NB. THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND
NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT; BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING
AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES, OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS,
THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY
ON THE RECORD
RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE DATE:
JOHN HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon. We
are about to get new laws to crack down on terrorism. Do they go too far
and erode our civil liberties? I'll be talking to the Shadow Home Secretary
and the Home Office Minister in the Lords. Another law will give us more
"faith" schools. Will they damage race relations in this country? And the
Euro: are we hurtling towards a referendum? That's after the news read
by George Alagiah.
HUMPHRYS: Every child in this school
is a Muslim - and there will soon be more schools like it. We'll be reporting
on the fears of those who say that's bad for race relations.
ASHOK KUMAR: "If we push too far too
fast down this road there are danger signs in this."
HUMPHRYS: And the Euro , it's about
to hit the Continent... will WE be voting on it sooner than we think?
CHARLES KENNEDY: "Frankly if not all roads
leading to Rome, I think all indicators point towards some time in the
middle of 2003."
JOHN HUMPHRYS: But first the government
is in some trouble with its new legislation to counter terrorism. The problem
is that so many people (especially in the House of Lords) think the new
legislation goes too far - that it's a ragbag of proposals that go well
beyond the declared objective of stopping the terrorists. That's why the
Lords voted to change so many of its clauses this past week. They're threatening
to do it again this coming week. The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has
made a couple of concessions, but not enough to satisfy his opponents.
One of whom, is the Shadow Home Secretary, Oliver Letwin, and he's in our
Cambridge studio. The Home Office Minister, Lord Rooker, is with me here
in the studio.
Let me turn to you first
though, Mr Letwin, if I may. David Blunkett, he's written a piece in one
of the papers this morning, says that you are actually putting the country
in danger by sabotaging this Bill?
Can you hear me Mr Letwin?
- oh, I don't think he can. I think we have a bit of a problem in that
case, we'll try and get back to him if he can hear me - no he obviously
So, let me put that to
you, Lord Rooker, it's an extraordinary serious accusation to make this
- "you are putting the country in danger" because in effect you are doing
your job, which is to scrutinise a Bill.
LORD ROOKER: I've got no problems about
scrutinising and revising legislation. The fact of the matter is though,
last week's series of defeats went to the heart of trying to wreck the
legislation. I mean, I'll give you one example, there's an attempt in
the Bill to give the police some powers in advance of a criminal proceedings,
to make enquiries of public authorities. To decide if you like, whether
or not, to investigate fully, it may or may not come to a prosecution.
So, it's an extension of police powers, not even a new police power. That
was taken out. There are one or two other areas of the Bill, where they
have just taken them out in a very crude fashion and I think what we will
try to do, we'll make the case in the Commons, we'll certainly make the
case in the House of Lords this week. I'm fairly convinced myself, we
can get royal assent before the end of the week. We have given some fairly
substantial concessions by the way, contrary to your introduction with
solid sunset clause on the detention powers after five years.
HUMPHRYS: Sunset meaning that it
will get through even after a certain period of time..
ROOKER: ..well it means the legislation
finishes, it can't be renewed by a minister or secondary legislation.
It has to be started all over again.
HUMPHRYS: Alright, but let me come
back to that. But the principle point that I'm making here is that the
Lords have a responsibility, a duty, you are one of them yourself obviously,
to look at legislation that they don't like, for whatever reason, rightly
or wrongly and say we don't like this, we want to see it changed. Now,
to say that because they are doing their job, they are putting the country
in danger, is surely so far over the top, he almost needs to apologise
ROOKER: No, it went well beyond
revising, to remove some of the powers that we are trying to give to the
police as to the way they can carry on investigations in advance of a criminal
proceedings. This is the issue about terrorist activities, redefining in
the law and I know it's difficult for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. The
most innocuous, narrow, minor crimes, a traffic offence, could actually
lead to the discovery of a terrorist offence. Now, we can't separate out
some terrorist activities from the major terrorists offences, it's extremely
difficult and I think we have to allow the police, whether it's the MoD
police, the British Transport Police, or the ordinary Home Office police,
to have the powers, as it were, to look in the round, to try to put the
jigsaw together, to make the big picture. That's what we are seeking to
do. But to...
HUMPHRYS: ....in such a hurry,
they had three days to discuss it in the Commons, three hours in the Lords....next
week they'll have in the Commons to discuss when it comes back from the
Lords. I mean this is...
ROOKER: ..no, the Lords will have
had eight days. I agree - that's longer than the Commons and the real
HUMPHRYS: Three days in the Commons?
- I mean..
ROOKER: It's had three days in
the Commons, I accept that, that is short...
HUMPHRYS: And this is profoundly
ROOKER: ..the Lords have had eight
days on the Bill, the real problem for the Lords is that there's no gap
between the stages and we want to meet that and address that and we've
offered to consider some kind of arrangement for a review of the Act of
Parliament, after say fifteen months or a couple of years, by a group of
people to report back to the Commons and the Lords...
HUMPHRYS: But these are privy councillors
in effect, aren't they?
ROOKER: Well it would be because
they could have total access to all the security information. It can't
be done in any other way...
HUMPHRYS: Well, it's not the same
as the House of Commons. I mean what you are doing, is you are saying
to the House of Commons, in effect take this on trust, we want you to do
all these things, including things like - also on incitement on..to religious
hatred, which a lot of people think shouldn't be in here anyway and if
it is going to be there, deserves a huge amount of discussion on itself.
But you are saying, let's rush it through and then, in a year or two years,
or whatever it may be, a small group of people will be able to have another
look at it and make recommendations. It's hardly reassuring it is.
ROOKER: It is in the sense that
the actual detention rules in the Bill will be reviewed in a statutory
basis by the person who reviews the Terrorism Act. There's a laid down
legal process for reviewing that part of the Bill and insofar as other
possibilities, let's be sensible about this, there's a lot of issues in
this Bill which are really moderate precautions, things like having the..the
police having the names and details of people who work with dangerous pathogens
HUMPHRYS: And a lot of people think
that's terribly sensible and a lot of people think there is a great deal
in this Bill that ought to be passed and passed quickly but....
ROOKER: They are precautionary,
sensible, moderate issues. It's true the Bill is long and it looks complicated
but the central issue is very simple. We are taking the most reasonable
precautions we can to protect ourselves from international terrorists who
re-wrote the rule book on September 11th ...
ROOKER: We are re-writing our rule
book and we need to do it as quickly as possible, let's face it it took
us eleven weeks to get the legislation, we didn't bring this in the week
after September 11th. We have actually thought about it. Every stage that
the Bill has gone through Parliament, it's been changed. It was changed
in the Commons, it was changed on the Lords Committee, it's been changed
in the Lords Report, it will change on Lords' Third Reading. It will change
again as it goes through this week. So, we are not setting our face against
HUMPHRYS: But let's look, if the
Bill is so important and if there is a need for urgency, as you convincingly
say, because of some terrible things happened on September 11th, we don't
want that to happen again. Of course, everybody would agree with that.
In that case, why did you make the Bill so comprehensive, why did you bring
in things that do not have to do with terrorism? Such as incitement to
racial hatred for instance and all sorts of other things that you must
have known would upset a great many people.
ROOKER: Ah, but there isn't, no
you may say that, there's two clauses on bribery and corruption, international..
which was nothing to do with terrorism. It may be the funding if you've
got overseas companies doing back handers. Nevertheless, there was a consensus
amongst the parties that that would be in the Bill anyway. On the incitement
to racial hatred, let's get this clear, the race relations legislation
covers two religions...
HUMPHRYS: ..religious hatred..
ROOKER: But the Race Relations
has the effect of covering two religions, the Sikhs and the Jews. Others
do feel let out on that, the Blasphemy Law, just covers the Church of England,
not even Roman Catholics. People were being attacked after September 11th,
because they wore a turban or a beard. There were physical attacks on people,
now if we can take action to prevent that, to say we are serious about
this, that people are not going to be discriminated against in this country
because of their religion or their race, then this Bill was a suitable
vehicle for that. Now, that's not to say it's intrinsically attached to
terrorism but this was something in terms of social cohesion in this country,
we took the view. Like, for example, other issues, whether it be data retention
which is not so intrusive, taping people's phone conversations...
HUMPHRYS: And which Elizabeth France,
the Data Protection person doesn't like.
ROOKER: Yeah, but the voluntary
code of practice won't occur unless the Information Commissioner agrees
or industry, because we want to do it voluntary...
HUMPHRYS: But it may not end up
ROOKER: We've had good voluntary
co-operation since September 11th, we're not looking for people's phone
conversations, we'll look for the details on the bill for the phone if
you like, the date, the time the call took place and the two phone numbers
that were inter-changing. That's what basically we're asking people to
retain. We are not asking for new information by telephone providers, it's
what they already use and retain at the moment. Voluntary as a first priority,
agreed with the industry, and Elizabeth France the Data Commissioner, because
if they don't agree it won't be a voluntary code in the first place.
HUMPHRYS: Alright, let me come
back to you in a moment. Because I'm told we can, Oliver Letwin can now
hear us, can you Mr Letwin.
OLIVER LETWIN: Indeed, yes.
HUMPHRYS: Oh good I'm sorry about
that problem there, that's one of those things that happen. Now look, you'll
have read what David Blunkett says about you this morning, you may have
heard what Lord Rooker said to me when I put it to him, he said Mr Blunkett
that you are putting the country in danger by sabotaging this Bill - a
very serious allegation against you.
OLIVER LETWIN: I must say I regret the
fact that the government's going over the top on this. We join the government
and I think all parties and certainly all peers in trying to have, wanting
to have a Bill about terrorism, genuinely about terrorism on the statute
book by Christmas. That is common ground, it's been common ground all
the way through. What we're arguing about and I think inevitably we will
have to argue about are the bits of the Bill which don't really have anything
to do with terrorism. Now, on some of those I think the government's doing
the right thing. Jeff Rooker is quite right, they appear to have made
a major step forward towards a consensus by offering effectively to remove
the parts that deal what would otherwise have been the imposition of things
like European arrest warrants in ninety minutes in a committee upstairs
in the House of Commons. Quite intolerable, nothing to do with terrorism.
I think they've moved to get rid of those. If they have that's very welcome,
we'll work with them. But there remains some elements here where there
are genuine doubts. Now, I don't know how far the Government's amendment
on the incitement to religious hatred which you were talking about just
now will turn out to solve the problem. It may, and if it will then we'll
certainly go along with it. We've no wish to seek confrontation where
we don't need it. We'll look at that obviously in the Lords and in the
Commons in the next few days. I hope we can reach consensus on that too.
I'm delighted that the Government is moving on the question of sunset
clauses. We all want to see this very rushed legislation be subject to
....(INTERRUPTION) .. that has to be renewed.
HUMPHRYS: Are you satisfied with
this idea that a group of councillors, six or seven privy councillors will
sit down and have a look at it. Are you satisfied with that?
LETWIN: Well, I don't know because
we don't know the details yet. The reason we have a parliament is of course
that we can tease out all these details rather than having to do it you
know, in fifteen minutes on Friday night when the Home Secretary has a
press conference. But we will tease out the details, and it may well be
that that will do the trick or very nearly. Now we come to the things
which the Lords changed in the last couple of days, and as I say I regret
the tone of voice, I think the slightly bullying tone of voice that the
Government's chosen to adopt. I hope it will go back to talking reasonably
as Jeff was just now. We can talk about these things. The argument the
Home Secretary is making is an interesting one. He's saying that in order
to catch terrorists which we all want to do, he has to allow I think it's
eighty-one government agencies and quangos, everything from the BBC to
the NHS to reveal all of a person's records, if they are being investigated
for example for a traffic offence in the United States. Now I find that
a difficult chain of logic to follow.
HUMPHRYS: But aren't you being
a bit na�ve here, and I think this is the point that Lord Rooker was making,
assuming that there is this kind of neat division between somebody who's
a terrorist and somebody who's a criminal. And if you have to have the
powers to investigate terrorism properly you might need to use it as a
kind of criminal - take it to investigate criminals and therefore pick
up the terrorist on route, because terrorists and criminals are often the
same people, and they're doing the same kinds of things.
LETWIN: I absolutely agree with
that. A point we've been making for some months now is that for example
serious corroborated crime and terrorism converge to a great degree, and
of course it's right that when the police or the security forces are investigating
someone for terrorist links they ought to have the ability to dig under
and find things which those same people may have been doing by way of Social
Security fraud or any number of other things as a way in. And for example
Al Capone, very famously the terrible Chicago gangster was eventually got
over a tax evasion charge. Much to the benefit to the people of Chicago.
Now if what the Government was proposing was that when the police were
investigating someone for alleged terrorist offences, or terrorist related
offence they could go into all their records even if it was about quite
other offences that they were looking at we'd have no hang up at all.
The problem is here we're talking about a power which is as it's currently
phrased as we understand it, and it's open to ministers to persuade everybody
including the Law Lords incidentally who object to this, that we'd misconstrued
the phrase, but as we currently understand it what's proposed is if somebody
has nothing to do with terrorism and the police don't think they've got
anything to do with terrorism, but the police think that they may have
committed a traffic offence anywhere in the world for example, any offence
anywhere in the world is the way it's classed, then they can go and get
all their records from every agency and every quango. Now, I don't yet
understand how that is necessary for the purpose of pursuing terrorism,
I do understand that it poses some quite significant issues about civil
liberties. It's an arguable case, but it's one that ought to come through
Parliament in a mature fashion, not be ran through it.
HUMPHRYS: Given that it's an arguable
case are you prepared to see it killed off before Christmas if necessary
to protect the civil liberties which you describe. Are you prepared to
see it killed off?
LETWIN: No, I don't think any of
us want to see this Bill killed off. We want to see this Bill ....
HUMPHRYS: You might not want to,
but are prepared to do it?
LETWIN: Well, I prefer not to be
so to speak put over a barrel on that. I am seeking to get a consensus
with the Government.
HUMPHYRS: But if it doesn't get
through - sorry to press the particular point - if it doesn't get through
before Christmas as a result of what is done in the Lords, you will say
LETWIN: Well, I understand where
you're trying to push me so to speak, and then we get to an escalation
of this argument, and I don't want to escalate it, I want to calm it down.
I actually want to arrive at a consensus, I think the Government wants
to arrive at a consensus. At the moment I'm refusing to contemplate the
idea what we won't arrive at a consensus by Christmas. I think we should,
we can, the Government's on the move. If it would just calm down the language,
stop seeking confrontation we can work something out.
HUMPHRYS: Alright, let me.....
LETWIN: We just have to work having
this Bill on the Statute Book, and we need it.
HUMPHRYS: Thank you. Let me just
put that point quickly to Jeff Rooker because I want to turn to another
issue as well before we close this discussion. Lord Rooker, he doesn't
like the language, a lot of people might say the language is offensive.
Would you like to calm this whole thing down and are you prepared to make
more concessions that might enable this to get through before Christmas?
LORD ROOKER: Well if it's a general acceptance,
none of the powers in this Bill will allow generalised fishing expeditions
into people's private lives. Let's get that absolutely clear.
HUMPHRYS: ...no but in very broad
ROOKER: ...no, no...
HUMPHRYS: ...without going into
ROOKER: ...no, no it isn't...
HUMPHRYS: ...are you prepared to
make further concessions...
ROOKER: ...it isn't a detail. The
extravagant language that we are tearing up the rule of law, that we're
going to have mass surveillance on millions of people is totally extravagant
language as compared to the actual words on the face of the Bill. We want
to get consensus, we were promised shoulder to shoulder support of course
by Iain Duncan Smith. Now no-one's asking him to sign up to all the jot
and every dot and comma of the detail, but the general view was we would
get support and yet we did have wrecking amendments passed in the Lords
on Thursday. We've made amendments to the Bill and there will be other
amendments that we will seek to make. We are trying to build as wide as
support as we can and we will do this whether it's on the religious incitement
or whether it's even on issues like judicial review. So we do want to work
in co-operation but we must have the royal assent for this Bill before
the end of this week.
HUMPHRYS: Okay, let me...
ROOKER: ...that's absolutely clear.
HUMPHRYS: Right. Thanks. Let's
turn to this other point now, we have reports coming out this week in the
next few days on the rioting in Bradford and Burnley and Oldham during
the Summer, racial problems, severe racial problems in some cases. They
are apparently going to address the issue that ethnic minorities in Britain
need to develop a British identity. This is one of the thinks that David
Blunkett has been saying. Should they, do you think, should ethnic minorities
in this country, make a greater effort to integrate into British society,
in the government's view?
ROOKER: Well integrate, but not
assimilate and I think the report...
HUMPHRYS: ...yes I used the word
ROOKER: ...yes I know you did and
I appreciate that, but the reports are much more detailed than that. Of
course there are a lot of cities in this country where there are large
numbers of ethnic minorities where there wasn't any trouble and it is important
to look at what happens in those cities as opposed to the ones where the
difficulties were and I think some of the issues raised, it's not been
politically correct to talk about this in the past and I think we should
talk about some of these issues in order to help solve them, not to bury
them. And I think that's what the Home Secretary in the report that'll
be published this week seeks to do. No-one's under attack, far from it,
we've got to live together on this island as well as live together on the
planet and that's what we're seeking to do, while protecting everyone's
heritage and culture for people to pass their heritage and culture onto
their children, but to maintain activity and participation in society and
you can't do that if you close yourself off.
HUMPHRYS: Thanks very much for
that. Oliver Letwin, is multi-culturalism as we understand it, as we've
come to understand it, effectively dead, should it be?
OLIVER LETWIN MP: Well, if that means the idea
that we don't have any common allegiances then I hope it is dead. If it
means that people should be allowed to live their own way of life in a
tolerant, free, open society, then of course it's, I hope, alive and kicking.
And actually this is a point about which we agree with the government.
It's actually the second time that David Blunkett has announced that he's
going to aim at trying to provide an effort to make everyone feel citizens
of this country and share for example, a root point common language and
I hope he is going to come forward with a proposal to do that, obviously
we'll need to look at the details, but I think in principle it's absolutely
right that whilst we want everybody to live their own lives and choose
their own way of life, we also need to have a common sense that we are
part of one society of one country, we need to be able to speak to one
another, we need to be able to ensure that our democracy flourishes and
if the Home Secretary is aiming towards those things then he'll have our
full support in doing so.
HUMPHRYS: Lord Rooker used the
expression, politically correct. Have we been too politically correct do
you think over recent years? Perhaps because we've been too nervous of
offending some minorities?
LETWIN: Well, I think, these are
very delicate issues and it's easy for people who are trying to do good
things to sound as if they're being intolerant and I hope we've got to
the stage now where we have a mature enough democracy so that people on
all sides of the political divides can agree that there is an ability to
separate the question of whether you can live your own life from the question
of whether we all ought to share some things and if we can separate those
things that's a mature debate.
HUMPHRYS: And in that context,
should people who seek British citizenship, identify themselves first and
foremost as British as opposed to Indian or...
LETWIN: ...yes, exactly. No, I
think you're putting it just the right way. People must identify themselves
in many different ways, we all do and it's right that we should have that
diversity, but we must also all feel that first and foremost as you say
we're British. This is something I think has been understood in places
like America and Australia where there's been a long tradition of immigration
on a wide scale for a very long time and we need to create the sense that
people of every kind, every colour, every race, every religion, all of
us feel that we are part of one place and that we all have an allegiance
and a trust in the ability of our country to do the things we need to do,
it needs to do for us, we can't have that faith unless we have that common
HUMPHRYS: Oliver Letwin, thanks
very much and Jeff Rooker, thank you very much indeed, Lord Rooker.
HUMPHRYS: Well, whatever the answers
turn out to be to that difficult question there is widespread agreement
that something must be done to try to bring the different communities together.
We're about to get new laws which will make it possible for more so-called
"faith" schools to be set up. As Paul Wilenius reports, there are many
who believe that THEY will have precisely the opposite effect.
PAUL WILENIUS: The morning school run starts
a new day for this all Muslim school in Birmingham. But it could also herald
a new age for single faith schools in this country. Tony Blair believes
schools like this are good for children, indeed some of his own family
attend Catholic schools in London. Tony Blair is pushing through a policy
to create more faith schools, just like this one. But there are growing
concerns this may produce more racial segregation, rather than integration.
And as a result his government is coming under pressure to change these
policies, as there are fears it could create more racial tension.
DR ASHOK KUMAR MP: My fear is that we could have
situations of communities where we have a Muslim community having a Muslim
school, a Hindu community holding Hindu school and a Sikh community holding
a Sikh school and of course less integration between them.
PHIL WOOLAS MP: We do need the children
to learn together, to live together and to understand each other, and it's
only in that way that we will get integration.
MATTHEW TAYLOR: My message to ministers is if faith
based school policy is used wrongly it is going to further divide our communities
and there will be more riots this year, next year and the year after.
WILENIUS: Registration at the Al-Hijrah
School. It's one of the new faith schools allowed by the government. But
the Education Bill going through Parliament now, could clear the way for
many more. Many minority religious groups are expected to ask for state
funding for more schools. They want the same rights given to Catholics
and Anglicans, making it a level playing field.
Most schools in this country
are secular. Overall there's twenty-five thousand state schools in the
country. Of those there's seven-thousand which are religious in character.
The number not of major Christian denominations are forty with thirty-two
Jewish schools, while the number of Muslim Schools is only four, with another
two schools run by Sikhs.
AKHMED HUSSAIN: It provides an environment where
they can learn with confidence, learn about their faith, learn about their
culture, learn about all the other things that they need to become good
citizens within this society. And I think they can do that with confidence
in this environment where they can pray without any restriction whatsoever.
UNNAMED MAN: My main reasons actually for
sending my children here is, there's three areas which I'm sort of concerned
about, and that is the spiritual development of my children, moral development
as well as educational development, so it's a whole package.
UNNAMED WOMAN: I practise my religion at home and
I like for them to carry on their practices in this school, plus I believe
the teachers here are very well educated themselves.
WILENIUS: Parents feel pupils like
these get a better overall education in faith schools. And this school
prides itself on its good grades. But the Think Tank Civitas said last
week that, in general, standards in these schools are no better.
MIKE O'BRIEN MP: We live in a multi-cultural
society and that means that we should respect people's right to be different
including on issues of religion. It's not about separateness, it's about
respect for the right of people to be different, and the benefit we all
get from having a multi-cultural society which is diverse, which does respect
different religions, and people's right to have their own set of values
within the context of a multi- cultural Britain. So those people who argue
that faith schools is about division, are wrong.
KUMAR: I went through state education.
I enjoyed it, it was a great enlightening experience, and I think it did
me no harm. I see myself multi-culturalist and part and parcel of this
society, but I fear that the success we have made of our multi-culturalism
multi-faith society, I think the dangers signs are there, that if we go
push too far, too fast down this road there are danger signs in this.
WILENIUS: Since the summer riots
and September the eleventh, Ministers and Labour MPs are more worried about
the faith schools policy. Already Education Secretary Estelle Morris is
backtracking. She's putting more emphasis on getting faith schools to be
more inclusive, by bringing children of different backgrounds together.
But there are real doubts whether such a policy work can actually work.
MATTHEW TAYLOR: I certainly think there's a greater
nervousness in government about the faith school policy, since the events
of September the eleventh, and the ramifications of those events in terms
of what it's told us about different attitudes within Britain, but I think
more particularly the riots in northern towns and cities and the alarm
bells that has rung about segregation in those places. So I think the government
is thinking about the policy again.
WILENIUS: Although faith schools
place a great deal of emphasis on religion many, like this one, do make
a lot of effort to maintain strong links with other sections of their community.
The government now wants to make sure that all religious schools co-operate
more with other schools and bodies in their area. There's a belief this
sort of partnership between schools could help bring people together.
TAYLOR: They've got to say to faith
based schools, you are part of the education community. You are not an
island in yourself. And there are lots of ways in which you can do that.
It's about bringing children in to the school from other schools, children
from the faith based school going out, it's about shared activities, drama,
sports, those sorts of things that bring kids together.
AKHMED HUSSAIN: We have very strong link with the
community of the school, with the religious institutions which are around
the school and with the non- religious, non Muslim institutions, and other
schools and colleges around the area. It think this is very important in
ensuring that we do not remain separate.
WILENIUS: But merely moving towards
greater co-operation is not enough for many MPs and experts. They feel
faith schools should let in more children from other religions. Ministers
are known to be thinking about encouraging religious schools to adopt a
more open admissions policy when they issue new guidelines next year. This
is exactly what some race experts feel is needed.
BARONESS UDDIN: Many church schools, apart
from certain schools in some of the areas that we visited have, you know,
where unacceptably they have hundred per cent, you know, Asian children,
Muslim children or hundred per cent Christian white children, I think that
is, in this country, must be unacceptable, especially in those type of
areas. What has to happen is that new schools, new faith schools that
are given licence also have to say that you know, to your neighbours, you
should be able to accept other, other children, I think that, that's my,
again in my own personal opinion, that must be the way forward that all
schools must be asked to look at their entry criteria to ensure that they're
not excluding those across their gate.
WILENIUS: This school says they
will be prepared to consider letting in pupils from other faiths. But the
government's problem is that many existing religious schools across the
country will be unwilling to open up their own schools if it means losing
control of admissions policy.
REV VINCENT NICHOLS: I think it's far more important
that schools are enabled from their strengths to work together than a mix
is placed into a school, which then becomes education to the lowest common
denominator. I think it's far more, a far more helpful way forward to encourage
schools into partnerships than to force them into take mixes of children
who then as it were don't know who they are, then just have to be part
of a fruit salad.
WILENIUS: The desire to protect
culture and religion lies behind the move towards more faith schools. And
critics say by their very nature they tend to exclude outsiders. Even if
the government tried to encourage schools to take more pupils from other
faiths, it's feared few would take the places. This school has yet to have
an application from a non-Muslim.
KUMAR: I see dangers ahead that
unless we ensure that Hindu youngsters be able to go to Muslim schools
and the other way round, I think what we'll get is pockets of division
in the community and I see very serious dangers because that will stop
in itself integration which we have been trying to work together and of
course, I'd love to see, if it's possible, Catholic youngsters going to
Muslim schools. Again, I struggle with that concept, I just can't see
that happening. I like to see some evidence of that. I haven't seen any
WILENIUS: So the path to a large
scale growth of the religious schools sector will not be as smooth as it
once looked. Indeed many Labour MPs are divided over the issue, and there
are calls to abandon the expansion policy altogether.
TONY WRIGHT MP: If you were starting again,
would you start with religious schools anyway? And I think the answer is,
no, you wouldn't. Then you've got the question - what do you do with those
you've already got? To which my answer is, well you should try to open
them up more. That's not the same as saying let's have more of them.
O'BRIEN: It doesn't worry me that
ninety-nine per cent of children in a particular school are of a, are of
one faith, providing that school is teaching the national curriculum, the
basic rights of British citizenship, teaching people how to be good British
citizens and of course part of the idea of being included in a multi-racial
multi-cultural society is that we have to respect people's right to be
WILENIUS: The computer room is
a shining example of expansion in this Muslim school. Yet even the Christian
Socialist Movement - which has Tony Blair as a member - is having doubts
about increasing the number of faith schools. Some senior Labour figures
are warning that if the government gets this policy wrong, it could have
WOOLAS: Well we have Anglican and
Catholic schools in Oldham and fairness would say that, why aren't there
Muslim schools? The horrible reality is that if we were to say we are
going to have a Muslim school now in Oldham, exclusively Muslim school,
it would cause a huge division and resentment and, and problems.
TAYLOR: What we might see is these
schools contributing to a process that I've called consenting apartheid,
which is where communities agree to separate with catastrophic consequences
I think, for the people who live in those places and for the places themselves.
And we saw the consequences of that consenting apartheid process in Oldham
and Bradford and the places we saw riots over the summer. The government
could never forgive itself and should never be forgiven if the faith based
school policy drives that process further forward.
WILENIUS: It's the evening school
run. Parents line up to take their children home, after a day learning
and praying. But the frenzy of activity in the school yard mirrors the
passions stirred up by the debate over religious schools. Tony Blair is
learning himself, that although faith schools are popular with parents,
he might find it a lot harder than he thought to take everyone with him.
HUMPHRYS: Paul Wilenius reporting
there. We did ask the Government for an Education Minister to respond
to that film but they said no.
Only three weeks to go
now before the Euro makes its appearance in shops and bars across the Continent.
Twelve countries in the European Union are about to throw out their old
currencies and embrace the new. And what about us? Well, we'll obviously
be watching with great interest... some of us with great concern. Tony
Blair wants us to join (given the five economic tests, of course) and he's
begun to turn up the heat on the sceptics. Iain Watson reports on the growing
signs that a referendum is looming here.
IAIN WATSON: If politics is the art of
the possible, then a pretty tough task lies ahead for the Europe Minister
Peter Hain. Opinion polls show a consistent majority of the British people
opposed to membership of the Euro. Following on from major speeches by
the Prime Minister, it's now Peter Hain's turn to schmooze for the single
ACTUALITY OF PETER HAIN: The government is in favour of
British membership of the EMU.
WATSON: His schedule involves shuttling
from CBI receptions to student rallies; suggesting that the momentum towards
a referendum is picking up pace.
ACTUALITY OF HAIN: ...been left before in Europe
or whether we want to be part of mainstream Europe.
PETER HAIN MP: We do not want to be left
behind again in another big European development as consistently we have
done in the past and lost out of it and that is part of the argument that
the Euro is a reality from New Year's Day. The Chancellor will be making
his economic assessment before June 6th 2003, so the time scale is getting
shorter for Britain to begin to make its mind up on this issue.
LORD HESELTINE: I think the Prime Minister
knows that he should have a referendum. I think he knows that it is in
British self interest to make a decision on the single currency.
CHARLES KENNEDY MP: The discussions I've had with
him myself suggest to me, although he's not been explicit - this Prime
Minister rarely is in my experience - that he would like to have the issue
settled and settled favourably by the conclusion of this Parliament.
WATSON: Pro-Europeans feel that
Tony Blair should have been leading from the front all along, but Downing
Street insiders tell us that it was always the plan to concentrate on public
services during the first year of Labour's second term and only them move
on to the Euro. So what's the reason for this apparent change of tack.
Well one possible explanation lies in this document which is currently
being pored over by Downing Street. It sketches out a means of reducing
opposition to the single currency amongst the electorate and amongst Labour
voters in particular.
PROFESSOR PAUL WHITELEY: There's only about a third of
the electorate who are Conservative supporters in the broad sense of this,
at the moment. So there's a sense in which you don't really have to win
them around, if you can win round Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters.
HAIN: Labour voters will
be impressed about the jobs and investment arguments as they will be about
the fact that their Prime Minister, who's probably got the biggest stature
of any Prime Minister in living history in Britain, he's saying, or would
be saying, if we hold a referendum, please vote yes; as against Iain Duncan
Smith on the Tory side and all the nutters behind him saying no. I think
the public will take a very clear judgement of what's in their interests
and the country's interest.
WATSON: The document which Downing
Street is examining is a new, unpublished analysis of the British election
study. It suggests Labour voters need two things to convince them to vote
yes in a referendum. Firstly, they need leadership from the government.
Asked: 'when the referendum on British membership in the European monetary
union, the Euro, is held, will you vote to give up the pound and join the
Euro? - amongst Labour voters questioned thirty-two per cent said yes and
fifty-three per cent said no. With twelve per cent not decided and two
per cent said they didn't know.
But asked when the Euro
referendum is held, and the British government recommends entry, the yes
vote went up by seven points, from thirty-two to thirty-nine per cent.
While the no vote fell by nine points from fifty-three to forty-four per
cent. With fifteen per cent undecided and two per cent don't knows.
Secondly, the government
needs to make as little mention of the pound as possible. Support for the
Euro increases even further amongst Labour voters if the question simply
says 'join the Euro'. The yes vote rises by five points from thirty-nine
to forty-four per cent and the no vote decreases by six points, from forty-four
to thirty-eight per cent. There still wouldn't be a majority amongst the
whole electorate but it would give the government a much narrower gap to
No mention of the pound
whatsoever, would you regard that as a fair question?
MICHAEL HOWARD MP: I would not regard that as a
fair question but I very much doubt if we're going to get a fair question
WATSON: No mention of the pound
would be perfectly fair?
HAIN: I'm not going to
speculate about Tory arguments about for and against the referendum, what
is on the ballot paper. Whatever the decision taken about calling the referendum,
about what is on the ballot paper, it should be fair and free and absolutely
clear to people, so there's no ambiguity about it.
WATSON: Now that there's greater
momentum towards a referendum, it's not just the phrasing of the question
that's important; pro-Euro campaigners are also keen to ensure that Gordon
Brown and his officials here at the Treasury come up with the right answers
when they come to assess the five economic tests.
The Chancellor said in
1997 that the purpose of the economic tests was to signify that for the
Euro to be right for Britain "the economic benefit should be clear and
unambiguous". But last week, the Labour Party Chairman Charles Clarke,
surprised some colleagues by saying: "If it was a fifty/fifty call I would
still go for it". And there now appears to be a concerted effort by Number
10's allies to say something similar.
SIMON BUCKBY: I fear that the anti-Europeans
will try to use the tests to demand one hundred per cent satisfaction.
Well among any two economists you get at least three opinions, so there
will always be a balanced assessment here. But it's important that the
tests look at both the costs and benefits of the single currency, the possibility
to improve our prosperity if we join the single currency, but at least
as important to look at the damage to our economy if we chose to go it
alone, in terms of lost trade, lost jobs and lost investment.
WATSON: At the Foreign Office,
the Europe Minister Peter Hain parrots the Chancellor's line that the economic
tests are sacrosanct. But there are others in the corridors of power who
would be happy to dilute how the tests are assessed; much to the annoyance
of the Chancellor's closest ally in the trade union movement.
MORRIS: We'll have to have these
tests met 100% because if we fail to do that we will be bouncing ourselves
into a currency, we'll be bouncing ourselves out of our jobs What confuses
us and we have to ask the question, who speaks on this particular critical
issue for this government. We're getting confused messages. Some days we
are told its a pure economic argument, another day we are told its a purely
political argument and then some days we are told it doesn't matter at
all, well it does matter.
HOWARD: It is not an application
of those tests which will decide whether the government try and take this
country into the single currency, it's whether they think they can win
WATSON: The polling on the single
currency, currently being studied in Downing Street suggests that opposition
to the Euro will decrease if it's seen as a new and successful enterprise.
When forty million of us travel to continental Europe over the next year
and get to touch and feel the new currency for ourselves, perhaps buy a
few drinks with it or even some tacky souvenirs, then pro Euro campaigners
hope that familiarity will breed not contempt, but consent. Add this to
possibly less rigorous assessments of the Chancellor's economic tests and
some say, perhaps hopefully, this points to a referendum in 2003.
LORD HESELTINE: I think it's worth a small
wager that the Prime Minister will be thinking of a referendum in 2003.
There are a number of things that argue for 2003, first of all the familiarity,
it has been introduced in Europe, it appears to be working which I think
it will in Europe, our own people will have shared the experience and increasingly
it's been exposed to the frustrations of not being part of that shared
experience. I think the second thing which should not be discounted, is
that all prime ministers as they serve their time, become preoccupied with
their place in history.
KENNEDY: You don't have to have
the wisdom of Solomon to work out that if its a four year parliament and
this issue needs to be resolved some way out before the end of that parliament,
then frankly if not all roads leading to Rome, I think all indicators point
towards some time in the middle of 2003.
VOICE OVER: January the 1st 2002.
WATSON: This advertisement heralds
the arrival of Euro notes and coins in 12 European Union countries in a
little over three weeks. While this gives the government an incentive for
a pro Euro campaign the official line is not to talk about a referendum
date here in Britain..
HAIN: I don't see any point
in calling a referendum, picking a date out of thin air, 2003 or 4 or 5
or ten or next month, if we're going to lose a referendum, because its
not in Britain's interests to join, so I say to those who are playing games
with dates, and pushing us to run in to the this matter with their - our
eyes closed, that is the best way to lose a referendum, and we're not about
to go down that road.
HOWARD: I think they should stop
playing games. If they want us to give up the pound and join the Euro
Zone they should get on with it and we should have a referendum and the
country can decide.
WATSON: But some of Labour's long-standing
supporters say that for Peter Hain and other prominent ministers even to
talk about a referendum on the Euro is a distraction which takes them away
from more pressing domestic issues
MORRIS: My message to government
is forget about the Euro for the time being, concentrate on getting manufacturing
right, concentrate on ensuring that the upward drift towards additional
unemployment is in fact arrested, concentrate on the national health service
and the public services. When you've done all that, then you can begin
to talk about the Euro. Don't be diverted. The next general election will
not be won on whether we're in or out of the single currency
WATSON: While most of the EU moves
relentlessly towards the introduction of Euro notes and coins, the Prime
Minister's mood music on British membership has got an ecstatic response
from Euro enthusiasts; but there's still a suspicion he might sell them
LORD HESELTINE: Tony Blair must know deep
down that if he runs away from is he will have run away from it for two
reasons, one he can't rule over his own cabinet, two because he has actually
given in to the media who are broadly anti European, and the public opinion
that they've influenced.
KENNEDY: I think he's up for it.
But I do think that voices round about him, not just from within his own
party need to keep reminding him that he's up for it, and to get on with
it please Prime Minister. Get on with it.
WATSON: The momentum towards a
referendum on the single currency looks set to pick up pace in the new
year, but pro-Euro ministers such as Peter Hain have a long way to go to
persuade even Labour supporters to scrap the pound; so if the government
can't bank on winning a referendum in 2003, the Prime Minister could withdraw
from the Euro campaign and invest his time on trying to win an historic
HUMPHRYS: Iain Watson reporting
there, and that's it for this week, and for me for this year. Nick Robinson
will sitting in this chair next week, and then I'll be back in the New
Year. Until then don't forget our web site by the way. Good afternoon.