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Lord Ahmed queries government funding of the Sufi Muslim Council

Lord Ahmed queries government funding of the Sufi Muslim Council

Categories: Latest News

Friday February 12 2010

  Hansard on Wednesday records answers given to written questions posed by Lord Ahmed of Rotherham (pictured) and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi to the Department of Communities and Local Government on the Sufi Muslim Council and its receipt of public funds.

From Hansard:

Lord Ahmed:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Communities and Local Government has investigated whether Mr Haras Rafiq, the former head of the Sufi Muslim Council, has misappropriated Government funding. [HL1611]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Department for Communities and Local Government has not investigated whether Mr Haras Rafiq has misappropriated government funding.

Baroness Warsi:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 16 December 2009 (WA 254), whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the end of year evaluation reports submitted by the Sufi Muslim Council.
[HL1682]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 16 December 2009 (WA 254), whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of all the end of year evaluation reports of projects funded by the Community Leadership Fund. [HL1683]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): There are no plans to place evaluation reports from Community Leadership Fund projects, or reports submitted by the Sufi Muslim Council, in the Library of the House since they contain confidential information which those organisations conducting the projects would not anticipate seeing made public and disclosure at this time could undermine their (and others) co-operation and willingness to continue participating in the programme.

The recorded response from the government is disappointing to say the least. At a time when the CLG select committee is undertaking an inquiry into Prevent, and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, John Denham, has spoken of the “need to have the confidence to address concerns about Prevent directly, honestly and openly,” why all the secrecy under guise of confidentiality?

This government has been no stranger to placing heavily redacted documents in the public domain, just think of the first feeble attempt at disclosing MPs expenses claims. If confidentiality is such a concern, why not place that information that is cleared for public consumption in the Library of the House?

Refusing to provide any information in this manner is unlikely to satisfy those that insist on full disclosure where possible. And to seek to justify this on grounds that groups would threaten to withdraw from participating in the Prevent programme reveals not only contempt for the Muslims who are affected by the work of groups that receive public funding, with no effort at evaluation, but contempt for ‘address[ing] concerns about Prevent directly, honestly and openly’. If John Denham is sincere that these concerns will be addressed, then the Government response given on Wednesday should be looked at again.

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