SOMETHING we take for granted in the Richmond constituency is how well integrated our communities are compared to some other parts of the UK.

What good integration leads to is a strong and supportive community spirit which is a feature of North Yorkshire that I frequently refer to when writing this column.

We are lucky because, as Dame Louise Casey’s report into opportunity and integration among our minority communities revealed last week, many towns and cities in the UK are divided with communities leading almost parallel existences, separated by language, customs and culture – which in turn can lead to tension.

Too often in the past, politicians have been afraid to address the fact that some communities in the UK have not integrated properly, for fear of being accused of racism.

This simply isn’t right.

Speaking during a Commons debate on Dame Casey’s report, I stressed that it is important that new communities coming to the UK feel an obligation to integrate and embrace a common British identity.

Furthermore, we should never use the excuse of multiculturalism to tolerate practices that are clearly not in accordance with British laws, values and customs. Britain is a tolerant and diverse country and that should always remain the case, but people settling here need to respect our values too.

Back home in Kirby Sigston, last weekend was a whirlwind of constituency engagements celebrating the traditional British Christmas.

A trip to the panto at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond is now a firm fixture in the holiday calendar and this year’s Snow White did not disappoint our party of ten family and friends.

There was lots of slapstick fun, audience participation (my daughters loved throwing knitted apples at the Wicked Queen!) and some great topical gags – even a few about Brexit.

I can’t recommend this production enough.

We also attended the Richmond Station Singers’ Christmas Concert in St Mary’s Parish Church.

With the Station Singers you get three choirs for the price of one and to hear the 140 voices coming together in such a splendid setting – visually and acoustically – was very special.

Santa Runs are now also a British Christmas tradition and, along with my wife Akshata and eldest daughter Krishna, I took part in the Herriot Hospice Homecare’s version in Northallerton. Resplendent in our Santa suits, we all completed the 5k although it should be said that Krishna did hitch a lift on my shoulders for part of the way!

The numbers taking part (and at the earlier HHH Santa Run held at Bolton Hall in Wensleydale) spoke volumes of the support for this charity which provides just the right form of end-of-life home-based care for our rural population.