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Mr. Blunkett: I think that there were four key questions. On a slightly light note, after the past four and a half weeks, I feel that I have enough on my plate without taking on the whole of urban Britain. However, I take the point about the coherence of the response. That is why, both within the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Cabinet Office, we will want to pull together regeneration programmes with a review.
We will want carefully to listen to young people. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State will include young people in the review group so that they are clearly represented and heard. However, it is my evidenceperhaps colleagues from Bradford will confirm itthat
Yes, we will take on board Lord Ouseley's report. However, I hope that everyone will come forward with ideas for finding solutions, rather than merely posing questions for others to answer. Bussing children round cities to ensure multi-ethnic schooling is easier said than done. It was tried in Bradford and it has been tried extensively in north America, and on every occasion it has been abandoned.
We all share an intent. Finding solutions that are acceptable in a democracy is entirely another matter. We would consider public order legislation, but, again, it is a difficult area. I said to the chief constable of Manchester after the Oldham incidents that the issue of when a march or assembly turns out to be a gathering of citizens goes back to 1815 and Peterloo. There are some difficult legal issues. I will happily consider them, but we have an interesting reversal of positions here: I am defending human rights and the hon. Gentleman is helping me to find the right balance between those who would destroy our society and those who have the right to demonstrate in it.
Mr. Marsha Singh (Bradford, West): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. Does he appreciate the level of dismay and shock felt by me, my fellow Bradford MPs and the people of Bradford at what happened on Saturday? Does he appreciate how dangerous the situation now is in Bradford and how fractured community relations are? Does he agree that the vast majority of the Muslim community in Bradford are peaceful, decent and law-abiding and should not be scapegoated along with the mindless minority?
I join my right hon. Friend in praising the police for their courage. I was there and I saw it. It cannot be right for our police forces to face for hour upon hour a sustained assault of bricks, bottles, powerful explosives and petrol bombs without being able to do anything about it. It cannot be right for a community to be laid siege to for hour upon hour when it needs emergency services. We have a duty of care to them, too. When my right hon. Friends consults chief officers about the need for water cannon on our streets, I hope that he will consult ordinary bobbies to see what they feel about it.
Will my right hon. Friend look at giving areas such as Bradford, over and above the police complement, beat bobbies dedicated to troubled areas who work just that beat? May I ask him to understand our feeling that Bradford lies bleeding? It needs to heal. We need my right hon. Friend's support and the support of the whole House for that healing process to begin and to finish.
Mr. Blunkett: I thank my hon. Friend, who puts it eloquently and with great feeling. What the people of Bradford need immediately is the quietness and calm that will enable the prosperity and the image of Bradford to be restored to what it was for several years following enormous efforts by the community, the business community and those who came together in the Vision platform. Let us take up my hon. Friend's suggestion and be able to respond to what is required within the community itself: the dedicated policing that he describes seems an admirable suggestion.
It also seems that a wider community safety and disorder partnership is required, so that we can work with local people to identify those responsible, giving them the courage and protection that they need if they witness people destroying their neighbourhood and area. If we can come together and back people who witness those events, we will be able to see off those who have not only destroyed the immediate neighbourhood and people's prosperity and well-being, but created dangerous racial tension in Bradford and throughout the country. We are at a difficult moment. That is why getting it right quickly matters to all of us.
Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): As 34 of the 36 persons who were arrested were effectively local residents, are we not in danger of misleading ourselves by thinking that the prime responsibility lies with troublemakers from outside? Would it not be better for the Home Secretary to think carefully about the fact that, in all areas of Britain and the world where people are effectively segregated on the basis of religion, nationality or colour, there is always the potential for violence? All the Government's efforts should be aimed at trying to integrate the societies and stop having areas that are inhabited by one race or another race.
Mr. Blunkett: I understand the hon. Gentleman's intention, which is being expressed more broadly at the moment, including in Herman Ouseley's report, but, as I have said, the question is how to achieve that aim. Those who have come into the country over the yearsbe they Jewish, Chinese, Irish, or latterly from the Caribbean, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indiahave inevitably come together with family and cultural friends in the initial stages of their integration into society. It is difficult to break that up, given the availability of specific housing and support services. We all want to ensure that there is true integration, in which people understand cultural differences and diversity and the strength that they bring; but achieving that is another matter.
Yes, it was primarily local people whoregrettablywere destroying their own community, and many of them will not be those who must experience the consequences that we must address. As with Oldham and Burnley, however, people came into Bradford to cause trouble. These people light fires and walk away from them, leaving others both to take the blame and to pick up the pieces. It is they who are our true enemy, and we should be clear about that.
Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the work done over the years to build community relations in Bradford has been an exemplar for all of us? Living close to Bradford as I do, with a constituency close to Bradford, I much admire what has been done both by my colleagues in the House and by community leaders.
Does my right hon. Friend also agree that, while most of the Bradford community hated all that happened on Saturday night, there are extreme and wicked people on all sidesin the ethnic minorities, on the right and on the left? They are a very dangerous mix: they will move across the Pennines, and from town to city, in order to stir up trouble in many different ways.
Is it not time for us, as politicians, to ponder deeply what is happening, not just on the streets of Bradford? In the last few years, we have witnessed politics going on to the streets. I do not like that, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend does not. We have seen a wider phenomenon recently, internationallyin Gothenburg during the recent meeting there, and in Seattle during meetings of the World Bank and G7and in our own cities, with "Reclaim the Streets" in the City of London. We ignore that wider phenomenon at our peril; if we do so, we shall fail either to understand or to combat it.
My hon. Friend is right: there is a danger of alienation from politics, politicians and democracy. I commented on that the day after the general election. One of the main things that alienate people from democracy is Government's inability to deliver the most basic requirement of allorder in communities, and the ability to live peacefully. It is important for us to establish that as a prerequisite.
History shows us that those who wish to destroy society benefit most when there is disorder on the streets. That is a simple lesson not just from the last century but from long before. Those of us on the left who miss that key lesson from history delude ourselves into believing that the Weimar republic, or what happened in republican Spain, was some kind of accident. That is not so. The right flourished as a result of the disorder on the streets when the left failed to act.
Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar): I associate myself with what was said by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Singh). For those of us who have great affection for Bradford, it was a shocking experience to see the television pictures at the weekend and to discuss the events with friends yesterday and today.
I commend the Home Secretary's robust attitude to the extremists on both right and left who lit the fires and have gone away. Those of good intent will now have to put things right. I see one danger, however. Some newspapers have mentioned the suggestion that one solution would be to disperse people of Asian descent around the city. I am with the Home Secretary on this matter. I think that the idea of bussing or housing dispersal is anathema and plays right into the hands of racists.
We have a vibrant community in Bradford. Some parts of the community come originally from the Indian sub-continent, but they are all an integral part of Bradford, and Bradford would be the less for it were they to be dispersed through either education or housing. It is our duty as politicians to meet the needs of people rather than to get people to meet the needs of those services. I therefore hope that ideas such as bussing and dispersal will be resisted.
I hope that the Home Secretary will look favourably on the idea of opening up schools and further education institutions in the summer. Schools are about to break up, and such an arrangement would be helpful. I also go along with the suggestion, which I read about, made by the hon.