HC Deb 21 June 1995 vol 262 cc281-301 11.30 am
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

I am pleased to have this opportunity to introduce a debate on community relations in Bradford, but am very sad at the circumstances that led me to make the application for the debate.

I invited all the hon. Members who represent Bradford to participate and am pleased to see in their places my hon. Friends the Members for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) and for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller), and a number of other hon. Members. I am grateful for their attendance and their interest.

The events of 9, 10 and 11 June were, undoubtedly, tragic for the local community, the whole of our city and for the reputation of our district, nationally and internationally. The events of that weekend caused severe damage to race relations, to relations between communities, and between the public and the police. In Bradford, we all share some responsibility for those tragic events and for trying to find a way ahead. The vast majority of Bradfordians—Asian and non-Asian—condemn without reservation the violence and criminal damage that occurred.

The vast majority of Bradfordians do not excuse or condone riots, the throwing of petrol bombs, the looting of shops or the torching of cars. Nor do they excuse or condone the targeting of such violence or criminal damage against cars driven by white people, or against cars or businesses owned by white people. Such attacks are as racist as attacks by white people on Asian people or on Asian homes or mosques, temples, gudwaras or synagogues. Those who oppose and condemn racism cannot he selective or one-sided in their condemnation. All racism is to be condemned, from whatever source it is perpetrated.

Over that tragic weekend, according to the chief constable of West Yorkshire, Mr. Keith Hellawell, to whom I pay tribute for his responsible approach and response to the tragic events that we witnessed that weekend, there were some 115 recorded crimes. There were eight arson attacks—one costing more than £140,000 and another costing more than £500,000. The catalogue of violence and criminal damage is daunting. Some 30 cars and 50 buildings were damaged; six business premises were burgled; five cars were burnt out; there were two reports of assault and wounding; there were four reports of robbery; two cars were stolen; three homes were damaged; and one flat was burgled.

In one incident, according to Mr. Hellawell, a couple driving through the area were surrounded by up to 100 youths who smashed every window in their car before the woman was hit with a house brick. On the first night of violence, 9 June, 12 people were arrested and two officers were injured. The following night, violence erupted when up to 100 youths surrounded Toller Lane police station, and there were further clashes in other parts of the city. Eleven people were arrested and four officers were injured.

Six more people were arrested on the Sunday, and on the Monday, with police hack in normal uniforms, there were five arrests. Mr. Hellawell added: Events such as these reflect no credit on us as a community or as a society and I am disturbed by the amount of confrontation there has been rather than conciliation. Over that weekend, I met an enormous number of teenagers—some as young as 13 and 14. It is very depressing when one finds young people of that age who are more cynical than oneself. It is deeply worrying and disturbing when one finds that such young people are angry, alienated and frustrated, and who claim, "No one listens to us," "No one cares about us," and "No one helps us." Those were the grievances that were put to me forcefully by scores of youngsters over that weekend. I must add that they had not in any way participated in the violence or the criminal damage that had been undertaken.

I also urge the House and others to understand that there is nothing unique or unusual about the city of Bradford. Of course, like so many other inner cities and urban areas, we endure high-level unemployment, and have done for years; there is extremely poor housing, little open space and few community facilities. I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South will comment more fully on the financial problems that we have faced year on year for decades and the difficulties that we face when the council has to make deep cuts year on year, as it has done again this year, totalling some £18 million.

The same picture can be found in many other urban and inner-city areas. Bradford featured very unhappily in the drama series, "Band of Gold". I watched all of that series. I admired its professionalism and force, but we must all question the criteria that allows such a powerful drama to be filmed and focused on a city. I cannot understand why that drama—I do not in any way oppose its showing, as it was an extremely powerful programme—was presented as everyday life in Bradford.

The consequences were predictable. A large number of people were encouraged to flood into Bradford—some to look at Manningham as a red light district, which had been portrayed so dramatically, and others to participate in prostitution, which has gone on in that area for generations. It is not a recent phenomenon. Clearly, the impact of that series and the enormous number of people who came into the area, including kerb crawlers from all over Britain—some as far away even as continental Europe!—caused considerable resentment among the local community. There has been resentment for decades, but, clearly, the drama caused a heightening of that tension and friction. We have to question the guidelines and the acceptability of such a drama series being focused on particular areas when they are dealing with important social issues.

Again, the consequences were predictable. Over recent months people in the local community who are sick and tired of the nuisance that is caused by prostitution have been forming vigilante groups. They came out on to the streets. Their message was clear: that if the police were unable to reduce the nuisance caused by prostitution, they as members of the local community would undertake the task themselves. That caused friction and tension in sections of the local community and within the police.

Prostitution is undoubtedly a considerable nuisance. Kerb crawlers accost and assault non-prostitute women of every racial origin, colour and background. That presents a real social problem. It is to be found in Bradford and in other areas throughout the country. I urge the Minister and the Home Office seriously to consider that and other issues. It is time for the law on prostitution to be examined and ways found to reduce the nuisance that is caused to many local communities. The matter is not being aired in the House for the first time. I have attended and participated in previous debates on prostitution. It is an issue of mounting concern in many constituencies and it must be given serious consideration by the Government.

I pay tribute to the extremely responsible coverage of the local and regional media, including the newspaper and broadcasting media within the Bradford 'area and region. The Telegraph and Argus allowed access to its pages by many different people. Some extremely interesting articles have been written since the tragic events to which I have drawn attention. Katrina Dick of the Telegraph and Argus interviewed the assistant chief constable of west Yorkshire, Mr. Norman Bettison, who played a key part in all the events of 9 to 11 June. He said: There are lots of things that are a matter of frustration for the community there including education, employment, and inter-racial tensions. The police are trying to find their way through that. It would be easy to say the racist police caused the disturbances but there were tensions there anyway that we have to deal with. Loose comments in the press aiming barbs at the police become received wisdom. The article continues: He feared the police could be stereotyped as racist because of one incident which would be wrong. 'The search for a cause and effect relationship of what happened is too simplistic. There was obviously more to it. It's too simple to point to the arrest of two people and blame the disorder on that. The disaffection of youth generates the sort of scenes we've also seen on the streets of Northumberland and Oxford. We all have to try to find an answer, and the police are only partly responsible. We are one of the few agencies in these areas working hard to maintain control and we get caught in the crossfire when the fuse blows.' Lucy Ward interviewed a group of Asian girls. These were local young women ranging in age between 16 and 18 years. Rashming Ullah said: A lot of Asian youths feel like second-class citizens, missing out on good jobs, good education. Nageena Altaf said: It is horrible and sad to see them go to such extremes. It just shows how resentful they felt. Razia Saman said: Asian boys have a lot of hatred for the police, who were warned beforehand it could get as extreme as it did. Rehana Khaliq said: I think half of the men were there just for the buzz of it, just because the rest were involved. Kulbinder Kaur Ram said: More Asians in the police and talks at school on police careers would be a positive move. Alam Khan of the Telegraph and Argus interviewed a group of young Asian men ranging in age from early to mid twenties. One of them, Arif Khan, said: For some people the rioting was the only way they could be heard. They were frustrated at being pushed back all the time. Amjad Arshad said: There are lots of talented young Asian sportsmen but they are not being encouraged and accepted. Aziz Rehman said: We have got many ideas on how to make Manningham a better place, but nobody listens to us. I welcome the inquiry that is to be supervised by John Cartwright, the deputy chairman of the Police Complaints Authority. We all remember him as a most respected former Member. I trust that his report will be thorough and will he issued as soon as possible. In my view, the inquiry must deal with 10 questions.

What happened when two trained police officers responded to a complaint about teenagers playing football in the street on the night of Friday 9 June? Why did the police take so long to give police bail to those arrested on the Friday night and charged with minor public order offences? We note that the chief constable of west Yorkshire has said that a decision on whether the charges are to be withdrawn will be taken by this Friday. We would all be grateful if the Minister could say whether that decision has yet been taken.

We need to ask whether it is in the best interests of the public or the police for police officers in riot gear, or defensive uniform as I understand the police prefer to call it, not to show clearly their police numbers? It is surely important, especially when allegations are being made, that police numbers are clearly visible and identifiable. We need to ask also whether the training that is given to police officers in West Yorkshire for dealing with complaints over football being played in the street, and in broader terms in policing a multiracial and multifaith community, is adequate.

How successful has the West Yorkshire police been in recruiting ethnic minority community officers, both men and women? How successful has it been in recruiting men and women as special constables? We need to ask whether the community relations budget of the West Yorkshire police is to be cut, and whether community relations officers who leave the force, either for retirement or other reasons, are to be replaced.

We need to ask also if the organisation of the police in Manningham is in need of urgent review. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) will be dealing with that matter when he speaks. Do the police community forums, which have operated in the area for a considerable time, need to become more representative? We need to ask how they can relate more effectively to local communities. We need the inquiry—I have referred to this before—to take up the real social problems that are caused by prostitution and to recommend whether further consideration should be given to the current law on prostitution.

Lastly, we need to ask about the brief given to the architect for the building of the expensive new police station in the Toiler division. If the brief was to build a fortress or castle to give out the wrong signals—to suggest that there is an army that is sent out from behind high walls to quell local trouble—the architect succeeded. The police station, by its design, gives out entirely the wrong signals to the local community.

There can be no excuse in a democracy for any citizen to resort to violence to be heard. In a mature and confident democracy, leaders should respond sensibly to charges that sections of any community do not feel part of that democracy.

I am extremely disappointed that on Monday the Home Secretary refused a request from an all-party group of Bradford Members of Parliament for an independent public inquiry to be established. I regret that he did not have the confidence or the vision to agree to a short, sharp inquiry to find out why the Bradford tragedy occurred and what needs to be done by all of us to try to prevent similar tragedies from happening either in Bradford or anywhere else in our country.

The Home Secretary told me that there were no precedents for the sort of inquiry that I was suggesting. Perhaps that is the most compelling argument for a suitable mechanism and format to be devised. I hope even now that he will reconsider our request for an independent public inquiry. Such an inquiry could be a forum for the whole community to voice their hopes and fears, their ideas and their grievances. It would be a- vital part of the healing process. It could make recommendations for action by central and local government and a whole range of local public agencies.

As it is, there are now calls for a local, community-led inquiry. If such an inquiry is to succeed, it must enjoy the total confidence of the whole community. It must be led by people who are widely respected by that community and, not least, it must be properly funded so that it can be professionally administered and conducted.

Whatever happens in relation to that matter, the Minister and the Government cannot shirk the charge that, in Bradford and elsewhere, there is a burgeoning sub-culture of people of all ages, all colours, all nationalities, all religions and no religion who feel angry, powerless and exploited, in all cases excluded and in some cases even unwelcome aliens. That alienation is reinforced by immigration laws that separate families and that even make visits from relatives and friends of people who have lived in this country for 20 and 30 years difficult. That is deeply resented.

I urge the Minister, the Home Secretary and the Government to think carefully before they embark on further legislation dealing with immigration or asylum. We all know of media speculation that such a Bill is likely to be introduced in the new Session. I counsel caution on the Government before they adopt such a course as we know that the most unlikely spark can erupt into serious violence and public disorder. In Bradford it was complaints about teenagers playing football in a side street; that was the spark that led to the catalogue of violence and criminal damage to which I have referred.

How to include and embrace all our citizens with clear rights and clear responsibilities is the greatest political challenge facing all political parties not only in this country, but throughout the world. That is the biggest political challenge facing all of us into the next century.

I end with some perceptive words that were written in The Guardian on 17 June by Tariq Modood, a senior fellow at the Policy Studies Institute in London. He said: Manningham is a situation that Lord Scarman warned against. An expanding and underqualified youth population, a declining labour market, racial discrimination and harassment, drug dealing, conflict with the police. With one important difference. On one side, racism and cultural contempt is mixed with Islamophobia; on the other side, an assertiveness, paralleling forms of black pride, that might be called 'Muslim pride'. An assertiveness that may at times owe as little to religion as political blackness does to the idea of Africa. 'Muslim' solidarity is often criticised, if not in straightforwardly Islamophobic terms, as divisive. But all forms of solidarity involve an 'us' and 'them'. What divides is hardly to be welcomed, but denigrated and powerless groups need to find a focus of pride and political cohesion. Those words are particularly profound and extremely relevant to the tragic events that took place in our city a few days ago. I hope that they will be addressed seriously and urgently by the Government. I sincerely believe that an independent public inquiry, lasting not two years, but six to nine months, could do an extremely good service to all of us. The voices need to be heard, not only in this place, but throughout our country. I hope that, having heard the voices that will be aired here today, the Government will respond sensibly and sensitively to the voices that need to and must be heard.

11.55 am
Mr. Gary Waller (Keighley)

I am delighted that the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) has secured this debate, which is extremely timely. I agreed with a great deal of what he said. Tribute should be paid to him for the way in which he helped to calm the position in the past fortnight. It is to his credit that he has not exerted too proprietorial an approach to those who have taken an interest in what has happened in the Manningham area. All hon. Members representing the Bradford district have a vital stake in the city.

There is an overwhelming need to look forward and to seek to find how can we can make Bradford a better place. If there is a need to consider the events of the past few days, we should look back to learn lessons for the future. There is a great danger that people who consider what has been happening in Bradford after watching their televisions or reading their newspapers may find that their prejudices and stereotypes are reinforced. It is important to remember that nothing like this has happened in Bradford before. Nothing like it happened when the National Front was driven out of the Lumb lane area in the late 1970s, at the time of the Honeyford affair or when people saw the vivid images on television and in the press of the burning of "The Satanic Verses" at the beginning of the decade.

It is a complex position. One of those who has analysed it well is Philip Lewis, adviser to the Bishop of Bradford on inter-faith issues. A warning should be given to those who want to make absolutist statements about the reasons for what happened in Bradford: the position is complicated and there were many reasons for what occurred. That will help us in the way that we look forward to the future.

What happened? Why did it happen? What do we do in the immediate aftermath? Above all, how do we ensure that these events do not recur? I am pleased that the Police Complaints Authority is to conduct an urgent inquiry and no one should prejudge its conclusions. I have confidence in John Cartwright, who will preside over it, and I look forward to a speedy and authoritative report.

I have my doubts, and have always had doubts, about a statutory public inquiry, although I have listened carefully to those who have argued for it. There is a real danger that a public inquiry, inevitably lasting for many months, would expose the bad things about Bradford to national and international coverage and that more harm than good could result.

There is also a danger that the establishment of such an inquiry could convey the wrong messages—the message, for instance, that the way in which to attract attention to an area's problems is to start a riot. Not only would a dangerous message be conveyed to other ethnic-minority communities, but there would be the danger of a backlash, especially in other deprived areas where there has hitherto been no intention to riot but where the problems may be every bit as great as those in Manningham.

Bradford is, of course, a very different community from Brixton, which featured in the Scarman inquiry, and that should be taken into account in any analysis. I hope that such an analysis will be carried out, and that a forum will be established in Bradford to enable people to discuss the problems and their possible solutions.

As the hon. Member for Bradford, West explained, the catalyst that sparked the riot was—as in so many cases—what most would consider a relatively petty event. Like the hon. Gentleman, I hope that everyone will concur with the view expressed by Ruth Billheimer, chair of West Yorkshire police complaints committee and a local councillor, who said that any unacceptable behaviour by the police does not excuse the violence that took place … There is no excuse for any section of the community to take the law into their own hands. That view was echoed by Norman Bettison, the assistant chief constable, who said that no incident can be a justification for the petrol bombing, wanton damage, looting and robbery which took place throughout Bradford. The chief constable, for whom I have the same regard as the hon. Member for Bradford, West, said that the speed with which the riot broke out was surprising. From what I have been able to ascertain, there can be little doubt that the events of the Saturday night involved agitators from outside, who tried to encourage others to go on a wrecking spree; at the end of the day, however, we must condemn violence against people and property.

When I told someone who is closely involved with race relations in the area that I was not very happy with the statement that had been made, he said that the lack of condemnation of the riots must be seen as a compromise. We cannot compromise when it comes to petrol bombs and bricks thrown through car windows; if we did, there would be complaints about dual standards.

This was not a race riot in the strict sense, but the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage was done to businesses—mainly white businesses—along the route into the centre of Bradford. If the situation had been reversed, everyone—including the Commission for Racial Equality—would have condemned it utterly. The overwhelming majority of Asians also condemn such action; a tiny minority was responsible, including people whose attitudes are just as racist as those of members of the British National party. If we are two-faced, the latter could be the beneficiaries. If we do not express unequivocal condemnation, those with an interest in an outbreak of greater disharmony will benefit; but condemnation is not enough.

The national media, in particular, have focused on the possible link between the violence and the recent vigilante action in Lumb lane. Some of those involved in the vigilante action may have been present during the riot, but I do not think that it was a major factor.

The number of complaints about police officers in the Toiler lane division is the lowest in the force. I understand that there have been 13 this year, none with racial overtones. I believe that the police are doing a great deal of hard work to rebuild links with the community; there are many bridges to be rebuilt after the events of the weekend before last.

According to West Yorkshire Police Federation secretary, Richard Critchley, the underlying problems are not policing problems". I consider his analysis too simplistic. The police are human beings, subject to the faults and weaknesses that affect other human beings, and I know from constituency experience that in some instances they have acted insensitively. They must aim for the highest standards. Overall, however, the police in the Bradford area and west Yorkshire generally—and, indeed, throughout the country—compare favourably with any force in the world in the way in which they deal with the public, including minorities. We should also bear in mind that, like people in other areas, many Asians want more community officers on the beat. How many times have we heard people express that wish?

We should not underestimate the valuable influence of those who, in the immediate aftermath of the violence, played their part in successfully appealing to the public to remain calm and peaceful: we owe them a great debt. That approach united the majority among all races, male and female, old and young. Several people played a particularly valuable role in ensuring that the situation was brought under control. I pay tribute to the Bishop of Bradford, who spoke to young people on Sunday and played an enormously valuable part in bringing people together, not only in the immediate aftermath but in subsequently talking to people and trying to understand. His combination of good humour, pragmatism and firmness when it is needed has been extremely valuable.

On Monday 12 June, just after the events that have been described, the Daily Express published the headline "City Waiting to Explode". I do not think that that was necessarily right; it seemed to suggest that the problems had been caused by basic faults in the people of Bradford or the system there, and that they could easily become considerably worse in the future. Many people say that it will take as long as 20 years to repair the damage that has been done to the community; that, too, need not necessarily be true, but much depends on the way in which we all act now.

Young people in the Manningham area have problems that we must understand, but they too must understand that white people—and, indeed, Asians in other areas—have much in common with them. They should not think that their problems are unique. The problem of having nowhere to go and nothing to do affects many people, not only in Manningham but in Keighley and even Ilkley, which may surprise some. Young people in those areas also want to be listened to, and to receive a positive response.

It has been suggested that part of the problem has been caused by differences between the generations in the Asian community. The issue is sensitive; perhaps it would be more correct to say that many of those young people have values that are similar to those of their parents but their attitudes are different, in that they are more likely to act defiantly to defend those values. They are members of a generation largely born in this country, and they are not prepared to put up with the setbacks that their parents, as immigrants, may have been prepared to endure. As Bradfordians, they often feel that they are being ignored.

Those whose interest is not in harmony have much to gain. We have seen the growth of gangs in the area. It has been easy to play on the fears of those who feel that they are dealing with a society that is hostile to them. There are groups who want to play on the divisions to suit their own agendas. As I have suggested, if a right-wing backlash were provoked, it would benefit only the cause of such groups and reinforce the arguments that they have used in the past.

As the hon. Member for Bradford, West said in quoting a young person from the area, very few of the people are naturally violent but many more perhaps get a buzz from being involved. There is no doubt that many people on the periphery joined in because they were bored. That was perhaps more a factor than anything to do with religion.

There are problems to deal with. It is going to be harder to attract businesses into the area. Among the many important things that we need in the area are more businesses. We need to rebuild the image of Bradford. Restaurants' trade has certainly been drastically affected and that needs to be addressed.

However, there are encouraging aspects. Many young people in the area have a very positive approach. We regret what happened, but some good may emerge. There has been a need to talk about the problems, and the events of the past fortnight may encourage that process.

Another encouraging development has been the spontaneous multi-racial demonstration for peace by women in Manningham. The grievances to which they have drawn attention need to be heard. We need to talk about them.

Our overall message should be that while we must condemn, in this instance we must also understand a little more. We must ensure that young people have a stake in the community in which they live. It is up to us to enable them to feel that way and then we can ensure beyond peradventure that the kind of events that so appalled us during the past fortnight will not recur.

12.11 pm
Mr. Terry Rooney (Bradford, North)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on being lucky enough to secure this debate. I have no wish to try further to describe the events of that week, which have been brilliantly portrayed already, but I should like to expand the debate slightly. I also thank the Minister for being present and apologise in advance as I may not be able to stay to the end of his winding-up speech, having already had to delay a long-standing engagement.

The community in Manningham is dominated by Lister's mill, which is well known to Bradfordians and to anyone who has visited the city. It is a magnificent building architecturally and at its peak it employed 7,000 textile workers. Today it has less than 200. That is synonymous with, and representative of, the economic decline of the area.

Over the years, there have been very welcome schemes—including the urban programme, task force, safer cities, housing action areas and housing improvement areas—which at the time were all welcome and very successful in pulling together agencies and partnerships. All, however, were time-limited, and each time schemes have ended a feeling of despair has been left behind, with people wondering how to sustain those developments.

Recently a long-running campaign to try to maintain section 11 funding for Bradford has been partly but not wholly successful, once again leaving the feeling that a community was not being fully recognised or regarded as part of the equation.

For eight years from 1983 I was a councillor for a ward which partly covered Manningham. That was a real privilege and an experience. During that time I formed lifelong friendships with people from the many different communities. The area has a long history of settlement of people from abroad. In the mid-19th century there was large-scale Irish settlement. It is interesting that in the 1860s it took three attempts to build what is now St. Patrick's Catholic church—the first Catholic church in Bradford—because the Protestant-dominated population kept burning it down. They did not want to have their faith so disturbed. Perhaps, in some ways, nothing is new.

In the late 19th century, east European Jewish settlements were established. After the second world war many people came to settle from eastern Europe: Poles, Ukrainians, Estonians and Latvians. There is a long and cosmopolitan history people living and working together, trying to form new communities.

Last week, we had what I thought was a well-mannered and constructive debate on the boundary commission report. One might ask what relevance that has to this debate. Until the 1980 boundary revision, the community of Manningham had been in one constituency and represented on the council as a single ward. Since 1980, the community has covered four electoral wards in two parliamentary constituencies with 12 councillors. That in itself makes representation somewhat difficult.

Manningham is covered by three separate police divisions, which means nine different shifts of police officers per day. That leads to tensions, confusion and disagreements. The three divisions have three excellent community affairs police inspectors. However, one is on the point of early retirement; one, as a cost-saving measure, has had community affairs duties taken away from him; and the other is retiring at the end of the year. As I understand it, by early next year those community affairs inspector posts will have disappeared. Between them, those three people have amassed something like 20 years experience of dealing with the community, being aware of what is going on and gaining the respect and confidence of the community. Especially in the light of recent events, we cannot afford to sacrifice such experience, commitment and ability to communicate.

Institutions, not only in Bradford but throughout Britain, should reflect and represent communities. We should not create artificial divisions that no one needs. There is a need for a rapid healing process. We must reinforce the faith of the majority in the community while not trying to silence the minority who have genuine, valid grievances. We need to hear and respond to them. That is a duty on hon. Members as representatives of the community and on those with responsibility for policy and planning future programmes.

I echo the caveat entered my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West about any further diminution of rights under the immigration laws. Week after week, I am contacted by people whose relatives have been refused visitors' visas to come for weddings and similar family events. They now have no right of appeal, although some of those cases are heartbreaking. That, too, diminishes people's confidence in the their place in British society.

I know that other hon. Members wish to speak, so I will end there. I hope that the Minister will take those points on board.

12.18 pm
Mr. Michael Stephen (Shoreham)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on securing the debate. It would be difficult to find two constituencies more different from each other than his inner city constituency in the north of England and mine, which lies between the south downs and the sea on the south coast. However, ours is a United Kingdom and serious issues which concern him and his constituents also concern me and mine.

The events of 16 to 18 June in Bradford have shocked us all. The message must go out from the House loud and clear that all our citizens are expected to obey the law. What we saw in Bradford was a rampage in which opportunities were taken to engage in criminal activity of the most vile and despicable kind. The hon. Member for Bradford, West rightly condemned that. Some people- might suggest, although the hon. Gentleman did not, that poverty is an excuse for such behaviour, but many of the people engaged in that criminal activity were not poor or unemployed, while many of those whose hard-earned property was smashed, destroyed or stolen were among the poorest in the community. Members of Parliament must keep faith with the poorest in our community by making it clear that criminal attacks on them will never be tolerated.

It is suggested that some sections of our society are frustrated. All of us, including Ministers, must listen to all legitimate points of view but there are two sides—at least—to every issue. Those who find themselves on the losing side will, I suspect, always feel dissatisfied and frustrated, but that is no excuse for criminal behaviour. We do not want to live in a society in which those who shout the loudest get what they want while those who go peacefully about their business are ignored.

There are perhaps fewer reasons than ever before for anyone in this country to feel alienated. All adults have the vote. We are not living in the days of the Tolpuddle martyrs or the suffragettes, and almost everyone with a legitimate point of view has access to the media and can communicate their views to millions of fellow citizens. Members of Parliament and councillors are more accessible than ever before, and we are all extremely hard-working representatives of our constituents. That applies as much to Opposition Members as to Conservatives. Many of us start work for our constituents at 7 am and do not stop until midnight. We represent all points of view and I greatly respect those expressed by Opposition Members on behalf of their constituents, although I do not often agree with them. Ministers, too, are more accessible than ever before but they cannot always do what we want, perhaps because there is not enough money available or for some other perfectly valid reason.

We must, of course, manage the economy in such a way that our people have the highest possible standard of living and the greatest opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, but I do not suppose that we shall ever reach the stage when all our people are 100 per cent. satisfied. The relentless advance of technology means that we often have to make painful adjustments in our local economies, and Bradford is no exception.

One thing about young men which must be understood—most of those participating in the criminal activity in Bradford were men—is their need for adventure. They are boisterous and energetic and need some way to release their energy. I felt the same at their age and volunteered to join the Army, in which I served for five years. I got the adventurous spirit out of my system and am now able to enjoy life as a rather sedentary Member of Parliament. Ways must he found for today's young people—especially young men—to get that adventurous spirit out of their systems. They cannot be expected to leave school, go straight into a sedate nine-to-five job and behave themselves all the time.

Another problem that we witnessed in Bradford was the cultural breakdown. For generations, the Asian communities in our country had a strong cultural defence mechanism against criminal and other forms of anti-social behaviour, but I fear that that mechanism is beginning to break down. One of the reasons is television, about which I wish to make a few comments.

On television, young members of the Asian community—indeed, young members of all communities—see western culture of the worst possible kind. They see sexual irresponsibility, disrespect for parents and all forms of authority, violence and bad language. Expectations are raised by television to such a degree that no Government have any possibility of living up to them. As Members of Parliament, we have a duty not to raise expectations beyond the level that Governments can reasonably he expected to fulfil. Television is a powerful instrument for moulding ideas and shaping attitudes. In the wrong hands, however—and I fear that it may be in the wrong hands—it could destroy our society.

12.24 pm
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford, South)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on the excellent way in which he explained to the House the problems in his constituency. Due to the shortage of time, I shall not be able to go into as much detail as I would wish about the problems in Bradford. In any event, we have to hear what the Government have to say and what action they propose. My only sadness about today's debate is that we are discussing a tragic event in the life of a great city.

As has been said, whatever the provocation, there is no and can never be any justification for violence against people or damage to property. During the weekend in question, it was not only property that was damaged but the hearts and minds of Bradford people who were shocked and upset at what happened to our community. Let us make no mistake—Bradford suffered and will continue to suffer until we find solutions to the core problems.

We are witnessing the economics of exclusion. The recent Rowntree report made it clear that, between 1979 and 1992, the poorest 30 per cent. of the country failed to benefit from economic growth. A third of Bradford's population relies on some form of state benefit. I have lived and worked in Bradford all my life, I was educated at Bradford schools, my first job was in the city centre and my partner and I brought up our children there, so it was with genuine pain and sorrow that I became aware of what was happening in Bradford that weekend. There are many conflicting versions of the events that sparked the fury, and I am especially disappointed that the Home Secretary does not agree that an independent inquiry was appropriate. In my view, it would have helped to clear up the myth and the fictions that abound in the area at the moment.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney), I was a councillor for 12 years; I also had the privilege to lead the city council. I am proud of Bradford and its achievements, despite the darker moments when the actions of a few minimise the value of the contribution of the majority. There are many tales about the horrific incidents of that weekend but two particular cases were brought home to me strongly. One involved an elderly white woman who had been resident in the area for a long time. Her windows were broken and she was threatened with being forced out of her home. The second involved a young Asian youth who was frightened to go to work the following week because he feared the reaction of his work mates. Racism on either side is not acceptable.

Acts of criminal damage and wanton destruction have to be punished, and it is to the credit of the law-abiding people of Bradford that they want to see those responsible caught by the police. It is also to the credit of Bradford people that they recognise that there are underlying problems which need to be tackled. The police were the focus of all that was apparently wrong: there was a notion that the establishment, or society, was not performing according to the aspirations of the disfranchised.

Disfranchised youngsters have no faith in today's Britain. It offers a vision of materialism and wealth, but the reality for many Bradford youngsters, especially among the Asian community, is one of unemployment and poverty. Sadly, the disfranchised group is not confined to the Asian youth of Manningham but includes the rest of Bradford youth and, indeed, Britain's youth.

To disinterested observers, Bradford's problems relate to the breakdown of relationships between the elders of the Asian community and the young people. The Asian community is described in general terms, but that is far from the truth: the Asian community in Bradford is as complex as any other, with geographical, religious and cultural diversities, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. It is wrong to generalise and it is important that we do not do so. It is true that there some differences between the generations, but the same is also true of the wider community.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North said, Bradford has a proud tradition of welcoming people from all over the world, mainly due to the fact that it was the woollen capital of the world. We therefore enjoy a diversity of communities and have benefited from that fact.

In 1984, the city council published a document entitled "District Trends" which predicted worrying trends of poverty and unemployment. At the time, we were criticised for scaremongering and talking Bradford down, but those predictions are coming true. The Government have responsibilities to Bradford. They cannot take £40 million from the council's budget, as has happened in the past few years, and expect there to be no effect. Discipline in schools is already a problem, and there are fewer classroom assistants and less resources for special needs. It has to be remembered that many of the people involved were children—still learning at school.

The Government have straitjacketed council expenditure so that 85 per cent. of the council spend is predetermined, making it unable to respond to the many needs of the community. There is frustration when a council spends money in one area but not in another which seems more of a priority. The reason is usually because the council is not able to transfer money from pot to pot. When the Government launched the single regeneration budget, Bradford lost its urban programme: £4 million a year, which was spent across the district, was gone at a stroke.

We have pockets of unemployment of more than 50 per cent. in areas such as Manningham and on our council estates; yet the budget for training and enterprise councils has been cut by £2 million this year. Bradford has lost its assisted area status, which means that private companies have lost the opportunity to make millions of pounds. The health authority, too, has had its budget cut. Such cuts cannot and must not continue. So far this year, the police in west Yorkshire have had to deal with more than 23 murders, compared with 17 last year; yet they have not been given any extra resources or manpower. How can they build the stronger community relations that have been called for when they suffer such restraints?

Resources are not the only answer. There needs to be a cultural change in the attitudes and policies towards the problems of young people, so that they do not turn to the extreme right or left. Attitudes need to change in policies on inner cities and long-term employment. Politicians, both locally and nationally, must make politics relevant and meaningful to the lives of ordinary people from all sectors of the British community.

A catalogue of events in Bradford has contributed to the problems that we face. We need effective local government and we need the community to work together, as it does on many occasions in Bradford. Above all, the Government must recognise that what happened in Bradford could happen everywhere in the country if people do not feel their worth in society. I shall stop at this point, but I hope that the Minister will promise that the Government will take some strong action in areas such as ours in Bradford.

12.31 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

I shall be extremely brief. I am not a Bradfordian, although I have visited the city fairly often in the past few weeks—indeed, just before the events of a fortnight ago. I want to make two points in support of the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden). I pay tribute to him and his colleagues who speak for the city and the surrounding area.

First, it is not surprising that such events happen, as the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe) said. This year it was Bradford; in previous years it has been Oxford, Brixton, Toxteth or wherever. Such events are not an indictment of the city, place or people. Groups of young people, especially young men, can turn very quickly from being positive and constructive to being angry and aggressive. It can happen to any group and may be triggered by almost nothing. That situation is not helped when such people feel, whatever their racial background, that their prospects, stake and opportunities are being disregarded by those in authority—not by those in authority locally.

I have been on deputations with the hon. Member for Bradford, West and others to argue for more money for section 11 funding for the city of Bradford. Its youth service funding has been cut by a third in three years, the education budget has been cut, its local authority is not allowed to decide how much it needs to spend, and urban funding in Bradford, as elsewhere, has been cut. Unless the Government understand such things and unless they listen to the voices of the locals, who are the experts, they will continue to face crises in urban Britain. Such crises will occur because urban Britain does not get its share of the cake or the opportunities. When unemployment rises by a third in six years, the chances of success are minimal.

The people of Bradford are doing all that they can. The faith communities, the faith leaders and the women of the city are doing their part; they are doing the work and working together. They want to know that they are being listened to from outside. The young people are saying, if they are saying anything to the Government and the people in power, "Listen to us. We will have a great future if you help us to achieve it." If the Government disregard that future, people are saying that such events might occur—not because they want them to, but because it is built up and brought about by the components of social policy. If the Government listen to young people, young people will give them the answers.

12.33 pm
Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on his good fortune and determination in securing a debate on this very important subject. Over many years, he has been a great crusader for the cause of racial harmony and a great opponent of those who, no matter from which quarter they come, advocate or practise racial discrimination and harassment.

In his speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West reminded us that the cocktail of grievances and the sets of circumstances which led a fortnight ago to the disturbances in Bradford are by no means unique to that city. There have been previous examples of public disorder in Asian communities, most notably of course in Burnley, Blackburn and Southall. The problems that my hon. Friend described are found all too frequently in many inner-city areas. If there is something especially worrying about the Bradford disturbances, it is the fact that they occurred despite the strong sense of community and the existence of strong community institutions which the Asian population of that city have developed.

It should be remembered, for example, that three of the four local councillors who went to the police on the weekend of the troubles to negotiate a truce—if the House will excuse my shorthand—were Asian. As a number of commentators have pointed out, Bradford's circumstances were somewhat different in that respect from those which Lord Scarman identified as having contributed to the Brixton riots in 1981.

There are similarities in other respects, however, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West has pointed out, they require special attention. Both riots started—it seems—after minor disturbances involving the police. The early course of events involved protests against the police, but then widened to include looting, burning, and so on. The riots were not what used to be called race riots. In the aftermath, both have been the subject of much commentary about their importance, as we have heard today, to feelings of alienation, discrimination and social disadvantage.

Bradford does not have a unique cocktail of circumstances, but the citizens who live in and around Manningham most certainly suffer some acute and specific problems, as we have heard this morning. Laws governing prostitution, for example, must be addressed urgently and properly. There seems little doubt that the relationship between the police and the Asian community was not helped by the friction which seems to have been generated by the activities of certain vigilante groups of Asian males, who took it upon themselves to persuade—by all kinds of means—prostitutes to move way from Lumb lane and the respectable residential areas which are blighted by their presence.

Reports have emerged of expressions of resentment among the west Yorkshire constabulary at the existence and nature of those groups. Other reports indicate that the police are frustrated that they cannot lay their hands on certain Asian pimps involved in controlling the prostitution in and around Lumb lane. The police argue that evidence against the Asian community's rotten apples is very difficult to obtain and that, in such circumstances, a tight community, which feels threatened and under siege, tightens rank still further.

Similar reports have emerged about drug dealing. It is quite clear that the Government have a duty to make known their plans for tackling problems of interpretation and enforcement if any progress is to be made in the efforts to reduce the numbers of opportunities for incidents to occur and for friction to increase. The Police Complaints Authority inquiry may offer a vehicle for pursuing that question, although, as we have heard, my hon. Friends would rather have had an independent inquiry, with a much wider remit than that of the PCA.

Any inquiry which assumes that the causes of the Bradford riots are limited to the lack of training of certain police officers in their relationship with ethnic communities is bound to fail. There is no doubt that greater resources must be made available to ensure that police officers are better trained and better equipped to deal with fractious incidents. But resources should also be made available to allow us to understand how a proper application of the laws governing prostitution and drug dealing might also help to reduce the opportunities for friction.

I do not believe that a local inquiry—however well-intentioned—conducted by the concerned people of Bradford is sufficient to deal with such problems. I hope that the Minister and the Home Secretary will reconsider their decision to refuse a properly resourced and independent inquiry.

There is no doubt that all respectable elements in Bradford have understood the seriousness of the events that occurred a fortnight ago. We have heard about the welcome efforts made on all sides—by the police and the Asian community as well as by the local authorities—to construct out of those events an atmosphere of trust and reconciliation. I am sure that everyone here wishes them all well in their endeavours, for there can be no excuse for violence and criminal damage such as that witnessed on the streets of Bradford two weeks ago.

My hon. Friends and other hon. Members have condemned that violence and the mentality that perpetrated it. There is no doubt in my mind that the sense of cynicism, alienation and frustration so vividly described by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West will increasingly threaten race relations in this country. My hon. Friend described the dangers of applying any simplistic analysis to that difficult and complicated problem, but begin to analyse them we must, if we are to protect and improve what I believe are the best race relations of any European Union country.

In some quarters that assertion might be regarded as controversial, but I will say it again: race relations in this country generally are among the best in Europe. We must build on that record, and we must not endanger it in any way. That means that the specific issues and problems, including the policing problems highlighted by my hon. Friends, must be investigated and tackled. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West suggested that a mechanism should be constructed whereby we could quickly set up a short, sharp public inquiry capable of examining those specific questions and, more importantly, capable of making recommendations that would help in the immediate healing process.

I shall deal briefly with one of the specific problems that has been much commented upon over the past two weeks—the alleged relationship between high unemployment and the incident in question and others like it in ethnic minority communities. I do not believe that there is a mechanistic or automatic link between high unemployment and a propensity to riot or to commit lawless acts. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have represented a mining community for many years—like mine, it is now an ex-mining community—and if there was a mechanistic or automatic link between high unemployment and a propensity to riot, the coalfield and dockyard communities would have been ablaze throughout the 1930s. But they were not.

However, it is foolish to think that the cynicism, alienation and frustration that we have heard about is entirely detached from the experience of high unemployment. Unemployment represents an important variable. Whether our constituencies contain ethnic minorities or not, we all know from our experience within them that there is a link. The police know that, too, and we must deal with it as a fact.

If necessary we must get rid of the sociological hogwash that, often in the name of political correctness, prevented us from talking about the link between high unemployment and lawlessness—that tendency to do all kinds of anti-social things that so dragged down our communities. It is time that we addressed that problem, in the inner cities and elsewhere.

Unemployment is an important variable, perhaps as important as any other. Of all the ethnic minorities in this country the Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations are most vulnerable to high unemployment both cyclical and long term. That problem, like prostitution and drug dealing in the inner cities, must be addressed, perhaps by re-examining the application of single regeneration budgets and the way in which the bids for that scheme are drafted.

We must think seriously about strengthening the institutions of communities such as that in and around Manningham by empowering those communities and ensuring that the ordinary people within them have a voice in shaping their lives. If we do not address those issues all of us, whether we represent inner city constituencies or not, will regret it. Our police forces cannot continue to be, in the words of the assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire, the anvil on which these youths"— Asian youths— are beating out their frustrations and anger". Mob rule and collective bargaining by riot can have no place in a modern democracy. It is our duty to ensure that the mechanisms are in place to convince people that there are alternative means of making their voices heard.

12.44 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Nicholas Baker)

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) for raising the subject of the recent disturbances in Bradford, and to every Member who has contributed to the debate. Obviously it is essential to hear the concerns expressed by the Members who represent that great city, and I assure them that we take what they say very seriously indeed. I also thank the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) for the way in which he spoke. I cannot agree with every word that he said, but some of it seemed like remarkably new material from the Opposition, if I may say so—constructive, socially responsible and right.

As the hon. Member for Pontypridd said, every decent citizen of this country, regardless of background, must have been appalled by the scenes of senseless violence that presented themselves to us. I am sure that the House will agree that, whatever the underlying causes, the fact remains that there can be no excuse for the criminal activity of those who commit acts of violence and confront the police in the way witnessed in Bradford over those three nights from 9 to 11 June.

Those involved in the disturbances may have genuine grievances and concerns that should be properly addressed. Many have been described in the debate. But violence is not the way to deal with them. I am glad that discussions are now taking place between the police and members of the Asian community in Bradford. That is a far more sensible and positive approach.

The hon. Member for Bradford, West listed 10 questions, and I can tell him that many of those are now being considered by the police and other bodies. For example, as part of the reorganisation within West Yorkshire police, emphasis is being placed on sector policing. That means that sector inspectors will take charge of community affairs matters alongside their operational duties. It does not mean that any division's community involvement will be lessened. The community involvement unit will continue its valuable work among the communities that the force serves.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the problems associated with prostitution. Even before the disturbances West Yorkshire police, with the approval of the local community, had agreed to prioritise the reduction of prostitution in residential areas of Bradford. That strategy is now firmly in place, with an increase in the size of the local detachment of the vice squad.

Mention was also made of a possible inquiry by the local community groups, notably the Bradford Congress. The Government will certainly take seriously any report or conclusions produced by such an inquiry. No doubt some of the questions that one would have to consider are being examined already. I say that because I think that the local community is the source of the greatest knowledge of the problems with which we are all concerned.

The police should receive our full support in dealing with public disorder, and no doubt they do. It is the responsibility of chief police officers to decide how to respond, but I have no hesitation in saying that the overall response to what happened in Bradford was justified and professional. I know that the chief constable will do all in his power to prevent any repetition of the incidents, both through constructive dialogue with the community and through a commitment to deal firmly with lawbreaking. I believe that the House should commend the police service for the enormous strides that it has made in recent years in meeting the new challenges presented by our multi-racial society.

We have been working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers under the quality of service initiative to put into place effective policies and strategies that will meet the legitimate expectations of all sections of our society and, in particular, the needs of ethnic minority communities.

Naturally the community must be consulted so that the police know what local people need and want. Indeed, under section 106 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, police authorities are required to make arrangements for public consultation. In the Toller Lane division of West Yorkshire police, for instance, I understand that police community consultative groups meet regularly. The importance of those groups has been heightened by the events we are discussing today. At the last meeting in May, the discussion included details of the force's policing plans, and the problems posed by prostitutes in the area.

West Yorkshire police, like all police forces, places great emphasis on community involvement. I understand that in the Toller Lane division, the community liaison unit is extensively concerned with local projects, working with young people and local schools. It is involved with the Manningham drugs forum—which has been mentioned in the debate—and recently participated in a youth forum run by the Boys' Brigade to consult local people. These are small local initiatives that are terribly important to the community.

The Police Complaints Authority is currently supervising the investigation of a number of complaints made about police conduct arising from the events in Bradford. The investigation is to be carried out by a chief superintendent, whose appointment has been approved. He will keep a close eye on some of the matters which have been raised in the debate.

As the hon. Member for Pontypridd said, the Police Complaints Authority can look into wider issues surrounding complaints against the police, which might include training, bailing policy or force policy. The PCA is independent of the police, and its job is to see that allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and impartially considered. If the investigation now under way uncovers evidence of police misconduct, the Police Complaints Authority has the power to recommend, and ultimately to direct, that disciplinary charges are brought against the officers involved. Any evidence which suggests that a criminal offence has been committed would, of course, be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration.

I understand that about 15 complaints against the police have been recorded so far, and I encourage anyone who considers that they have been treated improperly by the police to come forward and make use of the formal complaints procedure. Parliament has laid down an effective procedure for dealing with complaints against the police, and I have every confidence that the Police Complaints Authority will carry out its statutory duty and ensure that there is a thorough and independent investigation of those allegations of police misconduct which have arisen in Bradford.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary and I met the hon. Member for Bradford, West and others on 19 June to discuss many of the issues affecting community relations in Bradford as a result of the events in Manningham. We were grateful for the helpful, practical and constructive way in which hon. Members approached the discussion. It was a useful exchange of information and opinion.

The hon. Member for Bradford, West also discussed with us his wish to see work put in hand to identify the issues that led to the disturbances, and he called for a wide-ranging public inquiry to be set up. The Government are satisfied that the inquiry by the Police Complaints Authority will investigate all the circumstances surrounding the complaints against the police over that weekend. We do not feel that any more detailed and lengthy inquiry is the best way to look at the root causes.

Many of the concerns of the community are already matters of public knowledge and are the subject of consultation and action, both locally and nationally. In fact, one of the community relations consultants from the Home Office spent many hours over that weekend talking to the police and members of the community to assess for Ministers what had led to the disturbances and how they might be resolved.

Clearly there are matters connected with these issues which lie within the responsibility of central Government and local government, but it is very important that the community in Bradford itself now be given the opportunity to get on with repairing the damage it has suffered. Experience shows that any community needs to be given a clear role and responsibility to help solve its own difficulties.

We cannot expect, nor do we, that all the responsibility lies within the community itself. But unless the people of Bradford feel that they own some part of the solution to their difficulties, the chances of coming to a conclusion which means anything and can be accepted by all is that much more difficult to achieve. As my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller) said, a public inquiry will not help that process. It would concentrate on the negative aspects—such an inquiry would specialise in apportioning blame—rather than seeking to build on the very positive spirit that exists in Bradford. Despite the disturbances, hon. Members representing the city have referred to that positive spirit. I do not feel it would be productive to delay the process of reconciliation and healing until a report was prepared in a year or more's time.

Mr. Madden

Even at this late stage, I would urge the Minister not to close his mind to the suggestion of an independent public inquiry. Many people in Bradford are puzzled that the Government are prepared to give their blessing to a local public inquiry and have assured us that they will co-operate fully with such an inquiry, yet they are rejecting a wholly independent public inquiry which could be conducted speedily because they believe that it would be negative. How can the Minister reject out of hand an unprecedented inquiry which could be a positive, worthwhile and effective step in the healing process, and yet be prepared to support a local inquiry about which many of us have deep reservations?

Mr. Nicholas Baker

I understand what the hon. Gentleman says, but—for the reasons which I have elaborated—I believe that a public inquiry would not be the best way to discover the needs, concerns or solutions that the city has.

It is particularly sad to witness such unrest in a city such as Bradford which actually has a long and successful history of celebrating a rich and diverse community, and which takes the best from all of the backgrounds and cultures of its people. The history of Bradford demonstrates a commendable, effective and above all successful approach to the integration of different communities. Hon. Members have mentioned that, despite their sadness, in the debate today. It is not the record of a city suffering from major tensions within and between its communities. It would be a great shame if that record was to be in any way challenged by the actions of a few irresponsible and selfish individuals.

As the hon. Member for Bradford, West will know, the number of groups active in Bradford illustrate the city's record. They are working with local and national agencies to tackle issues affecting the community. Those groups include Manningham Asian Residents Association and the Pakistan community centre, and police groups such as the community consultative group in the Toller Lane division. These groups are all working locally, and the knowledge, concern and information needed to produce solutions will come from them.

Many of those groups have made considerable efforts to canvass the views of young people and to encourage them to participate. For example, the last meeting of the police community consultative group in Toller Lane was deliberately held in a venue which would be likely to attract young people to attend, and the Bradford Council of Mosques has an established youth group. The community in Bradford will no doubt wish to consider how it can build upon this good work, and how best it can provide young people with an appropriate platform for their views. Many of those issues will, no doubt, relate to local ones, for example, the relationship with the police; local authority provision; employment, education and housing. I am sure that West Yorkshire police and Bradford city council will also be looking at ways of addressing those concerns to ensure that the views of the community are properly considered.

Reference has been made to the Government's investment in Bradford, which has been remarkable in three respects, the first being the single regeneration budget—

Mr. Deputy Speaker