During the questions following an urgent statement in the House of Commons on extremism, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, raised the important role played by the Near Neighbours programme in promoting community integration.
Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury): May I remind my right hon. Friend that, after the general election, practically the first meeting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government attended was at Lambeth Palace, where all the nation’s faith leaders were present? He committed the Government to fund and support the Near Neighbours programme, which enables faith communities throughout the country to work together to promote integration and tackle extremism. If this “duff up the Home Secretary” urgent question has achieved nothing else this afternoon, it will at least, hopefully, better explain to the Opposition and others where the division of responsibilities lie in government for counter-terrorism on the one hand and community integration on the other.
Mrs May: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is right to draw attention to the excellent work the Department for Communities and Local Government has been doing under the leadership of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State. Indeed, my right hon. Friend, the noble Baroness Warsi has been doing very important work to bring communities together, particularly faith communities, to share their experiences and increase understanding between them. That is a vital part of the integration work that I would have hoped we all, across the Chamber, accept is necessary. We should support it wherever we see it.