HC Deb 26 April 1948 vol 450 cc19-20
48. Mr. Sorensen

aked the Attorney-General whether, in view of many instances where coloured people have been refused the tenancy of flats or houses in London, he will take action to make illegal such refusals on the basis of colour or race.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Frank Soskice)

I strongly deprecate such racial discrimination, which is so harmful to good relations in the British Commonwealth. I will gladly consider by hon. Friend's suggestion, but I fear that there may be very considerable difficulties in achieving by legislation the prevention of this very deplorable behaviour.

Mr. Sorensen

While thanking my hon. and learned Friend for that reply, I would ask him whether he does not appreciate that the number of refusals to give tenancies to coloured people is increasing; that only recently two talented actresses in London applied for tenancies but were refused time after time; and, in view of that, will not the Solicitor-General take special action to see what can be done to prevent this sort of thing from happening?

The Solicitor-General

I am aware that incidents of this sort have taken place, and I express the strongest abhorrence at this kind of thing; but the way to remedy it is difficult to find, and legislation is not necessarily the most effective way.

Mr. John Lewis

If such cases are brought to the attention of the Solicitor-General, is he prepared to make representations to the landlords of these premises, and to express the Government point of view that this conduct is very much resented?

The Solicitor-General

It cases are brought to my notice, I will consider what can be done in each case, but it is not necessarily within my province to take action in each case.

Mr. Gammans

I equally deplore this racial discrimination, but has the Solicitor-General any reason to suppose that there are many instances of this sort, as the Question suggests, or are there just a few?

The Solicitor-General

I have been informed that there are a number of these cases, unfortunately.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

Could not the Solicitor-General give powers to local authorities to requisition premises where private landlords refuse tenancies on these grounds?

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