3.14 pm

Damian Hinds (East Hampshire) (Con): It is a great pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Bone. I congratulate my fellow Hampshire MP, the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham), on securing the debate and on his interesting and challenging speech, in which he made a number of important points. It is also a pleasure, of course, to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry).

I welcome the debate on this issue, both here today and more generally, and I welcome the consultation that the Government have launched. The debate would be useful and important even without what we have learned through the Trojan horse revelations. Clearly, there are some shared British values, but in a time when young people can be exposed to all sorts of influences, particularly as a result of technological change, it is important to restate—or, in some cases, just state—what those values are.

We have a more diverse society than we have ever had, and I think all of us here welcome the richness that that has brought. However, we also need to think about the word “multicultural”, which means different things to different people. We need to think about its positive connotations, but also about its drawbacks.

On the great seal of the United States is inscribed “E pluribus unum”, a compelling phrase. However, the United States has had a lot more time to think about what it means and to put it into practice. We, in our country, need to address what can be—indeed, what we love being—“pluribus” and what we need to be “unum”, and how wide that list should be.

We tend to be quite reticent about discussing Britishness. We are patriotic, but we tend to be reserved about expressing that. In America, people occasionally have debates about the pledge of allegiance to the flag, but our schools often do not have the flag to pledge allegiance to. Today’s debate turns on three important questions. First, what is in the core set of British values? Secondly, how should we express them? Thirdly, should we teach them, and, if so, how should we teach people about not just their existence, but their primacy in British life?

There are at least four—possibly more—different expressions of Britishness, which should not be conflated, although they sometimes are. The first relates to true core values: things such as tolerance, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, respect for the law, and a belief in the democratic ideal and the equality of citizens. Just because those are British values, that does not, of course, mean they must be uniquely British values; we

25 Jun 2014 : Column 109WH

share them with a number of other countries. It is also true that how they are manifested is not immutable. The values stay constant, but, as the right hon. Gentleman said, how they are expressed and what they imply changes over time.

Secondly, there are the principles that underpin our society and its operation. I will come back to this, but it includes things such as representative liberal democracy and an organic constitution, and the role of independent institutions, a free media and the rule of law. Those are fundamental, but they are not necessarily that widely understood; indeed, aspects of them are not even always entirely welcome—for example, the way in which liberal democracy, as opposed to pure majority democracy, can work.

Thirdly, there are things that are clear majority views, which are sometimes talked about as British values, such as a belief in our national health service and in public service broadcasting through the BBC. However, those are beliefs, not core values, and people’s views on them can change. I would suggest that just thinking that the Belgian health care system is worth looking at does not make someone un-British.

Fourthly, there are all manner of traits and characteristics, such as a sense of humour; a distrust of power; respect, but not undue respect, for others; and a love of a rich and permeable cultural base in music, film and food. We cannot promote those things in school, and nor should we try to, but they are still an important part of being us and of our shared destination.

What, then, should we do in schools? The first and most important thing to say is that it is a journey, rather than a destination. We can all easily agree about the negative side: we can agree about keeping extremists out of schools and about girls not being disadvantaged in their learning in class. We can also agree that public funds clearly should not be used on school trips available only to members of one faith.

What we do on the positive side, however, to promote British values is a lot harder. I have found no better description than that in the academy model funding agreement, which talks about

“respect for the basis on which law is made…support for participation in the democratic processes...equality of opportunity…liberties for all within the law…and tolerance of different faiths and…beliefs.”

I welcome what the Government propose to do to strengthen what is called the “spiritual, moral, social and cultural” standard and actively to promote such values. However, there remains the big question of how. At the sharp end, I certainly welcome what the Government are doing on no-notice inspections, removing school leaders who fail to protect their pupils and strengthening the rules on barring teachers who have knowingly brought extremism into school.

More generally, turning to the idea of positive promotion, there is a need for a big national conversation. That will not happen overnight. There is a debate to be had about the extent to which such things can be taught rather than caught. Personally, I am a bit of a sceptic about the idea that someone can stand at the front of a class and say, “Today we are doing British values.” Those are things that permeate in other ways.

Mr Andrew Smith: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

25 Jun 2014 : Column 110WH

Damian Hinds: I am very short of time—very quickly.

Mr Smith: In implementation, is it not crucial for children and young people to be helped to develop their critical ability to question what they are taught, wherever it comes from?

Damian Hinds: The right hon. Gentleman is right, and one should not underestimate the importance of space in class for discussion, as well as more formal debates in schools, and other things of that kind.

There is much more that I want to say, but I will just talk about history in the curriculum. What I say will echo, a little, what the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen said. We should tell the great British story and face up to the parts of it that we are not so proud of, but I would like more appreciation of the development of the institutions in and of our democratic system. Those are not British values per se, but they reflect and reinforce them. I am less bothered about young people learning about the mechanics of voting or which competencies are reserved for the devolved Administrations versus the UK Parliament, but I am bothered about a greater, broader understanding of the nature of representative liberal democracy and its superiority not only to autocracy—which is pretty obvious to everyone—but to the tyranny of the majority. With it go the freedom of the media and independent institutions, the protection of minorities and the rule of law. Those things need not be dealt with as an add-on; they can be understood through history taught in a rigorous academic way.

I have two concerns: the first is that we should not conflate the issue with a general debate about secularism. The “Trojan horse” schools were not faith schools. Faith schools in general get above-average results and are popular with teachers. Having attended one, I can confirm that its ethos and what we did there did not inhibit my inquiring mind or stop me appreciating and valuing the differences in others; if anything, it enhanced those things. Faith schools can also be incredibly diverse. There is a Catholic primary school a mile from here and 95% of its pupils are of one faith, but they speak, between them, 32 different mother tongues. More than nine tenths of them have English as an additional language. It is fine to have a debate about faith schools, but it is a different debate from today’s.

There is a second concern on which I would like reassurance from the Minister, and that is the inherent danger in having someone—anyone—in charge of defining British values, not just now but 10 years from now. I call this the Semmelweis question. If anyone present does not know who Semmelweis was, it is because we are all over 40. Our children all know, because he is taught in every school in the country. I will not go into it now, but he was an Austrian who found out that hand washing would stop infections from spreading in hospitals. Someone decided that that would be taught in every school in the country; but it is not on the national curriculum. Whoever that person is, they have an awful lot of power. We need adequate ways to make sure that it is not the courts or politicians who are left to deal with such matters.

I welcome the debate and the swift action of the Secretary of State, but we must also allow an approach to evolve, and be alive to the dangers.

25 Jun 2014 : Column 111WH

3.22 pm

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): Like the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham), whom I congratulate on giving the Government a chance to think in advance about some of the more complex aspects of what they propose, I am not a particularly religious person, but I come from a Jewish immigrant family background.

I have two stories to tell, about by late father, Sam. One happened more than 50 years ago when I came home from my junior school and mentioned, without any sense of trauma or discrimination, that we had been asked in class how many of us were English. Several hands went up. Then we were asked how many of us were Welsh, and most hands went up—the school was in Swansea—including mine. At that point, the teacher said, in all innocence, “Oh, but Julian, I thought you were Jewish.” When I mentioned that to my father he was outraged. He said, “What on earth was she talking about? What on earth was she thinking of? Of course you are Welsh. Being Jewish has got nothing to do with it. Our religion has got nothing to do with it.” I know that that story is true. I can vouch for it, because I remember it.

The second story—[Laughter.] That must have been funnier even than I intended. The second story is one that I can remember my father telling me, but I have never yet managed to research it so I do not know for certain whether it is true and will not name the country from which the community concerned came.

My father told me that a large number of people were displaced from central and eastern European countries as a result of the war, and they were allowed to settle in various communities around Britain. One of those communities started something that had been known before the war in their country—a degree of anti-Semitic propaganda—in the United Kingdom. My father said, although I have never been able to check or verify it, that when that started the Attlee Government made a firm public pronouncement warning the community that its members were welcome to come to this country and make it their home, but they were not going to bring anti-Semitism with them because the Labour Government of the day would not tolerate it.

I hope that the House can see why I told those stories and where they are leading. As I said earlier, in an intervention on the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen, I have a lot of sympathy with his proposition that it will be very difficult to promote positive values in schools because positive values evolve. However, I think it would be possible to promote what one might call negative values in schools—in other words, to make sure that some things are ruled out as unacceptable. I have a firm belief that in most communities, including the Muslim community, the majority of people are moderates and a small minority are extremists. I believe it is essential that extremism should be kept out of schools. The sort of extremism that provoked the present initiative is on a par with the fascist or Nazi, and Marxist or communist, extremism or totalitarianism of the past. It is an Islamist totalitarianism of the present. That must not be allowed to proceed.

We should therefore be careful about what we are trying to do. I hope that the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen will agree with the distinction

25 Jun 2014 : Column 112WH

that I am about to draw: between preventing extremists from taking over schools, and using schools that have not been taken over to prevent, through the promotion of a positive narrative, the radicalising of children. The truth is that nothing that can be done in a state school will insulate young, impressionable children if they are being radicalised outside the school.

Finally, I want to supply the attribution for the paradox of tolerance that my right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) alluded to earlier. It will come as no surprise to the massive total of 98 people who, according to the wonderful website theyworkforyou.com, are assiduous followers of my parliamentary speeches, because I have mentioned many times that the words are those of the late, great conservative-oriented philosopher Sir Karl Popper, who in volume 1 of “The Open Society and Its Enemies” laid down the wonderful maxim called the paradox of tolerance: we should tolerate all but the intolerant, because if we tolerate the intolerant the conditions for toleration disappear and the tolerant go with them.

3.29 pm

Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Con): I congratulate the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) on securing this timely debate. It is as always a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis).

When it comes to teaching British values, the clue is in the title. We are all British; we are all one nation and it should be so basic that we do not need to say it. Yet everywhere we look there is no shortage of people seeking to divide us from each other. North of the border, in Scotland, there are those who seek to divide that nation from Britain. In Wales, devolution tends to deepen, with advocates for more devolution, which could be a through-train in the direction that Scotland has gone. In Cornwall there are those who seek to separate that area too, and in Northern Ireland. In Dover we are simple souls. We do not want any particular devolution; we just want Calais back, and we would like Boulogne back as well in due course. [Laughter.]

We need to sound a warning against all those who seek to divide regions from the nation, because wherever there is division or separation or where people are divided from other people and separated, we rapidly get a lack of trust and the those sorts of problems we have seen. If we tell someone that they have to go and live in a castle and we tell someone else that they have to live in a different castle, sooner or later they will start to raise the drawbridge and go to war with each other. There will be separation, division and a lack of understanding. The best way to counteract that is to say we are all one people—we are all in it together, we are all integrated, we are all one community and one nation, and we should all stand together.

That is why the whole idea of multiculturalism was such a massive error, because it feeds on division. It creates division and a sense of separation—a sense that we are not all the same, not all in it together, not all joined together and not integrated; a sense, rather, that we are disintegrated. Poor pity that they did not think multiculturalism through or see that it would lead to the distrust that we see in some areas and some nations of

25 Jun 2014 : Column 113WH

our country. What we need is a greater sense of unity, a greater sense of shared identity and a shared mission as a country.

I think we have deeper values, beyond the value that we are one nation, and they are the values of what that means and what our history teaches us. In saying that, I am very aware that I am the Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal, the representative of the white cliffs. So much of what our nation is about is tied up in that land, which is hallowed, like Gettysburg, not by any special holiness, but by the acts of the people—our forefathers—and the values they fought for. We should not shirk from underlining that, first and foremost, they fought for freedom—for what the Americans think of as first amendment rights: freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Those freedoms, so dearly won, are so easily lost and so often under siege. We should be valiant and strong in standing up for them and ensuring that we can talk and communicate with respect. I do not accept the word “tolerance”; I think that “live and let live” is a better way to explain our understanding of different thoughts in our communities.

There is also the rule of law and the flexibility of our constitution, which bends like a reed in the wind. As times change, we change; our laws, customs and mores change. Finally, there is our fighting for the underdog—our sense of justice and our sense of going to war, as we did back then to defeat the gnarled hand of tyranny that crept across Europe, casting a deep shadow. We were responsible for turning it back and for leading the charge against it. That is an important part of what it is to be British. We should be proud of what we have achieved as a nation and we should be strong and very clear in saying that we are one people. Make the case for integration, do not go for multiculturalism and talk about how we draw people together, because that way lies hope, whereas in division lies fear and mistrust.

3.33 pm

Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con): A democratic state surely has a duty and a vested interest in ensuring that its citizens are aware of their rights and responsibilities, and in that respect schools are the obvious place to start. They should be a place of learning and understanding, where naivety is met with guidance and questions presented with answers.

The subject of this debate, which I congratulate the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) on securing, has long been an issue—it has been an issue for generations. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma) spoke eloquently, and it will be no surprise that, with names like Sharma and Opperman, neither of our families were at the battle of Hastings repelling the French. We arrived not a thousand years ago to repel the French but, in his case, approximately 50 years ago and, in my case, approximately 100 years ago. You can imagine, Mr Bone, the difficulties that my ancestors had through two world wars with a name like Opperman, fighting their German cousins—and fighting with distinction—for the British Army.

Integration is something that we are all seeking. This is an issue that has not suddenly popped up in the last year, five years or 10 years; it has been an issue down the

25 Jun 2014 : Column 114WH

generations for different cultural identities. When we ask ourselves this question, I believe that it is right that the Government are promoting the consultation on British values in schools. I am certain that the Minister will outline the details of the consultation, but the strategy that sets it out seeks

“democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs”.

One would hope that those are universal values, but we know that the reality worldwide is that they are not universal values, but are particular values of this country. In that respect, these purportedly universal values are, in fact, very British and their promotion must be a very good thing. One must not forget that promotion is not the same as teaching something or having respect for it. One can respectfully disagree with an idea that is promoted—one may take a differing view—but one is definitely much better informed for it, and that is surely the point we are trying to make, so I welcome the consultation.

Like many hon. Members, I will make my full speech available on my website, guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk. While my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) may have 98 followers on theyworkforyou.com, my 17,000 followers will, I am sure, greatly enjoy this particular speech.

Dr Julian Lewis: You need them more than I do.

Guy Opperman: It is rare that one gets barracked by one’s own side, but one has to get used to it.

What are British values? Sarcasm may be one value that we would particularly wish to identify. We are—are we not?—good at queuing, and we are bad at football. As everyone knows, we are the inventors of football, a game we play for 90 minutes before the Germans win on penalties—unless we are not even making the further rounds. We are the creators of proper breakfasts, the world’s finest sauces—everything from ketchup to HP—and all the best boy bands that could possibly exist.

Many of our constituents—returning to a serious point—are British Muslim, British Indian, British Chinese, Scottish and British, and Welsh and British. Some would argue that the likes of Monty Panesar are way more British than Kevin Pietersen, and I think that they would be right.

Do we take advice from the French? It is a rare thing and I know it is something you would never do, Mr Bone, but you will recall that Jacques Chirac said: “One cannot trust people”—that, by the way, is the British—

“whose cuisine is so bad”.

However, we would surely reply that our national dish is not roast beef any more; it is, of course, curry.

On that point, I would like to make my contribution to the debate, which is to ask whether we need to consider introducing, as the Canadians have, a Minister for integration. In Canada, he is the famous Jason Kenney, who has been so successful at formulating and promoting integration of people of many different faiths. His portfolio includes citizenship, multiculturalism, immigration and integration. It is the unification of those strands of Government Departments and the difficulties faced that we genuinely need to address.

I take the view that this process is about creating a stronger society, not splitting it. Surely the purpose of promoting British values is to ensure that by doing so

25 Jun 2014 : Column 115WH

we are not being counter-productive, because any person in this country can uphold their religious, national and cultural identity as well as their British identity. In that respect, surely we should be supporting this debate, this dialogue and this discussion.

3.39 pm

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): I welcome this debate and congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) on securing it and on his, as ever, thoughtful speech.

We have had quite a lot of discussion about British values, but not perhaps as much about the teaching side of things—perhaps we will get more of that in future debates. Nevertheless, it has been a fascinating debate and I congratulate all the hon. Members who contributed to it. I will mention the right hon. Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) in a moment. The hon. Member for East Hampshire (Damian Hinds) used the phrase “E pluribus unum”, but of course it was much later that that was interpreted as bringing together different peoples from different parts of the world. In its original sense, it was more about the states coming together and forming a union. However, there was much to agree with in his remarks.

As ever, the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) made a thoughtful, intelligent speech. He said he was brought up in Wales. I was brought up in Wales, with a Welsh mother and an Irish father. My father always insisted that I was Irish, but I never accepted it and still do not, although I am proud of that heritage. I have always thought of myself as Welsh and British. The hon. Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) said he hoped that Scotland would not break away from the United Kingdom. I endorse that sentiment. The hon. Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman) mentioned his German ancestry and bragged about the size of his following, much to the derision of Government Members. He made a thoughtful contribution to our debate.

I am glad to see the Minister here. I thought that the Schools Minister might have come along to respond to the debate, as teaching featured in its title. Perhaps that is because, as we understand from press reports, the Deputy Prime Minister is a bit uneasy about the new Government policy on a consultation on British values. If so, that is a shame, because I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen: it is important that we debate what this means and what its implications are, and I welcome that.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a moving event in my constituency where Councillor Ali Ahmed of Cardiff was honoured by the Bangladeshi community on becoming the deputy lord mayor of Cardiff. His opening remarks at that event were: “I’m proud to be a Muslim, I’m proud to be a Welshman, I’m proud to be a British Bangladeshi and I’m proud to be the deputy lord mayor of Cardiff.” In saying that, he showed what we all want from British values and what we all want in our communities: the opportunity for everyone, from whatever background, including the humble, poor background in Bangladesh of Ali Ahmed and his family, to succeed and fulfil their potential. I found that event moving.

I wanted to intervene briefly on the right hon. Member for Banbury, because he mentioned the values that our fathers and grandfathers fought for. It is always important

25 Jun 2014 : Column 116WH

to remember that on the Menin gate in Ypres are the names of Muhammad Aslam, Abdullah Khan, Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Usman—soldiers who fought alongside our grandfathers and fathers in previous wars. We sometimes forget that the grandfathers and fathers of many of those in the immigrant community in Britain today fought alongside British soldiers in those wars and that they are here because their grandfathers and fathers were part of the British empire’s Army at the time. We should always remember that strongly in our discussion of British values.

I echo the comments that my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen made about Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland—the other parts of the UK. When the UK Government kick off such a debate—but in an England-only jurisdiction—it is important that we should also talk to colleagues to the devolved Administrations and involve them in it, otherwise there is a danger of it becoming isolated and more about Englishness than Britishness. Those perspectives are important, as are the perspectives of the various minority ethnic communities that were discussed in this debate.

The context for this debate is undoubtedly the Trojan horse incidents in Birmingham. Ultimately, things have come to a head because warnings given about what might be developing there were not heeded quickly enough, and one reason for that is that systematic problems in our education system have developed, allowing such developments to become likely. The current system is inadequate and fragmented, and there is a dangerous vacuum. Only last night—the hon. Member for Bradford East (Mr Ward) will know this—the principal of Kings science academy was re-arrested on suspicion of fraud in relation to that free school. There is a vacuum that we need to address. I will say more about that in a moment.

We also need to look at the reset button a little bit on faith in our schools and revisit what that is all about. Of course, the schools involved in the Trojan horse affair were not faith schools, but we should restate and be clear that no publicly funded school should be a place for indoctrination or proselytisation. Faith-based education can be positive—some of the finest schools in this country are faith-based schools—but they must still respect and understand other views. Indeed, all publicly funded schools should be clear that it is unacceptable for such indoctrination or proselytisation to take place and that it forms no part of any publicly funded school, whether faith-based or not. I think all the faith-based education services would accept that principle—indeed, I think I am using the exact words of the Catholic Education Service in that regard.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen that undermining citizenship teaching has not helped the situation. De-emphasising pupil and student voices in the system has not helped either. Yesterday I spoke to a group of articulate year 10s from a community school in London who were visiting the House of Commons, and their insights on this and other issues were important. With the fragmentation, there is also a danger that we are marginalising the parental voice in the system. With the growth of large academy chains that are accountable to no one, so-called autonomous local schools are often being dictated to by those large academy chains, more than local authorities ever did and with no accountability whatever.

25 Jun 2014 : Column 117WH

We need a debate about British values, but that conversation must include the young people involved who are in the schools, as my right hon. Friend said. It must be a debate about British values, not about an imagined Britain glimpsed through the rose-tinted spectacles of the Secretary of State for Education. As usual, with this story he hit the headlines but rather missed the point. British values cannot be the product of a Secretary of State for Education’s solipsistic ruminations; they have to be shared and must arise from a common feeling among the diverse communities and generations in this country. Our schools should be in the business of teaching those values through the ethos of the school as much as in formal lessons, and it should be as much about the debating of the values as about inculcating them.

Schools should, first and foremost, be safe havens of learning that promote respect, tolerance and hard work, and encourage debate and discussion—I say that as a former teacher. They should also promote community cohesion, as they are required to by law, although they are no longer inspected on for that. We have seen how quickly things can go wrong where that is not made clear and where it is not monitored.

There is a danger that the Government are sending out mixed messages. If citizenship is talked down and undermined as a subject, but then they decide that it will be kept in the national curriculum, is it any wonder that people are confused? In a system where most secondary schools do not have to teach citizenship, because they are not required to teach the national curriculum, it is no wonder that heads, teachers and governors, as well as parents, can become confused about what is expected of them in relation to teaching citizenship and British values. That is why, if we really are to promote these values in our schools, we need a mechanism to ensure that all schools do so.

We have proposed a new approach to local accountability, through directors of school standards. We believe that, had our approach been in place in 2010, the Department for Education would not have ignored the warnings about Birmingham. In requiring collaboration between schools, different groups could be brought closer together.

This is an important debate for this country and our schools, and we need more than headline-grabbing soundbites from the Secretary of State to tackle the great challenge.

3.49 pm

The Minister for Skills and Enterprise (Matthew Hancock): Mr Bone, I hope that you, like me, have found this to be an enlightening, well thought through and extremely reasonable debate. It has been positive, and I congratulate the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) on securing it. I will try to address his five points and some of the points raised by other Members, but we need to set the debate in context. The question of the values that tie us together as a country is a crucial point that has been raised and relevant through the ages. This debate is not on a new subject, but one that has been raised throughout history.

It is best to start on the point about universal values and the question of what British values are. As has frequently been stated, the Government have set out that British values are

25 Jun 2014 : Column 118WH

“democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

The right hon. Gentleman said that we could all unite behind those values, and I certainly hope that we can, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman) rightly pointed out, we are complacent if we say that that is easy or natural. British values are not universal around the world, and we should be proud that they are very widely, if not universally, accepted here at home. Those universal values flower in Britain because of the protection of our strong democratic state, defended through liberty—with blood, in times gone by—by our forefathers and the forefathers of those from many different backgrounds.

To seek to defend those values, and the British polity that protects them, is a valuable task. In that, I thought that many of the comments made by the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen were astute, but it was a sad irony that in arguing that we should come together in many of these things, he sought to find points of division where none exist. The argument for a conscious focus on nation building is one that we support. He argued not for a legal basis in that space, but for providing teachers with the powers and resources to enable them to deliver. While it is crucial to ensure that we defend British values by specifying what is not acceptable, that inevitably ends up with a legal basis for intervention. As my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) pointed out in describing the paradox of tolerance, if we are to ensure that we promote British values—including ensuring that we take action against extremist ideologies that are anathema to them—there need to be legal elements. There is, however, much, much more to the issue. For example, the broadening of the history curriculum is one part of a response to a need to strengthen the underpinning of British values that has been under way over the past few years.

On the promotion of citizenship and British values in the curriculum, the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen made an odd critique about citizenship and Ofsted. Of course Ofsted inspects on the teaching of spiritual, moral, social and cultural education. That is a core part of its framework, and the argument that it did not inspect for that is, frankly, wrong. His point on involving young people in debate is important. Having listened to his speech very closely, I argue that there is much more that unites than divides us.

There is another crucial point, which everyone in the debate has touched on: British values are not simple and British identities are often multiple. I did not even know that my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East had a Jewish background. Being Jewish and British is a widely held identity, much like being Scottish and British, English and British or Welsh and British. Once we get to Ireland it is slightly more complicated, because Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, rather than Great Britain. As my hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma) set out, however, identities expand to being Indian and British and many other different backgrounds. Nevertheless, the reticence with which some express British values, and the argument that it is rather British to be reticent about expressing British values, which I recognise, should not prevent us from setting out expectations on shared values. British values are a core set of beliefs that support and ensure freedom, liberty and tolerance and underpin the way we want our society to function.

25 Jun 2014 : Column 119WH

The debate rightly touched on the issues in Birmingham schools. We are clear that we need to learn lessons from what happened there. I will deal with a couple of technical details before going on to the broader point. In 2008, when concerns were expressed, the schools were maintained schools. Much progress has been made in maintained schools. They must promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils so that they can participate in wider society, and they must promote community cohesion. The strategy for creating the conditions for integration recognises the critical role that local organisations, including schools, can play in bringing communities together. Existing advice on teacher misconduct confirms that misconduct includes:

“Actions or behaviours that undermine fundamental British values, democracy and law, promote…extremism, or demonstrate deliberate intolerance and/or lack of respect of the rights, faith and beliefs of others”.

Maintained schools are also required under the citizenship curriculum to teach pupils about subjects including democracy and human rights.

Those requirements are only part of the wider answer to the question on British values, of which the teaching of history is also part. Here I come to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke), because he, in his eloquent articulation of British values, warned against those who would try to divide us and pointed to the special role of Dover and its white cliffs in the British story. We should pay heed to his words. Having said that, we will take further action, in addition to the action taken since 2010, to strengthen guidance to schools to set out more clearly our expectations. That follows the publication of the Government’s Prevent strategy, which focuses not only on tackling directly violent extremism, but extremism more broadly. That is necessary to tackle the roots of violent extremism, and the Secretary of State has set out that we will consult on further action.

On Monday, we launched a consultation on strengthening the wording of the independent school standards, which apply to independent schools, academies and free schools, to require schools actively to promote principles that encourage fundamental British values. That builds on the change made last year to include a requirement to encourage pupils to respect fundamental British values. In addition, we will also require teaching

“on the strengths, advantages and disadvantages of democracy and how democracy works in Britain, in contrast to other forms of government in other countries”.

The guidance also describes the outcomes that independent schools, including academies and free schools, will be expected to demonstrate. That shows that the accountability of academies and free schools is stronger than that of maintained schools, not least because of inspection by the Education Funding Agency as well as by Ofsted.

Finally, I want to pick up on one point made by the shadow Minister. He said that there was no accountability whatsoever in academies. I would say that—

Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair): Order. I am afraid that time has beaten us. I would like to thank all hon. and right hon. Members for co-operating to get everyone in, and for an interesting debate.

25 Jun 2014 : Column 120WH

Gender Equality in Overseas Parliaments

4 pm

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

4.15 pm

On resuming

Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair): The current debate may continue until 4.45 pm and the final debate may continue until 5.15 pm.

Catherine McKinnell: I am delighted to have secured this debate on the link between gender equality in Parliaments and political corruption, not least because I have been trying to secure it for some time now, in my capacity as the co-chair and co-founder of the all-party group on corruption. As the Minister will be well aware, female politicians can be very persistent and do not tend to let an issue go without achieving some sort of resolution. As a result, I am pleased that we finally have an opportunity, albeit a brief one, to discuss the issue today.

Before I turn to the specific subject of the debate, I want to remind us of the position in which women around the world continue to find themselves in relation to influence and power. An excellent paper published by the international development charity VSO—Voluntary Service Overseas—highlights that women are estimated to account for almost two thirds of the people globally who live in extreme poverty. Women perform two thirds of the world’s work and produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.

At the same time, around the world, including here in the UK, women are not participating in public and political life on equal terms and in equal measure to men. As the VSO paper goes on to highlight, all the evidence suggests that we are still very far from solving the problem. Only one in five parliamentarians worldwide is a woman—the figure is 22% for the House of Commons and 23% for the House of Lords. Women hold only 17% of ministerial positions around the world and just three of the 22 full Cabinet positions in the UK. At the highest level, women account for only 13 of 193 Heads of Government, although of course the UK has had a very highly respected female Head of State for the past 62 years.

In local government, women make up only 20% of elected councillors and hold mayoral positions in only 10 of the world’s capital cities; only 32% of councillors in England are women and London is yet to have a female elected Mayor. On the basis of those current trends in representation, women will not be equally represented in Parliaments until 2065—in more than 50 years’ time—and will not make up half the world’s leaders until the quite staggering date of 2134, an achievement not a single person alive on this planet will get to see.

In its paper, “Women in Power: Beyond Access to Influence in a post-2015 World”, VSO makes an incredibly persuasive—indeed, inarguable—case for putting women’s rights at the heart of the international development

25 Jun 2014 : Column 121WH

agenda as the United Nations considers a new international development framework for after the millennium development goals expire in 2015. As VSO argues, a new post-2015 goal of empowering women and girls to achieve gender equality needs to take account of the obstacles to that and how and why they are being perpetuated, as well as evidence of measures that have proved successful in addressing them.

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): Am I right in saying that the hon. Lady will be 100% behind my International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014? She is quoting from and drawing on the same VSO paper as I quoted on Third Reading before my Bill was enacted, and so her explanation has been almost word for word the same as mine—she is not copying me, of course. She is absolutely right. I commend her for taking such a strong line and wish her well.

Catherine McKinnell: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support and very much agree with the sentiments he has expressed. He clearly sees the urgent need to take action on the problem rather than simply talking about it.

Indeed, we are not alone: the former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, once said:

“Data not only measures progress, it inspires it…what gets measured gets done…nobody wants to end up at the bottom of a list of rankings.”

I know that the Prime Minister is co-chairing the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda, and developing countries are being asked to identify their priorities for 2015 and beyond. I would be interested to hear the Minister’s thinking on whether gender equality will form one of the post-2015 goals.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing this debate. Through the all-party group on Egypt a short while ago, we met new President Sisi, for whom 33 million people voted. He told us that there had been so much change because of the women of Egypt. In recognition, he has set aside some seats in Parliament for women to be represented. Is that an indication of what the hon. Lady wants to see—not just in Egypt, but throughout the whole middle east?

Catherine McKinnell: Indeed. No one in this Chamber thinks that we should not be making greater strides on gender equality and political representation here in the UK and around the world, and I will give some examples. The hon. Gentleman mentioned Egypt, but I will focus on Rwanda where a remarkable transformation has taken place on gender representation.

What does the issue have to do with corruption? The Minister may be aware that earlier this year, to mark international women’s day, the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption published a position paper on gender equality in Parliaments and political corruption. The all-party group on corruption, which I co-chair, is a member of GOPAC, which based its research on a 10-year analysis of trends in the proportion of women elected to national Parliaments, correlated to trends in levels of national corruption.

The research found that an increase in the number of women in Parliament will tend to reduce corruption but, crucially, the GOPAC paper also made it clear that women politicians cannot be expected to tackle this issue on their own. It concluded that increasing the

25 Jun 2014 : Column 122WH

number of female parliamentarians must take place in tandem with steps to increase institutional political transparency, to strengthen parliamentary oversight, and to enforce strong penalties for corruption. In other words, an increase in the number of women in Parliaments will tend to reduce corruption if the country in question has a reasonably robust system to uphold democracy and to enforce anti-corruption laws.

On publication of the paper, the vice-chair of GOPAC’s women in Parliament network, Dr Donya Aziz, commented:

“'The status of women has come a long way since the first International Women’s Day in the early 1900’s, but our participation in the political sphere is still far too low in most countries across the world. Our paper demonstrates that the strongest fight against corruption is one that includes and embraces the female perspective as a critical part of strengthening parliamentary oversight and parliamentary democracy.”

The GOPAC paper illustrated its findings with the fascinating case study of Rwanda, a country that has made significant strides since the appalling genocide of 1994. As the Minister will know, Rwanda is the only country in the world where an outright majority of parliamentarians are female. Indeed, as of 2013, an unbelievable 63.8% of Rwanda’s Members of Parliament are women. The paper explains that that is partly the result of concerted efforts by Rwandans to increase female participation in politics, such as the introduction of a gender quota system, employing seats reserved for women and the establishment of legislated candidate quotas.

Such measures have seen the number of female parliamentarians in Rwanda increase from 17.1% in 1997 to 25.7% in 2002 and 48.8% in 2003 when the gender quota was established. The rate increased again to 56% in 2008 and then to the staggering 63.8% that Rwanda enjoys today. While this rapid change in gender representation has taken place, Rwanda has also strengthened its parliamentary oversight mechanisms. For example, in April 2011, the Rwandan Parliament established a new public accounts committee to examine financial misconduct in public institutions and to report misuse of public funds. Previously, despite evidence of continuous theft of public monies, no parliamentary body had that responsibility.

Subsequently, in 2012, the Rwandan public accounts committee released its examination of state finances, which reported that 9.7 billion Rwandan francs—$16.3 million —was lost in 2009-10 as a result of failings in Government operations. The Rwandan PAC went on to present recommendations for Government reforms and established the requirement for Parliament to act to remedy gaps in the management of public funds.

During the same period, Rwanda consistently improved its score on the corruption perceptions index, which has been published every year since 1995 by Transparency International. Over the past nine years, Rwanda has improved its CPI rating by 23 points, well above the eight-point global average improvement between 2003 and 2013. It scored 53 on the CPI in 2013 and was ranked 49th least corrupt country of the 177 countries surveyed. To put that in context, the UK scored 76 and was ranked 14th least corrupt country.

GOPAC’s paper concluded:

“Although Rwanda’s CPI score leaves room for improvement, it has experienced a significant reduction in corruption, clearly correlated with an increase in female political participation, in the context of improving systems of parliamentary oversight.”

25 Jun 2014 : Column 123WH

GOPAC draws the link between a fall in levels of public corruption and an increased number of female parliamentarians, combined with improved parliamentary oversight mechanisms, while making it clear that that first step of having more women in Parliament is insufficient to reduce the problem.

Sir William Cash: I am deeply interested in what the hon. Lady is saying. The connection with corruption is in many senses new to many of us. A few years ago, I introduced the International Development (Anti-corruption Audit) Bill with the hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley) and one or two other hon. Members. We are learning a great deal from what the hon. Lady is saying, which is very helpful.

Catherine McKinnell: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support and for his work on the issue. I look forward to us working together to take the matter forward. I also look forward to the Minister’s response and to hearing what the Government can do to take the issue forward as part of the millennium development goals.

I have asked myself whether it is entirely coincidental that Rwanda happened to see such significant improvements in its oversight of public funds and financial misconduct at exactly the same time as a significant increase in the number of female parliamentarians. The two developments may not be linked, but I contend otherwise. I would be interested to hear the assessment of the Minister and her Department.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of meeting a delegation of Kenyan women parliamentarians during their week-long visit to the UK and Westminster, which was organised by the CPA. As the Minister knows, Kenya is often held up as another African country leading the way in female representation following its 2010 constitutional reforms, which stipulate that no more than two thirds of any appointed or elected body can be of the same gender.

The delegation was keen to hear more about the work of the all-party group on corruption. We spoke for over an hour about their experiences as female politicians in a very male dominated culture. They highlighted the fact that although there are now six women in Cabinet posts, including in defence and foreign affairs, there is a motion before the Kenyan Senate—their upper house—calling for the number of parliamentary seats for women to be scrapped and citing cost as the reason. Clearly, any progress made on gender equality and therefore on corruption cannot be taken for granted.

I have considered at length the link between increased female representation and reduced levels of corruption, but what about the female experience of corruption, which is often termed “graft”? Everyone knows that corruption is wrong. It keeps poor people poor and allows rich people to capture power and money. It stops development aid from countries such as the UK reaching the right people in the right places at the right time. Perhaps most importantly, it prevents developing countries from being able to develop their own tax base in order ultimately to reduce their dependence on aid.

We know from the statistics that I outlined at the beginning of my speech that the majority of people living in extreme poverty in the world are female and therefore at risk of being kept poor by this pernicious problem. Various research projects have looked at the

25 Jun 2014 : Column 124WH

different ways in which corruption has an impact on women, as opposed to men, in developing countries. Women remain the primary care-givers around the world, so they tend to face more corruption because of their increased interaction with public services, whether they are trying to obtain a school place for their child, support a relative through the health system or obtain legal documents for their family.

Recent reports suggest that the experience of many women facing corruption goes beyond the traditional gender spheres. One study found that the major problems were about starting a business. There have also been suggestions that, as more women access higher education, there is an increasing convergence of sexual harassment and academic corruption. When I visited Kenya earlier this year with CAFOD, I saw and heard about the damaging impact that corruption can have on many women’s lives.

In addition to the top-down approach of ensuring that there are more female elected representatives at decision-making level, a report from October 2012 by the UN Development Programme suggested that those who face corrupt officials most often develop the most efficient techniques for dealing with them. Such a bottom-up approach, in which relatively simple projects brought together groups of women who faced that problem, resulted in a marked success.

Simply by joining together, women empower each other by sharing experiences, comparing success stories and training their peers to deal with corrupt officials. Such projects are vital to enable women to break free from a culture—the norm in many parts of the world—that prevents women and girls from reporting corrupt practices, most notably practices such as sexual extortion, which carry a huge stigma.

I have attempted to cover in a relatively short time a significant and wide-ranging issue that affects many millions of women around the world. I am keen to emphasise the context of the debate. Almost two thirds of people globally who live in extreme poverty are women. Women perform two thirds of the world’s work and produce 50% of the world’s food, but they earn only 10% of the world’s income and own only 1% of the world’s property.

Given such pitiful levels of female representation, is it any wonder that we still find ourselves in a situation where today alone, 800 women will die unnecessarily in childbirth, 29,000 under-fives will die from preventable causes, 67 million children are not in school when they should be and almost 1 billion people will go to bed hungry? The money required to remedy that totally unacceptable situation is entirely available, but all too often corruption means that it is stolen for private gain instead. I strongly believe that empowering more women and girls around the world, from the top down and from the bottom up, will prove to be one of our strongest weapons in tackling this appalling injustice.

4.32 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Lynne Featherstone): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon, Mr Bone. I thank the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) for and congratulate her on her persistence in getting a debate on this topic.

25 Jun 2014 : Column 125WH

I do not think I disagreed with a single word of what she said. Her speech was powerful and she put the case forcefully.

The participation of women in political life is absolutely crucial for gender equality and poverty reduction around the world. We are in an appropriate venue for debating it—and I thank the hon. Lady for her attempts to get me promoted to the Cabinet. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) on the work he has done on gender equality. The Department for International Development has a woman as Secretary of State and a woman as Under-Secretary of State. Although that may not be the case in perpetuity, we are now required in perpetuity by law to consider gender in international development, which is a welcome move forward.

I will not repeat all the relevant statistics; otherwise, the hon. Lady and I will end up making the same speech. I agree that around the world, it is not adequate for only 22% of elected representatives in national Parliaments to be women. The hon. Lady mentioned that Rwanda leads the world in that respect because 64% of its parliamentarians are women. I visited Rwanda two weeks ago, and the country’s story is remarkable—perhaps all the more remarkable when we think where it has come from. Perhaps because of where it has come from, there was a recognition, in Rwanda’s desire for change, of the need to have no differences. I think that is one of the motivating factors.

Rwanda also ranks second in the world for ease of doing business, which the country has made a priority. I am not sure how strong the evidence is on lack of corruption, because it seems to be conditional on institutions and the application of law, as well as female representation. Rwanda is an exemplary development partner and a beautiful country that has seen amazing progress over the past 20 years. At the same time, as I am sure the hon. Lady acknowledges, there has been a lack of political space and there are concerns about human rights. Rwanda is, however, certainly an exemplar in terms of development and women’s participation.

What difference does it make to have more women in political roles? Helping more women into power improves inclusiveness; it creates female role models, which are incredibly important; and it leads to legislative changes to tackle gender inequalities that might not happen if women were not in a position to take them forward. I am sure, like me, the hon. Lady occasionally wishes that we did not have to fly the flag on those issues, and I am sure she longs for the day when women do not have to fly the flag, which is why it is so nice to have the flag raised by a gentleman.

Sir William Cash rose—

Lynne Featherstone: I thought my hon. Friend might come in at that point.

Sir William Cash: I commend the Minister and the Secretary of State for what they have done. Mariella Frostrup, the GREAT Initiative, WaterAid and others have been enormously helpful over the past year.

Lynne Featherstone: I thank my hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North asked that we put women at the heart of international development,

25 Jun 2014 : Column 126WH

and we have lived up to that. I have not attended an occasion or met a Government anywhere in the world without raising that as a primary issue.

The hon. Lady also asked about the post-2015 agenda. The high-level panel report was excellent and, amazingly, it was applauded by people across the spectrum, and from all sides of the political debate, across the world. I assure her that the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and I are focused on the stand-alone goal for gender in the post-2015 agenda.

I was talking about legislative changes that come from having women in elected positions. In India, for example, greater representation of women in local government, which is an important level of government, resulted in greater budget allocations for women and children’s services. I have always said to women colleagues that we need to get into decision-making positions on budgets, because budgets ultimately make the difference.

If we want to get more women elected, we have to get more women involved and active in political processes. We also need to get more women voting. In the run-up to the 2013 election in Pakistan, it was discovered that 8 million women were missing from the voter roll. Thanks to support from the UK and other donors, the register was updated and millions of women were able to vote for the first time. Women candidates also need support. The UK provides considerable support to elections across the world, and we have supported 11 freer and fairer elections since 2010. That includes helping election organisers to meet the needs of women candidates and voters.

Changes to national constitutions and legislation can also be powerful tools to signal change. The hon. Lady mentioned Kenya, which adopted a new constitution in 2010 that guarantees gender equality and the use of affirmative action. I have met women parliamentarians, and in Kenya I met equally powerful women parliamentarians. I very much hope that Kenya does not change its decision. I am wildly off message in my party on quotas, of which I have always been a great supporter.

Catherine McKinnell: I welcome the Minister’s supportive response, but it is somewhat embarrassing for the UK to be pronouncing on these issues when we have a very poor record on female representation. I hope we can seek to make advances both across the world and here in the UK, too.

Lynne Featherstone: Winning seats is the issue for my part of the coalition, because if we do not win seats, we cannot get women or men into them. I totally agree, however, and I think we are working in that direction. The hon. Lady’s party, with its all-women shortlists, and my coalition partners with their A list or B list—I am not sure which—have made advances, and the face of Parliament has definitely changed. We would like further changes, but our issues are different from the issues facing the other two parties. We are moving in that direction. I will address corruption in a minute, but having a balanced gender mix is good, whether it is in the boardroom or on the Floor of Parliament. Wherever it is, groupthink is dangerous when making decisions. I might say the same if it was all women.

At the heart of what DFID does is unlocking the potential of girls and women by empowering them to have a voice in decision making, so we support women

25 Jun 2014 : Column 127WH

parliamentarians in many countries. Our work with MPs in Ethiopia helped to improve the gender balance and oversight functions of many Standing Committees. We promised £4.5 million to help to train female politicians in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, the Aawaz—which, as I am sure the hon. Lady knows, means “voice”—programme, funded by DFID, aims to increase women’s representation and voice in political organisations by 20% at local and 10% at national level.

It is interesting that it is a mix of everything, because women’s representation is incredibly important but it is not the only answer. That the pace of advance in all ways and at all levels and at every stratum of our society and the developing world is so slow is one of the most frustrating things. I am the international violence against women champion and I have been to Africa, where one sees appalling levels of violence against women, but there is a continuum across the world. In the UK, two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner and one in four women experience domestic violence their lifetime. The other end of the spectrum is rape as a weapon of war and levels of brutality dictated by social norms, because women are suppressed and oppressed and have how they should live their lives dictated to them. They are not given voice, choice or control over their own existence.

We support women’s involvement in all areas of public life by building leadership skills. Girl Hub, our collaboration with the Nike Foundation, for example, uses the power of brands and media to drive change in attitudes towards girls and build their self-esteem.

I turn to corruption, because that was the other thrust of the hon. Lady’s speech. I have always thought that development has three enemies: conflict, corruption and climate change—the three C’s. The hon. Lady is right that corruption robs many of the wealth that lies beneath Africa. The UK Government’s stance on corruption is clear. Corruption corrodes the fabric of society and public institutions. It is often at the root of conflict and instability. It diverts and wastes precious resources. There is clear evidence that poor people—it is always poor people—feel the effects more harshly than the better-off. The uncertainties of bribery stifle business development and inward investment. Corruption is therefore bad for development, bad for poor people and bad for business.

The evidence is less clear when it comes to whether having more women in politics is the answer, because, as shown in the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption report, progress is conditional on other things, such as the rule of law, institutions, the application of law and so on. The correlation is difficult,

25 Jun 2014 : Column 128WH

but it is a work in progress. Sadly, I believe that I have met corrupt politicians of both genders—I would love to think that women were completely innocent. Nevertheless, the more women that help in decision making, the more likely we are to move forward. Findings such as those in the GOPAC report support our approach, which I have described. We work with countries to strengthen their institutions of government and their enforcement of anti-corruption law.

On DFID’s overall approach, we have published specific plans for each country with whom we have a bilateral programme, explaining how we will help to tackle corruption and to insure against the misuse of aid funds, because I have to stand at the Dispatch Box and answer to the British taxpayer for every penny spent. When addressing fraud and corruption, we must be able to follow the money and to defend how it is used. To tackle corruption, we need to address the three conditions that allow it to thrive: opportunities for corruption, incentives for corruption and reduced chances of being caught.

We aim to prevent corruption by strengthening the integrity and accountability of public services, particularly the management of the civil service, of public finances and of public procurement. We aim also to ensure the efficient functioning of oversight mechanisms, such as auditors general and parliamentary public accounts committees. We focus on helping partner countries ensure both an impartial, effective and reliable judiciary and a properly regulated private or corporate sector. Supporting civil society to use transparency and information to demand accountability of Governments is also important and is a key component of the UK Government’s transparency and accountability initiatives.

The UK Government are deeply committed to improving the lives of women and girls around the world, empowering them to have a voice and to participate in politics and decision making. Getting more women involved in politics and elected to Parliaments will be an important part of this work. I thank all hon. Members for their interest in the matter and the hon. Lady for raising such an important issue.

Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair): I thank hon. Members for that important debate.

We were about to go on to an important debate about Anglo-Libyan relations, but the lead Member is unfortunately not very well.

Question put and agreed to.

4.45 pm

Sitting adjourned.