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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley
Home secretary David Blunkett, responding to questions from MPs, condemned extremists of both right and left, and from all communities. And he said he and the minister for asylum and immigration, Angela Eagle, wanted ideas on how to induct people into British citizenship.
Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley, said perhaps the reason young Asian men were involved in the Bradford riots could be that they felt disaffected, and could not appreciate why the good jobs, the expensive cars and the nice homes all go to the whites. MPs should be asking that, too.
She added: 'May I suggest that the remedies will not be found in new and better community centres? The remedies that I am going to suggest - like my comments two years ago on forced marriages - will not go down well with the Asian leadership in Bradford or Keighley. However, I feel compelled to make them because of the severity of the situation'.
She advocated adoption of the Canadian immigration induction programme, which involves the acquisition of language and culture.
Mr Blunkett said he and his colleagues 'will want to take ideas on how we can make being a British citizen and British national something to be proud of and ensure that induction into our community involves positive measures rather than simply the right to remain'.
Terry Rooney, Labour MP for Bradford North, said the common thread between the disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley was the presence on the streets of far-right groups which existed purely to forment racial hatred. He asked that the National Criminal Intelligence Service to track and control the movements of 'those fascist thugs'.
He believed parliament might soon seriously consider proscribing organisations such as the National Front and the British National Party.
The home secretary agreed the security services to consider all those who threatened democracy. He was unequivocal in his condemnation of violence, but cautioned those who sought to combat facism to behalf carefully and to allow the police to deal with public order and not take it into their own hands.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Simon Hughes said Bradford City Council had already commissioned research reports - including one from Lord Ouseley, former chair of the CRE. It must receive the support that it needs and for which it has asked in dealing with problems of which it was aware and seeking to address.
Mr Blunkett said he would take on board Lord Ousely's report, which says Bradford's main problem is that it is divided educationally, socially and in housing along ethnic and religious lines. The home secretary said bussing children round cities to ensure multi-ethnic schooling was easier said than done. In the past, it had been tried in Bradford.
Marsha Singh, Labour MP for Bradford West, asked the home secretary to consider giving areas such as Bradford, in addition to the police complement, beat bobbies dedicated to troubled areas.
Mr Blunkett said that was an admirable suggestion. He added: 'It also seems that a wider community safety and disorder partnership is required so that we can work with local people to identify those responsible, giving them courage and protection that they need if they witness people destroying their neighbourhood and area'.
Eric Pickles, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, and former Tory leader of Bradford City Council, commended Mr Blunkett's 'robust attitude to the extremists on both right and left who lit the fires and have gone away'.
He added: 'I see one danger, however. Some newspapers have mentioned the suggestion that one solution would be to disperse people of Asian descent around the city. I am with the home secretary on this matter.
'I think that the idea of bussing or housing dispersal is anathema and plays right into the hands of racists'.
He suggested that schools and further education colleges should be opened up during the summer. Mr Pickles also supported Mr Singh's suggestion for an accelerated programme to recruit black and Asian British to West Yorkshire Police.
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, said there were places which suffered similar disturbances in the 1980s. There were examples of people working successfully together and turning things round - such as on Broadwater Farm and in Brixton. A bank of best practice in multi-ethnic communities needed to be created.
Hansard 10 July: Column 663-675
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