Race Relations

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1967.

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Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking 12:00 am, 27th April 1967

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the first annual report of the Race Relations Board;

(2) whether he has considered the evidence of racial discrimination in housing, in employment, in financial facilities and in public places not covered by the recent Act, particularly that contained in the recent Political and Economic Planning Report, which is in his possession; and what action he now proposes to take.

Photo of Mr David Marquand Mr David Marquand , Ashfield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now introduce legislation to amend the Race Relations Act, in the light of the recent survey on racial discrimination carried out by Political and Economic Planning, a copy of which is in his possession.

Photo of Mr Paul Rose Mr Paul Rose , Manchester, Blackley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of recent reports and surveys, he will now seek to amend the Race Relations Act.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation designed to deal with colour discrimination in employment and housing.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the position described in the recent Political and Economic Planning Report, a copy of which is in his possession, he will introduce legislation to combat racial discrimination in employment, housing and motor insurance.

Photo of Mr Christopher Rowland Mr Christopher Rowland , Meriden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he expects to receive the annual report of the Race Relations Board; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if, in the light of the evidence contained in the recently published Report by Political and Economic Planning entitled Racial Discrimination, a copy of which has been sent to him, he will give consideration to the introduction of legislation strengthening the law against racial discrimination.

Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in the light of the recent findings of the Political and Economic Planning Report, a copy of which has been sent to him, he will now take steps to amend the Race Relations Act, 1965, to cover the fields of housing, employment and insurance.

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

The Report of the Race Relations Board was laid before the House today. The Government are now studying this Report and the P.E.P. Report on Racial Discrimination published earlier this month; and, in the light of these two valuable and comprehensive Reports and other available evidence, will consider the need for and practicability of strengthening the existing Race Relations Act and administrative machinery.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

I welcome that statement and join in the appreciation of the Report of the Race Relations Board. When does the right hon. Gentleman hope to have the report of the Street Committee, and does he hope to bring legislation to extend the scope of the Race Relations Act before the House during the life of this Parliament?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I cannot offhand tell the hon. Gentleman when I shall have the report of the Street Committee, but I shall discover this and write to him about it, If I may. If the view were taken that it was right and practicable to have strengthening legislation, I would certainly hope that it would be done well within the lifetime of this Parliament.

Photo of Mr David Marquand Mr David Marquand , Ashfield

I accept that my right hon Friend cannot at this stage say whether legislation will be introduced, but will he at least concede that the evidence in the P.E.P. survey shows a serious state of racial discrimination in this country, worse than any of us have realised? It is difficult to see how it can be dealt with without strengthening the Act.

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I regard this as a formidable body of evidence, which I have studied with close attention and interest, and I am sure that the Government as a whole are doing the same.

Photo of Mr Paul Rose Mr Paul Rose , Manchester, Blackley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the P.E.P. Report shows that discrimination will become more significant and serious as the children of immigrants acquire higher qualifications? Will he, therefore, resist all pressures, from whatever source, against such legislation and introduce into the House at the beginning of the next Session amendments which would cover housing, employment and financial discrimination?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I have expressed the view on previous occasions that, while there is a great problem as regards first generation immigrants, the problem, particularly in so far as it affects employment, will become still more acute and challenging when we have large numbers of second generation immigrants in this country.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is wrong to allow a state of affairs to continue in which people are penalised in our country because of the colour of their skin? Has my right hon. Friend seen the Motion signed by 142 Labour and Liberal Members calling for extension of the Act?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I have seen the Motion in the names of my hon. Friend and many other hon. Members, and I agree with him, as, I am sure, does every—or nearly every Member of the House that discrimination based upon the colour of skin is entirely intolerable and unacceptable.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, whatever may be people's views on immigration, which, of course, vary, all migrants who are already here should be treated with complete equality and that, as this does not happen or does not seem to happen at the moment without legal sanctions, there is a powerful argument for legislation?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I agree that, if we were to allow a situation to build up in which we had first- and second-class citizens in this country, we should be storing up more trouble for ourselves and for future generations.

Photo of Mr Christopher Rowland Mr Christopher Rowland , Meriden

As we have now shown ourselves to be as prone to colour prejudice as the United States, will my right hon. Friend say what official action is being taken by his Department to study the lessons of experience in the United States and the desirable effects of legislation in that country?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I have myself endeavoured to keep in fairly close touch with what has been done there. The chairman of the Race Relations Board paid a fairly extended visit during the autumn of last year and produced a report. I shall consider whether it might be useful to put that report in the Library.

Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us, including a number of hon. Members on this side, feel that only the extension of legislation can now set a national example and give the moral lead which is so urgently required? In the meantime, what is the Home Secretary doing to overcome the alarming complacency of both the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. in matters of racial discrimination?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

Consultation with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. is in the first place necessarily a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who is in touch with them, and I shall probably have some meetings myself in which we can discuss this whole issue. I take note of the hon. Gentleman's statement of view at the beginning of his supplementary question, which, I know, represents the broad view of right hon. and hon. Members.

Mr. Sharpies:

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that, while I think that the whole House deplores any form of racial discrimination, many of the defects in the Race Relations Act were pointed out by Members on both sides during its passage? Will he also accept that while we shall wish to examine constructively any proposals he puts before us the real solution to the problem must eventually lie in the realms of education and understanding?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I am not sure that it is very constructive or helpful to go into what happened on the various stages of the Race Relations Act. I shall bear in mind a at whatever proposals we may feel able to make will be examined constructively by the hon. Gentleman, and I take note of his point that education and what happens in the minds of people are important, but we must have regard to the framework as well as what happens in the minds of individuals.