HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc289-90
Q6. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Prime Minister whether he will co-ordinate action by Government Departments in Human Rights Year to eliminate religious discrimination.

The Prime Minister

Existing arrangements for co-ordination are I think adequate, Sir, but if my hon. Friend has any particular point in mind I would, of course, be happy to consider it.

Mr. Whitaker

Can my right hon. Friend, first, say whether any public offices, such as the Lord Chancellor's, carry religious criteria? Secondly, does he agree that before we sign the United Nations or the European Convention of Human Rights, we must have provision against religious discrimination in all parts of the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

I will certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said. I have already answered the part which he has in mind in referring to all parts of the United Kingdom.

Concerning individual positions—the Lord Chancellor has been mentioned— I have not checked this recently. I think there was legislation of this kind. I shall have to study it to see what the present position is.

Mr. Fortescue

Does the Prime Minister agree that in Great Britain the elimination of religious discrimination is best left to the tolerance and good sense of the people rather than to Government intervention?

The Prime Minister

That has been the basis on which we have been conducting these affairs over a considerable time. It is on the question of race, as opposed to the question of religion, that we have introduced the Race Relations Bill.