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Second Church Estates Commissioner (Oral): Citizenship

12 March 2015

4. Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): If the Church Commissioners will discuss with Church of England bishops initiatives involving other faith leaders on instilling citizenship values throughout the population. [908040]

Canon Sir Tony Baldry: Bishops throughout England work closely with other faith leaders in their diocese to uphold citizenship values throughout their communities.

Mr Sheerman: The right hon. Gentleman has always been more of a blessing than a burden in these sessions, and today especially so.

On a serious note, citizenship is taught patchily in schools in our country. We have a wonderful interfaith group in Huddersfield which leads this positive move to share faith and interests. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if the hard work is done in such organisations all the time, when crises arrive it will stand us in good stead?

Canon Sir Tony Baldry: I entirely agree. Indeed, I am glad that during this Parliament the Government, through the Department for Communities and Local Government, have supported three programmes to help promote faith communities: Near Neighbours, which is operated by the Church Urban Fund; Together in Service, which is operated by FaithAction; and the work of the Inter Faith Network for the UK. Another challenge that I am taking on after standing down is chairing the trustees of the St Ethelburga’s centre for reconciliation and peace, based in the City of London, which works with many interfaith institutions right across the country, whether in Huddersfield, Manchester or elsewhere. There is an enormous amount of really good practice going on in interfaith work across the United Kingdom, of which we can all be proud.

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab) rose—

Mr Speaker: Mr Fitzpatrick, are you seeking to come in on this question?

Jim Fitzpatrick: No, Mr Speaker. I was anticipating Dr Offord’s question.

Mr Speaker: Anticipation is clearly one of the hon. Gentleman’s strengths.