MP in children's' Urdu books row.

Bradford Council has come under fire from an MP for allowing children's books in Urdu to be available in libraries around the district.

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said the policy did nothing to improve community relations or encourage integration. He said it instead disadvantaged young children who needed to have a strong command of English before they started school.

But the Council's ruling Labour group hit back, saying it always encouraged children to have excellent fluency in English while recognising the importance of a second language in broadening young minds.

Mr Davies said: "Bradford has one of the lowest educational attainment levels in the country. One of the reasons is that many children cannot speak or read English before they go to school.

Knowing that this is one of the biggest problems in Bradford, why do we have children's books in Urdu available in libraries?

Some joined-up thinking from the Council on this would not go amiss. It makes sense to encourage the children to learn and speak English."

An example of the books in question was found by Mr Davies in Shipley library. It was marked as belonging to the Urdu Junior section. Mr Davies said: "We are trying to promote integration and this is not helping. The children and young people are being left behind and it is these children that will be disadvantaged later in life and find it harder to get a job."

Councillor the Reverend Paul Flowers, Bradford Council's executive member for culture, tourism and sport, said: "In Shipley Library there are 20 Urdu books for children out of an overall children's stock of 11,000 books.

While we always want to encourage all children to have excellent fluency in English, we also know that proficiency in a second language is a superb way to broaden young minds.

"I suspect that Mr Davies, who is fast becoming a caricature of his own obsession with political correctness, would not wish us to dispense with books in French, German, Italian or Welsh.

A period of self-imposed retrospection from Mr Davies would be profoundly welcome."