HL Deb 12 March 1963 vol 247 cc732-61

4.47 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, if the time has now come to return from the problems of Africans in Africa to the problems of Africans and others in England, I should like to occupy a few minutes of your Lordships' time in offering full support from these Benches to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, in the Unstarred Question that he has put down to-day. I am sure the House is greatly indebted to the noble Lord—though noble Lords opposite may not agree—for the assiduity which he habitually shows in this House on racial questions. I think it is relevant to recall, although your Lordships are already aware of it, that he is a landlord in a part of the world which supplies many of the immigrants who come to this country: incidentally, so are the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and myself. When questions of apartheid or of colour arise, you often hear the argument put forward: "If you lived among them, and if you had to work with them, then you would feel differently; it is all very well to say that when you have no personal contact".


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but are the Irish at the moment being put in the coloured category?


No. The Irish are not black although we may be feeling pretty black this evening if the wrong horses win at Cheltenham this afternoon.

I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, provides striking evidence that such general arguments are not normally justified. If we admire the noble Lord's assiduity in these matters, I feel that we can only deplore the lack of sympathy, or possibly just the indifference, of the Government and of noble Lords opposite to this most important problem. Within our memory, we have seen their enactment of the lamentable, unnecessary and retrogressive piece of legislation the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill; we have seen them refuse to give even a Second Reading to the Bill moved by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, on racial discrimination; and now to-day, on the noble Lord's Unstarred Question, there is not one single noble Lord opposite who has put down his name to speak. I do not know whether we shall have any undeclared runners to-day, but perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, is going to appear at the post at the last moment. But no noble Lord opposite decided in advance that he was going to speak. I think it is most regrettable that the Conservative Party as a whole, and the Government in general, should show such a marked indifference to a question of such great importance.

Turning to the noble Lord's Question, I admit that I was a little perturbed when I first saw the phrase, "promote by educational means", because somehow one at once imagined a group of little children being taken into a class room and given lessons on racial problems instead of arithmetic or geography. I thought I should mention that, although it has not been advocated so far, because I find it is a form of education which is being advocated and, indeed, practised in some schools. I am convinced that education of that kind is a mistake, at any rate so far as young children are concerned, because in my opinion and in my experience there is almost no consciousness of this problem among children to the age of 13, 14 or possibly 15, although, of course, it will vary from one school to another, from one region to another, and from one child to another. But that is how it should be with children: there should be no consciousness of colour or race. And that is how it should remain as long as possible.

I feel that if classes of this kind were held they would have the effect of making children aware, for the first time, that such a problem exists and would put it before them as an issue at a time when ignorance might otherwise be bliss. But there is a moment in adolescence, which, as I say, will vary with the individual, when the first signs of racial colour prejudice may begin to occur. This may be associated with the sexual awakening, as I think the right reverend Prelate indicated, but it is more generally due to an influence of some kind or another outside, and not inside, the school itself, whether it is the child's own family—because until this age the family will not talk about matters of this kind—whether it is simply the community in which the child lives, or whether it is the mass media with which the child comes into contact. Here I should like to say that mass media generally treat the subject excellently. I think television is a good influence on this problem, and the whole activity which can be included under the phrase "show business" has a most tolerant attitude towards racial and colour problems; and the Press, though not immaculate, I believe has a better record on this than on some other questions.

In combating intolerance at this stage in the child's growth, however it may occur, I believe that education, taken in its widest sense, can play a part, but again not through a special class in racial problems. I do not think I can do better than quote briefly from a report by Dr. Michael Banton in the International Social Science Journal on Dr. Bibby's book which the right reverend Prelate mentioned. Dr. Banton wrote: The solution to this problem is not to introduce instruction periods on race and racial relations. It is to re-examine existing curricula in biology, geography, history, religious knowledge"— and I think religious knowledge provides great opportunities, particularly for the Jewish problem— and possibly one or two other subjects to see whether the attention given to racial aspects is proportionate to their importance on the current world scene. My thinking does not often go hand in hand with the Church, but I am happy that on this occasion I find it running along lines rather similar to those of the right reverend Prelate, who said that what matters—and I wrote down his words—"was the attitude of life which comes through". I agree very strongly with that, and I think the Government can give guidance. What matters is the atmosphere or climate of thought which exists in any school—that it should be enlightened, of course. What matters is the teacher's own attitude to racial problems—that it should be sympathetic. But, above all, what matters is the ability of the teacher to correct mistaken attitudes of mind which are acquired outside the school as and when they first become noticeable, and to be able to do it gently, tactfully and with understanding. It is often best that such guidance should be by a seemingly casual, offhand comment, as opportunity presents itself in the course of the normal curriculum, and without any special, undue emphasis. On the other aspects that have been raised, I agree completely with the noble Lord and look forward with great interest to the reply.

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, there is little I feel I can add to the last two speeches, because the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord who has just sat down have expressed very much my own feelings on this problem. I should like, however, to underline one or two of the things the two previous speakers have said. I would start with what was said by the right reverend Prelate, that he thought young children were generally free from racial prejudice. I would go further, and say there is no doubt that they are completely free of it until, I should say, the end of primary school age. Small children have no colour consciousness whatever, in my observation and in the experience of many people to whom I have spoken. Even at a later age there is remarkably little colour prejudice. London schools with which I have been connected have had coloured boys, Cypriots or Africans, at the head of the school as head boy, and as the leading athlete of the period, generally popular and completely accepted as one of themselves by the boys.

At the same time, there is no doubt that, by the time they grow up, a remarkably large proportion of the population have acquired a race prejudice. The question is: How do they do it? If the schools are sound in their attitude, then it must be from the home that this virus is caught. It seems to me that the problem is not so much disinfection, as I think the right reverend Prelate said, but inoculation to confer immunity when outside the school atmosphere to the virus of race prejudice, colour prejudice and colour consciousness. I expect the noble Lord, Lord Newton, as indeed would any Government spokesman, would be very careful to avoid any impression that the Government wanted to guide the content of education in any way.

I think that our education system in this country is so devised and so decentralised that it is very difficult for a Government to influence the teaching in the schools, and I think it is quite right that it should be so. But it is clearly the teachers who bear the responsibility for giving this inoculation to the children. The thing is, how to convince the teachers as they pass through their teacher training colleges, or as they pass out into the world of education, of the extreme importance of conveying the right ideas? As the right reverend Prelate said, it is not so much to do with the formal education, the academic subjects—although there is plenty that can be corrected in those, as I shall show in a moment—but with the general attitude to life. I think there was a very good point made some years ago by Dr. Kenneth Little, in a letter to the Press, when he said that race relations should be represented as a normal part of human experience. It should not be a special subject that you think of when you meet somebody whose face is a different colour from your own.

Boundaries are going down all over the world, the races are mixing socially, economically and in every other way, and surely it would help to dissipate any race consciousness if, for example, as Dr. Little suggests, the B.B.C. were to include a coloured family in its serials or on television, portray a Negro personality in a different light from boxing and popular entertainment. He goes on to say: The inclusion of an occasional coloured scientist or man of letters would facilitate this, if he were there as an ordinary member of the intellectual team, and not to talk about race. We must regard this as a normal part of life nowadays, and I would rather question the, I think, excessively optimistic view of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, of the Press and the cinema generally—what I think we call the mass media—in the way they handle this subject. When there is a Royal tour of Africa or the Far East, what do we see on the newsreels and in the Press? We see tribal dances, witch doctors, people clad in beads and feathers, whether or not those are typical of the inhabitants of that particular country at the present day, and nothing else. We never see pictures of the African administrators who are responsible for the organisation of the Royal tour. Oh, no! we see a tribal dance laid on with drums and feathers, and all the rest.

That, straight away, puts the idea of race and Commonwealth relations on a totally false footing because, in fact, our Commonwealth fellow citizens of the present day do not dress in feathers and beads and beat drums. That is part of the traditional ritual in the same way as with some of our rituals in this country which are so attractive to visitors. No, my Lords. I should like to see the Press, when dealing with a Royal visit to a Commonwealth country, portraying the administrators, the judges, the doctors, the scientists, the nuclear physicists if you like, of that country, African or Asian, and not the tribal traditions. That would make a big difference in the attitude of the newspaper readers in this country and that is one of the ways in which present attitudes might be corrected.

We can all think of the history books on which we were brought up. We read about the British conquests and the growth of the British Empire in terms of expeditions to put down human sacrifice, to bring light into savage countries and to put down barbarous practices. That may all be true, but there were other sides also to the growth of the Empire; and the incidence in the history book of that view of expansion in the Colonial era is another factor that gives false impressions. As the right reverend Prelate said, there are other factors in geography and, most of all, biology, because how many teachers have an opportunity of seeing up-to-date books on biology?

I can remember some years ago an excellent little pamphlet put out by UNESCO on the subject of race, demonstrating some of the current fallacies on racial matters. I hope we shall hear that Her Majesty's Government are not just sitting hoping for a change, but are actively promoting and assisting in these efforts. I hope they are promoting everything that UNESCO are doing in this matter; and I hope that the Minister of Education, who does, after all, issue circulars giving guidance, will make it clear to the teaching profession that he attaches enormous importance to this subject.

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Walston, in his appeal for education in its widest terms on this particular subject. I think that the integration of immigrants into this country is not merely a question of welcoming people from overseas into our midst but much more of explaining to our own people what the differences are in the people who come to live in our country, where their customs and ours may clash, and, in consequence, what we should be aware of.

I speak in this connection as Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigrants' Council, which was set up by the Home Secretary last July in order to study the question of the welfare of Commonwealth immigrants in the country and their integration into the community. Since then a great deal of work has been done and a great deal of evidence has been made available to the Council. Talking with those at local level I find that the problems facing people from overseas seem to have as a prime factor the question of housing and the consequent overcrowding—very often gross overcrowding, with, frequently, five families to a house. I find, somewhat to my surprise, that practically every single situation, difficulty or problem eventually stems from or becomes linked up with this problem of housing. This I regard as very serious because it is one of the problems that confronts us on a day-to-day basis with our own people.

Everyone is a little too apt, I think, to look on immigrants as coloured people. The local problem of immigrants is not a question of race, country or colour; it is a question of an influx into a particular area of persons from another country, and the way the local inhabitant is immediately on the defensive lest the newcomer gets a better deal than he does in regard to things in short supply. I believe that it might be a help if we could distinguish between immigrants who come into the country to settle here and those who come for a short time. It is very difficult for immigrants who wish to settle in this country to understand that, because we have not yet caught up with our own housing problems, many local authorities demand a residential qualification of five years before anyone can even be considered for a council house; and most immigrants, when told this, regard it as merely a discrimination against themselves.

There is not one among us who does not recognise this big problem of shortage of housing, with the overcrowding and the friction that it creates. We have all met it, either with families we know, with in-laws, or whoever it may be. But (although this must sound to your Lordships a statement of the obvious) I think it is a basic situation which is not to be forgotten, and one which must be taken as a background to whatever we discuss in our deliberations. People from overseas have a very different way of living from our people. Just in the same way as we appear to them to have a queer way of life, so they feel that congregating together and making a noise, having a jolly time, and generally living in this sort of way, is the right way to live. But when they act like this it seems to lead again and again to trouble locally. It is very easy for us to understand the situation, withdrawn and objectively, but it is much more difficult to understand it if you are living in the midst of it and are irritated by the happenings.

Accommodation is short, and there is the problem that landlords may be of the same or of a different background. There is also the very real difficulty that people in a strange land are prone to be caught by rapacious landlords—a fact which further contributes to the problems. Local authorities throughout the country are trying to improve matters, and many are doing excellent work. This is especially true with the houses in multi-occupation. But there is undoubtedly need for much further effort, both by Government and by local authorities. The panacea is one which can be achieved only slowly, and it is necessary for us, in the meantime, to examine what can be done and how it should be done. I personally am convinced that it would be wrong to treat immigrants in a different way from the way we treat our own people, and I would never recommend special measures for the benefit of immigrants. But I suggest that some essentially temporary measures to assist immigrants in settling into a community might be advisable. Such measures should be examined, and, if necessary, they may have to be invoked.

Foremost as a need is the requirement brought forward so tangibly this afternoon for information, explanation, education or whatever you like to call it. That means really liaison work necessary between two lots of human beings with differing outlooks and backgrounds. This can be achieved only if it is supported, and supported to the full, by central authority. There is tremendous value in liaison officers of some sort or another at local level who can provide that link between immigrants and local authorities, voluntary organisations and life in a strange country. But there are many difficulties, even in this, and I am quite sure that the subject must be tackled according to the locality and with a knowledge of local conditions, local problems and local special circumstances. Some local authorities in the country are at present employing immigrants as liaison officers. This idea is, in many places, proving successful. But it is successful only if the bulk of the immigrants in that particular place are from the same country. Where there are several different groups of immigrants in one area, difficulty is caused in having a liaison officer from one country who is dealing with immigrants from another.

When I speak of liaison work, I mean not child education but adult education. But when one turns to schools and the whole question of children, it is known—and it has been stated quite specifically—that a high proportion of immigrant children could be absorbed into the life of the school without problems arising, so long as the language problem does not obtrude itself. It is when the school has too high a proportion of children who do not speak English that educational problems arise. In the interests of the children of the area, if the percentage of non-English speaking children in a school were to rise above a given percentage level it might be difficult to keep a class up to normal level of progression, and inevitably a retarded pace for the other children would result. This is a situation of which the education authorities are well aware, and the language problem is one which again must not only be tackled but must be explained to immigrant parents themselves, so that they fully understand.

The need for immigrants to learn about the community to which they come is great, but the need for the community to understand the immigrants is also great. Nothing has helped this country more to understand immigrants than the courtesy shown by immigrant bus conductors and the care and gentle handling of patients by immigrant nurses in our hospitals. This has been the best method of communication the people in this country have ever had; and because of the realisation of what they have had at the hands of immigrants, many people have, in turn, I think, recognised that they have something to give to the immigrants and have taken steps to do so.

The process of education is precisely that of human communication. It is to replace prejudice by understanding. Acceptance in this country is not taught consciously; it comes from example, discussion and understanding; in fact through general assimilation, and most often is a result of good communication. Our problem is the question of teaching adult human beings, both immigrant and resident, those things they should know. Such education should make our own nationals think and ponder and understand, which many of them have never taken the trouble to do up to now. I have a friend who is a coloured woman, a doctor. She and I were talking together one day, and she put a point to me that I had never really faced before. She said to me, "You know, you would hate your son to marry my daughter, but have you ever thought how tremendously I should detest my daughter marrying your son?'' This perhaps is basically the type of thing we all have to think about, and think deeply. Integration and collaboration, close friendship and the melting together of different races reveals that deep thought is necessary between individuals if nations are to be able to realise and accept the profound truths which lie at the base of all these things and learn the secret of nations living together.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I did not put my name down to speak because I did not feel that I could help much by the words that I might say. On the other hand, it was most necessary that somebody from these Benches should be willing to get up. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, that there are many people in this House who think along the lines of Lord Walston's speech, and I am sure distinctly along the wise and interesting lines of the noble Baroness's speech, with which I was greatly impressed. Of course, the whole problem is that there is a sore developing in several of our towns and boroughs which is not growing smaller and which must be pricked and ameliorated.

Many of us have pondered on what the Government are doing and what they can do. We have heard from the noble Baroness that last July an Immigration Council was formed and the wise step was taken of putting the noble Baroness at its head. I have myself thought that the Government are inhibited in this matter, perhaps by their inability and by not wishing to interfere with local authorities. Yet this question of coloured immigrants is very different depending upon the angle from which it is viewed. A person like Lord Walston, who has lived on his own estates in the countries which we peopled with people from the West Coast of Africa, has seen that segment of humanity all his life; they have lived under the beneficence of an English laid-down Constitution for 300 years. Then there are people like myself and many others, who have been to South Africa, who have lived there for a year or more and who see the problem quite differently.

Then there are those, and we in this House, who, by belonging to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, in the rooms of Westminster Hall have met —speaking personally for the first time—representatives of those races of whom we are talking, who are highly trained, highly educated and who hold high positions in their own countries. One has had the opportunity of talking to them and of getting to grips with them in a way that, for instance, in my own residence in South Africa I never had a chance of doing. I never had the chance of meeting an educated black man there. I met the black men who were in my neighbourhood at the time I lived there, or those who accompanied me through trackless forests in pursuit of natural history and big game. Therefore it depends upon the angle from which one sees the problem.

The problem in England can be seen, and is viewed, in two quite different ways. One is the Government way, through the Minister in charge of the Department, but the other is the way of the little local communities where young couples are fighting to get the houses they need. Many of them are disappointed because there are no houses available, and many of them think that they are being ousted from the houses that they would have got had not so many immigrants come in. I know that that is so, because I have a great friend who lives in Bethnal Green and who continually writes to me reflecting the feeling of the young people in the streets. They are against this immigration into an already overcrowded district. We know that there have been troubles in Middlesbrough; we know that there have been troubles in Smethwick. There are so many Pakistanis, who are fine people and who have collected together in a part of Birmingham, that they have formed a Pakistani Union. That is not good: it is not desirable.

When I was a young man in Canada, I met Members of Parliament and all the big officials in Ottawa, the capital. They said: "The greatest mistake in the world in this enormous influx of people from Europe is if they get together and gang up into a community, so that they walk the streets and see and hear people talking their own language." They told me that there is even a town, I believe it is called Berlin, in Ottawa, of 30,000 people, lock, stock and barrel German, who ran three German newspapers. Such a thing as that on a smaller scale in Smethwick or Birmingham is not good for the country. We should not have what I might call foreign bodies inside the main body.

The only way in which we can get that put right is, I suggest, for the Government to do what they dislike doing—namely, to give pretty strong directives as to splitting up: where there is far too great a superiority of one nation in a school, to split them up and not lot them all sit together in a gaggle, or at meal times to occupy a table, talk their own language and turn their shoulders on their little friends of another colour. I should be glad to hear that the Government will do what they have not apparently done—namely, give pretty strong directives to try to prevent this ganging-up of foreign bodies in our own institutions.

I do not think I can say anything more of any value. I am extremely glad that Lord Walston has had another "go" at this question of discrimination. We did not altogether like the Bill which he introduced, I think last May. There were one or two things in its clauses that, as it stood, I could not have voted for; but it was a fine effort. He knows the subject better than most, and probably better than anybody else in this House, having been brought up to it from his youth upwards. I hope he will go at it again and again until things begin to look better. The noble Lord quoted something that upset me greatly and detailed something that I have tried to represent here this afternoon. He spoke of the problems reflected in a letter from a headmaster concerning the northern boroughs of London—the bad effect of children who were entirely unfit to go to school because they had not a word of English. Something ought to be done about that. As I have said, I hope that the Government will take steps which it appears they have not taken up till now. Having said that, I wish the Government God-speed in their attempts to deal with a very difficult subject.

House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by the Lord Chancellor.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, as the right reverend Prelate said, I appear to have some information on one aspect on which he touched. So perhaps it is right and proper that I should take up a little of your Lordships' time. Before I do so, I should like express my own thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for his unflagging concern for this subject and for bringing it once again before your Lordships' House. A great deal of most valuable comment has been made during this debate which I do not think it necessary either to underline or to repeat. What it seems to me to have emphasised is that in this educative process—which I personally believe is the only way ultimately to deal with racial feeling—there is very little place for dramatic, sudden or grand gestures. There is a combination of a great number of things which, in themselves, are apparently quite small.

In a short while I am due to take part in a meeting in Church House at which representatives of all the Churches—and, I am glad to say, the Minister of Education also—will be hearing the Bishop of Masasi talk about the need for more English teachers in Africa. That is one aspect of improving our understanding of each other from the racial point of view. To have taught in Africa is to come back with a new understanding and a new concern about racial tensions as they might exist where Africans congregate in parts of London. Much can be done in small ways: the consideration of curricula, the reconsideration of some of our textbooks. After 50 years I have still not quite got W. A. Henty out of my own system and some of the things and wrong attitudes I acquired from him.

Much could be clone by co-operation with the various professional associations, the Science Masters' Association, the Historical Association, and so on. There are, indeed, throughout the length and breadth of the country men and women of good will who are concerned about this matter, but who want to know how to bring their various little contributions together into something which makes sense. Lord Walston has suggested that the responsibility in the educational sphere rests primarily with the Ministry of Education. I think he is right. What we need is a constant lead, a constant reminder, so that the efforts of men and women of good will—some within our formal school system, and many more within that vague, shadowy no-man's-land called adult education (the most neglected area of our educational provision)—should be co-ordinated, encouraged and, where need be, given that modicum of financial support which enables a voluntary effort to be put on a more continuing basis.

The Churches themselves are anxious to co-operate and to do all they can; and, as a measure of their concern, the British Council of Churches have decided within the last few days to set up a Standing Committee on Race Affairs. The Committee will be directly responsible to the Council. It will advise them on all matters of race relations, and will keep the matter constantly before the notice and concern of the constituent Churches. The Churches are willing to do all they can, but we hope that we shall be able to do it in partnership with the Government and every other agency, so that we shall never be allowed to go to sleep on a question which, because it is not very pleasant, we sometimes try to put at the back of our minds, but shall keep alert all the time. For it is only through this combination of small efforts that we shall remove this sin of racialism which disfigures some parts of our national life.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, it would have been appropriate if the last word before the speech of the Minister had come from the right reverend Prelate, who has done, and is doing, so much in this field. It is often argued whether Christianity points to any practical steps at all in politics and social matters. I think that we might at least agree on this: when it comes to race questions Christians are not only agreed, but are agreed about a positive line of action. It was most encouraging to hear that the British Council of Churches had set up this vital committee on race relations. It is certainly a fine lead which has gone out from both the right reverend Prelates.

I intervene only in order to show my respectful solidarity with—I was going to say "the right reverend Lord Walston". He has been referred to in such glowing terms by ecclesiastical spokesmen that, for a moment, I invested him with an ecclesiastical aura. At any rate, we have agreed that his speech would not have come inaptly from a right reverend Prelate. It was a very fine speech indeed. In many ways the House of Lords does not come very well out of this afternoon. The attendance has been poor. It is a little better now than it was earlier, but, considering the magnitude of the issues, I would have said the attendance has been rather shameful. But at any rate there have been moving speeches from all the main sides of the House—from the Government side, both Opposition Parties, the Bishops' Bench, and last but far from least from the Cross-Benches where the noble Lady speaks with more immediate authority, perhaps, than any other. She made a series of most practical suggestions to which no doubt the Minister will be replying.

I cannot help looking back to the speech with which the Lord Chancellor of the day wound up the debate on May 14 last year. He urged the rejection of the Racial Discrimination Bill (I am sorry I did not tell him I was going to refer to his speech, but he is too good-natured to mind) and advised the House that the problem was not one soluble by legislation. He pointed out what seemed to him to be a better course. He argued that [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 240, col 519]: Only patient education of public opinion by example and expressions of view by responsible individuals and bodies can achieve lasting results. So he was looking, as an alternative to legislation, to this very education which is being recommended by all speakers to-day. But, in fact, he guarded himself even more carefuly, because the education which he recommended was not the education with which most of us have been primarily concerned to-day, but education "by example and expressions of view". That particular form of education, while valuable and desirable, is very limited in its likely results.

Certainly both in May and on other occasions in this House, and certainly to-day, there have been powerful expressions of view. But, as Sir Winston Churchill once remarked—or is supposed to have remarked—during the war, If it were only a question of making speeches. I should have beaten Hitler long ago. And no doubt there is a certain truth in that. If it were only a question of making speeches in your Lordships' House, we should have carried the day a long time before this. It is difficult to preach these sermons in the quarters where they are most required.

I remember speaking some time ago in a large and very reputable youth club—though many of those present were not in their teens—in a part of London where there had been a lot of racial trouble. Mercifully, there has been very much less trouble since. But I preached the kind of sermon that I expect would have been very acceptable in a debate here. I argued for racial tolerance, understanding and good will, and other virtues of that kind. To say that I was listened to with impatience would be under-estimating the hostility of my reception. When I had finished the audience rose with one accord, and for a moment I measured the distance between myself and the door, decided it was too great, and wondered whether it would be dignified for a Member of the Upper House to escape by the window. But, luckily, after a moment's indecision, the audience swung round and marched out in a body, leaving me alone with the manager of the club, who turned to me, not without a certain ghoulish satisfaction, and remarked "Now you see what I have to put up with every day". That was in a certain part of London where feeling was rather high, but things are better there now. But it is difficult to make many converts to our cause by preaching here or preaching there, though we must keep on trying to do it.

Then we come to example. Of course, if this were Africa, and particularly if it were Africa a few years ago, no doubt there would be a great deal that we should do by way of somewhat heroic example. I remember a friend of mine. He was a high ecclesiastic, and he was asked to a dinner of old Balliol men in Nairobi. This was more than ten years ago, but it is within memory. He said that he would be particularly glad to go to this dinner of old Balliol men because a great friend of his, an African, would no doubt be one of the principal figures. However, he was told they would have liked to have this distinguished African present but, unfortunately, the only hotel where the dinner could be held was not a hotel which admitted Africans. My friend said, "If he cannot come, I cannot come"; so neither of them attended the dinner. That was not so many years ago and certainly since I have been a Member of your Lordships' House. That was in a British Colony, an area for which we held the responsibility, and for which we in this House have held our share of responsibility. That was the atmosphere only a few years ago.

No doubt in those days there were opportunities in Africa—and there may be now in certain parts of Africa—to demonstrate one's hatred of this "great sin", referred to by the right reverend Prelate. Here it is not quite so easy. In my own small way—if you like, in my own ludicrous way—I try to show my good will to Africans when I meet them. I sometimes say, "Good morning" to an African in a tube. Occasionally, he is rather puzzled; and if it is an African lady it gives rise to occasional misunderstanding. But, nevertheless, I persist with little habits of that kind, and most of us, perhaps, find our own way of trying to show our friendship to the strangers in our midst. Occasionally, of course, one discovers that they have lived here for generations, but we have to take a chance on that. Nevertheless, one must keep trying.

If you take the Jewish community, for example, I am never sure (and to some extent this is also true of the Africans) whether one is doing the best service to them by talking too much about them as a separate community. I have often tried, in this House and elsewhere, to pay tribute to the Jewish freedom from crime, for example. Their record there is very remarkable—far better than that of any other section of the community, taken as a whole. But whether, when one is referring to crime, it is particularly helpful to the Jews to single them out in this way, to point out that they do better than others, I am never sure. It is not always easy, therefore, to know whether one really helps a minority itself by paying tribute to their special achievements. Nevertheless, there again one must keep on trying.

Most people in this House, I suppose, imagine that they are far above racial prejudice, far above prejudice against any minority. I hope that is true: I am sure that it is true of all the more serious Members of this House. But I wonder if noble Lords ever ask themselves how many members of the boards of the joint stock banks are Jews. The noble Lord, Lord Brand, knows the answer, but I can tell him that the number is smaller than the number of fingers on one hand. Indeed, to give the actual number would be rather embarrassing to the two gentlemen concerned. But that is, in fact, the way the Jewish community are treated by the joint stock banks in this country. It is not a thing that we care to harp on. It is one of those things in England that we do not talk about when publishing booklets about our British way of life. But it happens to be true. Therefore there are opportunities in all these matters for doing one's bit, and in a humble way I try to do mine, even in that last sphere to which I have just alluded. It may be that, like the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, I have a minority mind so strongly developed that I can take no special credit for this passionate interest in minorities. But, whatever the reason, I think most of us must feel that we never do enough.

We are unprofitable servants, unless we exert ourselves positively in this direction. It is not enough to avoid a direct sin; it is a question of helping to improve the atmosphere. But when one thinks of the little things one can do every day, it is true that they do not add up to a revolution in outlook; and that revolution can come only along the lines that were unfolded in the first place by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and supported by others. He has pointed out that up to now the record of the Government is very shoddy. It may be that no Government in this country can claim to have done any better. But in a matter of this sort one would hope that progress would be gradually achieved. It may be, as has been suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle, that the Government are nervous of interfering with local authorities; that this is due to some psychological hitch in their minds which has up to now prevented their going forward.

To return once more to the country of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, and myself, so it was in the nineteenth century. It was not viciousness on the part of the people here. I do not suppose that people here were any more vicious then than they are now. But in fact over a million Irish men, women and children were allowed to die at the time of the famines, simply because it was thought that you must not interfere with the sacred laws of supply and demand. Here there was a reluctance to interfere with some unwritten laws—though what those laws were I find it very difficult to understand.

So I must finish where the noble Lord, Lord Walston, finished, and where, in various ways, most of the other speakers have finished. We ought all, as individuals, to do more about this problem than we do. But, above all, I implore the noble Lord, Lord Newton, who I know is full of generous impulses, and who is not a free agent here, not to inform us that this is our fault, and that the Government are immune. No doubt it is true that we can all do more, but so far the Government have not even begun to do their duty. I hope that the noble. Lord, Lord Newton, will be able to assure us that they are ready to make a new start.

5.49 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to say at once that I have absolute sympathy with the philosophical considerations and practical aims which impelled the noble Lord, Lord Walston, to table his Question. I am in absolute agreement that education, both in the wide sense, and in the strict sense of instruction in schools, is of cardinal importance in promoting among the people of all countries a proper understanding of racial problems and a readiness to live in harmony with each other, whatever their race or colour. I would assure the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who no doubt will read what I am about to say, that the Government are most anxious that we in this country should meet our responsibility within the Commonwealth and the United Nations for helping forward both educational and all other means which have those ends in view. I will try to tell your Lordships what is being done here at home to educate those who have come from overseas, particularly coloured people, to live happily, and to help our own people to understand them and their problems.

The noble Lord, Lord Walston, was critical, to a certain extent, and disappointed by what is being done, and he put part, at any rate, of the blame on the Government. It may be, my Lords, that in his enthusiasm for his theme—and far be it from me to discourage it—he (like, I think, my noble friend Lord Albemarle and the noble Earl, Lord Longford) has tended, perhaps, slightly to exaggerate the educational rôle of the Government in a country in which academic freedom and independence are enjoyed by the whole teaching profession, from the university professor to the mistress in charge of five-year-olds in the village school. At every level responsibility for curricula is placed upon the head teachers: it does not rest upon the Government. It is the duty of the Government to promote education and to express opinions when necessary about it, but not to lay down what subjects should be taught, and still less how any subject is properly taught. For example, the Government cannot, and do not, decree that history shall be taught in the schools; still less do they decree that history can be properly understood only if it is taught, or not taught, according to the principles of Karl Marx.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? By taking Karl Marx the noble Lord has surely taken a rather absurd case, because he knows perfectly well that in no school in this country would Karl Marx be allowed to be taught as a suitable instructor, or prophet of youth. But the noble Lord surely would not say that democracy and Fascism are placed on a level in the teachings of our schools, or would ever be allowed to be.


My Lords, some years ago, at Oxford, I had the good fortune to be taught modern political history by my noble tutor, Lord Longford, and a proper understanding of racial problems was not one of the things which he thought it necessary to drive into my thickly resistant skull—but perhaps I was sound on that.


I took it for granted.


I am very glad to hear that, my Lords. But I cannot help feeling that if the noble Earl had received a directive from the Government of the day to instruct all his pupils in the theory and practice of race relations, he would not have been particularly pleased.

My Lords, what the Government can do, and do do, is stimulate, advise and sometimes seek to persuade. A good example of this is the pamphlet entitled Schools and the Commonwealth, issued by the Ministry of Education in 1961. In his Foreword to it, my noble friend Lord Eccles, the then Minister—and I am delighted to see him in his place—wrote this: I felt that the schools would welcome some ideas from the Ministry of Education on the teaching of the history and geography of the Commonwealth. A group of Her Majesty's Inspectors have written this little book making a strong case for more time for Commonwealth studies and suggesting an imaginative and realistic approach to such teaching. I find their ideas stimulating and I very much hope that a great many teachers will do so too. Nearly 10,000 copies of the pamphlet were issued in the first year after publication.

First of all, I should like to deal with the education in this country of immigrants from overseas. There have certainly been serious problems to face, and there are others to be faced: problems that extend beyond the scope of the education service acting by itself. I was glad that my noble friend Lady Swanborough reminded the House of the excellent work done by the Commonwealth Immigrants' Advisory Council, set up by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, in advising on matters which affect the welfare of Commonwealth immigrants and their integration into the community. My right honourable friend the Minister of Education has provided the Council with information about what is being done in the field of education, and he will, of course, be ready to consider most carefully any advice which the Council may have to give.

Clearly, the first need of immigrant children and students is the feeling that they are welcome in the schools and other institutions which they attend, and my right honourable friend has no evidence that a welcome has been or is being denied them. Immigrants have, in return for being under the same obligations under the Education Acts as our own people, the same rights under those Acts. Local education authorities and teachers are taking immense trouble in schools in which there are immigrant children to help them with their linguistic and social difficulties: they are doing their very best for them, without any need of stimulation or persuasion on the part of my right honourable friend. The advice of Her Majesty's inspectors is available on their normal visits to schools. Moreover, special arrangements have been made for a group of inspectors to give regular attention to the educational problems, both general and linguistic, implicit in the integration of immigrant children. Conferences for teachers have been organised with the co-operation of local education authorities, and Her Majesty's inspectors have played a prominent part in them.

Where it is appropriate, local education authorities and teachers resort to individual tuition and special classes as additions to normal school methods. Teachers of the same nationality as the children are often employed. The aim is to reach as quickly as possible the moment at which immigrant children can take their place alongside their fellows in the life and the work of the schools, and receive the whole of their education in the same classes. To ensure an equitable spread of teachers, my right honourable friend's Ministry has for some years regulated distribution by means of an annual quota for each education authority. Individual quotas have already been raised in a number of instances, when authorities have asked for more teachers to cope with immigrant children. My right honourable friend is always ready to consider applications for help in such situations. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, will feel that what I have said goes some way towards dealing with some of the points which he made on that particular subject.

My Lords, in the City of Nottingham some 3 per cent., or 1,200, of the school population, are immigrants, mainly West Indians, Indians and Pakistanis. One secondary school has a 12½ per cent. proportion of immigrants—the highest—and the corresponding primary school a proportion of nearly 30 per cent. Surveys have been made of the children's capacities in English, and appropriate measures have been taken. The schools in Nottingham, particularly the primary schools, have been extremely successful in their pursuit of integration. In Southall, there are some 600 immigrant children, mostly Indians. Integration is proceeding steadily, by means of reception classes, introductory instruction and the employment of Indian teachers. The schools organise social activities for both children and adults, and they are helped by the Indian High Commission and the Indian Workers' Association.

In Bedford nearly 17 per cent., or 1,400, of the school population are immigrants, mostly Italians, Pakistanis and West Indians. Recently in one primary school immigrants numbered nearly 40 per cent. Special classes in English have been established and work is being done on other educational problems which have been created by the aptitude of many of the children.

There is plenty of evidence that local education authorities and the teachers in their schools are competing magnificently with the very real difficulties with which they have been confronted through no fault of their own. Her Majesty's inspectors speak in glowing terms of the devotion and enthusiasm which teachers are displaying in their response to the challenge. But there is no complacency and no room for it. There are still, as I have said, problems to be met, especially in places where immigrants are contributing a very large proportion both of the population as a whole and of particular schools. It is clear, and I agree with my noble friend Lady Swanborough, that exceptional strains could appear at the point at which a particular school has to absorb more than a certain proportion of immigrants; it could begin to change its nature and begin to turn into a school for immigrants. At this point segregation could come about de facto through the spontaneous action of parents. The Government believe that segregation would be wrong and that means should be found to prevent its occurrence. Her Majesty's inspectors are watching the situation most carefully, and if advice may be helpful it will certainly be given.

For young immigrants over school age who wish to take, and are capable of taking, courses in technical, commercial and other subjects of further education, there are available many facilities which they have every right to use. Many of the larger colleges have for many years been welcoming overseas students who have come here to learn and then returned to their own countries. Guidance on welfare has for long been offered to college authorities by my right honourable friend's Department and it has been brought up to date in the light of experience in a Circular issued in January of this year. Much of it is relevant to the welfare of students from abroad who plan to settle in this country.

As regards other immigrants over school age it is no use pretending that where there is need for education, there are any simple formulae for success. It is an obvious hypothesis, and confirmed by experience, that the younger the immigrant, the easier to help him or her, since even children at school, whether British or foreign, may begin to acquire the suspicions and prejudices of their elders. However, in a number of areas successful steps have been taken to pro- vide classes in English for young people and adults, often as part of wider social work among immigrants by official and voluntary bodies, and I should like your Lordships to realise that in clubs and organisations for young people immigrants may be assured of a warm welcome by the authorities responsible for them. The same is true of the institutions for further education, but unfortunately it is by no means always easy to persuade adult immigrants to take advantage of the educational opportunities open to them. One of the places in which progress has been particularly encouraging is Nottingham, where a West Indian prominent in public life has been appointed organiser for education work among coloured immigrants.

When I began to consider the implicacations of the Question placed by Lord Walston on the Order Paper it occurred to me to wonder what is happening in the countries from which they come to promote in prospective immigrants to Great Britain a proper understanding of racial problems and to familiarise them with conditions over here. I asked for information to be sought, although elaborate inquiries were not possible in the time available. The British Council, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office have all produced, for the benefit of prospective students and other immigrants, material on such matters as the cost of living in this country, employment prospects, basic laws and procedures, and so on, and this material is widely distributed overseas. Jamaica produces its own excellent supplementary information. The B.B.C. has published an admirable booklet entitled Going to Britain?, based on broadcasts by its Caribbean Service and containing a Foreword by Sir Grantley Adams.

I turn now to the education of our own children. The Government certainly believe that children should learn in the schools to appreciate the problems of people of other races and to be tolerant both in behaviour and in thought. There is no doubt that schools and colleges already exercise much influence in promoting tolerance and discouraging prejudice; and, in fact, prejudice and intolerance are virtually non-existent in our schools. Nevertheless, it is all-important that children should acquire early in life the attitude of mind which permits the control of emotional reactions by reason and which will enable them to resist contrary influences when they go out into the world. Cultivation of this attitude of mind may indeed be said to be one of the purposes of the entire process of education, and it is of course conditioned, as so many of your Lordships have said, by parental influences in the home. I am convinced that one should place one's hopes on the steady cultivation by the schools of the right attitude of mind rather than on the conscious attempt to teach racial tolerance either as a "subject" in itself or as an awkward insertion into other subjects such as history, geography or modern languages. I am fortified in that belief by what has been said this afternoon by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwell and the noble Earl Lord Lucan.

Travel on the Continent and other direct contacts between our own school children and young people and those of European countries take place on a large scale. Regrettably but inevitably, distance, time and cost make similar contacts with the Commonwealth extremely difficult. Nevertheless an increasing number of boys and girls aged 17 and 18 are going abroad to developing countries for eight to twelve months at a time under schemes such as Voluntary Service Overseas, to which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, referred.

Many schools are studying Commonwealth and United Nations affairs and have found valuable the pamphlet Schools and the Commonwealth which I mentioned earlier. One of the best sources of help for the schools is the Commonwealth Institute. In its impressive new premises in Holland Park it exhibits illustrations of the scenery, natural resources and day-to-day activities of all the countries of the Commonwealth, provides teaching aids, and arranges lectures and study conferences for schools out of reach of London. Excellent work is also done by the Council for Education in World Citizenship, which receives an annual grant from the Ministry of Education for the provision of lectures and other material for use in schools and elsewhere, especially for older children. Much attention to the treatment of international affairs is given in the teacher training colleges, and the Ministry, through Her Majesty's inspectors, has for a number of years held courses in Commonwealth affairs, for serving teachers. The assistance of inspectors, too, is often available to help education authorities and other local agencies who wish to arrange similar courses.

Lord Walston referred to the Royal Commonwealth Society's unsuccessful request to my right honourable friend last autumn for a grant to help run a series of courses on which teachers from this country and holders of Commonwealth teacher training bursaries could work together. My right honourable friend told the Society that, although he welcomed the idea of such courses, a grant could not be made. I have to tell the House that my right honourable friend does not feel able to alter that decision. This Easter Her Majesty's inspectors will be running, for the benefit of English and Nigerian teachers, a course somewhat similar to those planned by the Society and there may be projects on the same lines in future years. It would seem that many of the topics intended to be dealt with in the courses proposed by the Society are covered in the courses of teacher training already being provided in this country for Commonwealth bursars. Some 400 bursars a year are placed by the Ministry in training colleges and other institutions under the appropriate scheme, and my right honourable friend provides over £800 a year for each bursar to help towards the costs.


My Lords, before the noble Lord goes too far into this matter—if he will allow me to interrupt—he has stated that the course proposed by the Ministry of Education for Nigerian teachers is similar to the one put forward by the Royal Commonwealth Society. May I ask him to elaborate a little on that and specifically to say whether the course is residential, what proportion of overseas teachers there will be to English teachers, and what the cost, if any, will be to the teachers themselves by way of travelling, residential or other expenses?


My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have the answers to those detailed questions either in my head or in my pocket, but I will do my best to let the noble Lord know.


My Lords, as the noble Lord has stated categorically that these are similar courses, I very much hope that he and his right honourable friend the Minister of Education will satisfy themselves that they are similar courses, because the information I have is that they are entirely different and bear no relation to each other whatsoever.


My Lords, that is certainly not my information but, in view of what the noble Lord has said, I will look further into it.

To continue, if I may, with the explanation I was offering to your Lordships of why my right honourable friend refused the request of the Royal Commonwealth Society, the normal arrangements of the Ministry for financing teachers' courses cover only those arranged by the Inspectorate and not those arranged in very large numbers by other bodies. That is why my right honourable friend regrets that the circumstances do not justify exceptional treatment for the Royal Commonwealth Society's proposal.

I have left to the last what I think is the most difficult question of all—the existence of prejudice, and sometimes of intolerance, among our own adult population. Your Lordships will be glad to know that the placing of coloured school-leavers in employment has not presented any major problem. Generally it is easier to place those who have been educated here than those young immigrants who have arrived with perhaps a poor standard of education and language difficulties. In some areas employers occasionally show prejudice; and coloured school-leavers may find it hard to obtain work and tend to get less good jobs than others with the same qualifications. This occurs more in the case of shops and offices than in that of industry. It often happens that once the initial reluctance is overcome, and the young coloured worker is taken on, tolerance replaces prejudice, and he is accepted by his employer and workmates just like any other young person. Youth employment officers, of course, treat all applicants equally when advising them on the choice of a career, and distinguish between them only on the basis of their aptitudes and educational attainments. These officers and local youth employment committees, on which both sides of industry are represented, can be relied on to make every effort to break down prejudice where it exists.

I believe that in this matter of prejudice we are all either enlightened or very unenlightened. That may appear a blinding glimpse of the obvious, but what I mean is that I suspect that there is a sharp line between the two attitudes of mind and probably no intermediate degrees. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, and the noble Earl, Lord Longford, referred to the debate in your Lordships' House last May on the Second Reading of Lord Walston's Racial Discrimination Bill, and the noble Earl quoted the sentence in which my noble friend Lord Kilmuir said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 240, col. 519]: Only patient education of public opinion by example and expressions of view by responsible individuals and bodies can achieve lasting results. In fairness to my noble friend, who is not here at the moment, I would say that he pointed out in the sentence immediately before the one which I have just quoted, and which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, quoted: There is, unfortunately, no short-cut answer. He then went on to say what I quoted about the "patient education of public opinion." When replying to the debate a few minutes later the noble Lord, Lord Walston, expressed his agreement with what my noble friend Lord Kilmuir had said. I would respectfully agree, too.

I am also convinced that immigrants themselves can do, and are doing, a great deal to break down the prejudice against them. I number myself among the enlightened, but in order to explain what I have just said I should like to end on a personal note, and I hope that my noble friend Lady Swanborough will approve.


My Lords, I do not want to spoil the noble Lord's peroration, but before he comes to that, may I just correct him? When he quoted my noble friend Lord Walston as taking the same point of view as the noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, I remember that my noble friend said this: Surely our example, showing where we stand in this matter of proved discrimination, can assist the education which we all agree is the only long-term, fundamental way of solving this problem. The fundamental solution lies in education.


My Lords, when I was referring to what the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said in replying to the debate, I was referring to these words in column 521: Obviously, this is a matter which, in the long run, can be solved only by education; but the noble and learned Viscount— meaning Lord Kilmuir— was quite right when he said 'education by example'.


My Lords, that is why I hope that the Government will give the example on which this educational process can be based and not leave it purely to private individuals and voluntary enterprise.


My Lords, it seems to me that the noble Lord is trying to make his points all over again and I doubt whether even he, as the initiator of the debate, is entitled to do so in this House.

A few years ago, a member of my family had a series of operations after a severe head injury. Some of the nurses who looked after him in hospital were coloured, and he could not speak too highly of their gentleness when he was in great pain and they did to him what they had to do to him. Where prejudice exists, that is the sort of thing that puts paid to it.

Because I have no car of my own in London, I am a good customer of Dr. Beeching. I travel regularly by tube to and from the Elephant and Castle, where my Ministry is, and I have observed the steadily increasing proportion of coloured employees: station staff, ticket collectors, guards and even train drivers. They are often noticeably polite and helpful; I have even enjoyed the novel experience of being thanked for handing in my ticket at the top of the escalator. I do not recall ever being thanked for buying a ticket on the Underground, but then I do not think I have ever bought one from a coloured person. My Lords, immigrants to this country can be their own worst enemies; they can be, and often are, their own best friends.

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