Members of the House of Lords will debate what citizenship means in the 21st Century, and how to increase levels of civic engagement across the country, in the chamber today. The debate follows the publication of the Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee’s report which was published in April.
The debate, which will be opened by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, is the last item scheduled for debate today, with the sitting starting at 2.30pm. Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government will respond on behalf of the Government.
Other Members scheduled to speak include:
Lord Alton of Liverpool
Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Baroness Morris of Yardley
Lord Norton of Louth
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
Lord Russell of Liverpool
Baroness Stowell of Beeston
Lord Wallace of Saltaire
At the end of its inquiry the Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee identified four major issues:
- There is a need for fresh political thinking at every level including the designation of one government department (and one minister within it) with overall responsibility for the cross Government programme.
- There are values which we all share as British citizens and which we must all defend as a means of binding communities together.
- Education in citizenship and the ability to speak English fluently are basic building blocks for a well-functioning democratic system.
- The challenge of integration is a responsibility for all of us not any one community.
At the time of publication Committee chair Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said:
“A cohesive and dynamic society is dependent on citizens feeling secure, engaged and fulfilled. The Government has not given sufficient focus to establishing long term programmes which build trust and confidence between state and citizen.
“Individuals do not learn about the government and political institutions by osmosis. They need to be taught and taught well. The neglect of citizenship education in recent years is to be much regretted.
“There are certain social issues which simply cannot be left in the ‘too difficult box’. These include debating and defining British values which we all need to accept, share and defend.”
“Our proposals do not require large amounts of taxpayers money. They may require some reallocation but above all they require consistent long term application, learning from experience and reinforcing success.”