Monday 30th April 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Question
15:00
Asked by
Lord Pearson of Rannoch Portrait Lord Pearson of Rannoch
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that the Muslim population of England grew 10 times faster than the general population between 2001 and 2016; what is their estimate of future growth; and what is their assessment of the impact of that trend on the relationship between Sharia and domestic law.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the ONS is charged with the collection and publication of statistics related to the economy, population and society of the UK. It is independent from government. The Government have made no assessment of the current or future growth of the Muslim population, or that of any other faith, in England and its impact. The Government recently confirmed in their response to the independent review of sharia law that sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch Portrait Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply, but I am afraid it is not really adequate. Good Muslims must follow Muhammad’s example and impose sharia law on their hosts when they are strong enough to do so.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Rubbish!

Lord Pearson of Rannoch Portrait Lord Pearson of Rannoch
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Well, let’s talk about it. Several of our local authorities will soon be Muslim-majority and anger is already rising among our kufr working class at the Islamification of their communities.

First, I again ask the Government whether they will require all teaching in our mosques and madrassas to be in English.

Secondly, I yet again ask them to foster an open national debate about Islam to include our Muslim friends so that we can all understand with what we may be dealing in a few years’ time.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I think your Lordships’ House would agree that points about good Muslims and bad Muslims are not for this House. I was just wondering whether I, in that context, was a good Catholic or a bad Catholic, but I do not think that sort of thing has any place in your Lordships’ House or in society. We do not prescribe English being taught in madrassas, but we absolutely acknowledge that English language skills are fundamental to taking advantage of all the opportunities of living in modern Britain—getting a job, mixing with people and playing a full part in community life. The Government have no plans to hold a national debate on Islam.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that this great country of ours has always accepted immigrants of different faiths, traditions and cultures, and that tolerance, respecting of difference and accepting the rule of law as determined by Parliament must always be the way we go forward, along with standing up to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and any other form of hate that seeks to divide us?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I could not agree more wholeheartedly with the noble Lord. He and I are of Irish descent and first-generation Irish respectively. In fact, when we look around your Lordships’ House and this country, there would not be many of us if we did not have immigration.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, is the Minister aware that domestic law in most Muslim-majority countries is based on modern western legal systems and that sharia is actually a moral code that requires Muslims, among other things, to be just and fair in their dealings with everyone and always to promote what is good and to prevent what is wrong? Will she join me and the overwhelming majority of this House in celebrating the appointment today of the first British-Pakistani, born of Muslim parents, to hold one of the great offices of state?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I certainly agree with the first part of the noble Lord’s question and am very pleased to be able to join him in welcoming Sajid Javid as our new Home Secretary. While I have an opportunity, I also pay tribute to my right honourable friend Amber Rudd.

Lord Bishop of Leeds Portrait The Lord Bishop of Leeds
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that a prerequisite to any intelligent discussion of Islam or any other religion should pay attention to the ninth commandment, which is that you will not bear false witness against your neighbour?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The right reverend Prelate is right. I was just trying to think of my 10 commandments and might have forgotten some of them.

Lord West of Spithead Portrait Lord West of Spithead (Lab)
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My Lords, talking of national statistics, the Minister may not be aware that, 100 years ago last week on St George’s Day, the Navy carried out a huge raid on Zeebrugge and more Victoria Crosses were won on that day than on any other in the First World War, on which I am sure she will congratulate the Royal Navy. In that raid, more ships were used than we currently have in the entire Royal Navy. Does she believe that the Home Office supports the government view that there should be more ships in the Royal Navy?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Lord never loses an opportunity to weave something about the Royal Navy into a question. I did not think that he would manage it today, but he has. I am very happy to join him in paying tribute to the Royal Navy.

Baroness Tonge Portrait Baroness Tonge (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, will the Minister launch an investigation into the growth in the number of people named Pearson in this country and assess what effect it is having on racial harmony?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I get the noble Baroness’s point.

Lord Elton Portrait Lord Elton (Con)
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My Lords, the trouble with your Lordships’ treatment of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is that you will not listen when he actually talks sense. There are a number of points which he raises which your Lordships should have the courage to examine, rather than simply denigrate his approach to them. One such point is the implication for democratic trends in this society, which is equally a subject of interest, but in a totally different context, in Northern Ireland. It is not a subject that should be entirely brushed under the carpet until things change.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I certainly was not denigrating the noble Lord’s points, save to say that they were not helpful in the context of anything other than singling out one particular faith in society. I think that my noble friend meant demographic rather than democratic. There is certainly demographic change in this country, but it is all to the good because, if we had purely the indigenous population, we would be looking at population decline and therefore some major problems in meeting employment need.