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Faith Communities Working Group

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) terms of reference and (b) membership for the Home Office Working Group looking at the relationship between the Government and faith communities are. [114181]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The terms of reference of the Working Group are as follows:

(i) To map and assess existing arrangements and mechanisms for consultation between Government Departments and the faith communities, both in relation to one-off state events and in relation to long-term policy development by Departments, and identify good practice;
(ii) To carry out an exercise in order to establish which faith community bodies are sufficiently representative of the respective faith communities, and accountable to them, to provide an effective route for consultation by Government. This will include consideration of how young people and women from the faith communities are represented;
(iii) To prepare a report setting out the findings of the mapping exercise and research project, and recommending improvements or new mechanisms if required;
(iv) To draft guidelines for Government Departments on how best to consult the faith communities; and
(v) To submit the draft report and guidelines to the Steering Group for consideration and eventual sign-off by the end of December 2003.
The Religious Issues Section of the Race Equality Unit within the Home Office provides the Secretariat for the Group, which also includes representatives of the Lord Chancellor's Department, Prison Service, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Education and Skills, Department of Trade and Industry and the Inner Cities Religious Council within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; and the Director of the Inter Faith Network for the UK. The faith community representatives are Canon Michael Ipgrave, Mr. Mark Sturge, Dr. Basil Mustafa (alternates with Mrs Uneiza Malik), Mr. Ishwer Tailor, Dr. Indarjit Singh OBE, Mr. Neville Nagler and Mr. Paul Seto.