House of Lords
Friday 2 December 2016
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Chester.
National Life: Shared Values and Public Policy Priorities
Motion to Take Note
That this House takes note of the shared values underpinning our national life and their role in shaping public policy priorities.
My Lords, I am most grateful to the usual channels for making this debate possible. I should also like to thank noble Lords who have made the time and taken the trouble to attend today in considerable numbers, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, and those who look after us so well in this House. In case noble Lords are wondering what the Motion is, I decided to change it at the last minute. It reads:
“The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury to move that this House takes note of the shared values underpinning our national life and their role in shaping public policy priorities”.
It will be an especial pleasure to hear maiden speeches from the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, and the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning. The noble Baroness brings her knowledge of communications, issues of disability among children and education. The noble Lord will enable us to have a wider view of issues in Scotland.
The UK, especially perhaps England, is a pragmatic country with a bias towards the empirical over the theoretical. Not for us the cries of “liberty, equality and fraternity”, to be followed by years of bloodshed to ensure true fraternity was established. Rather, ours is an untidiness of cumulative reforms and changes, worked out in practice through the highways and byways of our constitution. We relish the irony of a constitution that works in practice but never could in theory. Great times of change in mood and culture demand from us a reimagining of what we are about as a nation. As we move into a post-Brexit world, alongside the other events that buffet and deflect us, unless we ground ourselves in a clear course and widely accepted practices, loyalties and values—what I will call values in this speech—we will just go with the wind.
The catalyst for attempting to codify our shared national values—what the Government have called “fundamental British values”—is the threat of violent extremism in our country and, to a lesser extent, questions about immigration and integration, inequality and our role in the world. But values built on feelings of threat and fear can lead us down a dangerous path. Practices and loyalties that are not grounded in values of hospitality, generosity and welcome lead to a turning inward that strangles the hope of the common good. There is no better example of the expression of good values than in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan, a story deeply embedded in our collective understanding of what it means to be a good citizen and which reminds us that our values have emerged not from a vacuum but from the resilient and eternal structures of our religious, theological, philosophical and ethical heritage. It reinforces a Christian hope of our values: those of a generous and hospitable society rooted in history, committed to the common good and solidarity in the present, creative, entrepreneurial, courageous, sustainable in our internal and external relations, and values that are a resilient steward of the hopes and joys of future generations in our country and around the world—hopes that are not exclusive, but for all. That is what our values have been when at their best.
Burke famously wrote that society is a,
“partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born”.
He articulates an idea of loyalty—loyalty to those who have sacrificed much in the past for us to be where we are, to our fellow citizens and to those whose lives will stem from our lives. Speaking of loyalty transforms the abstract idea of values, shared or otherwise, into relationships and practices. In our schools, children are taught that fundamental British values are democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. These values and our present situation seem increasingly disconnected from our historical narratives, whatever the values of these fundamental British values are—and they are considerable—and they are not properly embedded in the heritage of our country.
Historians such as Diarmaid MacCulloch speak of religion being,
“a force that shaped the English soul”.
To apply a revisionist secularism to our notions of identity inhibits the ability to reassert the deep values reflected in a common history: those that show what makes for virtue and of what is good in absolute and permanent terms. It is what Aslan in CS Lewis’ Narnia called the “deep magic” of the system. It is in these deep values and loyalties that we find who we are, and by their change we see what we should be. Fundamental British values have certainly developed out of these deep values, but if they are not grounded in an understanding of how we came to be who we are, they will remain an insubstantial vision with which to carry the weight of the challenges of the 21st century.
That is because the right to life, liberty, the rule of law and robust democratic government does not come cheaply, nor is it held lightly. The roots of our freedom in this country are deeply embedded within our British constitutional and civic life because their foundation lies within the shared scriptural inheritance of all our faith traditions. Democracy is not in and of itself the final answer to things, nor is the rule of law. Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu did not accept the final authority of the rule of law when the law was unjust. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not accept the final authority of the rule of law, democratically passed in a democratically elected assembly, over issues of German-Jewish citizens when the law was manifestly evil.
We live in easier and happier times, but there is still debate over freedom of speech and an increasingly anxious approach to tolerance. Alongside the nation’s seasonal debate about the true meaning of Christmas, we have seen the return of questions about the boundaries of free speech for Christians and those of other or no faith. Unsurprisingly, I am very much in favour of speaking openly but sensitively, as the Prime Minister has both supported and done recently in her own workplace. Our values are very deeply rooted, but are also necessarily continually reinterpreted, especially in times of change, such as now. That, by itself, is a huge challenge in the context of ever-increasing diversity and of how we demonstrate the essential human dignity and equality of all human beings, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or ability. We know that we lack integration of newer communities, especially around issues of women’s rights and of tolerance and respect for different views. Our failures in that area by themselves call on us to be clearer about our shared values.
Values are developed and refined above all in intermediate institutions, which is where democracy is founded and our diversity preserved and nurtured for the common good. This morning the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, in his “Thought for the Day” expanded this particularly powerfully and clearly. My illustrious predecessor, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, made this point in a lecture in 2012, and Archbishop William Temple made it in Christianity and Social Order in 1942. Both spoke of the decline of intermediate institutions in the face of an over-mighty state and of rampant individualism. Intermediate groups are where we build social capital, integrate, learn loyalties, practices and values, learn to disagree well and learn to build hope and resilience. The most fundamental intermediate institution is the family, the base community of society. Companies are becoming intermediate communities; so are clubs, charities, Near Neighbours groups and so on. Schools are key intermediate institutions, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely will describe. Intermediate institutions are repositories of practices and loyalties fundamental to who we are, even with their idiosyncrasies and untidiness.
The renewal of the values that will enable us to flourish in the post-Brexit world is not simply about us as individuals or the state as the arbiter of what is considered virtuous. It also requires a renewal of intermediate institutions because otherwise nothing stands between the lonely individual and the overmighty state. As the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government recently said, government,
“can build … homes … but alone can’t build communities … a sense of belonging or force people to love thy neighbour as thyself”.
Our response to those who seek to threaten and undermine our values cannot simply be grounded in a defensive or preventive mindset, drawing back into ourselves to look after our own. As part of our counter-radicalisation policy, the Prevent strategy may be important, but if we spend all our energy on preventing bad ideologies, whether religious or political, I fear we will neglect the far more transformative response required to build a convincing vision for our national life. In short, we need a more beautiful and better common narrative that shapes and inspires us with a common purpose, a vaulting national ambition, not a sense of division and antagonism both domestically and internationally. We need a narrative that speaks to the world of bright hope and not mere optimism, let alone simple self-interest. That will enable us to play a powerful, hopeful and confident role around the world, resisting the turn inward that will leave us alone in the darkness, despairing and vulnerable.
We have seen this hope in our best developments as a nation, historically through advances in housing, public health and education. They were carried out by Governments both national and local, but they usually began with intermediate institutions, whether housing associations, local efforts to tackle poor hygiene and sewers or church schools. At their heart they bring true integration based on the God-given dignity of all human beings whatever their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability or economic worth. A vision of this kind will promote cohesion around the common good, it will encourage courage and creativity, it will lead us to train young people in new skills, and it will give us the strength to open new markets, to share our wealth and wisdom fairly and not only to our advantage, and to welcome the alien and the stranger. It will challenge us to be consistent and to have an eye to our relationship with future generations, notwithstanding the events that intervene. Such a vision has a deep magic that has, at our best, enabled us to be a country of hope and purpose and will do so again. We must now renew that hope and purpose at every level of government and in our common life, and demonstrate it not only in our words but by embodying the values that make for a good society. I beg to move the Motion standing in my name.
My Lords, I am grateful to the most reverend Primate for initiating this debate, which is particularly timely given that a number of our assumed values are currently being called into doubt. We need to be clear about what those shared values are. I have to admit that I am instinctively wary of politicians who quote religious texts in support of their views because I often find that I then strongly disagree with the conclusions they draw. However, I am going to start with what to me is the key statement of principle for a civilised society. It is St Paul’s ringing declaration in his letter to the Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one”. At the time this was a revolutionary statement and over the centuries humankind, and not least the Church, has grappled to translate it into reality. But the concept of respect for the individual has formed the basis of what we think of as western civilisation, and coupled with resistance to unchecked power, the embracing of progress and the acceptance that conflict is inherent in human society and needs to be moderated through democratic institutions, it has formed the bedrock of what we describe as liberal values. These values—tolerant, inclusive and open-minded—are those which we like to think we share.
But this has not been a good year for these values—at least until this morning. For many of us, all of this has come as something of a shock. During my lifetime society has moved in a strongly liberal direction. We have lived through a social revolution which has removed many of the impediments to women and minority groups of all types living the lives they choose, and has been achieved by a broad coalition of small “l” liberals across the political parties. This progress has been matched by unprecedented rises in personal incomes. In my lifetime, the average income per head in the UK has increased approximately threefold. This is unprecedented in our history. It has transformed how people live.
So what has changed? There are, of course, several contributory reasons, but for me the most important is that the 2008 crash brought to an end year-on-year real wage increases for millions of people. Indeed, for many their incomes fell, while costs, particularly housing costs, continued to rise. For many people, economic change has meant a move from long-term, secure employment to often short-term, insecure jobs. It has shattered many people’s plans for their future pattern of work and lifestyle. It has been accompanied by historically high levels of migration, which, though often exaggerated, have led in some communities to big changes in the composition of the population and knock-on effects on public services and housing. It has led to anger, frustration and a search for scapegoats.
This generalised discontent fuelled much of the UKIP and Brexit vote. It has had disturbing consequences. Language used during the referendum, for example, legitimised in many people’s eyes the expression of anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views, which have resulted in insults in the street and classroom, murder on the streets of Essex and an almost 50% increase in hate crime. An example of what is now commonplace was sent to me by a German woman, resident in the UK, who described going into a supermarket with her daughter and asking her in German if they had everything they needed. A couple at the next till looked round and said, “Well, they’ll have to go home too”. She continued, “Driving home I had to stop, because we couldn’t keep back our tears. We now have one to two incidents like this per week”. This kind of activity is new and deeply worrying.
How, then, should we respond? We need to address the concerns of the frustrated and angry left behind. We must ensure that public services grow in line with changes in population and improve the education system to equip people with the skills they need to fill the jobs where labour is in short supply. We must do much more to tackle the chronic housing shortage. We have to cherish those national institutions that bind us together. These include the BBC, which continues to produce programmes that appeal to all ages and backgrounds. It includes the judiciary, which should be supported and not vilified. It certainly includes the NHS and social care system, which is even more important because it seeks to treat everybody equally when they are at their most vulnerable. It is creaking at present and urgently needs extra support. It certainly involves the intermediate institutions described by the most reverend Primate.
We must respond to the challenge of Brexit by discussing the issues it raises on the basis of evidence, not prejudice. We must not allow a period of uncertainty to become a period of fear for Europeans living in the UK and for others of a different racial or religious background from our own. We in this House can use the bully pulpit of politics, if not the literal pulpit of the most reverend Primate and his colleagues, to confidently and energetically promote a more tolerant, open and united Britain, then persuade people that this is the kind of society in which they want to live.
My Lords, I join the most reverend Primate in welcoming my noble friends Lady Bertin and Lord McInnes of Kilwinning. I have had the pleasure of working with both of them over many years. I look forward to their maiden speeches.
Post-truth, along with Brexit, has been the big buzzword of 2016. The climate of political and media discourse in 2016, here and across the water both east and west, has left a lot to be desired. We have seen a Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, murdered on our streets by a man whose idea of being a patriot was based on beliefs rooted in neo-Nazi ideology and white-supremacist propaganda. He was no patriot, as the judge said on sentencing him. Jo was.
We have seen hate crime rise, with the NPCC reporting a surge in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the second half of July this year. We remain on severe alert in relation to terrorism, namely that a terrorist attack is highly likely. We see the steady march of the far right across Europe, with Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and Poland now having such representation in Parliament. In the United States we see xenophobia rebranding itself as the alternative right.
This debate is timely and important. I am grateful to the most reverend Primate for offering your Lordships’ House the opportunity to debate what are our values and how committed we are to them when shaping public policy. British values, even in recent times, are not a new debate. Britishness, and a definition of what underpins it, is something that Labour, the coalition and Conservative Governments have struggled with, but we seem to have now achieved a formal definition, which is this: our British values are democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. It is what we teach our children in school and what Ofsted measures our schools against.
However, the debate has caused much debate. Politicians have claimed that these values are British, but are they uniquely so? David Cameron and other Prime Ministers have claimed these as Christian, but are they uniquely so? That is a conversation I have often had with the most reverend Primate. I would argue not. Sadly, the time limit we have been advised of does not allow me to argue each point in detail, but I simply say this. No one religion, race or nation has a monopoly over good, nor a responsibility for all that is bad.
My focus is therefore on the term “British values” as an effective term to do what it sets out to do: to create a shared sense of belonging around an agreed set of norms. The term suggests not only who we think we are now, but who we have always been. Yet, if we take each separate value, this statement is neither historically correct nor factually accurate. Each generation defines its own values, which are based on the norms of that particular time. Many in politics in the 1980s were adamant that heterosexual relations were the definition of family, according to our British values—not so today. Britain in the 1950s had a very different notion of equality relating to women. Tolerance during the heady days of overt racism in bygone decades was not necessarily an easily recognised feature of our public life—not an obvious British value.
The point I make is that we are not a reductive list; we are a complex set of aspirations which change and change often. So I suggest the term “British ideals”, a forward-looking, inclusively created hope of what we would like to be, is a much better way forward. It would be a raising of our eyes to the horizon even in dark times, to the place we want to get to; a pull factor that ensures that we carry on walking the path towards liberal values—a path, in light of the politics of the last 12 months, that can no longer be guaranteed to be a one-way street. That would ensure that we remain a nation of values and leave future generations a public discourse, a climate more open and welcoming than the one that some of us grew up in. A fantastic cross-party initiative launched in Parliament yesterday by Sir Eric Pickles has as its slogan, remembering those times, Britain is “BetterThanThat”.
My Lords, the most reverend Primate, in introducing this debate, helped me to clarify a distinction I wish to share humbly, and the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, now gives me the courage to say what I am going to say.
In the Middle East for 40 years now I have been working with people who live with vastly differing values: Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Copts, Bedouins and Nubians. My own British values are different from many of them and despite this we find ways in which we might live together in harmony. I learned this many years ago when I was fortunate enough to befriend the late Sir Isaiah Berlin. He took time to teach me that one can never persuade people from different cultures, histories and belief systems to agree on one truth or one set of values. He impressed upon me that rather than trying to persuade people to come together with our values, we should find ways of behaving to enable us to live peacefully together and share the planet.
In applying his wisdom I have found that, while we may not share entirely common values, better progress can be made when people choose to act with common virtues. What I wish to share here is a call for us to consider, within this debate on values, how we might deal with others with virtue. We in Britain have distinct national shared values and they must have a role to play in shaping public policy. So, yes, we should clarify, as a nation, what these values are and ensure that they are enshrined within our system of government. However, values are national, cultural, tribal, time-specific and exclusive; they change as each individual society evolves. We are right to discuss British values now, where they stand in underpinning national life and their role in shaping public policy, but whatever we conclude about British values and how our nation and society preserve them, we should remember that virtues are different.
Virtues are universal, for all humans, for all time and are inclusive. My thoughts on this are clarified by a series of conversations organised by my noble friend Lord Leitch. We have been meeting the best academics and leaders from the Abrahamic religions, eastern philosophies and secular wisdoms and have been asking how individuals—and thereby, collectively, society—might rise above our habitual selves, connect with something more universal and, in so doing, realise that we are all one. This may engender compassion within us.
I realise that virtue is a big word for me to use in the presence of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am not claiming, personally, to be virtuous, but when the most reverend Primate puts the question about values, he of course naturally and professionally embodies virtues in his daily life. Perhaps he assumes that virtues will be ever-present, but no. We need to embrace them ourselves and teach our children what virtues are. The Willow School, founded by Gretchen Biedron, does this well. David Geffen has written a book, Loving Classroom, which helps teachers to teach these things to children in school.
Noble Lords may feel that this is not the stuff of politics but I remind us all that every year before opening Parliament, our monarch sits in the Robing Room down the corridor where, depicted in the wall-paintings by William Dyce of the Royal Academy, represented through scenes from the legends of King Arthur and his court, are five of the virtues that the knights strove to live by: hospitality, generosity, mercy, caring religion and courtesy. What is more, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness has arranged, so far, in three years, for 150 Lords and MPs and 250 staff to complete an eight-week course on mindfulness. This group presented to the Government a report, Mindful Nation, that contained the proof and methods to show that mindfulness can be effective in changing minds in education, for pupils and teachers; in health, both mental and physical, for patients and nurses; in the criminal justice system, for criminals and police; and in the workplace, for management and staff.
I am merely asking the Minister to ensure that when discussing how we defend the values we hold dear—democracy; freedom; respect for the law; dignity of the person, independent of skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political views or origin—we welcome others into our fold and do our work around the world with hospitality, generosity, mercy, courtesy and compassion. So, my friends, compassionately, since I have only spoken for four minutes I am going to offer the other two minutes to the House.
My Lords, I, too, am most grateful to the most reverend Primate for initiating this important and timely debate. It is just what our fragmented and disorientated society needs at the moment. It also resonates very strongly with the recommendations of Living with Difference, the report by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life—of which I was a member—chaired by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. This reads:
“At a time when so much is dominated by the sole value of individual choice, faith leaders and other opinion leaders need to initiate discussions on the values, political and personal, they have in common with each other and with the humanist values of the Enlightenment. A national conversation should be launched across the UK by leaders of faith communities and opinion leaders in other ethical traditions to create a shared understanding of the fundamental values underlying public life”.
Some take the view that there are no shared values, or at least that it is impossible to identify them. A strand running through Dostoyevsky’s great novel The Brothers Karamazov is the line:
“If God does not exist, everything is permitted”.
This was, of course, the starting point for John-Paul Sartre and the post-war existentialists. It is not a view I share. Everyone, whatever they believe or do not believe, has some inkling of the good, some capacity for moral discernment, some ability to take others into account. It is part of what is meant by being made in the image of God, from the Christian point of view. The Jewish tradition has its own equivalent in the concept of the Noachide laws, according to the Talmud, the seven imperatives given to all humanity. So does Islam. As for humanism, the very name indicates the possibility of values and virtues simply by reason of our shared humanity, as does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The most reverend Primate’s Motion is in two parts. The first concerns the values underpinning our national life. Some of these are very basic but, however basic, I suggest that they are now being seriously eroded. The front page of one newspaper not long ago was taken up with two stories. One was that the Oxford Dictionaries’ international word of the year is “post-truth”, a word whose use increased 2,000% in 2016 compared with last year. It seems we live in a post-truth society, but an absolute requirement for any society is the assumption that most people most of the time mean more or less what they say. Without that, there could be no trust and no possibility of human relationships. Of course, people select facts to suit their case and put their own spin on things, are “economical with the actualité” as was once famously said, but have we now really given up the idea that truthfulness, as such, matters?
The other story concerned a man who ran a very aggressive tax avoidance business costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds. When confronted with this he simply said that,
“everyone’s moral compass is different, isn’t it?”.
Well, no. The outer casing may be different, but what makes a compass a compass is that the pointer is always drawn towards magnetic north. There is a magnetic north, there is such a thing as truth and there is that in us which is drawn towards it, however glazed-over the glass on our personal compass might be. There seems to be a desperate need in our society to recover and reaffirm the most basic moral values, without which there can be no human community at all.
These values, of which I have selected only one—truth-telling—are both personal and political. Sadly, the untruths told recently in both the referendum and in the American election can only further erode people’s confidence in political statements. At its most basic, we need to recover confidence in what a political party might say in its manifesto. Does it actually mean what it says?
These values take political shape in discussion about British values. Here I have a concern, expressed by the commission—and, indeed, much more widely—about the way that teaching on British values has been introduced into the school curriculum. I am a passionate believer in those values and I want them to be taught in our schools and to underpin our national life. According to Ofsted, these are,
“democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith”.
The worry is that these values have been championed with a very heavy emphasis on the qualifying word “British” and as part of the counterterrorism strategy. Because of this, some communities have felt “othered” by their introduction into the syllabus—alienated rather than included. I strongly agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said about this. They are indeed British values and I am deeply grateful that they are, but they are not only British. We should emphasise that these are shared values and they can be nurtured by the insights of all religions, as well as by those who do not belong to any.
The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, and the noble Lord, Lord Stone, suggested that each society and each age must find its own values. Rather, I suggest that certain values are actually fundamental but their implications have to be worked out in every generation. Taking the obvious example of equality, that is fundamental to the Christian faith. We are made in the image of God. We are equal. But the implications of that in relation to race or women or people of different sexual orientation have to be worked out in different generations, and we gain some insights—at least we hope we do—into those implications.
The first part of the Motion concerns the values that underpin our national life, the second part their role in shaping public policy priorities. Here we are on more controversial ground. If we take the most fundamental values of liberty, equality and human community, here I differ slightly from the most reverend Primate—my most esteemed and revered Archbishop—who suggested that these were ideologies with which we need not bother. Rather, I suggest that those three values of the French Revolution are actually deeply rooted in the Christian faith and the historic legacy of this country. Liberty, equality and human community have been crucial in shaping our society. I further believe that they can be widely affirmed by people of all faiths and none.
We have always been divided on the public policy implications of these values in a way that the French revolutionaries of 1789 did not perceive but which is obvious now to us. I see no way of obtaining an easy agreement on the political implications but we have to work at it. The simple point I want to make is that we can at least be united on the values from which these policies come.
My Lords, when leaving office, President George HW Bush wrote to President-elect Clinton saying that he felt the same sense of respect and wonder whenever he entered the Oval Office as he had on the very first occasion. That is how I feel whenever I enter your Lordships’ House. That respect and wonder have only been augmented by the welcome that has greeted me in your Lordships’ House. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown to me by Members of this House since my introduction on 15 September. I am also extremely grateful for all the support and help offered by the doorkeepers and the staff. The staff here have an uncanny talent of being able to identify when I am lost even before I realise I am.
I was very fortunate to have been introduced to your Lordships’ House by my two exceptional supporters and noble friends, the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, and the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, of Helensburgh. I have known the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, since the very darkest days of Scottish Conservatism after the 1997 general election. The noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, meanwhile, had the dubious pleasure of having to speak to me on a daily basis before the independence referendum in 2014—I think more often than he spoke to his wife. Both have been trusty friends to me since I entered this House. My path into your Lordships’ House has been greatly eased by my mentors, the noble Baronesses, Lady Eaton and Lady Fookes. I am very grateful to both of them. The noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, has guided me in the traditions and practices of this Chamber but, as all good authors say in their foreword, any errors or mistakes are mine and mine alone.
Like any new Member of your Lordships’ House, I have been scanning the speakers lists on a daily basis for a suitable subject for my maiden speech. I am therefore very grateful to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for bringing this Motion before the House, which I feel is so important and gives me an opportunity to speak before your Lordships for the first time. I come from a background in political campaigning for the Conservative Party and in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, as well as 13 years as a councillor on Edinburgh City Council. These roles have required me to be responsive to changes in perception of national identity, as well as a world where values are far less certain and far less easily assumed than they were 50 years ago.
In today’s debate, we have already heard, and are going to hear, many articulations of what noble Lords believe to be our national values. There is no definitive list and it would be incorrect if there was. In a free society, we must all enjoy the ability to identify a variety of values that the nation holds dear. As a Scot and a unionist, I believe that the key values of democracy, opportunity, tolerance, free speech and justice run through the fabric of our United Kingdom. Importantly, our national values are not the exclusive values of any particular component nation. They are values that underpin our national life but, as the most reverend Primate suggests, we also have to be clear about how they shape our public policy priorities.
It is my view that these fundamental values must affect public policy priorities by ensuring that everyone in our United Kingdom, irrespective of background, race or religion, feels that they have an equal chance in our nation and that they and their family can benefit from these national values. We cannot talk about tolerance, fairness and justice and not offer everyone as expansive an opportunity in life as public policy can effect. Too many in our country feel that they do not have a stake in society and therefore feel alienated from the very values that many of us hold so dear.
I take my title from the small town of Kilwinning in Ayrshire, where I was brought up and educated before leaving for university. Like many small towns built in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution and reliant on mining, iron and railways, that town has seen some tough times in the past 60 years. However, thanks to a supportive family, wonderful teachers and a community made up of people from all walks of life, I was enriched by that town and made to feel that I was capable of succeeding as much as I could. Unfortunately, not all are so lucky. Too many would look at the statistics and judge that if they are from a black minority ethnic or working-class background, our national values offer nothing to them. They may question how meritocratic, tolerant or just our country is. Ensuring public policy priorities that focus on education and bridging attainment gaps and health inequalities is the very best way that our national values can be properly entrenched.
Since 1997, child poverty has halved but there is still a poverty of opportunity for too many families. Our public policy priorities should be to end the loss of hope and aspiration that affects so many of our communities. I hope that the Minister will be able to reflect on means by which the Government can do more to ensure that there is opportunity for all Britons. Only with opportunity for every child to do as well as they are able to can we be confident that the national values that underpin our national life can engender true affinity from those who may feel little connection with the values that we all hold so dear.
My Lords, it is an honour and a privilege to follow the excellent maiden speech of my noble friend Lord McInnes of Kilwinning. In the finest traditions of this House, he was modest, decent and non-controversial. I also congratulate my noble friend on the work he did during the Scottish referendum and on his great environmental success: together with Ruth Davidson, he has saved an almost extinct species—the Scottish Tories. They have given the Scottish electorate a chance once again to have a political choice, and that is no mean feat.
I hope that my praise for my noble friend today does not damage his reputation in Scotland, where I have been persona non grata ever since the day in about 1996 when I made what I thought was the innocent comment that half of the beggars whom I met in London happened to be Scottish. Prime Minister Major ordered me to apologise to the whole Scottish nation. About the same time, he sent me to apologise to the then Archbishop of Canterbury. I hope that I will not have to repeat that experience after today. It seems impertinent for a junior sprog like me to congratulate the most reverend Primate on his speech today and on his excellent speech to the Catholic Institute of Paris two weeks ago, to which I will return later.
There are two great institutions in this country which excessive, trendy modern-ness pandering to the lowest common denominator for the sake of it have not touched. One is the Royal Family and the other is our military. Yes, they have modernised but they still uphold the everlasting values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity and personal courage. We have seen that every day in every conflict where our military take part, from the cold mud of the Somme to the hot sands of Afghanistan and Iraq. These are the finest values underpinning our national life and I, for one, would wish to have a tiny fraction of them.
Why then do we permit some of the lowest of the low—crooked and deskbound cowardly lawyers—to drag these brave men and women through the courts in the pursuit of not the truth but more legal aid money? The only law which should apply to our soldiers is the respected Geneva Convention and I urge the Government not just to exempt our military from future human rights law suits but to drop these disgraceful IHAT inquiries now. Will criminal charges ever be brought against that crook Phil Shiner and his fellow conspirators from Public Interest Lawyers for fraud and perverting the course of justice? Probably not—just a rap on the knuckles from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and a reminder not to get caught in future.
In cases seeking compensation for so-called negligence, we also have to stop the appalling suing culture now rampant in the NHS. That has some of the worst values, which I do not think the British people share. The annual report of the NHS Litigation Authority makes frightening reading. Over one-third of the billions paid out goes to the lawyers, not the patients. I urge the Government to bring in proposals to stop no-win no-fee, purge the ambulance chasers and their grubby leaflets from accident and emergency departments and limit the concept of medical negligence. An NHS free at the point of delivery is one thing; free for lawyers to rip it off is quite another.
Another value underpinning our national life is the concept of fairness. Many of those who voted for leave or for President-elect Trump did so because they saw the bankers getting away with appalling criminal behaviour and that globalisation advocates were earning big bucks while ordinary workers were left behind. It is quite despicable that chief executive pay has risen inexorably over the years and is now 180 times the pay of their lowest-paid employees. I wish my right honourable friend the Prime Minister all strength to her elbow in tackling that injustice.
I will conclude with comments on one part of the excellent and wide-ranging speech made by the most reverend Primate in Paris on 17 November. I have obtained a full copy for greater accuracy. He pointed out that as Europe has integrated economically, it has ignored the need to integrate our values, culture, dreams and ideals. He said, among other things:
“If we allow our national and international political contexts to define our values and virtues, then we will be disappointed. Values emerge from histories of interaction and are rooted in stories of virtue, above all in Europe the stories of the Judaeo Christian tradition”.
He also said:
“A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that. This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that ISIS is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution”.
How refreshing to hear that from our most reverend Primate.
After some Islamic terrorist attacks, I have sat in this House and heard comments that they were nothing to do with proper Islam. But the terrorists were doing it in the name of Islam and their religious leaders are not driving them out. Eight hundred years ago, our Christian ancestors massacred Muslims during the Crusades, and we have to admit that it was something to do with Christianity—not the Christianity we try to follow now but an Old Testament version of it. Yes, the Koran contains texts on not killing the innocent and treating women well and the Christian Bible has verses on an eye for an eye and stoning people to death, but that is the Old Testament. We have left that barbarity behind as we practise turning the other cheek and loving one’s neighbour as oneself—both New Testament exhortations.
If a right reverend Prelate or any clergyman were to suggest that we should adopt the Old Testament as our behavioural guide now, he, or she, would be locked up as insane or for inciting hatred, or both. Why then is there not total denunciation by the real Islamic leaders of the barbarities as currently practised by professed Islamists, if they are not following real Islam? The whole culture of western Europe is now under threat by those who will not integrate and accept the values of our European Judaeo-Christian heritage. I am not suggesting for one second that they must accept the Christian religion—of course not—but they should accept our western values of tolerance, respect, equality, democracy and the rule of secular law, and cease trying to make Islam the dominant religion by force. I believe that no other religion in the world insists on the destruction of all other religions. Christianity did so 800 years ago, but we have become more civilised since, in the main. If those values are not shared by all in this country, or those who wish to make this their country, the Government must step up action to ensure that these values become the norm. We must not in the name of discredited multiculturalism sacrifice our western liberal democracy, which is still a value shared by the vast majority in this country.
My Lords, when I came to this country as a 19 year-old from India for my higher education in the early 1980s, Britain was referred to as the sick man of Europe—a country that had had an empire but was then a has-been. The City of London, where I qualified as a chartered accountant at what is today Ernst & Young was a closed shop and prejudice was rife. In fact, I was told by my family and friends in India, “If you decide to work in Britain after your studies you will not get to the top, as you will not be allowed to. There will be a glass ceiling for you as a foreigner”. Three decades ago, I am ashamed to say that my family was absolutely right.
I have seen Britain transformed in front of my eyes over the past three decades, from the sick man of Europe into the envy of Europe. I have seen that glass ceiling well and truly shattered, with a country that is aspirational and meritocratic—where anyone can get as far as their aspirations, talent and hard work will get them regardless of race, religion or background, as the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, said in his excellent maiden speech. London today is the most cosmopolitan city in the world.
In 2012, I led a debate on the 150th anniversary of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, of which I am proud to be patron. The ZTFE is the oldest of the Asian voluntary faith-based organisations in Britain, founded in 1861. Dadabhai Naoroji, who became in 1892 the first Indian Member of Parliament at Westminster, was one of the founding members. The topic of my debate was the contribution made by minority ethnic and religious communities to the cultural life and economy of the UK. If your Lordships read the Hansard report of that debate you will see that without the contribution of these communities and immigrants over the decades, Britain would not be where it is today. My tiny community the Zoroastrian Parsees number less than 57,000 out of a population of 1.25 billion in India and less than 6,000 out of 65 million over here in the UK. I am proud to say that it has achieved so much and put back into the community wherever we have been. They say that our per capita rate of achievement is the highest in the world. The Tatas who own Jaguar Land Rover, Freddie Mercury from Queen and the conductor Zubin Mehta are or were all Zoroastrian Parsees.
I thank the most reverend Primate for initiating this debate at this crucial time and for his excellent speech. In more than three decades of being in this country, I have never faced racial discrimination or hate crime of any sort here in London or at Cambridge, where I studied. However this year, 2016, I have before and since the referendum been the recipient of numerous tweets, e-mails and letters. People can hide behind tweets and e-mails can be sent anonymously, but I have received letters, some of them five pages long—and with full names, signatures and addresses—filled with hatred. I cannot quote the tweets and e-mails—that would not be appropriate in this Chamber—but let me quote from one or two of the letters: “If you are unhappy, why don’t you go back to your country of origin? We don’t want you here mithering all the time. Go man go, I say good riddance”. Another one said: “This country did okay before you and your like came over here in your multitudes”.
This is what this wretched referendum has unleased. It appears we are undoing three decades of all the good we have done where Britain moved on from tolerating diversity to celebrating diversity, benefiting from diversity and thriving from diversity, be it in business, where the most successful business people in this country are Indians, or in sports where, with 1% of population, we came second in the world in the Olympics and Paralympics—and look at the amazing diversity of our athletes. I am the proud chancellor of the University of Birmingham and chairman of the advisory board of Cambridge Judge Business School, and 30% of our academics at Birmingham and Cambridge are foreign. We have international students, whom the Government still insist on categorising as immigrants when the public categorically say they do not look upon them as immigrants.
In the referendum, one of the major issues was immigration. Migrants were seen as the problem, putting strain on our public services. Where is the logic in this? We have the lowest level of unemployment—less than 5%—and the highest level of employment in living memory in spite of having more than 3 million people from the EU and people from outside the EU living and working here. How on earth would we have managed to make this economy the sixth largest in the world without these migrants? As I highlighted in my recent speech on the effect of the EU referendum on the NHS and the care sector, there are 130,000 people from the EU working in the NHS and the care sector and more than 30% of our doctors are foreign. Far from being a burden on our public services, our public services would collapse without our migrant workforce. Far from being a burden, EU migrants put five times more into this economy than they take. I admire individuals from the EU, including those from eastern Europe, who come here, leaving their families thousands of miles away, not knowing the language or the culture, and work hard, contribute to our economy and pay taxes that we benefit from. Far from us being grateful for this, they are vilified, seen as a problem and discriminated against.
What is happening to our wonderful nation? Britain as a country has been renowned for being fair and just, a country that evolved over the past decades from prejudice, from being a closed, inward-looking, insular country to an open, welcoming, vibrant country and economy. My friend Ed Smith, the pro-chancellor of the University of Birmingham and former chairman of the UK board of trustees of the World Wide Fund for Nature told me that its money does not come from people donating millions of pounds. The vast majority of the millions raised by the WWF comes from individuals donating £5 or £10 each for causes in countries that they may never visit. That is the spirit and generosity of this wonderful country.
Perhaps in encouraging multiculturalism, we did not encourage integration enough, as the most reverend Primate said. After all, there is a difference between assimilation and integration. My father, the late Lieutenant-General Bilimoria, told me when I left India, “Son, wherever you live in the world, integrate to the best of your abilities but never forget your roots”. I am so proud to be a Zoroastrian Parsee, I am so proud to be an Indian, I am so proud to be an Asian in Britain and I am really proud to be British. We have to nip this in the bud and get back on the path that has made this tiny country, with 1% of the world’s population and no empire—not a super power but a global power—respected around the world. This country is now breaking away from the EU; it is looking not outwards but inwards; it is not open but protectionist and is, as the most reverend Primate said, resisting inwards. This is the result of that wretched referendum. In a country that has been celebrated for its cosmopolitanism and diversity, the referendum has unleashed hate crime, prejudice against immigrants and racism. This is not the Britain that I know and love.
Britain has always been a country with integrity. The best definition of integrity that I have ever heard was when the most reverend Primate’s predecessor, the noble and right reverend Lord Williams, visited the Zoroastrian centre in Harrow, of which I am patron. I made the welcoming speech and the noble and right reverend Lord said, “Lord Bilimoria has mentioned the word ‘integrity’ twice. The Zoroastrian community is renowned for its integrity”. He said that the word integrity comes from the Latin word “integritas”, which means wholeness. You cannot practice integrity if you are fragmented in front of the light. You can practice integrity only if you are whole and complete. Britain needs to retain its wholeness and completeness so that we can always practice integrity.
I will conclude with my favourite poem. It is relevant to the current time. It is by the Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”.
My Lords, I thank my friend the most reverend Primate for securing this timely and essential debate. I applaud the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, on his excellent speech, not least on drawing together our concern for values with opportunity for our children and young people. When we talk about British values, we should be aiming not at the lowest common denominator but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said, at the highest ideals that we want to promote for and with our children.
Character education is all set to be the foundation for the kind of person we want each child to become: a member of society who not only understands the world, but cares about it, is equipped to continue in the good and recognise and challenge the bad and is courageous enough to bridge divides and extend the hand of friendship. The Church of England vision for education actively seeks to provide an education that fosters this. Character education is about educating children not only to become efficient economic units, but to flourish in all areas of their lives, and enjoy life in all its fullness, as Jesus says in the Gospel of John. Fundamental to this is the nurturing of virtues as the intrinsic building blocks of a rounded human life with concrete outcomes in behaviour and service. St Paul takes the life of virtue beyond what had previously been categorised when he wrote in the Letter to the Galatians about the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
All of us learn from the example set by others, and this is particularly true in the relationship between children and their teachers. As we all know, children can spot inauthenticity straight away. They carefully watch and learn from the behaviour of those around them. They learn from the rhythms of the rituals of their daily lives in school and at home. No number of laminated vision statements displayed in the school hall can come close to the modelling of learning and co-operation exhibited by all the adults involved in the life of that community. It is the commitment to living out our vision for education that led the Church of England to found its Foundation for Educational Leadership, which is training and supporting school leaders to lead from the front in character education.
Across the country, there are examples of schools living out this vision for education very effectively, schools such as St Luke’s Church of England Primary School in Bury. It has a Jewish headteacher and an overwhelming majority of Muslim pupils and is committed to their British and Christian values of tolerance, love, hope, democracy, respect, honour, compassion, faith and forgiveness. Like many other schools, it recognises the importance of teaching its pupils about faith and difference, and its pupils recently visited Manchester Cathedral and the Jewish museum.
Tolerance is not enough. We need to learn how to build the relationships that enable us to honour one another even after engagement with hard questions. The Church’s Living Well Together project is a tangible incarnation of this vision for education. It aims to provide inspiration and resources to enable schools across the country to put this idea into practice. The emphasis for the project is starting conversations to enable better understanding. Often challenging discussions take place in which there is a close examination and interrogation of each other’s points of view. It has shown the great value of giving children the opportunity to take responsibility and to come up with their own ideas of how they should interact responsibly with each other.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the test of values comes in disagreement and in dissent. We must equip young people to have genuine engagement about differences of faith and belief so that they can understand one another’s perspectives. It is essential therefore that all children be taught religious literacy. At the very time that this is most needed, not including RE in the EBacc will have a detrimental impact on the ability of schools to teach it. The importance of disagreeing well is also paramount in higher education. It denies the attempt to silence the public airing of opinions so that those we disagree with continue in their belief unopposed. Freedom of speech is essential, and so too is the opportunity for young people to learn to argue well against what they believe to be wrong.
It is more important than ever that we prepare children for the world they live in and to handle the challenges that may await them. Talk of values must not just be superficial. A life of virtue and developed character, like a stick of Blackpool rock, has the message running all the way through the middle.
My Lords, I offer my appreciation for both the office and the person of the most reverend Primate, although I must say that when I say those words “the most reverend Primate” it does sound a bit like an evolutionary category, and I cannot quite get that out of my mind. I also express my appreciation of the recent book that I have just read, Dethroning Mammon, which offers up the real space for what I wish to say today. I really agreed with the general direction of what the most reverend Primate said about moving away from this concept of values always as a list. The curse of the list is a philosophical curse—you have different things on the list that contradict each other, and then you write another list before you laminate it and stick it up in primary school classrooms as a way of directing attention. The most reverend Primate has moved in completely the right way in moving into this idea of practices and then virtues.
Very occasionally, I am criticised by people on my own side for working so closely with the Church, as I have done throughout my life on issues such as the living wage and limiting usury. I always reply in the same way: at least Christians and people of faith do not believe that the free market created the world and that it is something inherited and anterior. Of course, it must also be said that neither did the administrative state create the world, and I really appreciated the balance the most reverend Primate gave on that. I would also say that I love liberty much too much ever to be a liberal, and the reason for that is because of the emphasis put, which he did quite correctly, on institutions and practices. The thing when we are talking about British values is how we care for our covenantal inheritance. These institutions are inherited: the law is one crucial part and the Church is another, along with autonomous self-governing universities. We used to call these intermediate institutions that nurture virtue the body politic.
I would call virtue good-doing rather than do-gooding. It is a way of excellence of practice. When the most reverend Primate talks of hospitality and generosity, these are not values but a way of relating to other people. These are practices that can be done well. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely said, the notion of character embedded in institutions is the most precious part of our inheritance, through which we protect liberty and democracy. That is why we should really concentrate now.
I had a very funny conversation with a Member of the other House, Michael Gove, who said to me, “What we need with Brexit is a quickie divorce”. I asked him, “A quickie divorce like Henry VIII wanted a quickie divorce?”. There is a certain lack of historical understanding of where quickie divorces can lead—that one obviously led to the Reformation. This is what we have to think about: what is the covenantal inheritance that needs to be embedded in a self-governing nation, which is what we are to be?
One of the ways of doing that is definitely, as the most reverend Primate said, through the notion of the common good. A certain precondition of the common good is not to despise or dehumanise people who voted for Brexit as racists and nationalists but to try genuinely to engage in renewing the institutions that assert this fundamental point that the Church has always been faithful to, which is that human beings are not commodities. The madness of neo-liberalism is—as I said, I love liberty much too much to be a liberal, and I am much too conservative ever to be associated with the party opposite—the idea that human beings and nature are commodities to be bought and sold and find their price, which is an idea that is as wicked and pernicious as the idea that the state should control and administer the very nature of the person. It is precisely the intermediate institutions —the schools, the universities, the Church, the unions, the law—that protect the nature of the person from their domination by these two external forces. That is essentially the path.
The really crucial virtue that I wish to concentrate on is one that has been protected by the Church and neglected by us, which is that of vocation—the idea of good-doing and having a calling. A very terrible thing about our country is that in 1832 we protected the notion of vocation for lawyers, doctors, dentists and accountants but abolished it for plumbers, carpenters and engineers. There was a free market in those manual crafts, and we made the distinction between a profession and a vocation, and we degraded the concept of vocation essentially to mean unskilled or semi-skilled labour. I share with your Lordships the fact that we never hear in football the notion of a “vocational foul”, but we certainly hear of the “professional foul”. We saw the degradation of our professions in the crash, where accountants paid by companies were writing things off and concealing massive deceit, exaggeration and vice. If we can extend this concept of vocation institutionally through the idea of the building of character through an inheritance of a skill and a trade, then we can talk about internal regulation, rather than external regulation, and the pursuit of a common good embodied in the covenantal institutions of our inheritance.
Among those, this Parliament is supreme, where we have the representation of workers, of capital and—one of the glories of our House—of the common good between the religious and the secular. The common good derives from the very strong stress on vocation and virtue in our institutions, without which we are always prey to incoherent lists and the domination of both the market and the administrative state.
My Lords, I very much welcome this timely and important opportunity to debate our shared values and discuss how they shape policy priorities. I wanted to speak in this debate but I also wanted to listen, and indeed have already been richly rewarded. These values that we are talking about may or may not be eternal, but they certainly change in how they are expressed and in how circumstances influence them. It really is very important that that they are debated and not just stated—and not just in this House.
When I looked at this proposition of shared values, my first question was, “Shared by whom?”. These values that we have talked about may look very different from different places in our society, and there may be differences as to how they are experienced and expressed by, for example, people who are alienated or disadvantaged in our current society. I think I am following the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, in his excellent maiden speech just now by pointing out the importance here of inclusion in this national debate about what these values should be. I am also reminded of an excellent speech by my noble and right reverend friend Lord Harries of Pentregarth on an earlier occasion when he talked about the engagement of different cultures and religions and a continuing conversation with stakeholders. I think that is extremely relevant here. When the right reverend Primate talks about the need for a new shared narrative, this needs to be built on that wider debate, and of course built on understanding why there are people today who are alienated and disadvantaged, and what we can do about it. My first point here is about inclusion in the development of this new great narrative, based on what may well be, and perhaps are, eternal values.
I follow the last two speakers in your Lordships’ House by turning to implementation and the vastly important role that institutions play in this. They are how values are expressed in our national life; they embody them. What are institutions there for and whom are they there for? Does our health system genuinely treat everyone as equal? Does our education system treat everyone as equal? How do their leaders behave? How are our institutions expressing both these values and the policies on which they are based? This point, about institutions expressing our aspirations and our values about who we are, is well understood globally. Clearly, in the UK, the important point has been about how the welfare states in Europe have developed after the last war as we recreated our societies. After their Carnation Revolution in 1974, the Portuguese immediately set up a national health service as an expression of who they were. Only 22 years ago, Rwanda was just trying to recover from a genocide, and one of its first steps was to set up a national health system that included and engaged everyone, and which is still one of the best in Africa, as an explicit expression of who they were as a people. So institutions are fantastically important in expressing our values.
I wonder whether our policies at the moment always reinforce this vital role that institutions have. I am reminded again that the most reverend Primate talked in his earlier remarks about the dangers of centralisation and the overpowering state, and therefore the important role of intermediate institutions. Certainly I suspect that in public policy in recent years—I had better declare my guilt as a former Permanent Secretary in the Department of Health—we have issued instructions and diktats from the centre that to some extent have taken away power and autonomy locally. As a result, you have sometimes seen people running local areas of our national institutions as branch offices rather than as substantial leaders of their local communities. It is very important that hospital managers, school heads and others are leaders in the local communities and taking on their wider role in society.
There are of course many excellent examples of this. Yesterday, I was with the new NHS Alliance and I saw people in Fleetwood, led by the GPs there, who were doing much more than their job description as a GP, looking at how they could enhance the health of their society and bringing in all local partnerships. I was also with people from Plymouth, and the Beacon programme in Plymouth does the same thing of bringing together different organisations to create the sort of society that they want locally, based on shared values and making use of national policies but locally driven and locally led.
In October, I and a group of others, including four other Cross-Bench Peers and a number of the great clinical leaders in this country, set out in the Lancet a “Manifesto for a healthy and health-creating society”. We think there needs to be a new shared narrative around health, to use the language that we are talking about here, and that it has to be about a healthy and health-creating society. There are four points in the manifesto, and I think I have time to mention the two that are really relevant here. First, while the NHS can be wonderful and politicians can do remarkable things, they cannot do everything that is needed in health. We need to engage employers, educators, designers and everyone who has an impact on health in creating a new health-creating society. This is about expressing our values through public policy and using the institutions that we have locally. Secondly, the final point in the manifesto was simply put. It said that our great institutions of science and health are built on values of integrity—to pick up the point from my noble friend Lord Bilimoria—evidence, openness, sharing and equality of opportunity. These institutions, which benefit from society, should also be playing their role in society in promoting those values in many different ways; they can do so, and there are good examples of their doing it.
While I very much accept, applaud and welcome this debate on shared values and how they need to shape and reinforce good policies, they also need to be accompanied by what one might describe as effective implementation and effective institutions that embody those policies and values.
My Lords, it is a privilege to speak after my noble friend. He, like me, has spent a lot of time working with one of those intermediate institutions, the National Health Service—the closest, they say, to a national religion in the UK, but one whose values are written throughout it, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.
I warmly and appreciatively congratulate the most reverend Primate on bringing to the House today a debate so much at the heart of our complex, paradoxical and really quite frightening situation. His huge ability to understand the high life and the low life, and to communicate with wit and wisdom, was first impressed on me shortly after his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. The noble Lord, Lord Bragg, had a question time for those Peers who did not know the most reverend Primate too well. One of our colleagues said, wonderfully, “Well, Archbishop, what are you going to do about bankers’ pay and what about the Second Coming?”. Without flinching, he masterfully responded in the most eloquent and elegant manner. There is not a cleric in the country that I meet to whom I do not pass on this account.
Many of us are deeply disturbed by the world in which we live and the recent election results. Like the noble Lord who spoke earlier, I regard myself as a long-term liberal—in its civilised sense—who was deeply distressed about the Brixton riots and was very involved in the Scarman report. It is interesting to look back at what was said then, 31 years ago: the disorder was a spontaneous outburst of built-up resentment caused by,
“complex political, social and economic factors … racial disadvantage”,
and inner-city decline. I think those complex, political, social and economic factors are very much, though maybe unknown to all of us, what we are addressing at the current time.
Those of us in this House, which is another glorious intermediate institution, have had the benefit of globalisation and of living in a world of connectivity. I have always been proud that one-third of the chairmen and chief executives of British companies are not British. I come from a family where my generation all married people just like ourselves, while our children and cousins married people who were Indian, Spanish, Irish—anyone from anywhere around the world. This has seemed exhilarating and exciting. However, maybe we have underestimated what it feels like for those who feel not only poverty but impoverished by that environment. For 11 years, as many know, I have been chancellor of the University of Hull and Sheriff of Hull, a community for whom globalisation has not been so exciting. There has been massive investment there by Siemens; nevertheless the sense of globalisation —of jobs going elsewhere and of the world being out of your individual control—is alarming, and we know that when people are fearful they react in a negative way. I am afraid that fear is not a good motivator; people are generous when they feel confident and secure.
That is all the more reason for us to look again at how the virtues we value are promoted and shared. We have talked about the development of schools. Would that it were so easy and everyone had a day’s religious ceremony; we could all sing “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and march in line. In a complex multicultural society, though, that is not sufficient and will not work in the same way. We have to think about that.
An additional complicating factor, which has not been sufficiently addressed so far in this debate, is the effect of social media, because social media do not have editorial control. Of course, they are post-truth. You can say whatever you like without any rebuke or fear. You can intimidate people. Worse than that, if you cannot explain it in 140 characters, it is not worth saying. It is the simplicity of social media that is so dangerous. The complex arguments with which we have to grapple are never 10:0, 9:1 or 8:2; most decisions are 6:4 or 5.5:4.5, if you are lucky. Whether it is globalisation or multiculturalism, there is always a down side as well as an up side, and we need space and time for debate to communicate sufficiently.
Nothing is new, of course. I am a social scientist. I fear to quote from 19th-century French sociology, but Émile Durkheim was the founder of sociology. His whole issue was: how can societies maintain their integrity and coherence in modernity when traditional social and religious ties can no longer be assumed? That was the history of sociology: the concepts of alienation and anomie. What we are suffering from is alienation and anomie, and the cult of the individual, all of which were described by Émile Durkheim more than 100 years ago.
I believe our Prime Minister understands this. She spoke very swiftly about the importance of social mobility and equal access to opportunity. If you are black, you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system. If you are a white working-class boy, you are less likely than anyone to reach the top professions. If you suffer from mental health problems, there is not enough help to hand. That is very similar to the Prime Minister for whom I worked 25 years ago, who said he was looking for
“a nation at ease with itself”.
My concern is that every generation has to re-evaluate, share and promulgate the values that we care so much about.
Finally, I hope that the Minister will pass on to his Secretary of State an invitation to visit Hull during the Year of Culture next year, because a sense of place and community is one way in which we can help people to share values and develop a sense of responsibility. Even more important, the most reverend Primate is definitely expected in Hull next year to visit the nation’s largest parish church, Holy Trinity, Hull, which is 700 years old. When he comes, I hope we will hear even more about how, in the words of our prayer when we start, we can work together, uniting and knitting the nation together.
My Lords, I am glad we are today discussing shared values, not British values, because these are values we share with other countries; indeed, that we hope are universal values. One of the things that has led to a deterioration in our national debate has been the claim by some on the right that English values—or, more precisely, Anglo-Saxon values—are different from and superior to the values of other nations. I read Daniel Hannan’s book How We Invented Freedom—a sort of simplified, child’s version of Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples—which dismisses the French Revolution and all other contributions and assumes that continental countries are naturally authoritarian. That is not my world, although I remember when I first went to the United States going out briefly with a young Italian-American woman who said to me, “Do you know, you are the first white Anglo-Saxon Protestant I have ever gone out with?”, so I knew where I was coming from.
I also have some hesitation about calling them Christian values, even though I grew up absolutely at the heart of the Church of England, because I am conscious that the history of liberalism, tolerance and dissent is, on the European continent, the history of liberals fighting against the authoritarianism and orthodoxy of the Roman Catholic Church and in Britain has a great deal to do with the Quakers, the Congregationalists and the other nonconformists dissenting from what was then a rather complacent establishment which supported the powers that be. I remember that in my Church of England primary school, we occasionally sang “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, with that dreadful verse:
“The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate”.
We have come some way, even within the Church of England, in our understanding of values.
That is also true, of course, of other faiths, such as Judaism and Islam. Some very interesting and enthusiastic young Muslims came to talk to me the other week about developing a liberal approach to Islam. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, has just written a book on aspects of that, which I very much look forward to reading. Of course, these are also humanist values. I strongly agree with the noble Baroness that these are aspirations and ideals as much as settled values, let alone anything one can take for granted. Each generation has to fight to maintain these values, as well as to redefine them. We all recognise that fear, prejudice and setbacks all damage acceptance of these values—that they do not survive unless we go out to defend them, as we have seen in what happened immediately after the referendum.
There are obvious threats to these values: rapid social and economic change most evidently. I do most of my politics in west Yorkshire, and I see the extent to which knocking down the old communities and the establishment of nice, new semi-detached houses, which lack the core of the community and break up the old extended families, has weakened some of the intermediate social institutions. The disappearance of the mills and factories where you worked together and their replacement by insecure, lonely work has also weakened them. The disappearance of nonconformist churches has, sadly, weakened them further. Then immigration, and the expectation of further immigration as a result of the world’s rising population, is another unsettling dimension.
In the middle of the referendum campaign, I spoke in Ripon Cathedral on the issues that we had to consider, and ended a discussion on the question of immigration and population growth by saying that you have to decide, “Who is your neighbour?”. One of the discussion groups came back to me after a brief interval and said, “We have been discussing on our table: who is not my neighbour?”. That will be a very difficult question for us all to consider over the next generation, as the poor of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia try to get to a more secure world. Globalisation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, said, has swept over those areas, and those who are left behind by the transformation of work and will be further left behind by its future transformation, have real grievances which we have to address. That is also part of the lesson of the referendum that we all need to learn.
How do we address that? Who should be contributing? Clearly, faith leaders; all of us as public figures and politicians; and local community leaders, in so far as we have them, because globalisation means that local employers and banks—I declare an interest as the son of a local bank manager—have disappeared, which is part of the loosening of local institutions. Local democracy is much weaker than it used to be. In Bradford and Leeds, each ward has 15,000 voters. That is not terribly local democracy. We all need to do our part, but we also need corporate leadership. I commend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for talking to corporate leaders and saying that they have failed to speak out about the responsibility of the corporate sector to the wider community within which it operates. That is something we need to hear from the banking community and leaders of multinational companies working in Britain and elsewhere. We need to make sure that they pay their taxes and contributions to the wider community. Then there are the media, old and new. With our traditional media, we have the odd phenomenon of what one has to call offshore nationalism—foreigners who own papers that talk against them. The Sun did it the other week, attacking foreign elites. It seems to me that Rupert Murdoch is a classic example of a foreign elite interfering in British politics, but the idea of self-parody does not, apparently, occur to the Sun or the Mail, from time to time. Social media are, of course, an additional problem.
We face huge problems in maintaining the liberal values this country has attained. We have to go out to fight for, defend and promote them.
My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for initiating this important debate. It is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, and to build on some of the things he has just said. In the last few years of the 20th century, I was part of the Lambeth group, representatives of different religions who met at Lambeth Palace to plan celebrations for the new millennium and the layout of the Faith Zone in the Millennium Dome. We were conscious of the fact that in the 20th century more people had died in war and conflict than in the rest of recorded history, and we reflected on hopes for a better future.
I was asked to head a small group to draw up a list of values for peace and justice in the 21st century. As a start, I put forward a list based on the teachings of the Sikh gurus, and the commonalities between different faiths became evident as the list was virtually agreed as it was. It was prominently displayed in the Faith Zone of the Millennium Dome and talked about in various conferences; then it was filed away in the archives of Lambeth Palace and the repositories of other faiths. Let us fast-forward a few years to another meeting at Lambeth Palace—in the very same room where we used to meet—and a charismatic preacher from America saying that what we needed were values.
There are plenty of values about and plenty of guidance in our different religious books. For most of our faiths, it can be put on one sheet of A4. The problem is that although stating those teachings and values is relatively easy, it is extremely difficult to live by them. So we humans find surrogates and alternatives for true and difficult commitments, such as rituals, penances and pilgrimages; such actions give a sense of satisfaction and spirituality. But as Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, observed, in themselves they are,
“not worth a grain of sesame seed”.
The guru taught that living true to such values is what really counts. The task then given to the nine succeeding gurus was to live true to those teachings in very challenging social and political times—and it was not easy.
One value that we call a British value is tolerance and respect for others. Guru Arjan, the fifth guru, showed that respect by inviting a Muslim saint, Mian Mir, to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple, which was constructed with a door at each of its four sides to denote a welcome to all coming from any geographic or spiritual direction. Inside the temple or gurdwara and in all gurdwaras, a vegetarian meal called langar is served to all, without any distinction of caste or creed. When the Mughal emperor Akbar visited the guru, he, too, was asked to sit and eat with people of different social backgrounds. The guru also added verses of Hindu and Muslim saints to our holy scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, to show that no one faith had the monopoly of truth. However, living true to such basic values is not easy: the guru was arrested and tortured to death in the searing heat of an Indian June, for daring to suggest that there was more than one way to God. Sikhs commemorate that martyrdom not by showing any sign of bitterness but by serving cool, refreshing drinks to all near their homes or gurdwaras. Some years back, I decided to organise the serving of free cooling drinks in Hyde Park, and the initial reaction of the Hyde Park authorities was not very encouraging. They said, “You can’t do that sort of thing in a royal park—everyone will start doing it”.
Guru Arjan’s successor, Hargobind, was imprisoned in Gwalior Fort for his belief, along with 52 other princes. On the festival of Diwali, the Mughal emperor said, as a gesture of good will, that Guru Hargobind was free to leave, but he stunned the emperor by saying, “I’m not going unless all the other 52 are also released”. He emphasised the importance of individual liberty for all—another British value.
In living true to exacting values, the ninth guru gave his life defending the right of another religion to worship in the manner of its choice. Voltaire said, “I may not believe in what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. It was Guru Tegh Bahadur who years earlier gave that noble sentiment practical utterance. The 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, emphasised the importance of democracy, another British value.
The Sikh turban that we wear is supposed—and perhaps I should emphasise “supposed”—to remind us of the ideals by which we should live. The values that I have spoken of and those taught in Britain today are in fact universal values, taught by different faiths, and should be referred to as universal values. We urgently need to go beyond simply making lists or paying lip service to universal human values; we need to incorporate them, as the founders of our different faiths intended, into how we live, move and have our being. It is hypocritical to talk of the commitment to democracy and pally up to tyrants such as the rulers of Saudi Arabia, or to say, as our Trade Secretary said a couple of years ago, that we should not mention human rights when we talk trade with China. It is wrong that the weak and vulnerable in society should depend on charitable appeals for basic necessities when their needs should be a first charge on all of us. It is wrong to talk of respect for all, and then use families settled here for generations as bargaining chips for Brexit.
Britain has led the world in many ways. My hope is that we will now lead in closing the gap in our long-suffering world between values that we all accept and the lure of self-interest in both personal dealings and the way we view the world.
My Lords, I do not come from noble stock; indeed, I am rather proud of the fact that I have no political pedigree. I was born in Croydon to a Geordie mother and a French father. My journey to Westminster happened by complete chance, but I learned from a young age that if you get a spot of luck you hold on to its coat-tails and do not let go.
I cut my teeth on a trading floor in the City but spent the majority of my career at the coal face of Westminster politics. My most recent role was the Prime Minister’s director of external relations. Prior to that, I spent seven years as his press secretary and praetorian guard with the media. Unusually, I emerged from this role still committed to a free and unbending press—although I have to admit that there were times when I looked to China with a certain degree of envy. What is more, I am grateful to those journalists—many of whom are now friends—for giving me the best training ahead of motherhood. Interrupted nights; tantrums; unreasonable behaviour: being a mother is a breeze in comparison.
I will always be fiercely loyal to my old boss. He was not a self-serving politician; he always did what he thought was best for the country and he was brave and honourable. I thank the doorkeepers and the parliamentary staff who have been so patient and kind with me. I also owe a great deal to my supporting Peers, my noble friends Lord Strathclyde and Lord Grade. To have these two impressive powerhouses introducing me was an honour I shall never forget. To stand and serve alongside greats on both sides of this House is sobering and a responsibility I do not take lightly, particularly as the baby of the House. Indeed, I must have looked so serious as I walked down the corridor to the Chamber on my first day that my noble friend Lord Strathclyde whispered in my ear and said, “My dear, you are being introduced to the House of Lords, not being led to the scaffold. Do try and smile”.
I thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for calling such an important and timely debate. We live in turbulent times, when so many things that we thought were certain are not necessarily so. It has, therefore, never been more important to ensure that shared values are properly sewn into the fabric of our public policy. Politics and values should go hand in hand. One without the other is like a body without a soul. These values must be relevant and tangible, rather than abstract and outdated, demonstrating that we politicians understand the challenges faced by people in their day-to-day lives. Without this, there is a danger that the weakening connection between the perceived political elite and the electorate may become even more frayed.
I will focus briefly on some of the values that will be dear to all in this House: compassion, kindness and a desire to look after the most vulnerable in society. To lose our compassion would be to lose our guiding light. A benchmark of a civilised society is how we care for the most vulnerable and, equally, how cared for they themselves feel. It should give us all pause for serious thought that such high numbers of teenagers are committing suicide and our elderly are feeling lonelier than ever.
In the context of this debate on values and public policy, I will touch on the subject of young people with learning disabilities and their sometimes precarious journey into adult life. My own little brother suffered from severe cerebral palsy and I sit on the board of a wonderful charity called KIDS which does so much work in this area. So I know a little about the challenges and difficulties disability can pose—but also the joy and goodness such adversity can bring out in people. Sadly, my brother died one month after his 12th birthday, but I remember being riven with worry, alongside my parents, about what a good adult life would look like for Marc.
Thankfully, we have come a long way since then, but we are only in the foothills of where we might like to be. For example, just under 6% of adults with a learning disability are in work. I recently visited Rosa Monckton’s brilliant social enterprise that offers training for some of these young people. This kind of scheme, rolled out further and wider, is what success might look like, and I will follow the Government’s consultation in this area closely. If we are really serious about closing the disability employment gap, we need to continue thinking creatively, so we can bring all of society with us.
I will give a simple example. If a coffee shop employs a young man with cerebral palsy there is a chance that the coffee may take a little longer to prepare. I would like to think that we could get to a place as a society where most people would not see this as being an unacceptable wait. Instead, we would be more understanding and tolerant. Indeed, we might even see it as an opportunity to slow down for a moment and reflect. Of course, employers must play their part, but if we are ever to really reduce the stigma and the gap we all must take responsibility to think and act differently.
I am genuinely excited to be able to make a contribution to the deliberations of this great institution. But I am also alive to the fact that you cannot change society by simply changing laws. Getting people with learning disabilities into the workforce does not need to be patronising or engineered. It can be productive and hugely beneficial to society as a whole—the very embodiment of shared values shaping public policy for the common good. We are beginning to move in the right direction but the cultural shift cannot happen fast enough.
My Lords, it is an honour to thank my noble friend Lady Bertin for her wonderful maiden speech. I have known her since 2005 and the moment when my noble friend Lord Strathclyde observed that she was not smiling was rare. I first remember her bristling around CCHQ and, having just moved down from the north-west, I welcomed seeing her smiling—and I know that that is what she has done in the corridors since she has joined us. Although she is the youngest Member of the House, she brings great experience with her. I will briefly say what we can expect from her.
I expect that we will receive a number of emails from my noble friend about fundraising activities. She ran the 2006 London marathon for the charity she spoke about. As to the media, I am reliably told by PR Weekly’s power list that she was loved by the lobby. This will bring a great deal to your Lordships’ House, as we need to understand the messaging that goes out to the general public. She brings with her the experience and skill of distilling apparently complex concepts into simple messages, which is invaluable when you have only 140 characters.
Perhaps the most important thing that my noble friend will bring to your Lordships’ House is that she has stood the test of time. Loyalty is a value we do not often hear about. The fact that she remained with the former Prime Minister’s team from beginning to end is noteworthy. It is also known—this will be of great value to your Lordships’ House—that she speaks truth to power. Apparently she told the former Prime Minister what she felt he needed to hear, not necessarily what he wanted to hear—and he did listen. We are most grateful to my noble friend and look forward to her contribution. We are particularly grateful that she held on tightly to the coat-tails of the opportunity that was given to her.
The most reverend Primate has given us a huge topic. I noticed, as I read his speeches, that he often weeps: I do not but I thought I would choose the two issues that make me want to. These shared values will be inculcated in institutions that operationalise policy, so I will comment briefly on the two I feel I am part of: the Church and this House.
Migration to the United Kingdom has changed aspects of our population over the last 70 years, so it is important to consider by whom values are shared or understood. Some 64 million people reside in the UK, but that includes 5.3 million who are not British citizens; 3.3 million who are British citizens but were born outside the UK; and perhaps we ought now to include the approximately 1 million British citizens living abroad who will soon be able to vote in our general elections. As far as I can trace, millions now self-define as British black, British Indian, British Muslim, as well as English. Our policies have to be formulated for everyone, so everyone needs a role in creating these shared values.
For years I have mused on the right analogy for how I see Britain’s values. Analogies are never perfect but the best model I have seen is the families who have children and then adopt others as well. The robust framework of who you are as a family is essential for everyone, so natural children still identify with the values but adopted children have a framework to join. But a decade or so later the values will have altered—perhaps even the framework—as new people have a role in forming it. It is not unrecognisable, of course, but it is different. The institutions of the United Kingdom have to keep their role but be elastic enough to change to allow the input of others, not just their inclusion.
The first of the two issues that make me want to weep is the Prime Minister’s welcome announcement of the systematic collection of data on racial inequalities across health, education and employment. This is not just data: it is people’s lives—friends who tell me that when they look for work as black women they just accept that they will be paid less than their white counterparts. For 10 years I have had the pleasure of working with many of Britain’s ethnic minority communities and there has been progress—for example, we have the first ever black British-born Lord-Lieutenant of London, Ken Olisa—but still many of the issues are similar. A report this week from Elevation Networks outlined that charity boards and trustees are less diverse than the FTSE 100.
This institution will change—perhaps reduce in size—but as regards a proposal that each group of us just votes to retain a certain number, what if no group votes to select any BME representation to remain? Justifiably we will be reformed as we will have pressed the self-destruct button. As a Baptist by original church attendance, I observe that this denomination seems to have taken racial diversity in its stride. About half the London leaders I spoke to recently were not white, and the president of the Baptist Union a few years ago was Pastor Kingsley Appiagyei, a British Ghanaian. I applaud the efforts and the heart of the Archbishop to reshape the Anglican Church, which has not appointed a non-white bishop since 2005—and, so far as I am aware, they have always been non-British born. While we welcome people from link dioceses abroad, the “Windrush” in 1948 did bring Anglicans—they were not all Pentecostal. How will the non-churchgoing generation react to national occasions with only white leadership on display, or to a Bishops’ Bench that will soon unfortunately potentially be racially undiverse? The shared value of racial diversity has to quickly become a shared reality for institutions.
The second issue that troubled me deeply arose when I served on the recent Select Committee on Social Mobility. Although I am a product of it, I became uncomfortable with the term. What did it say about the role of ordinary working people—generations of miners, shop workers and cleaners? Are they non-socially mobile? Where is the notion that your contribution and effort to the national vision is not determined by whether you are the highest or the lowest paid or do voluntary work? The APPG I co-chair has the London living wage charter mark, so I am not saying that we accept low pay. But as we stand here speaking today, that is possible only because police are on the gates, doorkeepers are at the entrance and caterers are cooking. These people have different roles but all together we make this institution perform its role. I fear that we have lost the love and respect for ordinary working people. Why do we not offer work experience here that gives young people an insight into all our roles—not just that of being a parliamentarian but all the roles behind the scenes? It might help inculcate here the respect that I often feel is lacking for ordinary working people.
I believe that on many levels Brexit was those people saying, “See me, I am here”. They are missing from our institutions. The Church of England’s recent survey showed that 44% of English people and 81% of English practising Christians have a university-level qualification or equivalent. The people to whom I referred are missing from our institutions because, quite frankly, a lot of them are just too busy working. The abbreviation of the moment in the Westminster bubble is JAMs—the “just about managing”. But I think that GPs have the correct acronym, TATTs—“tired all the time”.
It is especially acute at this time of year with the run from 31 August right through to 25 December without a bank holiday. While annual leave can be taken, there is something different when we have a national day off. It is a collective public statement of the value of rest, especially if, like Christmas Day or Easter Sunday, the shops are closed. Shop workers often lose out on that shared time off as a bank holiday means shopping for leisure. Three days a year when the shops are closed might be good—and, if it is a Remembrance Day bank holiday, perhaps even the websites might close down and just put a poppy on their pages. We did shut down the television for an hour for I Am Team GB on a bank holiday, but perhaps we could all use a day where everyone can think and reflect on the shared values that we need going forward.
My Lords, I congratulate and thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for securing and leading this important and timely debate.
In thinking about the Motion before the House, it seems to me that there is an implied assumption in the phrase “shared values” that perhaps needs some examination before the remainder of the Motion can itself be considered. Do we, in fact, have shared values, and, if so, what are they? Other noble Lords have already touched on aspects of these questions. I am aware that I am asking something of a rhetorical question because, for a society to be cohesive and functional, there do, indeed, need to be shared values, which takes the question on to ask what those values should be.
Here is another question: should those values be at the level of our collective national life, or should they be at the level of the individual? Indeed, the most reverend Primate touched on this matter of level in his opening speech. I submit that, for values indeed to underpin national life and play a role in shaping policy priorities, then those values, first and foremost, should be relevant at the personal, individual level, as it is individuals who come together to create communities, and those communities come together to make a nation—if not an homogenous nation, then a state.
If it is therefore reasonable to argue that, if the values under discussion are most relevant at the individual level, then the next question is what those values should be. As all noble Lords taking part in this debate are experiencing, addressing questions of that magnitude in seven minutes is a near impossible challenge. I therefore fall back on past experience.
In the mid-1990s, the British Army came to the conclusion that it needed a set of core values. Like the United Kingdom, the British Army is most definitely not a homogenous organisation. When I was Chief of the General Staff between 2006 and 2009, the soldiers under my command came from 42 different nationalities and embraced all the main religions. Therefore, the six core values that were derived were values that a diverse community could embrace at the individual level and therefore form the basis of a common identity and purpose, and indeed underpin what the Army set out to be and to do. Noble Lords will be unsurprised by some of those six core values. You would expect an army to focus on courage, discipline and loyalty, but perhaps the other three are worthy of a moment’s reflection.
Selfless commitment, as a core value, puts the interests of others ahead of the interest of oneself, even to the point of being prepared to risk, or potentially to lose, one’s life in the greater interest of the cause in hand. Respect for others, as a core value, gets at the daily relationship of one with another. If respect for others is properly understood, then there is no place for bullying or sexual harassment in barracks and, on deployed operations, there is no place for abusing the local people, whose peace and security the Army has deployed to restore. The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, referred to the historic allegations inquiries, which I personally find obscene. If respect for others has been a formal Army core value for at least 15 years, is it really likely that 2,000 soldiers would have abused Iraqi citizens? Frankly, I find that suggestion obscene.
These core values, when fully understood and applied, can provide a moral framework around which a diverse community such as the Army can unite and move forward with purpose. But moving forward with purpose implies a leadership function, which is an essential element—perhaps the essential element—in the shaping of public policy priorities, which is the ultimate focus of this debate.
I further suggest that effective leadership needs more than just a moral framework; it needs a spiritual dimension, too. We often talk about inspirational leadership, and, of course, buried in the middle of that word “inspirational” is the root of that word, “spirit”. I submit that a truly effective leader, when the pressure is on, whether on the battlefield, in the boardroom or around the Cabinet table, needs to reach out for something bigger and stronger than themselves—to reach out into the spiritual dimension to find the inspiration in order to answer the question: “What do we do now?”. It is not for me to suggest to others where they should find their own spiritual dimension—it is an utterly personal thing—but find it and believe in it they, and we, must.
The sixth Army core value speaks to leadership as well. The leaders, those who shape policy priorities, will be looked at by the followers, the electorate, the people, and one key question is always asked: “Can I trust this person, the leader?”. What is the level of their integrity? Integrity is that sixth Army core value that so far I have not yet mentioned. It is the perceived level of personal integrity in a leader that will determine their success or failure as a participant in our national life and in playing a role in shaping policy priorities.
My Lords, a month or so ago I addressed this House for the first time. I spoke of my childhood years spent in Moscow as the daughter of a diplomat during the Cold War. Every year, families would gather for the traditional Christmas Eve service at the British Embassy, singing the well-loved carols as we stared across the river at the Kremlin’s bright red star. Never was there a prouder and more patriotic group, knowing in our hearts that we stood for the values we hold dear—for freedom and democracy in a world struggling against totalitarianism and war.
My father’s generation were the “Cold War warriors”, many of whom sit on these Benches today. They battled hard to defend our values and way of life, and it falls to each and every generation to take their lead. For we are foolish if we think these freedoms can ever be taken for granted. That is why I congratulate the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on calling for this important debate today. It must surely be in the best tradition of this House to safeguard and promote values in our nation’s life.
I am proud to call myself a patriot and a liberal Conservative, and I see no conflict in these things. I know that we liberal Conservatives are a little out of fashion at the moment, but as I tell my teenage daughter, the fashionable thing can be overpriced and suit you less. I count myself extremely lucky to live in a democracy —not just any democracy but one of the oldest and most robust in the world. Whatever you think of the EU referendum—and I fought on the losing side—it proved how alive and well our democracy is today. I am proud too to live in a country where there is respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech and, dare I say it, freedom of the press, and where people’s right to ownership is respected and not frowned on. I am proudest of all to be part of a society where tolerance and kindness have always underlined our national values. All these things are precious, and should be protected and cultivated by each and every one of us.
It was my privilege to serve David Cameron for the six years he was Prime Minister and I am proud of what he achieved for our country, especially creating so many new jobs and reducing the number of workless families, introducing a fairer wage for all, giving more children the chance to go to a good school, and not turning our back on the world’s poor. Those are examples of how good values can be brought to bear on public policy. I urge us to be guided by these values as we step forward into what feels like an uncertain future.
Today I will touch very briefly on two contrasting areas of policy. First, on the economy, it is important for everyone that we have a strong economy and that the benefits of it are felt by all. I worry that too often the creation of wealth is seen as a bad thing which only benefits the few. The way we speak about it does not always help. It is hardly reassuring to be told that wealth “trickles down”. We should remember that a healthy economy is not just a statistic but a reality for people’s lives and their families. It provides us with jobs and helps us pay for things we want collectively as a society, such as our health service and schools for our children, our welfare system and our Armed Forces. We should work with business as part of the solution, but equally, we must get them to play their part, behaving responsibly as good employers, offering fair wages, decent contracts—and paying their taxes and being modest in their own pay.
Nothing reflects more truly on the values of a society than how we treat our most vulnerable. As my noble friend Lady Bertin said so eloquently in her brilliant maiden speech, it falls to us to protect those who cannot look after themselves. I count myself extremely fortunate to have worked alongside her for over a decade. Her intelligence, compassion and determination bring so much to all she does, as I know it will to her work in this House. However, it also falls to us to protect those in our care—and here I mean children and young people, who are on the cusp of adulthood. Of course there have always been pressures on young people, and there always will be, but today we bring our children into a complex world, where you can be judged every second of the day on Instagram or Facebook. It is our duty to do our best to support them, because our country’s future is in their hands. That brings me on to my second point.
I am deeply worried about the rise in serious mental health issues among children and adolescents in Britain today and the inadequate support they receive. These children seek help for serious conditions, and many of them are turned away or have to wait long periods for treatment. A lightning review by the Children’s Commissioner in May of this year stated that as many as one in 250 children were referred to what is known as CAMHS by professionals. Of these, 28% were not allocated a service at all and 58% went on a waiting list. There is a lack of early intervention, meaning that patients are likely to be more severely affected when they finally get treatment and often have to be admitted to hospital, sometimes miles from their families and friends. This sense of isolation only makes matters worse.
We have a real problem here. We need to help more children, and earlier. We need to support teachers and schools, who are often the first to deal with a sick child, and work with some of the best practice in the voluntary sector. I urge the Government to review the situation as a matter of extreme urgency. I fear that we are letting a generation of young people down. We owe it to them and to our society as a whole to do better than this.
My Lords, I thank the most reverend Prelate for introducing this debate. It falls to me, as the first speaker from these Benches since the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, to congratulate her on her maiden speech. Many years ago, I too was the youngest Member of the House. The noble Baroness is infinitely better qualified to be here than I ever was, and I have survived a good few years, despite one or two attempts to get rid of me. I welcome what she and the other maiden speaker said, and welcome that much of what she and other noble Lords said today was about things that can be embraced around the House. There has been a degree of commonality of purpose, even if there has also been a difference in approach.
The heavy intellectual lifting in this debate has been done by others, particularly by those on my own Benches, whom I thank. I will draw attention to some of the things which help to shape the values we have in our society. That is those myriad voluntary groups, which share two things. They need to have a treasurer and a secretary. I started with sports clubs. We are told that exercise is the great wonder drug of the National Health Service. It gets people out there, gets them involved, leads to social interaction, stops loneliness, makes sure that people get together, supports societies, and supports education. Then I remembered certain things: we discovered that these clubs do not interact with each other terribly well; they become competitive; they do not talk to each other properly; and they do not realise that they have the same problems across the board. Now, the overarching body is going to try to bring them together, but there will always be that tension.
Exactly the same applies to other groups. Let us take amateur dramatics. What do amateur dramatics groups and rugby clubs have in common? Well, you might come across dramatic interaction with the referee every now and again. Other sports clubs come into this category as well, and they have exactly the same virtues—the one difference perhaps being that your heart rate does not go up quite as much during a questionable performance of “Macbeth”. However, they still have to gather people together and interact with each other.
Then there are the charities. We all deal with charities and they lobby us persistently. Dozens of charities campaign for virtually the same thing but compete with each other. Which of us here has not come across a charity that basically tries to outsuffer its neighbour? One will say, “The problems I am dealing with are absolutely world-turning”, to which another will reply, “No, mine are”. You discover that they are dealing with the same pieces of legislation and the same failures within the system, often in enacting laws that we have passed.
This House and another place have a key role in encouraging these groups to talk to each other and become coherent. If they do not, they will become incredibly easy to ignore. I do not know how much time I have spent in the years I have been here encouraging them to talk to each other so that a Minister can give a coherent answer without having to fend off several competing positions. In the field of education I have on numerous occasions said, “Speak to the other people, even those with hidden disabilities”. As president of the British Dyslexia Association I have got into rows when people have said, “Dyslexia is the big problem”. My response has been, “No, it is one of the problems”. Those working in the field of autism, dyspraxia and dyscalculia do not talk to each other, despite the fact that they all come together under one spectrum.
I have been waiting for the opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Nash— although as yet I have been unable to do so—for the work he did in changing teacher training to make sure that all these strings were brought together in the national curriculum. That is an example of an area where we have worked together. Unless we do that across the board and get a more coherent strategy, we will lose many opportunities to obtain shared values. If we do not come together in one big cause, we will find ourselves fighting little battles that ultimately will be doomed to failure.
We should look back at the voluntary groups which have a common purpose, or similar purposes, and which have succeeded at being fellow travellers for at least part of the time. If we do not do that, we will miss many opportunities to get a coherent answer to problems—one where you look to your allies. Indeed, looking to your allies can create some of the answers if you bring yourselves together as a whole. If groups need treasurers and secretaries and are working in a similar field, they have a common cause. I hope that those in this House and all the political class will go out and talk to these groups. If we do, we will probably start to find out the perceived problems, the true ways of reaching them and the true ways of enjoying ourselves that are common to this society.
My Lords, I suggest that a longing for social justice is a shared British value. I say this as a landowner who has been moved by his own faith to start a local rural housing association, farming co-operatives and a residential centre for renewal, reconciliation and interfaith dialogue. Such initiatives, however, do not cover the whole country or reach all of society.
After the poverty brought on by the Industrial Revolution, Disraeli noticed the huge gap between rich and poor. He saw the country divided into two nations. His concern, and that of Peel, gave birth to one-nation Tories, some of whom, I am glad to say, continue to this day. Dickens and GK Chesterton shared the same longing. The Prime Minister herself, on entering office, said that,
“we believe in a union … between all of our citizens”.
She referred to,
“the mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone”.
Those were words that we needed to hear and I will try to explain why.
In our lifetimes, the Beveridge plan and the welfare state were believed to have ended harsh poverty in Britain. Since then, the privatisation of state assets and the rapid rise in salaries for managers and rewards for owners have reopened the gap. Two factors made the income gap more severe for low earners, the unemployed and disabled. The first was the need to reduce personal debt following the bank crisis of 2008. This pushed some into payday loans and other high-interest forms of credit. Secondly, welfare reform has put new burdens on those less able to bear them. At the same time, local authority services have been squeezed, causing a loss of staff and closing some children’s centres and libraries.
The combination just mentioned has caused acute local need, leaving many people unable to afford enough heating or food. That is indeed harsh poverty. The wider public have responded magnificently, setting up well over 400 food banks and better debt advice. Politically, disillusion with the traditional parties has produced a huge protest vote, as seen in UKIP and the referendum. I trust that this debate will spur the Churches and all the faiths to campaign for social justice throughout society. Charity is important but it will not solve all problems. Greater redistribution of national income is necessary, since VAT and other flat-rate taxes bear more heavily on the least well off.
There are many lessons for public policy. A wealthy country should be ashamed to have so many people queuing for free food. In response to that, the level of volunteering is most encouraging. By itself, however, it will not bring about the common good of all. Therefore, government departments should consider how they can promote self-help—for example, through co-operatives of all kinds, including credit unions, and credit guarantees for small but growing businesses. Public and private investment should be mobilised to produce far more affordable homes than are currently planned. That would do more for family life than any amount of lament and exhortation. Less frequent changes of structures and systems in statutory education, health and welfare would also be a great help. The Government should try to divert the best brains away from financial services and the defence industry into sustainable development.
To put the British value of social justice into practice, we can certainly start with volunteering and the National Citizen Service. More is needed by way of corporate social responsibility, as has been mentioned, and collective self-help. Both should be backed up by better-quality government, with legislation for wealth sharing and income redistribution through well-designed public services.
I conclude that a new direction of this kind is indeed inspired by the Abrahamic values mentioned by the most reverend Primate, but they are ones that can be shared by people of good will everywhere.
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer to an Urgent Question given earlier today in the other place by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, James Wharton. The Statement is as follows:
“The House will be aware that the Government published yesterday, Raising the Standard: the Multilateral Development Review 2016, and Rising to the Challenge of Ending Poverty: the Bilateral Development Review 2016. These reviews set out how the UK will address the global response to problems that threaten us here at home, such as the migration crisis, cross-border conflict, climate change and disease pandemics. In the reviews, the International Development Secretary makes it clear that Britain’s aid contribution is an investment in our future security and national interest. As the reviews describe, the UK will champion an open, modern and innovative approach to development that will effectively tackle the global challenges of the 21st century, while delivering the best results for the world’s poorest. This is clearly in our national interest.
The reviews are an extensive and detailed look at the UK bilateral and multilateral development systems. They confirm the geographic regions of focus for the UK, which multilateral organisations the Department for International Development will work with, and the tools that will be used to maximise our impact as we tackle poverty across the globe. The reviews highlight best practice in the global development system, as well as examples of poor performance that will face urgent action.
The Government are clear that the global approach to development needs to adapt and reform to keep pace with our rapidly changing world. As a world leader, the UK will be at the forefront of these changes, promoting pioneering investment in the most challenging and fragile of countries, making greater use of cutting-edge technology and sharing skills from the best British institutions—from our NHS to our great universities. Improving the way the UK delivers aid along with our multilateral partners is vital to delivering the best results in fighting poverty and getting value for taxpayers’ money. Global Britain is outward looking and we will use our aid budget to build a more stable, secure and prosperous world for us all. This is not only the right thing to do, it is firmly in our interest”.
I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement in response to the Urgent Question. I very much hope, however, that proper time will be given to a fuller debate of these very important reviews. There are many issues that need to be covered. The good news from the reviews is that despite the Secretary of State’s expressed opinions about DfID prior to her taking up office, they confirm the overwhelming good that our aid does in saving lives and tackling poverty, but crucially, that this is in our national interest. I welcome that continued commitment.
The continued focus on fragile and conflict-affected states and on international agencies such as the Global Fund for HIV, TB and malaria, which are saving millions of lives, is welcome. However, there is a lack of detail in the reviews. In particular, are there any planned country programme closures? Are there any changes to some of our bilateral programmes, particularly on HIV, which we discussed earlier this week?
The emphasis on value for money is important, but we must ensure that success is measured not simply by the cash we put in but by the change we effect. I have no doubt we will return to the issue of investment when the CDC Bill comes to this House. There are big issues in that Bill that we need to discuss in detail.
What consideration has been given in the Government’s plans for exiting the EU to the reports’ conclusion that funding via EU institutions is some of the most effective of all global agencies? Is the Minister’s department being fully consulted on alternative delivery mechanisms and all the options? Is the Minister being fully consulted on the Government’s development objectives in a post-Brexit era?
I thank the noble Lord for his welcome for the Statement and for the commitment the Secretary of State and the department have to continuing the fight against extreme poverty around the world. He asked a number of questions and I will try to address them.
The funding for bilateral country programmes is set out in the annual report, but for only two years. Obviously, the situations in question are fast moving and dynamic, such as what is currently happening in Syria and the Middle East. Therefore, resources have to be targeted where they are needed most. We will make clear our funding for future programmes when the annual report is published next year.
As to whether programmes will change or close, again, that will be driven by the priorities we face and the targets we have. We are rightly constrained by delivering on certain targets, not only by our manifesto commitments on education but by the sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030, which will be a focus for us.
The noble Lord mentioned getting time for a debate. I personally support that but I am aware that I have by my side the distinguished figure of the Deputy Chief Whip. I am sure that, through the usual channels, time for these matters can be arranged.
On the point about exiting the European Union, we have, of course, a department for that. It is good to put on record and show up—it is a benefit of this process of bilateral and multilateral development reviews—who are the high performers and who are not. The noble Lord is absolutely right that among the high performers is the European Development Fund. Given that we have a global commitment to target disease, look at the humanitarian effort and reduce conflict, we will continue to work with our European colleagues in pursuit of that. The question whether that happens through that fund or through supranational institutional funds such as the UN’s, which also got a number of high ratings, will be dealt with in the course of that review process.
My Lords, the challenges facing the world are no respecters of national boundaries. Will the Minister commit the Government to standing up against the retreat from multilateralism that can be seen both in our country and across the world and to defending global institutions such as the UN against the rise of isolationism?
I do not recognise the retreat from multilateralism. We are gearing up on that—we are talking about the Global Fund and GAVI. In many of the areas we need to reach, we cannot work nationally or regionally, so it is essential that we work globally. We are absolutely committed to that effort.
My Lords, it is the turn of the Cross Benches.
Will the Minister please tell me what the role of family planning is in these reviews? I have no idea what is in the reviews, but family planning was quite a high priority in DfID before the new Secretary of State arrived. I would be grateful if I had some assurance that it still is.
I can certainly give that assurance and will write to the noble Baroness with the details. I already have a letter for her in my in-tray on the CDC, so I will add a paragraph to that, if I may.
My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund. Does the Minister agree with me that the surest route out of poverty is jobs, that the surest defence of peace is jobs and that the surest guard against forced migration is jobs? Will he therefore give the House the reassurance that bilateral programmes, like the one that used to exist in Burundi and others in fragile areas such as the Great Lakes, Somalia, Somaliland and South Sudan, will continue to be supported under this review, because they are making a huge difference?
I pay tribute to the work the noble Lord has done for the organisations he is involved with in promoting that. Economic development is at the heart of eradicating extreme poverty. We cannot do it through aid flows alone: there has to be the wider context.
The lifting of people out of poverty, including the 50% reduction in the number in extreme poverty, has come largely through major economies such as those of India, China, and Brazil increasing trade and economic development. The same applies to sub-Saharan Africa.
My Lords, Andrew Mitchell changed DfID for the better with the original multilateral and bilateral aid reviews. DfID follows the money. It is very good value for money. My concerns are less about the outcome of the current aid reviews and more about the use of the ODA by departments other than DfID across government. Will there be a review of the use of ODA by other departments?
That is a very good point. Of course, the noble Baroness was a distinguished Minister in the department working in that area. As we move to more cross-government funding through the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund and the prosperity fund, it is important that the same rigour be applied. I am sure the International Development Committee will look closely at that. If not, the Public Accounts Committee awaits.
Can the Minister give us any assurance about flexibility in spending the target of 0.7% of GDP to spread it over a period of years?
I understand that that is the subject of the Bill before the House in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey. We have great reservations about that because we fought very hard to get where we are with 0.7% and we will not give it up, not least because it was a government manifesto commitment.
My Lords, I welcome this review and the general direction it takes, including that it is in Britain’s interest to have an effective development programme. I note that the Statement mentions,
“sharing skills from the best of British institutions”,
including the NHS, as part of this development programme. What is meant by that? More generally, we should recognise that in this process of development and indeed codevelopment, it is in our mutual interest to see that there is a lot we can gain from our partners in developing countries, as well as a lot we can give.
That is why the review process has been so widely welcomed by so many agencies, not least Gavi and Oxfam, which have put on record their support. This needs to be seen in the context of the multilateral and bilateral development reviews. Reviews of our civil society relationships and of the research are currently under way. We have added a commitment to spend 3% of our budget on research. Much of that will be spent in British universities to help us get better at tackling the issues around the world that are the cause of extreme poverty.
National Life: Shared Values and Public Policy Priorities
Motion to Take Note (Continued)
My Lords, I thank my noble friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on his foresight in tabling this debate on shared values. I also add my own congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, on their poignant and insightful maiden speeches.
In the diocese of Gloucester, I have recently been talking to young people about body image and reflecting with them on how their true worth begins deep within, the place from which true values emerge and are lived. Last Saturday, I hosted a huge community party in Cheltenham to publicly launch our new vision for the diocese of Gloucester. The vision has emerged from conversations in local communities, urban and rural, involving about 6,000 people, churchgoers and otherwise, discussing what sort of church they want to see in their communities. The vision is one of human flourishing and transformation, emanating from those words of Jesus from the gospel of John:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
That is a good starting place when it comes to talking about values.
Our party was a place of welcome and hospitality—key values for our country, and at the heart of this is relationship. Yesterday, in the diocese of Gloucester, people were meeting to talk about supporting and sponsoring refugee families in our communities. That is beyond the financial means of most parish churches on their own, but becomes possible when we pull together, living the shared values of hospitality, welcome and compassion. As a nation, we have prided ourselves on our compassionate hospitality, such as welcoming the 17th-century Huguenot refugees, in the Kindertransport scheme during the Second World War, and the various refugee movements over the years, including the present day.
These are big headlines and the challenge is to enable the values of hospitality, welcome and compassion to be lived at local level, not least with people who are different from ourselves. Just one example of this in Gloucester is our plan to use a diocesan property to accommodate women on release from Eastwood Park Prison. This is being made possible by partnering with the Nelson Trust, which is inspirational in its work with vulnerable women. This is about bringing together local resources with a charitable organisation occupying the middle space, so that shared values can be modelled and lived. Of course, such welcome can be sustainable only when we live the value of generosity—not just generosity with time and finance but generosity of spirit, wanting others to thrive and flourish, a willingness to respect others as we ourselves would want to be respected.
Next Friday, I will host a breakfast focused around mental health issues in young people. Those of us present will ask how we can use our influence in our different spheres of activity to be change-makers at a local level. When it comes to human flourishing and transformation, this is not only about welcome, hospitality, compassion and generosity, it is about modelling courage and indeed the hope that is so central to the Christian faith.
Recently, a baby in Gloucester died as a result of numerous injuries and his parents were arrested for neglect. The shocked community came together in its parish church. When in times of pain people come together and light candles in our churches and cathedrals, we are proclaiming together that the light of hope is stronger than the darkness of fear. Shared values cannot be actively lived in communities marked by fear. I think we can all agree that there have been times over the past year when communities in Britain and across the world have not always reflected the values of which we have been speaking. People can easily turn in on themselves and hope has sometimes been diminished by fear and distrust. For some, there has been a feeling that somehow those who enjoy power and responsibility are too keen to be the projectors of values rather than participants in their shared expression. That slogan in the EU referendum, “Take back control”, clearly had power for a reason, and these concerns cannot simply be dismissed.
Rather than pulling further apart as a society, we need to draw closer together, and that begins at the local level where relationships are forged and partnerships built. This enables values to be lived. The values of which I have spoken, modelled within local communities, are not about doing things to other people or even always for other people, they are about creating a culture of “with” other people. At our community party last Saturday there were people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, representatives of different local organisations, charities and enterprises. All were celebrating what we can be and do together; celebrating our assets, not our deficits. In it all I glimpsed those values being lived and it was a place of great hope being lived at the local level.
If we want to help build communities that embody healthy values which have shaped Britain at its best, we must ensure that our policies are courageous in empowering communities to make these values their own and be participants in their own futures. We must do what we can to resource and equip communities and enable charities and organisations in the middle ground to work with local communities so that people can live these values freely with others. It is a challenge that I believe the Church is rising to in local communities up and down the land. It is also a challenge for us here as legislators not simply to talk about values but to model them in who we are and what we do, and to use our influence to create the conditions within which these values can be lived for the flourishing of all, particularly at the local level.
My Lords, it is a great honour to speak in a debate initiated by the most reverend Primate and to follow so many speakers who have marked the importance of our shared values, and of respecting and celebrating them. As an Iranian Member of this House—I was born in Iran and we can never give up our nationality—who was educated at a French Catholic school in Iran, subsequently in a Protestant school in England and finally at a fiercely secular university, I would like to suggest that there are universal values which underpin humanity and civilised interactions which can be shared by all, regardless of creed, colour or nationality.
As a mother whose daughter has conducted her church’s junior choir and is now about to conduct the Yorkshire deaf children’s choir, I can say that over the Christmas period we as a family will be spending a great deal of time in a whole variety of churches celebrating the coming of Christmas and listening to our grandchildren singing in various choirs. My family used to celebrate Christmas with my aunt who was of Russian-German origin, and now we celebrate it and the Persian new year with our daughter, who is of Persian and New Zealand extraction. It seems to me that there is a universality of values which are important and have to be shared.
As a third generation feminist I know how difficult it is to fight for and obtain rights, and how much more difficult it is to retain the rights that we have actually achieved. It can be very dangerous to assume that we have accepted shared values and that we are going to adhere to them. We need to be vigilant and to defend them as far as we are able. Perhaps one of the best ways to move forward is by not labelling people as “British” or by their creed or colour because each of these “otherises” many of us and thus excludes us. A more positive approach might be to celebrate difference by welcoming the various pathways that people of different origins take towards the same end, and to participate in celebrating across cultures and across creeds. Perhaps we could mark the new year celebrations of all citizens and of all faiths and participate as far as we possibly can in the celebration of difference. Once we learn to celebrate and bring joy to difference and to recognise the shared value of enjoyment rather than an obligation and duty to respect, perhaps we could become part of the same society. The different approaches that we have to life are important and should be valorised and recognised. We ought not just to assume that we can insist on shared values as a principle; we can actively participate in them and perhaps we will then get somewhere.
My Lords, I am very pleased to follow the noble Baroness. When she talked about values, how right were the things she said to us. Values are to be found at individual, community and national levels, and in some sense universally. It seems to me that in this debate, so brilliantly introduced by the most reverend Primate, it is universal values we need to think about most carefully.
There are two things on the role of intermediates and institutions I want to bring out as a prelude. We would not be sitting here if it had not been for the role of intermediates and institutions. Westminster democracy arose at least strongly in part from the efforts of the Church as an intermediary and as an institution. As a final preliminary thought, I am informed by the phrase, “By their deeds ye shall know them”. Much of what we have heard has been about front-line action and deeds that have been taken and which are going on every day.
This Motion is very carefully and skilfully crafted. It represents a challenge when we come to the end of it. We first have to identify values. In my opinion that is not too difficult. We then have to consider which are shared, which is a more complex exercise. The shared values then have to have some role in underpinning our society—again, an additional complexity. Finally, the challenge is what the role of these shared and underpinning values is in settling our priorities in a liberal democracy. That is not so easy. I will try to concentrate on priorities.
At school, I had a history master who was a school chaplain and a canon of Winchester Cathedral. He had set pieces in his classes. One was about democratic expectations. He described the onward march of science, technology and knowledge in his life. He also taught us a lot about art and poetry. Walt Whitman was a great favourite of his. He worried because he said that the pace and quality of change was such that there must be some doubt that we would be able to cope with what was happening to us. He saw that as a threat to liberal democracy. He felt we would come to the day when we did not have the resources. We would know so much and have so much potential that we would fail to have the resources. He would have put people first and money second. If all this was to happen, there would be disappointment. There must be a question as to whether we could cope with that disappointment.
Briefly, a personal disappointment: I had always thought since the end of the Second World War and 1949 that our efforts to bring Europe together to avoid what had happened to us in the first half of the last century would never come to an end. How wrong I have been proved by the Brexit vote.
There are other things that draw one’s attention to the difficulty of establishing priorities: how are we coping with social media—that has also been mentioned —in our schools and more widely in our society? We have recently been debating, and will again, the integration of mental and physical health, which raises all sorts of priority problems and philosophical problems that we may not yet satisfactorily have solved. Then there is prison reform, which, along with many other features of our modern society, causes us difficulties when we come to decide which we should choose, and which we should choose first. We probably need to think very carefully, along the lines of the Motion, about priorities; probably much more carefully than we have been wont to do in the recent past. There is a text from Disraeli that runs:
“Without a knowledge of the spirit of the age life might prove a blunder … It did not follow that the spirit of the age should be adopted; it might be necessary to resist it; but it was essential to understand it”.
Good advice, I think. The challenge is to define our priorities and, I would add, to get much better at explaining why we choose the priorities that we do.
My Lords, listening to the most reverend Primate’s opening speech made me realise that this House is worth it and that it is a wonderful thing for us to be here to listen to people such as him, not because we agree on everything but because it certainly makes us think. That is probably more important than anything else. I have given some thought to what I believe and I shall share my thoughts with noble Lords.
I first came to this country in 1947—yes, I am that old—and realised how different the British were in their own country from how they were in my country. It was 1947, the year India got its independence, and my experience of the British in India was totally different from my experience of people here. People here were nice, had no problem with anything and went out of their way to help you; I just could not believe it. It was partly a shock and partly a pleasure. That was my introduction to this country.
I then went to University College London to study law. I have huge admiration for the common law of England. It is based on all the sensible things, the sort of things that mattered at a time when there was not so much legislation. We have been extremely lucky in the common law of England. It could have been much worse had there been some other kind of law. Of course, it was not quite like the Code Napoléon; it is not in one book that one can pick up and study but it has underpinned a lot of values. Everybody should spend a little time looking at the law.
I was very well treated at university. I never, ever felt I was any different from anybody else. At that time there were two Asians—one man and me—and one black man among the 80 students; the rest were all white, but none of us was ever made to feel any different. It was a wonderful time for me. All the things I feel I can do now took root at that time. It is very important to me that some of the fundamental values are set down in the common law of Britain. The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, and the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, are right in saying that these are not just Christian values. They are values of society and they are required for us to be able to function together. If we do not have some shared values in a society, we cannot function together. They may take root in each person’s faith, but they are not faith-based: they are shared values in themselves.
There are some issues that we have to look at. Some faith practices are not the same as the ones we are used to. We have been very conscious of not saying anything about them. Political correctness is one of the biggest disasters of the past 25 to 30 years. We do not like to speak about things that we do not like about other people because it is racist. No, it is not racist. There are faiths, especially the Abrahamic faiths, which treat women very badly. It is up to us to make sure that all women who live in this country are treated the same. It took women in this country more than a century—a century and a half, at least—to get the kind of status that they have now. Why should other women who come to live here not have the same? Why do they have to live according to different truths? The Catholics will not allow women family planning. The population of Italy is diminishing. The population of Africa is increasing. The Archbishop of Uganda said that every Catholic church must tell women that it is a great sin to use any kind of family planning. These women do not have money or food. They have illness and their children die—“That is all right but you must keep producing them”. I have a very big problem with that.
Then we have the sharia councils here, which do not treat women well. We are doing some work on this. Two reviews are being carried out, one by the Home Office and one by the Home Affairs Committee. The main problems are for women and children. In sharia, once the child reaches seven, the man can take the child away. The man can divorce the woman, he can put her out, and then if you say, “Why don’t you look after your family?”, the man says, “Oh, the Government will look after them”. There are some things we should not close our eyes to. Everyone who comes to live here must abide by the law and the customs of this country. It is completely wrong that people should do things that we do not do; otherwise, give those rights to everyone in this country.
The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, talked about terrorism. Terrorism is not part of Islam but somebody is brainwashing these young people into thinking that this is the right way to heaven. I do not know what kind of heaven they are going to but killing innocent people is completely against Islam. It has never been part of Islam, which says to be merciful to your enemies, not just to ordinary people. Daesh and terrorism are no part of Islam. But we must remember that if the good people keep quiet, it allows the bad ones to win, so anybody who can raise their voice against these things should do so.
I see that I am running out of time—I always do. I am also very concerned about faith schools. I used to be a teacher and, in my experience, it is young children who make relationships with each other. Faith schools separate children. We know what that has done in Northern Ireland. We, who have the experience of Northern Ireland, decided to have faith schools in this country—how is that possible? Sometimes I really cannot understand the thinking. The Anglican schools are all right because they take everybody but the other schools do not. Who will go to a Muslim school? Nobody. That is not a good prognosis for community cohesion.
We talk about rights and freedoms and individuality. We never mention responsibility. Every right comes with responsibility.
My Lords, I too thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for securing this timely debate. It is timely as, after the Brexit vote on 23 June, the nation is now more than ever considering what its shared values are and how they will impact our future.
Those who know me will be aware that I was born and raised in perhaps, in my opinion, the world’s most glamorous paradise. It is called Birmingham, just off the M6 motorway, by the gasworks. Being from a Jamaican immigrant family, I certainly believe that ethnic minorities here share certain values that are not uniquely British but universal—values such as fairness, tolerance, justice, democracy and freedom of speech. These values are taught first and foremost in the family, so government policies should always have the goal of strengthening families at their core. Families are the centre of British life.
There are some aspects of British life that are the envy of the world and need to be cherished and promoted. Britain is a sovereign nation, ruled by a monarch who has been the non-political head of state, and of the Commonwealth, for 64 years. She and her Royal Family have done it with a style matched by no others. Some years ago, I was waiting in line to receive the Queen and Prince Philip at a Commonwealth event. Prince Philip looked quizzically at me and asked, “What exotic part of the world are you from?”. I replied, “Birmingham”. He laughed and responded, “Well, I suppose somebody’s got to be”. We then both laughed, but my serious point is that the British monarchy is not just a figurehead; it has an important role in our future. There are 28 nations in the European Union, comprised of different languages and cultures. The Brexit vote will enable us to do more trade with the 52 nations of the Commonwealth, with which we have more in common in many ways than with Europe. The key common factors are the Queen, the English language, the Christian faith, our historical ties and, because of the Commonwealth Games, sports.
Another of our key values is tolerance, but it is worrying that, post Brexit, the number of racist attacks and amount of xenophobia have increased. I am glad to hear that the Government have commissioned an audit to strengthen policies against racial inequality and intolerance, but I hope that audit will lead to action.
Diversity and creativity are also hallmarks of modern Britain. A few years ago, I was delighted to watch my own daughters, who are talented musicians and dancers, perform across America. The creative industries are now worth more than £84 billion per year to the UK economy and generate almost £10 million per hour for it. Post Brexit, our exports will be vital to our prosperity, so it is disappointing to read in a recent report that cuts in funding to creative arts education are placing these industries at risk and that entry into them is increasingly becoming the preserve of the white middle class. Earlier this week the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation quoted the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber, describing the British theatre industry as still totally white. He added that, for his industry to survive, there need to be more black and Asian people performing on stage and behind the scenes. He warned that the theatre cannot be sustained by dwindling, ageing, white middle-class audiences.
Part of my family background is in sport. I still remember the thrill and excitement, as a 12 year-old, of playing my first game for the Warwickshire under-13 schools cricket team. It was a typically English cricket game in early summer, played first with bitterly cold frost on the ground followed by torrential rain. The game reached the usual ending after 45 minutes of “Rain stopped play”, but for me it was an early introduction to the joys of sport and teamwork. What is perhaps not recognised is that, since the middle of the 19th century, 10 major sports have been invented in Britain. They are soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, tennis, boxing, badminton, squash, table tennis and curling. Cricket in turn led to baseball, while rugby was also adopted by the Americans as gridiron football. In modern times, Britain has excelled in the Olympics and Paralympics, while the English Premier League is the envy of the soccer world. Most of the major sports around the world were codified in Great Britain. This makes it all the more sad that one school every two weeks gets the Government’s approval to sell off land or playing fields. Nearly 100 schools have sold their playing fields since the London Olympics in 2012. My son was one of the fastest schoolboy sprinters in England for his age group, yet he had nowhere to practise at his school.
My wife, Lady Laura, is American, and she saw at first hand how the dreadful atrocity of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was an attack on the shared values which the British and the Americans hold dear. We must in faith believe that we will continue to uphold these values. Faith has had a transforming role in our lives. We see this in particular in the 19th century in the lives of great Christian men and women—for example, William Wilberforce with anti-slavery, Lord Shaftesbury in the factories, Elizabeth Fry in the prisons and William Booth with the foundation of the Salvation Army. They believed that values could underpin a better life for everyone, even when progress in social conditions appeared to be far too slow. We have to adopt the same attitude of never giving up in promoting our shared values to shape public policies for the better. After all, faith is counting the stars, even when you cannot see them.
My Lords, we are all extremely grateful to the most reverend Primate for giving us the opportunity to have this wide-ranging debate. Having heard every single word that has been uttered, I can say it certainly has been a wide-ranging debate. During his extremely perceptive—I could almost use the word “visionary”—speech, the most reverend Primate talked about working towards a common purpose based on the shared values which, we have been reminded so often, are not uniquely British values but shared values that underpin any civilised society.
I could not help but think of the words said in the Chamber before the most reverend Primate made his splendid speech because, as with every last sitting day of the week, we began with Psalm 121, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills”, although this morning we had it in the metrical version from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester. When I go back to my home city of Lincoln and I look at the great and glorious cathedral on the hill, dominating not only the city but the countryside around, I think of how many people have been given inspiration and hope and have had their aspirations developed by that great building and all that it represents and encapsulates. And I cannot help but reflect that the true poor of the 21st century are those who have neither hope nor aspiration.
The real challenge facing us is to try to give to individuals a sense of hope and an aspiration. It is particularly germane at the moment because, without wanting to enter into the arguments over Brexit yet again, the fact of the matter is that, rightly or wrongly, many young people, including my grandchildren, feel that their hopes have been dashed and their aspirations reduced. It is up to us to try to prove them wrong, but that is how they feel, so this debate is indeed in every sense timely.
I want to give just two practical examples of how we could bring this sense of purpose to our national life. We have talked about the Abrahamic faith and other faiths. We had a very interesting speech from the noble Lord, Lord Singh, about the Sikhs. There is one thing that brings people of good will, whether of faith or not, together, and it is perhaps best encapsulated in the second great commandment, which is part of the communion service in the Anglican Church every week: “Love thy neighbour as thyself”, or in its secular version, “Do to others as you would be done by”.
I have said something similar to the most reverend Primate in the past, but I think he is in a unique position. As the senior Bishop under the Supreme Governor, Her Majesty the Queen, in the Anglican Communion he has a unique role. He can act as a catalyst. I would like to see, built on his splendid debate today, his taking a lead in bringing together the leaders of all faiths, whom I know he meets with regularly, and people of good will, including the humanists, to try and work out a charter of true values which can be inculcated in the young via their schools and universities.
That brings me on to my second point. At the risk of repeating things that I have said only recently, particularly in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, I am a tremendous believer in our having a national citizenship scheme. I believe that every young person between the age of 15 and 18 should do some community service and receive a much higher level of citizenship education than is normally the case at the moment. When they reach the age of 18, they should make a public recognition not only of their rights but, to take up a point made a few moments ago by the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, of their responsibilities, so that they have a rite of passage, or coming of age as it were, where they become full citizens. I would like this to be accompanied by the sort of citizenship ceremony that many new British subjects go through when they proclaim their allegiance to their new country.
I offer these as practical suggestions to the most reverend Primate, and in doing so, thank him again for the inspirational lead he gave at the beginning of this debate, which has indeed underlined many of those shared values which all of us fundamentally hold dear.
My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Cormack. His belief in bringing people together is really important. In this debate I want to focus on a number of specific issues.
In a debate at the end of last year, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, said that it was important for Churches to,
“make a distinction between teaching which may be applicable for their own members in their private lives and the basic rights and dignity that need to be accorded to everyone in their society, whatever their religion or belief”.—[Official Report, 17/9/15; col. 2034.]
I must say, however, that there were times in the debate on the same-sex marriage legislation when I felt the Church of England appeared not able or prepared to face up to that distinction. Where freedom of religion or belief is under attack, other fundamental freedoms often face a threat too. For me this remains the most critical issue for us in today’s debate, which I am extremely grateful to the most reverend Primate for initiating.
In our world today it is estimated that between 2% and 6% of adults identify as LGBTI. At a conservative estimate that is 58 million people, and the figure could be as many as 174 million people. The situation for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain has changed significantly, and I am extremely proud that this has been achieved with a level of cross-party support that would have been unthinkable in the 1980s.
However, domestic progress is not enough. We should speak up for those beyond our borders. In too many countries LGBT people are jailed, threatened and prosecuted because of who they are and who they love. Too many Governments have proposed or enacted laws that aim to curb freedom of expression, association, religion and peaceful protest. Often it is those countries that then criminalise homosexual behaviour or make it illegal. In fact same-sex conduct remains criminalised in 78 jurisdictions in the world, and 40 of the 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise same-sex relations for men, women or both.
Many of those laws are a hangover from British colonial rule. While they remain on the statute book, they have a continuing impact of fear, stigma, rejection, violence and, far too often, murder. However, some of the new laws being promulgated in Africa in particular stem not from British colonial rule but from the new conservative religious thrust from forces in America, which are lining up with intolerant Church leaders in Africa. In Nigeria—I was fortunate to host an event this week with a Nigerian refugee, an actor, about what it is like to be gay in that country—the law prohibiting same-sex marriage, as it is called, is the most draconian law against homosexuality in the world. They are, unfortunately, using language that was used in the same-sex marriage arguments when we had that debate here.
However, I recognise and welcome the declaration made by the primates of the global Anglian communion at the beginning of the year, unequivocally denouncing of laws to criminalise homosexuality and condemning homophobic prejudice and violence. At the time, the most reverend Primate took the opportunity to say personally,
“how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world including in this country”.
In the debate, the most reverend Primate referred to the rule of intermediate organisations in nurturing, protecting and enhancing our freedoms. As a lifelong trade unionist, I know only too well the importance of this. I too listened to “Thought for the Day” with the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, and it certainly inspired me. However, organisations need to change. As a young trade unionist, I knew only too well that they were not then bastions of women’s rights and gay rights. We had to change them, and we did so by focusing on shared common beliefs in solidarity and equality. They are organisations for progress, and we must never forget that. Randy Berry, the US special envoy for human rights of LGBT persons—a post that I hope will continue in future—said last year that in addition to the usual diplomacy with Governments, he believed that an essential part of his job was to engage robustly with civil society organisations, foundations and businesses, both in the US and overseas, promoting greater respect for LGBT people. Real progress on gay equality will ultimately come from grass-roots movements, but we need to help to create the conditions where those local gay rights movements can emerge and be sustained.
I truly welcome the words of the most reverend Primate, but my hope is that the Church he leads will translate those words into deeds, with action to be at the head of the movement of change throughout the world, so that all faiths defend and respect not only each other but the human rights of people like me.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and I could not agree more with everything he said about LGBT. Something I will never understand is the awfulness of a young person having to choose between their religious faith and their sexuality; I find that incomprehensible.
I am very grateful to have this debate and congratulate the most reverent Primate on bringing it to the House. What are our shared values? I know what I would like them to be—openness, tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, kindness, honesty, liberty and community—but the world does not appear to work like that. Brexit, as many have said, showed what a divided and somewhat nasty country we can be.
The political backdrop against which our lives play out inevitably colours the atmosphere of our day. Public policy on health, crime, employment, housing, education and the environment all contribute—and, clearly, a more equal society is vital in addressing the current malaise—but public policy can do only so much. It is both society and its governance—and religion—chicken and egg, that set our value system. There is an underlying rationale for malaise and misery when loss, divorce, unemployment, crime or ill health come our way; but there is relatively low unemployment and a relatively decent health service, and crime has been dropping for some time, but there is still malaise and misery. The old structures that held our society in place—marriage, religion, law, class or a virtual, unwritten but universal understanding of acceptable behaviour—are now far less certain, uniform or permanent than used to be the case. That is thankfully so in some of those instances, as they did not always embody values that I might wish to share.
How can we balance what is good for “me” with what is best for “us”: the aspiration for the common good, as opposed to selfish individual advancement? What role does government have in all this? This is tricky territory to tread, as with one false slip in the sentence, you open yourself to pastiche as wanting a ministry of fun and state-regulated, force-fed humour courses.
The deal was always that we behaved well because the Church and other religious establishments, parents, teachers, the police and our Government—pillars of society—said we should. They, at least theoretically, set an example of good behaviour and expected us to do the same. If we did as we were expected to, we were rewarded with approbation from our family, friends, teachers, the community or God—depending on our proclivity—or even an inner feeling of positivity or well-being, because we can actually as human beings universally distinguish right from wrong.
From our establishments, institutions and leaders came a code of social conduct that we all understood. There was either a penalty for deviating from the expectation of good behaviour, such as social exclusion, civil or state punishment or excommunication; or the simple reward of doing the right thing to fulfil our own expectations of ourselves, stemming from our innate sense of good behaviour.
That is no longer the case. This ordered existence has been disintegrating for years. Church attendance and belief are dropping, teachers’ position and authority is diminishing, parents are not exercising the level of control or influence over their children that they used to, and we have had the scandal of MPs’ expenses, banks defrauding us, paedophiles in the Catholic Church, sportspeople cheating, and so on and on. There are feet of clay all over the place, and the media feed the frenzy of this downward spiral and catalogue the cataclysm. The media themselves emphasise the negative, the nasty, the banal and the low-grade, let alone the 24-hour news cycle that is a monster that has to be fed. What about us? We shop on credit, we drink, we take drugs, we numb ourselves by sitting in front of one sort of screen or another and we blame everyone else—generally the Government or foreigners.
This is decline and fall. Governments have allowed a society to develop in which inequality, exclusion, stress and low-level tension are the norm. Mutual support and neighbourliness have declined; isolation is increasing, mental illness is more prevalent, and the signs of day-to-day anger and tension are everywhere. So we should look at policies to reduce stress and inequality, with much less emphasis on status and much more on co-operation and friendship. Status and friendship have their roots in fundamentally different ways of resolving the problem of the competition for scarce resources. Status is based on a pecking order, coercion and privileged access to resources, such as we in this House enjoy, while friendship is based on a more egalitarian basis of social obligations and reciprocity.
Of course, we need to re-establish trust in the state, and in the behaviour and nature of the state—perhaps even in experts—and they need to lead by example. In fact, that is the terror of Trump right now. In the grand sweep of policy, there are obviously “big picture” items, such as tackling poverty, reducing social exclusion, cutting crime and building more homes. But so often now the remedies that we apply to keep us on the straight and narrow are legal rather than social boundaries. However more stringent our laws are, with surveillance, rules, regulations, targets and punishments, they achieve so very little in terms of changing behaviour for the better. The exposure of the level of paedophilia in sport this last week, the Savile scandal and the sexual exploitation in Rotherham are not, I sadly suggest, scandals of the past alone. I suspect that, if we were to look under any rock, anywhere in this country, we would still find these horrors—and there are no values that I share with those who are the perpetrators of such horrors.
Public policy may set the tone for change of behaviour, but we all have a responsibility for behaviour change, and we cannot leave it to public policy or the Government. We must all learn to intervene and all challenge unacceptable behaviour. This is not authoritarian; this is social liberalism—and, ultimately, we must all take responsibility for our own behaviour.
I am glad to follow the noble Baroness. I think that I detected perhaps an extra spark in her speech this morning, in the light perhaps of the result of the by-election in London.
There have been an enormous variety of views in this interesting debate. I would almost describe it as a goldmine of thinking, and it will be well worth reading Hansard afterwards. But it is taking place against the background, as we have all agreed in this debate, of an unsettled country and an uncertainty shared very much with the rest of the western world—the rise of populism and the challenge to so-called establishments in all these countries and to international order. So it is an important time to discuss our values. Like everybody else, I would like to thank the most reverend Primate for his leadership. Before I get into trouble, I should declare an interest as the chair of the 2012 commission of the See of Canterbury which led to his nomination to the Queen to become Archbishop. I am extremely proud of that responsibility—unlike some of the other responsibilities that I have had in the past.
It is very healthy that there are signs of much more debate in society today about values—younger generations wanting to rediscover important values in their lives. I can illustrate this. Recently, I retired as High Steward of Westminster Abbey, where three years ago the Dean and Chapter established the Westminster Abbey Institute, in which a number of noble Lords participate, under the excellent leadership of Claire Foster-Gilbert. It is proving to be successful and meeting a demand. Its vision is to nurture and revitalise moral and spiritual virtues in public life; to inspire vocation to public service in those working in Whitehall and Westminster; and to promote public understanding of, and support for, public services as the basis of a civilised society. This covers Parliament, the judiciary, the Civil Service, the Government and the media, and the good news is the response—the participation by so many people from younger generations in these institutions, who want to discuss these issues. It is a wonderful indication of the desire to reinterpret our values.
In this debate, we have discussed the many values which we have established—and adapted—over centuries, ranging from democracy, the rule of law and free speech to honesty, integrity and truth. I want to highlight two today. The first is service, or duty, and the second is humility. The following words are familiar to the whole House:
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service … But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do”.
I declare an interest as a former Lord Chamberlain. Those are, of course, the words of Her Majesty the Queen, when she was Princess Elizabeth, in her famous broadcast from Cape Town on her 21st birthday. Throughout her reign she has demonstrated what service means. We, the public, all know what she meant and we responded. But she did not mean it to apply just to herself. That sense of duty and service should apply to all of us in all walks of life, whether in government, Parliament, the Civil Service or our local community. Above all, it means service to those who are weaker than ourselves.
Then there is humility. Like many others, I think there is too much focus on self and rights and too little on responsibility. Both service and humility are true Christian principles but they also underpin other faiths and humanism. All principles, but these two above all, must always be fulfilled in an atmosphere of humour. Next door to my house is the only Carthusian monastery in the British Isles. I recently went in, as I do from time to time, to talk to the father prior. We talked about humility and he said, “Yes, and the Carthusian order is far more humble than the Benedictines”—and then collapsed in laughter. We need more of that when discussing difficult issues at the present time.
I am also reminded of the words of Willie Whitelaw who said to me one evening: “Richard, you must remember that things are never so bad or never so good as you think they are”. How true that is. To put it in perspective, many good things have happened since World War II. To my mind, the biggest and most wonderful revolution that has taken place in our lifetime is equality of opportunity for women. There is greater equality for other groups in the community; there is less hierarchy; less class consciousness; people are living longer; there is less poverty; and many diseases have been eradicated worldwide.
But in the last decade we have had the financial crisis, which has left some communities deeply alienated and some of the wealthiest getting richer still. More recently, the referendums in Scotland and on the European Union have both threatened the unity of the United Kingdom and created uncertainty about our role in the world. Political leadership right across the board has embarked on a coarse debate, with a great deal of personal animosity, generating growing mistrust. Society has therefore become more polarised; promises have been broken; and there are more hate crimes and an undercurrent of violence and intolerance. The young today are uncertain and facing much mental stress. Modern technology, which brings many good things such as communication and more and better information, has nevertheless evoked a nasty degree of prejudice and hatred through social media, generating more frenzy in the atmosphere and a less reflective society.
The challenge is how to reunite the people of the United Kingdom: to bring all sections of the community together and to have give and take in our communities, not “let us have our cake and eat it”. So we must reconcile communities, heal and look outwards to the world, remembering our history and what those millions sacrificed their lives for. We may be leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe. We have to find ways to create greater security, as well as prosperity, by co-operation.
Looking outwards to the Commonwealth, we are still paternalistic as a nation. We need more humility in our approach. Only recently, we have confirmed that in the 1960s and 1970s we expelled the Chagossians from the British Indian Ocean Territory. We need more humility ourselves rather than preaching to others. We have our own experience of Northern Ireland, which we can share with others.
In conclusion, I believe that through the forum of the Commonwealth, and dialogue with it, as a family of friends, we can achieve an enormous amount in facing the challenges of the world today, bearing in mind the principles of service, duty and humility.
My Lords, I too thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for initiating today’s important and timely debate.
I am very proud to be British. This is a great country, one that I love with all my heart. The reason for my love is quite simple—the values of Great Britain. I agree with the most reverend Primate that most of these values come from the Christian faith. Many consider our values to be Britain’s finest exports and imports—the importance of democracy, the rule of law, equality and tolerance are all British values, as is the need to speak English. Moving to this country and not speaking the language is, I believe, breaking one of the social contracts that bind us together.
When putting together my notes for this debate, what struck me most were the differences between various communities living in Britain, how they define Britishness, and what constitutes shared values. This debate should be about bringing communities together through our shared values of love and loyalty to this great country. However, it is also vital to address the issues which prevent some communities integrating as well as others. That is, after all, in this country’s interest as well as their own.
The British Indian community is one of the most successful communities in Britain today, both socially and economically. The secret behind our community’s success is our commitment to integration. Many of the values that guide our community are the same as those which so often dictate our work in your Lordships’ House—the need for a good education; the importance of trade and entrepreneurship; the desire to own, and pride in owning, our own home; caring for one’s family and community; looking after those less fortunate than ourselves; and working to give the next generation more than we had ourselves. These values are promoted from the very top in the Hindu community through this country’s greatest Hindu institutions such as the Bhaktivedanta Manor in Elstree and the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, one of London’s most iconic buildings, which my noble friend the Minister visited in the summer. Both these institutions promote integration by taking part, and being at the forefront of, great British landmarks, including welcoming the Olympic torch for the London 2012 Olympic Games, celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, taking part in Remembrance Sunday services every year, and holding vegan-style Great British Bake Offs.
I sometimes fear for the future of this country when I find that other communities in Britain do not have the same level of commitment to promoting our shared values. Simple things such as ensuring that events are held in English, ensuring gender equality within communities, promoting national events and encouraging engagement in the political process can have a tremendous impact on communities. We should encourage all immigrant communities who have moved to the UK to take these simple steps. This helps to support integration and creates good will.
I will touch on two areas where we have not quite met our own high standards. The first is a loss of politeness in our political discussions. Nobody has a monopoly on the truth—none of us is right all the time. All of us have a duty to listen, even when we disagree. The referendum this year brought out the very worst in political debate, from all sides. Gone were the sensible discussions in which people politely disagree; in their place came a disgraceful attitude towards open and informative debate.
The other topic I am concerned about is the segmentation of political discussions. It is important to remember that we are one nation. That integration, and seeing ourselves as something bigger than ourselves, is vital for building a strong nation. Instead, all we are doing is posturing or inflaming a sense of “us and them”. When the Hindu Forum of Britain chose its slogan a number of years ago, it decided that “Proud to be British, Proud to be a Hindu” was the most appropriate. It shows that first and foremost, we are British. We all have our own identity and religion as well, but our primary role is as supporters of this great country. This morning I was pleased to read on the front page of the Times that a large number of people in the Muslim community are equally as patriotic as the Hindus.
Britain is now home to people from many different backgrounds, with different religions, communities and languages, but that makes it all the more important to promote the history and values of this great nation and ensure that we are united by a shared set of customs. There is simply no excuse for people and communities to remain isolated or to live by a different set of rules. It is divisive and, frankly, not British.
I started by saying that the importance of democracy is a great British value. It is, and we should treasure and protect it. I wish only to say that I was forced out of the country of my birth because of my skin colour. I was beaten and tortured there. I saw what a collapsing democracy and an intolerant nation look like. Britain in 2016 is far from it.
My Lords, I always look forward to the most reverend Primate’s annual debate because he invariably chooses an important subject that does not feature in the day-to-day business of this House, and today is no exception. I begin by expressing my thanks to him for giving me the opportunity to say some things that are close to my heart, and in doing so I salute him for all that he does for our national life and the way that he does it, endorsing the wisdom of my noble friend Lord Luce’s selection.
I hope that I will be forgiven for basing my contribution on my reflections on one aspect of our national life, namely the current crisis facing our prisons. Sadly I have had to conclude that, had certain values which I will outline underpinned the shaping of priorities concerning prison policy, the crisis might have been avoided.
The ethos of my regiment, The Rifle Brigade, was laid down by an ancestor of mine, Sir John Moore, who was killed at Corunna. The regiment was to be united by a mutual bond of trust and affection between all ranks, which the officers had to earn. The first standing regulations, published in 1801, began with the following:
“For a subject to meet with attention, it is necessary that the principle upon which it is founded should be thoroughly understood.
Experience has taught all those who have fully considered the nature and composition of armed bodies of men, that the most effectual and the most just mode of securing Discipline … is by establishing such an exact gradation of responsibility, from the Field Officer who commands the Corps to the Corporal who directs the squad, that not only every individual entrusted with command knows his precise station, and what is required of him, but performs his portion of duty cheerfully, when convinced that that portion is peculiarly his share, and is not oppressive to him, the rank immediately above him being equally subject to the authority of the next in superiority”.
Prisons are not armed bodies of men, but they are operational organisations, staffed by people who, being people, respond to the leadership of other people far better than they do to impersonal instructions issued on paper. Leadership, which has been most ably mentioned by my noble friend Lord Dannatt, has in too many instances become something of a dirty word in too many parts of the public sector, being replaced by the cult of managerialism, practised by bureaucracies.
When I was colonel commandant of the Royal Green Jackets, into which the Rifle Brigade was merged, the honorary colonel of our territorial regiment was a lovely man called Richard Wood. He had lost both legs in the war at the age of 21, and subsequently became a Conservative MP and Minister of Pensions. When I asked him whom he wanted to make the speech at his retirement dinner, he replied that he would like the person to whom he gave their first ministerial job, Margaret Thatcher. She spoke of the Ministry of Pensions as being a very happy place in which to work because Richard knew everyone and it was like being in a large family, which was not possible now because ministries had become so vast and impersonal. “Whose fault is that, Margaret?”, interjected Richard. But the point of the story is that the Prison Service, part of the vast and impersonal Ministry of Justice, is not managed by an “exact gradation of responsibility”—an essential if staff are to be led to protect the public by rehabilitating prisoners.
Among the statistics that should send shivers up the spines of those responsible for shaping public policy are those showing the current skills shortages and the appallingly low levels of literacy and numeracy among young people. The educational state of those received into young offender institutions is nothing less than an indictment of the educational system in this country. Those responsible for shaping public policy should reflect on this, because it suggests that they, and too many of their predecessors, have not understood the values that underpin national life.
On the day that I was appointed Chief Inspector of Prisons, someone told me that I should look out a speech made on 20 July 1910 by the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, in a debate on prison estimates. I did so, and it remained on my desk for the next five and a half years. Among the hallmarks of a decent and humane criminal justice system, he included,
“an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/7/1910; col. 1354.]
The only raw material that every nation has in common is its people, and woe betide it if it does not do everything possible to identify, nurture and develop the talents of its people—all its people. If it does not, it has only itself to blame if it fails. I fear that this has been ignored by too many policymakers, such as those who decreed the demise of vocational education or who pretend that everyone has the same academic ability. If only educational policy included aptitude testing, so that the innate treasure in the heart of every child could be discovered early enough for it to be nurtured and developed, there would not be such a hideous number of those who cannot read or write and those who do not have any skills that can be gainfully employed. I shall never forget the beam on one young offender’s face when such a test identified a talent, which the staff said they could develop—and then did, by finding a potential employer, who sent in teachers to increase his skill level. He left prison for secure employment. Why is there not more of this?
I rest my case, but I beg those responsible for shaping public policy to remember that people are not things and that, by ignoring proven values, they risk undermining national life.
My Lords, I welcome the opportunity provided by the most reverend Primate to debate so many of the most important challenges facing our country today. I would also like to congratulate my noble friends Lord McInnes and Lady Bertin on their excellent and thoughtful maiden speeches.
The most reverend Primate has spoken about our practices, loyalties and values, of human dignity for all human beings and of our failures, which call upon us to be clearer about our shared values. In this context, there are two crucial issues that we must not overlook: the suffering of women oppressed by religiously sanctioned gender discrimination, and a rapidly developing alternative quasi-legal system that undermines the fundamental principle of one law for all. More specifically, there are growing concerns about the application of established sharia-law principles, which threaten to destabilise even the most basic freedoms of women in our country today. I listened to the wise words of the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, and I will risk repeating some of what she has said already today. According to the Home Office, British women have been divorced under sharia law and left in penury. Sharia councils—we understand that there are more than 80 across the United Kingdom—give the testimony of a woman only half the weight of that of a man, and wives have been forced to return to abusive relationships because sharia councils have said that a husband has a right to chastise.
The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and I, together with cross-party support, have raised these two important issues on the Policing and Crime Bill. We are asking the Government to have the courage to require all marriages to be registered, so protecting vulnerable women by granting them legal protection and preventing polygamy. Many Muslim women are in marriages that are not legally recognised by English law and live in what are effectively polygamous households. In many instances these women are misled as to their legal status, and are therefore vulnerable. For example, divorce under sharia law means that a man may divorce his wife merely by uttering the words, “I divorce you”, three times. We know that Muslim women find it extremely difficult to speak out because they would be accused of going against so many moral codes within their faith. However, the evidence is there and it is growing, as their fear turns to courage.
We have been turning a blind eye to this discrimination for many years, chiefly because we would be called racist or intolerant of different cultures. We have preferred to focus on “multiculturalism” in the hope of developing shared values. We have also preferred to talk about promoting the rights of women in other parts of the world, particularly in conflict zones, while allowing so many shameful practices to continue here in the United Kingdom. It brings to mind a lady called Sami, born in the Middle East and now living in the UK. She said:
“Like me, many Muslim women are asylum seekers. They have fled their home country to live a safe life, they are running away from oppression and persecution that they suffered in their home country. They should not arrive in the UK to be met with further oppression through the operation of Sharia law”.
My own fear of speaking out for these women was largely diffused by talking to young Muslim men, born in this country, who have told me that they do not respect “my people” because we are weak and do not stand up for what we believe. In many ways I believe that these men are right. In our quest to be inclusive and seek to share our values, we have acquiesced in the disrespect, outright abuse and denial of equal access to our rule of law. It is time to put that right.
A Law Society scoping paper dated 2015 advocates the need for reform, recognising that the issue of religious-only marriages is one that is particularly prevalent in Muslim communities. It notes that there were only 200 legal marriages in Muslim places of marriage recorded in 2010, against a background of a population of 2.7 million Muslims in the 2011 census. In addition, of 1,242 Muslim places of worship, only 270 are registered for marriage. There is also a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into this issue at the moment and I have to ask why has it taken 40-plus years for MPs to look at this when, if they are active in their constituencies, they must surely know what is going on.
In addition, there is a Home Office review under way. However, it has drawn criticism from various quarters including Muslim women, mainly on the grounds that it focuses on the application of sharia law and seeks examples of best practice—in other words, how sharia is applied and how that application might be incompatible with our public law, rather than asking the fundamentally important question of whether sharia law itself is incompatible with our public law. By accepting sharia law in principle we are, and have been, accepting that one body of people living here in the UK may ignore the rule of law when they believe that it conflicts with their views and beliefs, particularly with regard to the treatment of women.
The most reverend Primate spoke of the rule of law not being of paramount importance when the law is unjust; in this context, surely we must insist that our rule of law is complied with, to protect these women from threat and fear and from isolation and, in the words of the most reverend Primate, from existing “alone in the dark”. Of course we must support freedom of religion and belief. However, we should not allow any institution or individuals to issue rulings and/or promote policies that are fundamentally incompatible with the values, laws, principles and policies of our United Kingdom. I therefore urge both my noble friend the Minister and the most reverend Primate to confront these vital issues as a priority to ensure that when we are shaping public policy priorities—perhaps, yes, using a more beautiful narrative—we can put hand on heart and say that we do so in a country where there is genuinely one law and equality and dignity for all.
My Lords, I was unable to be present for the whole debate, but with the leave of the House, I would like to speak in the most reverend Primate’s debate today. I wish to ask: who are we, the British, our national group of people? I speak as someone who knows my background to be—and it is probably much wider—Huguenot, Norwegian, Welsh, Cornish and English. Those are the ones I know about, although I am sure there are many more.
I stood in the ward of Ribbleton in Preston, Lancashire, in 1977 with a National Front opponent. At the time, I was involved in the Council of Europe with a project for primary school children to look at why people lived in their own communities. The children in Ribbleton exchanged with children in Finland to look at why people lived there. One of the most insightful moments was when I pointed something out to a boy. Noble Lords can imagine there was a lot of anti-Muslim feeling around with the National Front. One boy looked at me and said, “How dare you come here and talk to us about looking after them, the immigrants”. I said, “I know you well. I know your grandparents. You are from an immigrant family”. At that time, Ribbleton had the highest percentage of any area in the country of Catholics, originally Irish immigrants coming over to work in the textile industry. He looked at me and said, “I’m not one of them”. I said, “But you are, I know your grandparents. They are Irish and they came here”. “Oh”, he said and went quiet. Another boy said, “You’re a Paki”. He said, “No I’m not. I’m no different from you. Your grandparents are Irish, too”. I ask the most reverend Primate to look at the issue of who are we, the British nationals, because in many communities it is very different.
In my home city of Preston, I live near a mosque. I took a 14 year-old who had never been to a mosque before to the open day for a new mosque. Afterwards he said, “That is amazing. It is all so much like the church”. I was delighted by his reaction. In my community, which has a mosque, an Anglican church and just down the road a Catholic church, because of the people who were originally migrants from Ireland, local public policy issues and priorities often centre around, “Who has got the right to park here?”. It is not other subjects, but the shared space issues which are important when it comes to public policy.
I have intervened in this debate having listened to almost all of it with great interest, in particular to references to the sense of locality, the sense of being British and the sense of being who we are. I am aware that there are members of our local Muslim community in Preston who are working to tackle some of the issues just spoken of by the noble Baroness. The way we change things is by working together. There are people of good will in all groups in our society who wish to change things. I do not think that berating from the outside changes anyone. When we in your Lordships’ House are berated by the media, it does not change us; it makes us more determined to stand up for how important we are. Working with us would work much better.
My Lords, I start by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, on their excellent maiden speeches. I remember that when I made my maiden speech and the subsequent noble Lord to speak stood up and said the same thing, a colleague leaned across to me and said, “Don’t believe a word of it because they do not mean it”. Well, I do mean it, in particular the appropriate use of humour, which was very skilfully demonstrated by both of our maiden speakers. I also thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for this debate. Among the many things that he spoke about were the values of freedom of speech and tolerance. There has been much debate about whether we should have the right to offend other people. It may not be the law, but we should remember Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in which he said that we should not abuse freedom of speech by doing what he described as “speaking the truth in love”. I wonder sometimes, particularly when we talk about the Muslim faith, whether we want to perpetuate an attack on the faith rather than genuinely wanting to find solutions.
The most reverend Primate also talked about the Prevent strategy and how we need something more beautiful and more powerful to replace the destructive and distorted so-called religion of the terrorists. I remember that when I was the police spokesman following the 7 July 2005 bombings, I made a statement that as far as I was concerned, Islamic terrorism was a contradiction in terms. That got me into all sorts of trouble and I am very happy to continue getting into trouble for stating it again today. What the most reverend Primate said also reminded me of the views of the former Chief Rabbi, the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, who said recently that he believes that an effective counter to Islamist extremism is not necessarily no religion but a true, positive and optimistic religion. I have to say that I share the concern of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, about the expression “fundamental British values”. We should talk about shared or universal values so as not to exclude anyone we are fortunate enough to have with us in this nation, as my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire said.
My noble friend Lord Newby talked about it not being a good year for positive values. The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, gave a very worrying account of the implications for him personally as a result. This week, for the first time, I had the privilege to meet men and women asylum seekers, mainly from Syria. It was the first time I had ever had a personal encounter with these people. Nothing was more transformational for me in my attitude towards asylum seekers than to talk to a young engineer who had fled from Syria. He asked me to tell your Lordships that he did not want to claim benefits; he wanted to contribute to our society and to go back as soon as he could to rebuild the country he loves.
It has not been a good year for positive values, but I believe it is a good year to learn lessons. Before I continue, I should say I have the utmost respect for other faiths—I remember warmly when I ran as a candidate for Mayor of London the sincere and warm welcome I received from the Jewish community when I went to address them—for those who have high moral values that are not dependent on any religion, and in particular for the example of the Sikh religion, so well represented by the noble Lord, Lord Singh of Wimbledon.
To take up a theme mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, which was a major theme of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Luce, this time of year is a good opportunity to look at the life of Jesus Christ. I appreciate that not everybody believes in the divinity of Christ, or even believes in God. I was once among those who did not believe. To those who do not share such a belief, I give instead the idea of the inverted pyramid. Traditional organisations narrow at the top like a pyramid, but I have always tried to act as though the pyramid was upside down: that the more senior you become, the more people you are responsible for and have a duty to support. Whether elected representatives, the rich, or others who are powerful, we must not forget the example of Christ: we should be the servants of the people, not their masters.
It is with some trepidation I move to the subject of leadership, already referred to by the noble Lords, Lord Dannatt and Lord Ramsbotham. Leadership is about not just doing what the rabble want leaders to do, nor is it about getting people to do what you want them to do. Leadership is about getting people to want to do what you want them to do. You cannot convince people that virtue and tolerance are right unless you listen and understand what people are saying. That is the very positive lesson we should take from this year’s events. You cannot guide people who are hopelessly lost if you do not know and cannot understand where they are. If we learn that lesson, we have an opportunity we should grasp with both hands.
My Lords, we owe a considerable debt to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for this debate. He introduced it so well that I have almost forgiven the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for taking him away from Durham and transporting him back down to London. I am not quite there yet, but—I declare an interest as a Christian—I am still working on it. Some things take time.
This has been a wonderful debate. We have had two very engaging maiden speeches. I look forward very much to hearing more from the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, and the noble Lord, Lord McInnes. I will be able to engage with only a fraction of what has been said, but I will try to do so. The question of who we are or who we want to be tends to surface at the times when there is either no obvious answer or we have lost confidence in the answer of yesteryear. The timing for this is very good.
So what are our shared values? The list I have gathered today includes: democracy, freedom, tolerance, fairness, hospitality, creativity, entrepreneurialism, courage, sustainability, internationalism, social justice and more. I actually love all those. I would want to add to any discussion of values something that reflects our more communitarian instincts, something that recognises that we are not just a nation of individuals, but a community of communities, and acknowledges—in fact celebrates—our interdependence in some way. I also greatly like the idea, touched on by my noble friends Lord Glasman and Lord Stone, of virtue and understanding what we do as well as what we think about who we are.
Some interesting questions were raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, and others. Can we invent such a view or does it have to evolve? The noble Baroness said that each generation invents these values again. I think the most reverend Primate was wise on that: perhaps what they do is reinterpret and add to these values; perhaps these change, generation by generation. Can these values be aspirational, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, yet still resonate and feel real to a majority of people to whom they need to apply? Who will develop these values? It will need to be a shared experience—government cannot just invent identity; it has to be a collective enterprise.
If we want to be aspirational, we first need to have a shared view of what good looks like. The most reverend Primate referred to the kind of deep values which are way above my pay grade, so I will plough the shallows in which I am rather more comfortable. I think we all agree that a good country is one which enables its citizens to flourish. I go a step further and say that a good society is one which recognises that the flourishing of each depends upon the flourishing of all, and that a society structured to enable some to flourish at the expense of others is ultimately bad for everybody.
Professor Michael Sandel, in his now famous 2009 Reith lectures, talked very thoughtfully about the purpose of democracy. Markets are there to “organise productive activity”, but democratic governance is about much more:
“It’s also about seeking distributive justice; promoting the health of democratic institutions; and cultivating the solidarity, and sense of community, that democracy requires”.
Sandel goes on to make a really strong case that we cannot do that without thinking hard about inequality within nation states. Anyone who has read The Spirit Level will know that there is a lot of evidence, and it is incredibly interesting, that some of the main factors affecting the strength of societies, do not relate to the average income but correlate much more to differences within society. It is not surprising that the poor do better in more equal societies; what is really interesting is that the rich do too, as does society as a whole.
Sandel goes even further. He says:
“The real problem with inequality lies in the damage it does to the civic project, to the common good.”
This is, in part, because as inequality deepens, rich and poor live separate lives. The rich use private, not state schools, and private healthcare, not the NHS. They take out private insurance rather than rely on the welfare state; they use private gyms, not council swimming pools, and have second cars rather than use buses or trains. Towns and cities become segregated by wealth. Public services deteriorate as those who do not use them become less willing to pay for them. People literally do not mix. In Sandel’s words:
“The hollowing out of the public realm makes it difficult to cultivate the sense of community that democratic citizenship requires”.
Any politics of the common good demands that we address inequality and invest in the infrastructure of civic life; in transport, health service, libraries, and leisure; but also, I suggest, in a revitalised contributory welfare state—a term coined, of course, by Archbishop William Temple—which is not only a safety net but can fulfil its original ambition to be a companion service to the NHS, one which pools risk across the population and across lifetimes, so we pay in, work and contribute when we can and we take out when we cannot, or when our needs are greater. That would go a long way towards helping us be a single society again.
I agree very much with the stress on intermediate institutions given by the most reverend Primate and a number of other noble Lords. I am particularly interested in the role of charities, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and faith groups, as the noble Lord, Lord Singh, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester described so powerfully.
How does this sense of interdependence and its outworking in public policy relate to the idea of listing values? I wonder whether we can talk not just about lists but about the stories we tell about ourselves. I think that these tell us much more about where we came from, how we understand our history, how we see ourselves and how the rest of the world sees us. It is also the songs we sing, the sports we play, the books we read, the art that we make and consume. It is about our democracy, our public institutions and our creativity. Of course, the story evolves, as the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, said, as each new generation comes along and joins in. It becomes a different story in future.
A good example is the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. That told us a story about who we are. It talked about Glastonbury Tor and the Industrial Revolution but also “Windrush”, the shipping forecast and “EastEnders”; it had The Wind in the Willows and Lord Voldemort, Elgar and the Sex Pistols, James Bond and Mr Bean; it had the dead of two world wars and 7/7; it had Tim Berners-Lee and the internet; and it had the NHS, our most valued shared public institution, as the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, pointed out. One bemused American watching it tweeted: “Imagine loving your health service so much, you do a happy dance about it on television”. But actually it was because it embodied something about who we are as a people rather than being about just a public service. That is not definitive but it tells us something very important.
I will respond to some of the points that have been made. Immigration has been raised by a couple of noble Lords and I think we need to talk about this in the wake of Brexit and some of the discussion. Like the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, I have come across young people who are concerned about what has happened to their future. I have also talked to people in the north-east who are very concerned about migration. They do not live in areas where there has been very high migration and they are worried about the impact on public services, which needs addressing. They often live in areas where there has been no migration at all—no one moves there because there are no jobs—and yet they feel very strongly about what is happening. Often what they are really saying is that they feel they have not been heard, a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley. They have been marginalised. The Government or global capitalism have passed them by. Somehow they are not being listened to. Their living standards have suffered, a point made very well by the noble Lord, Lord Newby. They feel they have not been listened to, a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. That tells us something we need to think very hard about.
Is integration the answer? The noble Lord, Lord Popat, raised this. During my time at the Refugee Council, we ran some very effective integration work, supported by the Home Office. I want to lay down a couple of markers. First, integration, like friendship, has to be a two-way process. It begins with being welcomed. Secondly, like the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, I believe that integration is not assimilation. I do not want us to end up as a nation of identikit, roast beef-eating, bowler-hatted Stepford citizens. I also do not want us to end up like France, where you cannot wear a yarmulke or hijab in school and women are fined for wearing the wrong clothes in the street or on the beach, or when you get to the point where Marine Le Pen says that schools should not be offering non-pork alternatives. Do we end up like Belgium, which passed a law in 2011 banning face veils? Three years later Gavan Titley wrote in the Guardian about an incident in which members of a right-wing Flemish nationalist group stormed a food festival at a school and reportedly forced pork sausages into the mouths of children. We need to think very carefully about where this goes.
We must challenge the demonisation of any minority group the minute it appears. The 1930s are not that long ago and they saw the rise of fascism on our very own streets. Now, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said, we have lost a colleague—my honourable friend Jo Cox, killed by a neo-Nazi. We have seen the alt-right doing fascist salutes to welcome Trump. Our citizens who are members of minority ethnic and religious communities are frightened. They have every right to believe that we will stand up and defend them from the very beginning.
I will make two more brief points. The education and post-truth question was raised by a number of noble Lords. This is incredibly important and something we need to come back to. There is a real role for schools here in helping young people understand how to evaluate the sources of information that are being brought to them. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely made a really important point about the role of schools in helping young people to work out how to disagree well. Let us not kid ourselves: the values we have sometimes clash and if they are going to clash, we need to understand how to engage properly with the other and how to model that to young people and to each other.
My final point concerns Britain in the world. There is no time to go into our whole future post-Brexit but surely the biggest challenge is for us to maintain our ability to be an outward-looking country, where we forge relationships with others on the basis of our values, as Angela Merkel put it. I agree very much with my noble friend Lord Collins about the importance of challenging homophobia at home and abroad and using the resources we have in government and faith groups to do so effectively. But some of our proudest moments as Britons have been when we have reached out and shown who we are. In the terrible times of the Second World War, we welcomed the Kindertransport. In the 1970s, when we were struggling, we welcomed Ugandan Asian and Vietnamese refugees. People brought them into their homes and their communities were better for it.
What is going to happen next? I hope that this is only the first step in a national debate. I hope that the most reverend Primate has not been put off and is willing to carry on what he has started. Perhaps he would like to think about doing some work to identify a shared ethical sense that could underpin our common life and institutions. To do that, we would need to engage with the communities across our country, not just government but local faith groups, trade unions, community groups—all the different components that make up our national life. It is an ambitious task but the prize is potentially huge: a pathway to once again being a truly United Kingdom, a country genuinely at ease with itself and its place in the world, caring for all its citizens and secure enough to be outward-looking, facing the future with hope.
My Lords, this has been an extraordinary debate. I thank the most reverend Primate for leading a very thought-provoking debate on our shared values and their role in shaping public policy. It has been a debate of great quality, and probably the most interesting and relevant that I have sat in since I have been a Member of the House. I apologise in advance if all that is about to change. The most reverend Primate started off by talking about the untidiness of the British approach and the difficulty of justifying it on logical grounds but said that it worked. Members of the House of Lords should have no difficulty in identifying with that particular precept.
This has been an outward-looking and all-encompassing debate, one that has focused not merely on our saviour Jesus Christ but on different religions: the Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu religions and others, along with St Paul, Rabindranath Tagore, CS Lewis, Edmund Burke, Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Emile Durkheim, Voltaire, Peel, Disraeli and, of course, Walt Whitman.
The most reverend Primate talked about some key themes in our shared values: about our Christian and faith bedrock and about a theme that many others took up, the importance of intermediate institutions. It was interesting that he illustrated his speech by referring to schools, families and companies. Others took that theme up. The noble Lord, Lord Glasman, spoke of the role of unions; my noble friend Lady Bottomley spoke of the NHS, as did the noble Lord, Lord Crisp; the noble Lord, Lord Newby, spoke of the BBC and the law; the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, talked of the importance of local institutions. Others developed the theme with values and virtues.
Selflessness and respect for others was added by the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, and touched on too by my noble friend Lord Blencathra. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester quite rightly referred to generosity of spirit. My noble friend Lord Eccles also spoke of the importance of intermediary institutions such as the Church. The unifying force of the Royal Family was referred to by my noble friend Lord Blencathra and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Warwick. The noble Lord, Lord Luce, developed that theme as well and just now, in a very powerful speech, the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, spoke of the importance of community institutions—what Burke would have called the little platoons. I absolutely agree with and endorse what she said.
I take a moment to congratulate my noble friends Lord McInnes of Kilwinning and Lady Bertin on their excellent maiden speeches, which certainly augur well for the future. My noble friend Lord McInnes spoke in a very analytical way, in the finest traditions of your Lordships’ House, and demonstrated that he has a massive contribution to give, as did my noble friend Lady Bertin. She spoke compellingly of charitable work, of her brother, of her political and public service and of her commercial expertise. They were speeches of great value.
I want to say something about core values. Some people say that we should not call them simply British values—a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Singh, who reminded us that these are universal values, echoing in a way Sir Cecil Spring Rice’s “And there's another country”. That well-made point was also brought up by my noble friend Lady Warsi and the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. On core values, we need to look at things that were touched on such as the rule of law, acceptance of democracy, equality, free speech and respect for minorities.
The noble Lord, Lord Stone, spoke of mercy, compassion and mindfulness in a powerful speech, while my noble friend Lady Warsi spoke powerfully of patriotism and of Jo Cox. I never had the privilege of meeting Jo Cox. I am very sad that that is the case but I say, I am sure on behalf of all of us, that Jo Cox was the true patriot of this episode: somebody who stood up for the traditional values of our country in a way that was laudable. Whatever minor political differences there may be in this context, the great point about Jo Cox, and why I am sure she will never be forgotten, was that she stood up for British values. These values are important. The rule of law means everyone is subject to the law, including, importantly, lawmakers. Democracy protects us from the arbitrary abuse of power. Equality before the law is important because the alternative is discrimination and suffering.
Thinking about this debate, I asked a range of people what they thought of as British values and characteristics. They suggested many of the points that have been made. Other added characteristics such as eccentricity, humour and love of the underdog. Rather like the Habsburg face, different people identify different qualities, and not all those qualities will necessarily be evident to all the people, but overall the essence of Britishness is undeniable and identifiable and has been well interpreted today.
At the heart of our values is a simple and inclusive proposition: everyone living in this country is equal before the law and everybody is free to lead their life as they see fit. For this to work, however, everyone has to respect the right of other people to do so, too. We value freedom of the press and free speech—themes touched on by my noble friend Lady Fall—and support people’s right to conduct their lives in accordance with their faith, providing that does not interfere with the rights of others. People must accept not just this fundamental principle but the institutions and laws that make it possible. Thomas Fuller, a 17th century jurist who was often quoted by Lord Denning, said:
“Be ye never so high, the law is above you”.
That is important.
One theme that the most reverend Primate touched on that was not greatly taken up was positivism and natural law and when there is a duty to obey the law—the Austinian view—and when there is a duty not to obey the law because it runs contrary to natural law, and one thinks of the Nazi regime, apartheid and so on. Those themes are important as are the works of St Thomas Aquinas in this context. Times prevents me going into it in great detail at this moment—while I notice that everybody is pressing me to do so, I will resist that great temptation.
Foreign policy was touched on by some noble Lords. Our foreign policy rests on the pillars of democratic values, the rules-based international system and human rights. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, touched on this in a very powerful speech. He reminded us that all hate crime is a scourge against the LGBT community, racial and religious minorities and the disabled. This theme was picked up by the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone. I pay tribute to the great work she has done in this area.
A characteristic of this country is our shared humanity. The United Kingdom is a world leader in humanitarian responses at both the private and public level. I am very proud of what we have done with our target for international aid. I know we have had cross-party support on that, which is a very important point.
This Government are committed to creating a fair society in which all people, of whatever ethnic origin, background, religion or sexuality and whether or not they are disabled, are fully valued as equal citizens of this great country. In coming into office, the Prime Minister spoke of the need to ensure that our society works for everyone, and that is underpinned by her Christian faith. Reference has been made to the race disparity audit being carried out across Government, which is clearly important.
This Christian belief and attitude translate to fairness in very simple terms. Some are promoted through my department’s programmes, such as Near Neighbours. I say to the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, that “post-truth” has a horrific Orwellian ring to it, but it is not something that one hears in streets of Bradford, Luton, Leicester, Carlisle or even Hull. You are more likely to hear the word “neighbour”, and often preceded by “good”. What is happening in our communities up and down the country is not always reflected in the media. There is an awful lot of good going on at community level.
I will certainly take back the message about a visit to Hull. I intend to visit if my noble friend, as well as the people of Hull, will give me a welcome.
Education was touched upon. Our schools are required to promote core values. Religious education remains compulsory at all key stages for maintained schools and academies. It includes not just the Christian religion but, quite rightly, instruction about other religions, which is important. This helps to foster a country that works for everyone. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, reminded us of the importance of this when he spoke of the Prime Minister entering No. 10. Fostering understanding between children of different faiths and races is also important, a point also touched on by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely when he spoke about St Luke’s in Bury—I pay tribute to the excellent work it does.
I visited a primarily Muslim school yesterday in London, run by the al-Khoei Foundation, which was an excellent experience. It was about teaching and learning in the best tradition of our country, and it made me extremely proud. I have to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, that the school includes Christian pupils—indeed, they are queuing up to get into this excellent school. It made me immensely optimistic and proud.
Another institution of great importance I will just mention here is the legal system, bolstered by a humane prison service—something underlined and touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. I applaud the work that many prisons are doing. I recently visited a Cardiff prison where they are doing work on rehabilitation. I realise there is much more to do, but it was a point well made and consistent with our national qualities of compassion and mercy.
I turn now to the recent referendum and the points made during this debate—not least very forcibly and powerfully by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria—about some of the hate crime that followed it. Indeed, during the campaign some quite awful language was utilised. First, I assure the House that notwithstanding that there is still racial and religious hatred out there—until we have got it to and kept it at zero, it is not job done—the spike has now, thank goodness, gone away. We are now getting the figures on a weekly basis from the police—we did not used to, but it is important that we do, because these spikes do occur, sometimes predictably at certain events, but sometimes from something that is completely left field within our own country or indeed overseas. It was a minuscule, extremist minority who used—or rather abused—the opportunity to vent their spleen on people who are legally here and belong here. Some parts of the media, too, fanned the flames of division.
The Government have no truck with that; nor do the British people. My noble friend Lord Popat also spoke very movingly of this. Like my noble friend Lady Warsi, I was at the launch of Better than That yesterday, which is a cross-party approach to tackling race hate. There was very good representation there from across parties and from the diplomatic community. Many people from our different, diverse communities were represented—it was the best of our country extending the hand of welcome and demonstrating open-heartedness and generosity.
The role of faith, and the recognition of different faiths, is central to our approach in this country. Like other noble Lords, although I have faith, I recognise that the role of humanists in this country is most often to promote tolerance and integration, and I applaud that. The most reverend Primate reminded us that Christianity has shaped the values of this country. It has been, and still is, the faith of the great majority in the country and we should celebrate that.
I believe also that, because of our common and universal values, alongside the Christian values of responsibility, charity, compassion, humility and love, Britain has become such a successful home to people of all faiths and backgrounds. That is not to say that there are not challenges ahead—some were identified today, for example the situation in relation to family law noted by my noble friend Lady Buscombe.
We must always recognise and celebrate the fact that Britain is a multifaith society. We should also celebrate the contribution that people of all faiths make to our country and to strengthening our values, whether that is through collecting for charity, volunteering at soup kitchens or responding to emergencies, such as the group of Muslim young men from Bradford I heard about when I was there who spent time cleaning up homes in Carlisle after the floods at the end of last year.
Recently, we had Mitzvah Day, when the Jewish faith comes together with the Muslim faith to help in many charities and with many institutions up and down the country—I went to St Mungo’s homelessness charity in London and saw the great work that was being done there.
I also recently visited Bradford to discuss interfaith work there and to see several projects in the city. The day included meeting some English-language students, largely from Muslim communities in the city, and largely women. They told me that their aim was to be able to survive in Britain. That concerned me; it echoed the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, about the need for people to flourish. They were delightful, they are British and they have much to contribute to our country. The aim of our society and of this Government should be to ensure that they thrive as part of Britain today rather than merely surviving. I will not rest, nor will the Government, until that is a reality in our country.
The most reverend Primate spoke about religion and the values that we have in countering extremism, and his contribution to this debate was extremely valuable. We in the Government are clear that it is a perversion of religion when we see extremist organisations and death cults such as Daesh, a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. The overwhelming majority of Muslims, as with other faiths living in Britain, are law-abiding, peaceful and an accepted part of our country.
Britain has a proud tradition of religious tolerance within the law, and the Government are committed to creating a strong and integrated society in which hatred and prejudice are not tolerated and in which all people are free to express their identity and live without fear of harassment and crime that targets them because of their identity. My noble friend Lady Berridge spoke correctly of the need for strong leadership in relation to this and our institutions. I will pass on her heartfelt plea regarding public holidays, with which I personally have great sympathy, to other members of the Government.
A key part of our tolerance is respect for others of different beliefs. I have made a point in office of seeking to visit as many different religious institutions as possible. In my early office I saw eight different faith institutions in a day—a Jain temple, a Zoroastrian temple, a Hindu temple, a Sikh gurdwara, a synagogue, churches and mosques—which was extremely important. All of them are playing great roles in interfaith, and that has to be something that we encourage as a country; indeed, we encourage it in the department.
Given the limit of time today, it will not be possible for me to respond to all the contributions that we have heard today, but I will ensure that I write to Members, copying it to everyone who has participated in the debate, to pick up specific policies and points that were made on national citizenship, the prison system, housing, family law, bank holidays, corporate social responsibility, mental health, corporate pay, disability, art and sports funding and the visit to Hull. Possibly I have missed some others, which I will pick up later.
It was great to hear contributions in this debate across faith—from the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, the noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, the noble Lord, Lord Singh, and the noble Lord, Lord Glasman—from Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim perspectives. That was extremely valuable. I have already mentioned the point about humanists, but I want to echo it again: they too have a role to play in integration. Interestingly, when I met them, they also said they were keen to participate in interfaith work, which had me wondering but I was pleased to hear it anyway.
We can be proud that nine out of 10 people agree that their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together. That is not to say “job accomplished”—there is still much to do—but there is much good news out there. The work of faith communities in interfaith dialogue is certainly helping in that regard. As I have indicated, the Government have invested money in the Near Neighbours programme; in fact, the figure is £9.5 million, and I have seen the good that that is doing in communities up and down the country.
I aim to visit all 42 Anglican cathedrals in England over the coming years. I was explaining to the most reverend Primate that I have visited quite a few already, but I hope to finish the tour in Canterbury and I hope that he will be there; if he is not responding to the invitation to visit Hull on that day, perhaps I could meet him.
I have been particularly struck by the work that faith communities are doing to support homeless people. I saw this at a Roman Catholic church in Acton, and I was impressed with the work that Bradford cathedral does in leasing out some of its properties at no cost to provide accommodation for the homeless.
I have visited many Near Neighbours projects and seen the good that they are doing, too. Some of this is in sport. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, spoke about the value of sport. I saw a Near Neighbours project, a boxing club, teaching people in Tower Hamlets about healthy living. In Bradford, I saw the Bangla Bantams, people descended from Bangladeshi immigrants, working successfully with Bradford City Football Club to break down barriers and encourage local Britons descended from South Asians to attend local football matches.
In October, I had the opportunity to speak at the launch of a schools linking programme. Many people have talked about the importance of education, and I should like to mention the work of 3FF, which is based on work from the Judaic, Christian and Muslim traditions coming together, although it is not limited to those faiths, bringing children together in a very successful way.
Also during Interfaith Week, which has just passed, I launched a new £250,000 fund through the Church Urban Fund for small projects to help more communities rebuild trust and address tensions, the Common Good Fund, which is just beginning to roll out. It would be easy to dismiss those small projects as insignificant, but they make a real difference locally, as I am sure noble Lords know, as I believe that it is at community level that much of the really good work is done.
I again thank the most reverend Primate for leading this debate. We should be very proud of our British values. We welcome the role of faith in helping to deliver many of these things—as has been said, they cannot be delivered by government alone. A point well made earlier was that the Government can put up housing but cannot create communities.
The noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, made a valuable point: all of us are ultimately descended from immigrant stock. We are all cocktails and that does not really matter; that is what has made this country great and will continue to do so.
My Lords, perhaps I may just add that recently, I went to a funeral at the local Catholic church in Ribbleton. One of the men I referred to, whom I had spoken to as a child, turned to me and said: “You know, our population was going down. They’ve saved it”. He was referring to the Polish community.
My Lords, I was speaking to some communities in Wales where they told me that they had had problems from the influx of Poles into their community, and I braced myself for a tirade, but they said that it was only that there were not enough seats in the church, so I was very relieved.
As I said, there are challenges out there which we are seeking to meet. One point I would like to make was echoed yesterday when I was at the Al-Khoei educational facility I mentioned. The principal of Al-Khoei, who regards himself as, and is, a proud British Muslim, said: “We as Britons do not shout often enough about our successes”. There is some truth in that.
As I was putting this speech together, I was reminded of the comments of another great, welcome immigrant, Bill Bryson, who said of Britain that it is an enigma why, after establishing a welfare system that worked, dismantling an empire, generally in a benign way, winning a noble war in the previous century and doing many things right, Britain regards itself as an abject failure. I finish on that, at the same time saying that we in government and, I am sure, everyone in this House, welcome the diversity of the United Kingdom. It makes our country stronger. We will meet these challenges, as we always do. Once again, I thank the most reverend Primate for bringing this subject to the House in what I think has been a first-class debate.
My Lords, we have been going for almost five hours, so I shall be very brief. I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, in his comprehensive summing up of the debate and join it, rather than going through everything again—as I am sure you would like me not to do.
I should like to pick up just a couple of points. First, I again say thank you to the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, and the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, for their maiden speeches, powerful opening speeches for which we are most grateful. Secondly, I am not sure I or the House would thank the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for getting me into this job, but there we are. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glasman, for giving a little plug for my new book—my only book. All I can say is that that means we might sell two copies: one to my mother and one to someone else.
To sum up, the overall mood of the debate was hopeful and positive. There were marvellous contributions on the good things that are going on in our society. Rightly, a lot of noble Lords picked up on the life and example of Jo Cox, whom I am sure we will go on missing for many years.
I thought that the closing speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, was particularly powerful and picked up in particular on issues of identity, to which I shall come back in a moment. Among the hopeful things was the affirmation of intermediate institutions, how they work and their contribution to our values, and the emphasis on shared values rather than British values. I agree with that very much—and the powerful exposition of that from the noble Lord, Lord Singh, will stay with me for a very long time. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, picked up on that extremely effectively.
We heard many good and particular examples—and I especially mention that of the Armed Forces in the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt. But concerns were also mentioned, above all that of inequality. Something we share right across the House is the sense that inequality can lead only to instability and extremism and to people being pushed into places they would never have thought of finding themselves. There were concerns about the atmosphere after the referendum. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, will also stick with me for a long time—a passionate declaration of what it is to belong to this country and yet find yourself at the wrong end of abuse. We will all feel a common sense of shame that that happened in this country. Concern was mentioned about post-truth and the sense that if you say something loud enough, it will be believed. That links to the issue of social media and its continual abuse, particularly in the context of young people. Noble Lords talked about the mental health of young people and how they are victimised and marginalised, particularly over sexuality. I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, with much attention and will reflect closely on what he said in a powerful, passionate and compelling speech.
A number of individual issues were raised as well, and underlying them one major question that we must go on discussing is that of values. I do not believe that values can be tidy; we do not end up with a single list to which we all affirm. Values are necessarily dynamic and constantly adjusting to the situations around us. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, made that point very powerfully. The word “inclusion” is a two-edged sword. There have been celebrated and huge advances as a result of inclusion. The noble Lord, Lord Popat, and the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, spoke of the massive contribution from communities that have come into this country in the past 40, 50, 60 or 70 years, and how they have transformed us for the better. We welcome that unreservedly. But there is also, as the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, said very powerfully, the incommensurability of values—when there are two or many completely different ways in which to look at values, and we struggle to know how to deal with them. I was particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, for raising the issue of “disagreeing well”, and how to develop that as a new value. In the Church of England, we have not had a universally brilliant history of that, as my inbox today has already shown me. But it is something we have learned to do by coming together in carefully structured conversation, as happens particularly over LGBTIQ issues.
I close with something which was echoed around the House numerous times during the debate. We actually do not talk about values so much as practices. That was said by the noble Lord, Lord Glasman, and demonstrated by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp. When we look back at how we have demonstrated our values, one of the pre-eminent examples must be the work of the Labour Government after 1945. They demonstrated a change in values from the 1930s, coming out of the destruction of the war and bringing out the things that we wanted to be—the NHS and the implementation of the Beveridge report. If that is going to happen, we have to have confidence in what we are doing. Inclusion can become an excuse for lack of confidence. We accept that everything is all right really, but it is not, of course, when you do that and you end up with the kind of problem that the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, was speaking of. There has to be a sense of identity, as was brought out powerfully by the noble Lord, Lord Popat.
The noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, spoke of communitarianism. I will finish with a brief anecdote. A couple of weeks back, I heard a radio interview with a senior member of a parliament within Europe—I will not be too rude by being precise. When asked, “What about the Islamic community in your country?”, they replied, “There is no such thing. We do not do communities; we do the state and individuals”. What that leaves you with is vulnerable individuals and an incapable state. We have to have the confidence to say, as has been said numerous times this afternoon, that we believe passionately in communities—we are communitarian—and if they clash, we will learn how to clash well. That is a value to which we will hold. I am extraordinarily grateful to all noble Lords who have been here and participated in this long debate.
House adjourned at 3.02 pm.