Sajid Javid: Too many politicians avoid integration issues amid 'racism' fears

TATA-STEEL/BRITAINSajid Javid has claimed too many UK politicians have refused to tackle integration problems as they feared being "called a racist".

The Communities Secretary said many of the findings of a Government-commissioned review "ring true to me personally".

He said these include the contributions made by immigrants to British life and those who live "parallel lives" and fail to "embrace the shared values that make Britain great".

Mr Javid said Dame Louise Casey's report also shows more needs to be done by Muslim communities and some Muslim men about "how they treat Muslim women".

Replying to an urgent question on Dame Louise's review, Mr Javid said: "Many of her findings ring true to me personally.

"I've 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've 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.

"They've ducked the issue for fear of being called a racist, failing the very people they're supposed to be helping and I will not allow this to continue.

"We in public life have a moral responsibility to deal with this situation and Dame Louise's report is a crucial step in that process."

Mr Javid said he will study the report's findings, with plans to be outlined in the spring.
Policing pledge

Conservative former minister Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, said Dame Louise set out that women in some communities face a "double barrier" of gender and religion preventing them from accessing basic rights as British residents.

She asked Mr Javid: "How are you and the Government ensuring that every person in this country is afforded the protection of the Equality Act and also their rights under the law of this country?"

Mr Javid, in his reply, said: "You talk about the issue of - the way you put it - of 'double barriers' faced by some women.

"The report in particular talks about the challenges of Muslim women and I think there is more that needs to be done there, not just directly by Government but it's a challenge also to Muslim communities - in particular to Muslim men, some Muslim men - about how they treat Muslim women and I think these findings are very important.

"We should take them seriously and see what more we can do."

Dame Louise in her report warned that "misogyny and patriarchy" in some communities is widening inequality, with the country becoming more divided as it becomes more diverse.

The review recommended that ministers should consider whether immigrants intending to settle in Britain should swear an "integration oath" on arrival.

It further suggested schoolchildren should be taught "British values" of tolerance, democracy and respect to help bind communities together amid growing "ethnic segregation".

Dame Louise also warned of abuse and unequal treatment against women in some communities "in the name of cultural or religious values".

The Ramadhan Foundation condemned the "inflammatory" report.

Mr Javid earlier said respect for all communities is needed, suggesting this "sometimes is lacking" for the UK's Christian culture.

Turning to "British values" and the importance of tolerance and respect, Mr Javid told Labour MP Clive Betts: "I'm sure you'll agree with me, when it comes to those - and certainly to respect - it works both ways.

"It's respect for all communities of each other including of immigrant communities, for example, of the dominant Christian culture in this country which sometimes is lacking.

"So we've got to make sure we're promoting British values in every sensible way that we can."

The urgent question was initially tabled by Mr Betts, chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee, in which he called for Mr Javid to give his views on Dame Louise's recommendations.

In his questions, Mr Betts asked Mr Javid: "Do you agree with Louise Casey that speaking English is key to integration?

"And will you agree to reverse the cuts which have been made to the funds available for courses teaching English as a second language?"

Mr Betts also said: "Given that many of the recommendations are challenging, some maybe controversial, will you have a programme to consult with elected councils and the different communities in those areas most impacted by the recommendations?"

Tory frontbencher Mr Javid noted the report is independent and "not a statement of Government policy", with time being taken to look at the findings and recommendations.

He also said: "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 the interpreter for her.

"Many years later I'm pleased to say she learnt English and now she speaks it very well and it has transformed her life - I think not just for her, but it's great news for British society when more and more people speak English so I know from personal experience the difference it could make."

He said the Government already spends "more than, I think, £100 million" a year in helping people learn English when it is a foreign language.

Mr Javid went on: "We've always got to see what more we can do."

Shadow communities secretary Teresa Pearce urged the Government to reinstate a programme of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes.

She said: "We are constantly urging people who suffer sexual abuse, violence to speak out. You cannot speak out if you cannot speak English.

"If you cannot speak English you cannot even ring 999.

"Yet the Casey Report finds that DCLG spent more money promoting the Cornish language between 2011 and 2013 than it did English."

Mr Javid rejected the spending accusation relating to the Cornish language.

He said: "You talked about spending on languages by my department. I can tell you the facts. In the last six years the department has spent £780,000 on the Cornish language.

"But it has spent in fewer years, in five years, £11 million on community-based English language programmes. On top of that the rest of Her Majesty's Government has spent hundreds of millions of pounds in supporting English."

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