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Mr. Speaker: Before the Home Secretary replies, I remind the House that there is another statement. I wish to call all hon. Members who are standing, but I will need the co-operation of the House to do so. I therefore require shorter questions and, of course, shorter answers.
After all the years in which the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) and I were in local government and disagreed, it is nice for us to agree on something. It is also appropriate that we should do so today. I agree with his remarks on dispersal. Additionally, throughout the summer, we should and we will provide activities in colleges, theatres and leisure centres. Moreover, this year, the outward bound programme for 15 and 16-year-olds will be backed by £10 million. I am proud of that because I was the one who initiated it.
Mrs. Ann Cryer (Keighley): I endorse the comments of my right hon. Friend and of my two Bradford colleagues. However, I feel that we should perhaps be digging a little deeper and looking a little further, beyond the actions on Saturday of a minority of Bradfordians. The reason why young Asian men were on the streets of Bradford last Saturday could just be that they feel disaffected. They cannot appreciate why the good jobs, the expensive cars and the nice homes should all go to the whites. Perhaps we, too, should be asking why.
May I suggest that the remedies will not be found in new and better community centres? The remedies that I am going to suggestlike my comments two years ago on forced marriageswill 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.
Mr. Blunkett: My hon. Friend's reference to Canada must have been in connection with the Canadians' induction programme, which involves the acquisition of language and culture. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Asylum and Immigration, the Under-Secretary who has responsibility for immigration and nationality, my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Angela Eagle), and
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): The Home Secretary mentioned the Oldham and Burnley events that occurred before Bradford. To what extent has he explored the possibility that these are not simply copycat events, but co-ordinated events which form part of a conspiracy? Has he considered the use of the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the activities of far-right and far-left groups who may be deliberately stirring up trouble in those three towns and others in the north in the weeks to come?
Mr. Blunkett: My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) asked about NCIS and the use of the available intelligence in looking at the issues. I gave a comprehensive reply, but I repeat that we must act as sensitively and sensibly as we can. There is no evidence of conspiracy in relation to Saturday night's events and provocation, but there was enormous communication via mobile phones and other equipment to co-ordinate the action against the police.
Mrs. Lorna Fitzsimons (Rochdale): Does my right hon. Friend accept that my constituents in Rochdale are vigilant because we are aware that what happened in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley could happen to us? Does he agree that we all have an individual responsibility to do all we can to ensure that violence such as that which we saw on Saturday does not continue and get a foothold in our community? However, does he agree that we cannot criminalise all young people, whether white or Asian? We must do all we can to empower them within their communities and make sure that they are involved in formal decision making to give them some ownership in the future.
Mr. Blunkett: None of us would seek to criminalise young people; we want to engage with them positively. However, there must be messages from the family and the cultural communities. I am aware of the divide between elders and young people in some of the communities. The message in the peer group has to be clear; bringing about greater engagement and reducing alienation will not come from destroying the livelihoods of others on the streets.
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood): May I commend the wise warning of the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Singh) and suggest that what he has said ought to be heeded by many hon. Members who represent big-city constituencies? I also applaud the early formation of the inter-departmental ministerial group by the Government and suggest that its work ought to be reinforced by Members of Parliament. Could we not have an ad hoc Select Committee on race relations and immigration that sits specifically to investigate the question of racial tension in our big cities and reports in advance of the formation of other departmental Select Committees? This is a matter of the gravest importance that concerns constituents in many cities and the country as a whole.
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax): I support what my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends the Members for Bradford, West (Mr. Singh) and for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) have said, and join them in condemning the mindless violence in Bradford. We must make it clear that this is not a game and that if it does not stop, someone will be killed. On a more positive note, will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating my local newspaper editor and his staff, Mr. Chaudhury Husseinthe chairman of the Calderdale youth forumlocal authority officers and others who last night met hundreds of young Asians who, in a good-humoured and constructive meeting, pledged their commitment to work for a continued peaceful co-existence not just in Bradford but in Halifax? That is the way forward for all our communities; not petrol bombs, violence or the hatred and racism preached by the British National party.
Mr. Blunkett: I happen to know that my hon. Friend has herself played a significant role and was one of the first to make contact to warn of the dangers ahead, and I commend her for it. I also commend wholeheartedly the initiative taken at local level in Halifax, and the role that the local news media can play and have played in this instance. There is a crucial role for local newspapers and radio, and for regional television, in ensuring that we get this right. Reporters must ask sensible questions, not stirring up hatred and division but fostering and spreading excellent initiatives such as the one to which she referred.
Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the activities of the National Front and the far right sparked some of the trouble that took place at the weekend, and that, although we would all condemn the violence, in some East Lancashire and West Yorkshire towns pockets of alienation are growing, despite all the wealth being generated in this country, and some youths are being tempted into joining drugs gangs, which were obviously active at the weekend? Does he agree that
Mr. Blunkett: Regeneration, employment and positive hope for the future, so that people have an expectation that tomorrow will be better than today, are crucial, but there is no magic wand to be waved in relation to what is happening with drugs and the pressure on young people. It will take a great effort and great wisdom to be able to pull together the resources and the commitment necessary to overcome that scourge around us.
Mr. David Lammy (Tottenham): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. Many younger people in this country, including myself, who woke up after similar problems in the 1980s in places such as Brixton and Tottenham will be saddened because we know that the stigma lasts a long time and that it can never be right for people to destroy their own homes and those of their neighbours. Will he take note of the examples of success in some of our multi-ethnic communities, such as the Broadwater Farm estate in my constituency? I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) would want me to talk about success in Brixton in her constituency, too. There are examples of people working successfully together and turning things around. We need to create a bank of best practice in multi-ethnic constituencies.