HC Deb 03 May 1973 vol 855 cc1446-7
10. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will invite community relations council officers from all over the country to meet him in order to discuss future concerted policies for the promotion of racial harmony.

Mr. Lane

The work of community relations councils is co-ordinated by the Community Relations Commission, with whom my right hon. Friend and I keep in close touch. We have no present plans for a national meeting with community relations councils.

Mr. Davis

I thank the Minister for confirming that he keeps in close touch with that body. Does he agree that the work being undertaken by community relations councils and community relations officers, particularly in stress areas, is most constructive and valuable in ensuring racial harmony? Will he at the same time repudiate the approach of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) in his recent speech at Brent, in which he alleged that Government Departments were misleading the country, and in that way sought to arouse fear, which can only do damage to improving racial relations?

Mr. Lane

I deprecate any statements by anyone inside or outside the House that arouse unnecessary fear. I very much agree with what others have said about the value of the work being done nationally and locally by community relations bodies. I hope to see more of it myself during the year. Any support that hon. Members on either side can give in their own areas is of great encouragement to the many people who are giving a great deal of time to this most important work.

Mr. John Page

Does my hon. Friend accept that many people believe that the best way to promote racial harmony would be a total ban on all immigration for some time?

Mr. Lane

I know that many people hold that view. My view is that the right policies to maintain and improve racial harmony, which is what the Government are doing, are very strict control over immigration, coupled with full support—again, I hope by the overwhelming number of hon. Members—for the constructive work being done all over the country.