BBC On The Record - Broadcast: 09.12.01

==================================================================================== 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: 09.12.01 ==================================================================================== 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. NEWS 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 can't. 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 for it. 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: such a hurry, they had three days to discuss it in the Commons, three hours in the week they'll have in the Commons to discuss when it comes back from the Lords. I mean this is... ROOKER:, the Lords will have had eight days. I agree - that's longer than the Commons and the real problem... 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 important stuff... 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 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 in laboratories. 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 ... HUMPHRYS: ..exactly... 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 change. 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 being voluntary. 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 'that's okay'? 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: but in very broad terms... ROOKER:, no... HUMPHRYS: ...without going into detail... ROOKER:, no it isn't... HUMPHRYS: ...are you prepared to make further concessions... ROOKER: 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 carefully. 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 allegiance. 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 so far. 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 different. 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 serious consequences. 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 currency. 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 bridge. 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 anyway. 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 a referendum. 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 short 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 third term. 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. 15 FoLdEd
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.