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Race and Faith Policy

Volume 618: debated on Monday 12 December 2016

Today, I am pleased to inform the House that the UK Government are the first European Union country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism. The Government believe that the definition, although legally non-binding, is an important tool for criminal justice agencies, and other public bodies to understand how anti- Semitism manifests itself in the 21st century, as it gives examples of the kind of behaviours which depending on the circumstances could constitute anti-Semitism. It will be for public bodies and agencies to implement the definition and embed it within operational guidance as relevant.

In addition, the Government have published its response to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on anti-Semitism, and provided a progress update to the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism Inquiry into the rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents following the Gaza conflict in 2014.

Our response to both reports demonstrates the significant progress we have made in combating anti-Semitism which has been acknowledged by the Home Affairs Select Committee and the All- Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism. Our approach has also been cited as best practice across Europe and the Americas.

However, we cannot be complacent. Anti-Semitism continues to be a problem in this country and it is right that, as a Government, we are able to demonstrate the seriousness with which we take it, as we do for other forms of hate crime. Anti-Semitism must be understood for what it is—an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society. Our relationship with the Jewish community has been built on the solid work of the cross-Government working group on tackling anti-Semitism, which ensures that we are alive to any issues and concerns of the Jewish community and can respond quickly.

The adoption of the definition and our positive response to both reports underlines how the Government have done much to establish Britain as a safer place for Jewish people.