Government will promote 'British values', Theresa May says

Posted On: 
13th May 2015

The Government will seek to “actively promote British values” alongside a fresh crackdown on extremism, Theresa May has said. 

Home Secretary Theresa May, March 2015

David Cameron is promising to introduce a bill in his first Queen’s Speech that will give authorities stronger powers to clamp down on radical groups and individuals – even if they have not broken the law. 

The Prime Minister will say the Government has “stood neutral between different values” for too long, helping to “foster a narrative of extremism and grievance”.

Ms May said a programme to promote “British values” was part of a new “One Nation” Conservatism. “We are One Nation. We will be governing for One Nation and as One Nation,” the Home Secretary told ITV.

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She added on the Today programme: “We haven’t as a society in the past, been positive enough about the values that unite us as a society...

“What we’re talking about is the key values that underline our society and are being undermined by the extremists. Things like democracy, a belief in democracy, a belief in the rule of law, a belief in tolerance for other people, equality, an acceptance of other people’s faiths and religions.”

‘EXTREMISM’ DEFINITION

At the first meeting of the National Security Council since the election, David Cameron will announce a new bill in his first Queen’s Speech to make it easier to ban extremist organisations or hinder radical individuals – even if they have not broken the law.

He will say: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.

"It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach.”

When quizzed on the free speech implications of such measures this morning, Ms May said the exact definition of “extremism” had not yet been settled on and would take into account the need to allow strong debate.

“One part of what we’re doing is the legislation which has the banning orders, the disruption orders, the ability to close premises and that will have very clearly within it, will have definitions of extremism.

“We’ve set out a definition of extremism at the moment but we’ll very clearly set out in the legislation how those banning orders will operate.”

Asked later on Sky whether the new power to shut down premises that were being used for extremist activities could potentially lead to the closure of mosques, she said:

“What we’re talking about is where premises are being used regularly, consistently, for promoting extremist values for trying to undermine our society, undermine the values that we share here in the United Kingdom, then it is important that we are able to take action on those premises.”

LABOUR RESPONSE

David Hanson, the Shadow Home Office Minister, said Labour would study the detail of the proposals before setting out its position.

He said: “Strong powers also need strong checks and balances to ensure they are used appropriately. We will look at the detail of these proposals to ensure these measures are both effective and proportionate.”