HL Deb 07 June 1967 vol 283 cc430-95

4.15 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, will accept that it was no lack of respect for him, nor indeed any lack of knowledge of the considerable importance of the subject we were discussing, which led me to interrupt my speech; but I knew that the Statement was on a matter in which we are all very vitally concerned, and I felt that he would want to have information about this at the earliest possible moment. For those who have remained, and in order that the debate may continue without any further anxiety, I would advise noble Lords that the favourite "Royal Palace" won the Derby. The second was "Ribocco" and the third was "Dart Board". If the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, wants any assistance in working out what he has won or lost, and if he will leave it to the end of my speech, I shall be very pleased to oblige.

To resume, your Lordships may recall that I was dealing with the question of alleged discrimination in employment. Your Lordships may have seen a special article in The Times of May 17 by Christopher Mullard. Mr. Mullard, by his own account, is a coloured man born in this country, of college education and a qualified executive; but because of discrimination he is employed as a bus conductor. I quote his concluding words: … it is … difficult … to tack down definite examples of racial discrimination. Employers no longer say, 'I don't employ niggers or foreigners'. Discrimination is more subtle. He walks like a ghost, and ghosts can only be exorcised. My Lords, we can exorcise this particular ghost only by a combination of legal and administrative action and the removal of ignorance wherever we find it. I think we are making progress.

Unquestionably, although it is good to learn that it is easier for coloured school leavers to find employment, lack of adequate English, or fluency in English, is a real difficulty about accepting some immigrants for employment; or perhaps it limits them to doing manual jobs when otherwise they would be qualified to occupy posts of skill and responsibility. If school leavers are more readily accepted, it lends support to the view that command of English, ability and training are more decisive factors than colour in the selection of employees. Undoubtedly people who are adapted and adjusted stand a much better chance. But the corollary of this, which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, pointed out, is that the Report draws particular attention to the real trouble that will arise if later, through discrimination, coloured school leavers do not get the jobs and opportunities to which their education and ability entitle them.

Discrimination in employment is perhaps above all an aspect which will have to be most closely watched. Certainly I can tell the noble Lord that there is no barrier to employment in Government Departments. The question of race or colour is irrelevant in Civil Service recruitment. The Civil Service Commission are responsible for filling all established posts in the Civil Service, and they decide that all persons who satisfy the conditions prescribed for entry to a particular grade in the Service shall be considered impartially. The selection process is concerned only with assessing the candidates' ability to carry out the duties which will be required of them; if they are successful and the Commissioners are satisfied about nationality, health and character, they are in. In this context, nationality has nothing to do with race or colour. It merely means that a candidate for a permanent post in most departments must be by birth or naturalisation a British subject (which includes a Commonwealth citizen), a British protected person, or a citizen of the Irish Republic. I have no doubt that an increasing number of immigrants educated here will have the necessary qualifications, and will find employment in the Civil Service.

Turning to the question of employment generally, of the 974 immigrants interviewed for the P.E.P. Survey, only 75 per cent. were in regular employment before they came here, but 94 per cent. were employed here at the time of the interview. This is a very high figure especially as the survey took place last winter when unemployment was higher than for some years previously. And the 6 per cent. of unemployed may have included people who were sick or not available for work. It shows, as the Report bears out, that while some immigrants have difficulty in getting jobs, the difficulty is not very great, and once they get them they usually keep them. Of the manual workers, two-thirds of those interviewed had obtained jobs here at the same level, skill for skill, as in their own country. Non-manual workers had not done so well, but in this field there are obvious difficulties about language, educational qualifications, and lack of commercial experience.

What is the Report's evidence on the attitude of employers? P.E.P. interviewed 25 national employers, representing manufacturing, service and retail industries, including both public and private employers. All said they were, in principle, opposed to discrimination, and all were in fact employing coloured people not only in semi-skilled and other manual work, but as skilled technicians and in clerical posts; and other firms had between them 15 coloured persons in executive positions—not an entirely discouraging figure when one remembers how few immigrants have been long enough in this country to have the experience needed for such posts. P.E.P. also saw 150 local employers in six areas: of these, 146, over 97 per cent., said they were opposed to discrimination, though only 113, 75 per cent., were in fact employing coloured persons. Most of those which did not were retail or service firms. Since prominence has been given to the fact that some retail firms said they would not employ coloured persons on counter work, it is worth mentioning that there were 20 retail stores which were in fact doing so. An encouraging point is that of the 113 local employers who had coloured employees, 73 (as well as all the 25 national employers) employed coloured persons as office workers. These facts contradict the claim made by private employment agencies that the majority of employers will not consider coloured persons for office jobs.

There are two very interesting sections in the Report which have had little, if any, public notice—one on trade unions, which I have already mentioned, and one on the employment exchanges and youth employment offices. The section on the employment exchanges is interesting as an account of the resistance encountered to the employment of coloured people, and the work that is done by the exchanges to overcome this resistance. I should like to emphasise that neither in this nor in any other section of the P.E.P. Report is there any evidence, or even suggestion, that the employment exchanges either engage in discrimination themselves, or connive at employers doing so.

There is, however, a misconception in the Report which I have been asked to take this opportunity to correct. It says that employment exchanges are: instructed by a directive from the Ministry of Labour to withdraw their services from firms that discriminate against immigrants". In fact these instructions are much more constructive. They are that whenever an employer attempts to impose a discriminatory condition, based purely on race or colour, the exchanges must try to persuade him to drop it. If they are unsuccessful, they must report the matter to regional office, and if it cannot be resolved there, it must go to headquarters. It is only at this stage, after all efforts at persuasion have failed, that consideration is given to withdrawing the facilities of the employment exchange service from the employer. There have been very few cases so far in which it has been necessary to consider this sanction. It has only once been actually used, and in that instance it almost immediately produced a change of heart. Discrimination is not tolearted at labour exchanges, either in principle or in practice. The P.E.P. Report, however, brings out very clearly that because the sanction is known to exist, the exchanges have considerable power in their dealings with employers.

An important aspect of the Report is the statement that immigrants with relatively high qualifications appear more inclined than the less highly qualified to meet discrimination. I do not wish to gloss over this conclusion, but it is worth reflecting that people with qualifications are likely to aim at the sort of job for which there is more competition, and to that extent are more likely to be disappointed, whatever their colour, than those who do not aim so high. When some colour discrimination is known to exist, disappointed candidates will attribute their failure to it, even when it may be due to quite different reasons.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the P.E.P. Report on page 8 says that immigrants were not over-ready to claim discrimination. The detailed examination of discrimination showed that immigrants tended to make claims of discrimination only when there was at least strong circumstantial evidence, and usually unequivocal evidence, of discrimination. I hope that my noble friend does not think that there is a great danger of immigrants in this country, because of disappointment, putting the blame on discrimination.


My Lords, I am happy to have that point of view from my noble friend. I have carefully read every word of both Reports, and my own impression is that there is a feeling that the more highly qualified coloured person is more likely to feel that he has encountered discrimination. If my noble friend will look at the later sections of the Report, I think he will see that this is borne out.


My Lords, I think the Report indicates that the difficulty of highly qualified people finding jobs arises in the early years of their arrival. It is less difficult when they have been here a year or two.


My Lords, I said that people who are adjusted have far greater opportunity. I think that is agreed. Lack of adjustment and, for that reason, lack of success in finding employment, I would not regard as discrimination on ground of colour. It means that one person is less fitted for the job than another, and we have to face that fact.

I have gone in some detail into the question of the more highly qualified immigrants, because it seems to be the basis for the conclusion which has been drawn, and to which Lord Wade referred, that the problem of discrimination is bound to become more acute as more coloured school-leavers with English school-leaving qualifications come on to the employment market. The Report, however, also notes that the youth employment officers who were interviewed in connection with the survey thought it too early to predict whether this would be so; some other informants thought it might be so—7 out of 25 national employers; 8 out of 36 private agencies; and 15 out of 150 local employers. This means that in every case the great majority were not convinced.

The Report is an invaluable snapshot at one point in time, but it cannot answer the question whether the situation is getting better or worse. Many people, who should know, see grounds for optimism. This view was expressed in a thoughtful article in a recent issue of New Society by Miss Sheila Paterson, of the Institute of Race Relations, who is a well-known expert in this field. She says: In Brixton, and still more in Croydon, I found that, over the years, the barriers were not hardening, but becoming more permeable and elastic. Firms that had refused to take coloured workers had begun to do so … firms which had threatened prior redundancy for coloured workers in the event of a recession, had in fact stuck to last in—first out'. Coloured workers with needed skills or good local references were finding the appropriate jobs without much trouble. Informal quotas … were becoming relaxed … as immigrant workers generally conformed to the 'culture' of a particular workplace or industry. Information in the possession of the Ministry of Labour, based on the experience of the employment exchanges and youth employment offices, tends to confirm this assessment of the position.

Another approach which has a bearing on employment is that the Government have for some time been considering the possibility of inserting in Government contracts a clause forbidding the contractor to discriminate on racial grounds in the employment, promotion or training of staff. The possibility of introducing such a clause will be taken into account in the wider context of decisions on the need for and practicability of further legislation. The Government are conscious of the difficulties of enforcing such a clause and of the need to discuss the matter further with both sides of industry before coming to a final decision.

I have explained my purpose in examining aspects of the Report which have tended to be overlooked. Nobody can be blind to the very complex and delicate issues involved in carrying out, so far as employment is concerned, our undertaking to review the need for, and practicability of, strengthening the existing law and administrative machinery. Many people will say: "Never mind if discrimination is getting better or worse; never mind precisely what proportion of employers are guilty of it; the Report has shown that it exists, and something ought to be done about it". With this the Government agree. But what can effectively be done depends not only on Government action but on the effect it has on good will at ground level and on general public acceptance of the measures proposed.

Much has been, and will be done by voluntary effort, but over the last century in this country we could not have progressed nearly as far on the road to industrial democracy if we had left difficult problems to solve themselves. That progress, of necessity, has been marked by a succession of factory and trade union Acts—in fact by legislation. It would be admirable if the problem of equality of employment opportunities could be dealt with, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, suggests, justly and effectively by agreement between both sides of industry. But the Government cannot leave this responsibility to others. A man's standard of life depends on his job and his home, and when he is faced with discrimination he is denied that equality of opportunity which is the right of all our citizens. If we fail to ensure that right for everyone, we shall be building up vast and insoluble problems for our people. But if we succeed, as we must, we shall offer a new hope and example to the world.

I now turn to the subject of housing, which the P.E.P. Report says is one of the main sources of the disappointment which immigrants experience in this country. There is no doubt that in their investigations in the six areas chosen for study the researchers have provided undeniable evidence to support what is generally acknowledged, that many people discriminate in the letting of private accommodation and in the sale of houses and flats, and underlined the crucial role of estate and accommodation agencies, even though these agents explain their actions by saying that they are carrying out the wishes of their principals.

The testers found discrimination in 75 per cent. of personal applications to landlords and in 60 per cent. telephone applications, even when the accommodation was advertised without a "No coloureds" provision. An estate agent said it was, "virtually impossible to get an unfurnished flat for a Jamaican or Pakistani". Yet over 70 per cent. of Indians and Pakistanis did not experience discrimination, either because they had friends, or relatives, or went to landlords who did not discriminate. On the other hand, 70 per cent. of immigrants alleged discrimination when applying to estate agents for houses to purchase. They were usually told, "None available", but sometimes they were told that they could not have a mortgage, or were offered one on less favourable terms. It is true that local authorities which arranged housing loans granted a higher proportion of loans to immigrants.

Despite the difficulties, however, 48 per cent. of immigrants own or are buying their houses and 52 per cent. live in rented accommodation, which is almost the same proportions as for the entire population. The main difference is that immigrants are mainly living in intensively occupied houses in the twilight zones of cities and towns and, whilst 26 per cent. of the whole population live in council houses, only one per cent. of immigrants do so. This is partly because many have not been here long enough to qualify and also, as revealed by the Report, because few take the trouble to apply. Less than 25 per cent. had even considered applying, and of these less than half actually put their names down. This means that only one in ten actually applied. There is no real evidence in the Report of discrimination by local authorities. Some were apprehensive about local reactions to the housing of immigrants in new multi-blocks of flats, but one which did so received almost no complaints. The greatest problem for local authorities and the immigrants they house is multi-occupation and overcrowding. In London some officials felt this to be overwhelming, and almost wholly intractable, but a survey in one area showed that the proportion of overcrowded English houses was not much less than that for immigrants.

The Report looks at allegations of discrimination by local authorities in the selection of areas for slum clearance. This is something that I should have thought highly unlikely, if not impossible, and it is not surprising that P.E.P. found no firm evidence of it. Certainly my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has no information leading him to believe that the choice of slum clearance areas is influenced by such considerations. Slum clearance is going ahead with gathering momentum, and more and more immigrants who have settled in the older parts of our towns will be rehoused in council dwellings as areas of unfit houses are cleared. Allocation of local authority houses to immigrants would be the best way of guarding against the danger that immigrants would become segregated into their own communities.

In the exercise of their housing functions, local authorities have express duties and powers in relation to all the needs of their areas, and they alone possess the local knowledge necessary to deal with them as a whole. Any attempt to take out of their hands their present statutory duties in respect of the selection of tenants and the management of their houses, would soon end in chaos, and do irreparable damage to the structure of local government. Nevertheless, authorities themselves welcome discussion of their problems and, believing this to be the case here, my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is sending invitations to-day to a number of those with large concentrations of Commonwealth immigrants in their districts, to a full discussion later this month. This is not intended as a substitute for any formal consultation that would follow, if the Government decided to extend the Race Relations Act. It should be viewed as an occasion when authorities with similar problems can inform each other, and the Minister, of their difficulties, and enable him to judge whether he should issue advice that might help in dealing with housing problems with which Commonwealth immigrants may be associated, equitably, and in such a way as to avoid the faintest suspicion of discrimination.

My Lords, I now come to the important section of the P.E.P. Report which deals with "services and credit facilities", and in particular, with motor insurance, where it is alleged that 58 per cent. of immigrants experienced discrimination by motor insurance companies, either through refusing to insure or by charging higher rates. The question of discrimination in insurance raises particular problems which are worth examining. Discrimination, of course, is of the essence of insurance. It all depends where the discrimination lies. An insurer is under no obligation to offer cover to all corners on identical terms, and it would be wrong to impose such an obligation. Without discrimination, either the insurer would expose himself to liabilities beyond his capacity to meet, or the generality of the insured would unjustifiably suffer restriction of their cover, or an inflation of their premiums, to deal with the higher risk minority.

Insurers exercise this discrimination either by refusing cover altogether—for example, because the particular risk is thought excessively high or because the insurer has deliberately chosen to limit his portfolio to a category of risk which he considers to be better than the general average—or by restricting cover, for example, to third party liability only, or by charging a higher-than-average premium to individuals, or categories of persons or things, shown by experience to he bad risks. Young drivers, learner drivers, owners of sports cars, actors, bookmakers and people born, or resident most of their lives, outside the United Kingdom (who are assumed to be unfamiliar with road conditions here) are among the categories against whom discrimination is commonly exercised as a feature of normal underwriting practice.

For administrative convenience the insurer usually finds it necessary to define unacceptable or high-premium risks, in general categories, for the guidance of his branch offices and of brokers. These methods of identification are bound to attract criticism from particular applicants who are wrongly judged, or for whom the standard classification is not really appropriate; but a more individual assessment is difficult to make and might well delay the provision of cover, and increase administrative costs and thereby premiums. No-claim bonuses, in due course, give the policyholder credit for his established freedom from claim.

Having said this, I should like to make it clear that I would not tolerate the use of general definitions of unacceptable or high-premium risks, which could be interpreted as expressions of discrimination on grounds of racial origin; and I am glad to say that as far back as 1961 both the British Insurance Association and the Accident Offices' Association urged their members to remove from their underwriting guides anything which could be interpreted as calling for racial discrimination. They have consistently stated their opposition to it, both in employment and in giving insurance cover. This indeed is essential to them because most of their business is conducted overseas and a great deal of it in the Caribbean, Africa, India and Pakistan. Since the publication of the P.E.P. Report the British Insurance Association have written to their members reinforcing their earlier advice. They have also told the Board of Trade that they are willing to investigate cases of alleged discrimination, and have told the Chairman of the Race Relations Board that if he will let them have a note of any cases of discrimination they will investigate them. Similarly, they are prepared to investigate the cases mentioned in the P.E.P. Report if the details are disclosed to them.

My Lords, I have concentrated my remarks on the three important areas in which it has been demonstrated that racial discrimination exists; namely, employment, housing and insurance. I hope I have shown that in each of these three areas much is already being done to remove this discrimination. These efforts are bringing results and will, I am sure, do so increasingly. There is, I believe, no longer any room for debate about our objective; namely, to create the climate of opinion in this country in which racialism cannot survive. What has yet to be decided is the most efficient way in which this objective can be achieved.

There can be no doubt that legislation has a part to play: it can powerfully influence men's actions, if not their hearts. Equally, there can be no doubt that much can and must be left to administrative and voluntary action, and that we shall not achieve 100 per cent. success until all our people regard colour discrimination as unclean. The Government are giving a lead in this, and voluntary effort has been very greatly stimulated by the most valuable work of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants to which I pay tribute. It is by the appropriate combination of all three elements—legislation, administrative action, and voluntary effort—that we shall achieve our purpose. Let us hope that we shall strike the right balance between them in the new and brighter chapter of the history of race relations which I am convinced is now before us.

4.46 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has put us all much in his debt by having raised this matter and having expounded it so clearly, for the fact of racial discrimination is one of the most pressing, if not the most pressing, and serious of all the social problems which confront us in this country to-day. Therefore the challenge of this evil thing in our midst must be met as soon as possible, and it must be dealt with with the utmost care and wisdom, otherwise we shall be building up for our own generation a great deal of trouble and we shall be handing on to future generations a legacy which it will take a very long time to overcome.

The documents which we have before us and which we are debating to-day leave no doubt whatsoever of the existence of racial discrimination in our midst. The information in the two documents before us is authenticated by such organisations as the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination. In almost every department of human relationships racial discrimination of some kind is to be found.

I am sure your Lordships would agree with me in thinking that one of the most distasteful aspects of this is that it is so often accompanied by rudeness, by insults and by abuse of a hurtful and penetrating kind. Very often coloured immigrants to this country lack security; they are very sensitive. And to receive rudeness of the kind that is described in some of these reports is a most wounding and unhappy thing. Moreover, this is occurring at a time when, without any condescension, we ought to recognise our debt to the service which so many coloured immi- grants are giving to this country. We need only to think of two departments of public service, the hospitals and the transport system, to know how much we owe, for both the courtesy and care with which these things are done, as well as for the doing of them, to those who are coloured immigrants.

To my mind, the most disturbing part of the P.E.P. Report is that to which reference has already been made, which is the conviction that this is likely to be a growing and an expanding problem. Others of your Lordships have drawn attention to these two matters mentioned at the end of the summary of the Report: first of all, that as coloured immigrants become more at home, more familiar with the language, better educated and used to better social standards, they are going to feel the poignancy of discrimination even more acutely; and, as they are discriminated against, so they will be driven into themselves, inward-looking; they will become closed communities and therefore will be again more open to the attacks of discrimination, and more pained by them.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has drawn attention to the one passing reference in the P.E.P. Report to the problem of second-generation coloured immigrants, if indeed they can be so described. If there is any weakness in this P.E.P. Report I feel that it is that it does not sufficiently emphasise this aspect of the problem. The second-generation coloured citizen has been born in this country: it is the only country that he has known. He has grown up naturally and easily with children of another colour. He has often done extremely well in his examinations. He has got his "O" and "A" Levels in the G.C.E. Yet all too often he cannot get the jobs comparable to his ability and comparable to the jobs which those with whom he has lived and grown up are themselves getting. Could there be a more potential source of real bitterness and strife in the future than this?

We all know that a great deal has been done by voluntary effort, in one way or another, to enlighten public opinion and to provide information and education, and I hope that the House will recognise its debt to these various agencies. I am sure your Lordships will forgive me if I say that I think the Churches have a good record in this. I can speak only for the Church of England in drawing your Lordships' attention to the fact that in many cases coloured clergymen are coming to this country to learn about the Church of England and they are accepted quite naturally and normally in English congregations.

Similarly, immigrants find their place within the Christian communities, and I am sure that this is true of other Christian Churches. Indeed, only last week I had the honour of being the guest of the noble Lord, Lord Reith, the Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland. I was interested to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the first time, and especially in the light of this coming debate I was interested to see a number of coloured members of the Assembly on the floor of the House. I am sure that that is a fruitful source of fellowship and aids in the removal of misunderstanding.

I am sure that the House would also wish to recognise its debt to the help that is given by many charitable trusts and persons. This P.E.P. Report has, as we see, been made possible by the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust, and the noble Lord, Lord Sieff, has made possible the Commission which is studying existing regulations elsewhere, so that information about future legislation may be available. We have heard about the excellent work of the Race Relations Board, but I think perhaps a word ought also to be said in expanding what has already been said about the work of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants. The Chairman of that Committee is the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he has particularly charged me to tell your Lordships how sorry he is that, owing to an unavoidable engagement during this afternoon, it was not possible for him to take part in this debate, as he most earnestly wished to do.

Those of your Lordships who possess this excellent summary of the P.E.P. Report will see that on the first page there is a short description of the character and the work of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants. It was set up by the Government, its members are voluntary but it has a highly skilled professional staff, and its work in general is to co-ordinate information and to give training, so that in areas where there is need the most expert understanding can be brought to bear upon the subject. Thus it has advisory panels on children, health and welfare, housing, employment, education, training, medical and civil affairs, community relations and information. I have been told of just one example of the kind of thing which this Committee is doing. If in a certain area a headmaster is suddenly confronted with the problems of a large influx of coloured immigrant children in his school—children whose habits are quite different from those of the English children, children who find difficulty with the language, and so on—he can come to the National Committee and receive the most expert advice and also training in how to deal with those problems. It would be difficult to exaggerate the service which the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants is offering.

But this matter is so serious that it cannot be left to the voluntary societies and voluntary activity, and so the news that Her Majesty's Government propose to introduce legislation on the subject is most welcome. It is, of course, of vital importance that the legislation should be right from the first, and I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will draw upon the expertise of the Commission under the chairmanship of Professor Street which is making an examination and will be able to make helpful suggestions.

It is also important that when legislation has been passed, not only should it be understood by the great corporations such as the T.U.C. or the Confederation of British Industry, but it should sink through to the general public, because, as has already been said, in a matter like this legislation is possibly more important in acting as a brake rather than in punishing people who offend. I understand that the experience in America has been that as a result of legislation on the subject of racial discrimination many people now do not act in a way, and do not say things, which otherwise they would have done, and therefore the very existence of the legislation has an ameliorating influence.

But, as has been said so often in this debate, it is clear that legislation is not enough, because so much of this discrimination and the things that are said are clearly the result of irrational emotions. People who in every other respect are educated, sensitive, understanding people will say and do the most outrageous and irrational things when faced with the problem of discrimination, and much of that arises from deep-seated fears, uncertainties and ignorance. This sort of behaviour can be curbed by legislation but it cannot be cured. The long-term safeguard is the building up of a public opinion which is instructed, compassionate and courteous towards coloured immigrants; a public opinion which will not tolerate behaviour which is a scandal in a civilised community. And in the building up of that public opinion we all have our part to play.

4.59 p.m.


My Lords, I hesitated before taking part in this debate because I felt quite sure that others taking part would all have studied these problems in greater depth than I have been able to do. When I looked at the list of speakers I knew that my fears were justified. And yet I hope that I can contribute something to your Lordships' deliberations from an entirely non-professional attitude and position. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, pointed out what I myself felt when I read the P.E.P. Report—or, I must confess, rather skimmed it; it is a formidable document and I was discriminated against by being given the full Report and not the summary. It seemed to me that while, quite clearly, the investigators had tried hard to produce an effective picture, they were inhibited by a fundamental difficulty, which is that if you are investigating complaints of this kind you are almost certain to hear more of the complaints than of the very many instances to which the noble Lord called attention where things are going all right. It is very difficult, I think we should agree, when faced with a questionnaire such as was put by the inquirers who formulated this Report. We might find that we are nearly all apt to be grumblers. If you are asked, "Have you any complaints to make?", you almost think of the complaint you have got to make. Taking that into account, I think it is truly remarkable that 49 per cent. of the persons sampled found this country better or about the same as they expected.

I think it is also worth while commenting that the Race Relations Board, admittedly investigating complaints in a very narrow field, found that more than half of them were not substantiated. Yet, obviously, when those complaints were made the people who made them honestly thought and felt that they had been discriminated against. Taking those two factors into account, I must say I came to the conclusion that the situation was not quite so bad as a general reading of the Report might lead one to believe. If that is true, it is even more true of the public comment on the Report, because it is quite natural and quite right that when the Press and other organs of public opinion comment on a Report they pick out the bad parts in it. That, again, made me feel that perhaps the position was not quite so tragic as one might have thought, and I shared the greater optimism with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham.

Reference has been made, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, and several times since, to this question of the second-generation immigrants. But is it not possible that the second-generation immigrants, as they grow up, will be growing up at the same time as native children of this country who have been accustomed to meet them and rub shoulders with them at school, and that when the corresponding generation of British children grow up they will have been conditioned to a much better relationship with coloured fellow-citizens? I certainly hope that when that time comes the one effect may, at any rate to some exent, counteract the other—the increasing hurtfulness of discrimination against people who feel that they are really part of the country. I hope that that discrimination will naturally die away as people who are our own nation, our own race, grow up more accustomed to living alongside coloured people.


My Lords, if the noble Viscount will allow me to say so. I am very interested in his observations. Would he agree that this will partly depend on the extent to which there is segregation in the realm of housing?


My Lords, I would indeed agree with the noble Lord about that and I was going to say something about housing presently, but I am obliged to him for calling attention to that point.

I have made this little introduction, not because I do not share with your Lordships a horror of racial discrimination and the determination to do all we can to outlaw it, to abolish it, but because I believe, as has been said, that this is something that cannot be done entirely by legislation. I accept the view of the Race Relations Board that without legislation in the background conciliation has less chance of making rapid progress, and rather reluctantly I accept that we must face an extension of the present legislation. But just for the reason that legislation is not completely effective unless it commands public support, it is tremendously important that people should feel that the case has been put fairly to them. What we have to do is to arouse the conscience of man, and it always seems to me that one's conscience is not so easily aroused if one first has an instinctive reaction that one is being pushed around by people trying to go too far.

That is why I feel it is so important that discussions of this subject should be serious and sober and not conducted in an emotional atmosphere, and certainly the discussion so far in your Lordships' House has fulfilled those conditions. After all, if we suffer from an inflammation or irritation we know that the worst thing we can possibly do is to rub it; it only makes it worse. I am afraid that some of the discussions that have gone on in public on this subject have been very much like rubbing an inflammation. That is not to say that this is a subject which can or should be pushed under the carpet. But when we have an inflammation, the right treatment is first of all to try to find the cause of it and see whether the cause can be removed, and then, as a temporary measure, to apply a soothing ointment. This is where I feel that the conciliation machinery which has been applied so far might well be widened to apply to other acts of discrimination. I am afraid I did not quite understand from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham—I think he was replying to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wade—whether he felt that this could be extended by administrative action without legislation. Perhaps the noble Baroness will deal with that when she speaks later on.

What, then, are the causes of racial discrimination? I think the right reverend Prelate put his finger, as always, on those causes. They are ignorance and prejudice. Prejudice is just another name for irrational feelings. and we have to admit that many people do have quite irrational feelings about people of another race and another colour. I sometimes think that we tend to put too much emphasis on colour; that the English on the whole—I cannot speak for the Scots—are an insular people, and that they do not receive strangers initially very freely. The English people are rather set in their ways; they find it difficult to mix with people with different manners, different customs. I think it is much more a question of being a stranger than a question of colour.

I believe that the Pakistanis are among those who have found it most difficult to adjust themselves and be received in the community here. Yet I do not think the Western Pakistanis would call themselves coloured people, and certainly I should not call them coloured people. There are many Mediterranean peoples, like Cypriots and Maltese, who are a good deal darker than the average Western Pakistani. But they have differences in customs and behaviour, and this is what makes it so difficult for them to get on.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wade, that there is no time to wait for this problem to solve itself, although in time I believe it would. The world to-day demands a greater speed in adjustment, and that speed can be achieved only by taking certain steps such as have been outlined. This is indeed a most serious problem; and it is a growing problem only because the numbers involved are growing. It must be cured finally by a change in our habit of thought.

I wonder whether I could throw out one suggestion to those who will be considering the framing of future legislation. Let us go into the field of housing for a moment. Is it possible that the provisions of the legislation would not refer particularly to discrimination against coloured immigrants in the matter of housing? After all, we know there are other discriminations. There are people who cannot get houses because they have many children. There are people who cannot get houses perhaps because the landlord will not have pets, and they have an old dog or an old "budgie" of which they are fond.

All these are cases of discrimination, and if we are going to say, as I think we have to say, that a landlord offering his accommodation is not entitled to pick and choose—because if he is we cannot go any further with this proposition at all—would it not be wiser to deal with the question on a broader basis? I think this would have two advantages: first, it would possibly help some other people who feel discriminated against, and, secondly, it would equally help the coloured people not to feel themselves to be in a separate compartment, because as soon as people provide special facilities, special procedures, for dealing with coloured immigrants, we are in fact ourselves guilty of discrimination. We are putting the coloured immigrant into a particular package. If the legislation could be drawn in broader terms, it may well be that nearly all the cases investigated would be cases of coloured immigrants, but they would not be investigated because they concerned coloured immigrants but because they were cases of people, ordinary citizens, who were being discriminated against.

The same, I think, applies a little in the field of education. There was some criticism not long ago of a circular from the Ministry of Education on the subject of the number of coloured children in schools. Some of your Lordships may remember or have seen, as I saw, I think some time last year, a reference which interested me greatly from the State of Oregon in the United States, where a federal agency had inquired about the number of coloured children in various schools. I cannot remember now whether it was the State or county authorities who replied, but they said: "We cannot answer your question because we do not record the colours of the children in our schools." That is surely the right attitude. If special provision had to be made for the children of immigrants because they start their school life with an educational handicap, then surely that special provision could he made in the form of a provision for all those who start with an educational handicap, and that may well include white children who come from poor or broken families or areas. Again, although the coloured children may get most of the benefit, nevertheless it will not be done on the basis that they are coloured children, but on the basis that they need special help in the early years of their education.

I had one other suggestion that I wanted to put forward about housing. Undoubtedly, from reading the Report, this is the most serious problem. It seems to be far more serious than employment, and to be making much less progress. There are a number of bodies—I think we have already mentioned the National Health Service and the transport services—that not only rely on immigrant employees, but I believe go out of their way to attract them to the country. Is it not possible for those authorities to make themselves responsible for providing the housing needed, no doubt by arrangement with the local authorities? In that way, they could ensure that when they brought people in to work they would provide them with suitable houses and could get over just the point which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, made. They could ensure that those houses were not all grouped together, but indeed that the districts were shared by white employees of the same organisation.

I did not want to say more about employment, except to call attention to one paragraph where I thought the splendid Report of the Race Relations Board just slipped. I do not know whether your Lordships noticed a curious reference, saying that there were some employments perhaps where discrimination, national or racial, was right or could be justified: for instance, at Chinese restaurants it was quite reasonable that they should employ Chinese waiters. When I read that I wondered why it was not equally reasonable for English restaurants to employ English waiters. It seemed to me a curious drop from the careful, well balanced study, which the Race Relations Board made in their Report.

There is only one other thing I want to say, on a rather difficult subject. We have not heard in your Lordships' House to-day, though we have heard a great deal in discussions on this subject outside, the suggestion that past history has left us with a debt to coloured peoples, and that we have laid upon our conscience the duty to do something about it. I feel that this is an unhappy approach to the subject. It makes what should be, and we all hope will be, a voluntary co-operative effort between all peoples, whatever their colour, into the payment of a debt.

If the right reverend Prelate will permit me to say so, I think I know that Holy Writ tells us that the sins of the fathers are handed on to the children. But I feel that our own consciences are sufficiently heavily burdened already by what we have done without our taking on responsibility for what our forefathers did. I would also venture to suggest that, while some of our forefathers may have been slave traders, some of them were also the collaborators with Wilberforce and others who fought against slavery, long before the conscience of the world had been awakened to it. I do not think that this country has a guilty conscience in that matter. If it had, I do not think that that would be at all a good basis upon which to approach a settlement of this subject. I hope that, as we go on, those of us who feel it may possibly be able to rid ourselves of this feeling, which I do not believe helps us to reach a satisfactory adjustment with the coloured immigrants who are becoming so important a part of our life.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I think that very many of us have our minds so much concentrated upon racial conflict in another part of the world that, despite all our interests, we find it a little difficult to concentrate upon race relations in our own country. Nevertheless, this is our direct responsibility. I suppose that I must now be nearing a century in the number of speeches I have delivered in the two Houses of Parliament on this subject during the last 17 years. Looking back, one is tremendously impressed by the progress that has taken place in public opinion. Ten years ago it was not only the view of the Opposition Party that there should not be legislation on racial discrimination: it was the view of a considerable number in the Labour Party as well. We have now reached a stage where the Opposition, the Liberals—who have been consistently good on this issue—and the Labour Party all recognise the place for legislation in this sphere.

None of us who has advocated legislation has ever thought that it was the answer. Of course, education is far more important. The relationship between legislation and education could not have been put better than by our present Home Secretary in a speech which he delivered to the London Labour Party on May 12. He said: Of course, we cannot solve the whole problem by legislation. We cannot, as we are often reminded, change men's minds and men's hearts by legislation. But the correct legislative framework can make it much more difficult for men's minds and men's hearts to move in the wrong direction, and much easier for them to move in the right direction. I had the privilege to be invited at the end of February to a conference which was called by the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants on the subject of racial equality in employment. I should like to endorse all that the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chester, said about the work of this National Committee, which is under the chairmanship of the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury. What impressed me at this very representative conference, which was attended by leading experts in the subject not only from this country but from the United States, Canada and other countries, was the evidence of those who came from America. They all argued that legislation must be extended to cover the two problems which are particularly in our minds this afternoon, employment and housing. A report has been published this week of the proceedings of that conference, and I should like to quote from evidence given by Mr. Ben Segal, who for thirty years has been engaged in problems of race relations in America, particularly as they affect the trade unions. This is what he said: Our mistake in America was in waiting too long before we took the necessary legislative steps … If anything is clear in the American experience it is the necessity of passing legislation before discrimination becomes entrenched. Similarly I have concluded. on the basis of my thirty years of work in the race relations and trade union movements, that voluntary action without legislation is inadequate. The voluntary effort becomes that much more meaningful after legislation is enacted … As a result of my work with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the last year and a half I am convinced that national equal employment legislation works and is an absolute necessity. I was very interested in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and particularly in the point which he raised as to whether or not discrimination in this country is exaggerated. I find it very difficult to say whether race relations have become worse or whether they have improved in recent years. Probably the answer is that public opinion as a whole is better but conditions potentially are worse. I certainly think that it is better than it was during the Election of 1964 when the racial issue was so prominent, when Mr. Gordon Walker was defeated at Smethwick and when, if I may say so, I was defeated by 11 votes on this issue in my own constituency of Eton and Slough. To-day, great majorities are given in both those constituencies to those who stand for racial equality, which suggests that public opinion has changed for the better. On the other hand, we have to face the fact that there are certain conditions which will affect racial discrimination and psychology on this subject in the future, which are getting worse. Those conditions relate particularly to employment and housing and the opportunity which children of immigrants born in this country will have when they leave school.

I take the question of school leavers. In the next ten years 100,000 boys and girls will be leaving our schools with the same educational standards, the same skills, the same linguistic abilities as the English children. There will be no difference between those children and English children except the colour of their skin. Nevertheless, all experience is proving to-day that when these children leave school they do not have the opportunity to obtain employment in the skills which they possess, and there is very little indication that that situation will change in the immediate future.

There have recently been some local inquiries which supplement what has appeared in the P.E.P. Report and in the Reports of the Race Relations Board, the National Committee for Commonweath Immigrants and others. I am going to take two of those local inquiries, because they represent different types of places and have been quite thoroughly carried out. One inquiry was at Cardiff, where the local branch of the National Council for Civil Liberties last month approached 350 firms to see what opportunity there was for coloured children leaving school to get posts in offices and shops. The 112 firms who replied had a staff of 2,500 employees, and those replies showed that in these firms there were only two office girls, one buffet attendant, one counter assistant, one part-time tailor and, very exceptionally, one supervisor who were coloured.

The other inquiry which I want to quote was carried out by the Junior Chamber of Commerce at Keighley, in Yorkshire. Their conclusion was that opportunities for skilled work in the textile industry are fair, as I recognise from my own knowledge of the textile industry, but for skilled work in other trades or for any clerical work they are dreadful. The Junior Chamber of Commerce at Keighley made inquiries from the banks through the banks' managers. The bank manager at Lloyds said: "I cannot foresee any possibility of employing these people". The bank manager at Martins said: "As yet I know of no coloured workers being employed with the bank". The two banks which stated that they did not have a colour bar were the Midland and the National Provincial. The bank with which I have my little savings is not listed here; I think I shall have to make inquiries about it and transfer to the Midland. Only one of the 100 firms of whom inquiries were made was prepared to take coloured clerical workers, and only three were prepared to take coloured apprentices. The consequence is that school-leavers to-day are going out into the world with good qualifications from school, and with good training, feeling themselves to be utterly English, having had good relationships with English children at school, but finding no opportunity for jobs equal to their capacities.

Secondly, I think that the degree to which the problem has become worse—and this really follows from what I have said—is due to the fact that we are in great danger of developing a grade of second-class labour among coloured workers. I referred just now to the textile industry, but in the woollen industry the Pakistanis are now finding themselves to be of a particular class. The white workers in the industry will not now do night jobs—and those who know the industry in Yorkshire will not blame them for not wanting to do it, with the noise and the heat in the factories. In con sequence all the night work in Bradford, for example, is now done by Pakistanis, because they are regarded as a lower grade of worker who will tolerate conditions that are no longer tolerated by the white workers. So, while public opinion has improved, conditions are developing in this country which may make racial discrimination worse and will inevitably in time create a psychology in those who are its victims, which will be very dangerous in our social relations.

I should like, finally, to say a word or two about the Government's prospects of legislation. My noble friend Lord Stonham will forgive me if I say that I was a little disappointed by his speech, because I think I am right in saying that when I first introduced an amending Bill on this subject in this House, and when my friend Mr. Maurice Orbach introduced an amending Bill in the House of Commons, the answer was that the Reports would be considered, and if the Government came to the conclusion that legislation should be introduced, it would be introduced during the next Session—not "during the period of this Parliament", which is the phrase now used. I am fairly confident that the answer from both Front Benches was, "during the next Session".


My Lords, if my noble friend will allow me to say so, he has not correctly quoted what I said this afternoon. I said that, if legislation was found to be both necessary and practicable, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State hoped that it would be introduced well before the end of this Parliament. That is rather different.


My Lords, my noble friend knows that I did not mean to misrepresent him. The phrase is, "well before the end of this Parliament". But even that is not quite so definite, and not perhaps so near as "during the next Session of Parliament", which I understand was the phrase used from both Front Benches when this matter was last raised in Parliament.

But I am disappointed from a further point of view. I have been reading with great interest the speeches which the Home Secretary has made on this subject; and they are magnificent. Those speeches have been of such a character that the general impression has been given that, the P.E.P. Report and the other Reports having been read, a decision had been taken to introduce amending legislation. Take, for example, the heading in the Observer for May 14 which Nora Beloff, who is a very responsible correspondent, used for her report of the speech by the Home Secretary: Colour bar in housing and jobs will be outlawed. As one who has been a journalist, I know that we sometimes jump to conclusions. But I say quite definitely that the series of speeches which the Home Secretary has delivered gave us every reason to believe that, on the basis of the evidence of those Reports, the Government would be introducing during the next Session amending legislation dealing with racial discrimination in employment and housing.


My Lords, may I again interrupt my noble friend? The headline to which he has referred would have deceived me as much as it deceived other people, but for the fact that I read every word of the speech of my right honourable friend to which my noble friend has himself referred; and he will find nothing in that speech which explicitly justifies the headline. The only other thing I would add is that the position of the Government is exactly the same as I announced last November, and as my right honourable friend announced on April 27. We have not departed from that position in any way whatsoever.


I will not quarrel with my noble friend on that matter, except to say that the emphasis in that speech and in other speeches was so great that I think we had reason to be very optimistic. But I press it a little further. The difficulty about introducing legislation was the opposition of the T.U.C. and of the Confederation of British Industry, and the Government have been having discussions with members of both those bodies. As a result of those discussions, the T.U.C. has altered its position considerably. The T.U.C. does not now say that it would oppose such legislation. What the T.U.C. now says is, "Accepting that such legislation is introduced, we will do our utmost to safeguard trade union practices"—and none of us who have been urging this legislation have wished to interfere with those practices. The trade unions have every right to determine conditions, wages, hours and matters of that kind, and none of us has opposed that right. From the changed view which there has been in the T.U.C. as a result of its discussions with this Government, I should have said that we had the right to be optimistic about the introduction of legislation.

My Lords, I say in conclusion that the theme of the conference called by the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants was that "there is still time, but only just"; and I believe that to be true. That is why I should like to see from the Government not merely a firm decision to introduce legislation but a firm decision to introduce it soon. If it is postponed, conditions will get worse and the problem which the Government will then have to face will be much more difficult. Perhaps your Lordships will forgive me for saying that I think the one success of the 60 years during which I have taken part in politics has been the fact that after introducing Bills for ten years in the House of Commons I found that they were at last accepted by the Government. I hope that the amending Bill which I introduced in this House may similarly be a precedent for Government legislation, so that discrimination in relation to employment, housing and credits is made illegal, as it has already been made illegal in public places.

5.44 p.m.


My Lords, I do not know whether I ought to begin by declaring an interest in this subject because my son happens to be the chairman of the Race Relations Board. But though he and I see eye to eye on this issue, as we do on many other issues, it is not a family racket: it is just (what shall I call it?) an ideological coincidence.

I think this debate must have brought home to many of us, if we did not realise it before (but perhaps most of us did), that this country is facing a new problem and a new challenge. We have to realise that we are becoming, whether we like it or not, a multiracial society; and, so far as I can see, we are likely to remain one. This country has a long and proud record of tolerance and of hospitality to the victims of intolerance. We have always opened wide our doors throughout the centuries to the victims of religious and political persecution. We let in, as has been said in this debate already, the Huguenots, the Flemish Weavers; and, incidentally, we sometimes reaped a rich reward from what we learnt from them.

Now one cannot help asking oneself to-day: are we in danger of betraying this fine record? Are we in danger of drifting into racial intolerance, racial discrimination? Are we in danger of creating here, in our own midst, the kind of situation which we have condemned wherever it has arisen all over the world in other places? Of course, I am not thinking for one moment of anything like South African conditions, but I think the position here to-day is very much like the start of the American situation; and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, that we ought to take very prompt and pre-emptive measures to prevent this getting any worse. The Americans, incidentally, are now struggling most courageously to amend their own.

We have all brought our public opinion reports with us, but I read a very interesting Public Opinion Poll in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. I do not know whether any of your Lordships saw it, but it endorsed and confirmed up to the hilt the findings of the P.E.P. Report, and it made a comment at the end which I should like to read to your Lordships if I may. It said: The answers show overwhelmingly that the traditional view of Britain as the most tolerant country in the world is now shattered. Two-thirds of the electorate are aware of substantial colour discrimination and only 1 per cent. thinks that there is none". I think that very few who have read the Report of that most objective, dispassionate and impartial body, P.E.P., can have any doubt, first as to the justice of their verdict, and, secondly, that legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, particularly in such vital matters as housing and employment, has become an imperative necessity. And I wish to express my gratitude to the Government for the encouraging assurances we have been given, certainly by the Home Secretary in another place. I do not know the exact timing, about which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, inquired, but I have always assumed that legislation would be forthcoming in the next Session.

The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said, and I have heard many others say, that one cannot change people's inborn instincts, attitudes, hearts or minds by law. And it is quite true that no law was ever passed which could make one love one's neighbour. But, as we know, the law may very well have the opposite result. A law can encourage you to degrade, debase and to humiliate your neighbour. Look what the laws of Apartheid in South Africa have done in this direction! They have taught white South Africans to regard their black neighbours as inferior beings with whom they cannot even share a seat, play a game or kneel side by side in church in prayer. Worse still, they have injected this sense of inferiority into some of the black South Africans themselves. If laws can thus be used to increase racial prejudice, surely they can also be used to diminish it.

Another consideration I think we ought to take into account is that it also acts as a shield, giving support and protection to those who do not themselves particularly want to discriminate but who feel impelled to do so by social pressures—who are afraid of offending a client or a customer or a fellow-worker. There are some who genuinely feel this, and there are others who pretend that that is the reason they feel it, what is called "passing the buck", and on this issue "passing the buck" is a very prevalent attitude to-day. Then, surely, we must all realise that a country's laws create its moral climate—by laying down a code of conduct and behaviour. What else are we so-called legislators doing here now, I wonder?

And on the positive side surely we must all agree that in this country for which we are responsible equal human rights must be assured to all its citizens whatever their colour. They must get equal treatment in public places; they must have an equal chance with others of employment in jobs for which they are well qualified, and an equal chance of getting a house in which to live. At present all these rights are being denied to them. Of course, my Lords, prejudice has always been most marked in the field of housing, and as in America we are faced here with the problem of the ghetto—that is, with the concentration of a minority group in a given area. In fact, it is the Plowden situation writ large in terms of race, rather than class. And the chain reaction described in the Plowden Report inevitably follows. The ghetto child's home surroundings are reflected in his schooling, and his schooling again affects his opportunities for getting jobs.

I shall always remember an experience of my own about seventeen or eighteen years ago, when I paid a visit to Michigan University to deliver a lecture. It was a vast and spendid university, and it was completely unsegregated. Pupils and students of all races, creeds and classes lived and worked there side by side in perfect harmony. I forget whether he was called the President or the Principal, the person with whom I stayed, a most remarkable man, but he told me that he had no difficulties and no discords of any kind to deal with. I shall always remember his parting words to me when I said, "Goodbye" to him. He said, "One generation of co-education throughout the whole of the United States would solve our colour problem straight away". Well, my Lords, the co-education he longed for, the co-education of black and white children, is taking place here in our country to-day. And the comradeship and the understanding which he hoped would be forged between them may well be being forged at this moment. But what, I wonder, is going to happen at the end to the black, to the coloured school-leavers?

This sentence from the P.E.P. Report has, I think, already been quoted, though I thought it was a little disregarded or cast aside by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. But it struck me like a blow, and I thought it most sinister if it is true. It says: It is those emigrants with the highest qualifications and general ability who experience most discrimination. That is, when they apply for jobs. If that is so, imagine the frustration, the disappointment, the bitter sense of injustice which must be experienced by the school-leavers who have successfully cleared all their educational hurdles and who have passed their tests with flying colours, but who then, when they apply for a job to which they are fully entitled by their ability and by their merit, have the door of opportunity slammed in their faces Oil the one ground alone, that they are the wrong colour.


My Lords, did I understand the noble Baroness to say that I had rejected that conclusion of P.E.P.? If that is her impression, it is a wrong one. Indeed, I went on to say—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Wade, will remember this—that if, when these youngsters are educated they do not get the jobs to which their education entitles them, that would be an extremely serious situation.


My Lords, I am very glad to hear that. I apologise, and withdraw what I said. I misunderstood the noble Lord. I thought he believed that this sentence rather overstated the position. But the position is that they are not getting the jobs, and that is why I think we can learn a great deal from the American experience. After all, the Americans have been learning for about 300 years, compared to our ten or twenty years, and they have realised that this kind of situation can be tackled only by legislation. The way they are tackling the employment situation is, as we know, by attaching non-discriminatory clauses to ail Government contracts and that, I think, is a policy we might very well adopt ourselves. I do not know what the noble Lord feels about it.


My Lords, I said that that is the policy the Government are considering.


My Lords, in conclusion, I should like to ask myself and others the question: Is colour prejudice, racial prejudice based on colour, a natural, inborn instinct, as so many seem to assume that it is? Personally, I do not believe it for one moment, and I will give your Lordships one reason. Children have no prejudice whatsoever, absolutely none. Quite recently I spent two summers in Washington, which is a multiracial city if ever there was one, where I had two very young grand-sons. To these two little boys black faces were as familiar, were as lovable and were as beloved, as any white face, and these two children will never know what the colour problem means. I do not think that we must make an alibi of natural inborn instincts.

It has been said—actually it was said by my son—that discrimination whether it is on a large or a small scale stains the whole of the society in which it takes place. We are naturally a generous, tolerant and also very law-abiding people. Let us make sure beyond a doubt—and let us do it now while we still have time—that that stain shall never rest upon our country.

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, I want to look at some of the questions we are discussing to-day, questions which are clearly very serious and potentially very dangerous for our national well-being, from the standpoint of one whose main preoccupation is obviously with education. This may not seem immediately relevant to the actual issues raised by the two Reports which we have been discussing, but I am encouraged that the noble Lord who opened the debate, and to whom we are so grateful, and several other noble Lords, have by implication or explicitly brought the educational process into what they have said. As with so many problems, we find that in the end it is education which can help us to find a possible solution. Whether it is, at one end of the scale, the immediate task of teaching Pakistani children to break the sound barrier of inability to learn at all in a foreign tongue, or whether at the other end of the scale it is the very much deeper problem of identifying the sources of racial prejudices and eliminating them, we are ultimately driven back to the responsibilities of the educators, and it is about those that I want to talk for a few moments to-day.

The suggestions I want to make fall naturally into three parts. The first is this. At the moment a considerable number of graduates from the Commonwealth come into this country bringing with them vouchers as qualified teachers. Surely they could be invaluable recruits, particularly in dealing with children from their own countries. But the great majority of them are not teaching at all: they are working as bus conductors or manual labourers. The latest figures I have indicate that in 1965 some 2,000 people were issued with such vouchers and only 200 of them were teaching. Why? It was not racial discrimination. It was because their knowledge of the English language was simply not sufficient to enable them to teach.

Our efforts to remedy this situation—and it is one that could be remedied fairly easily—are at present pitifully inadequate. Last year we had one pilot course in English for 13 graduates. This year we have four. But it is not only the number of these courses that is inadequate—and the fact that they are over-subscribed shows that it is. What is also required is some introduction of these potential teachers to ideas of education which are often very different from their own, as the Plowden Report makes clear. They need the knowledge which will enable them to act not simply as teachers, but ideally as a kind of liaison officer between the non-English-speaking home and the school and beyond the school, with the various social services which those families so often and so urgently need. Here then is the first and most straightforward field in which the Department of Education and Science, the Colleges of Education and the University Departments have to co-operate with urgency and with vision, by providing many more special courses for such graduates and extending courses where they exist.

The second point is more obvious and a good deal more urgent, because it affects far more people. There are thousands of immigrant children who can either speak no English at all or whose English is very imperfect. How can we talk about equality of opportunity when these future citizens are so handicapped from the start? How can we expect white children in the same schools to regard them as anything but inferior? How can we deny that the seeds of racial prejudice are sown in parents who may see their own children held back by the presence in the same class of children who cannot speak, still less write, the English language? The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, spoke of what would happen in the second generation when floods of immigrants of equal standard were coming to the schools. That is an interesting point to which I will come later. If the noble Lord were still in his place, I could assure him that there is jolly little chance of equal standards unless we do something more about their education than we are doing now. It is these children who need special and intensive instruction in small groups, yet they are of all children those most likely to find themselves in the deprived schools of the Plowden Report, where staff can scarcely he obtained to teach at all and. when they are obtained, move away with alarming regularity.

Against this problem I believe that we can and must mount a three-pronged attack. Knowing that any conceivable teaching force will be inadequate to give these children what they need, we must look outside for special help. We know that it can be found. We have some of it in the schools now. The grammar schools have had some hard words said about them in this House, and still more in another place recently, but those of us who know the grammar schools know that their sixth forms produce a body of idealism and a desire to serve that is at present often frustrated. Voluntary Service Overseas has provided one outlet, but these young people cannot all go to Africa or elsewhere abroad and there is, in the classes of immigrant children, very often in their own cities, a job to be done that is no less pressing.

Community service volunteers, under the leadership of Mr. Alec Dickson and others, have canalised the ability, the idealism and the energy of these sixth formers (there are about 50 of them at this moment) anxious to give a year of service between school and college— and ability to talk and teach English, abundant energy to work hard and patiently, are precisely what are required for this remedial work with immigrant children. I have seen letter after letter from head teachers—I have a selection of photostats here—testifying to the work that these young people are doing, both in preparing Pakistani children to take the other work of the curricula at a later stage, and in bringing friendship between people of different races and sometimes of different colour. As I say, there are about 50 in the schools to-day. That number could be multiplied fivefold immediately, if all local education authorities and teachers' associations and the Department of Education and Science would welcome them with the enthusiasm they deserve—and that, I am afraid, is not what all these bodies are doing at the moment. We do not realise what a chance we have here, not only for the education of immigrant children, but also for the education of our own young people.

That is one line of attack on this fundamental problem of the linguistic and social needs of immigrants. A second is through the colleges and institutes of education, and these lie really at the heart of the matter. It is from here that the teachers go out who will teach the children about whom we are talking. Here there are two needs. One is to introduce, so far as we may, all teachers to the adjustments and attitudes that are required in a multiracial society. The other is to train some teachers to deal with the particular linguistic and social needs of immigrant children—and we know something about them now. But if we are frank we will admit that we are doing precious little in this field. There are a few colleges like Edgehill, and a few institutes like Leicester and Bristol, where fine pioneering work is going on, but the general picture is one that lacks any sense of urgency at all or any realisation of the magnitude of the problem.

The same is true of the in-service training of existing teachers. There is a splendid experiment by the local authority in Birmingham, and those of us who know Sir Lionel Russell are not surprised at this. The Bradford and one or two other authorities are making noteworthy efforts. But, on the whole, L.E.A.s and headmasters are reluctant—and quite naturally, under present conditions—to release serving teachers for the kind of intensive training required. Some of us believe strongly that if teachers in training were allowed to take more responsibility in the school, if the apprentice, as it were, was allowed to set the craftsman free, then this kind of special course would become possible. We are back to a cause that I have urged before in your Lordships' House: that the nature of teacher training in general should be the next major educational question that calls for examination. This is one small but vitally important aspect of it.

The last approach to the educational side of the immigrant problem is more nebulous but more fundamental. It consists in an attack on the whole question of the springs of discrimination; the necessity for educating people to live without hatred in a multiracial society. This is vital, because if we modify our approaches in education, as the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, has just said, so that coloured people, or people of different grades, are fitted for wider opportunities, and then deny them those opportunities, we are indeed in trouble. Their last state may be worse than their first.

It is, therefore, the psychological roots that have to be tackled; and it will help us to tackle those roots if the community shows its attitude unambiguously by the legislation that it passes. That hoary old cliché about changing people's minds by Acts of Parliament—how much harm it has done! Of course one cannot make people good by Acts of Parliament; but it is by Acts of Parliament that a community shows some of the values by which it stands. Here, then, we have the psychological roots, and a certain amount of good work has been done in this field, particularly as regards colour awareness in children. But we have only approached the fringes of the problem.

We need, as I have said, that teachers, as part of their training, should be made aware that the problem exists. We need our textbooks and our curricula looked at from this point of view again and again. And we have already begun to do that. We need more research, particularly with adolescents, and more application of such research in devising courses in social studies, both in schools, as the Schools Council has already indicated, and in further education. We need a more positive approach in the mass media, particularly T.V., to show us, for example, simply not that the immigrant should be tolerated, but that in certain fields, like medicine, his skill and his character make him an indispensable citizen. We must in certain contexts be taught to speak not of a problem but of an enrichment.

My Lords, we are mainly discussing this afternoon legislation to put right a great social evil. I believe that racial discrimination is a disease which education can alleviate and, since every educator must be an optimist, perhaps ultimately cure. The alleviation of the symptoms must depend on a crash programme; its cure will depend on research and long-term measures. We have a multiracial society; we must learn to live with it in a civilised way.

But education of course, is only one part of the answer. It is true that housing, employment and access to services are more obvious and immediate issues; but our efforts on these fronts must be underpinned by a massive educational programme on the lines proposed, for example, by my colleague, Professor Eric Hawkins, as Chairman of the Education Panel of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants, to which so many deserved tributes have been paid this afternoon. But so long as we allow immigrant children to remain illiterate, simply because they are immigrant; so long as we fail to provide for their special educational needs; so long as we fail in our attempts to understand and transmit to those who teach the origins of suspicion, jealousy and even hatred of other races, we shall not be able to say, however enlightened the laws we pass, that we are cutting at the roots of discrimination.

The approach through education is a difficult long-term one. It must be supported by a short-term one, the approach through legislation. Education is always the long way round, because it involves an intense, sustained, co-operative effort by many people in the educational world concerned with these questions: by the Department; by colleges of education; by L.E.A.s and by teachers' organisations. It is, I believe, an effort that must be made if this country is to maintain its professions of respect for opportunity, for liberty and for decency.

6.17 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to offer a few comments on the subject of this debate, I am conscious of the inevitable reiteration and repetitive nature which some of it must appear to be, since we have had so many of these debates during the last two or three year, in all of which I have spoken and given my views on many of the things that I shall leave out to-day. We are discussing once more the problems arising out of immigration, and we have to realise once more than these do not vary. They are just as old as mankind; it is no new thing that we are discovering. The trouble is that they cannot safely be ignored, and they are apt to defy control, or indeed cure.

I propose to be quite brief in what I have to say, and to confine myself largely to what seems to be a necessary background to the success of any of the dreams that we have been listening to this afternoon; that is, the need for severe numerical control at the source, combined with such amount of legislative treatment as will fortify, without exacerbating public opinion. There is, and until human nature changes there must always be, an absorptive limit beyond which the problem becomes quite intractable and beyond the reach of any legislative control.

I have read carefully this large book of the study of the P.E.P., and I have also been privileged to read the original full Report of the Race Relations Board, which, if I may say so with due humility, seemed to me to be an extremely good Report. Their findings are of great interest on the complex of interlocked problems, particularly employment, housing, education and hygienic habits, down to the general way of life and the standard of values and ultimate aspirations, which are factors that matter in this consideration.

One appreciates that racial prejudice, with roots in psychological and sociological relationship, is a very different thing from racial discrimination, which implies a deliberate act, treating certain persons differently from a white person for no other reason than the difference in colour. One of the difficulties is that discriminating actions of those in authority are often based on the prejudices of other men; and equality of treatment, too, I think we should remember, does not necessarily imply identical treatment. Immigrants may have special and quite different needs. And, my Lords, discrimination, like truth, has many aspects, and discrimination in the fundamental sense of treating people differently can be a very good thing on the ground of innate needs.

Prejudice, as I see it, is fundamentally a question of insecurity arising from deep, long-nurtured psychological conflicts within the mind, and, being irrational, it is impervious to logical argument. You cannot effectively abolish it by law. And so racial prejudice, whether white, black or brown, is a thing we have to live with until education and social contact succeed in slow erosion of its base.

Racial discrimination in the sense of action to the detriment of another person simply because of his race or colour calls, in my view, for a measure of restrictive action which should, however, be modulated to a reasonable consideration towards the feelings of those whose homeland is so invaded, whose health may be endangered, whose way of life disturbed, and so forth; and it would be a pity, I think, if we reached a stage where the anxiety to help the immigrant should cause us to overlook the needs and the rights of the people whose home this originally is. Discrimination against an immigrant population is one of the inevitable facts of life in this or any other age or country. "Discrimination" is now, I know, a bad word, because unconsciously it seems to be popular to imply that discrimination in relation to immigrants is necessarily racial discrimination. My contention is that it is not necessarily so.

After all, discrimination is acknowledgment in thought or action, or both, of a difference. Of course there is discrimination. There is discrimination everywhere. No one denies that. But what I want to emphasise is that, in my view, in many quarters the discrimination in relation to immigrants is predominantly not racial. It is based on social, cultural, hygienic and linguistic differences and has fundamentally nothing whatever to do with colour. Colour happens to be an outstanding identification mark proclaiming the stranger in our midst in the case of the bulk of our immigrants. I think that some of the international evangelists in our midst, who are apparently prepared to ignore all human differences except those based on pigmentation of the skin, are apt to attribute to colour prejudice all those social, cultural, hygienic and linguistic differences which, together with different standards of value, demand our respectful consideration. In the differences are involved the way of life of the British people. Do not let us forget that, as sometimes seems to be forgotten, my Lords. Some people, colour-blind in physical matters, have apparently decided to make it a virtue and to extend this affliction to mental, cultural and spiritual blackout. Discrimination is a function of the intelligent mind—ability to see differences and perhaps to act on them in the sense of suiting action to such appreciation of the position.

The so-called racial discrimination about which this debate is concerned is largely based on an instinctive and apprehensive withdrawal from a flood of strangers. The extent of this feeling is, I suggest, governed very much numerically. The greater the influx, the more it takes on the aspect of a threat to the existing community, and so calls for severe regulation if one wishes to avoid social indigestion. Without this severe regulation of the flood of immigrants, I do not believe that you can avoid in any way the growth of clusters of second-class citizens and the instinctive antipathy of the resident inhabitants of this country.

I hold strongly that all historical human experience should warn us against allowing the growth of unassimilable pockets of foreigners who have no intention or wish to accept the British way of life. I do not want to be misunderstood as saying that all immigrants are like that. But most of us, I think, know—those who have studied the question certainly do—that a large number of the immigrants coming to this country from India and Pakistan have no intention or desire to accept the British way of life. I would say flatly that there is no room in this crowded country for immigrants who will not accept and qualify to merge in the British way of life and try to bring up their children as true British citizens.

Very many of the Indian and Pakistani immigrants, as I have said, do not aim ever to qualify in this sense as British citizens. They want all the advantages of the Welfare State—I am not blaming them for that—and the economic opportunity of equality of treatment, without accepting the contingent duties and responsibilities of what I call the full-time English speaking citizen.

Here I should like to refer to page 17 of the White Paper containing the Report of the Race Relations Board 1966–67—as I have mentioned, an extremely good and interesting and instructive Report. At the end of paragraph 46 it says: to suppose that there would not be discrimination against the immigrant population would be to neglect the lessons of history here and elsewhere and the facts of human nature as we know them. Assimilation into the native population can only be, after all, a slow process. There can be no "crash" programme in this sphere.

I should like also to invite attention to paragraph 44 of the Report of the Race Relations Board, in which they refer to what the Home Secretary said in 1966. I must admit that I view that statement, which I am about to quote, without any respect or agreement. In his public statement on May 23, 1966, he said that assimilation is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The paragraph continues: He defined their policy as integration which he said was not a flattening process of assimilation, but equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity, in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance. Those are beautiful words, but in practice to my mind they indicate a ground plan for chaos; the elimination of national feeling by an acceptance of the right to retain nationality in orderly chaos. I think that sort of thing is looking much too far forward. The Brotherhood of Man under a World Government is still a dream, and to some of us perhaps a nightmare. After all, it was Browning who wrote: There may be Heaven, there must be Hell— Meanwhile there is our Earth here. Well? I think we should pay attention to that.

The P.E.P. Report is useful in trying to assess the extent of discrimination and the form it takes, but the Race Relations Board, in paragraph 47 of their Report, remind us and warn us of its obvious limitations. Perhaps I may quote part of what they say: It is important to realise the limitations of such an inquiry employing these methods. Whatever the findings such an inquiry cannot measure the dynamic element in race relations. A policy of laissez-faire is dangerous, it is true; but just as dangerous is any attempt to use stringent legislation and severe penalties to enforce a tolerance and an equality which is not at once apparently just to the recipients of these Olympian decisions of those who manage our affairs. The natives of this country still have some rights as such, and one of them is surely the reasonably unfettered choice of colleagues and other personal rights. Freedom of choice should not be reserved solely for foreign immigrants, and many considerations have to be balanced in business management and in housing schemes.

There is undoubtedly widespread colour prejudice in Britain. Its basis is a mixture of instinctive distaste for groups, easily identifiable by colour, with different ways of life and a different outlook on life, different social habits and different standards. There is also a psychological distaste for miscegenation. On their side, the behaviour of foreign groups is apt to be aggravated by anxiety and insecurity and resentment of alleged inferiority, whether it be real or imaginary. There has to be time—probably more than one generation—for adaptation to take place. After all, in human society in any country there exists antipathy to association with uncongenial people. No doubt this constitutes prejudice, but it is fundamentally social prejudice and not racial discrimination.

I have not attempted, nor is it possible, to deal with all the details, but I have dealt in a general way with the principles and practice of Government policy and the extent of its interference with the difficult problems arising from immigration, especially whenever (as it is doing to-day) it reaches embarrassing numerical heights. I am convinced that legal restrictions on freedom of choice and action can be unacceptably oppressive unless they are more of a persuasive nature than an authoritarian imposition, and also unless they are combined with a strict regulation of the influx of foreigners. It seems to me clear that every other part of a policy of which most of us approve depends upon regulating that influx to the absorptive capacity of the recipient country, especially when the identity of the immigrants attracts public attention by reason of colour. I think we have, too, a tendency to enshrine the sanctity of public interference with private rights of choice. It is surely fatal to hasten the process unduly. One must give it time. And let us remember always, my Lords, that Time takes his revenge for all the counsels to which he is not called.

6.37 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in expressing my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for giving us the opportunity to discuss this vitally important subject; and, indeed, for doing so with such skill and success that he has left me, at this late stage in the debate, with relatively little to say. As he mentioned, I am fully in agreement with him in being glad that, despite the momentous events of the last few days, portentous and tragic though they are, and requiring an early solution though they do, we have been allowed to hold this debate this afternoon. Although the problem is not immediately explosive, I believe that unless it is handled with clear foresight, and with great determination and courage, now, we may find later on that it is too late.

I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, and to later speakers for being precise about what we mean by "race" in this context, and also to those speakers who pointed out the need to take a really hard look at the sources of discrimination. Basically, as the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, pointed out, what we are faced with in this problem is no less than colour prejudice. That is my firm belief. Prejudice in this connection is a mysterious phenomenon. I have never yet heard a convincing explanation of it. We know that it is a fact, but what on earth does it derive from?

I hope your Lordships will not regard me as being unduly frivolous when I suggest that the colour we are discussing this afternoon differs from the sun tans which so many of us with lighter skins are only too anxious to cultivate, and would like to keep and cannot, both in degree and in the fact that it is indelible and is passed on. I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester, and with the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, who pointed out that this prejudice is irrational. I would add to that adjective the following adjectives. It is unintelligent; it is uncharitable, and, worst of all, it is arrogant. But it is a fact, and it is this emotional phenomenon of prejudice on the grounds of colour which we should seek to cure; because nothing less will suffice to create the integrated society which it is the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government to achieve, and with which I wholeheartedly align myself.

In this respect I am happy to accept unreservedly the epithet which the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has suggested. Of an "international idealist" because I am an optimist that an integrated society can be achieved in this country. I hope that I am not departing too much from the terms of the debate in saying a few words about the emotional aspect of prejudice bearing on this problem I know that it is quite impossible to remove a problem by calling it names, as I have done. I agree with, I think, every other noble Lord who has spoken that legislation can be a useful prop, a useful help, and I also agree with all those noble Lords who said that time alone will not cure it. I would add the thought that time is not on our side; because, as we all know, despite the restrictions placed on entry, inevitably the number of coloured people in our midst is going to grow. There are now around one million and it has been estimated that by the end of the century the number will increase to three million.

On all those grounds it is quite clear that a laissez faire policy simply will not help to solve the problem, but will merely allow it to grow worse. We have only to look at the housing situation to be convinced of this problem, and no one who has visited one or more of the areas where our coloured citizens are now concentrated (I wondered, as I listened, just how many of the speakers had in fact visited some of these concentrations of coloured people, whether it is Birmingham's Sparkbrook or Manchester's Mossside or the West Indian district in Bristol or the Pakistan quarter in Bradford, to say nothing of the London boroughs of Brent, Haringey, Islington or Paddington) could fail to be struck among other things by one further root cause of prejudice on the ground of colour, and this is the isolation and lack of communication of these immigrants with the great majority of the white community. By and large, the only communication they have is with our social misfits and, in one or two areas, with the Southern Irish. And yet, as we all know, social communication is the key to the removal of prejudice. It is only when people get to know each other that they find they can like each other, that they shed many of their misconceptions and even begin to be less aware of the colour difference. So I suggest that we have here in this situation a vicious circle which can be broken only by solving the housing situation.

Other noble Lords who have already spoken, and many others who have not, know a great deal more than I do about how to solve this problem. I would agree wholeheartedly with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, when he said, in effect, that the longer it is left unsolved the more the dreadful notion will grow of a substandard and subordinate society, of people doing work that the white workers do not want to do, of people fit only to live separately in ghettoes.

Given that it is impossible to legislate against an emotional prejudice, given that we cannot allow it to go on and grow, harden and be perpetuated, what can be done to dispel it? Here I would like to suggest three or four general lines of thought. The first is that although when you look at local situations you find that they are so different that they can be solved only locally, there is a good case for more national publicity, or information, to be brought to bear on the matter. The permanent presence of large numbers of coloured people in Britain is not simply a local matter; or, even though it is at the moment physically and geographically a local matter, I certainly hope that it will not remain so, because one of the ways of solving this problem is to allow immigrants willingly and freely to move out into other areas.

What is more, it is a great moral issue which should concern every citizen in this country. It is a question of changing attitudes, of forming a positive climate of public opinion in favour of it. I believe that many people who do not live close to this problem, as most of us here do not, still do not know enough about it. I do not believe that we as a nation are yet ready to accept and realise the fact of a multiracial society in Britain, let alone welcome it and recognise its intrinsic richness.

I do not believe—and I have heard other opinions expressed to the contrary—that by hearing and talking about problems created by immigration we risk making matters worse. I think it is part and parcel of this vital business of communication that more people should know more about our new countrymen, as well as having our consciences aroused as the B.B.C. has done most successfully in one or two recent programmes. I hope we shall be able to hear more, through radio, television and Press, and through the initiative of the immigrants themselves, about their backgrounds, their cultures and their aspirations, and begin to appreciate more the warm humanity of these newcomers in Britain. I would just conclude this thought by saying that publicity of a serious, non-sensational and informative character can do nothing but good.

The second point is that while action must be locally co-ordinated and controlled, I hope that initiative will spring from every possible direction. Here I believe the local liaison committees which have been brought into being at the instance of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants have a part to play, not only as a focal point in those areas where the immigrants have mainly gone to live, but in a wider field. I would ask whether some twinning arrangements for social purposes could not be made within cities, as between the districts where the immigrants are concentrated and those where they are not, as between cities which have immigrants in significant numbers and those which have not, as between schools and colleges in and outside these areas. Given, as has been pointed out, that so many of these people from other countries are peasant stock, who feel just as much out of their element in our urban areas as any countryman, I hope that this twinning involvement and participation of the areas not directly involved with those that are may be spread to our rural counties as well as the cities themselves.

One could develop all sorts of ideas on this social theme. I am quite convinced that individual enterprise, once it is alerted more widely and generally, can do a great deal to organise schemes of entertainment, and, as the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, said, schemes of community service in which both white and coloured people could mix and share. I have seen some of these schemes recently in Bristol. I have heard of a good deal of others in the course of collecting evidence recently for a report for the Ministry of Education on young coloured immigrants. They open up exciting possibilities of extension. I believe that it is in this line of action that young people have a very great part to play.

We have heard about the coloured "bulge" that is now mainly in the primary schools and which in the early 1970s is going to produce three times as many coloured young adults as at present. This is only part of the general picture of the problem of increase of our coloured citizens. I would agree at once that this certainly presents a problem. As has been said, the test will be with the second generation, who will certainly be less tolerant of cold-shouldering, let alone discrimination, than their parents are at present. But the point I want to make is that this is a real opportunity to solve the problem. The noble Baroness said that children start entirely without prejudice, or even an awareness of colour differences. They catch the disease from their parents and other adults. It is a notable fact that there is complete harmony in our primary schools in which the children are mixed, even when the percentage of coloured children is as high as 50 per cent.; and even in the secondary schools in that situation there is very little separation in sympathy between the two. Outside school there is, unfortunately, at present little social mixing, and after the school period is finished prejudice builds up.

So, as I see it, the school is another focal point, the liaison committee being one, on which integration can be founded. It is far more than just a place where the immigrant children learn English or improve the English that they come with. It is here that many kinds of leisure interests and activities can be acquired, shared together in school, and continued outside and beyond school. Not least important, it is in the school situation that immigrant and white parents can meet together.

Lastly, I believe that our youth services have a tremendous challenge ahead of them. It is something to mix in class, something to share a job of work in the factory; but the real foundation of an integrated society must be seen in social terms outside working time. For young people this is the job of the Youth Service. Little has been done so far, mainly because the number of coloured immigrants of the age range of youth services is relatively small; and the opportunity is really in the future, when would say a far more imaginative, a far more conscious and dynamic policy needs to be thought out, both for those organisations in the immigrant areas and for those outside.

In this connection I believe, above all, that the opportunity would be welcomed by the older adolescents, by the young adults, to play a part in creating the new society. As we know, many of these young adults are already organised, either socially or politically, or both, and some of those organisations are already active in this field. I should like to mention particularly the young Christian workers, the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A., in helping immigrants to meet white people socially. Many more of these organisations are not so organised, and I am quite certain that among these a great many would welcome the opportunity to do a job so well worth doing.

I am thinking particularly, among the organisations not at present involved, of the Federation of 18-plus groups and the Youth Hostels Association, and of those who are not organised socially I am thinking of those who have completed Endeavour courses through the National Association of Youth Clubs; of those who have gained the Gold Award; of the returned volunteers of the British Volunteer Programme, who have spent a year or eighteen months in countries from which the immigrants come. I believe that many more of the coloured students in our colleges and universities could be persuaded and would be keen to help in one way or another the organisations which are already active in this field—the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, the Campaign for Racial Equality and so on—in this great task of social integration.

Here, it seems to me, there is a chance for the Youth Service, which was given a second lease of life in 1960 by the Albermarle Report, to widen its contacts, to enthuse the young adults: in fact to be recharged with fresh energy and, above all, a fresh purpose for the 1970s. But this is not only a challenge to youth; it is a challenge to everyone, to show by our attitudes and our actions that we as a people practice what we preach to other people who have been faced with this problem before us.

6.55 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, will, I hope, forgive me if I do not follow him in what he said. I find it most inspiring to listen to a self confessed international idealist. I found myself in agreement with every word he said. His speech was most inspiring. I intend to speak quite briefly because I am detaining your Lordships again later tonight. I would start by saying how much I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for introducing this Motion. I do so with particular sincerity, since upon December 19 last year we debated the Bill put forward by my noble friend Lord Brockway; and I think the two main reasons why your Lordships did not pass that Bill were, first, that there was not sufficient evidence in your Lordships' minds that serious discrimination existed; and, secondly, because serious doubts were expressed as to the practicability of legislation. That is why this debate is so valuable; because the two Reports which we are debating shed a flood of light on each of those two subjects.

I hope that the P.E.P. Report will leave no doubt in anybody's mind as to the extent of discrimination and as to the fact that it increases as coloured people stay here longer and become better qualified. It is likely to increase in the second generation. Up till now, everybody, in the Press and elsewhere, has accepted this Report and its conclusions. I think the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, with hardly any reservations, accepted it. This is why I was most distressed to feel that my noble friend Lord Stonham in his speech, despite the almost universal acceptance and approval of the Report and its conclusions, despite the great weight of opinion, certainly on the advisory boards to the P.E.P.—I should mention among them Professor C. A. Moser, who is now the Government's own statistical adviser in the Cabinet Office—seemed to me to be doubting the conclusions of the P.E.P. Report in several significant respects.

It is too soon after his speech to go into detail about the holes which he seemed to be picking in the Report, but I should like to mention two things particularly. The first I felt to be a completely unjustifiable slur on the expertise of the Report itself. My noble friend asked how could the tests taken among employers be a reasonable sample of the employers of the country when the testers went only to firms which had been indicated by the migrant informers as being discriminating firms. But that was not the point of those tests. I should like just to quote from paragraph 23(1) at page 30 of the Report: In order to establish how reliable were immigrant claims in employment, follow-up situation tests were carried out in a sample of firms mentioned in the claims". The purpose of those tests was to confirm the veracity of the informants' evidence. I hope that my noble friend will withdraw what I feel to be a slur in regard to the methods of the Report.


My Lords, if my noble friend will allow me to say so, I have nothing to withdraw. If he will read my speech he will not be able to say I disputed the conclusions of the Report. I supported all of them, and indeed quoted them. On this particular point, however, the testers—I went out of my way to say that they had done their job well—went to 40 firms which, the Report says, had discriminated; and I say that that is not a proper basis for their conclusion that discrimination in employment is greater than the immigrants themselves believe. It was these tests on 40 discriminating firms which formed the basis for the conclusion, and I adhere to my opinion.


My Lords, with great respect, I do not think that when we both read the Report again we shall find that the Report intended to draw any other conclusion from those tests than that the immigrants' evidence was true. It certainly was not put forward as a representative sample of employers.

The noble Lord, however, said that he does not throw doubt on the conclusions of the Report. I was glad to hear him say that, because I felt, if I heard him aright, that he cast doubt on the figure of 70 per cent. of informants who had English trade qualifications and who claimed that they had personal experiences of discrimination. The reason why the noble Lord disputed that figure was that he felt people with English trade qualifications would come up against greater competition for jobs, and that therefore if they had been disappointed in their applications they would blame it on discrimination. I drew my noble friend's attention to the passage in the Report which said that the informants were not hasty to jump to conclusions when they claimed that they had been discriminated against, and that they did not put forward cases of discrimination except when they had very strong circumstantial evidence, if not incontrovertible evidence, of discrimination. My noble friend said, I think, that he had evidence that a large body of qualified immigrants had exaggerated claims, or had made claims of discrimination, where they had no basis for them.


My Lords—


Perhaps I may finish the sentence before I give way to my noble friend. Could I ask him whether he disputes what is in the Report—that the informants, if anything, understated discrimination and claimed discrimination only on very good grounds; or does he think, or has he some evidence to show, that better qualified people are more prone to jump to conclusions about discrimination than the lesser qualified?


My Lords, I would remind my noble friend that most of what I said on this subject was direct quotation from the P.E.P. Report. They were not my own views; they were the conclusions of P.E.P. I did not say anything about 70 per cent. of more highly qualified immigrants thinking they had been discriminated against. I did not use that figure at all; I did not refer to it. What I did say, and what I believe to be true, is that with more highly qualified people in the higher grade jobs the competition is keener and the liability to disappointment greater, whether one be white or coloured.


I accept what my noble friend says, and I understand that he does not dispute the conclusion of the Report, that the more qualified you are, the more English you are, the better you speak the language, the more likely you are to face discrimination and the more you are discriminated against. That is all I want to say about the evidence. I repeat that I stand, as I hope the Government stand, four-square behind the Report, and I hope that, as many speakers in this debate have urged, they will bring forward legislation on the basis of the overwhelming evidence produced by the Report.

I want to move on briefly to the other Report which we are considering to-night, because not much attention has been paid to it in this debate. During the debate on December 19, many doubts were expressed about the desirability of legislation against discrimination. One of the doubts expressed by many speakers—I recall particularly the words of the noble Lord, Lord Elton—was that legislation would inflame tension. I should like to quote a passage from the Board's Report which suggests that quite the contrary is true: it is paragraph 28 on page 10: The machinery for investigation of complaints also provides a most important safety valve against frustration. Few things can be more calculated to produce bitterness than the feeling that one has been discriminated against without any possibility of redress. It appears that those who have registered complaints with the Board and its committees have accepted the fact that their complaints have been impartially investigated. We regard it as significant that the Board and its committees have received very few objections from the complainants when a complaint within the scope of section I has not been upheld, despite the fact that the committees have upheld less than half of the complaints that they have received. So, if any noble Lords feel that tensions would be inflamed, that there would be a rash of people alleging discrimination, I feel that the evidence from the Board, even though it has been going for only one year, even though its field is limited, is extremely valuable in testing how this kind of legislation which in a way has been piloted by the Race Relations Act can be effective.

The second objection which was raised concerned proof of discrimination. My noble friend Lord Stonham pointed out that, contrary to the doubts expressed by many speakers in the debate on the original Act, the Board had found no difficulty. I hope, as nearly everybody has said, that the Government will introduce legislation, and that it will be the right kind of legislation.

I conclude by expressing the hope that the Government will look seriously at the Bill which my noble friend put forward last December. It was a very carefully thought out Bill, and would do all the things which in my view legislation could do. Its whole basis is conciliation, and I think that noble Lords in all parts of the House agree that conciliation is the way to tackle racial discrimination. It covers the areas where, as we have seen from the Report, the real problems and bitterness exist. It excludes areas where the enforcement of legislation might create a particular bitterness, such as the domestic servants and the tenants occupying common accommodation with a landlord. It set up an impartial and expert committee, the Race Relations Board, to conciliate.

In the reference which I quoted from the Report I feel that the word "impartially" is very important. The Race Relations Board has proved its expertise and its impartiality, and I very much hope that when legislation comes it will be as an extension of this impartial body, the Race Relations Board, because this is how success has been achieved in other countries. The Act deals with the deficiencies mentioned in the Report and it provides a sanction as a last resort. That sanction is important, as appears again from the Report of the Board, for in paragraph 26 we see these words: The Board is satisfied that conciliation would have been virtually impossible were it not for the sanctions provided in the Act. The settlement of each case has made it easier to deal satisfactorily with the next one. I would end by saying that the Government can be pardoned for having produced one Act which has now proved to be inadequate. I do not think that they will be pardoned for two. I hope that they will produce a sufficient and adequate Act, and then, with that behind us, we can go on to the positive steps of proving ourselves a really multiracial and just society.

7.8 p.m.


My Lords, the Report of the Race Relations Board and the P.E.P. Report on discrimination in the further fields of housing, employment and finance facilities, both of which we are all grateful to my noble friend for being able to debate to-day, are really complementary. There were two things which I found particularly striking in the Report of the Race Relations Board. In the first place, I was struck by the evident success which they had had in securing compliance and assurances of better conduct from publicans, although this had been a field where there was originally fairly strong opposition to legislation. In the second place, I thought it very striking how much clearly could be achieved with consultation without coercion of any sort or application of sanctions. The Race Relations Board are themselves convinced that conciliation would be impossible without the force of sanctions at the back of the law, however infrequently those are invoked. They also believe that housing and employment are more vital areas, providing more serious sources of grievance, as indeed one can expect, than the area at present covered by legislation.

The P.E.P. Report appears to confirm this opinion of the Race Relations Board. The authors report that: Discrimination in employment is the biggest single criticism in immigrants' spontaneous criticism of life in Britain. They reveal a picture throughout industry not of ruthless prejudice by men in power, but of retailers avoiding the employment of coloured people for fear of customers' prejudice, of manufacturers doing so for fear of the prejudice of people on the factory floor, and of service industries doing so for fear of prejudice in the office. It emerges from the Report that coloured people are quite substantially employed in manual tasks, but very seldom as office staff. I think it also emerges that there is a general reluctance to promote them into any positions of authority over white people.

I believe there are two reasons for expecting this general picture of employment to deteriorate. In the first place, it emerges from the Report that the pressure of labour shortage in a great number of cases has been responsible for coloured people being given jobs in the first place. Time and again employers say that it was only because of the employment position that they had taken on coloured workers initially. Therefore, unless conditions of full and over-full employment continue—and this is not the case at the moment—I think we can expect the position to deteriorate.

The other and broader fact which has been referred to is that, although it is often argued that the achievement of higher qualifications by immigrants will generally ease matters, the P.E.P. Report produces evidence to the contrary. It shows, I think successfully, that the more skilled the applicant the more likely is he to meet discrimination. It is important that they are not saying in the Report that the immigrant is simply more likely to feel discrimination; they are saying that he is more likely to meet it. They suggest that the greater his claims to a job with authority, the greater his claims to a job with promotion, the less likely is he to get a job at the level to which he is entitled. Yet, of course, in time the number of qualified immigrants will increase, and so this problem will increase as they become more competitive in jobs as against the qualified white applicants.

The Report shows that tests in housing revealed that, in 34 out of 48 estate agents and accommodation bureaux tested, discrimination on grounds of colour alone was found. In the case of car insurance tests, where they sent an Englishman, a Hungarian and a West Indian to apply, each having precisely the same job descriptions and qualifications and experience, with precisely the same car et cetera, it was found that out of a total of 20 cases the West Indian was discriminated against in 17 of them. That is a very alarming proportion. These tests were not conducted on the basis of its having first been established that discrimination had occurred in the case of the firms tested. They were chosen absolutely at random from address books covering the area in which the tests were conducted.

Similarly, in the case of private letting advertisements—and here they deliberately excluded establishments which had advertised that they would not take coloured people—they found that in two-thirds of the cases there was discrimination on the grounds of colour alone. Building societies were found loth to give mortgages to coloured immigrants or, if they did so, to do so on worse terms. In one case in the car insurance test the premium demanded of the West Indian was 75 per cent. above that demanded of the Englishman, yet there were no other distinctions at all in their characteristics. It was also discovered that there was discrimination in the sale of houses. It emerged that even in the case of councils immigrants tend to be housed almost exclusively in acquired property. It was suggested that this is for reasons of discretion, on the grounds that councils prefer the people not to notice that they are themselves housing immigrants. So throughout the buck is passed: it is passed from the estate agent to the owner, and it is passed from the owner to the other tenants.

It is interesting, and very important, to note in the Report that, far from finding or suspecting a high incidence of imaginary claims, the investigators conclude that discrimination took place on more occasions than the immigrants knew. I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is wrong when he says that they are basing this conclusion on the result of their tests about jobs. They could hardly do this if they were choosing firms whom they already knew to have discriminated, which they could know only because immigrants have themselves discovered that they are discriminated against. They clearly cannot learn anything that the immigrants have not already learned, and they are simply confirming that this is the impression which immigrants have gathered.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will look at page 9, paragraph 6(2) of the P.E.P. Report, he will see there that 40 firms tested were specifically stated by immigrants to have discriminated.


Yes, my Lords, I am sorry: I did not make myself clear. I was not contesting that at all. But since they knew that the firms had discriminated only because applicants had already told the testers, then, quite clearly, the testers could not discover anything that the applicants themselves had not already learned. They could not find out that applicants had been more discriminated against than they had noticed, because in all of the cases the applicants had noticed that they were being discriminated against.

The point is that they were clearly not basing their conclusion on this evidence. I think the evidence on which they were basing it was the test in the car insurance case, when, in principle, the applicants could not know whether they were offered discriminatory terms, as they would not know what terms were offered to an Englishman or a Hungarian. In conclusion on this point, the Report says that if a person is told that a flat is taken, if he is told that a job has been filled, or is told that it costs a certain amount of money to hire a car, he need have no reason to doubt what he is told, although it may not be true.

I think the general situation will get worse, because coloured people cannot be assimilated with time as can other immigrants. Instead they will tend to congregate, opting out so far as possible from the humiliation of contact with those who discriminate against them. The extent to which they do this is perhaps indicated by the fact that only 8 per cent. of all immigrants interviewed by the P.E.P. testers had ever used English hotel accommodation. Of course, if immigrants congregate in poor crowded areas, then you will get the familiar story. They go to poor crowded schools, their chances of betterment decline, and you get higher unemployment and crime.

Racial prejudice does not emerge as being particularly ingrained or naked. It often seems more apologetic than aggressive. Essentially, it is a way of eliminating a competitor and, when the immigrants tend to make themselves more competitive in the market, the tension is likely to increase rather than decrease for this reason alone.

The trade unions in Congress have repeatedly reaffirmed their opposition to all racial discrimination. As my noble friend Lord Wade has said, Mr. Cousins has recently said that his union—which in Mr. Cousins' opinion has more immigrant members than any other union—would support legislation if this were found necessary. I think that employers are less likely to support it if only because it is they who will tend to bear the risk of any disruption which might follow from the removal of discrimination—and there is a risk.

Government spokesmen have said in the past, when pressed for more legislation, "Let us wait for the P.E.P. Report. Let us wait for the Report of the Race Relations Board." These Reports are now out, and I think the inferences are irresistible. Without legislation in these further fields I think we can surely expect the situation to deteriorate. The Race Relations Board want legislation. Legislation has been found necessary in the United States and in Canada, and in those countries there has been no suggestion that the law should be repealed. Neither P.E.P. nor the Race Relations Board conclude that there is much difficulty in proving discrimination. They did not themselves find that there was much difficulty in proving it where it had taken place; although, again, this was a common argu- ment originally used against the idea of legislation.

I find it difficult to measure the enthusiasm of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to the idea of new legislation. Clearly the Government are not now prepared to say what they will do, although I think that many here would consider that they could now commit themselves to at least the principles of legislation without any further investigation. However, there is one thing that I believe the Government might do—and here I should like to ask the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, if this is something the Government are doing. Are they drafting legislation now in readiness for any available time that they might have to introduce it into Parliament? It seems to me that they could easily do this, and that they might easily find that they will want to introduce it quite quickly. Finally, I should like simply to say that, along with certainly many of my noble friends, I hope that the Government have in fact already decided that legislation in these fields is desirable.

7.22 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to those already expressed by other noble Lords to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for providing us with the opportunity to discuss the Race Relations Board's Report and the P.E.P. Report, Racial Discrimination, and for the very penetrating and thoughtful speech with which the noble Lord introduced the debate. Undoubtedly the Race Relations Board are to be congratulated on the accounts that they have given of their stewardship for one very short year of life. The right reverend Prelate made special reference to the National Advisory Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants, and I am delighted he did so. I believe several other noble Lords also referred to it. This body was in fact in being even before the Race Relations Board, and I. have personal knowledge of the great work that it has done in this field. I am glad that many noble Lords have also paid tribute to the fact that the voluntary organisations have been very active in working with the already established groups. I do not think any noble Lord has mentioned the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, but, again, they are very worthy, conscientious and sincere people.

I should like to suggest to noble Lords, without wishing to appear to lead the debate away from the subject, that there are, of course, many forms of discrimination. We all know the application of the discrimination of age—"No one over 40 need apply for this job", or the fact that at 60, if you are a woman, you must retire. And we all know (although the great protagonist of this view is unfortunately not here at the moment) the discrimination of sex. I was delighted to see from the Report of the Chairman of the Race Relations Board that the Americans, at any rate, have recognised this. I cannot resist quoting this particular section of the Report, in which he says: The effect of introducing sexual discrimination in the law is certainly greatly to increase the total number of the complaints, since women are in no way ashamed to be women and a number of these who feel discriminated against are highly articulate". One would hope, my Lords, that this is a state in which all people who are discriminated against will find themselves ultimately.

But to-day's discussion is on racial discrimination, and, as the right reverend Prelate said, it is indeed the challenge of our times. Both Reports have proved conclusively, as many noble Lords have said, and as the noble Lord, Lord Wade, himself said when introducing this Motion, that there is disturbing new evidence, and that in fact racial discrimination does exist in Britain to-day. I think we could all give personal examples of this. Last week I was discussing this subject with someone living in some flats not a hundred miles from this House, where an Indonesian lady of some culture was looking over an empty flat. The porter in the lift said, "We do not want too many of those in, madam, because if you have one you have them all". This, unfortunately and very sadly, is all too often a comment which we hear. In this particular case I am happy to say that he was not able to influence the fact that this lady was given the opportunity of being a tenant in the flats. I am happy, too, that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, laid emphasis on the fact that conciliation is best and that sanctions are a last resort—and it is fair to say that this comes through very clearly from the Report of the Race Relations Board.

If an extension of the existing Act is required, what form should the legislation take? I think it would be true to say that this has been the focal point of the discussion that has taken place in your Lordships' House this afternoon. Some noble Lords have asked, "How soon?" Perhaps it is very appropriate that the two noble Lords who stressed this most strongly were the two youngest. I hope they do not feel they were discriminated against by being left till last in the list of speakers. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, put in a very neat suggestion that perhaps Wales should not have been so casually linked to a certain section of England; and since we shall next week be discussing a Bill on the Welsh language, I feel that at some later stage there may even be Englishmen who will complain to the Race Relations Board about have been discriminated against in Wales. But we shall await this, to see: I should hope not.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, again put forward his most reasonable suggestion (and I say this knowing, as the noble Lord also knows, that I can do nothing other than pass on this splendid suggestion) that administrative anomalies could in fact be put right often in a much simpler way, and that there should be some provision in our constitutional arrangements for a regular review. I would only comfort the noble Lord by saying that the suggestions on the ambiguities of this particular Act need not, of course, wait on a Private Member's Bill.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, happily instanced that part of the Report which was not quite so tragic. He pointed out that there were brighter aspects of the Report: that many of the immigrants had been unemployed before coming to this country and were now in regular employment, that many were now owning or buying their own homes, and that the prospects of employment were brighter. My Lords, I feel we should be doing less than justice to the situation if we did not remind ourselves of this in passing.

Several references have been made to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and I have two speeches of his before me which I feel are particularly relevant to the discussion this evening. In one he refers to the question of equality in employment. Speaking of the immigrant being employed, he says: The problem is now assuming a new form with almost every month that goes by, because we are beginning to move from the era of the first generation immigrant to that of the second generation immigrant. Many of those who came here in the past decade and a half have come accepting, rightly or wrongly, an unwritten, unspoken assumption. They have come expecting on the whole to do the more menial jobs because this was better than no jobs at home. But from here forward we are beginning to deal, so far as employment is concerned, with the children of these first generation immigrants". This is germane to the discussion to-day, as so many noble Lords have stressed this point. I mention it to show that my right honourable friend is equally and very acutely aware of this. In passing, may I say that I would have said to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester (unfortunately he could not stay to listen to the debate) that his experience of the Youth Employment Service was not quite so happy as that described in their own official statement. That says categorically that real colour prejudice seems to have been encouragingly sparse. Seven youth employment officers said that in their areas the difficulty of placing immigrants of a comparable standard to local children was one with which they could deal without difficulty. The opposition to employing immigrants came mainly from certain industries. In other words, they were not ignoring the fact that there is this problem, but it is perhaps on a slightly narrower front than some of us appear to think.

The studies referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, will be looked at very carefully as will the other comments which have been made to-day. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, asked whether conciliation machinery could be extended without legislation. I think it might be wise if I repeated again the precise words of my noble friend Lord Stonham: It seems reasonable to claim that in the Race Relations Act we have the correct pattern of legislation based on the effectiveness of conciliation, and if further legislation is necessary it might well be on the same pattern. I hope that this answers the question put to me by the noble Viscount.

My noble friend Lord Stonham made clear in his speech that the Government are now considering the need to strengthen the existing Race Relations Act. He did not say, as was suggested by the right reverend Prelate (and I must repeat this, for the Record) that the Government proposed to introduce legislation. Before any such decision is taken Her Majesty's Government are committed to consider, for example, the views on employment of the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry. This consultation is still taking place. Regarding the banks, which were referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, I feel that here again it would be useful to say, for the Record, that the Government have received assurances from "the Big Five" that they do not practise discrimination, and that the cases referred to will be investigated. I hope that in the meantime noble Lords will not withdraw their savings—at least not until the banks have had an opportunity to answer the allegations.

It is difficult to speak authoritatively about changes in the attitude of the Trades Union Congress towards legislation, but I must repeat that the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. are firmly opposed to discrimination, and always have been. On a smaller point, the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, may be interested to know that Chinese waiters are needed in Chinese restaurants in order to preserve the character of the restaurant; and possibly if there were more English waiters they, too, would be employed in English restaurants. I hope that this will not be considered a criticism of the Report.

The noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, spoke with her customary eloquence. As a teacher and a mother I wholeheartedly agree with her that children do not have any colour prejudice. Neither, my Lords, do children have class prejudice, sex prejudice, or indeed any other kind of prejudice. Unhappily, this is a habit which we acquire according to the society in which we find ourselves. We would all agree with the noble Lady that legislation is a shield for those who are not strong enough to stand without some law behind them, and this fact is very clearly emphasised in the Report of the Race Relations Board.

To the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, I would say that his splendid suggestions, his three-pronged attack, will be passed on to the Department of Education. I should not like to suggest to him that I have notes here that the Government have a policy that all children, irrespective of race or colour, will enjoy equality of educational opportunity because I feel the noble Lord would say that he knows this all too well, and that he was merely suggesting ways in which this could be more adequately dealt with. As always, suggestions coming from such an eminent Member of your Lordships' House carry with them a great practicability and usefulness. With all due humility, as the spokesman for education in your Lordships' House, may I say that I shall see that they are passed on. I would merely add in passing that the noble Lord knows as well as I do that local education authorities are perhaps a little more difficult to handle than the Department, but perhaps some circular will liven them up in this connection.

It was delightful to hear a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, whose work in this field is so well known. With regard to his suggestion about "twinning" in relation to schools and youth services, I would wholeheartedly agree that those with whom we share our leisure, equally with those with whom we share our working day, are the people we get to know well. The noble Lord mentioned the Youth Service. I should like to add to that the women's organisations which have been in the forefront in many ways. I can speak from experience of a little group with which I am associated who, on discovering that their number included a German-speaking lady (she was in fact a German), decided to have a German-speaking class. That seems to me a very practical use for a particular talent brought by a stranger. The noble Lord's recommendations and suggestions are, as always, absolutely right in this climate of opinion. The solving of the housing situation would solve not only this problem but many of the problems confronting our society. We all agree that racial prejudice is arrogant, illogical, and always quite impossible to explain.

The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, and the noble Lord, Lord Reay, appeared to think that perhaps my noble friend Lord Stonham had not said all that they would have liked him to say. I hope that they will read his speech carefully to-morrow in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, suggested that the Act is not adequate. I do not think this is quite fair. The Act is certainly adequate in relation to the narrow field which it covers. Even the Race Relations Board, in their very reasonable proposals for extending the provisions of the Act, did not say that it was inadequate. They merely suggested that there was perhaps a need for further legislation.

One noble Lord quoted the speech of Oscar Hahn. I would quote another section of that speech in which he said: In my opinion if legislation is bureaucratic and remote it will be a disaster. Legislation must be so designed that the problems of integration are seriously discussed and whenever possible dealt with at the proper level. I would remind your Lordships that we have only just received one P.E.P. Report and that another is still pending; and that hasty legislation is often bad legislation. I am sure that no Member of your Lordships' House would want that. I should like again to give a reassurance from the words of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. He said: I think it is not quite right as is sometimes implied that our whole system of industrial relations has been built upon a purely voluntary basis. Indeed, much of the turmoil in the industrial revolution and afterwards was caused by the violent struggle of countless thousands of men and women to force the State to take action to remedy grievous injustices caused by a rapidly expanding and often callously indifferent industrial society. And the road to legislation by successive Governments to create a more civilised society is a long one including successive factory Acts and successive trade union Acts—pieces of legislation introduced because leaving difficult problems to solve themselves has not proven effective. It would be admirable if the problem of the employment opportunities for our one million, or thereabouts, fellow citizens could be dealt with expeditiously by agreement by both sides of industry. But the responsibility of the Government in this situation cannot be shuffled off. … If the P.E.P. Survey and the Race Relations Board's Report show a clear case that further legislation is needed and would be helpful we shall not shirk the issue. I would hope that from these words your Lordships will draw the implication that the Government are indeed serious about this matter. My Lords, I would conclude with another quotation from quite a different source. To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose … a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up…a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; … If this is the time to speak, the Government will not shirk doing so.

7.41 p.m.


My Lords, we have had an extremely interesting and valuable debate. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for replying so fully and conscientiously to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and myself, and to the wide range of subjects covered in the two Reports. I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, for winding up on behalf of the Government. I am tempted to comment on each of the speeches that have been made during the debate, but I am sure that I am wise to restrain myself from doing so. May I express, therefore, my collective thanks. I hope that the Government will have noticed a sense of urgency running through many of the speeches. To use the words of the noble Viscount, I think that the speeches have been sincere and sober. I believe that this debate will have served a useful purpose, and therefore I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.