The Lord Bishop of Winchester My Lords, this review is very welcome for its frank and open-eyed survey of the social realities of our country. The Church of England is present and engaged in communities everywhere in the country. The importance of the work of schools, including faith schools, features largely in the review. I welcome the thrust of its approach and recommendations in relation to schools. We believe in British values, along the lines of the rich understanding of values explored in this Chamber last Friday. We will seek to respond to the review’s legitimate challenges to faith leaders.
The review does not attach great value to programmes and initiatives that have been undertaken so far. Does the Minister agree that Near Neighbours and similar programmes involving multifaith communities, which the Government have supported in practical ways, offer at least a starting point for developing more of that social mixing, and mutual understanding and acceptance, that the review tells us is vital?
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate for his general welcome of the report. He acknowledged the role of last week’s debate on core British and universal values in helping us respond to some of the challenges that exist. Through him, I also thank the Church of England for the part it plays in helping with the Syrian refugee programme and acknowledge the important place that faith schools have to play in relation to education. I visited a faith school last week—a Muslim faith school, as it happened. It was excellent. It had very high standards and was teaching British values. It is not exclusively Muslim, so there are other pupils at the school. It is the Al-Khoei school in west London. So there is a role for that, too. The right reverend Prelate is right about the importance of our existing programmes—both on the English language, which is acknowledged by Dame Louise, and the Near Neighbours programme, which I have seen at close hand and which contributes very effectively to the work of integration.