I beg to move,
That this House, recognising that the ethnic minorities within British society receive less than their fair share of national resources and remain victims of discrimination and prejudice, calls upon the Government to introduce and implement policies which initially reduce and eventually eliminate the disadvantages which are suffered by these British citizens.
The motion was intended to be uncontroversial between the parties. It contains no criticism of the Government's record or policy. It was drafted in the hope —a vain hope, as it turned out—that the House could unite in unanimous agreement about the need to take immediate, decisive action to reduce discrimination against ethnic minorities. The Government have chosen to table an amendment which manages to be simultaneously pious and partisan. It includes sentiments which sit uncomfortably alongside the statements and speeches made by the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) during the general election. We shall vote against the amendment because, in our view, the time for platitudes has passed and the time for action has come.
In part, we chose this subject for debate because there is a new Home Secretary. We did so not simply to celebrate his appointment but to express the hope that, at least in this particular, he will do better than his immediate predecessors. It is even possible that we at last have a Conservative Home Secretary—I think, the first for 30 years—who represents a constituency which contains members of the ethnic minority community. If that is the case, he must know the extent of the disadvantage from which these British citizens suffer. It was our hope—it remains our hope, despite the amendment—that he will wish to take action that has previously been neglected but is urgently in the interests of this section of the British public.
I emphasise that the motion, and the debate, concern British citizens who are denied the full rights of British citizenship. The facts are indisputable. We know, at one extreme of the social spectrum, that black defendants are denied bail in circumstances in which it would be granted to white suspects. At the other extreme, we know that highly qualified black and Asian job applicants are rejected for no other reason than their racial origins. These are facts which it is painful to repeat because of what they demonstrate about our society, but, unless we acknowledge the existence of the canker, we will not cut it out, and there is no doubt how great the infection is today.
Parliamentary answers given on 22 May this year demonstrate the extent of one form of discrimination. From 1989 to 1991, the average rate of male unemployment was 8 per cent. For white males, it was 7 per cent. For ethnic minorities, it was almost twice that figure, at 13 per cent. For men of Indian origin, it was 10 per cent. and for Afro-Caribbeans it was 15 per cent. For men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani stock, it was 21 per cent.
That discrepancy in job opportunities did not result from the ethnic minorities being less motivated or less qualified than white workers. The truth is quite the opposite. The Commission for Racial Equality, reporting last month, analysed job seekers in the labour market and said:
The proportion of ethnic minorities with higher levels of qualification is slightly higher than the proportion of white people.
Yet, for those in this group—the most highly qualified, the group in which ethnic minorities have superior qualifications to their white contemporaries—their prospects of getting a job are exactly the same, that is, about half that of a white man or woman applying for the same post.
I do not believe that the Home Secretary will dispute that description, for the Government have acknowledged the existence of discrimination in employment. In February, they published a 10-point guide which they said would remedy what they coyly described as the
under representation of the ethnic minorities within the employed population".
Nobody, not even the Government, believes that those guidelines will even scratch the surface of the problem. The question that faces the nation is whether we are prepared for such discrimination to continue or are willing and now ready to initiate decisive action. Timing is vital, because jobs are what the black and Asian British need most. Given a fair chance, given an equal opportunity, they would get their fair share of employment. At the moment, equal opportunity is not available to them.
Highly motivated and unusually talented members of the ethnic minorities fight their way to success, but many of the others are caught in a cycle of double deprivation. They are disadvantaged because they are poor. They are either at the bottom of the earnings league or unemployed. Because of their race and their colour, they are unable to escape from their poverty.
I do not seek to diminish the importance of other policies that are designed to eliminate discrimination. It is, for example, wholly unacceptable, at least to me, that although Catholics, Jews and Quakers can set up denominational schools, Muslims are denied that right. It also seems intolerable to me that some hospitals and some schools do not provide meals that respect the religious needs of their Muslim patients and pupils. However, nothing is so important as providing a chance to escape from poverty, and that requires a radical revision of our employment legislation.
The present law is demonstrably inadequate because it is based on specific complaints by individuals, who have been denied employment or promotion because of their race. The onus should be shifted from isolated actions by victims of discrimination to a general obligation placed on employers. Whether that obligation is fulfilled cannot be calculated in terms of precise numbers. Quotas do not work and will not work, and we do not suggest them as a remedy.
We should require that all employers use their best endeavours to employ a work force who are genuinely representative of their local population. A strengthened Commission for Racial Equality should be empowered to monitor and enforce that process. As the CRE makes clear, that involves monitoring. Unless we know which companies employ a genuine cross-section of the population, we will not be able to ensure a fair distribution of resources.
Ethnic monitoring has already been introduced into employment in parts of the health service, initially, I believe, when the the new Home Secretary was Secretary of State for Health. I therefore assume that that means that the Government are not opposed to ethnic monitoring in principle. Monitoring is essential if the ethnic minorities are to receive their fair share of jobs. I emphasise, because it is crucial to the debate, that it is a fair share of jobs that we demand. We do not ask for that form of positive discrimination that guarantees jobs to those who are not qualified to perform them or provides minorities with more than their proper share of national resources. All we ask is that action be taken to ensure that the black and Asian British receive what is rightly theirs—rightly theirs in terms of civil liberties and national resources.
The Government should and could immediately announce that they will no longer enter into contracts with companies that cannot demonstrate that they operate fair employment policies. That policy of contract compliance, as it is called, is no doubt regarded in some parts of the House as a revolutionary assault on the free market, but in America, which I suppose those same parts of the House still regard as the home and haven of free enterprise, contract compliance by Government agencies is taken for granted.
I have heard much talk of employers needing to choose the best employees available to them. I accept that without qualification, but statistics prove that the best candidate is often rejected because he or she is a member of the ethnic minorities. What is more, discrimination is often the product of ignorance rather than of outright prejudice. I am constantly being told that the black and Asian British are unemployed because they lack the necessary skills to obtain jobs. Again, statistics prove that that is palpable nonsense. The Government should encourage decent employers to search more diligently, and a decent Government would organise carefully targeted training programmes to fill the few gaps in the market that really exist.
Yet the Government, who claim in their amendment a determination to promote a multiracial society, have acted to prevent local councils from insisting that their contractors operate fair employment practices. Birmingham city council instructed its contractors to recruit from the areas in which it was working and have on its payroll a proper racial balance. The Government legislated to make that instruction illegal, as a result of which thousands of jobs were denied to the ethnic minorities in the west midlands.
Let no one suggest that in a free society we cannot impose pressures on employers that prevent them from engaging the employees of their absolute and unfettered choice. I have to tell the Home Secretary—I hope that I shall have the opportunity to tell him on many occasions as the next five years progress—that my Muslim and Sikh constituents are wholly unattracted by a theory of liberty that condemns them permanently to second-class status. If our theory of democracy ignores their basic needs, we should not be surprised if one day they reject our theory of democracy.
We need more positive employment policies because the ethnic minorities need jobs. We also need them to send a message to society. That essential message is easily described. The Government must demonstrate their abhorrence of prejudice and discrimination and their willingness to do more than just talk about such matters and to take action that will bring those evils to an end. The message we need to send out is that the black and Asian British are citizens of this country and should enjoy all the rights and opportunities of that citizenship, not in theory but in practice. I repeat that the platitudes must be replaced by action.
I have absolutely no quarrel with the philosophy that the right hon. Gentleman is putting forward—that we must treat all people in this country as equal citizens with equal opportunities. However, having listened carefully to what he said, I have a problem over how exactly he will persuade employers—unless he has some legal or governmental hacking or requirement—to tell the world whether they have the correct number of black or Asian employees compared with other employees unless employers use the criterion that they are now using, which is to employ the person who is best qualified for the job.
The right hon. Lady began her intervention so courteously and supportively that I regret to have to tell her that, although she said that she was listening carefully to what I said, she was clearly not listening carefully enough. I set out and described—I will not bore the House by repeating it—the system of contract compliance which enables, say, the CRE to tell a large company, "We wish to inspect your record to make sure that your payroll is genuinely representative of the area from which you recruit."
I said that that required the ethnic monitoring to which the Home Secretary does not object in principle, since he allowed it at the Department of Health when he was a Minister there. It also requires the CRE to be able to say to a company that is not representative of the area from which it recruits, "Unless you use your best endeavours to recruit members of the ethnic minorities, you will certainly no longer qualify for Government contracts and you will be subject to the penalties that come from breaking the law that specifies fair employment practices." That happens in other countries. It is only because of the peculiar prejudices in this country that it has not been happening here for the last 20 years.
My right hon. Friend has described precisely the problem confronting my local authority in Stoke-on-Trent. It wishes to do what he outlined, but is prevented from doing so because of the lack of legislation.
In my prejudiced way, I cited the example of Birmingham city council as an authority that has wanted to introduce certain policies and been prevented from doing so by the Government. Stoke is another example, and we know of other good local authorities that want to implement fair employment practices but have been prevented from carrying them out by the Government, who have had the nerve to table an amendment of undisguised piety on which we shall be required to vote at 7 o'clock.
The right hon. Gentleman courteously said that he wants this to be a level debate. We should therefore look for ways in which everyone can sort out the problems of racial discrimination. He will know that some changes can be made without legislation. The hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) pointed out that racism needs to be eradicated from the Labour party. Precisely what will the right hon. Gentleman do on behalf of his party to eradicate racism from the party, while the Conservative party looks for ways to encourage the Government to do as much as they can?
I suppose that I might just believe, in a moment of supreme charity, that that comment was intended to be constructive. But a more serious judgment would be that it was characteristically trivial. Unlike the hon. Gentleman, I propose to say something worth saying.
The time for platitudes has gone and the time for action has come. The time has gone, too, for the figure manipulation which appears, by implication, in the amendment and which will no doubt be developed by the Home Secretary when he speaks. He draws the attention of the House and, he hopes, the country to the specific grants that have been made available for areas in which ethnic minorities have congregated. He must know that, putting aside those grants—most of them very small and all of them introduced with enormous fanfares—the loss of funds going into inner cities has been enormous and overwhelming because of the reduction of central Government general grant to local authorities.
As a result of that reduction, housing in central areas has deteriorated. School buildings have deteriorated and education committees have been unable to recruit extra teachers to teach English as a second language. Amenities in central areas have also deteriorated. The idea that the Government have put money at the disposal of local authorities that want to help in those matters is not simply untrue but the diametric opposite of the truth.
The Government must decide in the next five years—I hope that they will feel calmer about making a decision in the knowledge that the general election is behind them —whether they believe in a multiracial society. In such a society, diversity is welcomed, not merely tolerated, and the culture, customs and religions of minority groups are respected. In such a society, laws accommodate minority religions and mores. Above all else, a multiracial society does not treat minorities as a problem.
Nothing has done so much harm to community relations in this country as the idea encouraged, I fear, by Government policies, that black and Asian British are a liability. They are not. The idea that ethnic minorities are a problem, with all its damaging results, has been encouraged by successive Home Secretaries. The right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd) was civilised, patrician and courteous about it. The Lord Waddington was not. The right hon. Member for Mole Valley saw it as a political opportunity. However, in their different ways, each fostered the disastrous notion that black and Asian British were such a detriment to society that the Government must use every power at their disposal to prevent any more of them from entering the country, whatever their legitimate claim for entry.
I believe quite the opposite because of my experience. I spend much of my time on the Stratford road in the Birmingham constituency of Sparkbrook and I see how that road has been rehabilitated by the ethnic minorities: the shops are Asian; the restaurants are Kashmiri; the banks are Indian and Pakistani. They have rebuilt that heart in the centre of the community. Anyone who thinks that their entry into Birmingham is anything but an advantage is guided by pure, blind prejudice.
I hope that there can be more positive understanding of that contribution. It must be related to our attitude towards immigration. These days when we speak of immigration we mean a process that is directly relevant to the lives of British citizens living in Britain. Primary immigration, whether or not it was right in the dying days of the empire, is now over for ever. The argument about immigration now involves British citizens living in Britain— the right of wives to be reunited with their husbands and the right of British citizens to be visited by their friends and relations—a right which is still too often denied to the black and Asian British.
One of my constituents is, on the evidence of a great national hospital, dying of cancer. His son has been refused permission to visit him as the immigration service, while accepting the diagnosis—it could hardly have done otherwise—doubts the son's motives for wishing to visit this country. I do not believe that that man would have been excluded from this country had he been white, and I fear that the figures confirm that unhappy conclusion. Last year, one Canadian out of every 4,219 applicants was refused a visitor's permit, whereas one in 32 Jamaicans was refused a temporary visa. The difference was not in the applicants' intentions but in the reaction of the immigration service.
If the Home Secretary truly intended to implement the high hopes of his amendment, he would send an immediate message to the immigration service, particularly those members serving in posts abroad. He would tell them that the Government do not expect them to use every means at their disposal to refuse application for entry, whatever the merits of the application. I have no doubt that the service believes that the present Government expect it positively to look for reasons why visa applications should be refused. That is the tone set by previous Home Secretaries, and by the Government appealing against a tribunal decision that judged a man to be improperly excluded. That impression was also given by the tone and character of the speeches made by the previous Home Secretary. The main reason for this debate is that the present Home Secretary has an opportunity to make it clear that he expects genuine applicants to be allowed entry into this country. I hope that he will say that in exact terms this afternoon.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the case highlighted in The Independent of a citizen from the United States who came over here? There was no reason to suspect that he was other than a visitor; he was employed in the United States, where he had status and a home. However, he was refused entry and accused of being associated with the recent disturbances in America. There was no reason to disbelieve what he said, as he went out of the way to publicise his position. One can only conclude—as one of our former colleagues did in a letter to The Independent—that the man was refused entry because of his colour and had he been white there would have been absolutely no problem.
The problem with such examples is that they are all too frequent and we can all add to them. I shall take this opportunity to give another even more extraordinary example. A professor of economics who had been lecturing in Germany was flying back to Canada. On the aeroplane he met another professor of economics from this country. The English professor told him that he had a PhD student who specialised in a subject on which the Canadian professor had given his lecture.
The Canadian professor was persuaded to get off the aircraft at Heathrow to talk to the PhD student. The professor was immediately arrested, retained at Heathrow for two days and put on an aeroplane back to Canada. All the information about the professor's qualifications was available, but unfortunately he was black. It gives me no pleasure, but only regret, to state that had the professor been a white Canadian, that would not have happened to him.
I asked the Home Secretary to send a message to his officials, and I should like to hear him send a message to the rest of the public service, that its members should give equal treatment to all. We know—the evidence is depressingly extensive—that in social security offices all over Britain, black and Asian British are asked to prove their entitlement to benefit, whereas members of the majority community are not asked to do so. Evidence can also be provided to show that some officers refuse to issue national insurance numbers to members of ethnic minorities about to enter the labour market until they can prove that they are British by birth or registration. We believe that such practices are intolerable.
The Government should also make it clear that public housing must not be allocated according to rules that in any way discriminate against one group in society. The Liberal council in Tower Hamlets simply refused to rehouse Bangladeshi residents and its action was ruled unlawful in the High Court. No doubt later in the debate we shall hear that council action condemned. Some councils still have qualifying regulations which, by coincidence or by design, discriminate against minorities. Such regulations should be prohibited by law.
That will have to be the final intervention, because many hon. Members wish to speak. My hon. Friend's intervention illustrates the general point that there is a tendency by officialdom when confronted with a black, brown or yellow face to suspect that the person is not a genuine British citizen and to require him to prove his status. That should be prevented by law.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that during the general election campaign some members of the Asian community in Rochdale were threatened and intimidated by some members of the Labour party? In one case, a man who was canvassing for the Liberal Democrats was told by a member of the Labour party that he would lose his grant unless he stopped such canvassing.
If that happened, I condemn it without qualification. I say "If it happened." I have named the Liberal council that discriminated openly and unlawfully against Bangladeshis and I hope that the hon. Lady or a more senior member of her party will condemn that action that she has described.
I shall not give way to the hon. Lady again, as I want to make some progress.
There are still qualifying regulations in all areas which are imposed to require the black and Asian British to prove their status. That is wholly intolerable. The Government's belief that anything is justified in the name of immigration control was illustrated by one of the meanest acts in the history of British administration. Four years ago, some children who had been denied entry to this country, because the Government did not accept that they were related as claimed, proved through DNA tests that the Government were wrong. Those children who were still under 18 when the Government were confounded were allowed to enter Britain as the law required. However, the young men and women who had passed that age—the age at which admission is normally agreed—while undergoing the DNA tests to prove that the Government were in error were denied entry.
The only conclusion to be drawn from such petty tyranny is that the Government believe that they must keep the numbers down at all costs, irrespective of the device that is necessary to achieve that aim. That attitude sends quite the wrong signals to the ethnic minorities and to the wider population.
The second and even more damaging illustration of the official attitude to ethnic minorities concerns the reunion of husbands and wives. The immense suffering caused by that policy is, I fear, the product of the Government's failure to understand that marriage may be contracted in a variety of ways and still be lawful. In the official mind, the arranged marriage is confused with a bogus marriage. In a proper multiracial society the law would be able to accommodate marriage customs based on a variety of traditions.
The primary-purpose rule by which applicants who wish to join their wives in Britain are judged is intellectually absurd and morally indefensible. A woman with British citizenship, who theoretically enjoys all the rights that such citizenship provides, is denied the right to live in this country with her lawful husband if, in the opinion of an immigration officer, the man's real object of coming here is to live in Great Britain. Simply stated, the immigration officer has the right in law to read an applicant's mind. Having formed a subjective opinion, the immigration authorities will allow entry only if on appeal the applicant can prove that the immigration officer misjudged and misread his mind. Normally and, I fear, intentionally that is an impossible task.
The case history of this provision shows how squalid the process has become. I have read case note after case note and they all read in a similar way. The applicant is asked his opinion of the United Kingdom. He answers, no doubt with the hope of ingratiating himself with the officer, that he has always admired the United Kingdom and always wanted to live here. On the evidence of that answer it is judged that he contracted the marriage only to enable him to live and work in the United Kingdom, and a legitimate and genuine marriage is separated, almost for ever. I emphasise that the marriages of which I speak are genuine. They have been contracted in ways to which hon. Members are not accustomed. However, it is the obligation of a multiracial society to accept and allow in law the mores of the minorites, rather than impose upon them the will and wishes of the majority. The genuine nature of the marriages is often demonstrated by years of separation and devotion.
Six months ago I proposed that the primary-purpose rule should he replaced by a more objective test of a marriage's genuine status. One of the criteria against which I wanted applicants to be judged was the constancy of the partners. I have constituents who were married five or six years ago. The husbands have been forced to remain in Pakistan and have seen their wives during a couple of brief holidays since the wedding. The wives have given birth to one or two children. The husbands have supported their families as best they can with remittances. Yet, the immigration service persists in saying that those couples are not genuinely married.
In the judgment in Kumar, the High Court required the Government to take into account what is described as intervening devotion. Some married couples have been reunited by taking the Government to court, obtaining judicial review and being brought together because of the judgment in Kumar. That is a long and often expensive process. It is time that the Government accepted that judgment from the beginning and applied it to all applicants who want to come and remain in this country.
The European Court is now considering a second specific case—the application of Mr. Surinder Singh. If, as is widely assumed, it finds in his favour, it will be possible for a British citizen whose spouse has been denied entry into Great Britain to live with his wife or her husband for a brief period in France or Germany and then move, without let or hindrance, into the United Kingdom. It is worth noting that already an English woman of Kashmiri origin can move to Paris or Rome and use Community law to be reunited with her husband from Pakistan immediately and without any qualification. If, as seems likely. Europe is to make nonsense of the primary-purpose rule, it would be to the Government's credit to take the initiative and do away with the dreadful thing immediately.
It is worth noting that the treatment thought appropriate to British women who marry foreign husbands is regarded by the European Community as unacceptable for citizens of other European countries. Britain is required to treat Community nationals better than we treat our own people. A French woman living in London who marries a citizen of what was once a French colony has the automatic and unfettered right to be joined in this country by her Moroccan or Algerian husband. A British woman does not have the same right to be joined in Britain by a Kenyan, Kashmiri or Indian husband. That is absurd as well as shameful. Nothing would so enhance the Home Secretary's reputation than for him to say today that he will bring that absurd shame to an immediate end.
The defence of the primary-purpose rule is that to replace it with objective criteria would result in some bogus marriages slipping through the net and, although it is rarely admitted, 100, 200 or 300 more young men would thus be allowed into this country. I make my position clear. The Government are so obsessed with keeping the wrong applicants out that they are always casual and sometimes callous about making sure that the right applicants get in. I am certainly prepared to accept the increase in numbers that would be involved in genuine marriages being reunited in this country in the way that they should be.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way and grateful to be here after the election. Will he clarify how he works out the figure of 300 extra people coming here if we abolish the primary-purpose rule? That is humbug. Perhaps he remembers that on 5 April, before the election, The People issued an Asian edition and an English one. The front page of the Asian issue was plastered with the right hon. Gentleman's promises. He promised everything under the sun, including abolition of the primary-purpose rule. The English edition did not mention a word. Does not that show that the right hon. Gentleman has no answers and is trying to give different messages to different audiences?
I am open to all sorts of accusations this afternoon, one of which is going on for too long, but the accusation that I have been trying to hide the immigration policies that I support seems difficult to sustain. I believe, and the hon. Gentleman can put it in his election manifesto in four or five years' time, that we must allow the entry of those men who are genuinely married and are genuinely separated from wives with whom they should be reunited. If that involves an increase in numbers, so be it. That is the necessity and obligation of a civilised society.
The test that the Government now face is their real belief in a multiracial society and, in consequence, their real belief in freedom. Sometimes, the ethnic minorities will wish to behave in a way that the majority population finds unnatural and uncomfortable. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise, for that is the nature of the multiracial society. I, for instance, am not an enthusiast for single-sex schools or for religious schools. I do not like the idea of single-sex secondary education or religious-based secondary education. The question is not whether we as individuals like or dislike a proposal but whether we are prepared to allow members of minorities to make decisions for themselves and to run their lives according to their traditions, religions and mores, as long as in doing so they do not damage the interests of the community as a whole.
I fear that our willingness to allow that freedom to ethnic minorities is singularly absent from Government policy. I fear that we have neglected the interests of those citizens in a way that is to this country's shame and may, over the years, rebound enormously to our practical and material disadvantage.
The motion demands that we accept that the black and Asian British are what they are—full and equal citizens of the United Kingdom, with all the rights that that implies and the share of resources that it should provide for them. Labour Members will go on proclaiming the necessity to change policy until that desirable situation is genuinely and fully brought about.
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
commends the Government's determination to work towards a multi-racial society, to which all ethnic minority communities contribute fully and in which all enjoy equal opportunities, as evidenced by their policies for tackling racial discrimination and disadvantage and for promoting equal opportunities, and by expenditure programmes directed at the special needs of ethnic minorities.
I am open to correction in my understanding of the timing of these matters, but I think that I am right in saying that this may be the last appearance at the Dispatch Box of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). He shakes his head. I look forward to debating with him again. The world will change when that moment comes, because for as long as I have been a Member I have never seen the right hon. Gentleman make a speech from the Back Benches; he has always been a Front Bencher. I therefore thought that he might have planned his swansong on this subject, and I was going to pay tribute to him. If he is now promising me an onslaught on another subject in the near future, I will gladly give way to him.
I was hoping that the Home Secretary would confirm that he will withdraw the representation of the people legislation that we are due to debate on Monday, when I hoped to debate with him again.
The right hon. Gentleman is right to remind me of that, which at least will be a more partisan discussion.
The right hon. Gentleman rightly began by saying that I had puzzled over the motion before the House and wondered why he was raising ethnic minority issues when I thought that it might be his last speech, forgetting next Monday. I am now reassured that he wishes to make a speech on a matter about which he holds strong views, which, in principle, are not removed from mine.
The right hon. Gentleman is fairly critical of the fact that I thought his motion was partisan and therefore tabled an amendment to it. With respect, the right hon. Gentleman, probably like myself, does not have a non-partisan reputation in the House. He may think that his motion was disingenuous and a statement of the obvious, but I shall seek to persuade him and the House that, whatever problems may face the ethnic minorities, it is not true that they receive less than their fair share of national resources. The House must correct that notion. It is not altogether non-partisan to call on the Government to introduce and implement policies to eliminate the disadvantages of such citizens because the implication is that we have not already been doing that vigorously.
I shall seek to persuade the right hon. Gentleman and the House that not only is the Government amendment not merely a platitude—as he said—because its sentiments are eminently fair, but that it is a more accurate statement of the position because it commends the Government and congratulates them on what they are doing and on having such forceful policies to tackle racial discrimination and disadvantage.
Nevertheless, it is important that we begin by putting on record what has not always been put on record either by the right hon. Gentleman or by other members of the Opposition. Hon. Members of all political persuasions are by and large agreed on the principles that should govern a multiracial, multicultural society. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I frequently face attacks, from Labour politicians in particular, suggesting that the Government's policies are racially motivated and that we discriminate in the policies that we adopt, but that is not the case. When that is said in the heat of political debate, it does not do the slightest good to race relations by encouraging that belief among ethnic minority constituents.
I think that the House agrees overwhelmingly on what should happen in a society such as ours. It should be acknowledged that we are talking about ways and means because we all agree that platitudes are not enough and that action is called for, as the right hon. Gentleman says. The Government's aim is to have a fair and integrated multiracial society. We are determined to stamp out racial discrimination so that all individuals, whatever their race, colour or creed, can have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. We are prepared to debate the methods by which we achieve that, and that is what this debate should be about.
The Secretary of State will agree that it is most important to reconcile deeds with words, so will he reflect on the reduction of section 11 funding which has afflicted many parts of the country, including Bradford, and which has clearly adversely affected the disadvantaged, especially the ethnic minorities? Has he any plans to restore or, indeed, to increase the funding so that local authorities such as mine can actively assist ethnic minority communities?
If I may, I shall deal more fully with section 11 later if I do not succumb to the same temptation as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and give way too often. The total amount of section 11 funding has not been reduced, if one leaves aside an exceptional payment to clear some old ILEA claims, which was made, I think, two years ago. It is difficult to distribute the funding, but we have taken steps to target it better. I shall return to that matter in due course.
Let me deal with one or two issues that the right hon. Gentleman raised with regard to specific actions. I do not want to spend too long on asylum and immigration matters because we shall have plenty of opportunity to discuss them this Session when the Asylum Bill reappears before the House, which it will do shortly. [Interruption.] It will shortly, and the reason is not that which I heard the right hon. Gentleman give the other day. It is because we have a longer Session ahead of us and after the election we are taking a look at asylum and immigration matters to ensure that when we reintroduce the Bill we have the opportunity to tackle all the deficiencies in the immigration and asylum system. We are also reflecting a little on some debates, especially those in another place.
I confirm that the guiding principle in dealing with immigration cases is that genuine cases whom this country is happy to admit, whether under the terms of our international obligations towards refugees or of our obligations to those who are entitled to come to this country as dependants, should be admitted. I should like them to be admitted in a more straightforward and less protracted way than is sometimes the case at present as a result of delays in the system which are inflicted on us by dealing with many less well-founded cases of people who are undoubtedly not entitled to come to this country. We must, therefore, examine the system to ensure that it is effective and fair, that it delivers prompter decisions, thereby enabling us to deal properly with those whom we are happy to welcome to our shores, and that it deals fairly within the rule of law with those whom we are not happy to welcome.
I will give way just twice more, after which, as I said that I would not talk about immigration, I will not give way again. We shall otherwise spend the whole time on the subject.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend appreciate that the delay in the introduction of the Asylum Bill is causing some concern to Conservative Members, despite the spurious objections by the Opposition? Will he confirm that the delay does not mean that the situation is worsening, and that it is actually rather better than it was when the Bill was introduced before the general election? Will he also confirm that he is confident that, when the Bill comes to the House, the situation will be more under control than it was in the earlier part of the year?
The situation is slightly better than it was when the Bill was introduced because the number of applicants has come down. However, that cannot be relied on and the Bill's provisions are still required. There will be no great delay; the Bill will be reintroduced. We are wholly committed to the policies we enunciated in the Bill before the election and we are taking the opportunity to look a little more widely to sec what other causes of delay in the system can be tackled when the Bill is reintroduced. I assure my hon. Friend and most people interested in seeing our obligations under the convention carried out properly that we propose to introduce a Bill that will enable us to deal more promptly with those who are entitled to asylum here, and to reject more clearly and more quickly those who are not. That is in everyone's interests, and that principle could be, and properly should be, applied across the area of applications for immigration and settlement.
Does the Home Secretary agree with the general principle put forward by the Foreign Secretary when he was Home Secretary and introduced the Immigration Bill? He said that good race relations in Britain depended on the maintenance of very strict and oppressive immigration controls. Does the Home Secretary also agree with the statement of his right hon. Friend on that occasion that the immigration service was providing a good customer service?
I am absolutely certain that a slight misquotation of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary took place there. My views on the matter and those of my right hon. Friend are almost identical. I believe that good race relations in this country depend on, the maintenance of a strict system of immigration control. They most definitely do not depend on an oppressive system. Reform, such as the Asylum Bill, is required to ensure that the system is not oppressive to the genuine cases because it is unable to cope with the non-genuine. That is the purpose of the reform.
I believe that the immigration service provides a good service. The difficulty in the House when individual cases are cited, as we experienced a few minutes ago, is that it is not the way to approach the whole question of immigration policy. There is a system, which we seek to improve, under which there are prompt appeal hearings for the cases that will, undoubtedly, go wrong. However. newspaper accounts and partial accounts by people who have been turned away of why they believe they were turned away often prove to he incorrect.
The case quoted by the hon. Member for Walsall. North (Mr. Winnick) was answered by the head of the immigration service. The account of it in the newspapers was very partial and was given by a man who arrived with a huge collection of belongings, including his own car, for what he said was a short business visit.
Do I take it that the Home Secretary studied the whole case? I recognise that the Home Secretary and his Ministers cannot study individual cases all the time, and I do not suggest that they should do so. However, in view of the publicity that the case received and the way in which the response came from the immigration service, may I take it that all the papers were looked at, if not by the Home Secretary, by his Ministers? There remains a good deal of disquiet, not only about this case, but about others such as that quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). There is a feeling that not all people are treated alike and that the question of colour comes into it.
I can confirm that the case was examined very closely, because of the nature of the allegations. No Minister or member of the immigration service would accept a system of immigration control that worked unfairly and discriminately against someone purely because of that person's colour. That had been alleged, with the result that the case was examined carefully not only by the head of the immigration department but by my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill (Mr. Wardle), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, who now handles such matters and who took a close interest in the affair. I also considered it, to a slightly lesser extent; I kept in touch with my hon. Friend.
We were entirely satisfied with the explanation that was given. If it is still contested, it will be open to the applicant to appeal. It is not helpful, however, to try to pour abuse on the whole system, relying on partial newspaper stories supplied by a journalist who listens to what the complainant says, but is not prepared to listen to explanations. We shall present legislation that will be fair to the genuine applicant—fair to everyone, indeed—but the system will be governed by the rule of law. We shall seek to get rid of the delays, the legalisms and some of the wilder allegations.
The primary-purpose rule is subject to litigation at present, as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has said. I know that he has always felt strongly about the issue, but I do not agree with what he said about the logic of the case. He challenged me to produce a logical justification. In my opinion, arguments about whether marriages are bogus are, to an extent, immaterial. It is not for me, or for any other Minister in this or any other Government, to express views about whether arranged marriages are a good or a bad thing; we all have our views on that, but it is not what lies behind the rule. People are free to marry for whatever reason they choose. In my experience, people have married for a variety of reasons, not all of which have struck me as frightfully good—but that is the ultimate civil liberty, which is available to everyone regardless of background.
It is perfectly logical for a country or a Parliament to object if two people from different countries marry and the main reason for the marriage—there may, of course, be others—has nothing to do with romantic or family attachment. If the marriage is intended to enable a man who otherwise would not be allowed to live here to enter the country for that purpose, surely there is nothing illogical in telling that man, "Of course you are free to marry, but that does not necessarily allow you to get around immigration controls that should apply to you."
We can argue about individual cases. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, for instance, has said that he knows of cases in which the wrong decision was made. The argument, however, does not apply only to Indian men and arranged marriages; there are also the so-called mail-order brides, south-east Asian women who marry Englishmen. I do not consider it illogical to introduce a rule that allows people to enter into such marriages if they wish to do so, but makes it clear that it is not necessarily just for immigration rules to be "collapsed" so that someone whose principal purpose in marrying is to get around the immigration rules can gain admission. We shall wait to find out what the litigation produces, but I do not share the right hon. Gentleman's strong views in this regard.
I assure the Home Secretary that there is no disagreement between us on one point. Anyone who marries simply in order to get into this country does not qualify for entry; the logical debate concerns how it is decided what the reason for the marriage was. What I have asked the Home Secretary to defend, in logic, is a system that allows one human being to judge the mind of another on wholly subjective evidence-not on the evidence presented to him, as I think the Minister is now pointing out, but on his own subjective judgment.
As the Home Secretary clearly wishes to dispute such points of logic, will he explain the justice, as well as the rationality, of an immigration service that allows a Frenchwoman living in this country to bring in her Madagascan husband, but does not allow an Englishwoman living in this country to bring in her Pakistani husband? How can the right hon. and learned Gentleman possibly justify that?
Let me deal with the first question. [Interruption.] The second is an anomaly—the first is easier to deal with—and does not derive from our rules.
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was close to agreeing with me. We are discussing whether a person has an overwhelming human right to come here—I paraphrase slightly, but this is not a court of law—if his main reason for marrying is to get around the immigration rules. There may be subsidiary reasons, but the main reason—they would not have married except for the fact—is that one wanted to remain here. That is the logical argument for the rules. The right hon. Gentleman was saying that there was no logical argument, and then he asked, "How do you judge that without trying to get into somebody's mind?" Throughout the system of law and administration, trying on the evidence to judge somebody else's state of mind frequently has to be subjective.
For example, let us consider the case of someone who says that he is coming here as a visitor. He may have some other reason for coming here. A person who asserts that he is coming here as a visitor is sometimes refused because, on the evidence available and in all the circumstances, the immigration officer says, "No. This chap may be coming here partly because he wants to visit English cathedrals or partly because he wants to visit his sick mother, but his main reason is that he does not want to go back when he is finished doing those things. He wishes to come here and settle."
Nobody has ever argued that cases such as that should be refused. All such cases involve difficult judgments about what is someone's intention, in all the circumstances, not just what they say that their intentions are. That is why it is a sensitive matter in which we have to construct careful legislation and have an appeals system, which is what we should be talking about.
If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I have already given way far more often on immigration and the primary-purpose rule than I said I would.
Going back to the first and most difficult issue, many points were raised. I reassert that, in the other matters to which I shall refer and steadily work through, my main aim in respect of race relations will be to build upon—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the second point?"] I obviously look forward to an enlivening and—
I look forward to further debates on immigration. They will obviously be lively, but they make progress. In the past half hour, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has conceded that there is logic in the policy behind the primary-purpose rule, and he has at least stepped back to his second point—his lesser point, in my opinion—which is on the difficulties of applying it. We shall return to that matter in due course. We have agreed that the aim in this aspect of race relations is to build upon, help to strengthen further—
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It may assist you and the House to know that our concern is that the Home Secretary has failed to answer the second part of a two-part question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). Will the Home Secretary now deal with the matter of a British woman seeking—
Given that, on the first point, the Opposition have been bowled middle stump, they seem to be extremely anxious to try to scratch around for another one which they know perfectly well derives from Community law and not from British law. I do not think that most of the Opposition would wish to fall in line with French or Community practice in many of those race relations matters. They know perfectly well that British race relations law—British immigration law, I dare say —is superior in almost all respects to that on the continent.
I apologise for not sitting down, Madam Deputy Speaker. Your rising is the only thing that gets the hon. Member for Wolverhampon, South-East (Mr. Turner) to sit down.
The question of Muslim schools was also raised. It is simply not the case that education policy in any way discriminates against Muslim schools—of course it does not. I shall explain exactly what the position is. Voluntary-aided schools exist for denominational, confessional education. It is open to anyone who has such a school to maintain it and to anyone to apply to open a new one. In my opinion— I am sure that my opinion is indistinguishable from that of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and from that of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who speaks on education for the Opposition—it is right that we should defend the right of parents who wish to have access to denominational education, if it can be provided, be they Roman Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, Muslim or of any other religious denomination. That is applied throughout Britain, regardless of religious confession.
It is difficult to open a new voluntary-aided school because of the rules which are applied to all such schools. There have been two Muslim applications in recent years. One was withdrawn. The only one that was turned down was the Islamia school in Brent in north London. It was turned down by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, who was Secretary of State for Education and Science before me. The criterion applied to that school were exactly the same as those applied to any other school.
The first criteria is whether the school will follow the national curriculum. We must be candid. That is a question that has to be asked in a fair number of the Muslim applications. Although it does not apply to the Brent school, private Muslim schools have sailed near to teaching the female pupils domestic science, Koranic studies and not a lot of other things which should be taught under the national curriculum. It is not discriminatory to insist that the national curriculum should be applied.
Obviously, the usual judgments are made about whether the school is well run, but the key criterion is whether there is a demand for places in the education authority. For schools of all denominations it has been the practice of the Department of Education for many years to turn down applications for new school places, which would cause an extra burden on public funds and create extra school places, in boroughs or counties where there is already a surplus, which in some cases the local authority is trying to tackle. That is where the Islamia school went down. I will not say any more about it, because it is subject to litigation. I have missed it because the decision was taken before my time and the matter has been before the courts ever since. I have no doubt that my successor is contemplating the advice of the judges to look at the matter again.
I know for a fact that the decision of my predecessor was not based on any rule which he would not apply to a Jewish, Catholic or Anglican school. We are talking about the relevance of the surplus places argument in the application for the Islamia school.
The Secretary of State outlined the vacant places criterion and said that Muslim schools or schools of any other denomination are permitted to open only where there are no vacant places. Does that same criterion apply to the imposition of city technology colleges on local education authorities? If not, why not?
That is pure education policy. It has nothing to do with ethnic minority policy. It applies because CTCs—[Interruption.] I will argue about city technology colleges if it is in order to do so. The criterion is applied because city technology colleges are a valuable acquisition of educational provision in areas, some of which are governed by Labour authorities, where the present level of provision is fairly appalling. CTCs take large numbers of ethnic minority pupils.
To take an obvious example, in Nottingham the CTC is providing educational opportunities to people from deprived parts of that city and especially from ethnic minority families who would not have had those opportunities if the policy of the local Labour council to resist the opening of that CTC had been successful. To that extent, CTCs are relevant to this debate.
It is wrong and positively unhelpful to good race relations for anyone to imply for political reasons, as a few did at the last election, that decisions on Muslim schools are taken according to some criteria which discriminate against Muslims. I gave the go-ahead to a new Jewish voluntary-aided school in north-east London shortly before the election.
Yes, we do. Our discussions on that school were about surplus places in that part of London. A great argument broke out. The applicants had to satisfy me that the school would not provide surplus places before the Jewish school was allowed to go ahead. That remains the rule. Undoubtedly, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education is reflecting on it in his new departmental responsibility in the light of what the judges had to say about the Brent case.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook rightly raised the issue of jobs, which I believe is at the core of the debate. Discrimination in job opportunities is the greatest handicap that can fall on any community. It can have wider consequences. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Government, both under the former Prime Minister and certainly under the present Prime Minister, believe in extending the fullest opportunity equally to every section of the community. We want to open to people from every background equal opportunity to enter any part of the labour market and go right to the top.
I do not intend to spend too long on the arguments about finance, but that is one part of the Opposition motion which I challenge.
No. I must get on.
We undoubtedly spend a disproportionate amount of public finance on those parts of urban areas where the ethnic minorities are most strongly concentrated. A lot of that money goes to seeking to redress inequalities of opportunity. It goes further than that. I cannot understand the suggestion in the right hon. Gentleman's motion that ethnic minorities do not receive a fair share of resources. I do not object to spending a slightly disproportionate share of resources in areas where the ethnic minorities tend to be concentrated.
Apparently the right hon. Gentleman's basis for saying that the ethnic minorities receive less than their fair share of resources is the changes in local government finance. I strongly disagree. I find the details of local government finance one of the more tedious subjects to debate in the House, but I have to do it on occasions. However, his arguments on local government finance cannot be used on that limb.
All our inner-city policies, which he dismissed as "specific grants", lead to huge sums of public money going to inner city areas, expressly to redress the disadvantages that we are discussing. I was involved in launching the action for cities programme a few years ago. I do not apologise for what the right hon. Gentleman called razzamatazz. We were trying to draw to the attention of the people intended to benefit from the programme what was available to them. We reckon that we have spent about £10 billion across Government Departments on urban and inner-city policies since 1985–86.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment calculates that across Departments expenditure now runs at £4 billion a year on projects of one sort or another. I helped to set up the task forces. We also have the much bigger city action teams. My Department has set up the safer cities programme and there are other initiatives to which I shall refer. We are spending a great deal on redressing the disadvantages.
To increase job opportunities we need information to identify the problems. Ethnic monitoring has been referred to. I most certainly approve of ethnic monitoring as a means of taking action on discrimination and, indeed, as part of any positive employment policy which a good employer should follow.
When I have finished this part of my speech on ethnic monitoring.
The Government have advocated ethnic monitoring to major employers through the Department of Employment as good practice for many years. I introduced ethnic monitoring into the collection of the unemployment statistics when I was at the Department of Employment in order to provide the statistics which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook cited. I am glad that he approves of it because at the time there was tremendous opposition from black radical groups who thought that it was a racist measure to count the ethnic origin of the unemployed. We got through all that and people now realise that ethnic monitoring is a positive weapon. It does not give any answers. It does not necessarily say that discrimination is taking place or that disadvantage is suffered. But it causes people to ask the questions once one has monitored the incidence of people from ethnic minorities in different categories. I am in favour of it. Indeed, I introduced it into the Department of Employment and into the national health service. We continue to urge it.
We disagree with the Opposition on the contract compliance which some Labour local authorities wish to write into their municipal contracts, in line with American experience. One could get into a technical debate. I have been involved in putting local labour clauses into inner city projects such as in Handsworth in the city of Birmingham of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. But I am not persuaded of the value of the American model of contract compliance. Undoubtedly the Commission for Racial Equality will come back later this year and make proposals. It is interested in the issue. I do not believe that the American experience is all one way. Most hon. Members will support what the right hon. Member and I have just said about the value of ethnic monitoring as a tool to ensure that one does not inadvertently discriminate and to ensure that one knows where one is with one's work force.
It would be a more difficult and dangerous course to go beyond that and to make it a legal requirement to have a target number of people from ethnic backgrounds in the work force. Indeed, that could backfire, contrary to the intentions of those who propose it, because it is damaging to a company's race relations if the white work force believe that the black work force is only there because the law has required their admittance, regardless of suitability for the job, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Dame A. Rumbold) said in her intervention. That is why I am not in favour of such contract compliance and the CRE will have to argue strongly to move the Government in that direction.
My right hon. and learned Friend will recall that the Select Committee on Home Affairs recommended ethnic monitoring in the civil service, and that has been carried out to good effect. Equally, the Select Committee's study of the American experience some years ago confirmed that, broadly speaking, their compliance measures did not work and that there was substantial and wilful evasion. That is why we did not recommend it for this country.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend because his Select Committee is a respected cross-party committee. I also studied the situation in the United States again and came to the same conclusion. Some Labour councils—
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for allowing me to intervene and I am pleased to hear of his support for ethnic monitoring. Would he recommend it to the district authority that he represents? Can he explain to the House the experience of the black housing association which sought to tackle inner city inequalities by acquiring properties in his constituency? The leader of the housing committee there went on record as saying that he was opposed to the "dumping of dross" in his area. As a result of his interventions and the reallocation of nomination rights to the district housing authority—without ethnic monitoring—none of the families allocated to those properties by the council were black.
That matter is more suitable for an Adjournment debate, or for Nottingham city council or Rushcliffe borough council. The hon. Gentleman knows that I totally disagree with everything that he has just said. It is true that a Nottingham housing association acquired property in my constituency without notifying the local authority that it proposed to do so. The association failed to follow any housing corporation guidelines on how to behave in such a situation. As everyone with experience of inner cities or race relations policy knows, some organisations in the field—in this case it was a black housing association—simply accuse all critics of racialism when the organisation's incompetence, discourtesy and refusal to provide agreements is pointed out. I am glad to say that the matter was to some extent sorted out by the Housing Corporation, but we should not go further into our local battles.
I shall move on to the subject of jobs and the position of ethnic minorities from top to bottom in the employment market. We need to create a society that aims for equality and opportunity. Whether by monitoring or by some other means, we need to consider the opportunities for people to be appointed to influential posts at the top of society.
No, I shall not.
I agree that our main aim must be to help to strengthen the positive contribution of ethnic minorities to British society, which is already important in business, the professions and many other walks of life. I welcome it and I am keen that that positive contribution should be increased. If we are to strengthen the position of ethnic minorities in this country, it is important for members of minorities to emerge in leading roles in private industry, public service and the professions.
I shall not give way again.
There is a large and successful Asian entrepreneurial and professional middle class. I have watched their emergence in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. We need a stronger black middle class, with more black business and professional people whom able black youngsters could identify with and seek to emulate. I am glad to say that more influential public bodies are including increasing numbers of ethnic minority members. We must increase those numbers, not as a token gesture but because of the personal contribution that the people appointed can make.
The number of appointments of justices from the ethnic minority communities has exceeded their proportion in the population age groups from which appointments are usually made, especially in recent years. I am glad to be able to say that the first magistrate of Chinese origin in this country was recently appointed in my constituency.
Many people from all minorities are rising in the professions. We welcome the few Members of Parliament from ethnic minorities, but we are agreed that there are not enough; all parties want their numbers to increase. Therefore, we must seek to encourage more able members of the ethnic minorities to climb to the top of the ladder, and I am sure that that will happen in time.
I shall not give way. I have given way far too often already, but I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for not having given way to an Ulster Member.
Our aim must eventually be to achieve a position where we cease to comment on the numbers of people from ethnic minorities in leading roles in society because their presence is taken for granted and their influence is assured. Race has no real relevance to someone's position in the sort of society that we wish to be. We must look again at business and encourage the talent and entrepreneurial flair that exists within ethnic minority businesses, which must be allowed into the mainstream of the economy and encouraged to improve their access to business development services. Small businesses are vital to the growth of our economy and minority-led and other local enterprise agencies, funded under the Home Office ethnic minority business initiative, have shown that there is demand from the expanding ethnic minority business base for support services that acknowledge and are sensitive to their specific needs.
I shall not give way. The ethnic minority business programme, which is not strong in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, is continuing. We must remove the obstacles which can prevent minority businesses from moving into the mainstream of commercial life.
Also, we must continue to improve the targeting of other areas of public expenditure, aimed at addressing the special needs of people from ethnic minorities. That is important, given the large sums of money being spent. Large sums of public money are available, but ill-directed good intentions can pour some of it down the drain. Anyone involved in inner city programmes has seen that happen occasionally. I am not saying that that happens under section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966, but we are studying targeting in that area and shall continue to do so. Under section 11, £129 million will be made available to local authorities in 1992–93. That is not small money in such an area. We have already made progress in revising the criteria for section 11 grants so that work is targeted and expenditure gives value for money. I am studying future policy on the better use of that money.
We should find an opportunity at some time—I do not know when—to study the wording of section 11, which gets in the way of many things that people want. We all know that it is confined to local government staff and to the new Commonwealth. One cannot help Vietnamese minorities, for example. One day I hope to have the opportunity to do something about that.
Good progress has been made in that area and in many others, but I am sure that barriers remain to full opportunity for people from ethnic minorities and to a fully integrated society. The most obvious and obnoxious barrier is racial discrimination, and the Government remain committed to eliminating its evils. We demonstrate our commitment by support of the law, and shall continue to do so. Our race relations laws are the most comprehensive in Europe. I do not think that it is xenophobic to say that they are undoubtedly the best in the European Community. As a Government, we work closely with the Commission for Racial Equality in enforcing the law and support it in all its work.
We have done a great deal of work in combating racially targeted crime. Detailed guidance has been issued to the police and other agencies following the initiative of the inter-departmental racial attacks group. Police forces are urged to give priority to incidents of racially motivated crime. I believe that the big increase in the number of incidents reported to the police shows an increased confidence in the ability of the police to respond to those reports. Undoubtedly, we have to continue to attack such crime with vigour.
We must also make sure that the community consultation engaged in by the police, which they now perform statutorily, extends to proper consultation with all those groups that it is most difficult to get involved, in particular young people but also people from the ethnic minorities with whom consultation is most important to improve the quality of police work. As I hope that everybody knows, we have been working extremely hard in support of the police authorities to improve recruitment from ethnic minorities. We still have a considerable way to go, but in the past year or two in particular there has been considerable activity to support the recruitment of ethnic minorities. I am glad to say that there are now more than 1,500 officers from the ethnic minorities in place, and we shall take every action that we can to ensure an increase in the number of good men and women from the ethnic minorities who enter the police service.
I know that people are concerned about racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. A great deal of attention has been paid to the disproportionate number of black and ethnic minority people in prison, the disproportionate number who appear to he prosecuted rather than cautioned, and the disproportionately low numbers in place in the professions and in the administration of the courts. I believe that those statistics do not demonstrate racial bias in the system of administration of justice. Through most of the criminal justice system, there is a much higher proportion of people who are positively hostile to the idea of racial discrimination than there is among the general population.
There is no point in being complacent. I agree that many sensible people look at the statistics and are concerned that there appears to be discrimination. Therefore, we have done a lot of research. The figures that I could give to the House come out of work in which my Department has been involved, monitoring to ensure that we identify problem areas. This is an area in which I support, among other things, ethnic monitoring of the prison population and of the statistics of those cautioned and prosecuted, and then action to ensure that we do what is necessary.
We shall have more information. Only last year, section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 placed a duty on the Secretary of State to publish regular information concerning the avoidance of discrimination. Those involved in the administration of criminal justice are already under a duty not to discriminate. The publication of information by the Secretary of State is intended to help them to perform this duty effectively. I confirm that the first statistics under section 95 will be published before the end of this year.
I listened with interest to the Home Secretary's comments about the criminal justice system. If I understood him correctly, he said that he is aware of the figures that show that there is a disproportionate number of black people in prison, that they are more likely to have longer sentences and custodial sentences rather than fines, and so on. However, he said that, despite the evidence of the figures and the wonderful work done by the Home Office research department, he did not believe that those figures showed racial discrimination. If they do not demonstrate institutional racism, what do they demonstrate?
They demonstrate a higher level of contact between ethnic minority people and the legal system. There is more than one side to that problem, which the leaders in the ethnic minority communities must address with the rest of us. I can think of no clear explanation for why the statistics show that a higher proportion of people from the ethnic minorities elect, of their own free will, to go to the Crown court for trial and that a higher proportion of people from the ethnic minorities plead not guilty when they get to court. All these factors are being analysed, and we shall have more information about them. It is noticeable, on those partial statistics, that simply coming to the conclusion that this is all racial discrimination is not enough. and that we have to address ourselves to what other constraints can be placed on a population whose behaviour, sometimes among its younger members, brings it into contact with the law.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm the research done by his Department that pinpoints even more closely where, if there is one, the problem may lie in this respect? The statistics show that females from the ethnic minorities are not involved. Predominantly, the problem is with males. It is only fair to the lady Members of the House to say that this problem is mirrored not just here but by research that has been done by a number of us in the United States, Canada and elsewhere to identify that, if there is a problem, it is among males rather than females. It is to that that we must address ourselves.
That is also true of crime in general. It is not exclusively a male preserve, but it is heavily a male activity.
I apologise for the length of time that I have taken, but I have disappointed more Members by refusing to give way to them than I have pleased by acceding to such a request. I have been drawn, by the speech of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and by interventions, into debating a number of subjects that I had not planned to deal with, but that is a good feature of a debate rather than a bad one.
We have not had a debate on this subject for a long time and this debate should help us all to underline the fact that the political system is committed to a good system of race relations. We are committed to action, as well as just speeches, to reduce the amount of racial discrimination and to improve the opportunities for those from ethnic minorities.
We have a better record than almost any other equivalent country in the western world with a large ethnic minority population. Our political system is responding better to the pressures of this kind than, say, the political system in either France or Germany appears to be. There is no room for complacency. Action and attention to what needs to be done must be kept up. Government, society and the ethnic communities themselves must all take their share of the responsibility for working for positive, good community relations. I hope that our amendment and the debate have made it clear that the Government's commitment to racial opportunity and equal opportunity is beyond doubt and that we have a good record in taking positive steps to achieve that.
I was glad to hear that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) decided, in what is apparently not his final, but perhaps his penultimate, performance as deputy leader of the Labour party, to choose a subject that is known to be close to his heart, both for constituency reasons and for reasons of principle and of intellectual application, shown over the years, to defending the interests of the ethnic minorities. I am bound to say that I did not expect it to be a bipartisan debate, certainly not as the right hon. Gentleman opened it, and he did not disappoint my expectations on that front.
It is also a happy coincidence that the Home Secretary has been given an opportunity, so early in the lifetime of this Government, to show us the nature of the man when dealing with what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and sensitive responsibilities that he will discharge as Home Secretary—relations with the ethnic minorities, the prospect for those who have suffered from discrimination and who are least favoured in too many cases because of their ethnic origin. I no more expected the Home Secretary to be partisan in his approach than I expected the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook to be. It is a worthy aspiration for the House to approach these matters in a bipartisan way, for other countries that have not done so —the Home Secretary spoke, appropriately, of the experience of France and Germany—have found it extremely damaging to race relations.
The Home Secretary's predecessor in that great office of state set an example that I hope that he will not follow. Most particularly, during the general election, he gave voice to views about ethnic minorities and immigration that were plainly designed to support the most atavistic impulses in this country and to encourage the belief that only one party would prevent a flood tide of immigrants of black and other colours sweeping across the country.
It was a discreditable feature of the general election and it cannot go unremarked in this debate, which follows so hard upon its heels. It was a discreditable fact that a number of newspapers with wide circulations played closely along with the then Home Secretary in that disgraceful campaign. It was disgraceful because of its intellectual dishonesty and because it completely misrepresented the views of the official Labour party and the Liberal Democrats. However, it was also disgraceful because it did nothing to still the anxieties—most of them misplaced—of those in areas where there is a sense that communities are being taken over by people of a different cultural background from that long-established in those communities.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) is not in the Chamber, so I feel constrained to rise to his defence. I have been checking my recollections with the Minister of State, Home Office and my Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim), and we cannot remember the outrageous remarks that my right hon. Friend was supposed to have made during the election. Before history is rewritten, it is my clear recollection that the Asylum Bill hardly featured in the election campaign from beginning to end, and nor did the issues of immigration and race relations.
I do not expect that the right hon. and learned Gentleman paid very close attention to what the then Home Secretary said during the election campaign. Let me quote the former Home Secretary. On 5 April, he spoke of the dramatic rise in the vote for the fascist Die Republikaner party in Germany. He said that it was due to one issue:
That issue was the flood of migrants and would-be asylum seekers whose continuing numbers have aroused public concern. I have warned for many months about this rising tide.
He also spoke of fascists marching in Europe and gave a terrible warning about similar matters. In the context of the headlines that were appearing in many of the newspapers with larger circulations, it is clear from the former Home Secretary's speech, made four days before the election, that he does not view such matters in the same way as, I suspect, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would prefer. I believe that the new Home Secretary is more sensitive about those matters, and that he is a man of rather better taste than his predecessor. His defence of his right hon. Friend is in stark contrast to the stab in the back just delivered by the former Home Secretary to his former Cabinet colleagues on the issue of Maastricht. However, that is not a subject for this debate.
I am also glad that the Home Secretary reaffirmed that there is broad agreement in the House about the principle, at least, of how we should seek to govern a multiracial society. He focused his comments on ways and means. It is inevitable that there will be differences about the ways and means of ensuring that we do not create a society that encourages or allows discrimination to take place. If we are able to minimise those differences, we will perform a great service.
I agree with the Home Secretary that the heart of the debate should be about employment. From the figures that he and his Department, in one of its incarnations, produced on employment, we can see what a stark disadvantage it appears to be to belong to an ethnic minority if one is seeking to get ahead. It is not a matter only of inner-city deprivation, although it is right to mention what is being done about that. Discrimination also applies to those people who have the qualifications, but who are not preferred for jobs for which they are suitable. The figures show that twice as many people from ethnic minorities who have attained higher education are unemployed as those from the ethnic majority. That difference requires the consideration of ways and means.
Employment opportunity is not necessarily a matter of public expenditure. If the Home Secretary rejects the contract-compliance suggestions put forward in a number of circles—not only by the official Opposition—it is incumbent upon him to say how he would hope to see changes come about. He spoke convincingly and sincerely about his wish to see important positions in society held by those from ethnic minorities. No doubt he had in mind appointments such as judges or members of quangos. Many of those appointments may be made by members of the Government, and even his Department has in its hand a substantial element of patronage. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will use it positively to achieve the ends he outlined to ensure that change takes place.
I was interested in what the Home Secretary said about the criminal justice system and his belief, repeated in his response to an intervention from the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms. Abbott), that the figures do not suggest that racial discrimination exists within the system. I acknowledge that the requirement of the law, which he says he supports, as outlined in section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, is to produce statistical information which may help us to make up our minds on that matter. That requirement has not been on the statute book for very long and it would he difficult for any of us, in the present circumstances, to assert a contrary proposition to that of the Home Secretary. However, I hope that he will have an open mind and that he will not be too firm in his view that there is no evidence of racial discrimination within the criminal justice system.
Many people who have been involved in that system for many years and who have not had the benefit of the statistics that will he forthcoming from his Department feel that racial discrimination exists. There have been ugly incidents—they are well-known in some policing circles —that were clearly racial. I know that the picture is patchy and that some police forces have done a great deal to root out racially-motivated attacks. However, in some areas such attacks are too common, and the figures show that the number is increasing. It is for that reason that the Liberal Democrats have suggested that there should he a specially dedicated squad of policemen to tackle the problem in those areas where it is perceived to be a serious threat.
The monitoring to be undertaken by the Home Office will be highly important. I am glad that the production of such figures is to be a matter of law, but what the Home Secretary chooses to publish will be a matter for him. We could, therefore, have rather more or less informative figures, depending upon the way in which he approaches the matter. In the spirit of open government, which we have been promised by the Prime Minister, I hope that the Home Secretary will tell us as soon as possible, not necessarily the results of the monitoring, but exactly what will be monitored, so that we can evaluate, even now, whether the process is going along on the right lines.
There are some other matters that I wish to raise briefly in my short speech—it must be short because this is a short debate. There is serious concern about housing for ethnic minorities in some parts of the country. The homeless are disproportionately drawn from ethnic minority communities. In the wind-up speech, will the Minister of State tell us how he believes that that problem can best be tackled?
I do not disagree with the Home Secretary's comments on education. I share his philosophical view, and that of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, that there should be freedom of choice in education. Indeed, the issue is governed by the European Convention on Human Rights. While we can differ on what is desirable for this country, there is a broadly bipartisan view about that.
I should comment on the attack on my party made by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook when he referred to Tower Hamlets. He knows my political history and is aware that 1 have never allowed party to stand in the way of judgment about the rights and wrongs of an issue, to the point at which I was driven to leave the Labour party, of which he is a member. So I am not embarrassed by the question he asked, although he thought that I might be. I am exceedingly unhappy about what happened in that case. That local authority suffered appalling pressures, imposed on it by the very policies to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in respect of local government finance.
If I misjudged the hon. Gentleman's willingness to make that honourable statement, I hope that he will forgive me. I plead in mitigation the fact that since, on a local government results programme, the leader of his party refused to condemn what happened, I assumed that he would do the same.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that I am my own man. I am not in any way criticising what I have not heard. My party is seeking to incorporate into the law of the land the European Convention on Human Rights—a move which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has steadfastly resisted—and, now, a wider Bill of Rights which would specifically and explicitly protect ethnic minority citizens from discrimination by public authorities, including local authorities.
I hope that, as the right hon. Gentleman retires from his current responsibilities, he will feel rather more supportive of those objectives, which are designed to eliminate practices by local authorities of which he disapproves. It is no good taking a holier-than-thou attitude to local authorities which are under massive pressure because of central Government finance policy without providing the means to remedy matters.
I hope that the Home Secretary will provide hon. Members with opportunities in Government time to discuss issues relating to immigration. It is right that this debate should not focus on that subject, as we are likely to have a debate in the next six months on the question of asylum. I was interested to learn that the Home Secretary is looking not just at the urgency of the case for asylum seekers' claims being considered more expeditiously—despite a substantial drop in the number of asylum seekers in the first quarter of this year—but that there appears to be a backlog of about 60,000 claims in his Department. despite the increase in expenditure this year to about £10 million.
I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to review such matters as the primary-purpose rule. I do not necessarily expect him to come up with a different answer, but the fact that he is at least proposing to review it is pleasing. I hope that, in the process of that review, he will recognise the great advantage there would be in calling to his office not only those with statutory responsibilities for race relations—I am sure that he will do that in any case—but those with experience of race matters in their constituencies. They should include hon. Members with such experience in all parts of the House.
If we could come up with a policy for immigration which commanded respect and agreement across the Floor, that would prove an immensely valuable prize. It would take the issue out of future general elections, bearing in mind the ugly way in which it surfaced during the last election, and would strengthen the Government's stated objectives of bringing about greater harmony in such matters. Will the Home Secretary have cross-party discussions and treat the issue in an exceptional way, remembering that it is an exceptional problem?
I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will consider the whole question of imprisonment. The prison system is under immense pressure. There are many more black and ethnic minority inmates than there are proportionately from other communities. It is difficult to say why that should be, and perhaps the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 will shed some light on the matter. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not simply rely on the easy nostrum that people get into trouble because they are bad. There is much more to the problem. He should look again at the sentencing policy of the courts. The issue has baffled successive Secretaries of State. While it may not be an easy matter, he should come to terms with it. The ethnic minorities will greatly benefit if he can come up with some answers.
Despite what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about the problems in Germany, I commend to him the sentencing policies being pursued there by a Government who, in relation to sentencing, are not totally dissimilar in political complexion to Her Majesty's Government. There, substantial reductions in sentences do not appear to have led to an increase in offending or in recidivism. Such an exercise might repay study and, in the process, improve race relations.
I am grateful for this opportunity to address the House for the first time. In doing so, I confess that I am somewhat nervous lest I follow the fate of one of my predecessors, Benjamin Disraeli, a man whose literary talents I admire, indeed
envy, but whose maiden speech proved one of the disasters of parliamentary performance. A contemporary describing that event summed it up by saying that Disraeli
began with fluid assurance, speedily degenerating into ludicrous absurdity and being at last put down with inextinguishable shouts of laughter.
I have the honour to represent the constituency of Aylesbury. It stretches from the Hertfordshire border of Buckinghamshire near Aston Clinton, down through the Chiltern Hills and the edge of the Vale of Aylesbury to the town of Stokenchurch and the village of Ibstone, on either side of the M40 motorway.
We have in the constituency such great institutions as Chequers, Stoke Mandeville hospital and, perhaps dear to the hearts of many English men and women, our national home of rest for horses. About half the population of my constituency lives in Aylesbury town, formerly a small, rather quaint market town but now a fast-growing business, commercial and industrial centre, as well as the county town of Buckinghamshire. The remaining half of my constituents live in smaller towns such as Wendover, Princess Risborough and Great Missenden, as well as in many smaller villages and hamlets which I shall not name individually.
It is an awesome experience to follow a distinguished line of parliamentarians who have represented, not just in recent years but over the centuries, the boroughs of Aylesbury and Wendover and the county of Buckinghamshire. The most illustrious was John Hampden, whose statue stands to this day in Aylesbury marketplace and whose patriotism, championship of liberty and independence of spirit in the face of the Government of his day are still remembered and honoured by my constituents.
At the other end of the scale, perhaps the most notorious representative of Aylesbury was John Wilkes in the 18th century. His house stands nigh St. Mary's church in the centre of the town. He was an enthusiastic member of the Hell Fire club and was expelled from the House of Commons almost as many times as he was elected to it. His political and public 1career was summed up by Edward Gibbon, who said that Wilkes was
A thorough profligate in principle as in practice …His life stained with every vice and his conversation full of blasphemy and bawdy.
Recent examples may give a happier precedent on which to draw for my own hopes of representing my constituency.
Senior members of this House will remember the service of Sir Spencer Summers, the hon. Member for Aylesbury until 1970. It would be fair to refer in passing to my constituents in Prestwood and Great Missenden who were represented for a time by Sir Ian—now Lord—Gilmour and my constituents of Risborough and Stokenchurch, who still remember with great affection the time when they were represented by the late Sir John Hall.
I pay special tribute to my immediate predecessor, Sir Timothy Raison, who represented Aylesbury with great distinction and dedication from 1970 until the recent general election. Whether as a Minister or a Back Bencher, Tim Raison tried to put principle and his constituency first. As the candidate and now the Member of Parliament going around Aylesbury, I find it striking how men and women of all political persuasions and of none speak of Tim Raison with affection and great respect. If, in my time in the House, I can win for myself a fraction of the reputation that he earned over 20 years, 1 shall consider myself fortunate.
This debate is an apposite subject on which to make a maiden speech, partly because my immediate predecessor was greatly interested in, and concerned about, those important issues, but also because roughly 5 per cent. of my constituents come from the various ethnic minorities. Issues of race and community relations concern not only inner cities and great conurbations but many small and medium sized towns.
I am glad to say that, in general, race relations in Aylesbury are extremely good, due to two facts. First, the majority of our citizens genuinely recognise—perhaps as the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) wishes to see more generally in this country —that the various ethnic minorities in our town have much to offer and contribute to our community. Secondly, that feeling is reciprocated by the fact that the minorities wish not to lock themselves away in little ghettos but rather, while cherishing their traditions and customs, to play an important and increasing part in the economic, cultural and commercial life of their town and country. That is a fruitful example for other areas to follow in seeking to create good race and community relations.
The principle of which I have spoken can be seen at work in the organisation in Aylesbury. Within the Aylesbury Council for Racial Equality, representatives of all the major political parties work hard together in support of a common aim. It can be seen when visiting our newly opened multicultural centre, built in the heart of Aylesbury and opened by Tim Raison earlier this year. The building acts both as a home for the ethnic minorities —where they can celebrate their traditions and festivals —and as a place that can act as a showcase where they can welcome representatives from the majority community in the town and explain to them why those traditions are important and why they help to enrich the lives of everybody living in Aylesbury.
As I wish to leave plenty of time for others to contribute to the debate, I shall simply touch on two subjects mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. They are important if we are to secure good race relations in the future. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) mentioned the first of those two subjects—racial attacks. We have relatively few such problems in Aylesbury, but last year 1 was made aware of the shock and fear caused by what may seem a relatively minor crime—acts of criminal damage committed against Aylesbury mosque, instigated and encouraged by members of the self-styled British National party. No hon. Member would wish to excuse or explain such action. I discovered at first hand what even the breaking of a window and daubing graffiti meant in terms of that minority community's fear. Their status and acceptance as citizens of Aylesbury was under threat. I urge my right hon. and learned Friend to press the police constantly to ensure that they give adequate priority to the detection of offenders who perpetrate racial attacks. Although I know that power over court sentences is not in his hands, I hope that he will consult my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and use the opportunity of meetings with the magistracy to ask that deterrents and exemplary sentences be imposed when such culprits are brought to trial and convicted.
My second point concerns the teaching of English in schools. No child or adult who lacks a firm grasp of the English language. both written and spoken, will be able to grasp the opportunities that we are trying to make available to them. I welcomed what my right hon. and learned Friend had to say today about the greater targeting of section 11 grants and the review that is under way to see whether the scope of those grants and how they are made available can be improved. However, to my knowledge, a review of section 11 grants has been under way in the Home Office for at least three years. Will my right hon. and learned Friend ask his diligent officials to treat that subject with the urgency and importance that it deserves? All hon. Members should consider themselves fortunate that, at least so far, this country has not experienced the lamentable upsurge of racist and neo-fascist sentiment that is now disfiguring political life in many western European countries. It is incumbent on all of us, whatever our party, to ensure that such sentiments, such extreme philosophies and policies, are never accorded any respect or given the opportunity to gain political support in Britain.
Racial problems are difficult to resolve. The challenges are not for the Government alone, but for voluntary societies and individuals—the mainstay of British cultural and social life. The prize that we should seek to gain is great. I wish to help, as far as I am able, to build a society in which any man or woman, whatever his or her colour, racial origin or ethnic background can feel at home in the United Kingdom and has a willing affection and loyalty to the institutions, history and traditions of this nation. I also wish them to feel that their contribution to our mainstream national life is valued and welcomed by others with different traditions.
I know that it is not within the power of any Government to attain such a goal overnight, but I believe that the policies that my right hon. and learned Friend outlined this afternoon will take us closer to that goal. In implementing them, he will have my wholehearted and enthusiastic support.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on his excellent maiden speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms. Abbott) made some good comments—she said that she could tell that the hon. Gentleman was new to the House. I hope that he continues to make such speeches.
I welcome the debate and congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) on raising the subject. It is long overdue for discussion and is raised in the Chamber once in a blue moon. It is a subject which the Opposition have to put on the agenda, as the Government will not. The Government have no policy on racial discrimination. To correct myself, the Government have one policy: they believe that if they control immigration, everything else will work out. They think that by keeping the numbers down they will ensure that there is not too much trouble in the country. I do not agree, and I believe that the Government are storing up trouble for the future.
The Government's policy appeases racists, but, unfortunately, racists are only appeased for a short period, and are now on the move. Unemployment has caused more racial attacks on black and minority ethnic groups than any other issue. Racists use unemployment and other such excuses. I urge the Government to come up with positive policies to deal with the problem.
The Government are also storing up resentment among black people due to the treatment that those people receive. Visitors who come to this country from places like Jamaica are treated almost like scum; they are strip searched and abused. We heard today about the case of a black person from America whose experiences here left a lot to be desired.
Does not my hon. Friend think that now is the time for the Government to abolish the rules which they introduced in 1989 and which they term as guidelines for Members of Parliament when making representations on behalf of visitors to this country? I know that he and his constituency officer deal with many cases in which they have to bargain with junior immigration officers at Heathrow and Gatwick so that constituents' friends who want to make visits or even attend funerals may enter. Genuine cases are rejected and people who have spent much money travelling halfway across the world to visit friends and relatives in this country are sent back, even though their cases are genuine.
My hon. Friend is right. When I entered Parliament in 1987, as he did, Members of Parliament were able to put a stop to the removal of visitors from this country. The Government moved quickly to outlaw that privilege for Members of Parliament who, as a result. were forced into bargaining with low-level immigration officers to try to get visitors a stay of one or two days while the Members of Parliament sought to contact the Minister responsible. That is most unsatisfactory, and I agree that the Government should abolish that requirement as soon as possible.
Much resentment is being built up among black people due to the treatment of visitors. People are worried that a white British man can go to the Philippines, buy a bride and return to this country without any problem, while a black person—man or woman—has great difficulty entering the country. One reason for that involves the questions asked of people trying to bring spouses into the country.
I do not wish to quarrel with my hon. Friend, but I can assure him that many of my white constituents who have left the country, not to buy a bride in the Philippines or Thailand, but to contract genuine marriages, have had to wait 18 months to two years and have even produced children, before being allowed to enter this country. While my hon. Friend has a strong argument, it is not true to say that white people can walk in and out of this country with brides as they choose. The Government are much too discriminatory, especially when non-white brides are being brought in.
1, too, have no wish to quarrel with my hon. Friend, but I have never had to deal with such a case, and I look forward to the day when one comes before me. I have known of many cases affecting black people, but if the Government are also stopping white people from bringing brides or husbands over here, that is also to be deplored.
I am concerned that a number of key issues are causing difficulties for people in black and minority ethnic communities. One such issue is unemployment, which is at its highest in the inner cities where most blacks live. I was surprised to hear the Secretary of State say today that figures are collected in unemployment exchanges on the basis of ethnicity. I have never been able to obtain any figures on the ethnic breakdown of unemployment. However, I have conducted surveys in my constituency, and I know that 60 per cent. of young black people in Tottenham are unemployed and are unlikely to gain employment in the next year or so. Some 300 school leavers who left schools in my constituency last year have been unable to obtain a place on any Government training scheme.
In my constituency, 11,238 people were unemployed in April, a rise of 23.3 per cent. according to Government calculations. That is an increase of 24 per cent. over the past 12 months and of 70 per cent. over the past two years. Tottenham jobcentre has 116 vacancies, which means that 100 people are chasing every job. According to the unemployment unit index, which is much more accurate than Government figures, 15,990 people are unemployed. That is 33.2 per cent. of Tottenham's working population. There has been an increase of 120 per cent. in long-term unemployment in the past two years, but long-term youth unemployment has risen by some 500 per cent. over the same period. Unemployment and what the Government do about it are matters of grave concern to my constituents.
Despite the extremely high unemployment in my constituency, which has the highest unemployment in London and the fourth highest in the country, Haringey council has decided to cut the youth service by 70 per cent. That service tries to ensure that young people have some place to go. There are now only two main youth centres in Tottenham, and the whole of north and south Tottenham are not covered by the service at all. There are no detached youth worker teams and only one detached youth worker in the whole borough. As a result, young people have nowhere to go and concentrate in clusters in the shopping centres. Many young people spend the whole day in betting shops, and fights are taking place between groups of young people on Duckett's common. The groups consist of youths of a particular ethnic background. Asian young people fight Turkish Cypriots, with African and Caribbean youths and so on. That is happening because there is no provision for young people.
Haringey council, like other local authorities, has been threatened with poll-tax capping. Clearly, the Government's refusal properly to fund local authorities in the past few years must be taken into account. However, the local authority is not playing its full part in providing for young people, especially those from black and minority ethnic communities.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, traditionally, the health service has been a large employer of black people and people from ethnic communities, especially in the big cities? Since 1945, black nurses have in some ways been the unsung heroines in the building of the British health service. The drive towards privatisation and trust hospitals means that the job security and job status of many black workers, and especially women, are seriously threatened. If the Government are serious about black employment and about helping ethnic groups, they should look to their own role and that of the health authorities as employers and to the employment role of the trusts.
My hon. Friend is entirely correct. In my area, many black auxiliary nurses and porters have recently been dismissed for various reasons, one of which is that some of the services have been privatised. My hon. Friend is right in what she says about cuts in the health service.
Because there is no proper youth provision in my constituency, youths are turning to drug trafficking. Youth workers tell me that crack cocaine is on the increase because of the money that young people can make from trafficking. They engage in that because there is no alternative employment. The youth workers also tell me that there is tension on the streets and that youths are planning a Los Angeles-style riot or disturbance in my area. They say that unless something is done, especially during the summer months, we can expect trouble. I believe the youth workers. We should take action and I appeal to the Government, even at this late stage, to make money available to ensure that young people are off the streets and doing something positive during the summer.
There are also difficulties in education and training. The North London tech has not been responding to applications from the Turkish youth association and the Asian action group in my constituency and no reasons have been given for non-acceptance. One youth worker told me that the youth are Thatcher's children. They are under pressure to drive fast cars and, as a consequence, they are forced to live above their means. As a result, they are driven into the hands of the drug pushers. I hope that we can do something to help young people, especially those in inner cities and those from black minority and ethnic groups.
Much attention has been focused on the Maastricht treaty, but the Single European Act, which comes into force on 1 January, will create problems for people from black and ethnic minority communities. The Act is supposed to allow free movement of people, but we know that, because of racism, people are not being allowed to move freely around Europe. They are being stopped on the borders and on the streets of European cities and asked to produce documents, purely on the basis of the colour of their skin. There is no other reason whatever.
We must look seriously at the way in which racism and fascism have risen in Europe. For example, in Belgium, where there is little or no race legislation, blacks can be excluded from pubs. They cannot live in certain areas in Brussels and people can discriminate against them in a variety of ways. Racial attacks are increasing. When people hear about attacks on refugees and asylum seekers they say that all such people are being attacked in western Europe. But the ones who are being injured and killed are the black ones. That is the difference. A Yugoslav or a Czech can melt into the population in a European country and, unless he is questioned. he can get away with it. However, because of the visibility of colour, racists and fascists can go on a spree and it does not matter whether the victim is a citizen, a migrant or a refugee.
I went to a recent conference in Berlin called by the Immigrants Political Forum in Germany and some of the horror stories told there must be repeated. There were people there from Denmark, Spain and Germany. The Danish representative said that 20 refugee centres had been burnt down in Sweden and that a sniper operating in Denmark is shooting at black people. Recently 15 people have been shot and one has been killed, but there has been no attempt by the police to ensure that people are caught and tried. Bombs have been set off in Copenhagen and in Norway.
Police violence against migrants in Paris is enormous. Gangs of white youths roam the streets looking for black people and coloured people generally to attack. In working-class areas, people with black neighbours were told to shoot them if they acted in any way which their white neighbours considered anti-social.
Spain is the nearest European country to Africa and Africans are being shot as they cross the sea to that country. Bodies riddled with bullets have been washed up on Spain's beaches and the outlook for those who have been admitted as genuine asylum seekers and refugees is grim. No Government provision is made for them, although they are legal asylum seekers. People have to sleep in the park and are often moved on. They have no housing, no money and have to fend for themselves.
It is ironic that in July this year black athletes will be shaking the hand of the President of Spain when they receive their gold medals, while that same person is responsible for the depredations facing black citizens and black asylum-seekers in that country. Black athletes should make some sort of protest, perhaps by boycotting the opening or closing ceremony, to let people know that they disagree with the way in which black people are being treated in Spain. I shall be approaching a number of people asking that some sort of protest be lodged along those lines.
In Portugal, people are working illegally on building sites. Employers are using such people, who are often called clandestines, because they are cheap labour. Many of them are killed and injured because employers do not have to worry about safety measures. Such issues are important and must be looked at.
We were told by the Germans of a situation in a town in Germany called Hoyerswerda. In September last year about 250 migrants were set upon, originally by skinheads, but eventually by almost the entire town. The skinheads attacked one of the refugee hostels and the people had to run up to the roof. They stayed there for three days and they had only the food that they could take with them. One of those involved said:
We all, Mozambicans and Vietnamese ran into the house and took refuge in the upper floors. The Skins were joy-dancing, uncorking bottles of brandy or gin, drinking shouting 'Foreigners out', 'Germany for Germans' … Later on more and more bystanders began arriving on the premises, so that at the end it was all clogged up with people. After 1.5 hours they started pelting our windows with stones. Whenever one of them would hit their target the spectators-bystanders would clap their hands. This meant for us 'Right on, you are dead right now, well done'. And the policemen, 12 of them who were there—did not do anything to arrest the people concerned.
The person went on:
On the following day it all started again at 3 pm. This time there were also some schoolchildren among the mob, not only skinheads. Children came accompanied by their parents. The parents gave their children stones to throw them at our window panes. As the glasses broke into pieces they began clapping their hands, children and parents. There were only a very few parents, perhaps only four families, who dragged their children out of the riot with the subsequent scolding.
Those involved went on to say that they were bussed into another small town where they were also attacked. The position in Europe must be deplored and the Government must do something about it.
From 1 July the Government will hold the presidency of the European Community. Some time ago I asked the Foreign Secretary whether the Government would ensure that race equality legislation was brought into the treaty of Rome and discussed within the European Commission. He said that there was no competence to deal with race equality in the treaty of Rome.
Now that Maastricht seems to have been done away with—I welcome that—and I heard the Prime Minister talking about intergovernmental co-operation and taking a different road, there is no impediment to him raising this issue with other Governments. We need racial equality legislation throughout Europe so that those who travel through or visit Europe, whether on business or whatever, can do so without discrimination and without the stigma attached to being a person of colour.
I hope that when the Minister replies he will talk about that aspect, because this is a unique opportunity for Britain to act. The Government always claim that we are at the top of race equality legislation. Let us do something about it and ensure that the legislation that we claim is so great is duplicated throughout Europe.
The hon. Gentleman is talking about race relations legislation that operates in Great Britain. I am sure that he is aware that that legislation does not apply to all United Kingdom citizens. Does he agree that that is an omission and that the human rights of even very small minorities should be protected? Does he support the extension of race relations legislation to all parts of the United Kingdom?
I am being treated kindly this evening. I have agreed with the points of all those who have intervened. The area represented by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) certainly has a clear need for such legislation. As a matter of fact, Haringey council accepted that Irish people were also a minority ethnic group in Britain and that view has played a part in the local legislation that we have passed. I agree that the legislation should be extended throughout Britain.
Over the past few months we have seen the rise of political racism. A number of parties of the right have come forward. There is the Republikaner party in Germany with its leader Schöenhuber and there is the MS1 in Italy. There is the Vlams Blok party in Belgium, which is opposed not only to foreigners but to French being spoken. It wants Flemish to be the language spoken in Belgium. There is opposition in Belgium and young people have formed a counter organisation which they call the Blokbusters. It hopes to start an arm of that organisation in Britain and I shall support it. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will also be able to support it if they are called upon to do so. Everyone knows how the obnoxious Front Nationale party in France has grown. Also, as the hon. Member for Aylesbury said, the British National party has been responsible for the death of Rolan Adams. It has an obnoxious headquarters in the Bexley area and we hope that the police, the Home Office and so on will be able to ensure that that racist organisation and its headquarters is closed down. There have been severe attacks in Britain. The political thrust behind the racist attacks must be tackled and I hope that the Government are prepared to do that.
A number of things need to be done. First, the Race Relations Act 1976 is long overdue for renewal. Certain sections of the Act need beefing up and I hope that the Minister will tell us what he intends to do about that. The Commission for Racial Equality has been underfunded for many years. Not everyone supports the CRE in what it does, but in its ability to tackle the law and set legal precedents it is second to none. It has been prevented from taking up all the cases that it would like to because of a lack of funds. If the Government are keen to act, they must ensure that the CRE is adequately funded so that it can tackle its important job.
I agree with what has been said about the criminal justice system, but there are ways in which we can tackle that. The issue of all-white juries is being tackled in America by people of colour and it is beginning to be pushed in Britain. All-white juries sitting in judgment on people of colour must be stopped. I hope that the Government will consider that.
The issue of positive action needs to be raised once again. Since the Los Angeles riots, academics and others have decried positive action and have said, "That is where positive action gets you." In the past five or six years, positive action programmes in the United States have been discontinued by Presidents Reagan and Bush. The United States supreme court outlawed set-asides and other programmes that allowed black people and black businesses to win Government contracts. Poverty programmes and positive-action programmes were cut, but when the conflagration occurred people said, "The positive action programmes are no good." Those programmes were not given a fair run. The points that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook made about contract compliance and a number of other matters should be considered. The Government must put their money where their mouth is.
I want to give some advice to the new Secretary of State.
He should be here, but he can read Hansard tomorrow. I give him this advice. He has a reputation for being off the cuff and casual and for making flippant remarks. This is not the subject for him to practise those skills or non-skills, because people are extremely sensitive about it. He strayed into areas that he did not know much about. I advise him to be extremely cautious about what he says on these issues if he wants to keep his job for a long time.
We need money in certain areas. The Secretary of State said that £4 billion had been spent on inner-city schemes and tried to give the impression that the money had reached black people and minorities suffering in inner-city areas. None of that money reached black people and minority groups in my area. We should like to know who benefited from that £4 billion, if it was spent.
My constituents from black and minority ethnic communities need policies to reduce unemployment and to combat poor training. We need proper jobs for young people. Further and higher education provision must ensure that our young people have education opportunities. Meetings were held with young people after the Broadwater farm disturbances in 1985. Councillors said, "We have some nice apprenticeships for you. You can be a carpenter, an electrician or a nurse." The youths said, "We are not interested." One of them said, "I want to be a test pilot." Another said, "I want to be a brain surgeon." It was automatically assumed that because of their colour they should be limited to particular jobs. That idea must disappear from our career services, our training places and from Government.
We hope that we are entering a new era. The Prime Minister talks about a classless society.
He lived in Brixton. He grew up in a house that had many races and I appreciate that his heart may be in the right place, but he needs the advice and support of Ministers and civil servants to ensure that these issues, some of which I have raised today, are given a proper hearing, that we set an example for the rest of Europe and that racism is no more in our society.
Whenever the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) speaks as the authentic voice of many in the ethnic minorities, he should be listened to with great care. However, I wish that his speech had been shorter, as it has not left much time for anybody else.
The hon. Member for Tottenham mentioned £4 billion being spent on inner cities. I remember contract money being spent in Nottingham, where my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State and I come from, and particularly in the Radford area. Much time and trouble was spent on ensuring special provision for employing local people, even to the extent that contracts were switched from the lowest tender so that the local community felt that the money was spent for its benefit.
I should like to start where my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary finished and where my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) started and finished. All of us are committed to a multi-ethnic community and freedom before the law. We shall accept nothing less.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury on his speech. I am sure that he will not be diverted from the principles that he expressed. He succeeds an honourable friend of mine, Tim Raison, with whom I worked closely in debates such as these and on refugees. I appreciated what my hon. Friend said about his predecessor and the speech that he made.
I support what the hon. Member for Tottenham said about the rights of British citizens in Europe. British citizenship is a great and cherished right, and it has considerable historical freedoms. It should protect anyone who has it. I am concerned that when some of my constituents take a holiday abroad, particularly in the European Community, they are not treated as well as one would expect a British citizen to be treated. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will ensure that European Ministers who are responsible for the police and for the other services with which British citizens come into contact understand that, once citizenship has been established, British citizens who were originally from an ethnic minority or who are second generation should be treated the same. I support what the hon. Member for Tottenham said, because we want to ensure that being a British citizen means something throughout the European Community and wherever a British citizen travels.
I understand the difficulties of those who must interview entrants who are seeking to enter this country for family reasons. In my experience, different standards apply. I am aware of many cases where people made what I regarded as a perfectly normal request for a relative to attend, for instance, a wedding. Constituents of mine have even held the weddings of their two children at the same time to minimise the problems of families attending. I experienced considerable difficulty in getting their relatives here. I felt that I had to apologise to my constituent because I could not justify the reason why only one member of the family—an older brother—was turned down.
In such cases, I suggest—and I try to do this in the House and through the system—that one should carefully consider the person who issued the invitation. My constituents who have offered invitations are well-substantiated citizens who are a credit to, and offer much to, their local communities and are in work. They have no reason to do anything other than organise a family reunion within the law. When such invitations are sent, I often arrange for a letter to accompany it saying that the person who has issued it is a long-standing constituent of mine. Such letters could be used during the interviews in some countries when people apply for visas.
Finally, I wish to deal with the vexed question of the attitude of the police. When my eldest son was just 18, he was a fairly hairy specimen of his generation. He had a mass of hair, wore trendy clothes and necklaces. He is also a decent, fine man—he is now nearly 40, but I am talking about when he was 18. Being a generous and liberal father, I used to let him use my car, a reasonably expensive and new Rover 2000 TC. He was convinced that the police had it in for him because of the number of times he was stopped or approached as he went to get into the car. I remember trying to talk it through with him and with the police.
The principal point that emerged was that if the police were courteous in asking why he was in my car or about to get into my car, there could be little objection because, obviously, young people who looked like my son did at the time had no particular reason to be driving such a car on their own merit. If the police were courteous and if my son was able to be courteous in response, it was perfectly respectable. But if they were ill mannered, assumed that he had stolen the car and treated him in an unacceptable way, it was also unacceptable to me. That example should be borne in mind by the police forces when they approach people from the ethnic minorities.
The most useful way in which we can see the values that we have all expressed come about is to observe the way in which—certainly in the city of Nottingham and the surrounding area—the ethnic communities, which I remember first arrived in 1956, have been integrated into our society. However, we also want them to be integrated especially in the police force. I welcome what my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary said about the numbers now in the force, but we want more in the magistracy and as barristers and judges and at all levels of our legal system. In that way we can have the assurance that we all seek that to be a British citizen and to live in this country is a special privilege. It should exercise all of us to ensure that that privilege is given to all, regardless of race, colour or creed.
I understand that Disraeli was once asked to determine the difference between a calamity and a disaster. I think he said that if Gladstone fell into the Thames it would be a calamity and that if someone pulled him out it would be a disaster. As a successor to Gladstone, I add my congratulations to Mr. Disraeli's successor, and I agree especially with his drawing attention to racial attacks in his constituency. He highlighted the connection between such attacks and the British National party.
My constituency borders on Bexley, which is the home of the British National party. My hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) referred to Rolan Adams who would have become one of my constituents had he not been brutally murdered in a racist attack a few hundred yards from my home and not too far from the headquarters of the British National party.
In a debate on the position of black people in British society, it is right to draw attention in a predominantly white House to the daily experience of many black citizens who are subject to harassment, abuse and often violent attacks. I want to raise the connection that I see between the increase in racial attacks in my area and the presence of the British National party. Earlier this year, in answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), the Prime Minister said that literature had been seized from its headquarters and referred to the Crown prosecution service. It is time to ask what was the result of the investigation into the literature that was seized. There is no doubt in my mind that literature emanating from the British National party headquarters in Welling is racially inflammatory and is an incitement to racial hatred. We have a right to demand to be told when the Attorney-General will take action against it.
I also want to mention legislation to the new Home Secretary in relation to provocative marches which incite racial hatred in sensitive areas. When the British National party proposed to march through Woolwich and Thamesmead recently, questions were asked by the local council and local churches, community groups and black organisations who feared the consequences of that march. The local police also wanted the march to be halted, but, for that to be done, it would have been necessary for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to tell the Home Secretary that, despite all the resources at the disposal of the Metropolitan police, he could not cope with the civil disorder that might arise from the march. Clearly, it would have been very difficult for the commissioner to say that. He should have been able to tell the Home Secretary that he feared the effects on local community relations if the march went ahead and that, on that basis, the Home Secretary should ban it. I hope that the new Home Secretary will review the ways in which such provocative, racist marches can be stopped.
Other hon. Members have mentioned a speech made during the election by the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker). From what was said to me on the doorstep after that speech had been made, it is clear that it incited racism and inflamed feelings in my constituency. The former deputy Prime Minister, Lord Whitelaw, was quick to dissociate himself from a Tory Member in Scotland. I regret only that the Prime Minister did not distance himself from the speech made by the right hon. Member for Mole Valley.
When speaking to an annual meeting of a racial equality council, my predecessor referred to two types of racism—the direct racism of physical attacks and abuse and direct discrimination and what he described as the "kid glove" racism of the immigration Acts. I disagree with him because there is nothing "kid glove" about the way in which immigration rules have separated families and stopped visitors attending marriages and funerals. Hon. Members of all parties have made a similar point.
Although I disagree profoundly with the Immigration Act 1971, which was introduced by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), I am sure that he had no intention of its being used to stop genuine visitors coming to this country to see friends and relatives or to attend weddings and funerals.
The Home Secretary mentioned the issue of equality in the provision of services. He appeared to suggest that there was a fault in the Opposition's motion which suggested that black people do not have equality of access to services. Every survey that has ever been carried out, whether of Government services, local authority services or of health services, shows that black people and other ethnic minorities do not have equal access, whether because of the inappropriateness of the service, the way in which it is delivered or because of direct discrimination. I hope that the Home Secretary will recognise that fact and that he will support measures to deal with it.
Other hon. Members have mentioned penal services and the criminal justice system. There is ample evidence to show that black people are disadvantaged by the way in which the system operates. I am sorry that some of the Home Secretary's remarks seemed almost to suggest the criminalisation of young black people. I hope that he will make an effort later to distance himself from such a suggestion. He seemed to suggest that one problem was that so many black young people declared themselves not guilty and wanted to go to the Crown court Rather than suggesting that that is perverse, he should consider an alternative suggestion—that many more young black people who are innocent get picked up and charged because of the way in which the system operates.
Many statistics relating to the criminal justice system have been mentioned. I believe that the mental health services are also an area in which there appears to be clear evidence of the operation of institutional racism. Why is it, for example, that black people are four times as likely as white people to reach a mental hospital through the involvement of the police, and twice as likely to have been sent to hospital from prison? Why are they twice as likely to be detained in hospital under mental health legislation? Why are psychotic black patients twice as likely as white patients, including white immigrants, to be detained involuntarily in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1984? There is adequate evidence to show that there is discrimination both in the diagnosis and treatment of black people within the mental health services. That area is ripe for a Government inquiry.
Much has been said about the need for ethnic monitoring in employment. I welcome Ministers' support for ethnic monitoring as an essential tool in employment practice to deliver equal opportunities. Regrettably, Ministers stop short of the necessary legislation to bring that about. Government Departments and local authorities are prevented, for example, from using their commercial power through contract compliance to ensure that there is equality of opportunity in employment among those who tender for contracts for local authority services.
The hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) referred to the fact that anti-discrimination legislation on race did not extend to all parts of the United Kingdom. However, there is legislation in Northern Ireland which deals with religious discrimination. I do not suggest that that legislation should be extended to Great Britain, although I believe that we may draw some positive lessons from certain elements of the fair employment legislation. In the White Paper "Fair Employment in Northern Ireland", which was published in 1988, the Government say:
The legislative measures detailed in this White Paper are strong; they are also fair. They require best employment equality practice from employers, including compulsory monitoring and affirmative action measures where necessary; they provide for strengthened enforcement powers through the criminal and the civil law; and they use the Government's economic strength to support good practice.
If best employment equality practice is right in Northern Ireland, why should we have second-best employment equality practice in the rest of the United Kingdom?
I hope, therefore, that in considering the second comprehensive review of the Race Relations Act 1976 which has been carried out by the Commission for Racial Equality—there was no formal response to the first review—the new Home Secretary will respond formally and positively. I hope that he will take a step along the road to providing equal access and equal opportunity to all our citizens.
I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Austin-Walker) and especially to his point about marches. He spoke about the balance needed between the right to march and the right not to have one's civil rights interfered with by such marches. I hope that he will return to that matter.
I also listened carefully to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant), who said that everyone agreed with him. I certainly agreed with one particular point. He referred to the Irish dimension and I join him, if I heard him aright, in suggesting that Home Office Ministers might consider the discrimination—if one calls it that—of the Irish being excluded from section 11 grants. The hon. Gentleman also gave some horrendous examples of what is happening in Europe and he was right to do so, even if it went a little beyond the terms of the motion. I am sure that we need to consider those problems as we take on the presidency in Europe.
As the hon. Gentleman spoke, it struck me that the more I listened to him, the more I realised how fortunate we are not to have such circumstances in this country. The more one thinks about that, the more one realises that the reason why we do not have such circumstances is that we have a firm view of the kind expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) in his excellent maiden speech. He proved himself to be a true inheritor of Disraeli's seat and of Disraeli's philosophy on these matters. I hope that we shall hear him putting that view on many occasions. Such views are the surest way in which we shall have good race relations in this country.
I could not be here without the support of many people of many ethnic and racial origins. Some 25 per cent. of my constituents come from other parts of the world, especially from black countries, whether in Africa or in the Caribbean, and from the Asian communities. I am scarcely conscious nowadays of the colour of my constituents. We have become far more colour blind. They are people, they are constituents, they have problems and they show me the opportunities they have seized. I have worked happily with them. I hope that increasingly we shall not need debates such as this, as people from different backgrounds or from different parts of the world who have come to live here feel themselves part of our United Kingdom.
I remember that great Conservative candidate Lurleen Champagne saying—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am delighted to hear Opposition cheers. Her great statement was that she was black, she was British, she was Conservative—and she was proud of all three. We can be proud of that as well.
No. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but I must hasten through my speech.
The debate has raised a number of issues, including the central issue of jobs. I welcome what has been said about jobs, and I welcome what the Government are doing about job opportunities and the way in which they seek to end any discrimination that there may be. The solution is linked with education and training, and with providing opportunities there.
We must also ensure that there are opportunities in appointments. I want to see more role models from different communities among our police and our magistrates so that people see the opportunities and feel that those in authority are as much their people as anybody's.
We need to consider the whole question of tolerance in our society, and religious tolerance is part of that. We can find ways in which to make religious practice more possible. It is a two-way movement. I have done what I can to ensure, for example, that my Muslim community has adequate burial grounds of the type needed for its religious practice. I am entitled to ask those Muslims to ensure that the Muslim community responds, not least in those Muslim countries where religious tolerance is not the norm. In that way, we can get a better understanding round the world.
I have touched on Muslim issues and there are a number that we should study carefully. Early in the debate, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary referred to voluntary-aided schools. He is right in suggesting that there is no discrimination in the way in which the Muslim communities have been unable to obtain voluntary-aided schools to date. However, there are obstacles which I should like to see removed. If one obstacle is the definition of "available places", we must try to find a better way to define that term. The same is true of single-sex schools. I was glad to hear the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) acknowledge that the Labour party's policy on single-sex schools may be changing so that there could be the opportunity for such schools, and for hospitals for women.
One of the most important issues, from the Muslim point of view, is the need to consider the antidiscrimination law. Following the 1991 Sheffield judgment, it is felt that the law should be clarified and possibly amended. The Muslim community feel that they have been excluded from protection measures that apply to Christians, Jews, Sikhs and others.
Let me also ask my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to discuss with his colleagues ways in which we can help people in this country when disasters occur elsewhere in the world. When a natural disaster took place in Bangladesh, involving floods, death and destruction, many people in this country were affected because they were related to the victims. In such cases, relatives often do not know what is happening. I believe that we could help them by providing a more efficient source of information, and by recognising the need for counselling, especially bereavement counselling.
I hope that the policy so eloquently described by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury—and, earlier, by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary— will continue. It is a "one-nation" policy. Many peoples have come to this nation: Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, Romans, Normans, Huguenots and Jews; more recently, Jamaicans, Bengalis and Ghanaians, among others; and, more recently still, the Somalis and Ethiopians who have come to my constituency. I hope that we can continue to prove to the world that we can provide a one-nation society that sets an example to the rest of the world, demonstrating how people from different backgrounds can preserve their own identity while nevertheless integrating in a happy and forward-looking society.
This has been a short debate—perhaps too short. We have heard only one maiden speech, from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington). I enjoyed the tour of his constituency that he provided: in common with many other Scottish Members, I have flown over it often enough, waiting to land at Heathrow, and I was interested to learn about what goes on beneath the clouds. I agreed with what the hon. Gentleman said about racial attacks, too. He will be pleased to learn that, judging by the Minister's expression— which, of course, he could not see at the time —his criticism of the Home Office delays in dealing with the section 11 review struck home.
The Tory attitude to this issue is interesting. The Government amendment, and the Home Secretary's speech, sit very ill with what the Tory party does in practice—especially before general elections. Before the election, the Asylum Bill was said to be desperately needed. Where is it now? Immediately before the election, the former Home Secretary made what I can only describe as a very grubby speech in which he attempted to equate immigration with proportional representation. He spoke of "a pact with the devil". He must feel very hard done by, finding himself on the Back Benches again, although many Conservative Members owe their presence in the House to what he said before the election. I am sorry to note that not one of the signatories to the Government amendment has ever seen fit to repudiate what he—and, indeed, other Conservative Members—said then.
Racism and fascism are, of course, completely independent of the electoral system. The riots in Los Angeles, for example, took place in a town where—as far as I am aware—everyone is elected under the first-past-the-post system. Racism and fascism are on the increase in Europe because the ingredients on which they feed are present: unemployment, poor housing and poverty. As my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) pointed out, such elements have little to do with immigration controls, which are entirely independent of those who feed on people's fears and turn understandable concern into prejudice by pandering to the worst of those fears. That is happening all over Europe.
Moreover, more and more people throughout Europe are becoming disillusioned with their Governments, because those Governments are not tackling the problems that they are experiencing. They feel that Governments do not care for them, and that they have no chance of bettering their position. That sense of injustice, frustration and powerlessness is not helped by such remarks as that made by the Home Secretary, who said, when discussing criminal justice in this country, that the statistics did not show racial bias. They certainly seem to show something. We can all see that black and Asian defendants are treated differently from white defendants, and I feel that the Home Secretary owes it to the House and to our citizens to pay attention to the injustices in our criminal system rather than dismissing them as a statistical aberration.
The Government know that there are problems, and they ignore those problems at their peril. Must we really wait for unrest before anything is done? Cannot the Government realise that, if the problems are not tackled as a matter of urgency, we shall experience difficulties that we have not experienced for years?
The Government seem to dismiss the question of contract compliance. The Prime Minister says that he wants to live in a classless society—a society that is at ease with itself. Surely, if that is true, the Government should examine the imbalances in employment law. Companies operating in areas where there is a mixed population are employing a preponderance of one part of that population —and it is not just a question of ethnic monitoring. It is sometimes helpful to examine a company's total work force, and we find all too often that ethnic minorities are doing the unskilled jobs at the lower end of the employment scale. There are not all that many managing directors from the ethnic minorities.
The Government seem to have accepted that something must be done about the gender imbalance, but they are apparently not prepared to take the same positive action to deal with the ethnic imbalance. As was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Austin-Walker), they have tackled the problem in Northern Ireland, but they do not seem to be willing to do the same for race relations in mainland Britain.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham made an important point. He said that we must not ignore the influence of local authority funding: in many instances, local authorities are taking the lead in trying to redress imbalances in employment, but time and again cuts and capping deprive them of funds to tackle the problems.
Other hon. Members have mentioned the Commission for Racial Equality and its proposals for the overhaul of the Race Relations Act 1976. The Act is in need of overhaul, and it is no great secret that the CRE held off from making proposals during the premiership of Lady Thatcher—as she now is—because it suspected that the Government would take the opportunity to undermine the Act. I hope that the Minister, when he winds up the debate, will tell us the Government's responses to the CRE's constructive proposals—in particular, its proposals to increase its power to investigate discrimination. We have heard about discrimination in regard to housing and social security. I believe that the CRE should be given powers to instigate investigations on its own account, rather than having to wait until it receives an individual complaint. That sometimes leads to difficulties.
The Home Secretary hinted at a review of section I I funding. If the Government are indeed to embark on such a review, will the Minister tell us whether section 11 funding will be extended to Scotland, where it has never yet been provided? We live in a United Kingdom, and many areas in Scotland could benefit from such funding.
The situation in Europe has also been mentioned. Both my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham and the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) pointed out that many of our constituents face considerable difficulties in travelling in Europe, and will continue to do so after 1993, when the barriers come down in continental Europe and people are more liable to be stopped and asked to account for themselves. We believe that black and Asian people will be especially affected. Unless protection is provided across Europe for the rights of our constituents and all other ethnic minorities, discrimination will continue.
As has been said, the Government could take the opportunity during their presidency of the Commission to promote a directive against racial discrimination. I am afraid that the Home Secretary is right to some extent: no matter how deficient the legislation is in this country, few European countries have legislation anywhere near as strong. If the Government are serious about promoting good race relations—not just in this country—they should raise with other member states the possibility of a directive to strike against racial discrimination across Europe. It is badly needed.
If we are moving into a Europe that has no frontiers, the need for citizens to have rights that they can exercise not just in their own country but in every country in the EC becomes more important. and nowhere more so than a directive striking against racial discrimination. That and a Bill of Rights that we could use throughout Europe would be a significant step forward in redressing the balance between the citizen and the state, not just in this country but in the European Community as a whole. A Bill of Rights would go some way to redressing the problems that are now occurring in the practice and operation of our immigration rules.
This debate is not about immigration, but it is difficult to discuss the difficulties that are being faced by many of our citizens without mentioning the immigration rules. All of us know that, whether it is intended or not—it does not matter how it came about—very few white people ever have any difficulty with immigration authorities in this country. Invariably we find—I found them when I visited Heathrow and spoke to the immigration officials—attitudes that are quite clearly conditioned by an ethos in the immigration and nationality department which tells them that black and Asian people are different. I heard it said by one immigration officer, "You know what these people are like—sir," he added, remembering that some respect had to be shown for a Member of Parliament.
It is interesting that the Home Secretary had no defence at all to the anomaly that was raised when we discussed the primary-purpose rule. Why is it that a French citizen can come into this country with his non-EC spouse and their dependants without let or hindrance, yet if a British citizen wishes to contract a marriage with someone who is not an EC citizen, especially someone who is black or Asian and is not an EC citizen, he or she must pass the primary-purpose rule? Getting their children to join them presents even greater difficulties. That is a double standard, and it is absurd. The Government will have to tackle it whether they like it or not. It might be better if the Government themselves were to tackle it rather than wait for the European Court to tell them that they have to scrap the rule. The primary-purpose rule is indefensible and it needs to be tackled.
I also agree with my hon. Friends that, especially following the scrapping of hon. Members' rights to make representations, the lack of any effective right of review of the operation of the immigration rules means that decisions are becoming increasingly absurd and increasingly open to challenge because immigration officers know that there is no effective challenge to their decisions. It is no use saying to somebody, "Go back 3,000 or 4,000 miles and appeal," because very often the reason for the visit may have passed by that time.
The Government must accept that the immigration rules are discriminatory. To some extent, all immigration rules are discriminatory, by their very nature, but unless the Government address the injustices, the sense of frustration that many of our citizens feel is likely to increase.
If the Government want a classless society that is at ease with itself, they must too realise that many of our citizens feel that they are not wanted and are forgotten by the Government. Yes, it is all very well to put fine words in the amendment and for an emollient speech to be made by the Home Secretary, but the people of this country see what the Government did, what their spokespeople did before the election, and what they did in practice. Unfortunately, Government action is very different from the words of the debate. I very much hope that, when we return to the subject, which will not be in the too-distant future, the Government will at least have some concrete and positive proposals to put before the House.
I have listened to the debate with interest and close attention.
As my time is very short, and as I may not otherwise refer to him, I should particularly like to single out the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington). He made a first-rate maiden speech. He displayed that informed good judgment that is to be expected from a former political adviser to the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and an admirable anger and disgust at racial attacks. The House will also have warmed to his remarks about his predecessors, particularly his tribute to Tim Raison, who is much liked and much respected on both sides of the Chamber. Hon. Members look forward to hearing from my hon. Friend again.
The debate has properly ranged widely, as race relations bear on most aspects of our national life. It has occasioned strong feelings as well. That is natural as discrimination can have a powerful impact on the lives of those in minority communities. I have no quarrel with hon. Members who draw attention to the discrimination that undoubtedly exists. That is why the Government are pursuing vigorously policies designed to end racial discrimination and disadvantage and to promote equal opportunity.
However, it is extraordinary that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) should argue, as he did and as his party does in the motion, that ethnic minorities receive less than their fair share of national resources when, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary reminded the House, vast programmes are directed to the inner cities where the great majority of ethnic minority communities live. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, those programmes amount to about £4 billion a year.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook sought to justify that remark by saying that resources had been withdrawn from local government. But local government spending has continued to rise, and the Government's contribution to that expenditure is distributed fairly across the country by the rate grant formula that was agreed with local authorities. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook simply did not make out his case on resources, hence our amendment. I had much more sympathy with some of the other points that he made.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about discrimination in jobs and the higher ratio of unemployment suffered by ethnic minorities. He was right to do so, although he was wrong to ascribe, if I heard him correctly, all the problems to discrimination. He felt that the anti-discrimination law, which impinges only indirectly on individual cases, was inadequate, but he forgets that the CRE has effectively used certain cases to open negotiations with companies and organisations to change their recruitment and promotion policies for the better. British Rail is a successful case in point. The CRE has also helped the police to develop their policies, too. We can see the benefits of that. Persuasion, backed by the law, is the right way.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to ethnic monitoring, as did several hon. Members. It has a useful role. We have it in the police, the prison service and the probation service, and, through the Criminal Justice Act 1991, we have a statutory obligation to monitor the impact of the criminal justice system on minorities. That will both illumine the right hon. Gentleman's point and show the way to the solution of problems such as bail, which he mentioned.
The right hon. Gentleman referred also to the desire of ethnic minorities to be visited by their non-resident relatives, and he spoke as though the natural wish is constantly being thwarted. It is not. [Interruption.] Each year, from the Indian sub-continent, for example, come more than 200,000 short-term visitors. They get their visas within 24 hours of applying. For the most part, they apply for them in new purpose-built visa sections that are designed to make visa applications more comfortable and efficient. Far from discouraging bona fide visitors, we welcome them. Alas, a proportion are not bona fide visitors; entry clearance officers refuse up to 16 per cent. of visa applicants from the ISC—
No, I shall not give way.
They are refused because the ECOs are not satisfied that they intend just to visit rather than stay. The overwhelming number of applicants are given visas. Alas, of that number, a sizeable proportion overstay. Last year, one in 12 Pakistani visitors with a visa applied for asylum at the end of their visit in order to remain here. In the light of those facts, I just do not believe that entry clearance officers are generally ready to say no when they should say yes. They might say no when they should say yes at times; but it is equally clear that they say yes when they should say no.
I have only a few moments left, although I have many points to cover. I conclude by saying that none of us wants any member of our ethnic minorities to be denied the opportunities that Britain has to offer. Discrimination and disadvantage have no place in British society. We are seeking with thoroughness and determination to root them out. That is why I ask the House to reject the Opposition motion and to support the amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
|Division No. 25]||[7.00 pm|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Clark, Dr David (South Shields)|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)|
|Ainger, Nicholas||Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Clelland, David|
|Allen, Graham||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Alton, David||Cohen, Harry|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Connarty, Michael|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Cook, Robin (Livingston)|
|Ashton, Joe||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Austin-Walker, John||Corston, Ms Jean|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Cousins, Jim|
|Barnes, Harry||Cox, Tom|
|Battle, John||Cryer, Bob|
|Bayley, Hugh||Cummings, John|
|Beckett, Margaret||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Beith, A. J.||Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)|
|Bell, Stuart||Cunningham, Dr John (C'p'l'nd)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Dafis, Cynog|
|Bennett, Andrew F.||Dalyell, Tam|
|Benton, Joe||Darling, Alistair|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)|
|Berry, Roger||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Betts, Clive||Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)|
|Blair, Tony||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)|
|Blunkett, David||Denham, John|
|Boateng, Paul||Dewar, Donald|
|Boyce, Jimmy||Dixon, Don|
|Boyes, Roland||Dobson, Frank|
|Bradley, Keith||Donohoe, Brian|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Dowd, Jim|
|Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Dunnachie, Jimmy|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Eagle, Ms Angela|
|Burden, Richard||Eastham, Ken|
|Byers, Stephen||Enright, Derek|
|Caborn, Richard||Etherington, William|
|Callaghan, Jim||Evans, John (St Helens N)|
|Campbell, Ms Anne (C'bridge)||Ewing, Mrs Margaret|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Fatchett, Derek|
|Campbell, Ronald (Blyth V)||Faulds, Andrew|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Fisher, Mark|
|Cann, James||Flynn, Paul|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)||Foster, Derek (B'p Auckland)|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Foster, Donald (Bath)|
|Clapham, Michael||Foulkes, George|
|Fraser, John||Martlew, Eric|
|Fyfe, Maria||Maxton, John|
|Galloway, George||Meacher, Michael|
|Gapes, Michael||Meale, Alan|
|George, Bruce||Michael, Alun|
|Gerrard, Neil||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Milburn, Alan|
|Godsiff, Roger||Miller, Andrew|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Gordon, Mildred||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Graham, Thomas||Morley, Elliot|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)||Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Grocott, Bruce||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Gunnell, John||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Hain, Peter||Mudie, George|
|Hall, Mike||Mullin, Chris|
|Hanson, David||Murphy, Paul|
|Hardy, Peter||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)|
|Harvey, Nick||O'Brien, William (Normanton)|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||O'Hara, Edward|
|Heppell, John||Olner, William|
|Hill, Keith (Streatham)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Hinchliffe, David||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Hoey, Kate||Parry, Robert|
|Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)||Patchett, Terry|
|Home Robertson, John||Pendry, Tom|
|Hood, Jimmy||Pickthall, Colin|
|Hoon, Geoff||Pike, Peter L.|
|Hoyle, Doug||Pope, Greg|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport E)||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Hutton, John||Purchase, Ken|
|Ingram, Adam||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (H'stead)||Randall, Stuart|
|Jackson, Ms Helen (Shef'ld, H)||Raynsford, Nick|
|Jamieson, David||Redmond, Martin|
|Janner, Greville||Reid, Dr John|
|Johnston, Sir Russell||Richardson, Jo|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)||Robertson, George (Hamilton)|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)|
|Jones, Ms Lynne (B'ham S O)||Roche, Ms Barbara|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)||Rogers, Allan|
|Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)||Rooker, Jeff|
|Jowell, Ms Tessa||Rooney, Terry|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Keen, Alan||Rowlands, Ted|
|Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C & S)||Ruddock, Joan|
|Kennedy, Ms Jane (L'p'l Br'g'n)||Salmond, Alex|
|Khabra, Piara||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Sheerman, Barry|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Leighton, Ron||Short, Clare|
|Lestor, Joan (Eccles)||Simpson, Alan|
|Lewis, Terry||Skinnner, Dennis|
|Litherland, Robert||Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)|
|Livingstone, Ken||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Snape, Peter|
|Loyden, Eddie||Spearing, Nigel|
|McCartney, Ian||Squire, Rachael (Dunfermline W)|
|McFall, John||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|McKelvey, William||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Stevenson, George|
|McLeish, Henry||Stott, Roger|
|Maclennan, Robert||Strang, Gavin|
|McMaster, Gordon||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|McWilliam, John||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Madden, Max||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|Mahon, Alice||Tipping, Paddy|
|Mallon, Seamus||Turner, Dennis|
|Mandelson, Peter||Tyler, Paul|
|Marek, Dr John||Vaz, Keith|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Wallace, James|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)||Walley, Joan|
|Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Wareing, Robert N||Wise, Audrey|
|Watson, Mike||Worthington, Tony|
|Wicks, Malcolm||Wright, Tony|
|Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)|
|Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Wilson, Brian||Mr. Eric Illsley and|
|Winnick, David||Mr. Thomas McAvoy.|
|Adley, Robert||Cran, James|
|Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)||Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Davies, Quentin (Stamford)|
|Alexander, Richard||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Day, Stephen|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Deva, Nirj Joseph|
|Amess, David||Devlin, Tim|
|Ancram, Michael||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Arbuthnot, James||Dicks, Terry|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Ashby, David||Dover, Den|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Duncan, Alan|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Duncan-Smith, Iain|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Dunn, Bob|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)||Dykes, Hugh|
|Baldry, Tony||Eggar, Tim|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)||Elletson, Harold|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Bates, Michael||Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Batiste, Spencer||Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)|
|Beggs, Roy||Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Evans, Roger (Monmouth)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Evennett, David|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Faber, David|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Fabricant, Michael|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas|
|Body, Sir Richard||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)|
|Booth, Hartley||Fishburn, John Dudley|
|Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)||Forman, Nigel|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Forth, Eric|
|Bowis, John||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)|
|Brazier, Julian||Freeman, Roger|
|Bright, Graham||French, Douglas|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Fry, Peter|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Gallie, Phil|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Gardiner, Sir George|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Garnier, Edward|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Gill, Christopher|
|Burns, Simon||Gillan, Ms Cheryl|
|Burt, Alistair||Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair|
|Butcher, John||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Butler, Peter||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Butterfill, John||Gorst, John|
|Carlisle, John (Luton North)||Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Carrington, Matthew||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Carttiss, Michael||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)|
|Cash, William||Grylls, Sir Michael|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn|
|Chaplin, Mrs Judith||Hague, William|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie|
|Churchill, Mr||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Clappison, James||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Hannam, Sir John|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)||Hargreaves, Andrew|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Harris, David|
|Coe, Sebastian||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Colvin, Michael||Hawkins, Nicholas|
|Congdon, David||Hawksley, Warren|
|Conway, Derek||Heald, Oliver|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)||Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Hendry, Charles|
|Cormack, Patrick||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Couchman, James||Hicks, Robert|
|Hill, James (Southampton Test)||Merchant, Piers|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)||Milligan, Stephen|
|Horam, John||Mills, Iain|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)||Moate, Roger|
|Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)||Moss, Malcolm|
|Hunter, Andrew||Needham, Richard|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Jessel, Toby||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire)||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Norris, Steve|
|Key, Robert||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Kilfedder, James||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Ottaway, Richard|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Page, Richard|
|Knapman, Roger||Paice, James|
|Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)||Patnick, Irvine|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Patten, Rt Hon John|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Knox, David||Pawsey, James|
|Kynoch, George (Kincardine)||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Pickles, Eric|
|Lang, Rt Hon Ian||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Legg, Barry||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Leigh, Edward||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Rathbone, Tim|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Redwood, John|
|Lidington, David||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Richards, Rod|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Riddick, Graham|
|Lord, Michael||Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm|
|Luff, Peter||Robathan, Andrew|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|MacKay, Andrew||Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Madel, David||Ross, William (E Londonderry)|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)|
|Mans, Keith||Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela|
|Marland, Paul||Ryder, Rt Hon Richard|
|Marlow, Tony||Sackville, Tom|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Mellor, Rt Hon David||Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Shersby, Michael||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Sims, Roger||Tredinnick, David|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Trend, Michael|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Trimble, David|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Trotter, Neville|
|Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Soames, Nicholas||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Speed, Keith||Viggers, Peter|
|Spencer, Sir Derek||Waldegrave, Rt Hon William|
|Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Waller, Gary|
|Spink, Dr Robert||Ward, John|
|Spring, Richard||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Sproat, Iain||Waterson, Nigel|
|Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)||Watts, John|
|Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John||Wells, Bowen|
|Stephen, Michael||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Stern, Michael||Whittingdale, John|
|Stewart, Allan||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Streeter, Gary||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Sumberg, David||Wilkinson, John|
|Sweeney, Walter||Willetts, David|
|Sykes, John||Wilshire, David|
|Tapsell, Sir Peter||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher)||Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)|
|Taylor, Rt Hon D. (Strangford)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Taylor, John M. (Solihull)||Wood, Timothy|
|Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)||Yeo, Tim|
|Thomason, Roy||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)||Mr. David Lightbown and|
|Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)||Mr. Timothy Boswell.|
That this House commends the Government's determination to work towards a multi-racial society, to which all ethnic minority communities contribute fully and in which all enjoy equal opportunities, as evidenced by their policies for tackling racial discrimination and disadvantage and for promoting equal opportunities, and by expenditure programmes directed at the special needs of ethnic minorities.