Race Relations

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 4th February 2002.

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Photo of Mr Iain Luke Mr Iain Luke Labour, Dundee East 2:30 pm, 4th February 2002

What measures he proposes to improve race relations and community cohesion.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Home office)

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 will be the biggest strengthening of the protections against racial discrimination in 30 years. The Government are working with the public sector to make it effective. On social cohesion, the Government are responding to the reports following last summer's disturbances to develop an active and inclusive vision of Britain, at both local and national level.

Photo of Mr Iain Luke Mr Iain Luke Labour, Dundee East

I welcome my hon. Friend's reply. I am sure that she welcomed, as I did, the 27 per cent. reduction in racially motivated incidents between 1995 and 1999 recorded in the British crime survey last year. Does she agree that the figure of 280,000 incidents recorded in 1999 is still too high? We should be doing all we can to encourage a multi-agency approach to ensure that this pernicious blight is banished from British society.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Home office)

I agree with my hon. Friend that racially motivated attacks are absolutely unacceptable. I know that the addition of the racially aggravated element in sentencing has been one of the success stories since the Lawrence report. I hope that the recent addition of religious motives for aggravated attacks will also help to tackle that pernicious problem.

Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point

How do the Government propose to deal with discrimination based on religion? Is the Minister aware that a Muslim sheikh has been touring the country urging followers to kill Jews, for instance?

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Home office)

I do not know where the hon. Gentleman was during our debates on the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, but we tried to do something about that. The House disagreed, as did the Lords. If he is now saying that he disagrees with that, and that all those on the Opposition Front Bench and in the Conservative party are having a rethink, perhaps we can consider bringing the legislation back to the House.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

Is it not a matter of deep regret that there is an allegedly Muslim priest touring Britain and promoting Nazi-type race hatred, calling for the killing of Jews and all infidels? Is not that a breach of the law on incitement to race hatred? Why are not the police taking any action? If that person has asked to live in Britain—apparently, he has applied to the Home Office—should not the response this week be, "No. Get out of the country as quickly as possible"?

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Home office)

I can assure my hon. Friend that the police are taking a very close look at the activities of that person. I ask my hon. Friend simply to watch this space.