HL Deb 13 December 1962 vol 245 cc781-2

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the decision of the Nottingham Children's magistrates, as reported in The Times of December 6, to refuse an English couple the custody of their child unless they move away from their present home in a coloured district is in accordance with Government policy.]


My Lords, from the information at present available it would appear that the two children concerned in this case had been brought before the court by the local authority as being in need of care or protection. The court committed them to the care of the local authority under a "fit person" order. The chairman of the court, when making the order, encouraged the parents to apply for revocation of the order when they had secured accommodation more suitable for a family. As the noble Lord will no doubt appreciate on reflection, it was a matter for the court, and the court alone, to decide what order, if any, to make. The Government have no authority to intervene in a decision of a juvenile court and no question of Government policy arises.


My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for his Answer, but would draw his attention to the actual words, as quoted in The Times, of the chairman of the court, who is reported as having said: We do not really favour the sort of accommodation where there is a coloured population. Might I ask the noble and learned Lord whether he could exert his authority, which is undoubted, over the Judiciary to make it known to all concerned with the administration of law that in this country there is no question of any man not being equal before the law because of his race or colour, and that in the eyes of the law there is no such thing as colour or race?


My Lords, I have found from experience that it is often misleading to seek to draw a conclusion from a report in the Press when the report is necessarily abbreviated. I am making inquiries as to what, in fact, occurred. I have not as yet received a reply to these inquiries. Of course, there is no question of inequality before the law.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, especially for his last remark, which I hope will be very widely read by magistrates and others, especially as I take it—and perhaps he will confirm this—it has special regard to questions of colour and race.

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