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Lord Rooker: My Lords, I respect what the right reverend Prelate has said on his own behalf and on behalf of his colleague. He is quite right about the pressure on young people these days. Unfortunately, some of their elders believe that the villages that they left 30 years ago are still the same, whereas young people today know that they are not. Within the families and the communities there are massive internal pressures as people come to terms with the situation. They want to maintain their culture and their heritage. They do not like being lumped together by their ethnic origins. There may also be a religious factor. Some of them say, "I was born here; call me British". It is a complex problem. We shall seek to do our best to involve young people in some of the programmes. However, positive local leadership is required and not the empty barrels of the sometimes self-appointed leaders in the various communities who, in the past, have spoken up loudly but have not actually spoken for anybody other than themselves.
Lord Greaves: My Lords, perhaps I can remind the House of a question that I asked 12 days ago on preventing these riots spreading to other towns. At the
Do the Government understand that it is not only necessary to talk to all the usual organisations, all the community leaders--usually middle-aged men--and all the local agencies, but that they must also talk to the young Asian people concerned, who, utterly misguidedly, go on to the streets to "defend their areas and to defend their families"? All that they are doing, in fact, is wrecking their communities and fighting the police. Those young people must be involved in the discussions locally to find solutions, not just in the long run--I welcome everything in the Statement about that--but also in relation to what will happen next week or the week after if a gang of white thugs, whether or not linked to the BNP or the National Front or just tanked up out of the pub, come out on to the street and start a riot.
My experience of talking to such young people is that there is a great deal of unfocused anger among young Asian men, many still teenagers, and that they are unable to focus that anger in a positive direction. However, unless it can be appeased and they can take part in the plans and agreements reached about what will happen if the spark ignites in their community we shall have more such occurrences.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, we shall seek to involve representatives of the younger community so that other than middle-aged men are involved. As was touched on in the Statement, we have set up a group to examine "best practice" in other cities where there has not been a problem. We want to see how they are coping so that we can learn what they have done that is different from the cities in which there have been difficulties in the past few days and weeks. This is not a widespread, national issue. Some areas with large ethnic minority groups have good community relations and there is no rioting. There is participation and community relations are good. We want to examine those good points and discover why the situation is different in some of the other cities. We need to learn that lesson fast in the next few days and weeks; it is not an issue for next month or next year.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I welcome the Statement, in particular the intention to set up an interdepartmental ministerial group. I appreciate that my noble friend is not responsible for education but perhaps for the sake of clarity I may ask him to feed in one proposition. Will the group examine the structure of education in those towns which have had difficulties, not only Bradford, in order to see whether we are failing by having educational segregation--in other words, racial segregation--insofar as some schools are mainly white and others are mainly Asian? One has only to think about Northern Ireland to see what the consequences may be if that is the case. This may be one element in the difficulties we have experienced.
That leaves a responsibility on the Government, on local education authorities and, as regards Church schools, on the Churches. I hope that the ministerial team will examine the issue as part of their scrutiny.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the best thing I can do is to ensure that my noble friend's question and comments are drawn to the attention of my ministerial colleagues. However, as the Home Secretary made clear, we are not going down the road of bussing. Wherever that has been tried it has not worked. There is a problem as regards catchment areas. If in these cities there is a false market in housing, by definition the catchment of local schools will result in segregation. There is a difficulty and there is no easy answer. Nevertheless, what my noble friend said will be taken on board.
Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, the Minister made the grave statement that the dangerous weapons used by the rioters were obviously prepared for the occasion. Is there to be an investigation as to how they were manufactured; how their manufacture was financed; how they were procured; how their procurement was financed; and where they were stored?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, that is what policing is about. In inquiring into what happened, the police will look at the causes of the incident and how it began and at the weapons and how they were put together. Molotov cocktails were used, so clearly the bottles and the fuel were obtained and the weapons prepared. There will not be a special inquiry but the police will carry out their normal duty of discovering the cause and that will cover the very points the noble and learned Lord raised.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, picking up on the high rate of unemployment among the young in Bradford, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, and following on the anxieties of the right reverend Prelate about the reluctance of business to invest in such a city, will the Government consider following the excellent example of my former right honourable friend Michael Heseltine after the Toxteth riots some 20 years ago? He personally made an enormous effort to interest investors, industrialists and others in investing in the city of which Toxteth is part and did so with considerable impact.
I followed Michael Heseltine in the job he had occupied and found myself opening facility after facility. Those had been directly inspired by the positive action by the then government to encourage businesses to recognise that they had a responsibility for some of the very deprived areas. Is that an example that might be followed?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I recall that the White Paper prepared by the then Secretary of State was entitled It Took a Riot. He had a different approach which the previous government and the present Government continued. Solving the problem is not a
The noble Lord is right in saying that there is a case to be made but, as he well knows, the task of government in approaching business is not made easier after the event. It must be done before. However, the lessons will be taken on board. I visited the area many times in my former role as shadow Minister and saw what had been achieved following the visit, initiative and commitment of the former Secretary of State.
Lord Ahmed: My Lords, does the Minister agree that more than 95 per cent of the Asian communities in Bradford, Oldham and elsewhere have been horrified to see the events of the past few weeks? Does he also agree that there have been low educational achievements in Bradford because, for instance, less than 19 per cent of young Asian men achieve five grade A to C passes at GCSE level? Therefore, is it not necessary to examine the educational achievements of the Asian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children particularly in Bradford, Oldham and northern towns where problems have occurred? In the long term, the job opportunities and the training which follows must be preceded by a proper education at school.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, in agreeing with my noble friend all I can do is repeat the words of the Prime Minister: it is a matter of education, education, education. Clearly, given the low level of attainment by so many young people there has been an abject failure in the recent past. Without qualifications there will not be any progress. My noble friend is absolutely right that this point must be taken on board in the work that is to be taken forward.
Lord Monson: My Lords, perhaps I may commend to the Minister and the House as a whole, if he or other noble Lords have not already read it, today's in-depth and extremely informative report in the Yorkshire Post about the background to the riots. First, does the Minister agree that if the outdoor temperature in Bradford last weekend had been 20 degrees cooler than it was the disturbances would have been on a much smaller scale? Historically, rioting tends to take place when the nights are hot. Secondly, does the noble Lord agree that there are few things that young males of all backgrounds, and in all eras, enjoy more than the sound of breaking glass and the sight of leaping flames? Certainly, in the part of the East Midlands where I live, one of the favourite pastimes of
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