. I also welcome the reinstatement of a commitment to the teaching of English as a second language and, it is hoped, funding for the same. Will the Minister assure the House that the policy responses post the Green Paper will be evidence based, will take place after broad engagement and will be applied consistently across all communities? Will he also be mindful of the fact that, when we talk about separated communities, we draw a distinction between those communities, very small in number, which may seek to live separate lives and those which have no choice about where they live? Will he also deal with the issue of resources?
Finally, I congratulate the Green Paper on finally dealing with an issue that has been on the books since at least 2011, certainly from my time in government: the need for religious marriages to be part and parcel of legal marriages. The proposal is for a person to conduct a legal marriage in a civil ceremony before a religious ceremony is conducted. Rather than having this two-tier system, will the Minister look at proposals where both marriages could be conducted at the same time so that more places of worship where such marriages take place are formally authorised to conduct civil marriages, too?
My Lords, I thank my noble friend both for her questions and for her undying contribution to this area of national life, which is significant—everywhere I go I find that to be the case. I thank her heartily for the work that she does. Yes, the Government will ensure that the policy response is evidence based and that the approach is broad—hence the broad nature of the consultation—and consistently applied. Yes, we are making integration available to people; at the end of the day, we cannot force it. The vast majority of people in this country, of whatever background, race or religion, want that opportunity of mixing, which I think will be readily taken up when it is available.
I thank my noble friend for what she said about religious marriages and moving the discussion on. I am grateful to her for exaggerating my powers in this regard. The Ministry of Justice will look at this area, but, just like other areas, it is open for consultation, and I feel sure that my noble friend will make her views known on that and other areas.
My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to comment on this proposal and the specifics contained in the consultative document. However, integration is a two-way process. We have to accept that we have been around the houses for many years—2001 being the most recent occasion, when many reports came out to point the way to how we might deal with some of these problems in places such as Bradford and Oldham. It is important for it to be recognised that responsible leadership has not been consistent nationally and locally on these matters, particularly in challenging bias, xenophobia and hatred. Levels of hatred are now rising considerably in all aspects of our society—we have talked extensively about that already today. Do the five areas that have been identified for action represent the ambition that the Minister talked about, because the issue of integration and cohesion applies right across the country in all areas? I hope that the Government will look again at that and see it as very important.
My second question goes to an example given by the Minister about the Bangla Bantams. He indicated how that initiative came about through an accident and due to the fire. But it was more than that—this is where I draw Members’ attention to my own record in the register and my association with an organisation called Kick It Out, which was set up back up in 1993 to try to use football to tackle some of the problems of racism and all forms of discrimination. The Bradford Bantams was one of many organisations that came about as a result not only of a fire but of hard work, with communities around their football club seeking to draw in people from all backgrounds to participate and mix with and learn about one other. Will sport play an important part, as I already see happening? Investment from football into communities is one of the few sources of investment taking place without public funds that tries to bring together young people of all backgrounds, faiths, ages and sexes to play, participate, learn and be involved as the future generation in taking forward this agenda in an integrated way.
I thank the noble Lord very much indeed and recognise the great role that he has played in this area over many years, just as he has referred to integration policies over many years. Of course, it is fair to make the point that the position in the country has also changed in that time, and the challenges are somewhat different, but I accept the great importance of ensuring that we have a consistent approach over time. There is broad—almost total—agreement across political parties, different communities, different religions and people of no religion as to how we should move forward. Once we have that agreement and framework from the consultation, we should be able to move forward.
I also echo what the noble Lord said about hate crime. There is something of a paradox, in that hate crime has no doubt increased in an awful way in some cases, but there is also more readiness to report it, which we all welcome. At the same time as the statistics are going up because there is an increase, they are also going up because there is better reporting. We continue to encourage that: people are more ready to report hate crime, and so they should be.
The five trailblazer areas are not the sum total of the Government’s ambition by any means, and I apologise if the Statement or my replies made it seem so. That is not the case. They are five areas where we especially want to see how policies work out because they have particular challenges in their different parts of the country, but this is a national policy for a national challenge: let that message go out.
The noble Lord rightly referred to the role of sport, the excellent Kick It out campaign and the role of many football clubs, including my club, Leicester City. I only referred to the Bangla Bantams because the fire was perhaps a catalyst, but I accept that an awful lot of hard work went on to make the club happen. It happens in football and in other sports—athletics and so on—and that is also something that the Government are looking to encourage.
My Lords, I shall ask my noble friend one simple question and then make a point. First, could he give us an idea of the timescale for the five pilot areas, accepting that they are pilot areas, and how he will report back to the House?
Just as it is very important indeed that people should know the English language well, will my noble friend also accept—the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, referred to Norman ancestry and all the rest of it—that people who are to become fully integrated into British society should have a reasonable knowledge of British history? Will he talk to bodies such as the Royal Historical Society, of which I happen to be a fellow, the Historical Association and others about devising for those who are being integrated into our community a history syllabus that enables them to have a reasonable chronological knowledge of the history of this country? Without that, they cannot feel fully part of it.
I thank my noble friend Lord Cormack very much indeed. The five areas that I mentioned—Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest—are where we will be developing local integration strategies to address the particular problems of those areas. As the money that we have announced, the £50 million, is for the end of the CSR period, I think it will be a two-year programme. I will write to my noble friend if I am wrong on that.
On my noble friend’s point about British history, no one is better qualified to ensure that this happens than him. As someone who goes distinctly wobbly before the Tudors, I will ensure that the Home Secretary is aware of his interest, and he may want to contribute to the consultation, because this is something that the Home Office will be picking up.
My Lords, I support the Statement and the Green Paper, which are very welcome. I have two questions. One thing that my father used to say was, “Education, education, education”, and it is of paramount importance that we ensure that everyone has a decent education in the schools in those five areas but also more widely. I am delighted that more money, £50 million, is going to be spent, but particularly that it identifies women and girls. While we are looking at this agenda, we are also looking at issues of poverty generally in these areas, because it contributes to disadvantage. Perhaps the Minister could say a few words around these issues.
I thank my noble friend very much. I seem to remember somebody other than her parent said “Education, education, education”. I assume it was somebody else. I am sure it was. My Lords, it is central to the strategy, as is the role of women and girls, and particular issues faced by some communities in relation to the English language, so she is right to give emphasis to that point.
My noble friend’s points on poverty and disadvantage were again well made. We know from the Race Disparity Audit, which is going on in parallel to this, that there are disadvantaged communities that are not ethnic minority communities, so that has to be picked up as well. There certainly are disadvantaged communities among ethnic minorities, but some disadvantaged communities are not. Those two strands are going forward together.
My Lords, I welcome the report. I would like to refer particularly to chapter 6, where I sense a weakness. “Education, education, education” is very good indeed but, if there is no employment at the end of it, it can lead to disillusionment and further problems, so I am very much in favour of “Investment, investment, investment”. Could the noble Lord give some indication of the kind of investment incentives they may be offering to try to make business go into places such as Blackburn, Bradford and Walsall, where we have high levels of unemployment in all aspects of the community there? That is one way we can find our way out of it. God only knows how Brexit is going to provide investment in those areas in the future. As we are focusing on these areas, could he say what additional incentive he may have been considering to get extra investment in those areas?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much. I should first say that I hope to go to all of these different areas during the consultation, in so far as Brexit debates here and purdah allow, to see exactly what is happening in those different parts of the country. I have been to most of them over the last few months anyway. In Blackburn with Darwen, there is a considerable amount of very effective work going on renewing the town. There is excellent work being done around the cathedral and that area, and a business hotel recently opened in the centre of the town. There is work that we do, but he is right that we have to ensure that it is not just about providing education. Perhaps it is education in the wider sense here; we need to be aware of the importance of apprenticeships as well. We will be in discussions with those five areas, looking at their integration strategies and how we can develop job opportunities. The innovation fund, outside of those five areas, may also make a big contribution.