[Hywel Williams in the Chair] — Jewish Communities (350th Anniversary)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:56 am on 14th June 2006.

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Photo of Lee Scott Lee Scott Conservative, Ilford North 9:56 am, 14th June 2006

I start by slightly correcting Mr. Dismore. He said that it is difficult for someone who is Jewish to go to all synagogues. I am Jewish and have been welcomed in all synagogues. Indeed, I am a member of an orthodox synagogue and the chairman of governors of a pluralistic school that serves the whole community. Perhaps the reason for that is that I have lived in the area my whole life.

I pay tribute to one of my Jewish predecessors as Member of Parliament for Ilford, North, Millie Miller, who was a Labour MP until her untimely death in 1977. My constituency, when taken together with those of my neighbours, is the largest Jewish area, with the largest number of Jewish electors, in Europe, and I am proud of that. We have five synagogues in my constituency, with nine neighbouring it. There are three schools—Ilford Jewish primary school, King Solomon high school, and the school of which I am chairman of governors, Clore Tikva. There is Sinclair house, serving the community's needs, from the youth to the elderly, and that is excellently run by Jewish Care, which should be commended for that.

I move on to the compliment paid to sportsmen by the hon. Gentleman. He left two out, and I was shocked, because they are players for the best football team in this country, which everyone knows is Leyton Orient. Those two players are Barry Silkman and Mark Lazarus, who contributed excellently to Leyton Orient's promotion in 1969-70. I shall not trouble hon. Members by naming the rest of the team, but I could if pushed.

We should commend everything that my community has done in its 350 years here, and look at some of the reasons for that. I should like to talk briefly about my family. One of the greatest honours that I have had was when I swore my Oath of Allegiance in this House, wearing my skull cap, on the Old Testament. I was touched, and I know that my family were touched. We felt that that was possibly one of the most special things likely to happen to me, aside from the birth of my children and my marriage. That is a privilege for which I am grateful, and I will continue to be grateful to the electors of Ilford, North, for many years to come, I trust.

How did I become Lee Scott? It is quite a funny story. My father went into the armed forces. Our name at that time was Schuldberg, which would have been quite long for posters. The story goes that my father was standing next to a Scotsman, and we became Scott. I am only grateful that he was not standing next to a Gurkha.

I want to talk about a particular organisation in my constituency. There are many that I could single out, but there is one that is doing unbelievable work, an organisation called Drugsline Chabad. It is run by part of the Jewish religion called the Lubavitch, and it serves the community's needs. It works with a project for the Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities, and with any other religion that wishes to plug into it, to try to stop the vile trade in drugs and youngsters' use of drugs. It also helps to rehabilitate those who, unfortunately, have gone down that route. Its work across the community reflects the work done by many other organisations and interfaith groups working in my constituency to benefit our entire community. That is what it is all about.

Most Jewish Members of Parliament here today, and those in this House in the past, have come here to serve the whole community of their constituency. That is vital. I am Jewish and I am British. I am proud of that, and that is vital, too. We heard earlier from the hon. Gentleman about anti-Semitism in the past, and what is still happening today. Before entering the House I worked in the charitable world for a number of years. It was my privilege to visit Theresienstadt with people who had been at that camp. When you see what man has done to man—to women and children—you ask yourself whether we have learned anything from history. When we see some of the atrocities being carried out against all religions in the world today, we have to say that perhaps we have not.

I pray for all religions that there should be no prejudice against them. We all worship one God. We all have the same needs. Therefore, I hope that anti-Semitism—the hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct to say that it is still happening today—is eradicated. It is vile and cannot be permitted. Some far-right fascist parties—I shall not even give them credit by naming them—had minor successes at the recent local elections. We must learn from history, and I would tell anyone, however they vote, not to vote for far-right fascist parties.

To finish my few remarks, I would like to say not only to the people of Ilford, North but to the entire Jewish community that we can be proud of what we have achieved and there is so much more we can continue to achieve. We must work together with all other communities to make a difference for our country. As long as that continues to happen, we will be able to continue to celebrate our 350 years, and the many hundreds of years to come in which we can serve the people of Britain.