Page last updated at 19:43 GMT, Wednesday, 16 June 2010 20:43 UK

Big society adviser warns of 'arduous' journey ahead

The journey towards creating a "big society" will be "long and arduous", the government's adviser on the subject has warned.

Lord Wei, making his maiden speech in the Lords on 16 June 2010, said the concept, which was the theme of the Tory election manifesto, was not just about civil society or about the government, but a "collective and very British constitutional negotiation of a partnership for the 21st century".

The new Tory peer, a founder of Teach First and, at 33, the youngest member of the Lords by almost six years, said that there will be "challenges" to creating the partnership including apathy, institutional resistance and vested interests.

He said: "Neither civil society or government or us in this House should be under any illusion that the journey to achieving this 21st Century partnership will be long, arduous and filled with setbacks."

But he said the end result of creating a "healthier, vibrant balance" would be worth it.

Speaking before Lord Wei, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said the debate about the nature of citizenship was "perhaps more important than it has been for a century or more".

He suggested the government should review "with a matter of urgency" the way community projects are funded on too short term a basis.

"It takes time to discover that you are a community," he said.

"One of the greatest difficulties that we have faced in this area in the last couple of decades has been a regime of funding for projects in such contexts which has been experienced as brutally short-term."


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