Community Relations (Conference)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Michael Barnes Mr Michael Barnes , Brentford and Chiswick 12:00 am, 16th April 1970

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the conference on community relations which he convened on 18th and 19th March.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the conference on race relations which he held on 18th and 19th March.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

The conference provided the Government, the Community Relations Commission and the Race Relations Board with a valuable opportunity to review developments since the passing of the Race Relations Act, 1968. There was general agreement that the Act has been effective in providing machinery for dealing with discrimination, and I am glad to have this opportunity of saying so. The discussion also identified a number of points for further consideration by the commission and the board and by Government Departments.

Photo of Mr Michael Barnes Mr Michael Barnes , Brentford and Chiswick

I accept that the conference was valuable in rebutting the propaganda of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), but will not my right hon. Friend agree that a great deal more needs to be done than the conference seems to have achieved? Will not he launch a much more positive drive to improve community relations in Britain?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

This is a continuing process. I am always ready to consider new initiatives, but I think that the patient and unpublicised work of a great many voluntary people is probably producing steady, and I hope good, results.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that people should be free from the street violence which has occurred recently in the East End of London, about which there was a television programme? Does not he also agree that the recent statement by the Leader of the Opposition, in which he said that once immigrants are here they should be restricted, was a most unhelpful and illiberal statement?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

In reply to the last part of the supplementary question, I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was correctly reported. I cannot conceive that anybody would think it realistic to prevent a person in this country moving from one town to another in search of a new job. In reply to the first part of the supplementary question, may I make it clear that, not only in principle but in practice, every citizen, no matter what his colour, is entitled to equal protection from the police in his lawful activities, and I know that the police will fulfil that duty.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with the last words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask whether he is aware that the policy which my right hon. Friend has enunciated from time to time—I have not seen the latest text—is that exactly the same general position should exist as for Frenchmen and Scandinavians—and for Americans for that matter?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

Yes, but what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has never seemed to be able to comprehend is that, on the whole, Frenchmen, and the others to whom he refers, come here for a short time, with the intention of returning to their own country, whereas the great majority of the Commonwealth citizens who seek entry vouchers come here for the purpose of permanent settlement. I hope that he will explain this to his right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that our policy is that they should not in the ordinary course come in for permanent settlement at first instance? That is the difference between us.