§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Brynmor John)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This is a short but, I believe, highly important Bill, and it is with great pleasure that I move its Second Reading. In the 1975 race relations White Paper the Government stated their belief that a harmonious multi-racial society, the advent of which has been one of our major objectives during the past five years, depended upon two factors. These were the elimination of racial discrimination, which I believe took statutory form in the Race Relations Act, and a comprehensive attack upon racial disadvantage. That is the disadvantage suffered over and above normal disadvantage by those who belong to ethnic minorities, and the existence of which, I believe, is to an increasing and almost universal extent now acknowledged.
The Bill is a contribution towards overcoming the latter problem. I believe that it will be a wider, a more flexible and a more direct attack upon it. Where the primitives on the Conservative Benches go wrong—and I have no doubt that unless they are elsewhere today we shall hear it again this evening—is to believe that to attack racial disadvantage is to create privilege. That is not so.
The Bill caters for two sorts of problems. There are unique needs such as language difficulties. In this Bill, most significantly for the first time in legislation on this subject, there is incorporated a general concept of equality in the provision of services. It provides neither a higher standard, which I believe would be wrong in an equal society, nor a mere notional equality which is oblivious of the divergence between principle and practice. We have to ensure that all those who are members of our society are able to benefit to the same extent from the services provided by that society.
It can be said that this is not a new concept, and it is not because the Bill 56 seeks to replace section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. Presumably those same Conservative primitives objected to that legislation, too, although at the time that Act became law the Conservative Party did not object to it.
Section 11 of that Act provided for the payment by the Government of 75 per cent. of local government expenditure on this subject, expenditure which is now running at between £30 million and £40 million. For example, in 1977–78 the eligible expenditure was £33 million, of which the Government provided £25 million. But with the passage of time weaknesses in the formulae of that statute have become apparent. The first weakness is the limitation in its application to immigrants from the Commonwealth. They are defined as immigrants who have recently arrived here or their children. Under the Act, all those who have been here more than 10 years are excluded from the grant. But with 40 per cent. at least, and rising, of those of new Commonwealth and Pakistan extraction being born here this is becoming an artifical concept.
The second point that emerges is that it should be clear to us now that it is not just immigrants and the first generation who come in with their parents who suffer from racial disadvantage. Boys and girls within the ethnic minorities who are born and bred British also suffer. Similarly, all those coming in from, for example, Pakistan after 1972 are excluded from the formula as it now stands.
The second weakness of the 1966 Act is that the problems to be tackled are wider than can be encompassed within the language and customs problems specified in the Act. The third point is that under this Act the immigrants must be in an area in substantial numbers. That creates a statistical problem and also obliges us to ignore those areas in which the communities are too small to meet that criterion but where they deserve special assistance and are unable to obtain it. In other words, we say that we should move from a quantitative to a qualitative basis for assistance.
The last weakness that I should like to highlight is that the grant is payable only towards the employment of staff. It does not cover capital expenditure or expenditure on materials.
57 That is a formidible list of weaknesses. Upon consideration of them the Government issued a consultative document in which we reviewed the weaknesses of the 1966 Act and proposed that it should be urgently replaced.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Does the Minister recall that these weaknesses were the subject of strong feelings by a group of hon. Members of all parties, including the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) and the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon), who joined in seeking to amend the Inner Urban Areas Bill in order to take account of them? That proved to be an unsuitable vehicle for doing so, however. Does the Minister accept that there is a similar range of support within the three parties for what he is now doing?
§ Mr. John
I certainly do. I am not seeking to claim exclusivity on the matter. Those of us who have been active in race relations have recognised the problem for some time. I hope and expect that all parties will support the Bill this afternoon.
I must emphasise that the need for this Bill is not merely that we must improve the 1966 formula but that we must ensure that any money is payable in respect of these needs. We shall see increasingly under the 1966 Act that the ability to make payments will progressively wither because of the outdated formulae which are incorporated in the Act.
§ Mr. Alan Clark (Plymouth, Sutton)
Was not the 1966 Act deliberately drafted so that its provisions would become obsolete and, with the passage of time, wither, as the Minister said?
§ Mr. John
No, I do not think that that was so. If it were so I can say only that the problem which the Act identified has proved to be more pervasive and stubborn, and only now to have been understood more fully. Among the 4,000 recipients of the Government's consultation document, and among all those who commented upon it, almost no one wished to object to the Bill in principle. That answers the hon. Gentleman in that it is widely understood and accepted by all parties in this country that the Bill is necessary.
The question of racial disadvantage was certainly understood and accepted 58 by the Opposition during the debate on the Race Relations Bill. The hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison), then speaking from the Conservative Front Bench, moved a new clause which specifically complained about the absence in that Bill of measures to deal with the problem of racial disadvantage. I am here describing the allocation of resources to combat that problem.
The Bill therefore repairs the deficiencies of the 1966 Act. It provides for three grounds upon which the local authorities must incur expenditure in furtherance of their function. The first is in the removal of disadvantage from which an ethnic group suffers. The second is in securing that a local authority's services are as effective in relation to ethnic groups as they are to the rest of the community. The third and final ground is the promotion of good relations between ethnic groups, and between those groups and the rest of the community.
The Bill is intended to help local authorities in the exercise of their existing functions. I believe that the specific purposes that I have described are not mutually exclusive so as to give the local authority a sort of guessing game as to the heading under which its application falls. I expect that many of the proposals in the Bill for local authority expenditure would be covered by two or possibly, three of those grounds, and I think that there would be no objection to that.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the major difficulties about section 11 has been that the take-up of the fund has been so disparate throughout the country? It is unfortunate that the Bill gives a permissive power to local authorities to apply, rather than laying a burden upon them to do something about racial disadvantage and to claim money from the Government. Why was that opportunity of putting a statutory duty on local authorities missed?
§ Mr. John
Under the Race Relations Act, of course, there is a statutory duty upon local authorities to carry out policies to promote—
§ Mr. John
I have listened to my hon. Friend's intervention so I hope that he 59 will be kind enough to listen to my answer. There is a statutory duty. We need to recognise that minority groups are part of the local communities in which they live. The real attack on these problems can be made only if they and the local authorities concerned act in agreement and in concert. However many statutory duties are laid upon local authorities, it is not enough for them to respond in a half-hearted and grudging way. For that reason, we have not laid a statutory duty upon them under this Bill. But I hope that local authorities will take advantage of this Bill. One accepts that there is a patchy take-up, but it is patchy take-up and not an inadequate take-up. I say that because the amount of money expended under this section of the Act has risen dramatically since its inception, to £33 million in the past financial year.
Clause 2 makes provision for whatever the outcome of our devolution debates may be. It deals with either the remittance of the two subjects to the two Assemblies or, in default in Scotland and Wales, to the Secretaries of State. There are two subsections, therefore, which I wish to highlight further.
Subsection (3) enables the Secretary of State both to determine the rate of grant and, if necessary, to vary it. The Home Secretary proposes that the grant shall be as at present—that is, 75 per cent. Subsection (6) includes a definition of an ethnic group which does not limit it unduly by describing it in terms of minorities. Though new Commonwealth and people of Pakistani origin will be the main beneficiaries, eligibility to the grant will not be limited to them. The question of resources also plays an important part. In the eyes of the minority communities it plays a crucial part.
The present grant under section 11 has no cash limits whereas the new scheme has. As against that, however, the Government are providing, in the next three years, £50 million more of public money than is provided at present. In 1982–83 the grant will be, in constant price terms, about 70 per cent. more than it is now. This is a good measure of the importance placed by the Government upon the scheme. Of course it does not provide the whole answer to the problem. The main spending programmes of councils are best designed and equipped to do that 60 and the grant will supplement those main spending programmes and improve their delivery. I believe that the increase involved is a considerable one. The Government deserve credit for it.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)
The hon. Gentleman said that this was not a new concept and yet almost all that he has said since has been designed to show that it is. The original concept was to deal with people who had come into the country recently and suffered disadvantages. This concept is based simply on their ethnic background. Will the hon. Gentleman say something to justify this new concept?
§ Mr. John
Of course I shall, but I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman was following my argument with great care. I was addressing myself to the concept of racial disadvantage itself and was saying that the concept was recognised as long ago as 1966. Our experience of the 1966 Act persuades us that we should go further to widen the concept which was then laid down. The principle is not new in the sense that originally it recognised racial disadvantage and made provision in order to overcome that.
§ Mr. John
The concept of racial disadvantage is, I believe, the disadvantage suffered by people because of the colour of their skin or because of their racial or ethnic background, over and above that which is suffered by the community generally. There are many inhabitants of inner city areas who suffer disadvantages compared with the country as a whole. The Government's inner city policy has moved to help—
§ Mr. John
The hon. Gentleman asks for an explanation and then immediately wants to make a speech of his own. He either wants an explanation or wishes to make an intervention. I shall not give way until I have finished this explanation.
The Government's inner city policy deals with those who live within the geographical area. Racial disadvantage is well documented in employment, housing and many other areas for those 61 who are interested in the facts. We are seeking to translate a notional equality of eligibility to local authority services into a real eligibility by making special provision so that those local authority services are equally available to all.
§ Mr. Budgen
The hon. Gentleman really must try to define the concept. He keeps trying to explain where this concept has been applied or where it has been recognised. Will he please definie it, explain it and give a concrete example of racial disadvantage?
§ Mr. John
I despair of the hon. Gentleman. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, when talking about the result of the referendum in Wales, said that if one saw an elephant on one's doorstep one would recognise it. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) is probably the sole exception. If he does not know from his own experience in Wolverhampton that this is so, let me tell him about racial disadvantage.
Even at a time of high unemployment there is considerable evidence that unemployment among young West Indians is very much higher than among their white contemporaries. There is considerable evidence, even taking into account the normal educational range of children, that West Indian children under-perform in school. We believe those to be examples of the racial disadvantage of which I am speaking. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has a last, however slow a a learner he is, performed at least to his limited ability.
I was dealing with the question of the present expenditure and was saying that 84 per cent. of present expenditure since the 1966 Act is on education. During consultations, anxieties have been expressed about existing posts. I accept that existing posts under the educational provisions of the 1966 Act will need to continue. Nevertheless, I hope that local authorities will keep under review those posts the need for which has disappeared or which have been left vacant because staff has left. I hope that they will judge whether this is the best way to spend the money or whether some other way now has a higher priority than a post established some time ago.
I have been greatly heartened—ironically, towards the end of the life of the 62 1966 Act—by the improved initiatives which have come from local authorities and the imagination which they have shown. I hope that the innovatory thought which local authorities have been giving in this direction will continue. Sums are available for other aspects of racial disadvantage, and I must stress that the Government are keen to move into the non-educational area. Such funds would be for home tuition, more day nursery or child-minding facilities for working parents, pamphlets in an Asian language explaining the local authority services, or youth work to bridge the gap between West Indian youth and the job-finding agencies. These are examples of what I mean. The funds for those activities will come from the 16 per cent. which is not spent on education and the new money which is to be devoted to the concept.
It will be possible for voluntary bodies to be funded by the local authorities as the local authorities already have power to act under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 when they undertake work relevant and complementary to the functions of the local authority.
The House will notice that for the first time the Health Service is involved in this grant. These schemes must be part of the general emphasis that must be laid upon the sensitivity of the main spending programmes to the needs of the ethnic minorities. This sensitivity alone can produce the long-term answer.
Many of the schemes will in time be capable of being merged in the main spending programmes. I recognise that in our consultative document we over-emphasised the short-term nature of the schemes. I recognise that in some instances longer-term funding should be provided. We shall adopt a flexible approach.
§ Mr. Anthony Steen (Liverpool, Wavertree)
Why has section 11 been extended? Why cannot we use the excellent scheme under the urban aid programme, the responsibility for which has been moved from the Home Office to the Department of the Environment and which has been considerably increased under the urban and partnership provisions? Is the reason that the Government believe that they can recoup the money from the European social fund only by keeping the project in 63 the Home Office, or is there some other reason?
§ Mr. John
Last year the amount available from the European social fund was only about £500,000. Therefore, the question of expenditure is irrelevant. The concept is wider in its effect than the urban aid programme. The ethnic minorities have found that the 1966 Act is necessary in addition to the urban aid programme. They have expressed reservations about the ability of the urban aid programme by itself to meet all the problems.
The Secretary of State necessarily will have a wide discretion, especially if, as seems likely, he has to choose priorities between a comprehensive set of proposals and those chosen by a local authority in a particular area.
Fears have been expressed by both local authorities and the ethnic minority communities about consultation. Discussions have already started about a consultative body which will guide us in the administration of the legislation. Clearly this will involve local authorities, Government Departments and the Commission for Racial Equality. It will not judge individual cases. It will discuss such matters as the general criteria to be used in the administration of the scheme. I hope that it will be neither bureaucratic nor rigid in form or content.
I believe that agreement can be reached upon this within the next month. Therefore, by the time the Bill has Royal Assent we shall be ready to discuss the problems.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)
I have been listening carefully to Minister's remarks. Why do we need another body to administer this scheme? Surely we already have the framework in the community relations councils and elected councils which are well aware of the problem in areas where there is a high rate of immigration. Surely they should be encouraged to get on with the job without intervention and an extension of bureaucracy.
§ Mr. John
The purpose of the body is to discuss the general criteria to be applied by the Government when reviewing local projects. I shall return to the problem of liaison locally. I said that I hope that agreement will be reached 64 in the next month on the national framework to set general principles to guide us.
However, I echo some of the complaints made by the ethnic minorities about consultation at the local level. I agree with what the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith) said when referring to the majority of cases. But some local authorities, not necessarily those with small minority communities, have been abysmal in communicating with and consulting the minorities. The general principles cannot be left to the ad hoc procedures suggested by the hon. Member.
We all know that some local authorities neglect to consult the organisations which represent the ethnic minorities when they are preparing schemes which affect those minorities. This creates resentment and often results in misplaced priorities being adopted when earlier consultation might have put the matter right. The key to the future is a good relationship between the ethnic minority organisations and the local authorities. Both must recognise that the ethnic minorities are in and of the community.
I appeal to all local authorities to equate their practice with the practice of the best local authorities. I urge the minority of the local authorities which have a record of indifference to ethnic communities to think again and to act within the spirit of the duty laid upon them by the Race Relations Act.
We see the Bill as a significant step towards a harmonious multi-racial society This can be achieved only by turning notional equalities and notional entitlements into realities.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) is not in his place. He made one of his characteristic, episodic forays into this area last weekend. Amongst other things he asked if people cared. He should not mistake repugnance for his views as indifference. We care deeply about the nature and quality of our society. This Bill, alongside the other measures that we have introduced to achieve a better society, amply proves Government concern. Where the right hon. Member for Down, South is negative, we are positive. That also applies to some other aspects of the right hon. Gentleman's contribution to this subject.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
Has my hon. Friend noticed that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), whom I have often described as the Wolverhampton wanderer, chooses his ground outside the House, as he did originally with his sensation-mongering speech in 1968? Does he agree that that is because he fell flat on his face when he had to face the rationality of parliamentary debate?
§ Mr. John
I do not criticise the right hon. Member for Down, South for making speeches outside the House. If that were not allowed we should all be remarkably silent. But I criticise him for his wholly negative approach to the problem. In contrast, we are taking a positive approach in this legislation.
We see that the future of our society rests upon our being positive. Those who take the negative approach taken by the right hon. Member for Down, South know in their hearts that there is no reversal of a multi-racial society. They know that the only choice is between a disharmonious and a harmonious multi-racial society. I believe that this Bill will make a significant contribution to the creation of a harmonious multi-racial society and I hope that the House will support it overwhelmingly.
§ 5 p.m.
§ Mr. Keith Speed (Ashford)
I am afraid that we on the Conservative Benches cannot give to the Bill the wholehearted welcome that the Minister has invited.
The principle and practice of giving special help to ethnic minority groups, and especially to recently arrived immigrants, are enshrined in section 11 of the 1966 Act, and that Act has been operated by Conservative and Labour Governments and by local authorities of all political parties over the past 13 years.
I recognise the limitations of section 11, which the Minister fairly outlined and which are well documented in last November's Green Paper. I think, in particular, of the lack of assistance for educational staff. The restriction to Commonwealth immigrants, to which the Minister referred, cut out Pakistan and has cut out, for example, refugees from Vietnam.
In so far as the present Bill avoids what are now seen to be the restrictive limitations 66 of the 1966 Act and provides the means of removing disadvantages suffered by ethnic minority groups, it represents an improvement.
Clause 1(2)(a) clearly and succinctly embodies those points, and if the Bill stopped there I, for one, should be much happier, and so, I think, would many members of the ethnic minority groups themselves and probably many of my hon. Friends, too. But there then follow subsection (2)(b) and (c), and this is where doubts arise in my mind.
Before coming to those matters, I thought that the Minister was a little coy about clause 2, since now, thanks to the ethnic minority groups in Wales and Scotland exercising their wisdom, it is clear that clause 2 will have to be removed. That will at least shorten the Bill, and it will, I believe, make it much more acceptable to most hon. Members.
I return now to the substance of the Bill. It is our strongly held view that measures to remove disadvantage and deprivation suffered uniquely by ethnic groups can and should be supported, but we have two major fears about the Bill, which the Minister's speech did not dispel.
First, there is scope for positive discrimination towards any group, and that discrimination could be on a large scale. Secondly, the Bill perpetuates, and encourages the perpetuation of, the separateness of the immigrant and the ethnic minority community.
If our fears are well founded, far from improving matters the Bill could work against the better community relations that all of us in the House want.
§ Mr. Speed
The hon. Gentleman's intervention is premature. I am coming to that. Positive discrimination, for a start—I am sure that I carry the hon. Gentleman with me here—would infringe the spirit of the Government's own Race Relations Act and probably the equal opportunities and various other legislation, and would certainly be bitterly resented by many people. It would be regarded as offensively patronising by many members of the ethnic minority groups themselves. 67 As for the perpetuation of the separate-ness of immigrants and the ethnic minority communities, I think that our whole attitude is best summed up by what my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) said in Leicester last April, speaking about our party's immigration plans:Our aim now must be to introduce certainty and finality into our plans so that we can end the constant and widespread preoccupation with levels of immigration and so the anxieties of our people about them. Only in this way can we hope to remove from those who have come to our country in post-war years the label of ' immigrant ' and give them their full place as British citizens who have made and will make an important contribution to the future prosperity of this country which they have made their home.I have had discussions with many members of the ethnic minority groups since the Green Paper was published last November. I had a particularly valuable meeting in this building with many members of the Anglo-Asian Conservative Society. That laughter by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) shows precisely where his real interests in this debate lie. He is determined to grind his own political axe.
§ Mr. Speed
No, I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman asked a question earlier and I am developing the argument in my own way.
I have had discussions with many people who are genuinely concerned about the subject and who wished to let me have their views before we came to the present debate. They made the important and powerful point that we should be clear in our minds about, and should pinpoint, the disadvantages suffered by ethnic minority groups. They put first, and way ahead—I have had the same put to me in different parts of the country where there are substantial ethnic minority groups—the question of language and, particuarly among the West Indians—I accept what the Minister said here—the question of education standards.
The truth is that probably the vast majority of wives and children coming into this country have little or no English. That is deprivation enough for the children, but I believe that it is an even greater deprivation for the wives, women in the 68 age range 30 to 40, who find it very difficult to adapt and to learn a new language at that stage so as to take a full part in the social, educational, cultural and commercial life of this country. That is a matter with which we have still not entirely grappled, and in my view it represents a major deprivation.
By the same token, we have seen some of the reports and we know that there are problems of education standards among some significant groups of ethnic minority children. That may well be due to the language problems of their elders at home—that is quite possible—and I regard this also as an area in which positive steps should be made to remove disadvantage.
Secondly—the Minister touched on this and I shall expand it further—there is especially among newly arrived immigrants a lack of knowledge of the customs, the way of life and, indeed, the mechanics of living in a large, modern, sophisticated industrial society. This applies whether the immigrants have come from the Indian sub-continent or wherever it may be, as this country, with its language and the way in which its people go about affairs in their great towns and cities, is very difficult from many other countries.
Clearly, some local authorities are doing excellent work here. They have set up, so to speak, model homes. Help can be given, even with such simple things as electric washing machines, to the immigrant mother. In other areas, frankly, very little help is given. In my view, there is here deprivation for which assistance should be given and can quite properly be extended under the Bill.
The third area that has concerned me is the racial and colour prejudice which still exists. The Minister did not touch on this but I regard it as a legitimate reason for what I call the wider scope of education among the community as a whole, so that we appreciate that people have problems in various parts of the community, so that we learn to live with one another, and so that myths, superstitions and misunderstandings may be removed between one community and another. Let us not make the mistake of assuming that the prejudice is always between white and black. It is not. It is sometimes between West Indian and Asian.
I believe that that is a source of conflict that can be removed not only through 69 the education system but sometimes outside it, too. I think that this is an area of deprivation that can legitimately and reasonably be tackled on the basis proposed.
§ Mr. John
I took careful note of what the hon. Gentleman said. He said that he disagreed with the Bill on subsection (2) (b) and (c). Paragraph (c) is specifically designed to do exactly what he has just been advancing, and paragraph (b) is specifically designed to deal with the matter that he raised just previously. Where is the disagreement?
§ Mr. Speed
If the Minister will bear with me a little longer, I shall explain the matter. I still have worries. I have told him thus far where I think the Bill will be a help, but I shall soon tell him where I think that it will not be helpful.
We then come to the question of bad housing—there has already been reference to this—the problem of high unemployment, poor local facilities and inadequate health and social services. These disadvantages are suffered by all groups, whatever the colour of their skin, living in many parts of our towns and cities. It may be argued that a disproportionate number of people in the ethnic minorities in those areas are suffering, but the problem is not unique to them. That is my first worry.
The second worry is that we already have the rate support grant and the different formulae there, together with urban aid, to which reference has already been made. In addition, we shall have the present Bill, if enacted. All of these measures will channel more help into the central areas. Yet as I understand the rate support grant and urban aid, they are applied, by and large, across the board to benefit all the people living in specific areas. From some of the examples given in the Green Paper it is clear that there is a danger that this can be channelled into a very narrow and limited area.
In answer to the hon. Member for York, what does not reassure me, and what worries many of my hon. Friends, is not only the Minister's speech but some of the examples given in the Green Paper of the type of expenditure that could be undertaken under the Bill. For example, ethnic burial grounds are mentioned. With the greatest respect, I wonder whether that is a proper charge under 70 the Bill. I have found that a problem among the religious minorities is the question not of money but of planning permission for temple, chapel, or whatever it may be. This is an area where we can help more with the planning laws, and certainly with cash.
Mention is made of special Asian meals on wheels. That could almost be offensive to many Asian families, who regard it as their duty to help the elderly rather than rely on meals on wheels. That has been put to me very strongly by a number of Asian families. In my experience, Asian food is no more expensive—it is often much tastier—than that which is supplied by meals on wheels.
What worries me is that the Green Paper talks about an"ongoing programme ". Paragraph 11 refers to the needs of third and fourth-generation black people in Liverpool. This is what worries me most of all.
Five weeks ago, on a Friday morning, I spoke to the Liverpool community relations council. A black person on that council told me that he was third-generation Liverpool born and bred yet he was still treated by the indigenous population of Liverpool as if he had literally arrived, through Heathrow, the day before. If I had been a blind person and unable to see him, the tone of his voice, his manner of speaking and everything else would have indicated that he was a Merseysider, yet he felt that he was still being singled out, in the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border, as an immigrant. Yet the Green Paper says that the Bill will give help to third-and fourth-generation Liverpool blacks. Will that meet that very legitimate fear and worry?
I suggest that that illustrates the gap between us. The Bill will ensure that we maintain the separateness of the ethnic minorities living here, rather than saying"No, let us try to eliminate the separateness that the Bill seeks to maintain ". Surely our aim should be, as quickly as possible, to remedy and eliminate, with their own help—not the Government or local authorities by themselves—the disadvantages suffered uniquely by certain groups, and to raise the standards and quality of life generally for all, particularly in our large towns and city areas. There are many white citizens, just as there are many coloured citizens, who 71 suffer a pretty miserable and poor quality of life at the moment.
As the disadvantages are removed, and as primary and secondary immigration is phased out, so we would expect both the need and commitment for assistance, as in the Bill, to go also. Indeed, I think that the Association of District Councils, in its evidence to the Home Office, emphasised what it saw as the short-term nature of such a measure.
§ Mr. John
I take the hon. Gentleman's Liverpool example. Since he has been there he will no doubt know that one of the complaints of minority groups in Liverpool is precisely that they are third and fourth generation, that they still suffer from disadvantage and are confined to certain parts of the area. What the hon. Gentleman is saying is that because a man has a Liverpool accent he should be denied the aid that would truly make him equal, and truly make him able to play his part in that society.
§ Mr. Speed
The Minister has obviously misunderstood me. I am not saying that at all; I am saying that in the city of Liverpool there is considerable deprivation for all Liverpudlians. In certain areas of Liverpool the colour of a person's skin, whether he be of Irish, English or West Indian background—indeed, there is a history in Liverpool of many West Indians who came here many years ago and who are now third and fourth generation—is part of the social fabric of that city. That is something that we must take into consideration. This is not unique to the black West Indian. If we treat the third and fourth-generation black West Indian in Liverpool as unique he will go on thinking"My God, they have put me into a particular category. I have problems of high unemployment, but so has my neighbour next door, who happens to be white." There is a terrible housing situation in Liverpool, which we all know about, and it is a city that unfortunately has other areas of deprivation.
§ Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)
I have tried to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). If what he says is logical, can he explain why, when dealing with the Liverpudlian who happened to be black, he said that his complaint was that he was still treated 72 as if he had just got off the plane at Heathrow, although he was third or fourth generation? If what he now says is true, how can he reconcile those two statements?
§ Mr. Speed
Because this gentleman feels that he has been treated by the indigenous white population as somebody special and not a Liverpudlian. I cannot put it more simply than that. His argument is that he may be deprived and unemployed, but so are many other people in Liverpool, and that from that point of view he is not special. He happens to be a black Liverpudlian. He is British and proud of it, and does not want to be treated differently from anyone else. But the Bill, with its emphasis upon ethnic minorities and immigrants and its reference to third and fourth generations, would mean that such a person would be treated differently. The Minister himself talked about the long-term aspects of the problem. My proposition is that although I do not question his motives, I believe that this is the wrong way to go about it.
§ Mr. Steen
I am a member of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration. I should like to mention the Committee's first report, which deals with the very point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). Paragraph 8—which is supported by all members of the Committee—states:To continue to identify second and subsequent generations by an ethnic label, where this is avoidable, is to negate the policy of integration.That is the point that I believe my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford is making.
§ Mr. Speed
I am obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Waver-tree (Mr. Steen). He is a Member of Parliament for Liverpool. Perhaps he will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and say whether I am right or wrong. Certainly I am glad to have the support of the Select Committee in this matter.
I hope that I have adduced the argument well enough and that I take the House with me when I say that we are genuinely concerned that there are aspects of clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill that could 73 make the situation worse. We certainly do not want to see that happen.
I accept that the principle to remove disadvantage is right. That has been accepted for many years. On that basis I would certainly not advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the Bill. I am not happy about other aspects, and we shall certainly seek further clarification in order to make changes as the Bill works its way through the House. We believe the Bill is well intentioned, but in parts it is a woolly and unclear measure. We would not wish it to create unnecessary splits, mistrusts or misunderstandings between the various communities. I am sure that that is the intention also of the Minister.
In that spirit, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends not to oppose the Bill. But we cannot give it the wholehearted welcome that was asked for by the Minister.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I intervene briefly. As Chairman of the Select Committee I should have been encouraged if either of the Front Benches had referred to our report. If we want to get all-party support, I should have thought that the first thing that they would have done would be to look at that report.
We responded to the Green Paper by publishing the report. We of course had the advantage of publication. However, I think it would be a good thing if the Minister of State listed those who have responded to his consultative document and perhaps summarised the opinions given to him. I feel that these would support the Government in the action that they are taking. If I table a question, perhaps the Minister will take this opportunity of giving the information.
The Select Committee has recognised ontinually and persistently the importance of section 11. Some time ago we called for a review. I assume that this is what the Government have now done. I strongly hold the view—in fact, all the evidence supports it—that section 11 was a short-term measure. That is not surprising. It was a short-term measure because it dealt with special disadvantage. It dealt with the disproportionate, accentuated deprivation caused by racial discrimination and disadvantage. It would have been surprising if in 1966 anyone 74 had thought that that section was a long-term measure.
The fact that it has turned out otherwise stresses the importance of the action which the Government are currently taking. It is a disgrace to this country that this measure of racial discrimination has persisted. The House should vigorously recognise that we must call upon resources, and also our determination, to solve this problem.
The Select Committee agrees that section 11 is too restrictive and that what is needed is a more flexible grant-aid power. Incidentally, this is a two-way power. We are also concerned about the white communities. This money could be used to deal with the unreasonable hostilities and fears of the white communities. I hope that it will be so used The Select Committee also agree that this money should cover capital as well as revenue purposes.
I have a special interest in this matter, because I defeated the Government on it. It also has a particular relevance in the light of section 71 of the Race Relations Act, which imposed a statutory duty on local authorities but made no provision for the funding of that responsibility. I am now encouraged by the definitions in the Bill, to which the Minister of State referred. I believe that this probbem of funding will now be substantially met. We hope that the Bill will be matched, as the Government say it will, by a significant increase in the resources made available for expenditure on ethnic minorities. I am delighted that this is confirmed in the financial memorandum. My only doubt is that we are not going far enough to meet a situation that should be met as speedily as possible.
That is the general approach of the Select Committee. I know that the Committee has disappointed some hon. Members but it has heartened the Minister of State, because we have reaffirmed that the Home Office should be the Department responsible for the administration. If this aid is to be used as effectively as possible, I accept—although at present this view is unpopular—that there should be a modest increase in Home Office staff, as proposed in the explanatory memorandum. We can do no other than that, because in the past we have scathingly criticised the Home Office for the paucity of its staff. What is needed is a staff 75 that can provide effective guidance. I agree that what is disturbing is the disparity between the various authorities.
I have some hesitation about being enthusiastic about consultation if this will delay matters, but consultation is necessary and I hope that it will be made as effective as possible. We want this aid to be as effective as possible and we want the Department to give guidance, to define priorities and to make good practice as widely known as possible. Incidentally, as we have also emphasised in previous reports, we believe that there should be a more positive approach to the voluntary bodies. I know the difficulties in this regard and I appreciate the Government's natural hesitation. However, there are the Commission for Racial Equality, the National Council for Social Services and other bodies which can advise the Government. I hope that there will be a greater reliance on the voluntary bodies.
It is for this reason that we on the Select Committee make a proposal that has not yet been mentioned. We propose that the Home Secretary should be obliged to make an annual report to Parliament. We do so because we know from experience that, by and large, this is the best discipline on a Department by which to get an effective response to legislation.
§ Mr. Budgen
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this will also prevent the absolutely disgraceful situation by which immigration has not been debated in this House for about two and a half years, presumably as a result of some form of agreement between the two Front Benches?
§ Mr. Willey
If there were to be a debate on immigration, I anticipate that it would take place on a Supply day. Therefore, the matter is in the hands of the Opposition. I mentioned an annual report because I believe that is an effective way of getting the sort of response that we want from the Department in order to ensure an effective use of these resources.
It is evident from its own definition that section 11 was short-term. I concede that this was being ambitious. However, we should not congratulate ourselves 76 because it has not turned out to be so. We should have had a far more stable society if section 11 had been short-term and effective.
My hon. Friend—if I may call him so, because he is a member of the Select Committee—the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) has now returned to the Chamber. I should like to turn to the final paragraph of our report. Since this was referred to by extracting a sentence from it, I should like to quote it in full, because it puts fairly the argument that was raised by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), and I do not believe that his argument was altogether fair. The Select Committee said:While we strongly believe that the Government commitment to equal rights demands a significant increase in the resources made available for ethnic minorities, nevertheless it is equally important to continue to encourage their integration into society as a whole. It should be recognised that there is a danger that if and in so far as second or later generations are characterised by an ethnic label, ethnic divisions within society may be artificially perpetuated. Linking any particular problem of disadvantage to a particular ethnic group can only be justified if it can be shown that the problem is exclusive to that group or that there are clearly recognisable additional disadvantages suffered by the group. Otherwise, the consequences may be divisive and unhelpful to good race relations generally. To continue to identify second and subsequent generations by an ethnic label, where this is avoidable, is to negate the policy of integration. We therefore, consider that the legislation should provide that the new grant should be for an adequate but limited period, on the expiry of which it would be renewable. This would afford an opportunity for a review and appraisal of the operation of the grant.That is the position taken by the Select Committee. I believe that it is the right position. We should continue to keep before the House the objective of integration. The Bill should bring a sense of urgency to what we are doing. After all the years from 1966 we should be ashamed that we are still facing the same problem and that it may even have become worse.
The Select Committee supports the Bill. It believes that the present provisions should be flexible and should be expanded. It believes that the new provisions should be matched by a significant increase in the resources made available to the ethnic communities. It hopes that these measures will be used wisely and effectively. It believes that these measures will lessen the present need. It is optimistic enough to think that when 77 the time comes for review it will then be demonstrated—unlike the review of section 11—that a measurable step has been taken towards a single undivided society.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)
I concur almost entirely with the words of the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). The right hon. Gentleman has been an excellent chairman of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration throughout this Parliament. The good sense enshrined in the passage of the Select Committee's report from which he quoted underlines the unanimity and all-party approach of the Select Committee. I know that one or two hon. Members may be slightly dubious about that. However, I believe that there has been an all-party approach within the Select Committee throughout the Parliament in seeking to improve race relations.
There is only one issue on which I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. He implied that the Bill is something of a disgrace to the community in that there is a need for it to be brought forward. He implied that the need for the Bill suggested that race relations had worsened. I do not entirely agree. I agree with so much of what the right hon. Gentleman always says on race relations, but it is not necessarily true that the introduction of the Bill is an implication that race relations have worsened.
It is my belief that race relations have improved materially since 1966. I believe that they continue to improve in a subtle, quiet but perhaps too slow a way. There are many hon. Members who, with the best of intentions, would like to hurry things along. I do not think that we shall ever get it fully right, but we are making the sort of progress that allows us to be proud as a nation. By and large we have tackled the problem realistically.
I say unashamedly that we are coping with the mistakes of successive Governments in allowing too many immigrants to come to this country. The mistakes have created a great problem for the nation. That is an issue that has been debated in the past and no doubt it will be debated in future. It is right now that better help should be extended to 78 members of the immigrant community who require assistance.
We must also recognise that too many people in our society, either wittingly or unwittingly, are working towards the detriment of good race relations. Such people form what I describe as the race relations"industry ". They put up the backs of so many fair-minded citizens by their extremist activities, especially in their demands for positive discrimination.
The race relations"industry"covers the whole spectrum from Left to Right and includes foolish and misguided people such as my constituent, Robert Relf, who is on hunger strike because he has been convicted of certain offences under the race relations legislation and who seeks to make himself a martyr. Such people, wherever they may be placed in the race relations spectrum, do not help in creating good race relations. Whatever our views about immigration and whatever our feelings about what should or should not have been done in the past, surely any honourable person would seek to make race relations far better within our society.
There is a great deal that needs to be done, especially in the urban areas. I do not represent an inner urban area of the magnitude of Birmingham or Liverpool, part of the latter being represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen). However, much help is needed in less serious trouble spots such as Leamington Spa, which I represent and which has at least 6,000 immigrants. The immigrants are well behaved and well integrated, but they still need extra assistance. I know that that comment may be repeated for other areas.
I do not share the Minister's belief that the Bill will make as significant an impact as he suggests. He said that it will repair the deficiencies of the old Act. It will not take the problem away, although I hope that it will be of some assistance.
The problem will always remain where there are heavy and unequal concentrations of immigrants in certain areas. I am not suggesting that there should be compulsion; that is unthinkable in a free society. However, I hope that some of the financial assistance will be used to encourage a greater spread throughout the community of the immigrant population. 79 There is no doubt that in areas where there is not a heavy concentration of immigrants there is far better integration and far less racial discrimination than that which is practised in inner areas such as Brixton, Lambeth, parts of Birmingham and many other areas where there are large numbers of immigrants.
The label of"immigrant"is important. It was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). There is no doubt that, increasingly, members of the immigrant community resent being referred to as immigrants by other members of the public and, perhaps more importantly, by hon. Members, Ministers and the Opposition. I have been to India on two occasions, but I have young adult Indian constituents who have never been there and who speak with a Midlands accent. I have met young West Indians who speak with a London accent and who have not visited the West Indies.
I see that the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) is in his place. The hon. Gentleman and I have interviewed many young Indians and West Indians who have never been beyond our shores, because they were born here. Much effort should be made to integrate members of the immigrant community into general society so that they may lose the label of"immigrant"as soon as possible.
Money can be used in many respects to improve the situation for immigrants, but if the balance gets slightly out of kilter we shall face the danger of heading towards a form of positive discrimination that in the end will be counter-productive. There are a number of leading problems that need alleviation and on which financial help should be concentrated. I have cast doubt on the need for another advisory body. Perhaps it is necessary to establish such a committee, but I hope that local authorities and community organisations will use the money quickly and seriously, without too much bureaucratic interference.
I should like to see an effort made to overcome language difficulties. Language is a considerable bar to many immigrants who have been in Britain for a number of years and who, apart from the younger ones, cannot speak English, or can speak 80 only a very little. There is too heavy a concentration of immigrants in some areas of housing and that leads to disorientation. That in turn leads to ill feeling between ethnic groups.
There are employment problems, especially in areas where there is not scope for those who do not have the right qualifications. Extra assistance should be given to immigrants, especially the young, who are making a start where they suffer an ethnic handicap. They should be given more encouragement. We should promote the need for a better understanding among the community at large. We should not allow the many good organisations to fall into the hands of extremists or politicians. I am as much against an organisation falling totally into the hands of my own party as I am against an organisation being totally in the hands of the Socialist Party. It is right and proper that politicians should be represented, but all too often we see organisations falling into the hands of those who have a grudge and who are not bent on promoting the right type of good will.
As vice-chairman of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, I support what was said by the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North. The Select Committee got to the heart of the matter when it explained that there should be an annual report. I do not believe that Parliament can be regarded as serious unless it receives an annual report on this matter, analyses the way the money has been spent, looks at the weaknesses and makes further suggestions. It is disgraceful that there has not been a debate on immigration for two and a half years. It was suggested that this is a matter for a Supply day. I do not accuse Front Bench Members on either side of complicity. However, Front Bench Members on both sides should have promoted a debate on race relations and immigration.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North was modest. He did not refer to at least two excellent reports which the Select Committee produced and which made an impact when published. They have still not been debated. There was a crying need for that to happen. I hope that the Minister will have second thoughts and in Committee include in the Bill the idea of an annual report on the subject. I assure him that if he does 81 not do so there will be pressure on this issue from both sides.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Does he not agree that the real reason why there has been no debate is the ability of the Select Committee to reach agreement? That greatly defused the situation that was current prior to our report. The report indicated that there was an area for two-party consensus, in substance, on the whole matter. We have put our faith in that. The Leader of the Opposition seemed to be itching for a debate before our report but cooled off after we issued it.
§ Mr. Smith
The hon. Gentleman spoiled his intervention with his last few remarks. I would go a certain way with him. I do not think his point would be entirely accepted by his hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) who was bitterly critical of the unanimity that we displayed. The situation was well summed up by my right hon. Friend the Shadow Home Secretary last year in Leicester. He then put the view of so many members of the Opposition. There is much fundamental good will on race relations among hon. Members on both sides. I hope that we shall be able to capitalise on that with Bills of this kind and with reports being submitted to the House every year so that we may see what progress is being made.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Sever (Birmingham, Ladywood)
Opposition Members have referred to the welcome which they allegedly are giving the Bill. I hope that later we shall see a positive indication of that.
I speak for many of my constituents who are representative of the minority ethnic groups when I say that they offer to my right hon. Friend and his Home Office colleagues a warm welcome for the Bill, which contains an amalgam of the points of view which were put to the Home Office over months by important groups working with ethnic minorities throughout the country. Those matters have been taken up and incorporated in the Bill.
It goes without saying—although it needs to be put on the record—that the record of the Labour Administration has been first rate in the way in which they have tried to deal with the difficult problems 82 affecting the minority ethnic groups in Britain. They paved the way for a situation where we may see a movement towards a closer, harmonious community incorporating all the minority ethnic groups. This measure, which we hope will pass into law in the near future, is a further indication of the Government's determination, first, to take racial discrimination and deprivation away from the ethnic minority groups. It will be welcomed by large numbers of minority groups, especially in the big cities. In the inner urban areas of our larger towns and cities we see large concentrations of minority ethnic groups. Our colleagues in these groups believe that they have been left behind.
It is necessary to point out from time to time how large minorities may feel that they have been left behind in the general drift towards progress in our society. They can produce evidence, which I am sure that my right hon. Friend has already received, showing that too often they are at the end of the queue in job, housing and educational opportunities and in many other spheres. The Bill will place upon local authorities the means to extend the hand of friendship to the minority groups and say that they recognise the difficulties with which those groups are faced. They may say"We want to do something to help and now we have been encouraged by a Labour Administration, which will provide the funds for us to do so." I am sure that those local authorities with large concentrations of ethnic minorities in their areas will welcome this opportunity to do something further. Certainly, the progressive authorities will do so. I hope that most of the authorities in the large conurbations will be in that category.
I am concerned that references are made to the development of the communities in general matters. Fund-raising efforts are being maintained by several communities, certainly in Birmingham, for the development of religious worship premises. Reference was made by hon. Gentlemen to the difficulties which these groups often experience in obtaining planning permissions and consents. That is accepted. It is difficult to obtain planning consent for a place of religious worship. There is also the problem of funding the projects. In my constituency two Punjabi-Sikh communities are 83 attempting to raise funds to develop their places of worship. A large project costing about £⅓ million is being promoted by the West Indian community for a place of religious worship. The ethnic minority groups are working hard to establish a better way of life for themselves so that they may worship in their own way and so that their communities are held together and have a more meaningful purpose in life. I hope that in interpreting the Bill the local authorities will be able to assist them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) spoke to me about a case earlier today. He thought that several of the ethnic minority group leaders would be anxious to ask whether there would be developments, especially in education, for their communities, by way of provision of extra teachers of English, who often undertake work with minority ethnic groups' languages.
I welcome the Bill and urge that all hon. Members support it in the Lobby. It will be a mainstay and a main plank in the platform of good race relations in Britain.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Sir George Young (Ealing, Acton)
Whether funds will be provided under the Bill by a Labour Administration, as was implied by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever), remains to be seen.
I rise to support the broad principles of the Bill, although I have reservations about the means by which they should be implemented.
The first question to which we should address ourselves is whether the presence of ethnic minorities in an area results in extra costs for the local authority. The Minister did not address himself to that question. As a result, he was embarrassed by persistent questioning from my hon. Friends. The answer is that extra costs are involved, as I hope to show. It is clear that the social service departments are used disproportionately by coloured families.
I draw on an article entitled"Colour as a Variable"in the children's section of a local authority social services department, which appears in the winter edition of New Community. In view of the con- 84 clusions of the article, I hasten to say that it is published not by the National Front but by the Commission for Racial Equality. The concluding observations are based on conditions in Bradford. The article states:The findings highlight the fact that local Social Services are being used disproportionately by different categories of the population The high rate of admission of coloured children into care for grave offences would seem to reflect the magnitude of a serious problem about which much more research is required. No less serious is the presence of a significant number of Asian children in Bradford who are either living insecurely with a relative or a friend, following a return home of the father, the only guardian in this country, or with a single parent, usually the father, in all-male households. Without adequate support and supervision from the family, an increasing number of Asian children are likely to get into trouble with the law either by accident or design, and to be made the subject of Care Orders more quickly than those who come from intact families. The disproportionate number of West Indian children in care is also a matter for grave concern. More disturbing, however, is the finding that one child in every 15 born of mixed parentage is in the care of the local authority, as compared with only 1.5 per hundred of the remainder of the population. Of all the children, the half-coloured clearly constitute a special risk group and pose special care problems. They are the most deprived of all the children and have less adequate plans for their rehabilitation.The authors then spoil what is otherwise an excellent study by lapsing into the language spoken by one sociologist to another when they want no one else to understand. The article states:Their personal problems seem to arise mainly from the internalised emotional disturbance resulting from the traumatic experience of being a marginal person and the lack of an adequate supportive environment. We shall need to look beyond the family and socialisation for key points of difference in their psychopathology.I think we can forgive them that lapse, but no one who reads that full study can doubt that the presence of ethnic minorities leads to additional work for social services departments.
The other principal area of additional expenditure is education. My own borough, the London borough of Ealing, has within its boundaries Southall, and we have some experience of the additional costs incurred. The basic problem is language. The language in which subjects are taught in Ealing is English, and the language spoken in many Asian 85 homes is not. The children present themselves at the primary schools without adequate knowledge of English. It would be to the disadvantage of all the other pupils if teachers had to teach at a pace with which those children could keep up. Additional classes are needed, with additional teachers, to bring these children up to the starting post.
Other local authority services can also be rendered more expensive by an ethnic minority. The electoral register in Ealing, for example, is exceptionally difficult to produce accurately. The meals-on-wheels service has had to be changed to reflect the differing diet of Asians. The local authority is now considering setting up an ethnic diet luncheon club. The cost of the libraries in Ealing is higher than elsewhere because many basic texts are provided in languages other than English. Other local authority services are more expensive because interpreters have to be employed.
§ Sir G. Young
My own experience is that the different meals on wheels which are provided by the local authority meet real needs. I have never sought to criticise the borough. Indeed, under both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party the borough has continued to provide the same sorts of service.
Costs in Ealing and other boroughs are higher, therefore, because of the existence of ethnic minorities. This fact has been recognised by the parties over the past 15 years. According to information provided in a written answer on 14 December 1978, the London boroughs of Ealing and Brent received more money under section 11 than any other authorities apart from Birmingham and the Inner London Education Authority. The figure for 1977–78 was £1.7 million for Ealing, of which the council received £1.26 million under the 75 per cent. rule. That money covers expenditure in 18 different categories of staff, the basic ones being education and social services. At the moment there are the equivalent of 178 full-time teachers qualifying under section 11, and the equivalent of 203 full-time staff offering services in the careers office, mobile libraries and welfare. That expenditure is 86 attributed by the district auditor solely to ethnic minorities.
The first question I put to the Minister is whether he will guarantee that existing authorities will be no worse off under the new arrangements. An article in New Society of 30 November 1978 on"Meeting ethnic needs"states:The Home Office feels that there is hardly an authority in the country that could not make an application.There is, therefore, the serious problem of some dilution of funds available if a considerable number of new authorities are brought in. What assurance can the Minister give the London borough of Ealing that it will be no worse off under the Bill than it was under section 11? The impact on the rates will be dramatic if assistance is phased out.
Having accepted the basic principle that costs are higher, I begin to part company with the Government over the means they now propose to overcome these costs. The traditional way of directing help to local authorities with special problems has been through the rate support grant, and the Department of the Environment has made heroic attempts to quantify those population characteristics which lead to higher costs. Councils with a higher percentage of elderly people, and with a higher percentage of children under 16, get extra help through the rate support grant. Are the Government able to define the problems which they hope to meet through the Bill? Should they not amend the rate support grant to take account of the various factors that I have listed?
The logic of the Bill, and the direction in which the Government are now moving, is that they will continue to pick out a number of areas of local authority expenditure and fund it direct. We might expect a"local authority (inhabitants of tower blocks)"Bill to overcome the problems of local authorities with tower blocks. This Bill represents a step in the wrong direction, if we believe in local government. We should try to redistribute through existing machinery the money that is earmarked in the Bill rather than set up the new machinery outlined by the Minister. I accept that this cannot be done straight away, because the information needed if we are to alter the rate support grant is not available 87 at the moment. I understand that after the next census it might be available. It would be helpful if the Minister could say what are his long-term objectives and whether he agrees that it might be better to subsume these within the rate support grant rather than earmarking particular funds. The chairman of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration would, I think, go along with that solution because in accordance with paragraph 8 of his first report, distinctive groups would not be picked out for special funds, and local authorities would get the money in a way which was not characterised by an ethnic label.
The second reason why I am not happy about the means for distributing the help is the relationship between the Bill and the urban aid programme, which the Minister did not mention in his speech. It was also glossed over in the Home Secretary's speech in November when he said:This new form of grant-aid will be separate from, and in addition to, the urban programme."—[Official Report, 6 November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 515.]The objectives of the urban aid programme are not dissimilar from the objectives of the Bill, yet the Bill is to be administered by a different Department, with perhaps different priorities and using a different procedure. One criticism of the current procedure, made by the Government on page 5 of their consultative document, is thatit inhibits a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to the problems of ethnic minorities in particular areas ".If that is the case and if section 11 is now broadened to bring within its embrace a wider range of projects, the position will get worse and not better. The Inner Urban Areas Act 1978 also provides assistance for ethnic minorities. The Commission for Racial Equality has its own funds. We have this Bill, too. We shall get into a terrible muddle about directing help towards ethnic minorities if we increase the channels through which the money can come. It would have been an option, in the short term, to beef up the urban aid programme and to direct a little of it towards the needs of ethnic minorities, if that is where the Government's priority lies, and use existing machinery rather than set up new machinery.
88 The problem with that solution is the NIH factor—" not invented here "—in that the Home Office has responsibility for ethnic minorities and the DOE has responsibility for the urban aid programme.
§ Mr. Steen rose—
§ Mr. John rose—
§ Mr. Steen
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration was told that the reason why the Government had not extended the urban aid programme and specified certain sums in the DOE's total funds for specific immigration or race relations work was that the arrangements with the European Social Fund—this has been denied by the Minister—were such that the Government were clawing back virtually all the money which they were spending under section 11 and, therefore, wanted to continue with an arrangement in the Home Office so that they could go on clawing back under the European Social Fund and thereby prevent themselves from losing this money by putting more money into the urban aid programme. This may be a reason why we have this Bill before us today.
§ Sir G. Young
I think that my hon. Friend was supporting my argument. I am grateful to him if that is, indeed, so.
§ Mr. John
I cannot allow a distortion of that kind to take place without correction. I do not know to whom the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) was referring. Perhaps it is significant that he kept the contribution as anonymous. At no time in the last five years has there been a grant of more than £3 million under the European Social Fund, whereas there has been an expenditure of over £30 million, and last year's Government money alone was over £25 million.
§ Sir G. Young
I hope that that information will be helpful to the House. The point I was making was that I believe that it might have been an option for the Government to channel the increased resources which they have available in this Bill under the urban aid programme to reduce the number of channels through which aid is going and to reduce the risk of duplication.
89 My third reason for criticising the Bill follows from what I have already said. I dislike the discretion given to the Secretary of State in the Bill whereby he can direct funds wheresoever he wishes. By introducing the Bill in the run-up to a general election, he lays himself wide open to the accusation that this discretion will be abused in the interests of the Labour Party. I believe that the Bill should set out much more clearly than it does the criteria which will guide him in exercising this discretion, so that such evil thoughts can be set aside.
§ Mr. John
The hon. Gentleman's suave denigration does not make his views any more palatable than those of the more obvious yahoos further back on his own Back Benches. I assure him that the Home Secretary does not and would not use the Bill for any party political advantage. The hon. Member himself was asking for a system of priorities when he said that he hopes that Ealing would not be worse off under the new Bill than it was under the Act. It is just in order to give such priorities, where everyone can apply, so that the Home Secretary can apply the money where the priorities are greatest.
§ Sir G. Young
With respect, I quantified in some detail the reasons why Ealing should qualify. Frankly, the solution lies in the Minister's hands. If he does not wish such accusations to be made, he should set out clearly the criteria which will guide the Secretary of State in exercising discretion under the Bill. Let the Minister state what particular problems he seeks to solve in more detail than is in the Bill at present. If the funds then follow that path, I am sure that the accusation will not be made. However, the Secretary of State lays himself open to the accusation by giving himself total discretion under the Bill to spend money in whatsoever direction he likes.
My fourth reason for reservations is that the Bill interferes with the autonomy of local government if it is to get more slices of money from central Government with labels on them. If we believe in local democracy, we should let local councillors meet their own priorities in their areas, as they see them, and let them account for themselves in subsequent municipal elections. Getting more and more help with labels on it reduces local 90 councillors to the role of local administrators and not councillors.
We have already seen the problems that emerge if we go down that path with the administration of urban aid. A range of projects is submitted to the DOE, under the urban aid programme, in strict order of priority. It is the experience of the London borough of Ealing that the DOE selects them not in the order of priority of the local borough. Recently, our top two or three priorities were rejected and the DOE selected projects Nos. 9 and 10. It makes nonsense of local priorities if the central Government intervene and distort what the local administration is trying to do.
It seems that there is to be detailed Government supervision under the Bill. Perhaps the Minister could explain exactly what procedure is involved. Certainly so far as Ealing is concerned, we should prefer to have a block allocation rather than have each individual project closely scrutinised.
Perhaps I may end with some further questions. Is the Bill to be seen as pump priming, as a Bill to get various projects off the ground, subsequently to be financed by local government? Or is it to be like section 11 currently is, an ongoing commitment meeting expenditure year in and year out?
Will the Minister also clarify the distinction which the Government have tried to make between main programme expenditure and general support for areas with high ethnic populations? I do not think that the distinction is particularly clear. If one is looking, for example, at the establishment of a short-stay hostel in Ealing run by the Ealing council for community relations, one asks whether this should be financed by urban aid, financed under this Bill or financed by the local authority under its main programme of expenditure.
Under section 11, the procedure is very simple indeed. The local government appoints the staff and the expenditure is certified by the district auditor. Local authorities are very worried that the procedure under the Bill will be infinitely more complicated.
Therefore, I believe that extra help should be available to those local authorities with ethnic minorities within their 91 areas. However, I am unhappy about the wide ministerial discretion. I am unhappy about the many channels through which central Government aid is channelled to these authorities. I am unhappy at the further erosion of local independence in local government. I want reassurance on a number of specific points.
It is a matter of regret that the Bill is necessary, because it is a measure of our failure over the past two decades to solve these problems. What we in this House should be trying to do is to see that the Bill is made redundant as soon as possible.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilley (Lambeth, Central)
The Bill is a small but welcome recognition by the Government of the need to pay attention to the special problems that are faced by black and brown British citizens. I join with all those hon. Members who have agreed that it goes a long way to put right the anomalies and anachronisms within section 11 of the earlier Act. But the Government have only themselves to blame for some of the criticism that the Bill has received.
The Bill encourages local authorities to draw up comprehensive programmes to combat racial disadvantage in their areas. That is a very worthy objective, but it is also precisely what the Government have failed to do for the country as a whole. I think that much of the confusion stems from that.
I shall try to outline what I believe such a national programme should consist of, and then I shall try to put the Bill into what I see as its proper context.
As the Minister has said, the situation has changed dramatically since 1966, when section 11 came into force. Immigration has been reduced considerably, and it is likely to come virtually to an end in the next few years. About half of the black and brown people in Britain now were born here; and that proportion will, of course, increase steadily. By the mid-1980s, as the birthrates continue to converge, there will be a stable situation in which about 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. of English men and English women happen to have brown or black skins.
Although there will still be cultural diversity—we should make sure that we 92 maintain that—it will no longer be mainly a question of what to do with the New Commonwealth immigrants, Pakistanis, West Indians or Kenyan Asians. We shall be talking then about Britons. That is an important point to get across and for the House to look at.
Britain will no longer be a white society with a few black immigrants who have come for a short period to find work. Britain is now, already, a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society, in which those ethnic minorities have a great deal to contribute in terms of the richness and diversity of that society.
It is very important to stress in the House that the well-being of all the people in Britain depends upon a fair deal for the ethnic minorities. We have to face the fact that, for historical and other reasons, these ethnic minority groups in the Britain of the 1980s will continue to suffer from considerable disadvantages if we do not take action now. These disadvantages have already been mentioned.
These ethnic minority groups have the right as taxpayers, ratepayers, British citizens and fellow human beings to expect us to take such action. Just as importantly, we owe it to the white citizens of this multi-ethnic society that Britain should be strengthened by realising the full potential of ethnic diversity and not weakened by racial hostility.
The principal disadvantages suffered by black and brown Britons fall into three categories. These categories have not been sufficiently distinguished in this debate. This has led to some confusion. First, there is racial discrimination. We have legislated to make that illegal, but it continues to take a variety of subtle forms, notably in housing and employment. Those forms of discrimination can be changed only by changes in attitude among those who are discriminating. There is a limit to how far legislation and extra expenditure can make people change their attitudes. I believe that this Bill can have some limited effect.
Grants could be given to authorities wishing to employ staff to measure and monitor the numbers from ethnic minority groups who get housing, jobs or promotion within those local authorities. Proof that the problem exists can often be gained only in this way. There may be cases, on the detailed information that 93 has been gained, that merit positive discrimination. But, first, the evidence is needed in detail.
The Bill could be amended to give grants for curriculum development in schools in areas where there are few, possibly no, black British. Many of the schools in inner cities have introduced the geography and history of the Caribbean into their curriculum. This enables black youngsters to understand better their own background. Just as importantly, it enables the white children to understand the heritage of their black classmates. It may be even more important for white children who do not have the advantage of meeting black children in the classrooms to appreciate the origins of their black fellow citizens elsewhere in Britain.
A second major area of disadvantage suffered by black and brown people comes under the heading of social disadvantage. A high proportion of black Britons live in the decaying parts of our big cities. They have poor housing, low paid jobs or no jobs at all, with inadequate educational, health and recreational facilities. In none of those categories is there a majority of black people. In each case, more white working class than black working class are suffering. For these main problems, the Bill is irrelevant. Just as it would be outrageous for jobs, decent housing or better schools to be provided for only the white residents of the inner cities, it would be equally unthinkable for this or any other Government to provide only for the needs of the black residents and to ignore the white. That would be not only unfair. It would lead to greater resentment and racial tensions and to an intensification of the attitudes that lead to discrimination.
The problems of bad housing, lack of jobs, low pay and inadequate health and educational services are shared problems for all the people living in inner city areas, whether black or white. A leaking roof on a block of flats leaks on to black and white tenants alike. A factory closure makes all races of workers redundant. In my constituency of Lambeth, the proportion of local black youngsters unemployed is always at least twice the proportion of white youngsters unemployed. But each of those youngsters is 100 per cent. unemployed. I do not want to see an all-white dole queue in Brixton any more 94 than I want to see an all-black dole queue. Indeed, I want to see no dole queue at all in Brixton. I want more jobs for everyone and an end to discrimination.
The majority of people in Brixton, where there has been a black section of the community for more than 20 years, realise that they will solve their problems only by united action. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser), who also represents Brixton, has entered the Chamber at this point. The people of Brixton look to the Government's inner city initiative which is dedicated to solving those problems comprehensively. This Bill has nothing to do with that programme and must not be used by the Government as an excuse for lack of sufficient central funding which is the main defect of the inner city programme.
The third area of disadvantage relates to what the Bill should be used for—the disadvantages which black people have to suffer but which their white neighbours do not have to face. This is a limited but desperately important set of problems which has been underestimated in the debate. It has been pointed out that those problems occur almost exclusively in education. That is another way of putting the point that black children have disadvantages which their white classmates do not face. They must be tackled at the earliest stage, so that minority groups can have a fair and equal chance when they reach adulthood.
The first problem is language. Children whose parents came from Asian cultures are being born in England but are learning another language than English in their first years at home. It is not only a first generation problem. The teaching of English as a second language so that those children do not fall behind where lessons are in English has been the major use of section 11 and will, I hope, continue to be the main use of grants under this new Bill. Children whose parents or grandparents came from the West Indies or Africa will also have language problems. There has been an increasing awareness among teachers that, although the mother tongue is English, there are subtle differences in the use of English in the West Indies which may hinder children in lessons which are conducted in what we call, with 95 residual imperial arrogance, standard English.
I have mentioned the need for curricular flexibility to reflect the diverse backgrounds of British citzens today. In literature as well as in history and geography, the concentration on the European heritage must be widened to include all the parts of the world from which people have come to form the British people of today. That costs money. I hope that the money will be provided under the Bill. There are many textbooks which have an unintentional racial bias. Not only must this be recognised, but the books must be replaced. That costs money. Teachers need greater training in the needs and possibilities of a multi-ethnic society. That will cost money in revamping the approaches of teacher training colleges, providing more in-service training for existing teachers and finding ways of getting more members of the ethnic minority groups themselves to become teachers, This last point is a clear case for positive discrimination that will require money and needs a great deal of imagination and determination from the education authorities.
I hope that the Bill will be used effectively in the ways I have suggested. I also hope that the new arrangements will not endanger what has already been achieved by progressive education authorities such as the Inner London Education Authority which covers my area. It has not been brought out in the debate that 86 per cent. of the funds under section 11 go to education authorities. In the coming year, ILEA expects to get £8.7 million, almost all of which is for teaching posts. I know that the educational part of current spending is to be safeguarded next year under the new system, mentioned in the Green Paper. But we must have an assurance that there will be a permanent safeguard and that the costs will not have to be absorbed into main programmes. Otherwise, this will mean in London that either we slowly destroy hundreds of teaching jobs or there will be a considerable rise in the rates.
The Bill will improve the work done under the 1966 Act, but will it encourage more councils to begin similar work? This is permissive legislation, a carrot not a stick, and the proportion of Government 96 grant funding—75 per cent. of expenditure—plus the fact that the projects have to be taken into the main programme within a few years is not a sufficient incentive for local authorities which have failed to do this job before.
I therefore ask the Government to review these figures. As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is difficult to judge this Bill out of the missing context—the missing Government strategy for combating racial disadvantage, the missing Government strategy for grasping the opportunities of a multi-ethnic Britain. The position of brown and black people in Britain cannot be improved merely by throwing money at their problems. The racialism that exists in Britain cannot be bought off with grants. It is institutionalised racialism, often unintentional institutionalised racialism. I fear that the Government, as the biggest institution in the country, must do more to put their own house in order before preaching to others. The Tavistock report has created serious suspicions about racial discrimination in the Civil Service. The public sector industries have yet to demonstrate that they carry out effective policies of equal opportunity. The Home Office itself, presenting this Bill, presides over the most blatant institutionalised racialism of the immigration control system, which the Labour Party as a whole agrees is based on a racially biased Act. So let the Government practise as well as preach racial equality.
§ Mr. Alan Clark
What about the—unconscious, I am sure, but none the less evident—discrimination exercised by Labour GMCs in their reluctance to choose coloured candidates to come to this place?
§ Mr. Tilley
I am afraid that the hon. Member is behind the times. There are now coloured candidates. We are at the moment sitting within a constituency which is to be contested by a West Indian Labour candidate.
I support the Bill because it marks the beginning of a slow realisation by the Government that they must begin now if we are to build a Britain in which there is equal opportunity for all citizens, whatever the colour of their skin. That will be of benefit to everyone in Britain, because it means that brown and black citizens will be able to make their full 97 contribution to British life. That contribution is already becoming noticeable in sport, particularly football and athletics, but it must be made possible in all other arenas of public life, including this House.
I believe that, in the 1980s, we shall see brown and black Members of Parliament here. We must not be an all-white preserve for as long as we were an all-male preserve—
§ Mr. Tilley
I was waiting for that.
I support the Bill, but only on the clear understanding that the Government must realise that they have much more to do if we are to grasp the challenge and opportunities which are presented and avoid the disaster which may come if we do not take the necessary action.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Clark (Plymouth, Sutton)
The House has a sympathetic characteristic of averting its gaze from, or at any rate looking only obliquely at, certain subjects about which hon. Members feel a corporate uneasiness. One thinks of the defence debates and all those night-time debates when we are meant to be scrutinising EEC documents, and so forth, when, whether from a sense of the futility of telling the truth or from a desire not to offend the agreed pattern of progressive liberalism, hon. Members do not allow themselves to say exactly what they think on certain issues—or, if they do, they combine it with saying something that they do not think.
An example was the speech of the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley). He made a compendious review of the whole situation. First, he praised the Bill—that could be reported by those who wished to report it—then he said that the problems of the coloured community would not be solved by throwing money at them, which, of course, is a diametrically opposed view.
This Bill is one more stage in the degenerative disease that affects the whole of British politics and has done for several decades, namely, the belief that by taking money from the taxpayer and directing it into non-productive but electorally significant sectors, one is more likely to derive advantage than by leaving it free to move in terms of the market.
98 Those who argue that section 11 of the 1966 Act gives us the precedent for approving this Bill are confusing two separate points of principle. As the Minister admitted in answer to my intervention earlier, section 11 was specially drafted to be of short duration and to cover a specific problem which, on compassionate grounds, the House recognised had to be dealt with and could best be dealt with by the provision of money.
But, the Minister now says, the time in which those problems could be solved has been underestimated. Whether that underestimate by those who drafted the Bill was deliberate or accidental, it is plain that if the Minister had said in 1966 that the Government wanted an open-ended commitment to provide public funds indefinitely to this section of the community, the House would have taken a much gloomier and more critical view of that suggestion.
At the time, the proposal was meant to be short-lived, to cover a particular crisis of hardship and distress that was subsisting at that time and was hard to resist. Now we are told that the problem has not gone away, that it is likely to be with us indefinitely, and that therefore it must be consolidated in some much more widely drawn provision, which will be of indefinite duration.
Clause 1(2)(a) is completely open-ended. Its purpose is to removedisadvantages from which an ethnic group suffers ".The definition of a disadvantage is not very precise, but the Secretary of State will make these grants where"in his opinion ", the expenditureis attributable to the presence of ethnic groups ",which we all know will be with us indefinitely.
If the Secretary of State is reluctant to do so, we see that under this clause the grant is to be incurredby a local authority in the exercise of any of their functions for any of the following purposes ",followed by three headings under which they can call on the Secretary of State to grant approval.
Paragraph (a) is enormously wide. Paragraph (b), again, is not very precise but one assumes, to give it the benefit of the doubt, that it refers principally to 99 education. Many hon. Members have said, almost as if it were a criticism, that educational requirements had commanded up to 85 per cent. of the allocation of previous funds. But that is a recommendation for whoever made those provisions rather than a criticism.
Paragraph (c) refers to:promoting good relations between ethnic groups or between ethnic groups and the rest of the community ".Leaving aside the major point that that is the very last thing that is desirable to promote good relations between the various ethnic groups—it is much more likely to exacerbate them—this is also capable of the widest interpretation.
It is believed—perhaps the hon. Member for the area, the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central, will confirm or deny this—that the Moonshot club and other hotbeds of dissent received grants from the local authority on the grounds that paying money to such clubs would improve relations. Whether it did or not, it is widely believed in such communities that blacks get grants from the public purse by by various routes to propagate their own dissenting, if not subversive, associations. I see that the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central does not rise, so presumably he is accepting—
§ Mr. Tilley
I am somewhat confused. I am afraid that the hon. Member's knowledge of the geography of London is as confused as his knowledge of community relations.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
The Moonshot club is in Lewisham. It is run by a lady who, for her distinguished services to the community, received the OBE and who is a noted Methodist local preacher. It is anything but a hotbed of dissent. I think that the hon. Gentleman has in mind a club of a different name in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley).
§ Mr. Clark
I am grateful to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) and I congratulate him on his knowledge of con- 100 stituencies that are distant from his own. I hope that he will forgive my error. Although he knows the name of the club, he did not tell the House. The principle, however, remains that it is widely believed within these communities that public funds are paid to clubs and associations that nurture subversive or disruptive associations. That is a side issue, but it is not unimportant.
The basic principle remains that a certain section of the community is being identified by its ethnic origin or colour. The word"colour"has been avoided and the definition"ethnic"has been so widely extended that it embraces practically everyone. The wordsa group of persons distinguished by colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins.include practically every inhabitant of any large city, but we all know what is meant. The word"minority"is not even used; it is just"ethnic group "."Ethnic"is written, but we know in the House that what is meant is"coloured ". The Bill provides that certain categories of people are to receive preferential treatment by having a special allocation of funds from the public purse to alleviate the various problems from which it is believed that they may be suffering.
In many of our constituencies there are large cities with substantial pockets of deprivation. Each weekend we see constituents who have problems relating to their personal circumstances, schooling or single-parent families. In my constituency of Plymouth, in many families the breadwinner is at sea for long periods. The mother has to cope on her own with the children and schooling. How can we explain to such people that they do not deserve and are not to be allocated the public money that might relieve their plight, when others, simply because they are coloured, could apply for the money under a totally different heading? I can see that hon. Members are getting a little uneasy. But it is no good thinking that the ordinary white, working-class people who exist in all the inner cities and who feel that they are deprived are not keenly aware that there is a form of discrimination that is likely to be codified and extended in the Bill which makes special provision for people simply because they are coloured.
§ Mr. Clark
That is probably true. To avoid making it overtly reverse discriminatory, the definition"ethnic"has been enlarged to include a white minority group, should it exist. Later we shall be able to ask the Secretary of State and the Minister whether such provisions have ever been made on a significant scale.
In fact, the Bill has been drafted to empower the Secretary of State to allocate funds to black people in inner city areas in preference to the needs of white people. There may be the exception, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever) suggested, of, for instance, a small group of Poles. The broad mass of white people in inner cities stand on one side, and there are enclaves of coloured people to whom preferential allocation of funds will be made. That is the most dangerous principle of all in the allocation of public money.
We have seen how public money is used for the purchase of votes in certain categories such as at Linwood, British Leyland and the shipyards in the North. Although that brings with it the rotten borough element and the purchase of large tranches of votes in particular sectors, it can be excused. It can be argued that it is saving jobs, adding to productivity and sustaining industries in a temporary period of difficulty. But the House is being asked for the first time to approve an open-ended commitment of indefinite duration to provide public money to a sector of the population, living side by side and in identical circumstances with the rest, simply because they are black. That is reverse discrimination, and is the most dangerous and insidious principle of all to introduce into the distribution of public funds or public favours. I therefore intend to oppose it.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
I am glad that I was called so soon after the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark). I heard him on the television the other day after the meeting of the home affairs group of the Conservative party. He labours under a disadvantage 102 that is almost peculiar to the Tory Party, and it blinds to him the reality of the Bill. I do not believe that he would argue that the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act was a wrong application of public funds for the needs of a particular group. He can see precisely that the needs of that group differ from the needs of the majority of people, even living in the same area. He and other hon. Gentlemen should be reassured that that is what the Bill is about. It is not about providing public funds for blacks or any other ethnic minority group simply because of their colour or national origin. It is about their distinctive need, which is different from the disadvantages even of people living in the same area.
I feel most strongly about it and I hope that the House will allow me to enlarge on it further. I spent two years as Minister in the Department seeking to argue the case for that kind of provision. I failed, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office on succeeding in producing the Bill. It is absolutely crucial to future good race relations. Any group of immigrants who came to this country, whether Jews, Huguenots or others, initially had a problem of adjusting to the mores of our society. If they came from a wholly different cultural background, they had greater problems. If they came from Northern Ireland, there would be problems, but the basic language would be the same. If they came from Poland, they would have considerable problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever) is right. One of the groups which will be helped by the Bill, and who should have been helped in 1945 but were not, are the Poles. As a result, they have a continuing cycle of deprivation. There are many Polish communities in the country which suffer noticeably in the provision of services and their general response to the demands of society, because they were not helped to overcome the difficulties of adjustment in the early years. That was not done for the Jews, Huguenots or Poles. Although the number concerned was comparatively small, nevertheless they had considerable difficulties.
I was born in Leeds, and even then, which was just before the war, there was a section of Leeds which was a Jewish ghetto. Jews did not move out of that 103 ghetto, and non-Jews did not move in. That was because the area marked a group that was different in racial and religious terms, and in its standard of living. All that has now gone because the Jews have moved out, and the area is now a West Indian area. The Jews moved out because in the interim they acquired the self-confidence in our culture and in our cultural background which allowed them to make their own choice as to how they would live.
We assumed under the 1966 Act that that process would take only a short time. That was a fatuous assumption, given the history of immigration into this country. It has taken two or three generations of Eastern European Jews to integrate in that sense—not into losing their culture, because they have not, but into being so self-confident in their cultural assumptions that they can live where they like and do what they like as individuals in our community.
There are in this country some 2 million blacks, but, by the natural aggregation of life spans by which the death rates among blacks and whites will become the same, the number will be about 3.3 million. Those people will be a permanent feature of our society. That is a larger number of immigrants than have ever lived here before. They will consist of immigrants and of the children born to immigrants. If we were not to make easier the transition from the cultural background from which they came to the cultural background here, the deprivation which comes from that cultural disadvantage would continue for generations. The position in this country would be similar to that found in Watts and in other inner city areas in the United States. The situation there arises not because the black people are different Americans from the white people but because, from the beginning, they have been treated to a cycle of discrimination and disadvantage which has led to their present unequal status in society.
I believe that we can cope with problems of discrimination through the agency of the Race Relations Act, but we have to cope with the problems of disadvantage through a direct injection of resources. In so far as the disadvantage is 104 common to whites and blacks, it can be dealt with through the agency of the inner city partnerships, by the adjustment of the rate support grant and by other means. If a person does not have a house, it does not matter whether he is black or white—his need is the same. He therefore ought to have the same agency and be subject to the same kind of policy to meet that need. But if a person has a special disadvantage it is right for our society to correct it by a special injection of public resources. I do not regard that as positive discrimination. For me, positive discrimination is giving someone more than he deserves in order, so it is alleged, to correct discrimination of the past. That may be an argument in the United States, but it is not an argument that has ever been accepted in this country. It is not accepted in the Race Relations Act, and I would not support such an approach. I say that where blacks are subjected to discrimination and disadvantage which puts them at a greater disadvantage than is suffered by whites living in a disadvantaged area they are entitled to special consideration for resources to cope with those disadvantages.
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) wanted to know what those disadvantages were. I shall try to tell him. I am afraid that I do not always recognise an elephant, and I can help him in his difficulties with the Minister only by telling him that there were civil servants in the Home Office who did not recognise the elephant either. But the elephant exists, and if the hon. Member wants to read about it he will find a good deal on the subject in the book by David Smith prepared by PEP and dealing with racial disadvantage in this country.
But even there the hon. Gentleman will not get the full context of what this Bill is about, because even David Smith, when he did the PEP study, did not appreciate the difference that exists for people who come from a different cultural background as a result of the newness. It is the newness that is important, and that newness may take three generations to cure. We assumed that if all the Asian children who were born in this country were put into our schools when they were five they would be totally adjusted to our environment. Many 105 people do not realise that even now most of the Asian children who go to school at the age of five, although born in this country, start school not speaking English because in the home the mother does not speak English. Therefore, the pattern of deprivation continues. It is no use hon. Members saying that that problem should have been cured by the 1966 Act, or that a time limit should be imposed on the Bill as was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and by the Select Committee.
The truth is that we do not know how long it will take to cure these problems. That will depend on how fast we get on with the job of dealing with the disadvantages. Language presents difficulties that are so obvious that they do not need arguing about. The average disadvantaged white child in the back streets of Birmingham or Lambeth does not have the problem of learning English when he goes to school at five. His mother does not have to learn English at home. There is no public provision for teaching English to women in the home, although certainly voluntary bodies are active in that area. We have started courses for men at work, but we need much greater and universal provision. At the moment all we have are experimental schemes, but we need universal provision so that men at work are able quickly to learn English.
We also need provision for apprentices. Many children who come to this country in the middle of their school lives find it difficult to get into apprenticeships at the same rate as whites because of that difficulty of adjustment. Therefore, we need to make a special allocation of resources for apprenticeships. The case for educational provision has been largely accepted by the Opposition.
It is argued that that is the only disadvantage, but I plead with hon. Members to accept that that is not so. It may not be possible to itemise every other disadvantage which arises out of newness. I shall try, however, to give some. Take for instance, the points raised by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). I refer to the question of meals on wheels. Unfortunately Gujaratis, who have a religious code which argues against the eating of meat, sometimes suffer from a protein deficiency which leads to a greater inci- 106 dence of rickets and, sometimes, of TB among them than among the public as a whole. These differences can always be taken up by those who oppose racial integration in an alarmist way. The incidence, although greater than in the white population, is still comparatively small among the total population. However, in order to meet it we need to make some special provision in the social services for helping with dietary problems and providing preventive medicine. That is why this grant will also go to Health Service provision. Positive Health Service provision is vital.
§ Mr. Alan Clark
The hon. Member's kindly nature has just led him to coin a new descriptive term. He has referred to"newness"which, he said, places immigrants at a disadvantage. That is a nice amiable word, but it takes us back into section 11 territory. Will the hon. Member tell us how long newness lasts, and how long he expects people to remain new?
§ Mr. Lyon
I have indicated that newness must be relative and can continue for several generations, but I shall return to the point because it is important in the development of this theme. I shall give two more examples which may be controversial even within the minority groups. I have met dissent when expounding them at meetings. They seem to me to be real and the House had better face reality.
The Minister of State agreed about the difficulties in school achievement for West Indian children. That is real. Why should it happen? It does not happen, as Professor Eysenck says, because their intelligence is less. It happens because they come from a family background which makes it more difficult for them to achieve at the rate even of disadvantaged Asian or white children.
One of the reasons is that, in the West Indies, the tradition of marriage is not as strongly ingrained as it is within white or even in Asian communities here. The tradition of the strong, integrated family is different from the West Indian tradition. The West Indan family unit is one which the maternal figure—often the grandmother or sometimes the aunt—looks after the children.
In West Indian families, the mother and the father frequently are not married. 107 Sometimes they have a passing relationship, and occasionally take up with someone else. Frequently one finds a single-parent family in which children are growing up. That is often because of our immigration rules, which make it difficult for the father or the mother to come here together, or for the children to join them at the same time. The result is that the incidence of single-parent families is higher among West Indians than among whites or Asians.
If we agree, as we all do, that there has to be provision within our public expenditure for single-parent families, and if among West Indians the incidence is uniquely high—very much higher than amongst Asians or whites—we have to make provision in our social services for them. I use a generalisation as the basis for our insight into the difficulties. I know that these are generalisations and that there are massive exceptions to them. The Asian family is much more integrated. There is a far greater back-up, though equally the commitments in that context are much wider.
The sense of the extended family is much greater among Asians than among any other group. This is because they are passing on their whole cultural heritage in the way in which they bring up their children, and in the way in which those children are taught their responsibilities to their elders. Much of that is magnificent, and we ought to applaud and perhaps copy it. It also means that for children growing up in that kind of family atmosphere there is often acute conflict between what they learn from the family and what they learn from the surrounding culture particularly at school. There is often difficulty for them as teenagers, and considerable social services back-up is required to help them. Any social services department will say that for such reasons they need extra help in the areas where they are dealing with Asian and West Indian families.
That help cannot be had under the rate support grant, nor can it be obtained under the general policy programmes laid down for social services. It can be provided only by a special injection of funds. I have said enough to indicate that the range of facilities required for 108 this kind of provision under section 11 is much wider than hon. Members think. Using section 11 is the wrong way of dealing with it because under it any amount of money is available. There is no limit in public expenditure terms under section 11 because it depends upon the local borough treasurer or the local county council treasurer claiming the money back. Frequently councillors do not know that it even exists. Consequently they are not geared to making a provision for blacks where they have a special need, even though they can claim back 75 per cent. of expenditure. The result is that the take-up of section 11 provision is disparate throughout the country in a marked way.
For example, Harrow has the same number of New Commonwealth immigrants—according to the 1971 census—as Derby. In the period between 1967 and 1974, Harrow claimed £18,234 under section 11, whereas Derby claimed £698,656. For a black person living in Harrow who had the same needs and the same disadvantages as the black person living in Derby, there was a manifestly unequal provision.
Similarly, in Kent there were as many New Commonwealth immigrants as there were in Bradford. In the same period, the claim for Kent was £141,792, but in Bradford the claim was £2,097,801. So it is clear that the provision under section 11 in Bradford was manifestly greater, individually, than it was in Kent. That arose because of the haphazard nature of section 11. In addition, although this was not required by the Act, the Civil Service wrote in two conditions. One was that an area had to have 2 per cent. of children of New Commonwealth origin on the school roll. The other condition was that they or their parents had to have lived there for more than 10 years.
The result of that was that many West Indian areas did not receive their full entitlement. In areas such as Liverpool—and this was referred to by the Minister of State—provision was never made for the Liverpool-born black. The Liverpool-born black could not claim within that context. Yet, if my Liverpool-born black was the same man who berated me three years ago as the one who berated the Conservative Front Bench spokesman, the hon. Member should have gone on to tell 109 the House that he did not only say"The trouble with these people around us is that they treat us as immigrants ". He also said that we did not make any special provision for them in Liverpool 8, and as a result, Liverpool 8 is a bigger slum than some others in that city. Blacks in such a situation claim that they need the provisions.
For the reasons I indicated to the Minister of State during our earlier altercation, the Liverpool black is the classic answer to the hon. Gentleman's case about a time limit. If one does nothing, the Liverpool black will go on being culturally disadvantaged for generations. We are not coping with his problem. The House need not take that from me. I quote the words of a former Conservative Front Bench spokesman during the Second Reading of the Race Relations Bill in 1976. If hon. Members opposite really wish to understand this problem, they should read that speech in detail. It was a powerful argument for just this kind of provision. The hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) said:There is another factor in the disadvantage theme—namely, the cumulative effect. Paragraph 11 of the White Paper reads:' If, for example, job opportunities, educational facilities, housing and environmental conditions are all poor, the next generation will grow up less well-equipped to deal with the difficulties facing them. The wheel then comes full circle, as the second generation find themselves trapped in poor jobs and poor housing.'It was that vicious process which my right hon. Friends the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) analysed and described as the cycle of deprivation.—[Official Report, 4 March 1976; Vol. 906, c. 1651.]Surely there cannot be a better guru to whom Opposition Members can turn than the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). If he is on our side, God must be too.
In those circumstances I beg Opposition Members to agree that it is not necessary to vote against the Bill. The Bill is a logical extension of section 11 which the Opposition accepted when it was passed and in the four years when they were in Government. It is a response to the call from the Select Committee for special provision to be made for blacks where they have special needs. It is a response to the calls that have come frequently from the Opposition Front Bench.
110 Of course, there has been a little change of phrase today. But that change is a semantic argument for clause 1(2) of the Bill. It is clear that the provision will remove disadvantages from which an ethnic group suffers. I do not understand how it can be argued that that is positive discrimination in favour of blacks against whites. We are simply curing needs of blacks and not those of other groups.
We are saying that the services provided by the local authority shall be as effective in relation to the ethnic groups as they are to the rest of the community. That involves the raising of standards to bring them up to the general level. There is no positive discrimination in either subsection (2)(a) or (2)(b). Promoting good relations between ethnic groups and the rest of the community is being equal handed with both majority and minority groups.
If I were a parent living in an area where my children had to go to a school where 60 per cent. of children did not speak English I should feel the concern expressed by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. I should feel that my kid was not getting as good a deal as he would if he went to a school where all the kids spoke English. Therefore, I should be as concerned as the mother of the black kid that that school should give everyone an equal chance by more resources being poured in.
When I was a Minister I saw a splendid school in Paddington where that happened. The results were remarkable. Everybody in the school, white and black, does far better than is achieved under a provision which is supposed to be equal but which is not.
For that reason, I believe that the Bill is not only about helping the blacks. It is about helping all our community to live together and to get rid of the problem within one generation. If we provide the resources, the Bill will not be needed in three generations' time, as some hon. Members fear.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) represents the most English of cities, but I sometimes wonder whether his strongly pronounced views reflect the feelings and views of the ordinary English man and woman. I disagree with the hon. 111 Member so much that I shall refrain from commenting on his speech, except to refer to the Poles.
I had some connection with people from that great nation after the war. Almost all of them have made a great success of their lives in this country without any help of the kind provided by the Bill.
I remember a wounded middle-aged Polish officer. He was starting again with nothing, and he made a go of it as a builder. He said"England is the easiest country in the world in which to make one's living." Therefore, do not let us look down too much on people who come here and make a success of their lives. Not all of them want handouts.
It will be no surprise to the Government or to my Front Bench that I oppose the Bill. I regard it as novel. It is an extremely dangerous development in our so-called social legislation. I am sorry that the Minister left as soon as I rose. He introduced the Bill with his customary charm and courtesy. He was good enough to refer to some of my hon. Friends—and possibly to me—as primitives. He has introduced the Bill at a time when immigration continues at a high level and when, because of that, fears of it are still widespread.
The Bill at least gives us a chance to debate this important subject, which is seldom, if ever, debated in the House. Those of us who try to raise the matter find that every obstacle is put in their way and that they are made to feel guilty for raising an issue that is of utmost importance to ordinary people. We all know that if there were a referendum now about immigration there would be an enormous vote against it.
The Bill is full of pitfalls. For example, the definition of ethnic groups isa group of persons distinguished by colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins.I should have thought that that would represent all the souls in the country.
It reminds me of my first conversation with Mr. Andrew Young, the roving American ambassador. He said that he was a member of an ethnic group."So am I, Mr. Young ", I said."So what?"The conversation did not go much further.
112 Surely the definition includes pockets of Scotsmen located in England and English men in Scotland. Surely it includes people such as the Secretary of State, who is a Welshman, in the Government. I see no end to it. It seems that everybody can have a dip into this gravy dish.
There is no mention of our ancestors. Some of my family originally came here as Huguenots. Are we entitled to partake of the benefits in the Bill? What about the Germans, Frenchmen, Italians and others living here, who come from the EEC? Do the Government really mean immigrants and, in particular, coloured immigrants? If so, why on earth do they not say so?
I am opposed to handouts of Government money in general. They smack too much of trying to buy votes, particularly in a year when a general election is expected. If Government grants have to be made they should at least be made in a way that is demonstrably fair. The present proposals do not seem fair to many English people.
The Bill could benefit the disadvantaged Englishman, although"disadvantaged"is a horrible and dangerous word. In many places the English have been displaced by immigrants. The lives of some have been turned upside-down by the newcomers.
The moment that we in this sovereign legislature say that a section of the public needs to have disadvantages removed, we open the way to all kinds of grievances, real or alleged, being raised. That is highly dangerous.
The Bill is liable to incense our own countrymen who were born and bred here. They feel that they are being discriminated against. The Bill is certainly highly unpopular in the Midlands. It is also extremely unclear and full of new-speak and double talk. The Bill refers tosecuring that the services provided by the local authority are as effective in relation to ethnic groups as they are in relation to the rest of the community ".What does that mean? Does it imply, for instance, that an ethnic community is some sort of ghetto? It would certainly seem to imply that they are very special closely defined categories, different in every respect from the rest of the inhabitants living in these islands. If I 113 were a self-respecting immigrant—say, a shopkeeper or a toolmaker—I would be inclined to scorn this somewhat patronising form of description. I believe that such handouts will be as offensive to immigrants as they would be to English people.
Then we come to the second point—promoting good relations between ethnic groups or between ethnic groups and the rest of the community ".How on earth can Parliament undertake that sort of task? Is it believed that if we shovel out money, somehow everything will be all right? I believe that the Bill is another example of Parliament's trying to meddle in matters that it would do far better to keep out of, and that, far from lessening so-called racial tension, it will tend to increase it.
The Bill shows how out of touch both the Government and the Home Office are with ordinary people. Perhaps they took the advice of social scientists. If so, it is a great pity. It is always a great mistake for Parliament to try to regulate ordinary human intercourse. England is a very old country, a very kind and tolerant nation, and we do not need to be told, we English people, by busy-bodies—certainly not by the hon. Member for York—how to behave with each other. Still less do we want taxpayers' money distributed to certain vague or undefined groups by very dubious means, apparently going on for ever and ever, presumably with larger and larger payments being made available, therefore requiring more and more from the unfortunate taxpayer.
It is for these reasons that I hope that the Bill will not reach the statute book, and having discussed it with many people recently I have a feeling that they share my view. I hope that hon. Members, if they decide to vote for the Bill, will think first of all of their constituents and of the people whom we are supposed to represent. I believe that the Bill will create many more problems than it tries to solve and that it will cause a sense of burning injustice and unfairness in our own English people.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)
I have no doubt that many people share the views of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes). I regret 114 that. The hon. Gentleman's humour, be it unintentional or intentional, should not blind us to the malevolence of some of his argument. He appears to be opposed to State handouts. I wonder how many people in his constituency are receiving the temporary employment subsidy, or how many youngsters are in the various STEP schemes or the youth opportunities programme. Perhaps he would like to argue his case with them. I wonder whether he is totally opposed to the billions of pounds handed out—rightly, in my view—to industry. When he and the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark) bemoaned handouts to minority groups to the exclusion of majority groups I thought that they had in mind State aid to political parties, because that is the classic case of a group—a minority group, in fact—that receives advantages that majorities do not. That instance should not be forgotten.
I represent a constituency that has perhaps 15,000 members of the ethnic minority communities. They are mainly Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, but there are about 3,000 Afro-Caribbeans. Although about 5 per cent. of the total population of the town of Walsall belong to ethnic minority communities, the majority of them are concentrated in the areas of Caldmore, Palfrey, Pleck, the Chuckery, and Darlaston. I can therefore speak with some authority on the problems of the ethnic minority communities.
I am thankful that race relations in Walsall are better than in some of the neighbouring areas. A race relations feature in my local newspaper the Walsall Observer, said:Walsall is an island in a sea of racial unrest.That is something that I am grateful for. That is not to say that we have any grounds for complacency. In his foreword to a study entitled"Black Employment in the Black Country: A Study of Walsall ", by Dennis Brooks, Mr. Adrian Cadbury, chairman of Cadbury-Schweppes wroteMr. Dennis Brooks' report on employment in the Walsall area shows that in the West Midlands we cannot shelter behind the reassuring illusion that things are different in our part of the world…If the legitimate expectations of both these groups115 —he was referring to early immigrants as well as to their children, the second generation—are not met, there are serious problems ahead. So it is in the interest of all of us to see that equality of opportunity becomes a reality.Since entering politics, one of my major concerns has been to support those combating and trying to eliminate discrimination in whatever form it takes, and since its formation the Labour Party has been dedicated to assisting the underprivileged in their battle for human rights and equality.
I am pleased that many pieces of legislation emanating from this Government have sought to achieve that end in race relations, housing, women's rights, security for the elderly, and many other areas affecting underprivileged minorities. I am pleased to support this Bill, which is a further Government measure in combating racial discrimination and disadvantage.
The Labour Government's record is one of which they can be proud. I was a member of the Standing Committee on the Race Relations Act 1976. It was the third major piece of legislation passed by the present Government, and it goes a long way towards combating the most obscene manifestations of race discrimination. But discrimination is much more than simply refusing people houses or jobs. If anyone has a lingering belief that discrimination has been eliminated, I advise him to read the PEP report"Racial Disadvantage in Britain"which again gives us every indication that discrimination is still very much with us.
Discrimination is broader than simply legal discrimination, and the Bill supplements the Race Relations Act by seeking to deal with disadvantage. When the Local Government Act 1966 was passed, the situation was very different. We were then dealing with first-generation immigrants. Now getting on for half the population of the ethnic minorities were born in this country.
I remember going to a function with my parents. After tea had been served by some delightful Hindu ladies, my mother, who comes from an area without ethnic minorities, spoke slowly to one of the girls and said"Thank you very much for providing us with the tea." The girl 116 replied in a broad Black Country accent"That's all right, luv. That's what I'm here for." That clearly indicates that many of these children have seen no more of India than I have. This is their home. But they are still suffering disadvantage and discrimination.
The Home Office has responded to pressure from a variety of organisations and Members of Parliament to reform the 1966 Act—not that my town did not do well out of the old scheme. In 1977–78, Walsall received £750,000 under section 11 of the Act. Only eight authorities got more. That is one instance where my town has received more than its fair share. Normally, when central Government funds are available, we are more lethargic in pressing for them.
However, I would like to see more evidence of the way in which this money has been spent. Perhaps better accounting procedures could be adopted to ensure that the money allocated to a variety of local authorities under section 11 has been spent on the right schemes. I hope that, despite the broadening provisions of the Bill, Walsall will continue to get goodly amounts. I shall certainly be pressing for that.
The traditional methods of funding by the Government and previous Governments were general. This is one of the major causes of discontent between the Government and the Opposition. In their concern to eliminate discrimination, the Government launched a two-pronged attack. First, they introduced strong antidiscrimination legislation combined with a policy of general provision for those who live in such areas, regardless of their racial, cultural or religious backgrounds.
That approach prevailed until very recently. One has only to look at a variety of documents published during the past few years, including the White Paper on racial discrimination and the paper entitled"Race Relations and Housing"issued by the Department of the Environment, to see that the Government believed that the problem could be dealt with on a general basis. As the White Paper on racial discrimination said:Beyond the problems of cultural alien-ness—that is a new word—there are the problems of low status, of material and environmental deprivation which 117 coloured immigrants and, increasingly, their children experience. To the extent that they share all or some of these problems with other groups in society, a general attack on deprivation will be relevant to their problems.I believe that any Government are right to respond to new research and new initiatives. It is obvious that the old general approach needs to be supplemented. I am pleased that the Government have recognised that this new approach ought to prevail.
The Bill is hardly a major measure. We are not talking in terms of the amount of money given to industry—over £2 billion a year. We are not speaking of vast sums, and no one need get paranoid about this new principle.
There is no doubt that ethnic minorities share many of the disadvantages experienced by their indigenous counterparts. Perhaps one could say that what the Bill does is to elevate the ethnic minorities to the level of discrimination practised against their white neighbours. Both manifestations of discrimination must be eradicated. But, certainly, if one thinks that the ethnic minorities and the whites are in the same boat, the Asians or the Africans are on a lower deck.
We must maintain on a much larger scale such measures as the inner urban area policies, which the Government have been funding, and supplement them with the provision of additional resources to groups which clearly show that they are discriminated against and show that they have special problems over and above those experienced by the indigenous community.
That is not to say that the white working class will lose as a result of Government policy—far from it. I illustrate the case in microcosm in my own constituency, which is not defined as an inner urban area. Unfortunately, the Department of the Environment just about excluded my authority, which is neither a programme authority nor a partnership authority; nor, indeed, is it a designated area. But we have considerable problems in housing, in industrial decline and in physical unattractiveness. In fact, most of the inner urban area problems manifest themselves in my constituency.
We have, however, had considerable Government assistance, which has benefited not just the ethnic minorities but 118 the white working class. We are designated a housing stress area, which means that additional funds are pumped into our area for housing purposes. Regrettably, we underspent the housing investment programme allocation this year by just under £5 million, which makes it difficult for those such as myself to convince the central Government of the major needs of the area.
We have a 100 per cent. grant under the derelict land clearance scheme. Many firms are benefiting under the various Industry Act schemes, in foundries and machine tools. This is benefiting all, not just the ethnic minorities. I wonder how many jobs would be destroyed if the Government ceased to support British Steel or British Leyland. Five thousand jobs have been saved under the temporary employment subsidy. So all groups of people are benefiting. Over 1,000 youngsters are in receipt of money for jobs under the various youth opportunities programmes.
We are here speaking of schemes which are of benefit to all who are disadvantaged, including the ethnic minorities. One should not try to play off, as the Tories are trying to do, the ethnic minorities against the white working class, because as a result of the policy of this Government, through its inner urban area plans and legislation, all benefit. We ought not to think that this is necesssarily discriminatory against the white working class.
It is obvious that although ethnic minorities share many disadvantages, there is an added dimension to their problems. Earlier in the debate we heard what some of these disadvantages are. Certainly, there are language deficiencies, and many Asian and Afro-Caribbean youngsters are under-achieving in school. This inequality must be eradicated. It is plain to all concerned that unemployment among young blacks is even higher than it is among their white counterparts. We must ensure that when they leave school these youngsters are given much higher priority in ensuring that when they look for their first jobs they are fairly treated.
We tend to think of Asians as having stronger family ties, so that they make no demands on the social services. That is not entirely true. As has been said, 119 there is also need for additional provision because of the preponderance of one-parent families among West Indians. In this connection, perhaps one should also read Age Concern's report,"The Elderly Ethnic Minorities ", to see that there is here a problem which should not be swept under the carpet on the, in many ways, false assumption that the immigrants always look after their own, though their record is better than ours. In truth there are problems here. There is a great need for day-care facilities and certainly a need to expand welfare rights knowledge among the ethnic minorities.
Those are some of the specific problems affecting the ethnic minorities. The countering of these disadvantages depends on the local authorities. Some local authorities respond, being dynamic, progressive and attuned to the needs of deprived minorities. There are other authorities which, as a result of indifference, inertia or, in some cases, hostility will do little over or above that which they are legally obliged to do. Indeed, there are authorities which will do that which they are legally obliged to do only if they are harried.
We must, therefore, put pressure on local authorities to ensure that they comply with the existing law and that they seek to promote the interests of the disadvantaged in their area. Regrettably, that is not done in every case.
Turning again to my own constituency, I greatly regret the antipathy that prevails between the local authority and the community relations council. It is a matter of profound disappointment that not one scheme out of the various urban area circulars from the community relations council has been accepted by the local authority and implemented. Recently, the officers put forward a scheme under the urban aid circular from the community relations council and, I believe, put it as priority No. 6, but it was booted out by the controlling Tory group. In order to resolve some of the problems of the ethnic minorities, I hope that more will be done to improve relationships between the community relations council and the local authority.
I am sad to think that the grants to the community relations council are constantly being subject to attack, which 120 does little to promote harmonious relations between the local authority and the ethnic minorities.
§ Mr. Robin Hodgson (Walsall, North)
I accept as regrettable, as he does, attacks on the community relations council grant, but will the hon. Gentleman admit that the style and tone of the reports produced and used by the Walsall community relations council are very biased and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) said, they have been used as a political stick, not as a means to improve and foster good community relations?
§ Mr. George
I draw attention to the composition of the community relations council, which comprises a large number of representatives from the Conservative Party, the local authority, the Liberal Party and the political organisations. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that it is a front for the Labour Party he is quite wrong. As for its reports, perhaps some people regard the language of the reports of the community relations council as intemperate in parts, but if an organisation is constantly being subjected to attacks almost month after month by prominent Tory councillors it is not surprising that it should feel defensive. Indeed, I am sometimes surprised at the moderation which the council displays in the face of extreme provocation.
The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton admonished my hon. Friend for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) for inconsistency. I was waiting to hear the hon. Gentleman extend his analysis of inconsistency to his own party. If ever there was ambivalence, we see it in the attitude of the Conservative Party towards the present Bill and towards race relations. There are liberals or moderates in the Tory Party who are rather upset at the tenor of some of the arguments of their colleagues.
We are always hearing about the defectors from the Labour Party to the Conservative Party. In fact, the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) has written a book on the subject. I should like to add one further name to 121 the rollcall of those people who have left the Labour Party and joined the Conservative Party—Trevor Russel, who wrote the book"The Tory Party—Its Policies, Divisions and Future ".
Here is an ex-Labour man who has provided, I think, one of the most sophisticated critiques of the Conservative Party that certainly I have seen for many years. He, better than anyone, has chronicled the demise of the liberal and progressive wing of the Conservative Party and the domination of that party by its reactionary Right. There are many examples of these here in the House tonight.
I wonder what the Tory attitude to the Bill will be this evening? Will it vote against the Bill? Will it abstain? How many Conservative Members will have some kind of Back-Bench revolt against their leadership? There is a strong tradition of this. I quote from Trevor Russel:Even before upping the stakes on immigration, Mrs. Thatcher had made clear her lack of sympathy for the immigrants already here, and the problems they face. One example of her insensitivity was her personal opposition to the idea of having legislation to protect the coloured community against discrimination in housing, employment and elsewhere. It was only a threatened revolt by Tory left-wingers which stopped her from ordering the Conservatives to vote against the 1976 Race Relations Act.Maybe we shall have some replication of that attitude this evening.
I remember trooping through the Division Lobby, all through the night on that legislation in 1975, against some of the most appalling reactionaries that one could ever come across in political life. Of course some of them are still alive and kicking today.
Trevor Russel goes on to say:The truth is that the Tory leadership is not really interested in the problems of the coloured community.Perhaps people outside will recognise some of the things that have been said this evening.
There is a fundamental need in our society to revitalise our declining inner urban areas. I support the. Government's general policy, although regret that there is not enough funding available to provide the job revitalisation that I regard as ideal. I regret, too, that my own area will not get the additional resources that 122 I consider desirable and necessary because of its non-inclusion. But if one looks at the inner urban areas policy of the Conservative Party, one sees that there is little in that policy to encourage people living in those areas to believe that their problems will be resolved by Conservative initiatives.
The Tory policy scarcely scratches the surface. We have heard that one solution is to deal with"law and order ". It is interesting to note that recently the crime rate in the West Midlands has dropped considerably. We have heard from Tory policy makers that free enterprise will move into these inner urban areas. The hand of Friedman is obvious in almost every statement of this kind. Indeed, the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe), called for enterprise zones in the inner urban areas, exempting entrepreneurs from rates and development land tax, and, interestingly, exemptions from the workings of price controls, pay policy and the provisions of the Employment Protection Act. If one thinks that the problems of people working in inner urban areas will be solved by so-called enterprise zones, where essential factory legislation or employment legislation is suspended, I suggest that: this is cloud-cuckooland.
I quoted Trevor Russel earlier. I shall continue. He said:Nor does the Conservative Party seem particularly concerned about the plight of Britain's inner cities—where, of course, the majority of the black population live and where poverty, squalor and deprivation exist on a massive scale ".Again, looking at the critiques of the so-called Conservative Party inner urban policy, the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker)—obviously not enamoured by the free enterprise solution—said:There is no way in which this problem can be solved by easy application of market forces. Mr. Milton Friedman has only to take a short cab ride from his university in Chicago to see what free market forces have done in some districts of that city.I refer to the right hon. Member for Worcester because I am not necessarily quoting only people at the opposite end of the political spectrum.
Obviously, the free enterprise solution alone will not solve the problems of the inner urban areas where the majority of 123 people we are talking about reside. Nor will those problems be solved simply by pumping in massive amounts of public money. I think that the solution is the manual injection of public funds, supplemented by private resources. But certainly I totally reject the Milton Friedman approach, which appears to be current in the Conservative Party.
I hope that my local authority, and many other authorities, will take advantage of this legislation in order to improve language teaching, provide additional and more qualified teachers, youth clubs and community centres. We have heard a great deal about the difficulties experienced over planning applications for temples and mosques. I should like to see a greater number of centres not just for ethnic minorities but for all minorities who certainly do not have the resources to plan their own projects. I also hope that organisations representing refugees from Chile and other regimes in South America will be able to take advantage of this legislation. These people came from Chile with a great deal of publicity, a few years ago, and there is a tendency to forget that they are now living here, often in poor housing and often in difficult circumstances.
I hope that the plight of the ethnic minorities as well as the underprivileged whites, will be resolved. I am very proud of the fact that this Government, despite intense provocation from some Conservative Members, are resolved to oppose discrimination. The Prime Minister has said time and again that the Government will do all in their power to ensure that all our citizens, irrespective of race and creed, will enjoy equality of opportunity and protection under the law. On that we cannot compromise.
The Bill, when it gets through—despite, no doubt, considerable opposition from Conservative Members—will go a long way to creating the kind of conditions that minorities should be enjoying but which regrettably until now they have not.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
I do not propose to join the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) in his argument about the general efficacy of public expenditure. He 124 plainly wishes to argue that the present Government have spent insufficient money in dealing with problems which can be ameliorated by Government expenditure. There are many of my hon. Friends who argue exactly the reverse. I wish to keep to a narrow point, which is the point of principle raised by the Bill.
Very often in waiting for many hours to speak in this Chamber I have felt that I have lost the thrust and thread of what I hoped to say. I have spent three hours waiting to speak tonight and I am most grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for having given me that time for reflection. For had you called me immediately after the Minister of State, I should, I think, have been inclined to express my deep resentment of the way in which he had dealt with some of those who oppose this Bill. I think I should have been inclined to speak with considerable anger. It is unfortunate that those of us who take seriously the deep resentment that is felt by many of our constituents about the problems of immigration are often treated—particularly by the Government Front Bench—with a mixture of sneers and self-righteousness.
I very much hope that, when the Minister of State has also had a period in which to reflect, he will come to the conclusion that the way in which he addressed those who disagreed with him as primitives was not perhaps the most helpful way of getting all-party agreement to a highly contentious measure. As I listened to that part of his speech, I reflected on how different the way in which he dealt with the House was from that, for instance, of Mr. Roy Jenkins when he was bringing forward very similar legislation. I believe that it would be true to say that Mr. Roy Jenkins was the most intelligent and articulate exponent of that section of opinion. The way in which the Minister of State tried to brush over, in a sneering way, the real doubts that many of us have about the concept of racial disadvantage was unfortunate.
It is no good saying"The primitives on the Back Benches of the Tory Party are so stupid that they do not recognise an elephant when they see it ", because it was very clear from the, as usual, honest speech of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) that the intelligent people in the Home Office spent a very long time 125 trying to decide this central philosophical issue of whether there is something which can be properly identified as racial disadvantage. I have no doubt that the Minister of State had important discussions within the Home Office before bringing this measure before the House. In that case, I regret the way in which he dealt with those of us who had serious doubts about the whole concept.
I should like to take the one concrete example that the hon. Gentleman eventually and reluctantly gave. He instanced the problems confronting West Indian schoolchildren in what he called"underachieving ". Here I would respectfully disagree with the hon. Member for York, and agree with those in the Home Office who argue that there is no such thing as racial disadvantage. The example given by the Minister is, in my view, an example of educational disadvantage. Or again, when discussion takes place about the problem of Asian women not speaking the language, I call that a language disadvantage. I hope that I take the hon. Member for York with me when I suggest that when we say that West Indian youths have a marginally greater propensity to use a knife—
§ Mr. Budgen
Or the Asians. But if that be true, and as a practising member of the Bar I believe it to be the case, I would describe that not as a racial disadvantage but rather as a criminal matter. Therefore, all these problems can be described in terms of the problem rather than in terms of race. Not one example has been brought to the attention of the House which I could properly describe as a racial disadvantage.
I hope that the House will come to the conclusion that, notwithstanding the unfortunate sneering way in which the Minister of State put his arguments forward, there is no such thing as a racial disadvantage. But perhaps I have not carried the hon. Member for York with me. Having fought this battle in the Home Office with highly intelligent officials who did not recognise an elephant either, he is now plainly convinced of his argument.
I take the hon. Gentleman on to the second leg of my argument. Let us 126 assume for a moment that there is such a thing as racial disadvantage. I contend that it is very unwise to give public money to combat racial disadvantage, bearing in mind that the symptoms to which it at least gives rise can be combated by other means. I am sure that the hon. Member for York, who on many occasions over the past two and three quarter years has joined me in asking for a debate on immigration, will agree that there is deep resentment within this country about the levels of immigration that have taken place over the 20 years or so. That resentment is not made any less because there is some tacit agreement between the two Front Benches to prevent those of us who wish to discuss this matter from discussing it in the great forum of the nation.
That rising tide of resentment is not made any better by the fact that, for the sake of argument, if one wishes to discuss immigration in a serious way outside this House one may find oneself threatened with prosecution under Section 70 of the—
§ Mr. Budgen
Oh, yes. The hon. Gentleman may say that, but I myself have been threatened with prosecution in respect of a careful speech that I made about the problems of special education for ethnic minorities. No doubt I shall not be prosecuted. Since the Attorney-General exists as a sieving mechanism, and because it would simply bring resentment upon the legislation, I shall not be prosecuted. But that section exists, and it is a matter for resentment.
I contend that these proposals are a third matter for resentment. I hope that in no way will I be regarded as being on the primitive wing of the Tory Party when I point to the resentment created by these measures. As I understand it, there is a certain amount of agreement, at any rate between the two Front Benches, upon this matter. My right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), when referring to this proposed piece of legislation during the debate upon the Queen's Speech said:No doubt extra expenditure is desirable in many of the areas in which ethnic minority groups live, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst made clear. Therefore, clearly, this provision could be valuable. 127 However, we must remember that such expenditure is needed for all the people, whatever their race and colour, who live in these areas. If there is the suggestion of limiting the money to any one group, there is always the danger of resentment building up, and that is a factor that we in this House have to consider."—[Official Report, 6 November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 627.]It was plain that my right hon. Friend was expressing at the very least grave concern about, which possibly might be construed as opposition to, the principle of this Bill. I hope that it will be conceded that there is a very grave risk that if this system of benefiting people on racial grounds is introduced it will add to the resentment that is already felt, although it may be quelled and not discussed in this House.
I hope that the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) is considered. Because of the very wide discretion that is given to the Home Secretary, it is plain that there is at least the risk of political corruption in the way in which these grants can be made. This is a very dangerous thing. But if I am right in saying that this Bill encourages the ethnic minorities to regard themselves as separate, it is also—sadly—very convenient that they should be separate so that they can be more obviously the recipients of the taxpayers' largesse that is handed out by the Government of the day.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
This kind of provision came from the Birmingham city council when it went Conservative. It is inevitable that a council such as that will make a strong demand upon this fund, and it would kick up an uproar if it was discriminated against by a Labour Government.
§ Mr. Budgen
Let us assume that the hon. Gentleman is right in what he says. Local authorities are always trying to get money from the central Government, and they are probably not terribly consistent in the arguments that they put forward in order to get that money. We in this House must consider this very important issue of principle rather than simply look at the way in which various bodies have tried to collect money from the central Government.
I give the hon. Gentleman an example. I suppose that one could say that in my 128 constituency the free market traditions of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who was formerly the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, are well known to all the people of Wolverhampton. However, when a motorcycle manufacturer went bust some years ago in Wolverhampton, the local chamber of commerce was as keen as any other group or individual on getting some Government money to bail it out. It wanted the money and it was prepared to be eclectic in its choice of philosophy to sustain that request. I have no doubt that Birmingham city council acted in the same way.
No doubt my right hon. and hon. Friends say"We shall win the next election whenever it comes. We shall not be using this piece of legislation in a way that will be corrupt or dishonourable. We shall be in power for 10 years or 15 years." That is the arrogance that was attached to the Industry Act 1972. It was assumed in 1972 that the Tories would be in Government for ever and that the 1972 Act would not be used for corrupt or widespread purposes. It was considered that it would never usher in a period of widespread subsidy, support and intervention because the Tories would always be in power.
I do not say that the unexpected always happens in politics, but it sometimes occurs. It would be unwise if my hon. Friends were to assume that once the Bill took its place on the statute book it would always be implemented by Tory hands.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)
I was interested when the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark) made an aside about the lack of black candidates for Parliament or local authorities on behalf of the Labour Party. I do not think that the Labour Party or the Conservative Party can boast very much success in attracting black candidates or women candidates. I hope that black and brown persons will not have to wait as long as women waited to achieve representation in the House of Commons. However, if there were ever a move to provide that women or certain ethnic groups should be positively discriminated for to give them seats in this place, I should be totally opposed to it.
129 There lies the misunderstanding about the Bill. It does not provide that because a person is of a certain ethnic origin he shall receive extra help. I should be opposed to such a concept. As my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) said, the Bill is no part of the positive discrimination argument. It merely provides that if people suffer certain disadvantages by virtue of their ethnic origin—for example, education disadvantages—they should receive help.
If the positive discrimination argument ever becomes valid it will be because we have failed to counter the disadvantage that exists now. If in 20 or 30 years' time we do not have adequate representation, there will be an argument for positive discrimination in many areas. It is to remove any possibility of that happening that we are considering some of the disadvantages that accrue to some in some areas because of their ethnic origin.
What can we do about language difficulties, especially when they are suffered by children born in this country? What can we do to alleviate certain housing difficulties? I should not expect Lord Pitt—in another place—who happens to be black and a doctor, Shirley Bassey, Cleo Laine, Kenny Lynch and Trevor McDonald, to receive help under the Bill. They do not need it, whatever their ethnic origins. However, there are many in Britain who suffer grave disadvantage because of their ethnic origins. If we are ever to achieve full integration, that type of disadvantage has to be considered.
It has been suggested that colour, race and ethnic or national origins are being used as blinds to deal with black people. When we were discussing race relations legislation in years gone by and were amending the Public Order Act 1936 to deal with incitement, some Opposition Members, including one or two hon. Ladies, said that we were trying to ensure the protection of blacks against whites. In fact, it was a black person who first went to prison for having infringed the incitement provisions.
It is true—it would be a fool who denied it—that in certain areas most of the gravely disadvantaged in our society happen to be black, but it is wrong to say that the Bill demonstrates that we are concerned only with black people. That is unfair and untrue.
130 In 1970, during the election campaign, I was approached in my constituency by members of the Polish community, which has made a good contribution to our society and has settled well within it. They asked me whether I would support a move to go to the Government to ask for a special grant so that they could keep in being their language, dancing and various other cultural activities. That was what they wanted, but they did not get it. Presumably they have never got it. However, if the Polish community were gravely disadvantaged, that situation would be covered by the Bill.
It is unfair to describe the Bill as part of the positive discrimination argument. If we had before us a Bill dealing with positive discrimination in employment following representation in this place, it would cause grave disquiet in the minds of many. Clearly this is not such a Bill, and it is unfair to represent it as such.
In many areas—mine is one—there are many children who suffer language difficulties only because of their ethnic origins. In my constituency there is good remedial work taking place to help such children. It is right that that should be so. In Wandsworth, where I live and where my children go to school, good remedial work is also taking place. That work takes place in schools where there are not large numbers of children of ethnic origins different from the white population. The work is taking place because of special needs in the area. It is unfair to imply that the help that would be available under the Bill, or other Bills dealing with disadvantage, would go only to certain sections of the community because those sections happen to be black.
I share the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for York about the nature of the Bill. It will seek to persuade local authorities, but it will not seek to compel them. I am not a great believer in compelling local authorities to take action, but in my constituency the Conservative local authority has seen fit to remove much of the support that it gave to the community relations council in the past and has made its existence largely dependent upon a fund-raising industry. It was argued that all local authorities would want to make provision for CRCs. It was said that they would wish to ensure good 131 race relations within their communities and that there would be no question of their not wanting to meet the requirements of the legislation. That is why I am nervous.
I understand the reasons why we are not mandating local authorities, but I am worried about what will happen if authorities say that they will have nothing to do with the Bill when it is enacted. My experience in Slough over the past two or three years has made me sad. I still hope, at this late hour, that the combined efforts of some of my hon. Friends and those on the local authority who do not share the majority view will win the day.
I give one example of the differences in difficulties for certain ethnic minorities. It was said that there was a wealth of legislation dealing with the situation where problems experienced by immigrants or the children of immigrants are shared by minorities, or a majority, of the population. This situation is catered for in a variety of ways in relation to housing and education. Some other disadvantages are not so well catered for.
Many hon. Members have referred to West Indian children and why many of them born in this country do not perform at school as well as we expected they would after the initial difficulties were over. The difficulties experienced by the West Indian parents seem to be reflected in their children born here. A variety of reasons and explanations have been given for this. One given by my hon. Friend the Member for York dealt with one-parent families and the different cultural set-up in this country.
I mention another, which I hope that the Bill will be able to meet. Common to West Indian children in this country—although the problem exists with others—is maternal deprivation at an early age, as a result of a lack of an extended family, children being placed with bad child minders, and the lack of supervision that arises from that. This deprivation in the early years has long been recognised as having a causal connection between the children's later poor performance in schools and lack of attainment. This matter has been well documented and examined by many sociologists, who are scorned by some 132 hon. Members. Nevertheless, if that is one of the most common factors affecting the West Indian babies and exists for four or five years before they go to school, and if their performance at school, in spite of their being born in this country, does not reach the heights that one might expect, this Bill will make it possible to look closely at that situation and decide what special help could be forthcoming.
Provision for many under-fives is appalling. What I believe is special is the fact that there is no extended family. That makes it especially difficult for large numbers of West Indian mothers, who often have no extended family to which they may turn in this situation. The documentation of the deprivation, the poor facilities and the lack of knowledge or availability of local authority services for this section of the community does not say"As you are a West Indian and as you are black, you will have special provision ". It should say"If you are suffering from certain deprivation as a result of your ethnic origin, in this instance we shall want to make help available to you to counter that."
If we do not counter the disadvantage now, the time will come when people will say that as we failed to spread proper representation through every walk of life we must look at positive discrimination. That would be a measure of the failure that most hon. Members who have spoken want to avoid.
I refer to what the Bill should cover in colleges of education as distinct from schools. That is important in relation to the training of teachers, but not simply in training them to deal with ethnic minorities. It is a question of training teachers to teach in a multi-racial society and to have some knowledge of the difficulties and special needs of children from the ethnic minorities, although the teachers may not come across those difficulties in their early teaching careers.
The Bill may deal with those problems. However, it is not doing what it has been suggested it should do. I am co-chairman of the Joint Committee Against Racialism. I do not speak for the committee. A member of the Conservative Party is the other co-chairman. The committee is made up of representatives of political, ethnic and religious groups. 133 If the committee discussed the Bill—aware, as the members are, of the difficulties faced by ethnic minorities—I have a feeling that it would wish it well, recognising that it avoids the dangers pointed out by one or two hon. Members, and that it sets out the contribution that needs to be made if we are to enhance race relations and ensure that the ethnic minorities are not discriminated against by virtue of their ethnic origin but are given every opportunity to play a full part in our society.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Roger Sims (Chislehurst)
I suspect that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) and I would be diametrically opposed on most issues coming before the House. However, on this issue there is little between us.
I have the pleasure of being the other Member of Parliament sitting on the Joint Committee Against Racialism. The hon. Lady said that members of all parties, races, religions and groups worked together in the joint cause against racialism.
This Bill is another step in furthering the Government's policy on race relations—or possibly, after the Bill becomes law, we should refer to it as"ethnic group relations ". I was worried when I looked up the word"ethnic"in my ancient dictionary and discovered that the definition was"pagan ". Perhaps it is just as well, to clarify any misunderstandings, that a definition appears at the head of the Bill.
It makes sense that, if any community is to live peacefully, good relations should exist not simply between black and white, between the indigenous population and the immigrants, but between all sections of society, be they of different ethnic groups or of the same ethnic group but of different religions.
On this issue, some feel—I suspect this view is held by some of my hon. Friends who spoke earlier—that the Government should have no part to play in race relations. The Labour Party clearly feels that the Government should play a large part in this sphere. Indeed, it is interesting to question in passing why it is that the Labour Party favours legislation in the area of race relations but not in that of industrial relations. However, that is a different issue.
My fear is that the present Labour Party policy is in danger as a result of 134 the Government being too much involved in race relations. It is possible for the State to be too involved and for that involvement to have an adverse effect. In certain aspects of the Race Relations Act the Government went too far, especially in the incitement to racial hatred clauses. The Home Secretary is going too far in insisting on requiring contractors to sign undertakings on their race relations policy. That seems to me to be both an unreasonable and unwise step to take. It is unreasonable in that guidelines have already been issued on this matter to employers by the Council for Racial Equality. In any case, surely it is reasonable to assume that any business complies with the law and that, if it does not, the law will take its course—but not to expect an undertaking to be signed in each individual case. It is not only unreasonable but unwise, as it is likely to be counter-productive. In the past weeks, we saw reactions from responsible bodies such as the CBI. The trouble is that this will create antagonism in an area where many of us are trying to create an atmosphere conducive to good race relations.
Legislation in this area tends to take two forms which may be described as positive or negative. The positive legislation is that which helps and encourages good relations between the races and ethnic groups. The negative is that which creates offences and seeks to define discrimination and how to deal with offenders. However, it may also be negative if, by appearing to discriminate in favour of certain groups in the community, whatever their colour, race or religion, it offends the majority of the population and thereby sours rather than helps race relations. This Bill may fall into either category, because it is so general in its terms. A great deal is bound to depend on the way in which the Home Secretary operates it. I hope that, when the Minister replies, we shall have a little more clarification as to exactly how the Bill is likely to work, and how he expects to interpret the various conditions in clause 1(2). There have been several references to them. They could mean anything or nothing, and there is a need for some clarification.
It is fair to say, in response to the remarks of some of my hon. Friends who have reservations about the Bill, that this 135 is not a new principle. The principle of the grant was established in the Local Government Act 1966. The idea of taking into account immigrant communities is already enshrined in the educational priority areas scheme and in the rate support grant. Therefore it is not in itself a new idea. Indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) so graphically illustrated, it is obvious that some groups in certain areas will suffer disadvantages.
We do not need to talk about black and white or about Asians, Pakistanis and West Indians. Let us consider the recent arrival in this country of the groups of Vietnamese. If they come to settle in my constituency—or in the constituency of any other hon. Member—there will be problems within the community of language and of culture. The local authority concerned could quite reasonably say that extra assistance was required but that it should not necessarily be met entirely by the local ratepayers. The authority could therefore look to the central Government for some assistance. Indeed, it would be entitled to do this under clause 1(2)(a). Similarly, this sort of consideration might be dealt with under clause 1(2)(b). I wonder what services the Home Secretary has in mind under subsection (2)(b) that would not in any case fall under subsection (2)(a). If the function of paragraph (a) is to remove the disadvantages, the provision in paragraph (b) for securing the effectiveness of the services provided would appear to be superfluous. I hope that the Minister will look at this and enlighten us on it, either when he replies or when the Bill is considered in Committee.
Subsection (2)(c) is couched in such vague terms that I find it difficult to grasp exactly what sorts of grant the Government have in mind. We may find that a case can be made in an area for youth clubs for a particular ethnic group, but we must be quite sure that indigenous youth already has adequate youth club facilities. If such facilities are not available, and special facilities are granted for ethnic groups, the effect will be contrary to what we are seeking to achieve. Similarly, no doubt a case could be made for nursery and child care projects for ethnic groups, 136 but the local indigenous population also need them.
Many immigrants find themselves confused in the world of officialdom in which we live. They do not know how to fill in the forms with which they are faced. There could be an argument for a grant to provide some sort of bureau to which they could go with their problems. But, as we all know, many of the indigenous population suffer from exactly the same problem. I am sure that I am not the only Member to have spent part of the weekend helping a constituent to fill in one of these forms.
We have to be very careful, therefore, how these grants are made. We must be sure that they are not made specifically to any one group in such a way as to give it an advantage over the other. I thought that this point was extremely well covered in paragraph 8 of the Select Committee's report, dealing with section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. There is no need for me to repeat it, because the chairman of that Select Committee referred to it earlier today and quoted from his own speech, although, with typical modesty, he failed to name the author. That sums up very well the sort of attitude that we have towards the Bill. I confess to sharing his surprise that no reference was made to the Select Committee's report by the Minister when he introduced the Bill.
Has the Minister any comment to make on the Select Committee's suggestion that grants should be for a limited period, or will they be open-ended? I think he indicated in his opening speech that, whereas under section 11 grants were made only for staff, under this Bill grants can cover virtually any sort of venture. They could clearly cover capital expenditure, with quite substantial sums for the cost of buildings. Will there be any sort of limit on the size of grant for such items of capital expenditure?
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) referred earlier to the EEC social fund. I should have thought that, even if there were any doubt as to section 11, under this Bill a substantial proportion of the amounts claimed could be refundable from the social fund. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to deal with that point.
137 In operating the Bill we are on very delicate ground—that of race relations. I urge the Minister to tread it extremely delicately. But, having said that, I support the principle of the Bill. I have a good deal of reservation on matters of detail which I hope we can deal with in Committee, but meanwhile I hope that the Bill will have a safe passage this evening.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
I promise to be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but there are one or two points that I feel that I should make, as the longest serving member of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration. I have been on the Committee ever since it was set up in 1968 and have been involved in the process of recommending what has led to the presentation of the Bill today. I warmly welcome the Bill. I think that it is overdue.
In response to the remarks just made by the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims), may I say that I believe that the Bill, in the very nature of things, must be couched in these terms. I think that there is logic in our recommendation that there should be some kind of annual accounting because continually we shall want to know where we are going and how expenditure is being made.
I agreed with most of the contribution made by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon), who was formerly the Minister responsible for immigration and race relations matters. However, I am unable to agree with him that this is a futuristic matter. I do not see these problems as extending into the distant future. I do not envisage the multicultural—not multi-racial—struggle as being a long-term affair.
Problems have arisen in the past, in communities such as Southall, that we no longer face today. There are some current problems which did not exist at an earlier stage. It is a sort of rolling entity, and that is why there is a great deal of logic in the arguments from each side of the House that there should be frequent accountability in Parliament and far greater facilities for discussion and debate in Parliament than there have been been in the past few years on a question which undoubtedly worries the ethnic minorities and the host community. This is 138 especially important in a climate such as the present one, with high unemployment and with a degree of uncertainty about Britain's role in the future in world affairs. I do not think we can discount the possibility of bringing ourselves into some sort of harmonious consideration of matters of this kind together with our partners in the EEC.
We are currently studying this aspect in the Select Committee. We have made several visits to other countries so that we may know and understand the difficulties and problems which they face. There is a continuous discussion—it will receive greater emphasis in the not too distant future—on migrant labour and on the family movement which flows in consequence of migrant labour. That is exactly the problem that we face also in Britain. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark) has not taken it sufficiently into account. He talked in his contribution about our doing certain things under section 11 because we wanted to prevent hardship. That was not the prime reason for that measure coming into being. The prime reason for making financial arrangements to give a central Government grant of 75 per cent. of extra local authority expenditure in relation to the coming of immigrant communities, and the attendant social questions and problems that inevitably arose, had more to do with the whole substance and economic evaluation of the migration of labour.
What we were doing was meeting, in a civilised way, the social costs that arose from that. This was not done in Germany or in France which also now have an overlay of problems that arise from the fact that their migrant workers and families will not all go away, as the indigenous population psychologically seemed to think that they would go.
The essence of our discussion tonight is that our immigrant population has been made almost synonymous with the term"immigrant people with brown and black skins ", although we have many white immigrants as well. But it is the black and brown people who have been the new feature, as has been pointed out in the debate. These are relatively new experiences for us, in spite of British imperialism and of having collared one-quarter of the earth's surface, where the majority of people were black or brown. Living 139 together with them in this country is a relatively new experience. It has been a relatively painful experience.
I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) that we need not only multi-cultural teaching in our State school system but also—and this is needed very badly—multi-cultural teaching in our adult education system. There is a great deal of scope for expenditure in that regard through organisations such as the Workers Educational Association and the trade union movement. The trade union movement does a great deal in adult education, in which I spent a considerable chunk of my life before becoming a Member of Parliament.
I think that this matter will have to be treated gingerly. I think that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will make it quite clear that the Home Office is very sensitive about this necessity. However, it is in areas such as my constituency and other particular parts of Britain—which are not yet multi-racial in the sense of everyone in the land having had these experiences, because they are still pockets of experience—that the experiences are growing apace. The spread of the people is growing apace. There is the spread of people out of my own home town of Southall into the surrounding areas, in which the National Front fights and says"Stop Harrow ","Stop Hayes ", and stop various parts of London"from becoming another Southall." That is the ticket on which the National Front fights.
However, in the processes of equality of opportunity, inevitably there will be a measure of spread. There will also be cultural homogeneity. Just as with the Catholics, Protestants, Wesleyans, and so on, so with the Hindus and Sikhs. They cluster around the church and the culture. It is in those areas that one can give aid now towards extending equality. It has now become a qualitative pursuit and not just a quantitative pursuit in terms of money. It will be on a selective basis. It will be as a result of advice which is fed into my hon. Friend's ears and into the Home Office.
In those areas, in Southall, for example—contrary to the general trend in London as a whole, where depopulation is taking place and there is a de-industrialisation 140 process, which tells part of the story—in areas into which people of the same age groups came, people of the child-bearing age groups, in areas in which marriage and family production are cherished, one gets an unusual upturn in the child population, against the general trend in the country as a whole. But again, it comes to earth in the course of time and one finds that the sizes of the families tend to diminish as acclimatisation grows apace with experience of the British way of life.
I do not go in for the old wives' stories about all coloured people having a lot of kids, and so on. It is true that we must make distinctions between West Indian communities and Asian communities, as we have to make distinctions between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and between others. The average Britisher thinks that one can lump the lot together as"the black immigrants." One certainly cannot do that. In all these different groups there are wider divisions, perhaps, than there are between people such as myself. That is one reason why the deliberate ganging up behind a coloured candidate to get him into this place does not happen, because that is not how they think. It is not how they should think.
If such people come to this House as Members—and there is a great probability of that happening during the next 10, 20 or 30 years—they will come on the basis of their merits. So many of them are deserving of merit. They will come here on the basis of warm support from people of all colours and races as a result of their ability to represent a constituency.
I warmly welcome the Bill indeed. I have given as much detail to the House as I can, especially about Ealing, although the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) has already spent some time on that subject. I think that he was quite practical in the questions that he raised. I hope that the House will not divide on Second Reading. I have soldiered on the Select Committee on the supposition that it is possible to get two-party consensus in a sensible way. That has not so far eluded us. We struggled for agreement on the last report, which was eminently practical and suitable in relation to immigration. All our verdicts have been enormously progressive. They have been 141 enhanced because they have been contained in unanimous reports. This Bill is part of the ongoing work of the Select Committee. Long may this concept of two-party understanding continue so that we can get this subject off the top of the agenda of the major party collision in the coming general election.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Robin Hodgson (Walsall, North)
I take the point made by the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) about the dangers of lumping all immigrants together in one group. As he rightly pointed out, they are as diverse in their culture, and backgrounds as the native white community. I join my hon. Friends in giving a modified welcome to this measure. I do not see how one can really oppose a Bill whose principal aim is to promote good race relations. Although I have doubts and qualms about some points within the Bill, I am convinced that it will be a step, perhaps a small one, on the road towards a well integrated society in this country. I have in my constituency a substantial immigrant population. I know at first hand the difficulties and the problems that they face. I recognise those difficulties, but I also recognise that there are ways in which this Bill could be improved and made more appropriate to their requirements.
I would like to make four points to the Minister. The first is the structure of the Bill itself and the fact that it calls for a centralised administration of the aid system. Clause 1(1) uses the words"in his opinion ". It saysThe Secretary of State may pay to local authorities grants on account of such expenditure approved by him as, in his opinion…When Secretaries of State have opinions such as that, I am always nervous. I do not think that they are necessarily able to appreciate the broad range, detailed needs and sensitivity to local issues that exist The wordsThe Secretary of State…in his opinionalways seem to smack of the concept that Whitehall knows best. In race relations Whitehall rarely knows best.
Reverting to the point raised by the hon. Member for Southall, inherent in this centralised structure is a danger of immigrant groups being treated in the 142 same way with, for examples, not enough differentiation of schemes available for West Indians as opposed to those from the Indian sub-continent.
The Bill also implies an increase in bureaucratisation. The Minister mentioned the establishment of another quango. When pressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith) in his opening speech, the Minister did not set my fears at rest that the quango had no useful role at all except to act as a vague governing body setting down amorphous guidelines. His reply emphasised and strengthened my feeling that this would lead to another well meaning but none the less over centralised, over directed Whitehall scheme.
I also regret that the Bill fails to mention the valuable role that can be played by voluntary movements. To be fair, the Minister mentioned this in his speech. I hope I quote him correctly in recalling that he said that voluntary movements had a role to play where they were relevant to and complementary to the service of local authorities. I do not think that is good enough. Voluntary movements established town by town, district by district, or neighbourhood by neighbourhood, are the movements that are sensitive to local needs. They are flexible. They may not be able to provide the broad mass of direction, but they ameliorate, shape and change the way this legislation can be interpreted at local level. To say that they can exist only where they are relevant and complementary to the services of local authorities seems to give local government officers a chance to ignore voluntary movements. They will fall back on this phrase to develop their own full-time, fully trained approach. They will not be prepared to accept, use and follow up the work, help and assistance that will be available from members of the community.
The second point I wish to make concerns reverse discrimination. I have referred to the fact that I have a substantion immigrant population, primarily Pakistani and Indian, but also some West Indian, in my constituency. They live in conditions familiar to many hon. Members. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever), whose constituency I visited during his by-election, knows of similar conditions in his 143 own constituency—back-to-back terrace housing, often of a fairly low standard and lacking modern conveniences like running water and inside lavatories. It is a poor quality environment. Not a mile away from where those immigrants live, in another part of my constituency called Blakenall, the cycle of deprivation is hard at work. This does not relate to a coloured or ethnic community but to to white community. The area consists of 50-year-old housing. There are council houses built after the First World War, with outside lavoratories, no damp courses, and still extremely sub-standard after 50 or 60 years. The area has poor education achievements, high unemployment, low health standards and a low level of economic wealth.
Those two communities, a mile apart, represent a great challenge to our society. I do not believe that this Bill, as presently constituted, will do anything other than arouse resentment among residents in that white area. It is easy for the Minister to say that the Government have brought forward the Inner Urban Areas Act. My constituency has been excluded. It is easy to point to some of the other schemes available. Some of them have worked. But there is a danger, unless this Act is carefully and sensitively applied, that the reaction in the areas where people native to this country live will be extremely adverse.
The third point concerns the specific results we can expect to see from this Bill. The Minister's speech on this point was rather thin. He referred to the production of leaflets and pamphlets to explain in ethnic languages various aspects of the modern State—presumably housing and social security leaflets, and so on. Leaflets are all very well, but many of the most pressing issues for the ethnic minority in my constituency will not be covered by this legislation.
For example, there has been difficulty in obtaining planning permission for the conversion of a house to a mosque. Permission has been refused, probably rightly, because the building is not suitable as a place of worship. An alternative site is therefore needed, but it is difficult to find. This has excited and worried the immigrant community— 144 rightly so: why should not people have freedom to practise their own religion?
If we are to lance this boil of potential discontent—it has so far been treated entirely constructively by the immigrant community concerned—the Bill should allow such problems to be tackled. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) that this is a question of improved planning permissions. Many of the concerns of the immigrant community will not be affected constructively and quickly by the Bill.
I agree with the Minister that the Bill will be effective only if it is operated in the right spirit. But, although the Bill provides additional aid for ethnic groups, it imposes responsibilities on them to respond constructively. Too many times, hon. Members on both sides have heard of members of the immigrant population who can speak only four words of English—" I have my rights." That is where they begin to take without contributing to their community, and this is strongly resented by local people.
§ Mr. Hodgson
I will come to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.
In the immigrant area in my constituency, there is a good multi-racial primary school with a high proportion of immigrant children. But it is nigh impossible to get immigrant mothers to play a role in the parent-teacher association. I know that they have a different cultural background, but that is no excuse; they must be prepared to come forward. If the white population is to be asked to pay additional taxes to ensure that the disadvantages of the immigrant community are wiped out, we are entitled to ask them to participate in the community as well.
§ Mr. Hodgson
That is only one of the reasons. I accept that it is a reason, but often it is because of a different cultural and religious background which perhaps places a woman in a lower role than we are used to in this country.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
Can I help the hon. Gentleman? This problem has arisen in many areas and partly it is because Indian women have no tradition of this kind of thing. However, one thing that gets through is the white population going out of its way to make some provision which will involve the Indian woman and the Indian family. May I suggest that, at his local school, the hon. Gentleman sets up a game of Kibabi and that the Indian kids should teach the white kids how to play? Then they will have a wonderful PTA.
§ Mr. Hodgson
I accept that we need to create the atmosphere in which the Indian women come forward, although in this area there has been a great effort to do so and the results have been slow in coming. The immigrant community needs to understand that they have a responsibility as well as a right, a right to special treatment that they will be afforded under the Bill.
The second point concerns deeper and more important cultural differences. The immigrant community have a great responsibility here. I quote from a letter sent to me by a local solicitor:I have recently engaged a young typist aged 17 who, while she was born in India, nevertheless was brought to this country by her parents approximately 14 years ago. She is domiciled in the United Kingdom.She has now appealed to me to help her avoid a marriage arranged by her Father with a man who is still in India whom she has never seen. I have no doubt that in the event of a marriage taking place the Father will receive a substantial sum of money. If it does not take place, then the parents will lose ' face '.I have seen the Father, who appears to have used force against his Daughter, and have informed him that according to the law of this country, a girl may not be married off without her consent. My employee informs me that she is not prepared to consent to the arranged marriage.I understand from the Police that there is a danger that unless the lady consents to the marriage, she is likely to be bundled back to India in which country it is recognised that disobedience to a Father's wishes is a serious offence.I have drawn that to the Minister's attention, and he has replied most constructively. It is one of a number of cases that has been brought to his attention. I am sure that I speak for many when I say that that is an extremely offensive affront to the liberty of that young girl.
146 The immigrant community has a responsibility to ensure that its behaviour and cultural traditions match the broad treatment of individual rights and liberties afforded in this country under the law.
I share the opinion of my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington that race relations are improving, and on balance the Bill will be of assistance. Bat unless the Act is administered flexibly and with due deference to local feelings, a backlash of white opinion could follow.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)
I am sorry that I was not present for the Minister's opening remarks. Unfortunately, a train broke down and I was marooned in it for some hours this afternoon. If I tread on paths already trodden, perhaps I shall be forgiven.
It would be remiss if I did not speak in a debate that is of great importance to my constituency. We have a highly diverse and cosmopolitan population in Bradford. Not only are there many Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis, but thousands of East Europeans. We have clubs for Poles, Estonians, and Latvians, and we have folk groups from all over Eastern Europe. Every year I judge a beauty competition where six Eastern European nations are represented. In my constituency we are not dealing with only a broad division between the indigenous English and Asians. There are West Indians, with their problems and aspirations. The Bill is of considerable importance to all the ethnic groups in my constituency.
Under section 11 of the Local Government Act, Bradford takes £1½ million per annum. The council is Conservative, and all the parties represented on the council would be distressed if the Government were to accede to the demands from one or two Conservative Members and withdraw that kind of support.
If a child does not speak English and no special assistance is provided to help it do so, it is nonsense to suggest that it should solemnly attend class and be able to understand the teacher. We have to ensure that such children learn some English in order to benefit from education. That provision would involve expenditure, and the Government have acknowledged that requirement under the section 11 procedure. The local council 147 in Bradford is so enamoured of section 11 that it is reluctant to see it go and has some reservations about that. I believe that the council would like the section 11 procedure extended rather than replaced. I believe, however, that its fears are ill founded because I believe that under this Bill the Goverment's policy of helping with education will not change or contract.
I am concerned at the level of contribution by the Government towards expenditure which will have to be incurred in the first place by the council. Under the Bill the local council will have to make an application to the Home Office, which will decide whether, within its own ceiling of expenditure for these purposes, an application should be granted. Most of the councils in the big urban areas in England and Wales today are Conservative-controlled. That means that it is they that will apply to the Home Office for grants. Conservative Members have criticised the Bill, and if those Conservative councils share their views there will be few applications made.
One of the worrying aspects of the Bill revolves around the area that urgently needs help where its council decides not to apply because it does not want to contribute the necessary 25 per cent. to secure the balance from the Government. The trigger is the local authority, not the Home Office. As I understand the Bill, the Home Office is powerless to do anything to help where the local authority decides not to apply for a grant.
I shall leave aside the Asian or West Indian examples, although the needs of those communities are crucial considerations under the Bill, and instead cite the example of the Polish community in Bradford which comes to me from time to time to talk about its efforts to maintain the Polish cultural heritage. These people want to teach their children to speak Polish and they want to educate them about the Polish culture. They do that on Saturdays, but they find it increasingly difficult to provide the money to pay the increasing rents for the premises they use for this purpose. Thus they ask for assistance.
I have tried writing to the local authority to obtain some help, but without 148 success. The Bill will provide such people with the possibility—if the local council agrees—of getting assistance. I believe that the cultural diversity found in places such as Bradford can be—in Bradford it is—more enriching to the community as a whole as each of the many different groups makes its cultural contribution to the life of the city. This applies particularly to the West Indians and the Asians.
There are differences between the communities and their needs. The slave trade resulted in the break-up of African family life. Husbands and wives and their children became commodities, to be bought and sold, and the resulting damage to the structure of West Indian family life is considerable. The effects can be seen in the difficulties experienced by West Indian children.
I consider that the alienation that has developed in the West Indian community is extremely dangerous for the homogeneity and welfare of our society as a whole. We should not take the view that a Bill of this kind is for Asians and West Indians alone. It is for the whole community. We want a community in which resentments do not reach the pitch—as they have in some parts of North America—where the majority community feels distinctly unhappy because of the resentments and hatreds aimed at it. A Bill such as this can make a useful contribution towards removing any growing feeling of resentment and alienation that may exist.
The Asian community in Bradford, and in Britain generally, is self-reliant. It has the advantage of the extended family, who support one another in a way that is wholly admirable and, incidentally, reduces the demands on the State for support. None the less, we have a State education system, and in that system are children whose knowledge of English is, to say the least, poor. Bradford has found it absolutely essential to take specific measures for the education in English of Asian children.
We have bussing in Bradford, because the Asian children are concentrated in areas where school facilities cannot cope with the demand. The argument about bussing is a vexed one, and there are opposing views. I hope that it will be possible under the Bill—though I doubt it—not only to provide teachers but to 149 provide extra schools in those areas which experience these pressures. The Department of Education and Science is saying that where there is overcrowding in schools no new schools shall be built if there are schools further afield which can take the overflow. Even if one could abolish bussing of Asian children in Bradford, there would still be mixed bussing of Asian and white children to schools further afield, because of the inadequate number of schools in particular areas.
I have a feeling that the Minister is going to say that this Bill will not cover that eventuality; that it will provide the teachers but not the schools. I hope that some attention can be given to this problem. A major question is whether the 75 per cent. grant is enough. I urge the Government to accept the view of Bradford council, which is Conservative-controlled but which has the support of the Labour group, that the grant should be increased to 90 per cent.
The higher the Government grant the greater likelihood of more worthwhile projects coming forward, be they for educational purposes or for youth clubs. Because of the problems of funding in Bradford, Government help is desirable and essential, and such help is looked for on a considerable scale by all parties.
I also have to bear in mind the ratepayers. The ratepayers of Bradford urge that money should come from central Government rather than from them. The ratepayers do their bit, but there is an argument for the Government's being involved in these projects.
I feel that I speak for all the parties in Bradford when I say that 90 per cent. is a more appropriate sum for the Government to contribute. The 75 per cent. figure may be an inhibiting factor, particularly when rates are rising and when councils are looking everywhere for ways of restricting expenditure. It would be a pity if the benevolence behind the Bill were foiled as a result of councils refusing to take up the money that is available under the Bill because they do not want to pay 25 per cent.
I hope that the Government will say that the figure is open and that they will consider making a higher contribution. If I thought that there were any hope of 150 succeeding I should urge a 100 per cent. Government contribution.
Will the Government consider whether pressure can be put upon a council to make an application when there is a real need? Not much pressure would be needed if there were a 100 per cent. or 90 per cent. grant, but with a 75 per cent. grant projects may not be suggested or proceeded with.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (South Fylde)
I find that the apparent aim of the Bill is attractive. It is useful and admirable. I understand that that aim is contained in the foreword of the consultative document which is signed by the Home Secretary. It describes the aim as a"racially harmonious society." My worry about the Bill involves the width that it gives to its aims.
Section 11 has been criticised. It is the reason why we now have the Bill. Section 11 was rightly regarded as too restrictive, both as to its beneficiaries and in its benefits.
The Bill is so wide that if it is not substantially amended in Committee the Government will be expected to gush out benefits over so wide an area and of such a various kind that the people who are supposed to enjoy the benefits will hardly notice them, because they will be so thin upon the ground. In support of that contention I bring to the attention of the House the two and a quarter pages in the consultative document which are devoted to setting out what are described as possible examples of the uses to which the new ethnic minority grant might be put.
I do not wish to weary the House by repeating the contents of those pages, but I can sum them up. The grant might be used for programmes to assist students of all age groups, youth, younger children, the special needs of women who belong to ethnic groups, family needs in general, the elderly, the public at large and the Health Service. As the Minister said, this is the first time that the Health Service has been involved in this way.
One of the aims of the Bill is to improve access to health services for certain ethnic minorities. I say in all anxiety, and meaning well, that it is essential that, if the health services are to be opened in 151 an improved way to the ethnic minorities, it should be explained as soon as possible exactly what improvements are to be made for ethnic minorities. In my constituency and, I am sure, in others, so many people now waiting to go into hospital—the old, the very sick and those who stand in need of medical treatment—are being told that the facilities are not available at the moment because the National Health Service will not stand the strain. It is right that the Government should make clear just what they mean by allowing a particular group of people the privilege of an improved access to the health services.
At the moment, grants to ethnic groups are available under section 11, which is to be replaced by the Bill. Grants are available also from the Home Office voluntary services scheme, from the urban programme and from the Commission for Racial Equality. Have the Government any intention of trying to unify all these services and the sources of grants, so that they can be properly and effectively directed?
As the Bill stands, it seems to me that it places a quite impossible administrative burden on the Home Secretary. It is perhaps no wonder that the Prime Minister, in April 1977, told the House that he was to transfer from the Home Office to the Department of the Environment the responsibility for administering the urban programme. My greatest anxiety about the Bill lies in the fact that inevitably it seeks to identify and to single out what it calls"ethnic groups ". The basis of my anxiety is that it will add confusion to the confusion that already exists because of our outdated laws of nationality.
In law, there are no such people as citizens of the United Kingdom as a separate category. The British Nationality Act 1948 and all subsequent legislation has meant that we are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, with the right of abode here, and living here. We have one category of people with wholly different rights. The people with whom we are dealing now, although they have no such name, are citizens of the United Kingdom. They are in the same category and they must have the same rights. My fear is that by attaching the label"ethnic minority"to a certain group we are sub- 152 dividing the citizens of the United Kingdom into different categories and giving them, as it were, different rights.
In my view, that is bad in principle. It may be unavoidable, but it should be avoided wherever it can be, and in its present form the Bill does not do all that I believe should be done to make that distinction as fine and as acceptable as possible.
It is perhaps trite to say—the White Paper of April 1978 said it, and I repeat it—that the fundamental needs of ethnic minorities are essentially the same as those of the population as a whole. I believe that to be right, and I am sure that the House will accept it as a correct understanding of the comparison of difficulties. It applies also to the youth of this country. Difficulties arising, for example, from unemployment or from sub-standard education are, unhappily, difficulties experienced by our youth as a whole. They are not confined to particular ethnic minorities. As the White Paper said in 1978, young blacks share many of their problems with the younger generation as a whole.
I believe that, in dealing with the ethnic minorities, we have to recognise that we are dealing with people who have problems shared with the remainder of the population. We must make sure—I hope that this will be the feeling of the whole House—that this legislation does not give rise to the dangers which attend the"ethnic minority"label.
We must make sure, for example, that the Bill and other legislation of this character does not give an ethnic minority privileges that are denied to the remainder of the population—
§ Mr. Budgen
How can we make sure? It gives wide discretion to the Secretary of State of the day. Plainly, unless we are in power, it will do exactly what my hon. and learned Friend fears.
§ Mr. Gardner
The hon. Gentleman can call it what he likes. The fact is that disadvantages are removed. What I fear is that if we are not careful the time will come when the only people able to enjoy an improved Health Service, for example, will be people in an ethnic minority. I do not believe that that need happen.
§ Mr. Gardner
I have said that I approve any measure that will have the result of achieving a racially harmonious society. I believe that the Bill, when it has gone through Committee—if the Government are wise, as I hope they will be—
§ Mr. Gardner
I wish my hon. Friend would allow me just to complete my argument without an expletive interfering with every sentence that I speak.
To make the matter clear, simple and brief, let me just say that it is my hope—I hope that I shall not be hoping in vain—that the Government will accept amendments to the Bill which will allow it to focus upon essentials such as, for example, difficulties in language. Whether those difficulties arise because a person is a member of an ethnic minority or because he has had a bad education, or comes here as a foreigner—
§ Mr. Budgen rose—
§ Mr. Gardner
—for the special purposes required, a Bill of this kind can achieve its purpose, but it must not go outside it.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Latham (Paddington)
I give this Bill a brief but cordial welcome. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) that it would be very pleasant indeed if there were no divisions, sub-divisions and further divisions without our society. Much as many of us deplore it, the sad fact 154 is that those divisions undeniably exist. It would be quite unrealistic for the legislature to ignore that fact of life when dealing with a problem of this nature.
When I came into the Chamber a little earlier this evening a Conservative Member was complaining that the most insidious form of discrimination was positive discrimination. I should have thought that that was a difficult argument to sustain and that the most unpleasant discrimination of all is negative discrimination from which most ethnic groups in this country suffer.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that in many instances the only way to overcome negative discrimination is by introducing a measure of positive discrimination—which is what the Bill does. I am one of a decreasing minority which is reluctant to see local authorities encouraged to keep ethnic records of any kind. I have been worried about this as regards housing, because it might imply that some kind of negative policy of discrimination was being pursued by a local authority.
A few months ago I had the occasion to deal with a West Indian constituent who complained that a particular road in my constituency, which had sub-standard accommodation, was always allocated to people with black or brown skins. I complained to the city council on his behalf and asked whether it could confirm or deny it. It was able to argue that it was not possible to say whether this road had a disproportionate allocation of black people to sub-standard accommodation because the council did not keep records.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
I intervene at this stage only because this is a crucial part of the legislation. Unless we keep records and monitor these matters, and unless we ask the ethnic question in the census, we cannot operate this Bill. It can be done only when we have the facts.
§ Mr. Latham
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon). That is the point to which I was coming. Whatever reservations many of us may still have about the keeping of ethnic records, if we are to welcome this legislation and accept clause 1(2)(b) it will be impossible to implement it without 155 keeping ethnic records. The clause sets as an objectivesecuring that the services provided by the local authority are as effective in relation to ethnic groups as they are in relation to the rest of the community.Therefore the argument that Westminster council used in the instance that I cited is valid, and it will become impossible to operate legislation—as it was impossible for that authority to answer my question—unless some form of record is kept. With considerable reluctance and reservation, I have come to the view that it is right that records of that kind should be kept.
§ Mr. Bidwell
This is a nerve spot affecting people who are very closely related to a great number of white people. My experience is that black or brown people do not object to such a record, and that this is objected to by people who think that they are their closest friends. What is objectionable is designation by colour in any shape or form.
§ Mr. Latham
I entirely agree. At one time I thought that I had no colour awareness at all. Then a few years ago I did a course at a college which was attended by many black and brown students. When travelling on the tube in the evening there was someone whom I thought I recognised as a friend. It suddenly occurred to me that this person could not be my friend because although his features were similar, he was black and my friend was white. It came as a great revelation that I still had this colour awareness, because up to that point, and having worked in a multi-racial community, I thought that it had disappeared.
In a constituency such as mine it is quite impossible to stop and think whether someone has a black or white skin, just as it is impossible to try to identify the colour of one's eyes. I deal with people as individuals. It is because so many of us feel like that that it is repugnant to find it necessary to write on a record, whether it be a colour or ethnic record, a distinction which separates an individual from the rest of the community. However, the facts of life are such, and the prejudices within our community are such, that if we are to overcome this problem we must have 156 positive discrimination. Sadly, these kind of repugnant records may be necessary.
The hon. and learned Member for South Fylde talked about privileges being made available to minority ethnic groups that might not be made available to other people. That is a bit like saying that someone who has paralysed legs gets a wheelchair to which someone who can walk is not entitled. That kind of difficulty does arise.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner
I apologise if I did not make myself clear, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to do so now. It is not that a particular group is given privileges but that it alone should have those privileges. That was the point I was seeking to make. Inevitably, if one focuses on one group to the exclusion of everyone else, one does more harm than good to racial relations.
§ Mr. Latham
I was about to come on to that point. I can recall another constituency case of two disabled ladies who lived next door to each other. Each was issued with an invalid car. Sadly, there was a tremendous resentment by some neighbours about the fact that two invalid cars were parked outside the homes of these two ladies, whereas others in the street had no vehicle of any kind. I agree that in trying to solve the problem one may find that there are odd causes and cases of resentment.
But one must take a balanced view, and I am sure that the balance is overwhelmingly in favour of trying to compensate for the disadvantages and under-privileges that can be applied generally to particular ethnic groups. Certain individuals among those groups may not suffer as much as the rest, but that is no reason for not proceeding with the general proposition that lies behind the Bill.
The hon. and learned Member for South Fylde said that he thought that the Bill was too wide and he wants it to be tightened up in Committee. I appeal to him, and implore those who serve on the Committee, not to do that. If we put this legislation in a straitjacket, we will kill it. If, in advance, one is to devise the precise set of circumstances in which the Minister has power to intervene, the whole idea of giving some general discretionary power to meet this particular 157 problem will be negated. I therefore hope that the Committee will not destroy the Bill in that way.
My concern is not that the Bill is too broad. It relates to the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons), who referred to what I shall call"the veto"by certain local authorities. This is not just an argument about whether it is 25 per cent. and 75 per cent. or whether it is 10 per cent. or 90 per cent., although I agree that that position is to be preferred. It is the fact that under existing discretionary powers, such as urban aid, a local authority can veto any help that a Government are able and willing to provide. I should be sorry to see that principle also applied in the implementation of this legislation.
I have a tremendous problem in my constituency in the north-eastern tip of Paddington. That is an area which is deprived in many ways and in which there is an ambitious youth project called the Avenues Youth Project. It will provide an amenity that sadly has not been provided on any scale by the local authority. The parsimony of the city council in backing the urban aid scheme is highlighted by the fact that a workshop that would obviously be an asset to community provision has been deleted at the behest not of the Government but of the local authority.
Far worse is the example of the 510 Centre in my constituency of Paddington. It is a community centre that has been established for about four years. There is a wide range of community organisations playing a part in it. It has within it a complete multi-racial mix. It is a good model for overcoming the problems of such a neighbourhood and a good source of advice. A misunderstanding has occurred with Westminster city council, which originally funded the centre. The Government provided most of the money. The centre is relevant to our discussion because I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to ensure that similar difficulties do not arise with the provision that we are now debating.
Apart from the issue of the merits and demerits of a certain project, the Westminster city council has in the past few months introduced its own political test. It has done so because in the community 158 centre leaflets were distributed for the Paddington campaign against racism. In the local borough elections no preference was expressed for the Labour, Conservative or Liberal candidates, but a leaflet was issued by the multi-racial group that runs the centre and by others urging electors not to vote for the Nazi candidate who was standing in the locality where the community centre is based.
Many hon. Members will share the view that that was a reasonable and legitimate defensive action on the part of a community group. However, Westminster city council has decreed that that is an involvement in politics. It has asked for undertakings that there will be no recurrence of that activity. It has further sought to gag the active participants in that centre who deal largely with housing matters. It has attempted to gag them and to prevent them from making any criticism of local authority housing policy or anything relating to the neighbourhood which the Westminster city council can say is political.
The difficulty arises because the Conservative-controlled council regards as political anything which is critical of it. The 510 Centre regards as not political but social any vital issue that affects the neighbourhood and community that it serves. Plead as I may with Ministers, ask as I may for intervention, implore Ministers as I may to act as arbiters to regain provision for the community centre, I am told that they cannot act. That seems absurd as 75 per cent. of the money that is being taken away from the centre because of conditions imposed by a misguided politically biased local authority comes from the Government.
The race issue is tied up with the argument about the 510 Centre. Difficulties will arise if it is left to local authorities to match a proportion of expenditure and if they are given the right of veto. I hope that when the Bill emerges from Committee the Government will have found some way of giving help where it is needed, whether there are bigoted local authorities, unhelpful local authorities or authorities biased against the Bill. If the Bill is to be effective, it must not be stultified by detailed definitions or frustrated by local authorities being able to veto what could otherwise be worthwhile Government action.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Steen (Liverpool, Wavertree)
At this stage, when the debate has continued for best part of five hours, I do not think that the House would welcome a detailed analysis of the Bill of the sort that it has heard from many hon. Members. I feel that it might be useful to remind the House that an enlightened society must help the under privileged, the deprived and ethnic minorities. The question always is, by how much? Is the indigenous population being prejudiced by the amount of money or time being given to it? Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966 was the first that endevoured to discriminate positively for a minority group. The new Bill avoids a colour ticket and makes a new type of definition, that of ethnic groups. That is probably a new approach to the problem of colour, as opposed to that of a decade ago. The Government will deny that this is a colour policy, but more often than not the ethnic groups will be coloured groups.
I support section 11 of the 1966 Act. It is the right approach to the problem. The old section 11 gave extra money to urban areas, which were often the poorer areas. Therefore, money went to the more deprived local authorities and gave them another chance of obtaining resources which the rate support grant did not give them.
The new Bill follows a slightly different pattern from that which we saw in the 1960s. Towards the end of the 1960s the Government went into reverse. They had orginally thought of participation as good. The Skeffington report was the last report to give thought to giving people greater participation. In the late 1960s, the Government went into reverse and talked about controlling the power that they gave to local authorities. The urban aid programme was the first of a series of attempts to wrest from local authorities the power that they had gained. The Government did so in a subtle way. The urban aid programme took money away from the rate support grant.
The Government pinched money from Peter and gave it to Paul. They took money from the rural areas and gave it to the urban areas. Having given it to the urban areas, they told the local authori 160 ties that they could bid for the money taken away from the rural areas and say what they wanted. However, the Government remained the final arbiter. The Government continued that style of approach thereafter, whereby the local authorities gave 25 per cent. with the Government giving 75 per cent. That over-centralised a decision-making process that had previously been decentralised.
The Bill represents the same principle and the same programme. Instead of calling t the urban aid programme, it comes under a new ticket. In the past year, responsibility for the urban aid programme was moved from the Home Office to the Department of the Environment. I suspect that there was a wrestling match between Ministers. The Department of the Environment ended up with the urban aid programme but the Home Office held on to the race relations side. Having done that, it must fight for new funding for the ethnic groups. I suspect that behind this Bill there has been much inter-departmental warfare, which has resulted in the Home Office's winning and keeping part of the urban aid programme for itself, but moving it into a new Bill.
That is the wrong way to proceed. The formula for the urban aid programme has been moved into the new Bill so that local authorities may put up bids. The Government decided how to spend the cash.
I hope that the Minister will take seriously the lesson learned from the urban aid programme, which was that the community must be involved in the decision-making process. However, Minister after Minister avoided allowing the community to be involved in it. What has happened is that local authorities have tended to ask for money from the Government and to avoid involving the voluntary bodies in making the applications. I hope that the Minister will not make the same mistake with the Bill. It looks as though the local authorities will be told"You can have your 75 per cent. if you put up your 25 per cent." But the local authorities will tend to do those things which they probably would not have the money to do without the extra Government aid, and they will not allow voluntary bodies, unless they raise their own 25 per cent., to go to the Government and take a 75 per cent. share. I hope that the Minister will consider in Committee how to 161 ensure that the voluntary sector will not be excluded.
The ethnic groups are very important in this respect. Perhaps the Minister will consider how to involve them in the decision-making process. Surely, at the local level the ethnic groups should be involved in deciding which project should be put forward to the Home Office. In the Home Office there should be some ethnic civil servants who can be involved in the decision-making process, so that a project is not decided simply by Government and local government, and ethnic groups are able to decide themselves which schemes they prefer.
The Bill should go some way towards helping the ethnic groups, provided that the money is not taken away from the urban aid programme. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that the urban aid programme in the Department of the Environment will not be reduced in order to fund this piece of legislation in the Home Office.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Brotherton (Louth)
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his wild fantasy of ethnic civil servants. In the short time available to me, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I oppose the Bill because I believe it to be a bad Bill. Unlike my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner), I do not believe that it can be so amended in Committee as to make it a good Bill.
I believe it to be a bad Bill because it will contribute nothing at all to race relations in this country. Indeed, it will serve only, if anything, to make race relations worse, because the indigenous population of this country will say, in relation to a particular ethnic group, whichever it may be,"Extra money is being spent on these people. Why is it not being spent on us, the people who have lived here all our lives? "
My constituency does not have the problem of a large immigrant population. Most of the speakers in the debate have been from urban constituencies with large immigrant populations. If we are to improve the Health Service for an ethnic group, it has to be remembered that there are a few people in constituencies such as mine who are deprived and who have 162 their particular problems. They are bound to ask"Why should this money be channelled towards a special ethnic group and not spread over the whole population of this country? "
In the 1970 election I had the good fortune to fight the Deptford seat. I nursed it for three and a half years and therefore know something of the problems of immigration and the problems of the indigenous population. I went to that constituency only last Tuesday to speak, and we discussed the Bill. There is no doubt that there is considerable resentment felt by many people in this country because of the underlying principle of the Bill.
I have come to the conclusion over the past few years that this country has gone race relations mad. In 1976 we passed the Race Relations Bill. I well remember the Third Reading of the Bill in this House, when at about 1 p.m. three of us voted against the Third Reading. I am glad to see my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) in his place. By heavens, how right we have been proved to have been in voting against the Bill that afternoon.
We have set up the Commission, under Mr. David Lane. In a leading article in yesterday's edition of the Sunday Express, we read of 90,000 copies of a pamphlet produced by the police in Liverpool not being allowed to be distributed in the schools because they did not contain a picture of any black or brown person.
Which country are we living in? Where are we? Are we still in England, or have we moved to some extraordinary multiracial State in which an Englishman is not allowed, in many cases, because of the clause that we passed in 1976, to say what he thinks about a particular problem that affects him specifically?
I should like to refer briefly to the Minister of State's words when he opened the debate. He called some of us on the Opposition Benches"primitives ". If I speak as a primitive, and if he believes that I am a primitive, I shall not, in the sense that he used the word, take it as an insult. I shall take it as a compliment. I take the Minister to be referring to those of us on these Benches—whom he calls primitives—who are getting back to basics, those who understand what 163 is really going on and those who understand the feelings of the people of this country, and let me say that it is because I speak as an Englishman representing an English constituency that I shall vote against the Second Reading of the Bill, because it will tend to make second-class citizens of our fellow countrymen in this our land.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Speaker
Perhaps I may say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that it is hoped that the winding-up speech can begin at 9.45 p.m. Mr. Bell.
§ Mr. Bell
I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker. I shall try to limit my remarks to less than six minutes so that they do not appear on your record.
I am in full agreement with the speech to which we have just listened from my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton). When this legislation began, with the Race Relations Act originally, I foresaw, and I can claim that I said, which way it would develop. We have had these medieval distinctions—that is where the primitiveness comes in this evening—between negative and positive discrimination. I do not know what Labour Members mean by negative and positive discrimination. I have never really known what they meant by discrimination. I have said that I discriminate between all the people I meet upon every ground that I can detect, that everyone else does so also, and that everyone ought to do so.
Are we really to say, by law, that things which actually exist, which can be perceived by the senses to exist, are to be ignored because of some law? Yet that is what all discrimination legislation is about. We even send people to prison for saying that they can see that the emperor has no clothes on when in fact he plainly has not.
This Bill is the latest stage in the business of controlling people's minds. It is a money Bill. It is presented under Standing Order No. 91, which means that the voting of money is its principal purpose. The objective to be achieved is that ofremoving disadvantages suffered by ethnic groups164 and securing that the services provided by a local authorityare as effective in relation to these ethnic groups as they are in relation to the rest of the community.How is it thought that one can do that by money? When one passes these laws about negative discrimination and then one passes others about positive discrimination, what one really means is that all that one is really interested in, or one's primary concern, is equality. That is the only possible meaning to give to it. One identifies people who appear to be behind the rest of the community. One takes resources from the community generally and applies them to those people. Of course, as a matter of logic, one must disadvantage the better in the hope of advantaging the less good. One cannot escape from that dilemma.
Is it really thought that one can remove disadvantages from which an ethnic group suffers by spending money? This is the cardinal error of certain Labour Members who believe that they are environmentalists à outrance. They believe in infinite plasticity in one generation. Their argument is that if £24 million will not do it, all right, it must be £64 million; if £64 million will not do it, all right, it will have to rise to £100 million. What they will never admit is that there may be inequalities—dare I say it?—of genetic origin. Genetics is a branch of Fascism to people like the hon. Members for Paddington (Mr. Latham) and for York (Mr. Lyon). Are we to believe that all the differences inherited by people can be cured in one, two or three generations? One does not need to be a primitive. One has only to have a certain amount of common sense to look around the world and ask why, if the whole of plant and animal creation is governed primarily by genetic factors, the human race alone should have no such element in it and that all one has to do is to pass a Bill through Parliament and spend as much money as possible and everybody can be made the same.
That applies equally to the next objective, to ensure that the services provided by the local authority are of equal advantage to all groups. That is not equality of opportunity. That is equality of take-up of opportunity. Do the Government think that one can provide for that by doubling or trebling the amount of money? Let us have a little common 165 sense. The amount of money being spent in this way, including the Inner Urban Areas Act, must be £100 million or more. A sensibly funded voluntary repatriation policy would enable half a million of these people to be sent back to their own countries. That would be a much better solution for the people of this country and for the good relations which exist between various groups within it.
We are not talking of £100 million or more. We are talking of £100 million a year. I ask where this policy is leading us. That question must be answered in a debate when we have more time. The hon. Member for York spoke for 26 minutes. The rest of us need elbow room and space to develop our ideas.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John
This debate has ranged between extreme detail and general thread. If hon. Members will forgive me, I shall not try to take up all detailed points. I shall try to answer some, but shall endeavour mainly to take up the general thread.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) made a point which has been echoed by other hon. Members in a different way. He said that problems are suffered by his constituents—problems such as unemployment—which are common to white and black. Whether they are black or white, they are equally unemployed. I accept that argument. There is nothing in this Bill that seeks to suggest that the black unemployed should get an advantage over the white unemployed.
I should like to explain where the legitimate purpose of the Bill is to be found. When a white youth is unemployed, one expects him to go to one of the statutory agencies to seek a job. Such is the disaffection between West Indian youth and official bodies that many do not claim unemployment benefit, nor could they be expected to go to a statutory body. The aim of the Bill, and one of the purposes to which it might be put, is to provide a youth worker to bridge that gap. It is a question not of creating an advantage but of ensuring that in similar conditions West Indians do not suffer a disadvantage compared to their white contemporaries.
Much of the debate, and one of the major points made by the hon. Member 166 for Ashford (Mr. Speed) and a number of his hon. Friends, could have been avoided if they had read the Bill carefully. It is a very short Bill, and it gives the lie to those who have alleged that it involves a form of positive discrimination—if by that they mean giving advantage to people who are already on equal terms.
It does nothing of the kind. Clause 1(2)(a) provides that expenditure by a local authority shall be made for purposes includingremoving disadvantages from which an ethnic group suffers ".Paragraph (b) specifiessecuring that the services provided by the local authority are as effective in relation to ethnic groups as they are in relation to the rest of the community ".In other words, we are not creating an advantage, except, as my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) said, in the sense that a man with a broken leg has plaster of Paris put on it as opposed to the man who has not broken his leg. It is merely bringing to a position of equality those who are disadvantaged.
The hon. and learned Member for South Flyde (Mr. Gardner) and others talked of this marvellous example of a new upgraded Health Service, but all that we are ensuring is that peripheral and ancillary services will be provided to ensure that those in ethnic minorities who are disadvantaged in their dealings with the NHS, because, for example, of language, will be given a position of equality with those who do not have such difficulties.
An example is the pregnant Asian woman who cannot fully explain her symptoms to the gynaecologist. No such language barrier exists for the English, Welsh or Irish woman whose mother tongue is English. Asian women have all too few interpreters to ensure that their points are always communicated. So it is not a position of privilege.
I say to the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) that I plead guilty on one count. This is a plea for equality, because I believe in equality in society. The difference between us is that I strive for it while he strives to perpetuate inequality. To the hon. and learned Gentleman the man with a broken leg would not have plaster of Paris put 167 on it, because the man without a broken leg would feel envious or would lose his privileged position of being able to crow over the limping man. That is not a doctrine to which anyone on the Government Benches would subscribe.
Then there is the argument that somehow the Bill is bad because it will worsen race relations. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) made that point in his understandably brief speech. I ask him and others to consider whether the feeling that people are at a disadvantage and that action is not being taken to give them equality with their peers and fellow citizens is likely to generate good race relations. The logic of what he says is that if one perpetuates the disadvantage one will improve race relations, but that if one tries to remove it one will make them worse. That is nonsense, and must be seen as such by the whole House.
The third general point that has been made today is that the Bill will deal with coloured people alone. I said that New Commonwealth citizens and Pakistanis would probably be the major beneficiaries. One has to accept this, but nothing in the Bill limits the scope of the benefit to people whose colour is black or brown. For example, one of the most introverted communities in Britain is probably that of the Italians of Bedford. If the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) were in his place, he would confirm that there are language and cultural problems and, although many of those people have been here for many years, severe problems of disadvantage among the Italian community. Any idea that the reservation of ethnic groups is towards coloured people only is absolutely wrong.
A problem that has been taken up on both sides of the House is the relationship of the local authority to the grant and the locality. The age of the novel is never dead while the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) can fantasise, with no evidence whatsoever, on the great power struggle between the Department of Environment and the Home Office. Urban aid has always coexisted with section 11. They have never inhibited each other. I assure him absolutely that urban aid will not be weakened to fund the Bill. The Bill and urban aid deal with different problems. Urban aid deals with 168 problems of disadvantaged geographical areas that may not have ethnic minorities, whereas the Bill deals with ethnic groups.
There is then the consideration of the question whether there should be a legal duty on local authorities and whether to fund voluntary bodies direct. Local voluntary bodies do fine work. Often, they do the job with greater dedication and economy than does the local authority. The service must be one that the local authority is empowered to provide. That does not limit it greatly. But if the money were given to a voluntary body against the advice of the local authority, the work would be inhibited by the friction and enmity caused. The future must lie in effective liaison between the elected members in a locality, the ethnic minority groups and voluntary organisations. I concede that there are bad examples of that, but it is only with the co-operation of all concerned that anything can be achieved.
On the level of expenditure, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) stopped short of suggesting that a 101 per cent. grant would be the most attractive. Since there has been a tenfold increase in local authority expenditure under section 11, the 75 per cent. limitation is not necessarily the inhibiting factor. But there are cash limits. We have secured a 70 per cent. increase in the amount of Government money. Under the Bill there is power for the Secretary of State not only to fix a limit but to vary it if possible and desirable. But the larger the contribution to the individual scheme, the fewer individual schemes there will be.
The hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith) suggested that consultation with local authorities was too centralised. But the local authorities wished to be consulted on a national level, and the centralised consideration is therefore as much due to the local authorities' request as anything else.
The House is ambivalent in its attitude to local authorties. When they do what we want, we give them all the autonomy that they want. On school milk, we thought that the Government should not dictate to local authorities what they knew best. On the other hand, when the authorities do what we do not want there are demands that we take the initiative 169 away from them. We have to make up our minds. If we favour local democracy we must accept that there is always the chance of authorities such as those described by my hon. Friends the Members for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) and for Walsall, South (Mr. George) not doing what we want, and sometimes doing what we positively do not want.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Are you aware that there is so much noise going on on your right hand that hon. Members cannot hear what the Minister is saying?
§ Mr. Arthur Latham
Does my hon. Friend the Minister of State agree that, by and large, collaboration of local authorities is right and the exercising of local judgment is right? However, where that judgment is applied for the wrong reasons, as in the example I quoted to him, could not some power be provided so that we could ensure that justice was done?
§ Mr. John
I shall look into the matter, but that suggestion has inherent difficulties.
I come next to the Select Committee report. I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and other hon. Members who sat on the Committee for not having dealt with this earlier. I was asked about an annual report. I agree in principle that that could not be ruled out. I should like to consider the exact form of it. I do not approve of putting a time limit on the Bill. This problem has already lasted longer than our predecessors in 1966 envisaged. I should not want the same position to arise again.
I had hoped that when the hon. Member for Ashford rose he would join me
§ in a rousing call. Unfortunately, his call was somewhat muted. I was tremendously disappointed by the fact that his best advice to his Back Benchers was not that they ought to vote for the Bill but that they should not vote against it. The local authorities need not despair of that advice. It is the exact position adopted by the Conservative Opposition on the Race Relations Bill. With a few exceptions, they neither voted for it nor against it on Third Reading. Their action tonight is par for the course.
§ Many hon. Members who have contributed to the debate have striven to say that the House should not divide on the Bill but should show that it is united behind this measure in seeking to remove the disadvantage suffered by ethnic minorities. Therefore, if all that the hon. Member for Ashford can do is to invite his hon. Friends not to vote against the Bill, all the advertisements in the Asian language newspapers and all the West Indian Conservative associations that he may want to set up will not hide the fundamental split in his party. They will not hide the fact that many of his hon. Friends are not willing to support the Bill.
§ I hope that he and the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), even if they cannot carry some of their hon. Friends with them, will themselves set an example by voting for the Bill and showing that we in this House have set our course for a harmonious multi-racial society, and that we believe that the right way to go about it is by this Bill, which is a positive step for future harmony and peace in this country.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 267, Noes 7.171
|Division No. 88]||AYES||[10.00 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Bean, R. E.||Bray, Dr Jeremy|
|Allaun, Frank||Beith, A. J.||Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)|
|Anderson, Donald||Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Buchan, Norman|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bidwell, Sydney||Buchanan, Richard|
|Ashton, Joe||Bishop, Rt Hon Edward||Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Boardman, H.||Campbell, Ian|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Canavan, Dennis|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Cant, R. B.|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Carmichael, Neil|
|Bates, Alt||Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Carter, Ray|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hunter, Adam||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Cartwright, John||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Radice, Giles|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Jeger, Mrs Lena||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Cohen, Stanley||John, Brynmor||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Coleman, Donald||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Robertson, George (Hamilton)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon John||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Corbett, Robin||Judd, Frank||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Cowans, Harry||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Rooker, J. W.|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Kerr, Russell||Roper, John|
|Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Kinnock, Neil||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cronin, John||Lambie, David||Sandelson, Neville|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Lamborn, Harry||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Cryer, Bob||Lamond, James||Selby, Harry|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Sever, John|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Lee, John||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Deakins, Eric||Litterick, Tom||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Lomas, Kenneth||Silverman, Julius|
|Dempsey, James||Loyden, Eddie||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dewar, Donald||Luard, Evan||Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Doig, Peter||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Snape, Peter|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dunnett, Jack||McCartney, Hugh||Stallard, A. W.|
|Eadie, Alex||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Edge, Geoff||McElhone, Frank||Stoddart, David|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Stott, Roger|
|English, Michael||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Strang, Gavin|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||McKay, Alan (Penistone)||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Maclennan, Robert||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||McNamara, Kevin||Thompson, George|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Madden, Max||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Flannery, Martin||Magee, Bryan||Tilley, John|
|Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Tinn, James|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Marks, Kenneth||Tomlinson, John|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Torney, Tom|
|Forrester, John||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Maynard, Miss Joan||Urwin, Rt Hon T. W.|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Meacher, Michael||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Mikardo, Ian||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|George, Bruce||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Ward, Michael|
|Ginsburg, David||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)||Watkins, David|
|Golding, John||Molloy, William||Watkinson, John|
|Gould, Bryan||Moonman, Eric||Weetch, Ken|
|Gourlay, Harry||Morris, Rt Hon Alfred||Weitzman, David|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.||Wellbeloved, James|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Grocott, Bruce||Morton, George||White, James (Pollok)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland||Whitlock, William|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Hardy, Peter||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Newens, Stanley||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Noble, Mike||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Oakes, Gordon||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Hayman, Mrs Helene||Ogden, Eric||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||O'Halloran, Michael||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Heifer, Eric S.||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Henderson, Douglas||Ovenden, John||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Home Robertson, John||Palmer, Arthur||Woodall, Alec|
|Hooley, Frank||Park, George||Woof, Robert|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Parker, John||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Horam, John||Parry, Robert||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Huckfield, Les||Pendry, Tom||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Perry, Ernest||Mr. Ted Graham and|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Mr. John Evans.|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bell, Ronald||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Molyneaux, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Mr. Alan Clark and|
|Ross, William (Londonderry)||Mr. Nick Budgen.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).