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Community Relations: Religion

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 29 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement of the Prime Minister of 14 November 2007, Official Report, columns 667-72, on national security, how the £70 million for community projects devoted to countering extremism announced by the Prime Minister will be spent; and how much (a) was spent in 2006-07 and (b) will be spent in (i) 2007-08 and (ii) each of the next three years. (168398)

In his statement of 14 November, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirmed that £70 million is being invested in community projects that are dedicated to countering violent extremism over the next three years (financial years 2008-09 to 2010-11).

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 31 October that around £25 million of that would be invested in national schemes to directly support communities, including:

Equipping faith leaders with the skills and understanding required to lead communities, building their capacity to engage with young people on the challenges they face, including extremism. For example, ensuring imams can communicate more effectively with young people;

Support communities to broaden the provision of citizenship education in mosque schools, equipping young people themselves with the understanding and arguments to reject extremists’ messages;

Developing new minimum standards for public institutions (e.g. prisons, universities) engaging imams working with young or vulnerable people;

Supporting the Charity Commission’s work to improve governance standards in faith institutions, including mosques;

Increase the provision of leadership training available to Muslim communities, particularly women and young people.

Further announcements will be made as and when the details of the funding are decided.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also announced £45 million would be available to local authorities and their community partners. This will build on work funded by the Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund in 2007-08, guidance on which can be found at www.communities.gov.uk/communities/preventingextremism. Further guidance will be issued in due course.

On 26 November 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government allocated a budget of £8.7 million of programme funding for preventing extremism during the financial year 2007-08.

In the 2006-07 financial year £1.4 million of programme funding was spent on projects to prevent violent extremism by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement of the Prime Minister of 14 November 2007, Official Report, columns 667-72, on national security, which Muslim women were consulted on the new advisory group on Muslim women announced by the Prime Minister. (168410)

The National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group (NMWAG) is an independent informal group, which will advise the Department for Communities and Local Government on issues to empower Muslim women and increase their participation in civic, economic and social life.

NMWAG comprises a group of women who are in positions of leadership or are working with the communities. They will act as role models and represent the views and concerns of grass-roots Muslim women.

The group will be formally launched in January 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement of the Prime Minister of 14 November 2007, Official Report, columns 667-72, on national security, what the remit is of the new advisory group in relation to Muslim women announced by the Prime Minister; who she expects its members to be; what she expects its cost to be; and if she will make a statement. (168412)

The National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group (NMWAG) is an independent informal group, which will advise the Department for Communities and Local Government on issues to empower Muslim women and increase their participation in civic, economic and social life.

NMWAG comprises a group of women who are in positions of leadership or are working with the communities. They will act as role models and represent the views and concerns of grass-roots Muslim women.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has an allocation of £70 million over the next three years for preventing extremism. Of that, £45 million will be given to local authorities for community projects at local level and £25 million will be used to support a wide range of national initiatives on a range of issues including the women’s advisory group. The exact allocation to the advisory group from this budget has not yet been decided. Actual running costs are expected to be minimal.