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Ms Winterton: One of the triumphs of our current work is the adoption of a cross-Government approachan approach that was taken in the case of the work of the social exclusion unit, which reported last year, and which applies to the close relationship between the DWP and the Department of Health. One can certainly extol the benefits of that approach.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East made a point about the complex needs service in his constituency. I hope that benefits are being seen at the local level as a result of in-patient stays being reduced through development of services. The new services whereby people can be prevented from entering patient care are both cost-effective and effective in their own right, and I hope that they will receive appropriate local consideration.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham seemed to confuse the issues of treatability and supervised community treatment. We want to get rid of the treatability test in mental health legislation because people with personality disorders have for too long been told that they are untreatable. That has meant that services have not been set up, and people have been turned away.
Supervised community treatment is an entirely different issue. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that certain people in my right hon. Friends constituency might somehow be placed on supervised community treatment because of a personality disorder. People enter supervised community treatment if they have had an in-patient stay and if their clinician feels that it is appropriate. We do not want people to be in-patients for any longer than necessary. If it is more effective to return them to their home environment under supervision, that course is known to lead to better recovery and prevent relapse. That is the point of the proposals in the Mental Health Bill.
My right hon. Friend referred also to supervised community treatment in the context of the funding that has been put into research. The research by the Institute of Psychiatry said that existing research was not definitive. The Government have stated their intention to adopt the path of supervised community treatment, which is already used in many other countries and has been implemented in Scotland. The existing legislation in this country does not permit implementation of a programme that would benefit patients. We shall ensure that we monitor the work that is done so that it is effective as possible.
I want to address the issue of mental health in prisons, which was raised by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg). He was right to refer to the Corston report. Jean Corston said that she supported the Mental Health Bill provisions on treatability, because there were too many women in prison who had ended up there because they had a personality disorder and, because of the way the Mental Health Act 1983 is phrased, did not receive help.
The hon. Gentleman made the important point that we need to ensure that good court diversion schemes are in place, so that people can get a hospital disposal early if that will be effective, and that there are proper transfers of people from prison to the acute setting if that is appropriate for them. We also need to ensure, as we are doing through the prison in-reach teams, that
there is good help for people in a prison setting. Not everybody wants to be transferred to a hospital, because of some of the implications of that, which is why we need to ensure that there is good support in prisons for people who need it. On the hon. Gentlemans point about the consultation document, I agree that it is important to get consultation right.
The hon. Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh) rightly pointed out how important the relationship with the voluntary sector can be. We need to do more work with the voluntary sector, which is making very good progress in providing services that people sometimes access more readily than they do some of the statutory agencies. It is right to have that relationship.
With regard to Lord Layards ideas, we made a commitment in our manifesto that we would increase access to psychological therapies. That is because it is very important that people with mental health problems have the choices that people have in other areas of health care. It is right to say that such therapies are not necessarily the answer to everything. Sometimes people need drug treatment as well, but what we are doing at the pilot sites, which have seen about 4,000 people, is examining the effectiveness of the demonstration sites. We are expanding those this yearthere will be about another 10 sites during 2007so that we can demonstrate the benefits and show that that system can be delivered across the country. We can consider the new commissioning strengths of primary care trusts to ensure that they develop those services locally.
As well as rolling out not only 10 sites this year but more than that the year after, we are considering how there can be proper accreditation not only of the types of therapy that are available, but of the practitioners who work in those fields. This is important. Not everybody needs to be a full-blown psychologist. Other people can provide important counselling services, but we need to ensure that there is proper accreditation, and we are doing that.
I turn now to group therapy sessions and computerised CBT. Last month we issued implementation guidance for computerised CBT, which means that PCTs should now be in a position to offer that technology to patients with mild to moderate depression. That represents real progress in ensuring that the NHS understands that alternative therapies, particularly talking therapies, are available and we need to make them much more widely available.
We can take away from the debate the fact that there is consensus that extra funding has gone into mental health services and that services have improved quite significantly. We also all agree that mental health care still has some way to go. New therapies are available and there are new changes that we need to make and improvements that I think we all agree are necessary. I assure right hon. and hon. Members that better mental health services remain a priority and we will continue to support people who need care and help at what are some of the most difficult times of their lives.
I am sure we all agree that public discussion about integration and cohesion has travelled a long way in recent yearsfrom Lord Parekhs commission for the future of multi-ethnic Britain, to Ted Cantles report on the 2001 riots, to the Governments new, or fairly new, Commission on Integration and Cohesion. The discussion has not ended up where one might have expected at the beginning of 2001. There has been an unmistakable new interest in integration among opinion formers such as the BBC journalist George Alagiah, the Pakistan-born Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir Ali and Trevor Phillips, who is to head the commission for equality and human rights.
This debate allows the House an opportunity to explore all aspects of that developing public discussion. I want to concentrate on an important part of itrelations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britainbefore asking whether there is merit in Cantles main recommendation, which the Government have not to date taken up: the development of a statement of allegiance that would follow what Cantle described in his report as
an honest and open national debate.
The events of 9/11 and their consequences have had an unmistakable impact on relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain since 2001. In Britain, they have included the Dhiren Barot conviction, Richard Reids attempted shoe bomb atrocity, the Abu Hamza affairand, of course, the horror of 7/7 as well as the events of 21/7. I am the Conservative Member with the largest number of Muslim constituents and my constituency also felt those consequences last summer in the form of the alleged aeroplane bomb plot; two of my constituents currently face serious charges in respect of that.
Last autumn, I offered the House my analysis of barriers to integration as they affect British Muslims. They include racism and Islamophobia, lower life chances, intergenerational conflict, the failure of the multiculturalist consensus, foreign policy and, perhaps above all, the impact of ideology. In its most stark form, that ideology is one of terrorhence 9/11 and 7/7. In its less brutal form, it rejects terror in Britain but embraces separation. Separation, of course, inevitably leads to a lack of integration and cohesion and the parallel lives of which Cantle warned.
A common term for the ideology is Islamism, a term sometimes used by Ministers. It is worth noting that some separatist Islamic groups in the tradition of al-Banna or Mawdudi use the term to describe themselves. However, many Muslims are unhappy about it and argue, understandably enough, that the use of the term tends to conflate that ideology with Islam itself. It is perhaps necessary to reiterate that the two are not the same. Islam is an ancient religion, whose history and practice seem to me just as various, complex and multifaceted as Christianitys.
The separatism that I have mentioned is in essence a modern political ideology, and I want to give the House a flavour of it.
Earlier this year, I discovered from a Channel Four Dispatches programme, Undercover Mosque, that a DVD featuring a preacher called Abu Usamah was being distributed from my constituency. In the programme, Abu Usamah was quoted as saying:
No one loves the kuffar
not a single person here from the Muslims loves the kuffar, whether those kuffar are from the UK or the US. We love the people of Islam and we hate the people of kuffar, we hate the kuffar.
God has created the woman, even if she gets a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete, deficient. She may be suffering from hormones that will make her emotional. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal one witness of a man.
Do you practise homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.
I shall not weary the House with any further quotations, but it is important to demonstrate what this ideology of separation is like. It favours an ultimate political settlement in Britain in which the barrier between the sacred and the secular is torn down and different people are governed by different laws. As Dame Pauline Neville-Jones wrote in her recent report Uniting the Country, even those ideologues
who eschew violence advocate...a social order...not compatible with modern western ideas of individual freedom, the equality of men and women, fundamental human rights and democratic government under the rule of law.
When I last had the chance to address the House on these issues, I said that it is important to diagnose the cause of an illnessin this case, the to-some-degree poisoned relations between Muslims and non-Muslimsbefore attempting to treat it. Today, I want to set out some ideas that might help to find a cure.
I am delighted to see the Minister in her place, because I want to ask her some questions, and my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) in his, because he is an acknowledged expert in this field. I am also grateful for the presence of my hon. Friends the Members for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field), for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and for Newark (Patrick Mercer), and the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Andrew Stunell), who is a spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. It is a pity that there is not greater representation on the Labour Benches.
In my view, the origin of such a cure lies in strengthening the unwritten social contract that exists between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain. Under that contract, non-Muslims are obliged to recognise that Islam is now a permanent presence in Britain, that British Muslims have lower life chances than the non-Muslim majority as a whole, and that those life chances must be raised as part of any programme of social justice. In turn, Muslims are obliged to face up to the fact that Dhiren Barot, Richard Reid and the perpetrators of 7/7 claimed to act in the name of Islam,
however unjustified that claim is, and recognise that the separatist ideology that I described earlier must not merely be condemnedit must be actively challenged, confronted and rooted out.
First, I want to deal with ways of raising Muslim life chances. According to the Office for National Statistics, Muslims are more likely to be lower paid than Christians, but the relevant figure, like others that point to Muslim disadvantage, must be read carefully. According to a study called Religion and economic activity in the South Asian population, 41 per cent. of Indian-originated Muslim adults are in full-time work, compared with 26 per cent. of Pakistani-originated Muslim adults and 23 per cent. of Bangladeshi-originated Muslim adults.
Those figures help to put some of the statistics about Muslim disadvantage in context. Indian-originated Muslims often come from a more prosperous background than Bangladeshi-originated, Pakistani-originated or Kashmiri-originated Muslims, so the figures suggest a hierarchy of disadvantage. As Munira Mirza wrote in her Living apart together report for the think-tank Policy Exchangein my view, the leading think-tank on Islam and Muslim-related matters
Policy-makers talk about helping Muslims, but levels of social disadvantage actually relate more closely to ethnicity than religious grouping, and even more importantly, to socio-economic class.
In other words, it is only common sense to recognise that Muslims who speak English as a second language, or not at all, and who come from more deprived backgrounds are less likely to enjoy good life chances than Muslims who speak fluent English and come from more prosperous backgrounds. Homes and schools are therefore vital locations for the levering up of life chances, especially given that no fewer than a third of British Muslims are under 16.
Some questions need to be addressed. Do parents who can speak English always encourage their children to do so at home? Do parents champion the value of education as a source of opportunity and not seek to discourage young women from entering the labour market should they wish? Are the expectations that some schools have for Muslim pupils too low? Is enough done to encourage parents to enter the teaching profession or to come forward as governors? How can integration possibly be helped by the planned reduction of supportalthough I understand that that is being reviewedfor the teaching of English to new migrants?
So, raising Muslim life chances, especially the life chances of Muslims from poorer backgrounds, is necessary if the unwritten social contract between non-Muslims and Muslims in Britain is to be strengthened. However, although improving life chances is necessary for that to happen, it is not sufficient. Marc Sagemans study of 172 al-Qaeda operatives around the world suggests that there is no simple link between lower life chances and separatist ideology. Indeed, he found that many operatives were from relatively wealthy backgrounds. The horror of 7/7helps to prove that point: Mohammed Siddique Khan was, after all, a qualified teacher and a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan university.
Therefore, in the interests of integration, I turn to ways of rooting out the separatist ideology that I described earlier. The Government alone cannot do so, but ministerial leadership is crucial. According to recent reports issued over the Easter break, the Ministers Department will lose its lead role in relation to British Muslims to the new office for security and counter-terrorism. The Minister is shaking her head, but it is important that she clears that matter up today. After all, her Department has only been in charge of this matter for about a year and placing relations with British Muslims in a security context will obviously have big implications.
Mention of the Department leads me to reflect on Government policy as a whole since 7/7. It is fair to say that the entire political and media establishment was caught off-balance by the horrendous events of that day. The Governments initial reaction was to set up the preventing extremism together project, but there is some controversy about how many of its recommendations have been implemented. That approach has clearly been superseded by the new Commission on Integration and Cohesion. There have been reports that Ministers want to raise the age at which spouses can enter Britain from 18 to 21. Will the commission consider that matter and report on it in June as part of its findings?
The Governments approach to preventing extremism needs to be synoptic, but it is hard to see such an approach at the moment. For example, the Department for Education and Skillspartly in reaction to a legal case involving a girls school in my constituencyhas recently issued guidance on school uniforms, which makes it clear that schools are entitled to bar the niqab or veil if they wish. However, the Department of Health refuses to issue similar guidance. I asked about that matter after the Royal Preston hospital was reported last year to be modelling a gown for patients based on the burqa, which, as hon. Members know, is not worn by most Muslim women in Britain. The answer that I received was that national guidance was inappropriate. Perhaps the Minister will explain why guidance appropriate for schools and teaching staff is not appropriate for hospitals and medical staff.
Terror groups are reported to be targeting universities and prisons. What guidance is issued to prison governors on the receipt of extremist literature by prisoners and is enough being done to encourage college principals to follow the example of universities such as Birmingham, which checks visiting speakers credentials in advance? More broadly, many of our constituents will ask why it took so long for the Danish embassy protesters who shouted support for terror to be charged, and why the loophole that allowed Abu Hamza to pass on property from prison is still unplugged.
I turn from preventing extremism to its flip side, which, of course, is supporting moderation. Having tried to give a flavour of what extremism is like, I shall now provide a flavour of what moderation is like by citing an event that took place at the Palace of Westminster before the Easter recess when I was privileged to co-host a reception for the Sufi Muslim Council. The SMC is unambiguously moderate and campaigns against extremism. It wants to see citizens
from all backgrounds living together under one common law. It believes that British Muslims can live privately under sharia law in the same way that Jews, for example, can live privately under their own religious law. It rejects placing entire areas of Britain under state-run sharia law, which extremists such as Abu Izzadeen advocate. Just as importantly, it also rejects permitting different religious groups to live under different state lawsthe system that operated in India under the empire, and which is championed by such Islamists abroad as Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. I believe that organisations such as the British Muslim Forum, to which the three main mosques in my constituency are listed as affiliates, broadly take the same moderate view.
In the light of that, can the Minister confirm that the Muslim Council of Britain is no longer being treated as the main representative voice of British Muslims? According to Dr. Mirza's research, only 6 per cent. of British Muslims believe that the MCB speaks for them, and only 1 per cent. believe that the Muslim Association of Britain, which is usually regarded as the British arm of Hamas, speaks for them. Can the Minister explain, therefore, why the MAB was given the same status as the MCB, which at least has a large number of representative organisations affiliated to it, and the BMF on the steering group of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body project, which is looking at the future of British mosques?
Indeed, can the Minister confirm whether the Government would like the MCB, the MAB, the BMF and the SMCI apologise for all these acronymsto be rolled into one representative body for British Muslims? If so, is the amalgamation of such divergent organisations really practical, and do Ministers believe that a single organisation can provide a reliable link to all British Muslimsthe highest figure is 1.8 milliona proportion of whom do not attend mosques regularly, if at all?
Before Easter, the Secretary of State announced details of a £6 million pathfinder fund to prevent violent extremism which, as the Minister knows, was described as a hearts-and-minds drive. There is a case for using public funds for that purpose, but it is essential that non-Muslims do not feel that they are losing out, and that the use of that money is closely monitored. What safeguards have been put in place to guarantee that the regional forums against extremism, which are part of that drive, cannot themselves be taken over by extremists?
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