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Hansard: 30 Jun 2003 : Column 12W

Faith Communities

Written answer by Fiona Mactaggart MP, Home Office Minister

Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what way his Department is taking forward the Government's commitment to review the way in which Government departments interface with the faith communities. [123216]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Government have a manifesto commitment to "look at Government's interface with the faith communities". This was prompted by the success of the Lambeth Group at the time of the millennium celebrations. My Department is now able to act on this commitment.

My predecessor, my noble Friend Lord Filkin, recently convened a high-level Steering Group to take the work forward. I will now chair the Group. Its terms of reference are to consider the most effective means of achieving greater involvement of the faith communities in policy-making and delivery across Whitehall; to identify the specific policy areas where this input would be most valuable; to oversee the agenda of the Working Group, and comment on and monitor its work; and to agree a report and recommendations by the end of December 2003. The Group includes a number of Ministers from Departments with a particular interest, as well as prominent representatives of the faith communities and others with an interest. A membership list is attached for the information of the House. The small Working Group referred to in the terms of reference is carrying out the technical mapping and other work associated with the Review, and will report to the Steering Group.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is aware of our plans and attaches considerable importance to this Review. It will lay the foundations for the effective long-term involvement of the faith communities' perspectives and needs in policy development across Government, building on excellent work that is already being done, for instance in ensuring that Prison chaplaincy provision meets the needs of inmates from many faith communities. It also complements the work my Department is doing to deepen engagement with individual communities through ministerial visits and meetings.

Review of Government's interface with the faith communities.

Membership Of Steering Group
Fiona Mactaggart MP, Home Office, Minister for Race Equality, Community Policy and Civic Renewal (Chair);
Yvette Cooper MP, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; Chair, Inner Cities Religious Council;
Jacqui Smith MP, Department of Trade and Industry; responsible for Single Equality Body;
HM Treasury Minister;
Estelle Morris MP, Department for Culture, Media and Sport;
Lord Filkin, Department for Constitutional Affairs;
Stephen Twigg MP, Department for Education and Skills;
William Chapman, Appointments Secretary, No. 10 Downing Street;
Councillor Laura Willoughby, Chair, Local Government Association Equalities Executive;
Rosalind Preston QBE, Co-Chair, Inter Faith Network for the UK;
Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Anglican Bishop of Leicester;
Reverend Joel Edwards, General Director, Evangelical Alliance;
Baroness Kathleen Richardson, Moderator, Churches Commission on Inter Faith Relations;
Sarah Lindsell, Director, Caritas Social Action;
Iqbal Sacranie OBE, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain;
Bimal Krishna das, Secretary, National Council of Hindu Temples;
Indarjit Singh OBE, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations (UK);
Prof. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi, United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth;
Hon. Barney Leith, Secretary, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the UK; and
John Battle, Member of Parliament.

©Copyright 2003, Hansard (the official record of proceedings in the UK Parliament)

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