HC Deb 08 July 1976 vol 914 cc1657-90

Without prejudice to its obligation to comply with any other provision of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Commission to study and assess the extent to which the securing of the objectives specified in section 43(1)(a) and (b) is hindered or delayed by shortage of financial or other relevant resources, and to report accordingly, with recommendations, in the annual report, or, if it deems it necessary as a matter of urgency, directly to the Secretary of State.—[Mr. Alison.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Alison

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The purpose of the new clause is to give us the opportunity to continue our debate on the Bill, which upgrades the 1968 Act, and to talk about deprivation and the necessary resources or material background for an effective race relations policy in this country.

A stable basis for good race relations depends on firm support from at least three angles—the three legs of a stool. First, there must be strict limits on the number of immigrants accepted into this country. It was generally agreed in our debate on Monday that such limits are necessary as the background to an effective race relations policy for immigrants who are already here.

Secondly, I accept that there should be a fair and enforceable framework of law.

Thirdly, a framework of law or a strict limitation on immigration will be ineffective in dealing with the kind of tensions and outbreaks of violence beginning to appear in this country unless there is some consideration, thought and policy propounded deliberately on financial and all other economic and material resources.

The new clause seeks to highlight this dimension of the problem alongside the various duties and objectives of the commission, and we hope the Government will include the new clause, or something like it, in the Bill.

It would be a profound paradox if the Government, who changed the name of the commission from the Race Relations Commission to the Commission for Racial Equality, should insist on evacuating from it any connotation of equality which had material, economic or resource implications and left it with only the cold, sterile connotation of mere legality.

The pursuit of the sort of equality which is implied by the commission's new title will merely reinforce the cynicism which many immigrants, believing they are deprived and at a considerable disadvantage compared with other members of the community, have felt since the 1968 Act. This cynicism will be promoted if we do not recognise that the mere repetition of the 1968 legislation with minor refinements must be accompanied by a deliberate and conscious programme for improving the deprived areas of our inner cities and deliberately giving priority in public expenditure to improving our inner city areas. In these areas we have mixed white and immigrant problems of low educational provision, poor housing, rundown social services, overstretched resources and a crying need in this vacuum not for new statutes, but for provision in real resource terms.

That is what we want the commission to have a power, under the new clause, to be able to do. We want the commission not just to look at breaches or potential breaches of the statute but positively to have a duty to introduce, in its consideration of particular problems and its investigations, its strategic rôle, where, in making progress in good race relations, there is an insuperable obstacle of a lack of specific resources in specific localities. We want the commission to be able to record this in its annual report. We want it to have a duty or a power to go specifically to the Secretary of State in emergency to bring to his notice the resource problem.

6.0 p.m.

Let me touch on some of the resource dimensions of the case that we are arguing. First, under the broad heading of urban deprivation and housing, I refer the Minister of State to the White Paper. He will not need any reminding about this because we had some debates about it in Committee, but he will remember the trenchant criticism made in the White Paper about housing particularly: An excessively high proportion of coloured people live in the relatively more deprived inner city areas…areas of housing stress are disproportionately coloured. Coloured people…are significantly underrepresented in the council housing sector. The lead having been given in a White Paper entitled "Race Relations", it is surely right that the theme should be continued in the annual reports of the new Commission for Racial Equality. It should have regard to this important dimension in its reports, and in its references about its task to the Secretary of State.

It would be an extraordinary irony if the new commission should have the power to investigate a situation in which allegedly there were too many Asiatic workers engaged in a particular shift in the foundry industry in a firm in Walsall —good luck to them on having got in on the shift and the job—but should be disbarred from commenting on the availability of council housing for immigrants, on the difficulties that they may be encountering in securing housing improvement grants if they are Asians with a high concentration of owner-occupation, on the difficulty of providing adult language training facilities, on the absence of housing advisory centres, or too little being spent on the urban programme in general. It is vital, with these sorts of dimensions, that the problem should form an important part of the investigation of the commission, and not just the statutory or legal discriminations which are dealt with in the Bill.

Unemployment is the second heading to which I draw the Minister of State's attention. From the 1971 census onwards it has clearly been established that coloured immigrant workers suffer disproportionately from unemployment. Within this category young West Indians suffer more than disproportionately. They suffer from unemployment with exceptional severity. I should like to give a few random statistics which have appeared fairly recently. In the 18-month period up to May last year—these are the latest figures that I have been able to collect—coloured unemployment rose by 156 per cent. as compared with a 65 per cent. rise in the rate of increase in unemployment for the population as a whole. That is nearly, but not quite, three times the rate of increase. For young West Indians the rate of increase was up by 182 per cent.

These are staggering figures. They lie right at the base of any of the problems with which we are trying to grapple —local tensions, outbreaks of violence, clashes with the police, allegations of law breaking, and so on. There is very little opportunity for the young West Indian unemployed school leaver to get anything done about it. He is too young, being below the age of 19, to qualify for the Training Opportunities Scheme. In any case, tests of literacy and numeracy are applied, so he would be very unlikely to get in on one of the TOPS schemes.

It was with a note of irony that the Select Committee on Race Relations reported as long ago as December 1973; Some applicants for vocational training who are otherwise suitable and eligible have however been unable to start courses because they were unable to reach the required standard of literacy or numeracy. These are the essential hidden features of the kinds of problems that we are facing in racial tension at present.

If anyone has any doubt about that he has only to look at the report of what was said only last week by Dr. Briault, the Chief Education Officer for the Greater London Council, when he addressed the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education. Some of his words were almost unbelievable in the context of the sensitivity that we have now acquired in speaking about these issues. He pointed out that a large number of the Inner London Education Authority school leavers had to have special instruction because they could neither read nor write, nor do simple sums—having left secondary school! He went on to say, according to the report in the Daily Telegraph of 7th July, that the unskilled, unqualified and unemployed were a danger to the community. Many of them are coloured and those who wish to stress the racial differences in our society exploit this. In the school and on the street there are occasional incidents of this kind. That was referring to incidents of violence.

The Daily Telegraph reporter says: Later he told me that the fact that the least able members of the community had no jobs presented a very real danger. Nearly one half of the jobless"— in this context, I imagine he meant young school leavers— were coloured. That is the sort of reality of race relations that entirely bypasses the kind of provision that we are discussing in the Bill. Anything that we try to do in the Bill, all the declaratory, high-sounding phrases of good intent which are drafted and postulated in this legislation, against the background of high immigrant unemployment, and particularly against the background of literacy and numeracy among the young, is spitting into the wind —to put it crudely. It is entirely counterproductive, because it produces a cynicism that legislation does no good, although it is high sounding. It makes it doubtful whether we are doing more good than harm.

However, the Government could at least recognise this dimension of resources by making it a fundamental obligatory duty of the commission to major on this and to discover where a rational concentration of resources in public expenditure terms could most usefully and productively be made. If necessary, the commission would have to go to the Secretary of State, asking urgently for special help in this field.

One could continue highlighting areas in which resources are needed. I have touched on education. It is clear that the social services departments in areas of high immigrant concentration are under great pressure. not least because many West Indian mothers go out to work not just part-time but whole-time, leaving many West Indian children alone for long periods, a situation that produces educational disadvantage before they even go to school, because of a lack of communication and the ordinary interplay and stimulus that come from home life and mixing with children of the same age.

In this context, surely there should be some consideration of more resources being applied, perhaps in more playgroups or social workers, or whatever the case may be. At least the commission should major on this aspect. That is what we seek to provide for in the new clause. Part of the problem is that the Government are acting in the worst possible way. They are promoting legislation with assiduity and a fanfare of trumpets, but on the argument which I am deploying, and which is so fundamental as a complement to the legislation, they seem to be backpedalling.

I had another careful look today at the article which was written, on 26th February last, by Peter Evans, the home affairs correspondent of The Times, in which he drew attention to the dramatic decline in the budgetary provisions in the Public Expenditure White Paper for community services—the whole range of services provided under the Home Office Vote, including law, order and the protective services and the urban aid programme. I looked again at the sharp decline from the figures for the last full year of expenditure, which was 1975–76. The proposed capital expenditure is £7.1 million in that year, but by the end of the quinquenium the decline will have been sevenfold. The figure is down to exactly £1 million. There is, therefore, in prospect a dramatic rundown of real resources for the community services.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

I have listened with great interest to the case put forward by the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison), and I agree with everything he has said. I endorse what he has said about shortages in the inner city areas. The logical conclusion from what he has said is that there must be greatly increased public expenditure on all the social services. How does that fit in with what the Opposition say day after day, and many times a day, about the need to cut public expenditure?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Lady, as an experienced debater, cannot believe that that thought had not occurred to me. It is an old saying that the language of priorities is the religion of Socialism. I shall not bore the hon. Lady by giving a list of the cuts which I could propose on any day of the week. I shall simply refer her to the article written by Peter Jay in The Times at the end of May in which he proposed ways of cutting public expenditure up to the end of 1976 by £3,000 million.

Two areas in which he thought changes might be made were a modest 15 per cent. cut across the board in nationalised industries' capital investment and the abolition of motorway construction, saving £150 million. Does the hon. Lady agree with me that it would be well worth ending motorway construction if the money thus saved, even on a modest scale, were diverted to the urban programme? Peter Jay also suggested stopping local authority road building and improvement, and I back that proposal. When I drive round my rural constituency I notice how much work is being done on straightening out corners on twisty little roads, and I realise how much is being spent on that. Does not the hon. Lady agree that that is where public expenditure could be cut and resources reallocated? I could go on indefinitely. If we are talking about priorities I could suggest a huge list of projects in which there could be a massive overall cut to allow a modest redeployment of smaller net totals to certain crucial services.

We think that the commission should have power to advise the Minister on urgent priorities, over and above what is provided in the Bill, in areas of stress and tension. Let the Minister of State accept the principle that resources are crucial. Let there be written into the duties of the commission the duty to weigh and report on this dimension. Then there will be added to the Bill a sense of reality which is seriously lacking without the provisions we advocated.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Powell

Once again, a new clause placed before the House has opened a deep perspective into the subject matter of the Bill. It is to that perspective that I want primarily to direct my criticism of the clause. Apart from perspective, by its nature the clause is an impracticable provision. It calls upon the commission to study and assess the extent to which shortage of financial or other relevant resources is involved, and to report accordingly.

It is impracticable to suppose that year by year, presumably district by district and area by area, the commission could usefully set out a list of additional resources required under a series of headings. We could all compile such lists, but the commission is asked to compile lists and quantify the items in so far as they are hindering or delaying the achievement of the objectives specified in Clause 43. That is an impracticable directive to place upon the commission and/or to write into a statute.

Even if I agreed with the philosophy behind it, as I do not, I would still think that the assessment of resources and the budgeting should not be separated by entrusting the determination of certain magnitudes to the commission in the context of the Bill, when clearly they are part of the general budgeting for the social services, urban renewal, and so forth, in the country at large. In practical terms the new clause is defective; but my chief objection and my main observation do not turn upon that.

The clause is an example of one of the most prevalent and damaging fallacies in this whole subject—the fallacy of supposing that the consequences that are apprehended from the massive substitution, in various parts of the country, for the indigenous population of a population from overseas are either due to what is called physical deprivation, poverty, and so on, or can be in any way alleviated, avoided or foreclosed by material provision.

That is a fallacy, but it is worse than a fallacy. It is not merely inert or neutral in its effect; it is not merely that the prescription is irrelevant and mistaken. It is positively dangerous in that, as I shall presently argue, it is a means whereby people can persuade themselves for year after year that the difficulties and dangers are less fundamental and will yield to less fundamental action than the reality requires.

It is by no means true that the areas of maximum New Commonwealth immigrant entry—the locations of what Lord Radcliffe many years ago called 'the alien wedge"—are characteristically or specifically coincident with the areas of greatest poverty and desuetude in our cities. In some cases the two coincide. Sometimes, naturally, this happens in the central and rundown areas—run down because they are central—that because they are central it is in those areas that major immigrant populations are found.

When I reflect upon that transformation—I shall not say unwished, but unimagined—which took place over a quarter of a century in the town in Staffordshire of which I represented one part, it is not primarily of the relatively restricted rundown central areas that I think. I think of the streets of middle-class and lower middle-class occupation, the long streets of 1880, 1890 and 1900 housing which, during those two decades, ceased to be occupied by the indigenous population and were occupied and, broadly speaking, just as well maintained —or just as ill maintained—by the newcomers.

It would be a mistake to suppose that, even in the crudest and most obvious sense, there is a coincidence between immigrant occupation and what is called urban deprivation. But that is only a qualification. The central point is that the dangers which all apprehend from that thing which has happened to this country in the last generation are not caused by material deprivation and cannot be removed by ending it. To believe that they can is a modern version, a special form, of the old, oft-exploded fallacy that there is a correlation between crime and poverty, between crime and bad housing, between crime and congestion.

Over and over again this easy illusion has been propounded, and as often experience has disposed of it. It is not because people are poor, to the extent that they are poor, and it is not because they live in the streets of the inner cities, in which the indigenous population of this country has lived—gradually improving, and in some cases rapidly improving over generations—that we apprehend what will be the consequence when one-third of some of the major cities and industrial areas of our country is in New Commonwealth occupation. It is because of human differences. It is because of the clash and contrast between two populations which contend for the same territory.

To make them richer, to shower upon them money and resources drawn from the general taxpayer, will not diminish—indeed, I can imagine circumstances in which it would enhance—the latent and inherent antagonism. It is a fallacy, therefore, to link as cause and effect what is in modern parlance called, very dangerously, deprivation with the dangers of the large and growing alien wedge—if I may use that judicial expression again—in this country.

But there is a positive harm which we do by the notion that programmes of urban renewal are, as both Front Benches have for many years so eagerly proclaimed, the real key to what they call the problem of race relations. The harm is that it provides people with something to say, with something to think, which will shield them from having to face the reality, which will shield them from having to face the true nature of the dangers, and the heroic dimensions of what is necessary if those dangers are not to become realities.

Mr. Lanerose

Mr. Powell

Yes, it is time, I think, for the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) to interrupt me.

Mr. Lane

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I am following him very carefully. He is just coming to the very point of saying what is necessary to deal with the situation that he is describing. He always comes up to this point and sheers away from the logic of what he is saying. I hope very much that he will go a little further.

Mr. Powell

The hon. Member is much mistaken if he thinks that I sheer away from the logic of what I am saying. Over and over again, year after year—I have books here in which it may be read; reprints of my speeches—I have said that unless the prospective New Commonwealth population is dramatically reduced there is no escape from these dangers.

Mr. Lane


Mr. Powell

I have said that. Just because the hon. Member does not like it, he must not brush it aside and think that taxpayers' money will buy his way out. We shall not buy our way out of what we have entailed upon this country by our past follies. We shall not spend our way out of it. Unless there is a dramatic change in the future projections, there is nothing else but massive repatriation. This is not the first time that I have used that word—

Mr. Lane

The right hon. Gentleman has never told us how.

Mr. Powell

—even if the hon. Member has not heard it. Even if it were impracticable, it would still not make other measures therefore practicable. It is simply superstition to say that because we do not like, or even because we find impracticable, the only method which will banish a danger, therefore we will assume that other methods which are inadequate or incapable of banishing it will do so. That is the mood of self-deception in which—

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall) rose

Mr. Powell

I shall give way to the hon. Member later.

Mr. Bidwell rose

Mr. Powell

I always have this difficulty. I intend to oblige the hon. Member several times in the course of the evening, and I shall welcome his assistance. But, of course, my difficulty with the hon. Member and his interventions is that I have heard them some 143 times, and it is always hard to know whether it is fair to deprive other hon. Members, who may only have heard him 30 or 40 times, from hearing him again.

Mr. Bidwell rose

Mr. Powell

At any rate for the present, my decision is that I will not give way to the hon. Member at this stage. I shall give way to him later on, in my own good time. I shall give way several times, as I have often done before over the years.

I return to my statement that year after year we have allowed ourselves to be told that money, the expenditure of resources, the building of houses, the improvement of cities, will avert the consequences of the massive substitution of one population for another. It will not. Year by year as that massive substitution became more massive, year by year as the materials of the future increase were accumulated, we have been able—or, rather, the respectable have been able —to set it on one side by saying "It will be all right provided we spend a lot more money."

It was a long time ago, in January 1970, that, after demonstrating what was the size and potential of the alien wedge, I went on to say that we did positive harm by these programmes—not because in themselves they were open to objection. It is a matter for quite separate debate whether, as the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) seemed to believe, one can in fact provide net additional employment for a particular section of the population by additional expenditure of public money. That is something which can be debated in another context. If it is true in Wolver-hampton and Bradford, we can apply the same method in other places. That is a large debate, but it is not a debate that belongs here.

It may well be that we ought to be spending relatively more upon demolishing and rebuilding the centres of our cities, but that also is a separate debate. What we must not do is allow ourselves to suppose that we have a kind of talisman, in the form of public expenditure, which will make different the human beings who will be contending for the occupation of this territory.

6.30 p.m.

Another respect in which this materialistic approach is highly unfavourable is that it enables those who are disposed to violence, who are disposed to hurrying on the onset of a major physical clash, to find an excuse and a motivation for their actions. It is not correct to say that the violence takes place because those who perpetrate it are poor and deprived, because they have no amusement in the evenings or because they live in overcrowded houses or in the decaying centres of towns. That is not so.

The causes of this antagonism, and the cause of the violence which is rising, do not lie there any more than the cause of crime in the past lay in physical or social deprivation. But when both sides preach the gospel, in debates such as on this new clause, that we must spend more money upon those who are deprived in those areas otherwise we shall be faced with their violence, not only do we place in their hands a very dangerous weapon. an instrument of blackmail, whereby they say "Spend more or there will be more violence"—that is something which is very familiar in various parts of the country where this problem exists—but it provides an excuse to them, an excuse in the face of society, a palliative of what is happening, in that they can say "How can you blame us for the conflict when you are not spending enough upon the environment in which we live?"

I protest, as over the years I have protested, against the false, materialistic, fallacious, dangerous philosophy which underlies the linking of a new clause of this sort with racial problems and the desirability or otherwise of expending sums of public money in the areas of immigrant occupation. The new clause is the first occasion—and it is probably not the last—in this Report stage when that profound danger has been opened up. If there is an opportunity later to reject the new clause, I shall join in rejecting it.

Mr. Bidwell

I did not intend to come in at this particular juncture, but as the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) would not give way to me I feel that I need to do so.

The right hon. Gentleman has not explained correctly the historical circumstances for the coming into this country of considerable numbers of workers from the New Commonwealth, which spreads over a considerable area of the world. He has not explained what makes those newcomers different kinds of people according to the different countries from which they came. A considerable weakness in his argument is that he tends to blanket them all as one race. He also does not take account of factors which arise from employer recruitment policies, which I suppose he thought I was going to repeat, and his own rôle in that, from which he can never escape.

The fact is that black people are likely to have black babies, and many of the black babies who caw here in the right hon. Gentleman's time are now having black babies of their own. The right hon. Gentleman must accept responsibility as an employer, with the rest of the employers, for the fact that where these people live is attendant upon economic factors.

I entirely reject the right hon. Gentleman's supposition that crime has nothing to do with social deprivation. Many aspects of crime have little to do with social lawyers and social levels. But other aspects of crime emanate from certain economic situations. Certainly, crime could derive from the situation in which we place young black people who are unemployed. However, the right hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact, as he did in a previous contribution, that the police have testified that those of Asian origin are more law-abiding than the rest of us. When one looks at the regions and centres of concentration of those people, one must not rule out consideration of how it all came about. We are not likely to arrive at the right conclusions if we do not correctly assess that.

In his melodramatic statements, the right hon. Member for Down, South usually gets it wrong. He puts two and two together and makes four and a half. That is the system of logic he seems to employ. However, I found myself agreeing with some of his remarks and I wanted to intervene in order to help his mental processes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Impossible."] Someone says "Impossible". I disagree. I have great respect for the right hon. Gentleman's intellect. I only hope that he will rethink the situation, because he got himself into a bit of a bog in recent years when he decided to step out on this path in 1968 and tell the public that he had a particular anxiety about the problem.

We brought in workers, and all of us in Britain share a responsibility. They came at a time when there was brimful employment. They went to certain areas to do jobs that white workers did not wish to do. The reality of the social concentration situation is that they lived where they got employment. That is the explanation for the West Indian population living in Brixton, South London. Why are they in Southall? The explanation lies in employment patterns, in active recruitment abroad, in which the right hon. Member for Down, South had a part to play, and in our acceptance that we have to honour family and social responsibilities.

The only factor which the right hon. Gentleman seems to leave out of account is that those people who came to this country were roughly all of the same age group. They were people, mainly males at first, in their 20s and 30s, at the highest and most productive part of human existence. Therefore, instead of having, as we did, terraced housing where old couples lived whose families had grown up, we had overcrowded houses where people, perhaps from Ireland, under the influence of the Roman Catholic religion and not believing in contraception, had the biggest families. There were even Welsh families, which might have been smaller, in that pattern.

The employment recruitment policies of that time brought about a change in that situation. Gross overcrowding emanated from the coming of the people from South Wales. As I said in Committee, we saw slogans "Go home Welshers" from the indigenous population. Come to think of it, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is of Welsh origin. Certainly his name suggests it. However, things got better and overcrowding receded.

We will not ensure that betterment takes place, as the right hon. Gentleman says, by setting up a commission to suggest massive public expenditure in this connection. That would not solve the problem, neither would it necessarily reduce overcrowding. What will reduce overcrowding is equality of opportunity. That is what the substance of the Bill seeks to achieve. It is a matter to which we must turn our thoughts in the coming period, because the people now living in those areas are not going home. The world, let alone the British people, would not accept any massive repatriation. The right hon. Gentleman can therefore put that out of his mind, whether it is a big mind or a tiny mind.

Mr. Stokes

It is a bigger mind than the hon. Member's.

Mr. Bidwell

I have tested this and asked scores of people. I know that the indigenous people realise the cruelties involved in this suggestion and the fact that, although we might get rid of many worthwhile people, we might be saddled with those who are less than worth while.

The right hon. Gentleman might as well put that out of his mind and start to be constructive and creative, recognising the enormous differences of people —brown and black, not so brown and black. I sometimes think that the right hon. Gentleman himself has the kind of skin which would fit quite comfortably into the Southall community. He could be taken as an Indian resident in time with his kind of complexion. Once we start trying to sort people out on the basis of the colour of their skin, we are on a very dangerous road.

The right hon. Gentleman has said that he does not wish to do that. Therefore, why does he not get off that tack and help us to be constructive? He has had his hands full since he deserted Wolverhampton for Down, South. He has a blood bath there all right. Let him clear that up before he thinks that he can make a massive contribution to the problems of the mainland.

Mr. Lane

Before I support the excellent case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison), I want to comment on the intervention of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). He said that he had been saying these things year after year. I have listened year after year to this gramophone record. I still await from him a spark of humanity or an iota of relevant and constructive policy for dealing with the problem.

I should like to take up particularly two points in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He seeks to avert what he calls damage and danger. But he has again sheered away from the logic of his argument. The only answer or solution that I could get out of him in my intervention was massive repatriation to diminish greatly the coloured population.

Mr. Powell

It is true.

Mr. Lane

If he means voluntary repatriation, that is totally irelevant and will make no difference because people will not go. If he means compulsory repatriation, that is the language not of British democracy but of Hitler or of Stalin.

Mrs. Renée Short

Or of President Amin.

Mr. Lane

I am not defending him either. The right hon. Gentleman talked of fallacies. I would remind him of his own fallacy. He should be aware, for it is well known although he may not say it in this House—that 40 per cent. now—it will soon be over 50 per cent.—of the coloured population of this country were born here. To a young coloured man in London who was born here, repatriation is likely to mean the end of the Victoria Line in Brixton. The right hon. Gentleman's supposed solution of the problem is a cruel deception.

The second point, which is more relevant to this debate, is whether or not—yes, as we believed; no, as the right hon. Gentleman is arguing—the injection of more resources into some areas will help to promote harmonious race relations. I cannot tell about Wolverhampton because I have been there only once, but I would invite the right hon. Gentleman to come with me—I think that I could guarantee him a safe passage—

Mr. Stokes

To Cambridge?

Mr. Lane

No, not Cambridge! The area to which I would invite the right hon. Gentleman is in North Kensington at Notting Hill near where I have lived for 20 years. His arguments today about the relevance of public expenditure and resources would be absolutely refuted by the councillors of all parties—

Mr. Powell

Of course they would.

Mr. Lane

—and the voluntary organisations and the people of all races and colours—

Mr. Powell

Of course they would.

Mr. Lane

—who are working out together a new future for themselves in that area of Notting Hill near where I live.

6.45 p.m.

I should like to ask the Government, where is the more comprehensive strategy for dealing with disadvantage."? Those are their own words in paragraph 26 of the White Paper. I beg the Government to show more urgency about this problem. All the evidence which has come to the Select Committee on Race Relations during our current inquiry, which happens to be into the West Indian community—but the same has been said in previous inquiries—is that economic and social disadvantage is a greater handicap even than racial discrimination.

That was well illustrated in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash. This reality should be reflected in the Bill, and it is convenient to do so in some such clause as this by reference to resources. The effects of this legislation will be the greater if it is seen as part of a major Government programme to tackle the deprivation which afflicts coloured and white people alike. This is largely a matter of resources.

Last autumn in the previous Session. as the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said, the Select Committee drew attention to the problem. Earlier this year—my hon. Friend mentioned this when quoting from The Times —there were reports that the Government themselves were growing half-hearted and cutting back on capital expenditure in urban areas. There was a moving appeal in a letter to The Times from the Bishop of Liverpool.

I cannot do better in pressing this argument on the Government than to remind the House of what was said recently by two hon. Members, one from each major party. One is the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon). I am sorry to hear how very ill he is, and I hope that the Government will convey to him our best wishes for his restoration to health as soon as possible. I have disagreed and still disagree with the hon. Member on some questions of immigration policy, but I agree absolutely with what he said on this crucial problem of disadvantage in an article in the Sunday Times on 23rd May, entitled "Race: why we must act now".

The hon. Member reminded us that the Think Tank, the Central Policy Review Staff, had, at the instigation of the previous Government, completed just before the General Election a report on race relations. Part of that report said: Race relations can be improved only by a combined attack on discrimination, the special disabilities of coloured people and urban deprivation in general. Action on urban deprivation would benefit coloured and white communities alike. He wrote later that such initiatives—the kind of initiatives which have already been taken by the central Government— are too fragmentary. What is required is a radical redistribution of resources to the areas of greatest need. Even the Conservatives"— he kindly said— supported such a policy when they set up the Urban Deprivation Unit in the Home Office. The hon. Member went on to say: Despite two years of valiant work by experts recruited to the Unit, nothing has been achieved because bureaucratic ineptitude has been compounded with ministerial indifference". He ended his article with the plea that the necessary provisions should be included in the Race Relations Bill and drew attention to the fact that even if some extra money is needed—as of course it is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash well illustrated in his reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short)— it is better to invest it now when the difficulties can be easily overcome than to wait until the problems become intolerable. My second piece of supporting evidence is from the recent open letter to the Prime Minister written by my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), entitled "Race and the Inner City". He said that the reality of the housing and unemployment and other problems of the coloured minority is of such dimensions that, unless tackled effectively and quickly, it will bring to Britain the crime, the bitterness and the resentfulness that has been such a tragic feature of those American cities that equally failed to identify the aspiration, hopes and deep disappointments of their coloured population". My right hon. Friend sketched the position on housing, education and unemployment, as my hon. Friend has done, and ended up by saying: There is no doubt that with determination within five years we can by positive action bring an end to the misery of this population and bring them somewhere near to an equality of opportunity with the rest of the nation. It is no use talking of lack of racial discrimination if a lack of positive action means that the worst housing, the worst jobs—or no jobs —tend to be concentrated upon one community…Britain has a size of problem that is manageable. Britain does have the resources to manage it. I plead with you, as Prime Minister, to take the urgent action that is now necessary. I back the judgment and research of my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester in preference to the desperate speech we had from the right hon. Member for Down, South.

The proposals in the Bill to strengthen the law against discrimination can only help to ensure that people with equal skills and qualifications are treated equally. The Bill will do nothing to ensure that black people in particular are in a position to compete on equal terms with the rest of the population. That is why we believe that, through this new clause, the Bill should enjoin the commission to keep a watch on disadvantage and keep up pressure on the Government to take the necessary action to eradicate it.

Mr. Ronald Bell

In quoting from our right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) used the expression "lack of positive action". This is what New Clause 2 is about. I cannot remember the exact words, but he implied that unless there was positive action coloured people would not be able to compete on equal terms with white people. This is a basic fallacy which, I am sorry to say, underlies both the new clause and my hon. Friend's argument and, indeed, the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester in his article.

We come back to the numerical approach which I was criticising in our debate on New Clause 1—the idea that we ought to find roughly equivalent numbers of members of all communities in particular occupations and the belief that there is some positive action that can be taken that will in itself render someone from the West Indies or from Asia the immediate or early equal of someone bred from time immemorial in these isles. I have always been very proud to be British, and it does not make any sense to be proud of being British if it is known that a chitty from the Home Secretary can in a week or two give someone else exactly those things of which one is so proud.

It is not a matter of nationality. It is not a matter of birthplace. It is a matter of whom one is born of. We have acquitted ourselves rather well in these islands. I do not know why it has suddenly become disreputable to think that it is a splendid thing to be British or to talk of the British race. The late Sir Winston Churchill said in a modest moment I had the luck to give the roar. It was the British race roar around the world that won the battles—the British race, dwelling around the world. Does all of that mean nothing? What about that Fascist pig Shakespeare and all the things he said about the glory of being English? What about John o' Gaunt and so on? We must be sensible about this. Some of us have the right to appeal for a bit of sense about this.

I respect the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge. He speaks with great sincerity and with a desire to be helpful to people whom he sees as less fortunate and less successful than others. I have watched this progress from the beginning, from the early 1950s. No one can accuse me of any inconsistency about this. What I say I am trying to say in a way which does not sound unkind or unfair. It is people who have taken this sort of attitude who have brought about the problem with which we are now wrestling.

It was terribly difficult all through the 1950s to get people to face up to this problem. We did not want to face up to it for the sort of reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, all of which are humane reasons. Others did not want to face up to it because, like myself—although I switched very early indeed—they were old-fashioned imperialists. At the beginning of the 1950s I wanted everyone to be able to come in. It was a case of civis Britannicus sum, and how splendid it was that 600 million people throughout the world were British subjects with the right to come here. So it was, as long as they did not try to come. When they did, we had to retreat from the imperial grandeur of that concept and be sensible.

There were people who on either the humane or the imperialist side found it impossible to change their attitude. On the imperialist side there was—

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Brynmor John)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hesitate to interrupt the hon. and learned Member, but may I ask you to confirm that we are discussing New Clause 2?

Mr. Bell

I am discussing New Clause 2. The Minister did not interrupt any of the previous three speakers. This new clause suggests that it is resources which are the crux of the matter and that there is some positive action which can be taken to deal with resources. I am trying to point out that this is not so. I will do so quickly, although I was not aware that I was doing it slowly.

There were people who were reluctant, on the grounds that I mentioned, to stop this inflow. It was people with these motives who brought the problem into existence. Therefore, some of us are entitled to look rather sceptically at proposals which spring from similar motives now. A more common phrase than "positive action"—it has not been used in this debate, but it is the usual one—is "positive discrimination". That is a nice phrase. It means that one may not discriminate in a manner unfavourable to a coloured immigrant but one may discriminate in a manner favourable to him. One may tax the native population heavily and divert those resources to expenditure on immigrants, as I am afraid the new clause seeks to do. One may seek to overcome some disadvantage by depriving—that is what it comes to—the native population of something which it would otherwise have had and concentrating it instead on these people.

Let us examine the phrases involved, because they are shallow generalisations and the obscurantist use of language leads to these fallacies. What does "urban deprivation" mean? Of what have these people—I am now referring to coloured immigrants—been deprived? Deprivation means that someone has been deprived. Of what have they been deprived? When? By whom? It is a load of nonsense. We cannot talk of people being deprived of something that they never had. Many of these people came from primitive backgrounds. When they came here, their standard of life was raised. They have not been deprived of anything.

7.0 p.m.

But the truth of the matter is not, as the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) said, that they were sucked in by the employment situation and, therefore, we have the responsibility of diverting resources to them. There was an element of that—for example, the London Transport recruiting in Barbados and elsewhere and the vouchers which people could get for specific jobs—but it was never the main factor, and because it was not the main factor the new clause is irrelevant to the problem.

The main factor was demographic, and we have to hoist that in if we are to have any success in our broad policy on this subject. It was the population explosion in the West Indies and the tropical areas of the world which produced this problem. The West Indian Royal Commission went out there just before the war and reported in 1939–40. It showed that the difference in the rates of increase between tropical peoples and those of temperate climates was a phenomenon the significance of which had not yet been realised. After the war, we had five years of acute shipping shortage and then, in the early 1950s, that shortage was alleviated. By then the demographic pressures were 10 years further on than when the commission had reported, and these people began to pour in. They came because of the population explosion out there.

When one asks "What are we going to do about it here?" let us remember that they came because of the population explosion, which occurred because we took to them the benefits of Western civilisation which they had not achieved themselves. So their birth rate, at 38 per 1,000, remained the same while their death rate collapsed from 35 to 11 per 1,000. From a natural rate of increase of 3 per 1,000, there was a rise to 23 per thousand.

How does one cure that phenomenon by resorting to some process of lavishing upon them the products of Westtern civilisation without the concomitant disciplines which have made ours a balanced civilisation? We discovered things bit by bit—mastery over self, accompanied by mastery over the environment, and that is their problem. That is why we have these conditions in the urban areas. It is because Western civilisation has been given to them without that mastery over self which created the material benefits of Western civilisation.

All this raises extremely difficult problems. The immigrants would have raised problems if they had come in small numbers and spread, but perhaps they would have been superable problems. But they have come in big numbers and they have clotted.

Who knows the answer to the problem? I do not want to be harsh about the new clause, because I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) is aware of the problem and wants to suggest something that can be done about it. But I do not believe that one can do this. I believe that it will have the wrong effect. One will pauperise people who are already overwhelmed by a material standard which they have played no part in creating. That is the problem.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge accused my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) of describing the problem and of criticising other people's solutions but not providing his own solutions. I make no comment on that, although perhaps it is a fair point to make. But I shall try to provide my own solutions. I think that the problem must be tackled on several fronts.

One of those is obvious and clear: we have to stop these people coming in and adding to the problem. Anything else is scratching at the problem. Secondly, with over 2½ million of them here one has to have an element of repatriation, and it is no good simply saying that it is difficult. I disagreed with my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South when he said that the spending of money, which is what the new clause is about, would play no part in the solution. That is not quite true, because one can spend money on quite a large scale to help voluntary repatriation through resettlement grants in the countries from which they came. That would be a very wise expenditure. One will not solve the problem of 2½ million like that, but one has to mitigate the problem on half a dozen different fronts. That is really the point at issue.

I think that mere subsidisation is corrupting. Some of my hon. Friends have told us of what goes on in their constituencies. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight), for example, told us the other day of a family in her constituency where the husband has three wives and 29 children and they are all on social security. That is an isolated case, but such things are still much too common and they demoralise communities which are clotted in this way.

I think, therefore, that we have to go very carefully with any policy on positive discrimination. That, of course, is one element of the new clause. There is another; I do not think that resources have any part to play at all. The idea that discrimination, presumably on the part of the white indigenous population, will be diminished or eliminated by the expenditure of resources on the immigrant population is totally unreal. I do not think that it is true or has any bearing on the problem.

Perhaps—and it is not a bad thing—in a way my hon. Friend may have Browning's attitude. In his "The Statue and the Bust", Browning writes: The counter our lovers staked was lost As surely as if it were lawful coin: And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost Was, the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin, Though the end in sight was a crime, I say. Or perhaps my hon. Friend may have been Miltonic and have felt That only he knows virtue who first knows the interest that vice can promise to her followers, and yet abstains, and yet rejects. I do not know whether my hon. Friend wants to say that his is a Browning or a Miltonic attitude. But, in all seriousness, we mislead ourselves dangerously if we think that spending money will do anything very much. We have to reduce the numbers in some way, and we have to help these people to be self-respecting members of the community.

My personal view is that this kind of legislation is positively harmful in that direction. It leads to bad relations between the communities. One can take any aspect one likes; the new clause covers the whole field. It is, however, perhaps specially directed to housing, and one can also take the general provisions of the Bill in that respect.

A coloured person wants to buy a house. He feels that he is being discriminated against—that is a misuse of language, but I shall use it—by people of the native population. He feels that he has been refused a house because he is coloured. He may be right or he may be wrong. Without this Bill, he would not know; he would let it pass and probably forget about it. With this Bill, he is tempted to take positive steps, perhaps for the first time, against a member of the host community—formal steps.

That person is dragged through the procedure, which it would be wrong for me to go into now because it is a very humiliating, oppressive and expensive procedure. The member of the native community against whom the coloured person takes these steps is deeply embittered, as are his family and his friends, and they remain so ever after. The immigrant who has taken these formal steps against the host community, which he would not otherwise have taken, has also crystallised himself in an attitude of hostility, and he and those who were with him remain so in their relations to the host community ever after. The accumulation of such cases week by week, month by month and year by year builds up to the flashpoint from which violence comes.

These are dangerous proposals. I do not suggest that they are all inherent in the new clause or that the mover of the clause has any such objective in mind, because his objectives are the opposite to that. But the clause would have that effect. If in doubt I try to give the advantage to my own side, but if my hon. Friend takes the new clause to a vote I shall not feel able to go into the Lobby with him.

Mrs. Renée Short

I have indicated that I support the principle of the new clause. I have spent most of my political life trying to get help for those who are deprived. I shall not engage in a semantic battle. We all understand what we mean by "deprived", and we know that in the large towns and cities there are many deprived families living in poor conditions. It is appalling that 30 years after the end of the war there are literally millions of families living in sub-standard homes.

In my constituency there are white families and black families, Ukrainians, Italians, and Poles, as well as Indians, Pakistanis and West Indians. It is a scandal that large numbers of children of different nationalities are still attending old Victorian schools in our large towns and cities and that mothers are having to struggle in appalling conditions of housing and schooling to bring up their children. That applies whether they are black mothers or white mothers.

I find it terrible that, now we have all accepted the principles of nursery education and we understand what that does for the pre-school child to give him a good basis in life, we have so little nursery education. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on Tuesday that we now have more nursery education than before, but that depends upon what one compares it with. We are presiding over the collapse of nursery education. Nursery classes stand empty all over the country, and that is a scandal.

I hope that the Minister is aware that I am talking of families, whatever the colour of their skin. I hope he will understand the depth of feeling among hon. Members on this side of the House and, indeed, on the other side. We all want to see these defects remedied.

Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the deep problems that she is discussing, which are of concern to all of us, will not be remedied if immigration is halted or if there is an extensive repatriation of immigrants from this country?

7.15 p.m.

Mrs. Short

Of course I agree. I support the new clause. It is not about repatriation but is about giving the commission the power to make recommendations on the need for more resources in certain areas.

When I asked the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) about cuts in Government expenditure—because he is basically proposing an increase—he suggested that cuts might be made in the road improvement programme. That might be all very well, but one could have suggested other more meaningful cuts. Hon. Members should think what we could have done for the deprived if we had not built Concorde or if we had made more meaningful cuts in defence expenditure. That would have given us more money to spend on deprived families—black and white. If, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, we cut resources used for nationalised industries, the situation about which we are concerned would be made more difficult because it would create more unemployment. Rising unemployment is an acute problem in this context.

We must have more resources to help all our people. I emphasise that, because more resources for the deprived areas of our towns and cities means more help for the people who came to the country during the past 20 years since the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) was instrumental in encouraging and recruiting them. More resources would also mean more help for people who lived here before. We need to help all our population, and we are fighting for more resources for all the people in the country.

The only solution that the right hon. Member for Down, South can suggest in his paranoiac outpourings is repatriation. Having encouraged these people to come here, the right hon. Gentleman would banish them. He does not get much support for that philosophy in the House. He insisted on using the phrase "alien wedge", which he repeated so often in his speech. Has he noticed how few people are present when he speaks today? The House no longer fills when he speaks, and very few people listen to him. Neither here nor in many places in the country does his voice have the compelling quality that it used to have. He sounds rather like the man that most of us do not support either—Mr. President Amin —and perhaps we should give him a new name to attach to his own.

The right hon. Gentleman seems to forget that we are talking about human beings, people who are in need, people who need to have their standards of living improved and who need the opportunity to work. Without those opportunities, the fruitful ground will be nourished on which organisations like the National Front make progress to play on the fear of the population of the country that the presence of people from the Commonwealth is a threat to their livelihood and well-being. We reject that. We reject the philosophy that lies behind the right hon. Gentleman's speeches on this subject, and we reject the philosophy behind the activities of the National Front.

We have discussed that matter with the Home Secretary and we are all aware of the need to counteract the activities of such organisations. The best thing we can do is to improve the standard of living of all those people living in deprived areas.

I hope that the Government will accept the principle of the new clause and that they will accept the strong case for providing more resources. That is the basis of much of the argument about public expenditure and support for nationalised industries. It is a question of objectives and everything that flows from a buoyant and flourishing economy.

Mr. A. G. F. Hall-Davis (Morecambe and Lonsdale)

I shall be brief, because I suspect that the House wishes to come to a conclusion on this matter, but I hope that I shall succeed in making clear my feelings on the clause and some of the comments about it.

I listened to the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) vigorously outline the macro-economic policy of massive repatriation. I, too, missed from him any advice on the way in which we should proceed pending achievement of his overall objective. I think that even he would not expect it to be achieved in a short time. I felt that his experience in his former constituency and his great intellectual power were capable of producing valuable observations, which would be of great help to the House and to his fellow citizens. But as he proceeded I realised that we were not to have them, not because he wished to concentrate on a single theme, not because he did not wish to divert his own efforts from what he considered the overriding objective, but because he felt that action to alleviate immediate hardships would divert people's attention from his fundamental solution, and perhaps delay or negate it.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is very sincere, and I hope that he will give me credit for equal but no greater sincerity. I believe that his approach means using people as pawns in a political argument which should be conducted by debate and not by neglect of their needs or by pressure. Have we no moral obligation to the children of immigrant families, of minority families? Their parents came here within the law, and the children had no say in the matter. Their parents came in accordance with statutes that were ruling under a Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member. Those are fundamental points.

I believe that man is created in the image of God in some way, and that he has a right to develop his personality and talents. If we do not give the support that we seek to ensure by the new clause, we deny that fundamental right. We should at least consider that when we conduct our argument on how to proceed.

There are fields in which additional support must be justified if we assess the needs of minorities in exactly the same way as we assess the needs of other citizens. They lie largely in education. There are problems in education, faced particularly by West Indian children, which we have been slow to identify but which we can now appreciate better than we could some years ago. They need special support in identifying job opportunities and the qualifications needed to fill them, and assessing how best to equip themselves to fill them.

I support the clause, because I believe that in the current financial year the Government are engaged in an irrational restriction of expenditure. They have got themselves into a position in which they must make unadmitted and undebated cuts in public expenditure that lead to distortion of the pattern of expenditure that both sides of the House would like to see. I believe that the Race Relations Board has a rôle to play in quickening the identification of the sort of need to which I have referred. Nobody can say that we have been rapid until now.

For these reasons, I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's reluctance to allow the House or the country to be diverted from macro-economic policies by the consideration of urgent needs, and I distrust the Government's courage to discuss openly what is going on in public expenditure. The clause would make any Government justify rationally and openly whether they were discharging their responsibilities in this very difficult but crucial area.

I should like to say one word about the indigenous community, because of the comments of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell). I do not believe that by helping to remove the frustrations and sense of injustice of minority communities we should be doing anything but assisting the happiness and well-being of the indigenous community.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Why should the minority communities have a sense of injustice?

Mr. Hall-Davis

Perhaps another occasion will present itself to answer that.

Mr. John

We have had a long debate. I had originally intended to stick to the new clause, but it is not possible wholly to do so. However, I shall keep to a minimum my remarks on the wider issues, so that I do not stray outside the rules of order or disappoint hon. Members who wish to come to a conclusion on the matter.

I do not propose to go through the anthropological gobbledegook to which we were treated by the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell), or to comment in detail on the fascinating but somewhat horrifying glimpse of the mind which he revealed under his suave exterior and softly-spoken manner.

Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)

Is my hon. Friend aware that the hon. and learned Gentleman has somewhat similar views about women and Europeans?

Mr. John

Both of those are such formidable categories that it would take me outside the realms of order if I tried to deal with them now.

One can agree with the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that the simple proposition that poverty equals crime was a gross over-simplification brought about by a Victorian sense of self-confidence. But the fact that it has proved difficult to establish the connection between material conditions and crime does not mean that there is no connection. The right hon. Gentleman fell into an equal error when he said that poverty does not equal crime. He seemed to advocate the doctrine of human imperfectibility, which I do not share.

The clause has a dual purpose. First, it concerns an analysis of the problem of deprivation and inner-city decay, which is well understood in this country, except by the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, and which is not confined to what he calls immigrants but what the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) reminded him is increasingly a British-born population.

At times I wish that the right hon. Member for Down, South could read some of the correspondence that his views generate. Many of the fears that one hears expressed, sometimes in support of the right hon. Gentleman's views, are about deprivation, and so on. There is clearly a substantial content to the problem of race relations, which I was at pains to acknowledge in Committee.

Then one comes to the solution propounded by the clause. The right hon. Gentleman's solution was massive repatriation. The Government utterly reject that solution. The people who are here deserve to be treated equally as citizens of Britain. We believe in racial harmony and good race relations. That is why we are putting the Bill through Parliament. We proclaim our faith in that doctrine. I should say that the right hon. Gentleman was giving way to a council of despair, except that I had the sneaking suspicion that in his scenarios of gloom it was a council of relish rather than despair.

I return to the solution propounded in the clause for the admitted problems that many of us face, which is to ask the commission specifically to refer, in a report, to the question of resources.

I ask that the new clause be not adopted, not because of any lack of sympathy with the problems that have been outlined but because I believe it to be unnecessary. I take that view because, as the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) will know, there is power under Clause 46 to report. Indeed, the commission will have a duty to review the working of the Act. It will have power to draw attention to any lack of resources. That will not be the commission's only means or opportunity of access to the Secretary of State. The problem is met because when the commission is preparing its estimates it must correlate past expenditure and activities. There is the need to measure resources against activities in relation to its own budget. The hon. Gentleman will find that such matters are catered for in the Bill as it stands without adding the new clause.

Within the commission's budget and within consents, it is for the commission to place emphasis upon the sector that it thinks important. There is power for the commission to make its report and to highlight any lack of resources. Therefore, I believe the new clause to be unnecessary. I end by setting against the description of the commission's work the thoughts that both the hon. Member for Barkston Ash and I share about the position in Britain.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. William Whitelaw (Penrith and The Border)

I shall reply briefly to what the Minister of State has said and make one or two wider comments before returning to the narrower point of the new clause.

The new clause was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) so as to call attention to the problem of resources. Along with my hon. Friends the Members for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) and Morecambe and Lansdale (Mr. Hall-Davis), I agree that it is an extremely important matter. I do not accept the opinion of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that this is a soft option. I believe that all the available options have to be used. My view on the broad issue is probably well known by now, namely, that we should not add to the existing problems. I am prepared to restate that view. The problems will not go away. It is an illusion to think that in the end we can substantially reduce the need to do something about certain populations in difficult areas. That is a fact that we must face.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) says that he changed his view earlier than most people. I give him credit for doing so. But the right hon. Member for Down, South and I were both members of the same Government. The right hon. Gentleman was a senior member while I was a junior one. In the end, that Government came forward with the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. But many people had come into this country long before that Act was introduced. I have never gone into the argument about the nurses—the argument that was taken up by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short)—but the Government of which my right hon. Friend and I were members undoubtedly brought in such people, and they are now producing children. At the time that they came here the British people were exercising their responsibilities. We must now deal with the situation and not make the problem worse. I do not think we can avoid it altogether by any one set of measures. That is why I believe that resources are important.

The right hon. Member for Down, South moved into an area that is not really covered by the Bill. He happens to represent a Northern Ireland constituency. He said that there is no real relationship between poverty and crime. I suggest that there is a clear relationship between bitterness and deprivation. I shall give an example, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman and I will probably be in agreement.

There is no doubt that in Northern Ireland the bitterness on the Protestant side in the Shankill Road and on the Catholic side in the Falls Road is much greater than the bitterness in any other part of Northern Ireland,where conditions are much better. It may be that the close proximity of the two roads has contributed to the bitterness. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about fighting for territory, and that is what happened to that unhappy part of Belfast. However, the fact that it was a much less happy living environment than many other places surely contributed to the amount of bitterness that is now present. I believe that to be an uncontrovertible fact, which demonstrates that there is a relationship between environment and bitterness. In some instances I believe that bitterness has led to crime. It has certainly led to terrorism.

The environment in which we live is an important factor. That is why I feel that efforts should be made to improve the conditions in which many people live. On Monday my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) argued a powerful case about conditions in Birmingham, and especially in his own constituency. He spoke about the need for action to be taken and he has written to the Prime Minister. He argued a strong case.

Similar considerations led us to bring forward the new clause, which has led to a wide debate. The Minister of State has said that he believes the clause to be unnecessary. In putting forward that view he referred to Clause 46. I have a horror of putting anything into legislation which is unnecessary—it is a great mistake to do so—but I believe that we were right to table the new clause and right to have this debate. However, I do not think it would be right to seek to add the new clause to the Bill, bearing in mind the circumstances that have been put to us by the Minister of State. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friends will not press the new clause.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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