Britain's first female Muslim Cabinet minister has said she will not be intimidated by letters sent out across the country encouraging acts of violence against Muslims.

Tory former Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi said she had received a message from a friend urging her not to go out on what the letters describe as "Punish a Muslim Day" on April 3.

But she told the Lords: "I will, along with many Muslims, be going out on April 3 because we will not be intimidated in this way."

Lady Warsi said "low and high levels of Islamophobia" were now "prevalent in our society" and urged the Prime Minister to go further in tackling the problem.

"At what point are we going to step this up and face down this awful scourge of Islamophobia which, unfortunately, is increasing year by year?" she asked.

For the Government, Lord Young of Cookham said he applauded the "courageous words" spoken by Lady Warsi.

Lord Young said many Muslims were feeling intimidated by the leaflets and police were trying to find the source.

"The Government condemns the content of these letters as abhorrent and having no place in a decent society," he added.

Last weekend, West Yorkshire Police confirmed they had around six reports of such letters. Social media users in London and Birmingham also reported receiving them.

After an urgent question, answered in the Commons on Monday, had been repeated in the Lords, Liberal Democrat Baroness Hussein-Ece also condemned the sending of the letters as "deeply tragic and upsetting".

She said it was part of a larger campaign to "vilify, divide and terrorise Muslim communities in this country".

Lady Hussein-Ece said: "It is something we must never, ever give in to and I certainly will not be bound by threats.

"I've had death threats purely because I come from Muslim heritage. I was told on social media that my head would be chopped off and put on a spike outside Parliament. But I will not give in and I'm sure many people won't."

By Trevor Mason