HL Deb 15 July 1968 vol 295 cc32-159

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. I do so in the confident belief that your Lordships will give a lead to the country by unanimously supporting the principle enshrined in the Bill. That principle is effective and indisputable equality of opportunity and treatment for all our citizens, irrespective of colour, race or national origin. It is on that principle that Britain must base its hopes of building a genuine and successful multi-racial society.

This Bill has nothing to do with keeping immigrants out or sending them home. The immigrants are here. They must be integrated into our national life or we shall suffer in Britain the tragic consequences of racial discrimination that we have witnessed in other parts of the world. We cannot change people's hearts or attitudes by legislation but we can alter their behaviour. We cannot legislate against prejudice, but we can use the law to destroy discrimination, which is a manifestation of prejudice; and when discrimination has gone prejudice will find it harder to flourish. This Bill will make it impossible for the "Alf Garnetts" in our midst to claim they are a respectable minority; it will diminish the possibility of domination by the ignorant or of rule by instant rabble.

It is an esssential part, although only a part, of our great task of educating public opinion to acceptance of non-discrimination as an automatic and essential part of the British way of life. The 1965 Race Relations Act pointed the way. It was a radical innovation but, within its limitations it has proved not only that legislation on race relations is effective, but that the key to success lies in conciliation and settlement. We have now decided that the time has come to apply those principles over a much wider area and to strengthen the position of the Race Relations Board.

So, my Lords, we have designed this Bill to wipe out the main disadvantages from which some of our citizens suffer in their daily lives as a result of discrimination against them on racial grounds. We are concerned with equal rights and equal responsibilities but not with privileges. Nor it is our purpose to impose penal sanctions. Naturally, as a last resort, sanctions are necessary to enforce the law against those who are determined to give expression to their prejudices and are not amenable to conciliation; but At would be wrong to impose this sanction by making discrimination a criminal offence. Any necessary enforcement will therefore be by civil process.

For purposes of greater clarity, we have accepted proposals that the Bill should define discrimination more closely than the 1965 Act, and Clause 1 makes clear that to discriminate means to treat someone less favourably than other people because of his colour, race, ethnic or national origin. The Government have also decided that this Bill must extend to a much wider range of public places than is covered by the present Act, and also to the provision of insurance and credit facilities, to employment and to housing. These are the areas in which discrimination is most significant and legislation most needed. Part I of the Bill sets them out in detail and defines the circumstances in which discrimination in them will be unlawful.

It is not merely a question of access to public places; it is the whole range of the provision of goods, facilities and services. This is where people meet for the common exchanges of ordinary living, in shops and public parks, in hotels, pubs and boarding-houses, in the cinema and the holiday camp, in buses and trains, in confrontations with their bank managers, in negotiations with estate agents, as applicants for insurance policies or for mortgages to buy their homes. This is where people must be treated on their merits as human beings and not by grading according to the colour of their skins. Equally, the Bill is not designed to give any group an advantage and nothing in it is intended to inhibit the exercise of proper commercial judgment in, for example, the assessment of insurance premiums or consideration of individual credit worthiness.

The second main area covered by the Bill is housing, and Clause 5 makes it unlawful to discriminate in the disposal of housing accommodation and business and other premises. Legislation to prevent discrimination in housing is fundamental to the development of good race relations in this country. We must reverse the present trend towards the creation of ghetto areas in which coloured people are confined both by their economic inability to break out and by the refusal of society to make readily available to them accommodation which they can afford. Legislation, properly applied, can help to prevent the concentration of coloured people in substandard housing and the creation of social tensions. I believe this cannot be disputed. What is at issue is the scope of a provision dealing with housing.

First, I think it is essential, as the Bill provides, that local authority housing should be covered. I know of the great efforts which many local authorities are making to deal with the difficulties in areas where large numbers of immigrants have made their homes. These efforts will be much strengthened by the support of the law which will make it easier for them to carry out their duties as Lousing authorities. In this connection, I warmly welcome the report of the General Purposes Committee of the City of Birmingham which was published last week, and the comments of two of its leading members. Alderman Beaumont Dark, Chairman of the Housing Committee, said: We shall have no special houses for immigrants and no special areas either. So far as I am concerned they are Birmingham citizens and will be treated as such. He added that immigrants 'had shown they were very good ratepayers, and could make wonderful homes out of the most appalling slums.

The report adds up to a massive attack on the immigrant ghetto problem, but again Alderman Griffin, leader of the Conservative controlled council, struck the right note when he said: We are not specifically doing anything in relation to immigration and housing. We do not discriminate. It will just happen that when we get around to certain districts there will be a big move of coloured people. Unfortunately, according to the Press, this equality of treatment is worrying some members of the council. Alderman Charles Collett, leader of the Right Wing of the Conservative Group, is reported as saying: The needs of Birmingham born families must be met first". If he was correctly reported, he was advocating discrimination, and that would be unlawful under this Bill.

For a number of reasons, however, the majority of immigrants do not look to local authorities for their housing, and nearly three-quarters of the available accommodation in this country is privately owned. This has made it essential to bring private housing within the scope of the Bill. I know this is a controversial issue, on which even the authors of the Street Report were unable to reach a unanimous recommendation. Clearly, individuals must be free to decide to whom they will sell their houses, and we cannot compel a person disposing of his house to sell or let it to a particular individual. Thus purely private sales between individuals are outside the Bill. But it is a different matter to refuse to sell a house on grounds of racial prejudice and to deny anyone the right to buy the home of his choice on those grounds alone.

Clause 5 is therefore drafted in broad terms to cover all those concerned with both private and local authority housing. To do less would be to shirk a major responsibility. Even so, although the sanction of the courts will be available to those who have to administer this provision, it is not a field in which the ultimate power of the law will be an appropriate weapon in any but the most flagrant and objectionable cases. So the Bill makes a firm declaration of principle, and within its terms there is scope for the Board to use their conciliation procedures to secure equality of treatment for all who are seeking decent homes for themselves and their families.

Clause 7 provides certain exceptions to the housing provisions which will, I think, be generally accepted. The principle of exception is that where there is a personal relationship clearly going beyond the commercial relationship of landlord and tenant, the law should not intervene. We have taken certain criteria as justifying exclusion. First, the accommodation must be in premises in which either the owner or one of his relatives lives. Second, apart from the accommodation in which the owner or his relative live there are no more than two other households. Or in the case of a boarding or lodging house, exemption will apply only to houses where, for the first two years after the passing of the Bill there are no more than twelve residents and thereafter no more than six residents. The third criterion for exclusion is that some of the accommodation, other than the means of access, must be used in common by the owner or the relative concerned and any of the tenants, boarders or lodgers. In short, we exclude from the housing discrimination provitsions the person who lets part of his house to not more than two other households or has not more than a small number of lodgers, and shares part or parts of it with any of his tenants or lodgers. But this applies only to small-scale lettings because the Bill makes discrimination unlawful for people letting accommodation on a larger scale even when there is some sharing of facilities with tenants. Similarly, people who let the houses in which they live, in, say, three or more small units, such as bedsitters, also come within the scope of the Bill; they are not excluded.

I believe this provides a reasonable basis to meet the generally accepted view that where a person shares the family home with others, his freedom of choice of tenants should not be restricted. By relating a large part of the exception to the number of households it will be easy to identify the status of many premises, particularly those of the type in which immigrants frequently make their homes. If it is established that there are more than three households on the premises they will not be excepted under the Bill and no further inquiries will be necessary to establish relationships or who shares what facilities with whom.

I turn now to employment. There are encouraging signs that coloured people are being accepted in industry on their merits; but it is equally true that there is still a great deal of discrimination against them and that many of them are becoming identified with unskilled and menial tasks because they do not get the promotion to more responsible posts to which their qualifications entitle them. There is evidence that coloured youngsters leaving school are not getting the jobs for which they are qualified on the same terms as their white contemporaries. These children, my Lords, are the product of our own educational system, brought up in our own traditions. There are obvious and great dangers to our society if they find themselves on the labour market as second-class citizens.

I know that there is a great deal of good will among many employers and trade unions who try to ensure that discrimination does not occur, but their efforts will be strengthened if they are backed by comprehensive legislation. Clause 3 therefore makes discrimination unlawful in recruitment, dismissal, training, promotion and conditions of service, and is designed to ensure equality of treatment in all aspects of employment so that men and women will not be handicapped in achieving their full potential by any considerations of colour or race. Clause 4 will ensure similar equality in membership of trade unions and employers' and trade associations. As with housing, there are some exceptions to the employment provisions. The first is domestic employment; the second, where ships' crews share living accommodation. In neither instance would in be right, in the Government's view, given the personal nature of the relationshhips involved, to place obligations under the Bill on the individuals concerned.

One exception from the Bill can make a positive contribution to the processes of integration. This is the provision which protects an employer who is genuinely concerned to create or preserve a racially balanced labour force. This has been criticised on the grounds that, because it gives recognition to a form of discrimination, it is objectionable. This is not so. It was my experience as an employer that my Jamaicans and Nigerians could not work peaceably together. The only alternative to sacking one group or the other was to keep them apart. This worked, but it would not be practicable in all businesses. There are circumstances in which an over-rigid insistence on the general employment provisions of the Bill could have the effect, not of furthering the process of integration, but of hindering it. Certain industries, and certain menial jobs, are becoming identified with newly arrived coloured labour and this is just as undesirable as the refusal to admit qualified coloured people to an industry or to a business which is at present all white. It is right, therefore, to protect from an allegation of discrimination an employer who wishes to Prevent this sort of situation from arising and is genuinely seeking to promote good race relations in his labour force.

It is supremely important, however, to protect those of the second generation who are no more newly arrived immigrants than the rest of us, and, in what I regard as perhaps its most important provision, the Bill insists that everyone who has been wholly or mainly educated in Great Britain shall be treated as belonging to the same racial group. My Lords, you cannot he an immigrant if you were horn here. There will thus be no opportunity for employers to differentiate between those who belong to this country in every sense of the word because some of then are coloured: and the Bill also makes it clear that in determining whether an employer is behaving reasonably the extent to which he already employs people of different racial groups and accepts the principle of not discriminating will be taken into account. I hope that in time, particularly when the second generation makes up an increasing part of our labour force, its racial composition will be of no consequence whatsoever, and there is a provision in the Bill for the repeal of the relevant subsections when it seems expedient to do so.

These employment provisions will not apply during the first two years to employers with not more than twenty-five employees, and in the next two years to employers with not more than ten employees. This is a precaution to ensure that the administrative procedures under the Bill are not overwhelmed in the first few years of its operation. Thus, Part I covers the main areas of human activity in which discrimination has been shown to occur and where it is most significant.

Part II contains the provisions for the investigation and settlement of complaints and for enforcement in the courts. It provides that, as under the 1965 Act, the legislation will be administered by a Race Relations Board. The present Board, to whose work over the last two and a half years I would pay a warm tribute, consists of only three members. The new Board, faced with a much larger field of operation, will consist of not more than twelve members, including the Chairman. With a Board of this size it will be possible to select members who can command the confidence of all those with whom they will have to deal. The Home Secretary has already announced that one of the members of the Board will be Sir Roy Wilson, the President of the Industrial Court, who has agreed to serve on the new Board and to place his unrivalled knowledge at their disposal. In addition, the Home Secretary intends to appoint two other members to the Board with special knowledge of industry. My right honourable friend proposes also to appoint one member of the Board with special knowledge of local authority housing. Other members will be selected on as wide a basis as possible, including, of course, members of the immigrant communities. The Board will also have powers to appoint assessors who can bring special knowledge and experience to bear on any particular type of case.

Clause 13 provides that the Race Relations Board shall discharge their functions in accordance with arrangements approved by the Home Secretary. This will ensure that the administrative and procedural arrangements to be established by the Board will be more readily understood and accepted by public opinion. For example, there is a provision that the Board may appoint certain of their members to deal with particular classes of complaints; and in approving their arrangements the Home Secretary intends to require the Board to set up a sub-committee which will include the two members of the Board with special knowledge of industry, and with Sir Roy Wilson as its first Chairman to deal with complaints about employment.

The Bill provides for the continuation of the system of conciliation committees. Experience has shown that committees on the existing pattern provide the best means of settling cases. In appointing members of these committees the Board will have regard to their new responsibilities, particularly in housing and employment, and will ensure that the members of the committees are fully competent to deal with the various cases which come before them. Conciliation committees will also have power to appoint assessors. It will continue to be the first duty of the Board and their committees to attempt to settle cases by conciliation, because this is the key to success in legislation, the main purpose of which is to secure the settlement of disputes by agreement. But existing arrangements will be much strengthened by the new power given to the Board to investigate complaints themselves.

There is an important provision in Clause 14, excluding from the normal procedures of the Board and their committees complaints relating to discrimination in employment, trade unions and employers' organisations. This fulfils the Government's undertaking, given last July, that in relation to employment, the new legislation would provide the fullest opportunity for industry to use its own machinery for conciliation. This acknowleged the strong feeling on both sides of industry that complaints or racial discrimination in industry are best left to be settled by industry's own well established procedures. Although the Government do not accept that complaints about employment can be left entirely to industry, the Bill provides full scope for industry to use its own machinery to settle complaints. Only where it has been unable to do so does the question of resort to other methods arise. The fairly elaborate procedures in the Bill in relation to employment give as much guidance as possible, and we cannot be certain that they will prove appropriate in every detail. Clause 15(2) has therefore been included to enable the Home Secretary to amend them by regulation.

There is an important provision in Clause 16 which empowers the Board to make investigations where no specific complaint has been received or a complaint has been withdrawn. I regard this as a necessary extension of the Board's powers. There will certainly be occasions when the Board have every reason to believe that discrimination is taking place but do not have a specific allegation on which to proceed. I see it as part of the public duty of the Board that in these circumstances they should be able to seek assurances that discrimination is not being or will not continue to be practised.

I turn now to Clauses 18 to 22 which provide for enforcement. These have been criticised because they do not give powers of enforcement to the Race Relations Board themselves or enable the Board to summon witnesses or demand the production of documents. This criticism is based on a misconception of the proper functions of the Board. Their essential task is to settle cases of discrimination by conciliation and it would be inconsistent with this to give the Board judicial authority or compulsory powers. It would be necessary to provide sanctions against those who refused to comply with the instructions of the Board, and these could only be criminal sanctions which would run counter to the whole philosophy of the Bill. The possibility of court proceedings will always be in the background as an encouragement to co-operation, and this will be reinforced by the fact that the Board, and not the Attorney General as under the present Act, will be empowered to bring proceedings to the courts.

The Government have considered whether individuals should also be free to take proceedings. In so far as this would provide a form of appeal against the Board and preserve the individual's freedom of action, it has some attraction; but the Board also have a public duty to perform in preventing baseless or deliberately vexatious complaints from reaching the courts and innocent parties being put to unwarranted inconvenience and expense. A balance has to be struck between securing the confidence of minority groups and making the enforcement procedures fair and acceptable to the community at large. I think that the provisions in the Bill have got this balance about right.

Although it would seem desirable and consistent with accepted legal procedures in this country that it should be the courts which enforce the law, the Government take the view that it is better for the courts which deal with cases under the Bill to be specially constituted. Clause 18, therefore, provides that proceedings for enforcement in England and Wales will be brought in specially designated county courts to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor. These courts will sit with two assessors having special knowledge and experience of problems connected with race and communit3 relations. In this way we shall maintain the principle that the enforcement of the law rests with the courts and at the same time bring special expertise to bear on the type of cases which may arise under this new legislation.

The present Act provides for the enforcement of the law by injunction and we believe that this should continue to be the main sanction in the future. Where it appears that someone has engaged in a course of conduct which is unlawful under the Bill and is likely, unless restrained by order of the court, to continue that conduct in the future, the Board may apply for an injunction to restrain him from doing so. There may be occasions on which a single act of discrimination has been committed in circumstances where there is also adequate supporting evidence to indicate that such an act is part of a course of conduct within the meaning of the Bill. In those circumstances it will be open to the Board to proceed to the courts for an injunction if they think fit.

The Board will also be empowered to seek damages either separately or together with an injunction. Damages provide an appropriate remedy against single acts of discrimination which have resulted in an individual suffering material loss. We have considered carefully whether the Bill should provide for exemplary damages or damages by way of compensation for mental anguish or humiliation and have concluded that on balance such a provision would be inappropriate. The Bill is founded on the principle of conciliation and the power to award punitive damages would be inconsistent with this. But we think it right that compensation for loss should be payable, and the Bill provides not only for payment for actual expenses incurred, but also for what is described as "loss of opportunity", that is, the loss of any benefit which a person might have expected to receive but for an act of discrimination; for example, the opportunity to buy a particular house in a particular locality when nothing comparable is available, or the opportunity of a particular post when no similar employment is available. I think this is as far as the provision for damages should go. The Bill also provides that the Board may seek a declaratory judgment that an act is unlawful. This provides a useful method of placing society's disapproval of discrimination on record in circumstances when other remedies are not available.

In Part III of the Bill, Clause 23 constitutes a statutory Commission to be known as the Community Relations Commission and sets out its terms of reference. This Commission will replace the present National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants which was appointed in 1965. The functions of the Commission will be broadly the same as those of the existing Committee which has done so much over the last three years to foster good race relations in this country; but with the Committee's agreement we have taken the opportunity of altering its name and revising its terms of reference to take account of the changing social situation in this country. Until now the Committee has been concerned primarily with newly arrived immigrants. In the future it will be more concerned with the problems of the second generation, those born and brought up in this country who are distinguishable from the rest of us only by the colour of their skin.

The new terms of reference, therefore, direct the work of the Community Relations Commission to the more general question of community relations in a multi-racial society. The Government have never underestimated the importance of voluntary effort in the field of race relations and we hope that by creating this new body on a statutory basis we shall give added point and emphasis to its work. The Home Secretary has given an undertaking that three members of the new Commission will be appointed from among those actively concerned in work at the local level.

The Bill also provides that the new legislation shall bind the Crown. The public service has an exemplary record of non-discrimination; a rough check last year showed that there are at least 16,500 coloured civil servants, of whom 4,500 are in professional posts, middle management or above; but the Government consider that, in order to give a lead to the country as a whole, it is important that the Crown should be bound by the provisions of the Bill. It will, I think, be generally accepted, however, that the Crown must retain discretion to apply nationality rules to employment in the Civil Service, the Armed Forces and the Diplomatic Service, and this is provided for.

This Bill, then, has three main purposes. First, it is declaratory and puts the attitude of the Government and the nation to discrimination beyond doubt. Second, it provides machinery for conciliation between those who have suffered discrimination and those who have chosen to practice it, and also establishes a statutory body charged with the duty of fostering good community relations. Third, it provides a sanction for those cases, which I believe will be few, where conciliation has failed.

I believe that, with the support of legislation on this basis, we can so influence public opinion and conduct that we shall establish a pattern of civilised behaviour in time to avoid the tragic consequences which could so easily result from present social tensions if we lacked the courage to deal with them. We must demonstrate by our actions, not only to immigrants and their children but to all our other citizens and to the world at large, that in this country we live and act by the doctrine of equality of treatment and opportunity, irrespective of race or colour. It is because I believe that legislation has an essential part to play in achieving this that I commend the Bill to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Stonham.)

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, this Bill was materially amended on Report in another place only last week, and eventually received its Third Reading there at 4.50 a.m. on Wednesday morning. I think that a great many of your Lordships wish that the Government would so arrange their business that your Lordships' House could have a rather longer time than that to consider a Bill of this far-reaching importance. I should also have expected that the Government would consider this Bill sufficiently important to make it the first and only business of the day in your Lordships' House, whereas, in spite of there being 29 names on the list of speakers, we were not enabled to start the Second Reading debate until 4 o'clock.

For my part, I deeply regret that a position has been reached where a Bill of this sort is thought to be needed. Up to three years ago, the concept of race did not enter into English law. All persons lawfully resident within Britain were alike in the eyes of the law; and that, I say, is as it should be. The use of threatening or abusive or insulting language or behaviour was an offence if it was likely to lead to a breach of the peace. It still is. That is right, and it is enforceable, because the police are trained to be keepers of order; they are not trained to be censors of speech. Then the 1965 Race Relations Act was passed, which made such language or behaviour an offence if it was likely to stir up racial hatred. This was, of course, a limitation on freedom of speech, a right which hitherto we had maintained with determination because we in this country, regardless of Party, cared passionately about freedom of speech even when other men said things which were hateful to us personally. Now we have this Bill, with its major enlargement of racial legislation. The Government think that it will relax racial tensions. Some others think, equally sincerely, that in certain contexts it may worsen them. I should like—indeed I am sure we should all like —to thank the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for having taken so much trouble, not only to state the main aims and principles of the Bill but to go through its provisions in some detail. I felt that he, was looking at the Bill and its probable effects through rose-coloured spectacles, but that does not lessen my indebtedness to him for his speech.

What will be the effect of the Bill? Will the Government be right, or will those who are opposed to such legislation be right? Where is the truth going to lie? For this is the only test of the Bill that matters. The fact is that nobody can yet be certain. With a Bill like this we are in deep and mysterious waters, because it impinges sharply on human nature and human emotions, and no one can be altogether certain what the reactions will be.

Time after time I have said, in Parliament and outside, that the greatest social problem of the next half-century in this country is going to be the problem we have created for ourselves in the last fifteen years by the huge in numbers of immigrants which successive Governments have admitted. Thirty or forty years ago, the most intractable social problem was unemployment. Nov it is immigration, and in particular the relationship, the whole complex of relationships, between the newcomers and the British-born population. I welcome the more, therefore, the effort and the spirit underlying that Birmingham Report published last week to which the noble Lord referred.

At last, all this is being recognised and approached as a real and vast problem confronting us all. For far too long it was being evaded or played down. Press and Parliament alike seemed to some of us to want to sweep the realities of it under the carpet, and sometimes even to brand as a racialist anyone who dared to take it out and look at it squarely. That is the simple reason why a great number of our people showed by their reactions that they welcomed what they thought Mr. Enoch Powell was driving at in that recent speech of his, not his dangerously provocative language about the Tiber flowing with blood and so forth, but what they thought was his candour in facing a problem to which they believed, rightly or wrongly, that nearly all the politicians were turning a blind eye.

Throughout the larger part of Britain all this is still no problem at all. In the County of Wiltshire, where I live, it hardly exists, outside one town. If the million or more immigrants were spread evenly throughout the country there would be no serious problem anywhere. At the moment they form only 2 per cent. of the whole population. The problem exists, and the arguments for and against this Bill arise, because of the concentration in particular towns and cities. If one or two families from overseas came and settled in the village where I live, I do not for a moment believe that there would be any tension, any complaints of discrimination, or anything else. But if there were a great influx so as to change the whole character of the village, to make it almost impossible for the newly married couple to find a home, tension would rise, and it would be wrong to condemn the tension as prejudice.

The root of the problem, my Lords, is not prejudice, not colour, but numbers. The tensions would be there just the same if the newcomers swamping that hypothetical village were not Indian or African, but Italian or Spanish. I believe that the British people are by nature most wonderfully tolerant, but there is bound to be resentment if children's schooling is held back because the local school becomes over-crowded with incoming children who have little English; or if women who have grown up in the place find that they cannot have their babies in hospital because all the maternity beds are needed for the newcomers whose homes are so overcrowded that they cannot have their babies at home. All this has to be weighed in the balance against the natural, intense resentment of the newcomers if they find house agents who are against them and landladies who are against them, and employers who will not give them a fair chance.

What I am trying to do is, in a few words, to give a balanced account of the background to this Bill, which I venture to think not enough people have been fair-minded enough to do. There are those who say that a Bill like this should he rejected on principle because personal liberty entails a right to discriminate. Then there are those who say that everyone who questions the need for such a Bill must ipso facto be prejudiced, racialist, un-Christian. Both groups are wrong. Both are stopping their thinking too soon. I am sure that Parliament's duty is to probe more deeply, and to try to understand, to understand equally, the feeling of humiliation in the immigrant who is refused a job or a lodging, and the converse feeling among many British people in the high immigration areas, that on top of the fact that the life of their home towns has been altered out of all recognition and against their wishes by Government policies, Parliament now wants to legislate still further in support of the newcomers.

I do not think that any political Party can take much credit for the part it has played in the past in allowing this situation to arise. In the years of unrestricted Commonwealth entry, when the greatest numbers of immigrant workers were arriving, the social and educational problems which unrestricted immigration was bound to bring were culpably ignored by almost everybody. In common, I hope and believe, with all your Lordships, I am deeply anxious that this should be a country of peace and good will, where there is equal opportunity for all, and where tolerance reigns and prejudices are educated out of the silly heads of the people who suffer from them. We are not there yet; and, frankly, I set rather more store by educating people to grasp even the fringe of that ideal than by enlarging and sharpening the legal sanctions against those who are too stupid or too selfish to do that.

It is seldom that application of sanctions makes people more tolerant, more understanding, more willing to love their neighbour. We shall be able to see whether it does in this case, because this Bill is certainly going to become law. I would not vote against it myself, and I respectfully hope that none of your Lordships will do so, though I could not myself vote for it as it stands at present. I see how to make a case for it, and I see how to make a case against it. One who takes for granted the case in favour of it may be greeted as a Christian but by those who forget that the command that ye love one another was never to be made enforceable by law. One who sets forth the arguments against it will get dismissed as a racialist by those who seem opposed to bringing this tremendous human problem of race and colour up out of the depths, and looking at it quietly and reasonably. Both these views are superficial.

I think there is no doubt that there is a minority of people who are practising discrimination in this country to an extent which cannot be ignored or glossed over. The P.E.P. Report, published in April of last year, seems to me to establish that. To some people what I am going to say now may sound strange, but for my part I feel less worried about the grown men who have themselves chosen to come ever the seas and live in this country and now complain that they are discriminated against. If I choose to leave England and go to live and work in France or Italy or Jamaica or Ghana or India or where you will (assuming, of course, that the authorities allowed me to work there), I should not expect to be treated by everybody exactly as if I were a native of the country; and if I did not like the way I was treated, I should still have the choice—I could go home. I had come voluntarily, and I could go voluntarily, and I should have no strong grounds for complaint. I deplore the sort of questionnaires which some well-meaning societies try to hand out to immigrants, encouraging them to report in detail any incident of believed discrimination against them. That does no good to anyone.

But with the children of immigrant families, born and brought up in the new country, the case is different. They have had no choice. The new country is the only country they remember, wherever their parents came from and whatever the colour of their skins. Far and away the strongest argument in favour of this Bill is that, without it, the present signs are that many of those children, when they come to leave school, might not get equal opportunity of securing jobs that measure up to their capacities. That would be the way of doom for Britain: a generation could grow up having full right to look to Britain as their country—for they would have known no other —yet under-privileged on any fair comparison. The cancer of bitterness would grow and there would be no cure then. If this Bill can prevent that it must carry the fervent hopes of us all with it.

I do not propose to discuss its details. I bear in mind that there are 29 noble Lords who have indicated their wish to speak on Second Reading, and we shall have time to pursue the details in Committee. Let me only say that the new Clause 1, moved in on Report in another place looks to me at first sight a doubtful improvement on the original Bill. I welcome the fact that the Bill employs the conciliation rather than the criminal procedure, a fundamental change on which I am sure the Government were wise to yield to the Opposition during the debates on the earlier Race Relations Bill in 1965. I, too, should like to express appreciation to the members of the Race Relations Board and their staff for what they have done. I was disappointed to hear that the noble Lord, when describing the enlargement of the Race Relations Board for their new and wider duties, did not mention the necessity for appointing a woman to the Board. I should have thought that that was very important. I hope that we shall be able to make sure that this Bill does not, in practice, outlaw discrimination between one person and another which is otherwise justified, and is not eased on colour, race, or ethnic or national origin. I am anxious too that the Bill should leave the balance scrupulously fair, and in seeking to add weight to the balance in favour of the one shall not he at risk in overweighting it against the other.

For my part I trust that when the Bill becomes law, as it will, all differences will be sunk in the common effort to promote, with or without its help, true racial harmony. Everyone lawfully in this country should have fair and equal treatment with everyone else, and that is up to each one of us. I have said that if the Bill can prevent a conviction of underprivilege from spreading and crystallising among the immigrant community, it must have the hopes and wishes of us all behind it. Equally strongly it needs to have behind it the acceptance and support of the native-born British population. Personally, I am certain that it will not retain that if Governments allow immigration to continue at the present high rate. The first step to deal with that is to stop the unconditional entry of dependants between 13 and 16 years old, those of an age who, on arrival, will go a most straight into the labour market without having had, like all other children here, a British education.

My Lords, it is education alone which, in the long run, can save the situation, on both sides. No underprivilege for the newcomer: no disregard for the British way of life which the British nation has created and wants to see developed and enriched but not altered out of recognition. Parliament owes an equally compelling duty to uphold both those gliding principles. It may be held that legislation is a form of education: possibly it is, but it is not a substitute for education. On the education of everybody the future depends, and one great aim of education always is to bring people to understand other points of view without acrimony or anger. Another great aim of education is to help people to learn not to turn aside from realities, but to recognise them for what they are and seek to mould them towards the greater happiness of everybody—and I repeat, "everybody". This, my Lords, is the spirit in which I hope we shall all examine this difficult Bill throughout its coming stages, and beg that compassion and understanding for all concerned, whether native British or immigrant, will be uppermost in our speeches and our minds.

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, I join with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, in regretting that a Bill on race should be necessary. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, this Bill is not just about race; it is about equality of opportunity and about equal rights. Therefore, on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, I want to welcome the measure wholeheartedly, although I hope to see it further strengthened during its passage through this House.

This subject is, of course, an emotive one. There is no denying the fact that there is a great deal of prejudice in this country against coloured people. With all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, I do not think it is just a question of numbers; there is a colour reaction underlying all this. The reaction to Mr. Enoch Powell's speech showed it—the reaction in particular of the dockers and even in circles which ought to know better. There is a mental revulsion which many of us find quite deplorable; but in fact there is too much prejudice in this country at the moment for any of us to ignore it. There is a great deal of ignorance. Many people honestly believe that, given the same education and surroundings as the white man, the coloured person will still be inferior. In my view there is absolutely no proof of this and it has certainly not been my experience in other parts of the world and in this country.

There is a great deal of ignorance to be dispelled about coloured people and their demands on the State. A quick glance at the recent Facts Paper produced by the Institute of Race Relations will put into perspective many of the allegations levelled against the coloured community. This type of education is needed. Those of us who read the article in the Sunday paper, I think it was the Observer, on Wolverhampton will recognise how much ignorance and prejudice we have to combat. We are in no possible danger of having the country overrun by immigrants, for out of our total population they number less than 2 per cent., and during the past three years the number of voucher holders entering the country has dropped by almost two-thirds.

Contrary to the belief that immigrants and their dependants are a drain on our health and social security services, in fact two-thirds of all coloured Commonwealth immigrants are economically active and constitute 8 per cent. of Britain's total labour force. Between September, 1964, and January, 1968, unemployment among their numbers never rose above 3 per cent. They contribute more to, and take less from, social security than the general public. Expenditure per capita for the migrant is £48 7s., compared with £62 4s. for the rest of the population. Only in the field of education and child care is slightly more per head spent on the coloured child, and surely this is money well spent, for in the classroom or the nursery school children work and play together almost unaware of the differences in skin colouring, and it is this early integration which, I believe, is undoubtedly the most important factor for ensuring that we get true integration later on.

But these facts have got to be put over day and night if we are to overcome the ignorance and the prejudice which we can see all around us. There is, in my view, far too little appreciation of the contribution which the coloured immigrants make and the decent homes they can provide and make for themselves when they are given a fair chance to do so, as so seldom they are. But above all there is too little appreciation of the problems which, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said—and I think this is the crux of what we are dealing with here—are building up now and will build up to greater dimensions over the next few years if we allow ourselves to tolerate intolerance and discrimination. That is why the action of the so-called "rebel Conservatives" in opposing the Bill in another place has, in my view, done a great deal of damage to the cause of racial harmony. They have, as Mr Powell did in his speech, provided a rallying point for race prejudice and ignorance. They have afforded a veneer of semi-respectibility, however slight and however nauseating, to those who think and act in terms of racial discrimination. The fact that some of them did not intend this to happen is neither here nor there. This is a fact which will be with us for many months to come.

I think the basic problem is how best to ensure that coloured boys and girls—many of them born here, some of them never having left this country—are given an equal chance with the white children with whom they are at school when it comes to jobs, housing, services, and so on. How, in fact, do we ensure that because of their colour they do not become second-class citizens? If they do, there will be even more bitter frustrations which will find their own outlets, and those outlets will be violent ones. We should not forget that many of the coloured children going through our educational system axe not just looking for jobs; they are rightly searching for careers, and they are entitled to have them. At present they are not getting a fair deal. It is difficult for them to find white collar jobs. Some firms maintain a polite but firm colour bar, as the P.E.P. Report shows. How often do we find banks, big stores, insurance companies offering a real career to a coloured school-leaver?

The colour problem is the problem of a minority. Our traditions of personal freedom demand that we solve it. I do not accept the argument that this legislation gives an unfair advantage to a minority. It does nothing of the sort. It does something to ensure that the minority does not suffer unduly through the ingrained prejudices of some of our people. Just as the trade unions, in the last century and the beginning of this century, got the protection which is due to a minority, so we ought to give protection where we can to the coloured people in this country.

To the argument, "Why legislate?", I give three answers. The best American observers tell us, without doubt, that a background of legislation is essential to give confidence to the coloured people that discrimination will not be tolerated by law. Secondly, the people of this country are fundamentally law-a siding and will tend to obey the law when it is laid down in clear terms. Thirdly, legislation stiffens the backbone of the relatively spineless. No longer is there the excuse that, "Discrimination has nothing to do with me", or "Personally, I have every sympathy, but a number of my staff would object", and so on. That sort of attitude has been holding up integration in quite a big way, and with legislation there is some hope that we can overcome it. We have to make sure that non-discrimination becomes the rule and not the exception, and we must accelerate, if we can, the speed with which ignorance and prejudice can be dispelled. It is not easy. I know that you cannot legislate to make people good, but you can legislate to make people realise that the State considers prejudice and discrimination to be wrong.

My Lords, on the Bill itself, I want to make the following points. I am considerably mystified, as was the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, by the new definition of "discrimination" the Bill. Of course we ought to have a definition, but the way I read it it could be interpreted to mean that separate but equal treatment falls outside the scope of the law. If this is so, it world be lawful for a factory to provide separate lavatory facilities, provided that they were of an equal standard; it would be lawful for a licensee to practise apartheid by providing different bars for different races, provided that the fittings, the prices and the facilities were just as good in one as in the other. I do not like that sort of thing. I hope that we shall be told that this is wrong, but it will take a good lawyer to prove to me that this would not be "equal" treatment.

I suggest that we adopt the adaptation of the definition of discrimination given in Article 1 of the United Nations International Convention on the Elimitation of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. This reads as follows: For the purposes of this Act discrimination means any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour or national or ethnic origins and references to discrimination shall be construed accordingly. Not only is this a clear statement, but I join with those who hope that the use of phrasing similar to that to be found in the United Nations Convention would help to provide an opportunity for Parliament to ratify the Convention itself. My friends and I propose to put down an Amendment on this matter and to seek support for it. Discrimination is a difficult problem. It used to be said of General Eisenhower that his success in building up a harmonious multi-national headquarters in the war was because he let it be known that he did not mind his staff calling one another, "a son of a bitch", but if they referred to "an American son of a bitch" or "a British son of a bitch", they were going to be fired on the spot. This shows how important it is to have some backing for what one is doing.

I believe that the Bill is weakest in the protection and redress which it affords to the complainant. As the Bill stands, neither the Board nor their committees will be able to ensure that the complainant gets back a job which he has lost because of discrimination, or accommodation of which he has been deprived because of discrimination. The remedy provided in the Bill is a purely negative injunction, which merely prevents the discriminator from repeating the offence. I do not think it is a question of providing criminal sanctions at this stage, but the damages included in the Bill are not worth very much. The man who was refused a labouring job and who then came to the Board to complain that he had suffered from discrimination would be told that to investigate and to settle the complaint would unquestionably take some weeks, and that in the meantime he should try to get another job as soon as possible. The damages which he would be awarded might be as little as the loss of one day's pay or, at the most, the difference between unemployment benefit and what he would have earned on the job.

It is for this reason that I believe there is a strong case to be made for giving the Race Relations Court power to issue positive orders. This was asked for by the Board in paragraph 56 of their second Annual Report, that for 1967–68, and it is argued at length in Chapter 18 of the Street Report. The kind of orders which the Street Report had in mind are, for instance, that the court could order a firm found to have practised discrimination to report on the measures which it had taken to comply with the Court's orders. The Board could also perhaps require a respondent in the field of housing to offer the next available accommodation to the complainant. These are not criminal sanctions, but things which could be done as part of the civil procedure. The Court could require an employer to offer the next vacancy to a complainant; or require a union or trade association to admit a person or withdraw a decision to exclude a person from membership.

The Government should think again on this matter. If we do not get into this Bill some such provision as this, then I am sure that something of the kind will have to go into the next measure that comes along in this field. The basis of the Bill is largely conciliation, but the American experience indicates that only if there is seen to be efficient enforcement does legislation really have the desired effect in changing social behaviour. I believe that the Board must be seen to be a powerful agency, able and willing to protect a minority and to demonstrate that active racial prejudice has no place in our modern society. This is the case which we make for the Bill, and this is why we are going to support it.

I suggested to the Leader of the House immediately after this measure was introduced in another place that if it was the intention of the Home Secretary to appoint a Select Comittee to monitor this Bill, to see how it was going on, this might be a good opportunity to make such a Committee into a Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament. I believe that this need no longer be a controversial measure. This House has a great deal to contribute. It has a great deal of experience in these matters in all parts of the House, and I hope that the Home Secretary will give consideration to the idea that the first committee of this kind on race relations might be a joint one.

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, I welcome this Bill because I am impressed by the evidence that a bit of legislation helps in a task of this kind. I want also to say how wholeheartedly I welcome and agree with the plea made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, that tits Bill—be it as some of us believe a good Bill, or be it, as he suspects, perhaps not quite so good a Bill—is but one item in a far greater process: the process of education, and indeed the process of dealing comprehensively with all the practical problems of community relations in this country. I believe that the Bill is necessary, but I see it only as an item.

I should like to say a word or two about that larger context within which I see the Bill as an item. Centuries hence our successors may be astonished at this phase in human history, that there was so much trouble arid discussion about the colour of human skin. If one looks at the matter in that way, it is altogether astonishing. Why should the colour of human skin be such a tremendous issue, any more than the difference between blue eyes and brown eyes and grey eyes, or between the different colours of hair? But we know that it is not just the colour of skin; it is the colour problem intermingled with a legion of other problems concerning culture and ways of life, and whether people have always lived in a place or are new arrivals. A whole tangle of social and economic problems develops, and, as well as the frank colour prejudice which certainly exists, there are the prejudicial troubles caused when colour becomes a symbol for things more complex than itself. That, I believe, is part of our contemporary tragedy in this country.

I see the Bill as a necessary item in the immense efforts that we need to be making to get good community relations, which have been described as "equal opportunity accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of tolerance". If that is to be, it calls for a delicate balance between the readiness of newcomers in any community to adapt themselves to that community and the readiness of those already in the community to accept differences of outlook and to be very sympathetic and tolerant. In the past three years I have seen something of the efforts made by many voluntary bodies in the sphere of community relations, through the part which I have in the work of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants. I should like to commend the Report of that Committee for 1967, as it gives a full and fascinating picture of work done in community relations in many parts of the country; and, indeed, it describes vividly something of this human scene which is the context of the Bill.

The N.C.C.I. now has 64 voluntary liaison committees working in different parts of the country. The term "committee" here is very significant, because there is an immense variety of bodies in the country dealing with community relations, and those bodies are of very different sorts. They range from militant groups which exist for the purpose of protesting and making a noise about grievances to groups of white citizens, right at the other end of the scale, trying very hard to do good but being rather paternalistic and sometimes rather surprised when they do not quite meet the feelings of immigrant communities or communities of people of other races. But the best work is, I believe, done when you get a group of citizens, including persons of different races, working together in a common understanding, realising that the problems are common to both of them and doing their best to help with them in practical ways.

The work of the N.C.C.I. has included specialist panels whose researches have been able to give the Government information and advice about the needs of particular localities. It has also included training courses for professional people whose work increasingly involves them in matters of race relations, though their professional training may not have specially prepared them for those problems. The police officer, the magistrate, the school teacher, the educationist in other spheres, and many kinds of social worker, have not necessarily been trained in race relations matters and they, perhaps, find themselves suddenly involved in them. The N.C.C.I. has been giving help by skilled educational courses, warmly welcomed by professional people, about the racial problems which they encounter in their work. In this present month of July there are taking place some 30 classes for talks of this character in different parts of the country. Of course, the work of education includes helping the immigrant communities to understand things about this country which they badly need to know and understand, and also helping our community generally to know what is the contribution that some immigrant communities have been giving to our economy and our culture.

Before I leave the work of the N.C.C.I. I would mention one very interesting activity; that is, the provision of preschool age playing groups for children. Playgrounds are provided where children, before they have quite reached the age for going to school, can play together and get to know one another, which of course they usually do without any inhibition about the colour of one another's skin. The provision of these playgrounds has been found to help greatly when children go on to school, and the difficulties of school problems can be very much lessened by them.

I welcome greatly the fact that the N.C.C.I. is now to give place to a new body called the Community Relations Commission, because the work will now be not with those correctly called "immigrants" but with the second or third generations who are now our fellow citizens. I hope that the new Commission will have in its membership men and women with really scientific knowledge of the problems to be tackled. I hope it will have a chairman, not who cares more about these matters than I do—because one will not be found—but who will be able to give a great deal more time to what will be an immensely growing work than I have been able to give to the work of the N.C.C.I. I hope, also, that the Government will realise that £200,000 is a small budget for these immensely important operations. If this work is to grow as it should grow, it will cost more; and I am sure the Government know they must face that.

It is in the context of all this that I see the present Bill as designed to help, and I believe that it will help. But I want to make three criticisms of it. My first criticism is with regard to the definition of "discrimination" in Clause 1. I am glad that on the Report stage in another place the definition was enlarged, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that it is a great pity that the definition was not carried further still. Is it possible to improve upon the words used in the International Convention document of 1965: any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour or national or ethnic origin"? Those words make it clear that discrimination may include not only the provision of unequal services, but also the provision of services in separation.

The Home Secretary, when tackled about this, gave personal assurances (OFFICIAL REPORT, 8/7/68, col. 240) that of course he entirely agreed that it was inconceivable that separation could slip in without being banned as discrimination. He said that his advice was that there was no loophole in the new clause, and that it was inconceivable that the Race Relations Board could take a different view. But if that is so, is it not possible to make it quite clear in the definition of discrimination that there is no loophole, especially, as we have been told so often that the purpose of this first clause is not only to make the law but also to enunciate a principle for all to understand? May I put the matter thus? When the Government spokesman replies, will he tell us whether it would be bad law or impossible law to use the words: any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour or national or ethnic origin"? My second criticism is about the powers of the Race Relations Board. Together with a good many other people, I regret that the Board are not given power, when they deal with a complaint, to compel the presence of witnesses and to require the production of papers and statistics. I think that the lack of those powers by the Board may mean two things. The first is that complaints may just cause irritation and be inconclusive if the information for dealing with them is not available. I think that it may also mean that matters might find themselves going to the courts when they need not otherwise do so just because recourse to the courts is the only way of getting the necessary information. I do not think that to give these powers to the Board turns them from being a conciliatory body into a judicial body. I should have judged, rather, that the lack of these powers weakens the Board's capacity to do the very thing that they are meant to do; namely, conciliation.

In this discussion, again and again dental language has been used: it has been discussed whether there are enough teeth or too many teeth in the Bill. I would see the matter rather as where teeth are to be located. Courts always have teeth, and we do not want too many matters going to the courts for the teeth of the courts to bite on. I believe that in this particular matter, if the Race Relations Board have just these few more teeth they would do their conciliatory work better and the teeth of the courts would be less likely to be employed in a serious matter of where there was a complaint and yet the information was not available.

My third criticism concerns racial groups in employment. I feel a bit uneasy about this kind of situation. A well-qualified man applies for a job, but it has to be said to him: "Mr. X, we are sorry. You are the best qualified applicant for this post, but we cannot give it to you because the quota requires that we should give the post to another racial group." These are matters about which perhaps the Government may even now have, I will not say second but third or fourth thoughts. But for all these criticisms I welcome the Bill, believing that it will be a help in the great ongoing work of education in community relations.

My Lords, it is not only a matter of how in this country we can get the most just and peaceful arrangements for our own community. It is also a matter of what contribution this country can be making to what indeed is a world crisis. Race relations are a crisis in the world: whether in the world as a whole there is to be racial conflict or racial harmony. And what happens in any one country can have immense effects for good or for ill upon other countries—far more than we commonly realise. I believe that the help which this Bill gives to the building up of good community relations in this country will be a contribution which our country can make to racial harmony in the world at large.

5.26 p.m.


My Lords, I count it a great privilege to follow the most reverend Primate, who speaks with such great authority on these questions. I may shorten my speech by saying that I agree with every word that the most reverend Primate has said; and I say with satisfaction that some of the points which he has made occurred also in the notes which I may now discard.

I believe that the most reverend Primate's words will be echoed in the Church to which I have the privilege to belong. I heard from a noble friend who is very well acquainted with the subject that the poorest members of the Roman Catholic community have been the persons most sympathetic and kindly to the newly-arrived immigrants. If that be the case, it gives me very great satisfaction. It does not give me surprise. There is a line of a Roman poet which may be translated: Myself, not ignorant of evil times, I have learned to succour those who are oppressed". It is not so very long ago, after all, that notices went up on factory gates, "Hands wanted—No Irish need apply". The age which was grimly referred to in Liverpool as "The Stone Age" is not prehistoric. Is it not good news, then, that Liverpool has distinguished itself above other cities for harmonious relations with the immigrant community?

My Lords, the Irish community is today adequately integrated into our society. It has been a long and difficult struggle. Much is owed to those who, both in high positions and in much lower positions, acted as the leaders of that community. What undoubtedly is most needed in to-day's situation is the development of good leadership among the various immigrant communities and the extension of confidence to those leaders by the British Government and the Ministries. Every effort must therefore be made to encourage wise leadership among people who have not always found the most prudent leadership in past years. It is with the hope that that necessary factor of leadership will appear that I would conclude my remarks.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I must start with an apology to the House. At this moment I should be in the West Country fulfilling a long-standing engagement of an official nature, and I am afraid that I shall be unable to remain until the end of the debate. But I certainly look forward to reading with great interest what other noble Lords have to say.

My Lords, I think we all agree that racial discrimination is, in fact, a disease of society and that it is a disease based very largely on ignorance and fear. It may be natural for a child to be afraid of the dark but it certainly cannot be maintained that it is the mark of a civilised man to be afraid of a dark skin. If I am right in my contention that forms of racial discrimination as we see them in this country to-day are, in fact, a disease, they must then be treated as a disease and, what is more, as a disease which affects not solely the patient but society as a whole. In the past we have suffered from many such diseases, physical, epidemic and endemic. In the old days we had the Black Death, bubonic plague and smallpox. More recently we have had epidemic typhoid fever and tuberculosis as an endemic disease of society. These diseases have now been largely conquered; and I think we can learn something by looking back at how they were conquered and why they are no longer the plague of the society in which we live. This can give us a clue as to how we should treat this present evil disease of society.

First, it is essential that we should recognise that racial discrimination is a pathological state. It is not an act of God about which we can do nothing; it is something where, if we are wise enough and brave enough, action can be taken to better the situation if not entirely to cure it. In this respect, if not in some others, I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, when he says that there is a growing danger in the tendency to-day towards sweeping all these unpleasant things under the carpet—just as, in the old days, so many physical diseases were pushed to one side because people did not like to face the fact that they were suffering from, say, cancer. So we must recognise, as we are recognising, that this is a pathological condition.

Secondly, the physical diseases which I have mentioned have been dealt with by laws, by laws which enforce public health, by laws of hygiene, by laws against the; defiling of water, against spitting in public places and so forth, about which we have now almost forgotten. What are needed now are laws against defiling our society with the excrement of diseased minds as well as bodies and laws; against spitting foul words in the atmosphere as well as against spitting germ-laden sputum into the atmosphere to infect other people with those horrible diseases. This Bill sets out to do that. It follows a previous Act and it is a great advance on that.

I am sure that it is right—and I am glad that my noble friend Lord Stonham stressed this—that the emphasis should be on conciliation. That is the theme which runs through the Bill and it is right that it should. But I am afraid that this Bill carries the desire to conciliate too far. The most reverend Primate was absolutely right when he spoke of the need for the Race Relations Board to have powers to subpoena witnesses, to bring them before the Board themselves, to demand the production of documents—because without that power there will be great scope for those who wish to obstruct, to delay the process and, possibly, to force the Board to go to a court of law—simply in order to produce the documents which, had they been able to have them beforehand, would have made conciliation that much easier. I therefore support the plea that the powers of the Race Relations Board should be strengthened in this respect.

I agree also with other noble Lords who have condemned Clause 8, the racial balance clause. The object of this Bill is, by means of conciliation, to make people forget about race, to bring them to judge their fellow human beings as human beings and not as members of a particular race or ethnic group. By allowing, even in a fairly modest form, a clause such as this (which deals with the racial balance in certain small firms) to become law is defeating the general purpose of the Bill. It is underlining the fact that different races exist; it is bringing that into the ambit of the law. I hope that before this Bill becomes an Act it will be improved in that respect.

But my Lords, although the physical diseases to which I have referred—tuberculosis, typhoid and the rest—needed legislation in order to conquer them, they were not conquered solely by legislation. It was not solely a question of ensuring by law that, for example, milk, water and food supplies should be clean. There was also needed a great deal of basic and applied research. There was needed positive action to build up positive health, and there were needed good living conditions and, in the widest sense of the word, a great educational programme. Those things are needed also to deal with racial prejudice.

To deal first with research, much good research is being done at present and has been done over the past years. I am proud to be associated with one of the bodies responsible, the Institute of Race Relations, which was started some ten years ago very largely through the efforts of a far-seeing man, its present Director, Philip Mason. Under the auspices of the Institute of Race Relations, and collaborating with it, is the Survey of Race Relations in Britain, sponsored and made possible by a generous grant from the Nuffield Trust and ably carried out by Mr. Jim Ross, Mr. Nicholas Deakin and their colleagues. That survey has now come to an end—not because they have finished the task, not because they know all the answers, but solely because the money has now run out. Much useful work has been done, and the report, when it is published some time during the course of this year, will, I am sure, provide those who are interested and concerned with this problem with a great deal of basic information which is necessary; just as we needed basic information on the causative elements of these diseases, typhoid, tuberculosis and their carriers, and the conditions in which they spread.

This research has been carried on, and will be carried on and should be carried on, not only by the Institute of Race Relations but also by the universities who, I am happy to say, are showing a greatly increasing interest in this subject. People are now beginning to realise—and this is a healthy and a hopeful sign—that research into these matters is not merely the province of the intellectuals, possibly "do-gooders", people who want to find out solely for academic interest; but is becoming of interest to those who realise that it is of practical importance to the everyday lives of everyday people and to the everyday profits of everyday business.

Clause 24, my Lords, makes it possible for the Government to make money available for research, and I am happy to note this. It is very important that it should be done. But I press the Government on this point, and I hope that when the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor replies he may be able to give some specific assurances about what form of assistance is to be given and how soon we may expect to hear what that assistance is going to be.

Clause 24 makes it possible for the Home Office to carry out research. I hope that my noble friend Lord Stonham will not take it wrongly if I say that I hope sincerely that the Home Office will not carry out research. I do not believe that a Government Department which is interested in so many aspects of law enforcement, and in the other side of this whole problem, is a suitable Department to carry out research; any more than I believe that the Ministry of Health is a suitable body to carry out basic research into matters of public health and medicine. By all means make the money available, but I hope that it will be made available to bodies less directly and, if I may say so, less subjectively concerned in this matter.

I turn now to an aspect that has been mentioned by other speakers, the importance of good living conditions. No matter how much we may enforce the law; no matter how much we may find out by research what are the causes of bad race relations, so long as coloured ghettoes continue; so long as certain sections of the community are, Air one reason or another, forced to live in substandard houses, crowded together in bad conditions, worse than the average run for other people, so long is there bound to be a colour problem. The article in the Observer yesterday, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, makes terrifying reading, but it is very important reading for anybody who takes an interest in this subject, and I wish those who do not take an interest in it would also read the article.

We come next to education—by, which I mean education of the ordinary, decent-minded people in this country who are so sadly ignorant of what are the true facts concerning immigration and what are the feelings of immigrants. I say it with the greatest respect but I think that some remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, showed how much in need he is of education in this matter. The noble Lord mentioned that he saw no difference between himself going to Pakistan or Jamaica or a Pakistani or Jamaican coming to this country; that he would not expect different treatment, why should they—and so on.

I do not want to misquote the noble Lord, but I would point out to him, and to many others who say the same sort of thing, that, speaking in purely human terms, there is all the difference in the world between someone from a great and rich country, with all the security of that country behind him, going to some place which has at one time been a Colony and has only recently emerged from being a Colony, and some poor person, with a low level of education, coming from that former colonial territory, to this great, rich, busy, frightening country of the United Kingdom. To compare the two shows a complete and fundamental misunderstanding, or ignorance, of the whole problem.

The noble Lord, Lord Byers, very helpfully quoted some figures about which people should know far more than they do; some of the basic facts about immigrants; how they are made up, and what sort of people they are. For instance, to add a few to the figures which the noble Lord has already given, 43 per cent. of the junior doctors in our National Health Service are immigrants from one country or another, as are 30 per cent. of the pupil nurses. There are many other figures of that kind which show to those who have eyes to see, and who are not already blinded by their own prejudices, that this country would be a poorer place to-day were it not for the immigrants who have come here; and it is not the immigrants who are taking wealth out of this country.

It is much against my nature and instincts ever to incite any one section of the community to take action against another, or to incite any one part of the community to strike against the rest. But I must say that when the dockers and the Smithfield meat workers were marching upon Westminster in a protest against coloured workers I wondered to myself what would have happened if every coloured worker in the country had decided to down tools for one day or for one week, and what effect that would have had on the lives of those people.

My Lords, Clause 23 allows the sum of £200,000 for this general dissemination of information, if one may call it that and for helping local authorities to face the various serious problems which confront them. That is a lamentably small amount. I hope that it is not an indication of the seriousness with which Her Majesty's Government regard this problem. Surely we have only to look to the recent history of the United States to see, far too clearly for comfort, what would happen if we failed to act now, and if we failed to act wisely.

Looking at this in purely financial terms, and simply from the hard-headed business point of view, and disregarding all the human aspects of the question, it would pay this country, it would be good business for this country, to make £5 million available in order to solve the problem of race relations and prevent the kind of losses which took place in a few short days in Chicago only a year ago. It would be a very sound investment indeed. I hope that the Government do not look on this £200,000 as the limit to what they can give. I wish it were £200 million, but I am being more realistic than to put that figure forward. Nevertheless, I hope that before long, when the money is used up, as it should be very speedily, the Government will make at least £1 million a year available for research, for education and for the provision of actual, practical help to local authorities in solving the real and physical problems, because it would bring back a quick and a great return.

I welcome this Bill. We see that it is a big step forward, if we look back only three or four years and see where we were standing then. It will go some way towards meeting these pressing problems, particularly if Clause 1 is modified as the most reverend Primate and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, have suggested. I hope that it will be, or that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will make it clear that there can be no risk of misinterpretation as the clause stands. I believe we can say that when this Bill becomes law we shall have made a significant step forward along the path of creating a better society in this land.

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, I am not a racialist—and I am sure that my many Commonwealth friends all over the world would bear me out on this—but I am not very happy about this Bill. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, should have considered it necessary to label anybody who is against this Bill and votes against it as a racialist because that is totally untrue.


My Lords, would the noble Baroness like to withdraw that? I said nothing of the sort.


My Lords, I will certainly withdraw it, if that is not what the noble Lord said. I am not happy about this Bill. Though I am not a professional lawyer, parts of it do not appear to me to make good law. I would quote the words of the right honourable Member for Ashford, who said in another place: We are passing a vote of no confidence on our own people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 23/4/67, col. 90.] We have so far in our history absorbed Romans, Danes, Saxons, Dutch, Huguenots, Belgians and Poles—I hope I have got them in the right historical sequence —and we have had no need for legislation of the kind that we have before us to-day, which picks out a special group. If we have to make a declaration, like the honourable Member for Marylebone in another place, I should like to rest our new regulations on the Declaration of Human Rights as embodied in the Charter. May I remind your Lordships of the actual words: …encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. As it is, we have lifted out a certain section of the community for special protection. I doubt very much whether this is wise and whether in the long run it will not create more ill-feeling than it endeavours to assuage. The giving to the Race Relations Board of powers to assess damages, which will be extraordinarily difficult to establish, appears to me also to be fraught with hideous legal complications. But I am no lawyer and I prefer to lease that matter to the experts. I should like to echo the question of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, who asked, referring to the Board, whether any woman has or is going to be appointed to it.

Where I think there is a misconception of the public attitude towards our coloured neighbours is this. Our people, who I think are among the kindest people in the world, are never averse to helping strangers within their gates—with one proviso, that they are not swamped by numbers. This is the fear which at the present moment is stalking our country. I am sure that if it was not for this fear, we should not have anything like the troubles that people are anticipating. We are a heavily populated island already. We have to look forward to a rapid natural increase. We are warrnd that in some thirty years' time we may be a 100 million people. How and where are we going to house, school and hospitalise this number? Already this question of excess population has occupied the weekend papers and political speeches. I am sure that these facts of our over-population must be made known to the people of those other countries who are still thinking of us as an open refuge, as a land of golden opportunity. I am certain that on the Indian continent the problem of our over-population has not sunk in and is not fully realised.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness realises that over the last few years more people have left this country than have come into it. The immigration—emigration balance is in favour of immigration. In view of that, is the noble Baroness still oppressed by our over-population?


Yes, my Lords, because the natural increase is going to be very rapid and we cannot count on people emigrating. They may or may not do so. I am sure that without panic measures—and I really look on this Bill as a panic measure—so long as the continuous stream of immigration was arrested, we should in time absorb the immigrants who have already settled here. In fact the Report of the Race Relations Board says that there has been a distinct decrease in overt discrimination.

It is interesting to note that three-quarters of the cases of discrimination take place in clubs or pubs. Is this not really very natural? We all know that even in our own village pub if a stranger arrives, if only from a town or village a few miles away, he is regarded with a certain amount of suspicion until people have got used to him, whatever the colour of his face. I remember during the war when I was canteening troops on the South Coast, we had both coloured and white U.S.A. troops. My canteenists preferred the coloured troops, and it took quite a long time to get used to both, until we realised, of course, that both were fighting for us.

My reason for speaking in this debate and for criticising this Bill is a special one. It may not be a very popular one. I am not making a sentimental appeal. I want to be purely factual. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, told us that 2 per cent. of the population of our country is coloured. But there is another set of people in our country, forming more than half the population, against whom there is far greater discrimination than there is against the coloured population. I am speaking about British women. I would repeat, without fear of contradiction from anybody: there is more discrimination against women in this country.

The Home Secretary has stated: But there will be growing tension if coloured youngsters leaving school in the next few years cannot readily get jobs for which they are qualified on the same terms as their white contemporaries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons), 23/4/68; col. 57.] What about the British qualified woman bus driver, against whom there was discrimination by her male colleagues just a few weeks ago? What about the difficulties British women have in getting into medical schools? If they could go into medical schools in increasing numbers, we should not be so dependent on foreigners. What about equal pay? Are the African males to be protected and not our own womenfolk? Women have been very patient and through the last fifty years of their political emancipation they have relied on persuasion and justification through their achievements, against tremendous odds, gradually to grow out of their status as second-class citizens.

But, my Lords, this Bill may put ideas into women's heads. I have seen great advances in my forty years and more of political life. I voted against my own Party on the L.C.C. when they refused to employ married women teachers in the 'twenties. And look how the wheel has turned. I could give your Lordships many examples in my life of discrimination against me, but I will not bother your Lordships with personal reminis- cences. To give the devil his due (if the Prime Minister does not mind my using a colloquialism), he has given very much more recognition to women in politics than my Party have done in past years. But I would draw his attention to the dangers that this Bill may unleash so far as the women's societies in this country are concerned.

I should like to counsel our coloured and immigrant friends to be patient; to conform to the traditions and even the prejudices of the British; to try to live as nearly in custom and law as their immediate neighbours, and they will win through as communication, understanding and education grow: because as I said earlier, ours is a kindly race, if slow to make approaches. I believe that good communications are needed more than legislation. If we can stick to the Declaration of Human Rights we shall never go very far wrong. As it is, I am uneasy about this partial emasculation of the Declaration and fear that, like all half measures, it can create more trouble than it will solve.

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, I am sorry to have to differ from the noble Baroness who has just sat down in regarding this Bill as a panic measure. On the contrary, I regard it as an urgently necessary measure for the safeguarding of those very human rights in which she believes. And I think the more ideas that are put into our heads the better. My own head is always open to ideas as I am often short of them.

I am sure we should all agree that the issue with which this Bill is concerned is not a Party issue. Nor is it solely a national issue. To my mind, it is, above all else, a human issue, it is a moral issue, and an international issue which to-day is convulsing many parts of the world. It is convulsing a highly developed, sophisticated and civilised society in the United States of America. It is an explosive force in Africa among more primitive societies. It is, as we all know, the cause of all our troubles with Rhodesia, of our estrangement from South Africa and of the ferment which is to-day at work throughout the whole of that vast and stormy continent. It cannot, therefore, be denied that it is a threat to peace.

The manner in which we deal with this problem of race relations here in our own country may well have world-wide repercussions. Hence the vital importance, national and international, of the Bill we are discussing this afternoon. I know that there are many in this House who contend that legislation will do more harm than good—that is a phrase that I hear on all sides. I can only suppose that what they mean is that those who are practising discrimination will be so incensed if they are prevented from so doing that their racial prejudice will be increased by any obstacle which is placed in their way. Are we then, in order to placate them, to allow them to indulge in discrimination to their heart's content, quite regardless of the injustice towards their victims? That is surely the only alternative if conciliation (and remember that conciliation is the first purpose of this Bill) has failed.

Let us learn something from the experience of the United States; and let us remember that in the United States it is the delay in legislating that has done harm rather than good; and further, that no human rights legislation passed there has been repealed. On the contrary, their reaction to their present difficulties has been to widen the scope of Federal Law.

Many laws which protect the public are, I find, very unpopular. For instance, breathalysers are very unpopular with dangerous drivers. But we cannot deny that they have acted as a deterrent and saved many lives. This law will, I am sure, act as a protection and a civilising force. I think that this legislation is well summed up in four sentences from the First Report of the Race Relations Board, and if your Lordships would allow me, I should like to read them, because they are more concise than anything I can say.

  1. "(1) A law is an unequivocal declaration of national policy.
  2. (2) A law gives support to those who do not wish to discriminate, but who feel compelled to do so by social pressures.
  3. (3) A law gives protection and redress to minority groups.
  4. (4) A law reduces prejudice by discouraging behaviour in which prejudice finds expression."
In other words, although, as we are constantly reminded, and even re-reminded this afternoon, laws cannot change our hearts, laws can and do change our habits, and a habit may well become a second nature.

I think that we have all read the very fine debate in another placed, marred only by the unseemly insults hurled at Mr. Quintin Hogg because he had the courage to speak his mind and to speak it brilliantly. There was one feature of that debate which surprised me. Throughout all its stages—Second Reading, Committee and Report—the position of the victims of discrimination was hardly discussed at all. Anxiety was almost entirely concentrated on the possible hardship of potential discriminators. Yet surely we must all agree that to be discriminated against is a very unpleasant experience and a very genuine grievance for which there must be summary redress, and that discrimination is humanly and socially undesirable, and, incidentally, economically wasteful.

Once more American experience has proved that some sanction is necessary. I know that there are perfectionists on the Left—and perhaps I am one of them —and there are wreckers on the Right who both maintain that this Bill is unworkable. But may I remind them, myself and your Lordships that under the 1965 Act—and that was a much weaker one than the present Bill—no 1ess than 94 per cent. of the cases dealt with by the Race Relations Board were settled by conciliation alone. But such conciliation could never have been achieved, and could never have had a chance of being successful, if it had not had the backing of some form of sanction. I therefore welcome the fact that the present Bill strengthens those sanctions, and that it is going to cover the vital fields of housing and unemployment. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that overcrowding and slum conditions are in many places the villains of the piece, and that race has been made the scapegoat.

May I add one word to those who appear to regard persons of minority groups in our midst as an unnecessary and unmitigated nuisance. May I remind them that the presence of these groups in this country stems directly from our imperial past. And yet, by a strange irony, it is often those who are most proud of this past and who hanker most nostalgically after its old glories, who are most ready to forget our responsibilities to these people, who are an integral part of it, and the obligations which we owe them.

My Lords, I realise that this problem should be approached so far as possible with judicial calm and not overloaded with emotion. Yet there are two quite unrelated incidents which I cannot banish from my heart and mind. One was the report I read in The Times last week of a meeting somewhere in Wales addressed by Mr. Enoch Powell, at which a schoolmaster, a Mr. Karl Francis, is reported to have said that the lives of the coloured children he was teaching had been almost destroyed by Mr. Powell's speech. And Mr. Powell is reported to have replied: If I could wish it"— that is his speech— and all that has followed from it out of existence I would never, never do so. What that schoolmaster describes as the destruction or the near destruction of the lives of these innocent coloured children, the loss of their faith in us, perhaps worse still the loss of their faith in themselves, aroused no compunction, no regret, no remorse in the man who caused it. He would not undo it even if he could. Here we have the credo of a racialist, naked and unashamed, not of some poor benighted, unlettered, ignorant man, but of an intellectual of the first water, the eminent professor of a great university, a distinguished Member of another place.

The other incident is one which many of your Lordships I think must have shared with me. It was the scene outside the House of Commons when the Kenyan High Commissioner was insulted by an unruly mob of Mr. Powell's followers from the docks, simply because his face happened to be of a different colour from their own. Such happenings seem incredible, except that, alas!, we know they happened. They are a negation of every tradition, of every principle this country has stood for, practised and honoured throughout the centuries and throughout the world. We have always had a proud tradition of tolerance and hospitality to those in need; we have always opened wide our doors, as the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet, mentioned, to the citizens of other countries who were the victims of persecution or of oppression. We have taken in Flemish weavers; we have taken in Huguenots; we have taken in the Jewish victims of Hitler's Terror. And we have been repaid for it: we have been repaid by their loyalty and by the skills which many of them have taught us.

But here we have our own fellow-citizens of our own Commonwealth, not strangers outside our gates, who want to come here and find a home with us and to live amongst us and work with us and for us. It is these who, although they have been admitted to this country after passing stringent tests, are now rejected. I think it is a terrible blot upon our escutcheon and it is one which we must erase as soon as we possibly can. To my mind, it is a disgrace that we are obliged to-day to invoke the law in order to protect our own fellow-citizens from insult and injustice. I agree that legislation is a tragic necessity, and I think it is an indictment of our civilisation. But we have no option but to take this action and to take it with both hands.

This Bill may have many flaws and imperfections—some of them have been mentioned this afternoon. Some may be amended here in Committee; and some may be improved in the light of experience when it comes into action. It may even be that its mere existence will make its application unnecessary. But one thing is essential—and that is that it should be passed.

6.16 p.m.


My Lords, I believe that I echo the feelings of all your Lordships in this House if I say how pleasing it always is for all of us to listen to the words of the noble Baroness who has just resumed her seat. On the other hand, I must say, speaking personally, that I find it an awesome experience to follow immediately upon a great Lady with such a wealth of experience. But it is an interesting thing for me because, if I may reminisce for just a few seconds, I occupied her father's desk at school. I remember how he carved his name in that desk. I thought his carving with a penknife was rotten, but, my goodness!, the speaking ability of his daughter is much better than I could ever hope to emulate.

The noble Baroness, certainly for the first time in your Lordships' House, and possibly for the first time if one includes the debate in the other place, mentioned the waves of Jewish immigrants into this country. Because she has mentioned that I might also say that a board in the same school where her father was indicated that the Rothschild who was there was the first Jew to be allowed to take his seat in the Commons; and indeed it was his son who was the first person to be elevated to the Peerage by Mr. Gladstone. I personally am happy to see that there are one or two more of his flock in your Lordships' House these days.

My Lords, I believe this Bill is a necessary and urgent piece of legislation. There can be no doubt, after the abundant evidence which has been produced on the subject recently, that racial discrimination in housing, in employment and in various consumer services does exist on a serious and, at the moment, mounting scale. Equally, there can be no doubt that, while legislation of this kind does not banish discrimination, it is—as the United States and most Western European countries have found—a necessary foundation for building racial harmony. To my mind, these points cannot be disputed. I have therefore been surprised and concerned at the opposition which this Bill has aroused, and I believe it is this opposition which demands our fullest consideration to-day. The opposition has come broadly from two sources: first, from those who may be called the anti-legislators; those who believe it is fundamentally wrong to legislate on these matters, or to provide legal protection against discrimination for our immigrant community. Secondly, the opposition is from those who believe legislation is needed but that this particular Bill does not go far enough.

Let me deal with the anti-legislators first. Essentially they argue from the standpoint of the individual. It is wrong, they claim, for the law to curb the freedom of the individual to sell his house or the insurance organisation to offer its policy to whomever they wish, and that it is wrong to restrict the freedom of an employer to employ whomever he wishes. Anyone, if he wishes to discriminate—so they claim—should be free to do so. The weakness in that argument is that it ignores completely the wider social and community problems which are created by such individual decisions. Freedom of this kind for individuals in a community faced with the kind of problems we have is bound not merely to sustain but to strengthen racial prejudice. Wherever a minority is denied the rights and the freedoms of the rest of the community, it is bound to grow more resentful and more antagonistic towards the rest of the community, and that, in turn, will create a more hostile and a more tense society.

We have seen in recent years in the United States of America the enormous price which a society has to pay if it ignores the rights of a minority. To-day, despite the fact that it is the richest society the world has ever seen, America is a tense and divided society. Its citizens, for all their material wealth, often appear to lack a sense of security and wellbeing. What we are in danger of doing if we deny the need for this legislation is not merely allowing injustice and prejudice to grow but threatening the whole quality of our community life in the years ahead. I cannot believe that we shall do this.

The second form of opposition lo the Bill comes from those who argue that it does not go far enough in preventing racial discrimination. Here I believe we should acknowledge the validity of some of those criticisms, and I must say I accept some of the criticisms that we have heard from a few of those who have spoken in your Lordships' House this afternoon. For example, I cannot see at the moment how the employment provisions in the Bill can be interpreted in any other way than giving the employer the right to continue racial discrimination—under the pretext of maintaining a fair balance in the composition of his labour force. I can more easily accept that there is a problem with employers who possess very small staffs, but the Bill provides for that situation and I feel it does so fairly and reasonably.

During the debate on this Bill in another place my right honourable friend, the Home Secretary, explained effectively why the Race Relations Board will be primarily a conciliatory body and why they are denied certain powers of enforcement. There was strength in his argument and I hope experience will prove him right. Nevertheless, it is understandable for many to consider that unless the Race Relations Board are given sufficient powers to carry out the Act—which in some important respects they do not appear to have under the provisions of this Bill—there is a serious danger that they will be unable to carry out their work adequately. Therefore, like some other noble Lords, I would suggest that the Government look once again at some of these aspects of the Bill. It would be a tragedy if, having taken the decision that legislation is necessary, the Government then, through a misguided attempt to gain approval and support in the more reactionary sectors of industry and the community, destroyed any real effect and benefit which the Bill might have had.

It would also be a tragedy if it were felt that the Bill was in itself sufficient to meet the challenge posed by racial discrimination in our society. Fortunately, the Government have already done a good deal more. The special educational and other social needs of the immigrant community have been recognised in the new local government grant structure which was introduced last year. There still remains much more to be done in the recognition and provision of services for these special social needs, but I welcome the start which has been made.

But what is also needed, as we look at the problem of race relations in the years ahead, is not simply legislative or social policy solutions but a comprehensive domestic and international approach. We need a continuing commitment by successive British Governments to the principles of racial equality and harmony in all spheres of public life, domestic and international. And this must involve, above all else, a fresh concern for our relations with the underdeveloped countries. The gap between rich and poor countries in the world is increasing, and it is increasingly a racial as well as a material gap. What we must recognise is the attitude which we now take to our overseas aid and foreign economic policies will not only influence the size of the gap but also the whole quality of life in the international community and at home. A world of rich white nations and poor black ones will be a tense, divided and explosive world. In such a world we should be on the defensive, fear- ful of what might happen, and it would be fear and insecurity more than anything else which would breed in our society intolerance and hatred and do irreparable harm to the kind of ideals and aims which lay behind the Bill we are considering to-day.

This Bill is about race and colour. Prima facie, therefore, it is not about religious discrimination, which it is well to remember. It is also important to realise that a question all too often still asked in this enlightened State which has offered peace and asylum to so many over the long years is, "Is he English or is he a Jew?". Noble Lords certainly do not have to be reminded that one who is a Jew by religion can be as British and proud of it as anyone else. The Jew is especially interested in a debate on coloured immigration because he has often experienced the problem from the inside. He has been the victim down the ages of propaganda of the pattern which—alas!—is now heard here, and which has been affecting the most fair-minded citizens. So it is a time for the Jew to stand up fearlessly and give an example of humanity towards another minority group.

There is one more reason why no Jew can sit back and allow racialism to grow. If he is true to his religious upbringing he recognises that man was created in the image of God—not white man, nor black man, but man, every man. As Abraham Heschel has put it: God is every man's pedigree. He is either the Father of all men or of no man. The image of God is either in every man or in no man. I should only hope that this Bill will pass your Lordships' House "nem con". I urge the widest possible support for it, and I would just add these few remarks, because it is known to some of your Lordships that I carry out certain work in the sociological fields and aspects of rapid technological change. Let us not overlook on the one hand that this nation needs rapid technological change; otherwise, by comparison with its competitors abroad it will have more unemployment more quickly. Let us also realise, however, that with the introduction of rapid technological change it is the coloured people who will first be inclined to lose their jobs but for this kind of Bill. I should like to leave your Lordships with those words and sentiments.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, opened our debate this afternoon with a speech, I thought, of admirable clarity in which he explained the provisions and intentions of this Bill. I take, frankly, a far less optimistic view of this Bill than he does. I can, however, greatly shorten what I have to say because I agreed so emphatically with nearly everything said in the admirable speech of my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, who opened on this side.

Both the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the Home Secretary in another place pointed out, at the outset of their speeches, that we must carefully distinguish between the questions of the numbers of immigrants whom we admit and the way we treat those lawfully here. With that I find it all the easier to agree because I made the same point myself nearly four years ago when I first spoke on this particular topic in this House on December 1, 1964. If, to justify the position I am going to adopt this afternoon, I do not deal with the argument in great detail, it is because anybody who takes the least interest in my own attitude to these problems can find it in that speech and in subsequent speeches, on March 10, 1965, and November 3, 1966.

Although the questions, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham said, are distinct, yet they have a close relationship; and the relationship was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor. Unless the most careful restriction is placed on the numbers of our immigrants there is no chance whatsoever that this Bill will bring about the results which Her Majesty's Government desire. I said nearly four years ago what I have said ever since, and what I now repeat. I think that on this question of the numbers of immigrants whom we can profitably admit to our shores the great masses of the public have throughout shown much more wisdom than the politicians.

Equal and humane treatment for all our citizens lawfully here, whatever their colour, is I think the aim of every one of us, no matter to what Party he belongs and irrespective of whether he thinks this a good Bill or a bad Bill. But the fact that we are in favour of equal and humane treatment for all our citizens does not in itself mean that any legislation is necessary. All our citizens at present enjoy equality before the law. The case for this Bill must be that a new law is required, and in a moment I will come to my reasons for thinking that this is probably right.


My Lords, before the noble Lord finally leaves this aspect, would he bear in mind that he has committed himself to the view that unless there is strict control of entry of immigrants, on the lines suggested by his noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, this legislation will fail? The only new restriction, so far as I am aware, suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was that we should exclude children between the ages of 13 and 16, a comparatively small number of the dependant immigrants now coming in. Does the noble Lord think that the exclusion of that small number will make this absolutely right?


My Lords, I hesitate to make this a triangular intervention, but what I said was that that was the first obvious step to take.


My Lords, I really do not want to enter into great detail, because I do not wish to make my speech too long. What I am saying is that, while I agree with the Home Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that we must consider separately the questions of the numbers we admit and the way we treat our citizens, of all colours, lawfully here, the questions are interconnected; because unless we maintain—and even, I think, make conditions more stringent—the control of the entry of further immigrants I believe that this Bill will fail in its objects. I may be right or I may be wrong, but it is not very wicked to take that view.

I was saying that to achieve that aim of equality of treatment does not necessarily require new legislation of the type that is now before us—or, indeed, new legislation at all. As my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor pointed out, when you seek and are eager to immigrate into another country, you do not demand that it shall change its laws. That is a simple fact which I think should be generally recognised. The great desire to enter this country is still exhibited by innumerable would-be immigrants who are not, as a condition of coming to this country, demanding any change in our law.

Nevertheless, let me go on to say why I do not for that reason propose to oppose this Bill. Though it is, I think, clearly established that the mere desire for equality of treatment of the immigrants does not necessitate legislation, nevertheless it is a fact, I think, that the P.E.P. Report and other careful reports which have come before us strongly suggest that some changes are necessary if equal and humane treatment is to be fully enjoyed by the immigrant people. Even more important than its being enjoyed by the immigrant people, is that it shall be enjoyed by their children who are born here and have never seen any other country. Therefore I come to the conclusion that certain reforms are required to bring about the desired result, and some of those reforms may well be changes in the law.

What I hope will be appreciated is the very great difficulty of the legislation that is necessary if we are to bring about the result we desire, and the real danger that such legislation can do more harm than good, unless it is wise and carefully considered. On the question of the merits of the legislation there are real, genuine and honest differences of opinion, inside the Parties, between the Parties in this House and in the other House, and it is really no good describing any opinion from which you happen to differ as prejudice. I said in my first speech on this subject in your Lordships' House that I did not think I was prejudiced on racial matters but that I did not know, because I did not think that a prejudiced man is ever aware of the fact. I simply do not know how one finds out if one is prejudiced. I even reminded the House of that admirable statement of the late Lord Hewart: The only impartiality possible to the human mind is that which arises from understanding neither side of the case. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, who made a most strenuous and somewhat violent speech, attacked the Conservative Members in another place who voted against this Bill. But the reason they voted against this Bill was that they thought it was a bad Bill. There again they may have been right or they may have been wrong. But if you happen to think a Bill is a bad Bill you are not really wicked in voting against it. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, seemed to assume that the only possible grounds for opposition to this Bill would be some unworthy grounds. Let me make it quite clear that I do not think that people who wish to preserve the environment in which they and their fathers and grandfathers have lived, who wish to preserve that environment as what our history has made it, and do not wish it to be utterly transformed by alien immigrants are wholly unworthy people. I do not think there is anything necessarily wrong with that desire. People sometimes say, "Ah, but we must have a multiracial society". Of course we must have a multiracial world. Of course, we must have, so long as we have a Commonwealth, a multi-racial Commonwealth. But are we quite sure that we want every little bit of it to be multiracial? I personally do not desire that in the least, and I quoted in previous debates, not some reactionary such as noble Lords may think me, but Don Salvador de Madariaga a great Liberal, and I read what he had said on this subject.

My Lords, if we are to legislate (I agree with the Government in thinking that there is a case for legislation) to improve the lot of some of these immigrants, and even more so of their children born here, who have never known any other country, what are the requirements of the difficult law we have to devise? First of all, I think that the law should be clear and simple. It should involve the minimum interference with the ordinary lives of decent people. It should not contain provisions which strike the native population as oppressive or unfair; and, finally, it should not itself give rise to greater evils than it seeks to cure. In all that I think perhaps Ministers may agree with me. They may differ from me when I say that I do not think that all those requirements have been met in the provisions of this Bill; but that is my view. I could give many examples. I think the Bill contains some strange provisions. It says that you may sell your own private house to anybody you like, but that if you want to sell to a member of a particular class in the community, or a particular nationality, you must not employ a house agent for the purpose. Is that right? I think it needs rather careful consideration.

What rather worries me are some of the strange legal provisions in this Bill, which even the Minister who moved the Third Reading in another place got wrong. Let me quote his words. He was referring to the night when the Bill got its Third Reading as an historic occasion. He said: I believe that it will be an historic occasion when this Parliament declares that discrimination in all fields covered by this Bill is not only morally wrong, but an offence in law".—[0FFICIAL REPORT, Commons; 9/7/68, col. 446.] "An offence in law" strongly suggests that he thought that a criminal offence was being created; but of course it was not. I do not want to make too much of that, because it may have been merely a slip of the tongue. But it is rather remarkable that that statement should have been made by the Minister who was moving the Third Reading.

One of the things that troubles me, as a lawyer, is the strangeness of the legal provisions. The prohibitions do not create a crime; they create a new type of quasi-tort or civil wrong. But they do not allow the injured party to sue on his own behalf; the Race Relations Board initiate the proceedings. Nor will the trial take place before a judge alone, but before a judge with the assessors referred to in Clause 18(7). All these are novel provisions. Let me say at once to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that I admit that they are not necessarily wrong just because they are novel. The Government are embarking on legislation in a rather new field, and it is difficult. I hope that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will think that these provisions are sufficiently novel, and that we are departing so much from well-established tradition and well-tried legal provisions—both the traditions of the criminal law and the traditions of the law of tort—that it will be most desirable carefully to consider these provisions in detail in Committee.

In fairness to the Government, I say at once that I am not saying that these provisions are necessarily wrong, but I am saying that they require the closest examination. In saying that I have not overlooked what was said in the interesting speech of the Attorney General at the concluding stages of the Report stage in another place. I fear that some of these novel legal provisions, and particularly what is said about damages, may cause great difficulty in carrying out the provisions of this Bill and may give both parties a sense of injustice, both the man who seeks the damages and the man from whom the damages are being sought. If I may mention one other clause which worries me, it is Clause 22, which, unless we take great care, may be capable of causing some danger of blackmailing threats. This is the clause which deals with privileged communications and seems to make it possible that any person, whether he has a real grievance or a purely invented grievance, can communicate with the Race Relations Board, and nothing that he says can ever be disclosed to anyone. He is, therefore, if he chooses to lie or to make the most injurious falsehoods about the people about whom he complains, capable, it seems to me, of creating trouble and injustice without being liable himself for any of the consequences.

Some provisions in the Bill seem to me to be unnecessary. I think that there are some evils which the Government see and against which they have attempted to provide in the Bill but against which there might be very real remedies without legislation at all. Let me take the example of insurance. I suppose it is conceivable that some insurance company might ask some coloured man for a higher premium than the risk really justified, but if that happened generally I should have thought it was virtually certain that there would be other insurance companies who would come in to cover the risk. The noble Lord who immediately preceded me made me wonder whether my memory was correct, but I believe there was a time in the history of this country when it was suspected that the Jews were being discriminated against in the matter of insurance. I may be wrong, but I believe—and it is an interesting fact if my memory is right—that one of the results was the formation of one of our greatest insurance companies, the Alliance. If that is correct, it seems to me to indicate how wrong we are, if we wish to deal with discrimination, in believing that it is always necessary to deal with it by legislation.

My Lords, I confess that I dislike this Bill because I believe it will have almost the opposite effect to that which I recognise the Government genuinely and sincerely seek. I think it may cause ill-will that could well be avoided. Nevertheless, there are in the Bill provisions which have been carefully considered and which I think we must now be willing to try. I am sure it will get an unopposed Second Reading in this House, but then I hope we shall subject it in Committee to very careful consideration, to see whether we can exclude some provisions that are unwise and improve the form in certain respects.

There is one other thing which I would say. The 1965 Act has been mentioned here this afternoon and in another place last week, and it was said that when that Act was introduced as a Bill some people made equally pessimistic prognostications about its effect. I was glad to hear—I think from one or two of the noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon—that that Bill had in their view done a considerable amount of good. Curiously enough, they attribute that good to something that was not in the Bill at all when they introduced it but was introduced by Amendments of the Conservative Party.

My Lords, I do not think that Act has had wholly desirable results. There have been some undesirable results. I think my noble friend, Lord Elton, who is to speak later in the debate, has had the experience—I know other friends of mine, both in this House and elsewhere, have had the experience—of people who have had something really important to say about race relations, the position in their town and their street, and who are frightened of even giving their names because they think that free speech on this subject has been virtually abolished by that Act. That view is not diminished by a recent prosecution under the Act at Lewes Assizes, although I am glad to say that the accused on that occasion were well defended and the jury acquitted them all. My Lords, I apologise if I have occupied the House too long. I think that this legislation, in part, may be required, but it requires the most searching examination.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, I must, first of all, offer an apology to the Lord Chancellor and the House that when I have finished, or shortly after- wards, I shall have to leave the House and thus not be able to listen to the other speeches, including the concluding one, but I am due this evening to speak in my own district to a number of immigrants from various communities; therefore I am at least fulfilling the conciliatory purpose of the Bill if I am absent from further proceedings in this House.

The noble Lord who has just sat down gave us a very interesting speech, and I rather gather that he is in favour of the Bill but wishes to improve it. I am sure he will do his best to see that that is done when the Committee stage is reached. Meanwhile, may I say that I was interested when he confessed he was not quite sure whether he was prejudiced, and I can advise him to apply one little test, which is to turn to the pages of the Observer, if he has not read them already, and carefully read those pages regarding the opinions of certain citizens in a certain town in the Midlands of this country. If, after reading those opinions, he is complacent and indifferent and unconcerned, I would say that he can rightly conclude he is prejudiced against the coloured immigrants of this country.


My Lords, may I just say that I have no doubt one can find out that one is prejudiced. What I was wondering was how one finds out that one is not prejudiced.


My Lords, I would say myself if, on reading those pages, you feel yourself morally concerned, then you are not prejudiced against the coloured immigrants, but are prejudiced in favour of certain moral values. I offer that to the noble Lord and I am sure he will gain by it.

To return to the Bill, may I say that it naturally concerns me, as it does a number of other Members of this House, because I am the descendant of an immigrant. My name obviously comes from that element from abroad which has richly increased the British stock. I am referring not only to Canute, of course, but to those later immigrants, including a noble lady who married one of our monarchs, and my own grandfather, who came at the same time from that country but not on the same boat. There are other Members of this House, I know, who can trace back their ancestors who were immigrants from various countries to a much greater length than I can, some even going back to the days of William the Conqueror, I understand, who was a kind of aggressive immigrant.

It has been remarked to me that we ourselves are a very mixed community. I remember Miss Rathbone startling the other House one day by saying that we were a mongrel race. Personally I should never use that kind of language but when it comes from a lady, and a very elegant lady at that, no doubt it was suitably translated. It is true that we are all more or less of immigrant stock. In fact those who are English are immigrants, for before they came there were the British, and even those were not of the original stock. This applies to most countries of the world. Even India, which I know fairly well, has mainly an immigrant population. The Indians themselves were by no means the original race. There were the Dravidians, and before them there were the aboriginals of India. The same is true of any other country one may name. There is not a pure stock in the world; they are all mixtures.

We are perturbed in this country because recently we have had a number of immigrants from abroad whose pigmentation happens to be darker than our own. But we are all coloured. We constantly use the word "coloured" as if it were synonymous with sable or dark, whereas we are pinkish or pasty-faced, as the case may be, and the spectrum proceeds from one extreme to the other. We are all coloured. Unfortunately, although the majority of human beings in the world are dark-coloured brown or black and then through the various shades, we in this country with our 55 million people are mostly pale. Because there has been an influx of immigrants whose distinctiveness from ours is more obvious, we are concerned lest this is a threat to our national characteristics. In trying to analyse the cause of the undoubted prejudice that exists in this country against certain types of immigrants, I have come to the conclusion that the reaction is due to what I call the gregarious fear of intrusion or invasion from another community. This is very unwise and takes many forms. Sometimes it takes the form of fear of the intrusion of different theological or religious ideas; sometimes it takes the form of fear of intrusion of different political or ideological ideas; and sometimes it takes the form of fear of the intrusion of some other sub-race of the human family.

We should appreciate that our problem in this country regarding immigration is not peculiar to ourselves. The whole world has the same problem in one way or the other. In India fix centuries there has been a caste system, although legal action has been taken with some beneficial effects regarding the untouchables. It has been interesting to see that legislation can assist in educating a community, but nevertheless the feeling still exists in that country that there are certain people who must be avoided because they belong to a particular community. Equally in Africa there are certain tribes who assume that they are superior to other tribes, who believe they must not mix and that in some magical way they are distinctive.

Do not let us assume that our own problem here is peculiar or singular to ourselves. It occurs in one form or another in many other parts of the world. Nevertheless, we have to grapple with our own problem. I am glad indeed that in this House at least this P ill is receiving overwhelming support, in contrast with the divisions which existed in the other place. It is quite true that just as wars begin in the minds of men so does prejudice begin in men's minds; one cannot eradicate it. If people want to be stupid and foolish, if they want to be conditioned to assume that their group, community or gang is superior and that all others are inferior, one can do nothing about it except to try to instil in them a little enlightenment.

One remembers again the article which occupied two whole pages in the Sunday Press describing the reactions of people in a certain area. I hope that the Members of Parliament for that area, no matter to what Party they belong, will take an opportunity to appear together on some public platform and say: "We may agree or disagree regarding the curb on further immigration, but we, members of all Parties, are unite d in feeling that the people of this town should see to it that they treat one another with decency and respect" I appeal to those Members who live in that area and who belong to another place to do that. If they did that, especially in regard to one of great scholarly eminence, it would have a profound psychological effect, not only on that district, but on the whole of the country.

Although one cannot change the minds of men if they are cemented in prejudice, one can prevent the expression of their prejudice. When I leave this House to go to my own district to speak to these diverse immigrants, I obey the law and observe the traffic lights. But if there were no traffic lights, I might be disposed to obey my impulse and go at 50 or 60 miles an hour, knocking people down in the process. I do not do so, partly because the traffic lights exist to remind me of the law and partly, I hope, because I try to be a decent, law-abiding driver. So it is with this menace of racial prejudice. It is irrational, but people are irrational. They live very often by irrational impulses, by emotion, instincts and conditioned reflexes—things which often dominate men's behaviour. Nevertheless, in respect of other matters because of legislation their impulses have been checked; and because of that checking they themselves gradually come to have a more enlightened view of mankind and its values.

I wish to say this before I conclude, because it is unfair to speak for as long as some Members of the House have found it necessary to speak. We in this House ourselves suffer from prejudices and disabilities. The time has now passed when the fact that one was a Peer of the Realm brought instant obsequiousness and the touching of the lock. Unfortunately, we have now become in some ways figures of fun. I am not so much thinking of that side of the matter, but the fact that we suffer from the disability that we are not as free as other citizens may be. We cannot vote. Let us imagine that the Lords Temporal or the Lords Spiritual suffered not merely that disability but others, and because of growing prejudice against them, when they wanted a room in London or Blackpool, or wherever it may be, they were asked: "Have you ever been to prison?"—"No."; "Have you ever been in a mental hospital?"— "No."; Have you ever been a Member of the House of Lords?"—"Yes.", and it were then said: "Then I am sorry, the room is already let." If such a reaction, frivolous and facetious as it may seem, were to take place, we should all join together and say, "It is absurd that we should allow such a prejudice to exist in that way". We would take action to see that the prejudice was not expressed. We should see to it that no Peer, Spiritual or Temporal, was unable to take a job, to insure properly, or to get accommodation which was available for other people, merely because he happened to be a Lord Spiritual or Temporal. Of course, that would be ludicrous.

Therefore, I plead for all to realise that, just as we would not tolerate such stupid prejudice against men and women in this House because they happen to be Peers of the Realm, so also we should apply the same principle to those whose only difference happens to be a darker pigmentation of their skin. I am not saying that there are not other factors, for there are, and one knows what they are. But I say that the mere factor of the obvious difference in pigmentation is the thing that is uppermost in the minds of many people and leads them to react with even blinder prejudice than to other immigrants. This applies particularly to the poorer people of this country. This does not apply to those who are better off and who perhaps have friends in this House who have comfortable mansions where they can go and stay as friends. It is the poorer folk who have to bear the burden.

For that reason I trust that this Bill will be passed into law, although we must recognise that we still have a tremendous job to do in educating the minds and spirits of people so that they shall be enlightened and civilised. Let us also realise that, if this Bill is passed, it can check the expression of those stupid impulses, and help us to transcend our natural inheritance of dislike of those who are not like us and to understand the inner meaning of a text which, in one way or another, is in not only the Christian Bible, but all the scriptures of the world: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

7.11 p.m.


My Lords, I was very sorry when the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, left the Front Bench, but I am rather pleased this evening because his move seems to have liberated him. May I also say, as a matter of interest, that I believe the inhabitants of the Western Hebrides are descended from the first people who occupied those machar lands after they became habitable from the ocean, so that they, at least, are perhaps aboriginals. I should also like to say that I found it much more difficult to get a job as a Peer than if I had not been a Peer.

Old men find that making new friends is not a very easy or a very common experience, so I was greatly pleased when the other day I met a man of very high character, a Tamil from Ceylon. During that meeting, when we approved of one another, I told hilt that making friends with him gave me added pleasure because he and his race had been very unfairly discriminated against by the Socialist Government in 1946. That was before the Socialists "saw the light".

It has always seemed to me that this matter of discrimination is principally a question of good manners. I sympathise very greatly with all that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, but I think he is going the wrong way about solving the problem. Gentleness is often very much better than force, and my differences with Her Majesty's Government today arise principally from that fact. If the Government had taken a gentler way with Rhodesia, we should have been in a better position than we are in as a result of their taking the hard way. That has always been my view; and not only on the question of Rhodesia. I think that this Bill will do harm, because it will make the situation worse (and I shall give some reasons for saying that), and in two years' time the situation will have deteriorated. But in looking back then we shall forget the situation as it is to-day, and we shall say that the Bill was, after all, needed. That is the way in which bad legislation is apt to seem to justify itself.

One of my objections to this Bill is that when it becomes an Act it will not be applied indiscriminately as between all men. It has been argued here as if it were applying merely to relations with coloured people, and as if that were the only discrimination. But of course there are any number of other discriminations. As the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, pointed out, at one time there were firms which would not employ Irishmen, and I believe that even to-day there are arms that will not employ Scotsmen or Welshmen. But we laugh at it, and dc not care.

There is a provincial firm which I admire very much and which does a very fine job. It is run by Jews who Jo a lot of export work and, naturally, they bring us exchange. They also raise our reputation, because their work is so excellent. They give very good terms to their employees, but their Christian employees complained to me that, while they get good wages and conditions of work, none of them ever gets promotion. All the promotion in the firm goes to the Jews. Now if the Jews are a race—and, with great deference, I feel that people who have been customarily subjected to inbreeding for 15 centuries must be called a race—then I think they come under the condemnation of this Bill. But I am perfectly certain that the Race Relations Board will never attack those people for that; and even if they did they could not get very far, because they could easily centre their business on one of their branches abroad, and we should then lose the headquarters of a very flourishing and profitable business.

There are many other examples. There are all these Indian restaurants scattered around London. I have never been into one, but I am perfectly certain that they employ Indian immigrants for their staff; and they must do so, because they want to make their fellows feel at home. It is exactly what the Huguenots did when they came to this country. I am quite certain that this Bill will not be put into operation against people of that sort, and it would be a great misfortune if it were, because I think those activities are perfectly justified.

I should like to refer to subsection (1) of Clause 12 which says: Anything done by a person in the course of his employment shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as done by his employer as well as by him, whether or not it was done with the employer's knowledge or approval. We have just had the Press and people of this country crying out in indignation because a Miss Sweet was held to be guilty of some offence against the drugs law of which she neither knew nor could have prevented. But this clause gives a discontented employee or workman a chance of taking revenge on his employer, who may know absolutely nothing about what is going on and be no party to it. That seems extremely unjust.


My Lords, the difference between this Bill and the case the noble Lord mentioned is that there is a defence provided in the Bill. If he will look further down the clause, he will see that. This is not an offence of absolute responsibility.


My Lords, I shall withdraw that.

I now come to Part II, which settles the position of the Race Relations Board. I am perfectly certain that if the Board are to be composed of people of the highest possible character and of very great ability, whose duty is to accept complaints and inquire about them, those inquiries will have to very minute, because, obviously, after this Bill becomes law nobody will discriminate. There will always be some other reason given, which may be true or false. After all, we are really legislating about what a person thinks. The Board will have to make their inquiry and come to a decision. Their position will be very much that of the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition when it was first introduced into Spain.

It has always been a shock to me, when reading Spanish history, to realise what a very fine character Torquemada was. None the less, the Spanish Inquisition had a very grievous effect upon the history of Spain; and while I do not anticipate that the Race Relations Board will have such a dire effect on us, I think that a body constituted like this, with these powers of inquiry, is a danger. When they come to their conclusions we must remember that those conclusions may be wrong or may be right, but if they are wrong it will produce a very deep sense of injustice in the people who are aggrieved, and that will make matters far worse.

My Lords, I shall not divide against this Bill, but one of my reasons for distrusting it is its place in the context of the Government's whole position—previous legislation which has been passed and recent declarations by Ministers of the Government about the population, saying that people with large families are a menace to the country and are taking unfair advantage of their neighbours.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord?




The noble Lord has just made a statement about families, saying that it was Government policy. There has been no statement of Government policy on that subject at all. It is not Government policy.


It was very unfortunate, as I think it is going to have an effect on racial prejudice, because it will be heard only by what you may call the educated classes in Britain. The others will all disregard it; and it will very much tend to add to racial prejudice. I certainly should not vote against this Bill, but I very much fear that it may have consequences which are contrary to those for which the Government hope.

7.23 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened with great interest, as always, to the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, but I must disagree with him by saying that I accept and welcome this Bill. I know it may have one or two defects, but it is on the right lines and a step in the right direction. I think the position has become much more serious and grave than the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, appears to imagine. It is not just a question of good manners, but needs considerably more encouragement if we are to get the full integration that we require.

The Bill has been generally welcomed on this side of the House and, with certain qualifications, on the other side. As the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has reminded us, the Conservative Party in the other place voted against the Bill. I have tried to find out, with some difficulty, what the policy of the Conservative Party is over this matter. Here we are, my Lords: we are faced with a situation where there are nearly one million coloured immigrants, 2 per cent. of the population of this country, and it seems to me that there are three alternatives. One is that one could do nothing. One could adopt the traditional policy of laissez-faire: one could forget all about it. Secondly, one could encourage the immigrants to return in large numbers to their countries of origin, but I should not have thought that that was practical on economic grounds, and certainly it would not be acceptable on moral grounds. Therefore, the only acceptable alternative is the third one, which is to encourage integration.

It is no good bringing in red herrings by saying that the whole problem would be solved if we did not permit any more immigrants to come here. As my noble friend Lord Stonham said, it would be quite wrong to prohibit children from joining their relatives and parents; but even if that were done, we should still have one million coloured people in this country. That is something we have to face, and it is no good pulling these red herrings along and trying to pretend that the whole problem would be solved if we stopped further immigration. That is why I welcome this Bill. It covers a wider field than the previous Act; and, furthermore, it now lays down that discrimination is wrong in principle. It also strengthens the machinery for conciliation. It should give support to everybody who is trying to eliminate racial discrimination in many fields. It should make all of us face things and think again about our attitudes to this question—perhaps the most important question of our time, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has said.

Several noble Lords have referred to the P.E.P. investigation into this subject. It appears from this—and I have also studied it—that there is considerable racial discrimination everywhere, but particularly, as my noble friend the Minister reminded us, in the fields of housing and employment. The Report also makes clear that the coloured immigrants, and particularly those from the West Indies, are the ones who suffer most. This investigation made tests, and it was clear that there was far less discrimination where the colour was not different, particularly in the case of people from Cyprus or from Hungary. Therefore this is a situation which must be faced, and the integration of these large numbers of coloured people is important. I cannot agree that it will solve itself in time. Indeed, I am informed that the problem will become even more acute as the years go by. When the bad housing districts, the slums, are cleared, many of the immigrants living in them will have to be transferred to other housing, mainly council houses. That is already happening in Birmingham—and I welcome the report which was contained in The Times of July 13. I think, if I may say so, that Birmingham is tackling this problem in a most admirable way.

There is also the question of the children. Many of the children of these immigrants will have been born here and educated here. Some of them will have gained excellent qualifications at sc tool. They are not going to be content to do the lowest-paid jobs; and yet I understand that at present discrimination is worst against those with qualifications. I am not talking here about professional people but about skilled labour, craftsmen and applicants for office jobs. There is therefore the utmost need for every encouragement to mix and integrate and for these immigrants to be accepted by the whole community. The alternative will be the gravest social problems and unrest, as we dare witnessing to-day in the United States. I think that all of us who know the United States and Harlem and some of the worst slums of Chicago must realise that that kind of situation could arise in this country one day if s something is not done.

I should like to ask about three clauses in the Bill. First, Clause 2, which refers to facilities and services. I wander whether this includes clubs. Many clubs do not practice discrimination, but some do. Reference has been made in this debate to people of the Jewish faith. I believe that certain golf clubs practice discrimination against Jews, which I think is absolutely disgraceful. I should like to know from the Government whether that kind of attitude will be covered by the Bill. Then there is Clause 6, the definition of advertisements. I am not sure whether this is wide enough. It is very less wide than the definition of advertisements contained in, say, the Trade Descriptions Act or the Gaming Bill at present in Committee. I should like to know whether the Government are quite sure that this clause will catch circulars and other forms of advertising.

I welcome Clause 24 which deals with research. I agree with everything that my noble friend Lord Walston said about this. Much more research into this question is urgently needed, and I hope that the Government will arrange for this to be encouraged. I agree with Lord Walston that it is probably better for it to be undertaken not by the Home Office but by the universities or official bodies. I am very concerned with what my noble friend told us about the lack of funds and how this important research has had to come to an end. I am glad that the Government are now undertaking responsibility for this matter because we know far too little about the reasons and the irrational fears behind so much of this prejudice.

As the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, says we are now in deep and mysterious waters, but what we do know is that racial prejudice is almost non-existent in children if they are left alone. I was interested in what the most reverend Primate said about the establishment in certain areas of pre-school playgrounds, so that white and coloured children could play together. Prejudice is much less frequent among young people. I think young people are much more sensible about these things as they are about so much else. It is rarely found among artists and creative people. Artists generally are more interested in a person's talent than in his origin. It is not so frequently found in the professions or in sport, or, indeed, wherever there is a common interest or purpose. I should like, therefore, to ask the Government what they intend by this research, so that this very important field can be extended. In conclusion, I welcome this Bill which I regard as an important support for all those who are striving for racial tolerance.

7.34 p.m.


My Lords, as often happens, this debate has shown that there is a great deal of thinking on both sides of the House which is not at all hostile. My purpose in speaking is to declare my support for the views expressed in another place by Mr. Hogg and for those expressed to-day by my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, who, if I may say so, made what I thought was a first-class speech. Lord Brooke and Mr. Hogg have given a lead to my Party which I strongly support. I hope very much that their words will be heard well above the clamour of the less desirable speeches that have been made from time to time by members of my Party. I am quite sure that they represent what the Conservative Party stands for in this matter. I agreed with almost everything that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said. He asked, "What does the Conservative Party stand for?" My answer is: We stand for what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said to-day and for what Mr. Hogg said in the winding-up speech he made in another place. That, I think, is the real answer to the noble Lord; and I hope it is an answer which he will feel is a satisfactory one.

My Lords, we are faced with a desperately difficult problem and one which is becoming more acute. That is why, in spite of the difficulties of legislation, it is right that there should be a Bill. I am not a lawyer. I could not follow all that my noble friend Lord Conesford said about the different clauses in the Bill, and therefore I cannot judge the merits of this Bill from the legal point of view; but until it is tried out in practice it will be difficult to see whether it does all that we hope it will do—which is to stop any form of discrimination against immigrants into this country.

This is not, of course, a new problem. Anyone who has had anything to do with Parliamentary responsibility in another place for any of the great ports of this country, or for any of the great Midlands cities, will know that we have always had strangers in our midst. Up to now—I think as a result of tactful handling of the situation—we have managed to avoid any of the worst manifestations of prejudice. That is not to say that these might not appear to-day. I think that we are wise in taking steps to prevent them, and I hope that the Bill will have the desired results.

There is one thing which we have avoided in the past and which I hope we shall continue to avoid in the future. It is the stirring up of prejudice on many subjects which have lain dormant. My mind goes back to my own experiences when associated for 35 years with a constituency in Glasgow where there was always prejudice which one was most anxious not to stir up. These were not race prejudices; they were religious prejudices. One did not go to an Orange Lodge and talk about the Roman Catholics; neither did one go to the Roman Catholics and talk about what was going on in the Orange Lodges. One avoided this; and by avoiding those stirring-up speeches of that kind one avoided arousing those prejudices. For many generations there were serious religious prejudices. To-day there is tolerance, largely because, very wisely, everybody carefully avoids raising these problems in public. I think the same could be said to some extent with regard to race relations.

I should like to say one or two things about my personal experiences with this particular problem. They have been happier experiences than one would sometimes think from reading newspaper articles. About two years ago, or a little longer, I went on a tour in the Midlands. I was taken over one of the large Yorkshire wool-spinning mills. It was an enormous place. There I saw a great number of coloured workers at the looms. I asked the management whether they had difficulties in regard to the immigrants. They said that they did not; that the immigrants there worked happily with the ordinary inhabitants and were quite satisfactory. Then I inquired about social welfare arrangements and about education; and discovered, as I thought I should, that the education authority was providing good schools and that the social welfare arrangements of the local city council were excellent.

I also had an agreeable experience when setting up the office which I have recently left. We had to find, from all over London, people who would come to work in it. We took people irrespective of whether they were inhabitants of London or immigrants, and we built up a small but exceedingly happy staff in which there were quite a few coloured and immigrant young people. The only test we imposed was whether they were able to do the job that we wanted them to do. I know that these are only two small experiences but I believe that they could be multiplied in the same way as could the bad experiences about which one hears.

It seems, therefore—and this has come out in Press articles—that one of the great obstacles to integration and doing sway with race prejudice is simply material things; the fact that there are not enough schools or school teachers or the housing is bad or that local authorities are not on top of the problem. Knowing how terribly dangerous is this problem, I should have thought it was worth everything to provide the necessary material things for schooling and for housing as urgently as possible.

I remember how we used to improvise during the war years in respect of matters like the evacuation of people. That experience is very vivid in my mind. We put as much material help behind our efforts as we could, because we realised that if it was to succeed, the material conditions under which people were to live had to be as good as possible. I should like to suggest that Government and local authorities put behind the provision of material things the same drive that we put behind our effort during the war years. I am sure that this would prove an enormous help. It would not, of course, do away with prejudice, which is a horrible thing and difficult to remove; but if we can provide conditions in which prejudice cannot flourish then we shall be moving in the right direction.

Of course, my Lords, the immigrants can help enormously. I have told of two experiences of successful integration, and I can tell your Lordships of an unsuccessful attempt of which I have knowledge. We had a request to the Carnegie Trustees for a grant to provide a community centre in a Midland town particularly for immigrants. We gave a grant for three years. The committee running the centre was composed mainly of immigrants, with a few local people who went to help. The difficulty was not between the residents and the immigrants but between the immigrants themselves. The venture collapsed because there were too many different races and too many different religions among the immigrants who came to the centre. This was very unfortunate, but it had nothing to do with the fact that the local inhabitants were trying to help or that the money had been given for the centre. The different sets of people could not get on with each other. That might happen anywhere in any part of the country, but it certainly added to the difficulties in an area where people were trying to do their best, with good will, to bring about integration.

I believe that, as politicians and citizens, our job is to try to smooth over the difficulties and not to cry them from the house-tops or the political platforms. That is madness and only adds to the difficulties. As has been said by other speakers, people coming to this country should be given the same treatment and opportunities as are afforded to our own people. They have difficulties which we in this country do not have. They are faced with the difficulties of language and custom, and they have to become accustomed to the kind of food which they find in this country but which they do not find anywhere else. These difficulties add to their complications. Then they have to compete against our own people.

It would be a tragic day for Britain, who has set an example of tolerance throughout the ages, if we found ourselves locked in a vice of prejudice and facing problems such as our friends across the Atlantic are trying so hard to overcome. No doubt the Bill has faults and no doubt it may be improved by lawyers once they can get at it, but I think that, if it does nothing else, it will encourage people to behave with tolerance and kindness. I hope that it will be a spur to local authorities to deal with the material shortages, because then it will have done something to help to stop troubles while they are still in their infancy, and we may have an opportunity to get the integrated society which we all await.

7.46 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, went into an interesting discursion on the possible sources of colour prejudice in various classes of persons and said, I think, that at any rate children, and possibly only children, were completely immune. I am not sure that I would not go further than that, because I think, although this may seem paradoxical to your Lordships, that the great majority of the British people are largely immune from colour prejudice when it is a question only of a relationship with an individual coloured person. As the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said in his magnificent speech, it is numbers and not colour which is the problem.

I cannot help repeating to your Lordships an illustration of this from my personal experience which I think I mentioned in your Lordships' House, probably seven or eight years ago. On several occasions my wife and I have entertained black immigrants from the Caribbean in our home. Wherever we took then in our village they were received with open arms. It was perfectly obvious that their colour was a recommendation. But more or less the same was said by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, if 500 of them had descended on the village and totally transformed its character within a couple of years, of course there would be tensions of course there would be prejudice. But from my experience in the Army and among the immigrants and in my own village, I do not believe that the British people are prejudiced against colour as such, unless through the ineptitude of successive Governments they get too much of it.

My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, sat down, I thought that I would not speak because he had said practically everything I wanted to say and he said it very much better than I could. In my eyes the great merit, or one of the great merits, of his speech was that, unlike some speakers, he looked at the problem in the round. He emphasised the consequences of the Bill not only to the immigrants but to our native population. After all, my Lords, this is a Bill of twofold operation. It will have consequences for the native population and for the immigrants, and those two consequences must interlock. Neither will be successful unless the other is successful. I think that too many speeches have assumed that if we can pass the right legislation for immigrants it will not really matter what is the consequence to, or the reaction of, the native population. I think that reaction and those consequences will, in the long run, be just as important for the immigrants as the direct action of the Bill itself.

I do not think that I should have got up to speak if I had not been especially interested in this problem of immigration, probably for longer than some of your Lordships. It was in 1956 that I moved a Motion drawing attention to the intractable social problems likely to arise if we admitted too many immigrants too quickly; and I said then, as I have said many times since, that the problem was not the colour of the immigrants but their numbers; and that when admitted here, they must be treated like any other British citizens. I think that that twofold view now commends itself to more than 90 per cent. of the population, though it did not receive so much support in 1956.

What I ask myself with regard to this Bill is: Is it going to make it easier for the immigrant and his descendants, and the native population and its descendants, to live together in equality and harmony? And do not let us forget all that the ever-tolerant British public has already done to promote the ends we are anxious to see. It is all very well for a newspaper to quote a great many selected passages of the nasty things said in a Midland town; but the British people as a whole are tolerant. Where there are tensions, they have been born primarily of the inevitable and undeniable social evils which have been produced by unplanned mass immigration; and perhaps even more by the fears of ordinary people—in Wolverhampton and Bradford, not in the Cotswolds and on the Yorkshire moors—and by their sense of having become mere flotsam and jetsam on a roaring river of change, as to which they have never been consulted and of which they have never approved.

We cannot get away from the fact that it is numbers that bedevil the whole problem. If there were a quarter of a million immigrants they would have been welcomed with open arms, and nobody would have needed or thought of this Bill.


My Lords, how does the noble Lord explain then the reaction of the dockers to the Kenya High Commissioner? That was not numbers; that was colour prejudice.


My Lords, the dockers are living in contact with mass immigration and they have their grievances. It was not right of them, but I know nothing about this incident or about the High Commissioner—


My Lords, does it matter whether he was the High Commissioner or not? The point is that he was coloured.


My Lords, of course excited men will do rude things. Many insults and unjust words and horrible behaviour have been recorded. I should think that this particular one was not worse than others that have happened. But it is all primarily due to numbers. I am sure that if the dockers had one coloured person in their street, and that was all, they would invite him to tea and take him out in their cars.


My Lords, when the noble Lord is talking about the numbers of immigrants, does he include the Irish immigrants, too?


My Lords, I am talking at the moment about those with whom this Bill is concerned.

When I look at the Bill, the first thing that strikes me—and I do not thins: that this point has been mentioned much, if at all, this evening—is the closeness with which it seems to be modelled on American legislation. I cannot he p recalling a conversation I had last week with an American friend, who is now president of one of the most distinguished places of education in America but during the War was a naval lieutenant in charge of promoting good relations between 5,000 Negroes and their fellow Servicemen in the Deep South. He told me that in the early days of his assignment, before the passage of any civil rights legislation, he would some times have a talk with leading local citizens. They would say that they were in sympathy with what he was trying to do but that he must realise that they dare not come out into the open. When the first civil rights legislation was passed, the same men did come out in the open and supported what he was trying to do.

It was the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, who said that probably one of the results of this Bill would be that, having passed it, we should find it was not really necessary, because its mere existence would produce the necessary results. If and in so far as that is the result of this Bill, I can only wish it well. But we have to remember that at the time and in the place of which my American friend was speaking the Negroes were still virtually deprived of all political and legal rights, whereas immigrants here enjoy full political and legal rights as soon as they arrive. We have to remember, too, that we differ from America in our history, traditions and psychology.

I think that it is owing to the closeness of its following the American model that this Bill is too comprehensive and too unimaginative. It is so comprehensive that it goes further than the recommendations of the P.E.P. and similar inquiries, and it is so unimaginative that it often seems to ignore the possible reactions of our own people, many of whom are very conscious that they have suffered as much as, or more than, the immigrants themselves from the results of immigration. The danger of the Bill seems to me to be lest it should, in the name of promoting social equality, create a permanently privileged minority.

To put it at its crudest and simplest, when the Bill is passed, will not almost any employer who has to make an appointment, or any seller who sells a house within the restricted categories, know that if he prefers a native to an immigrant he may feel the lash of the law, whereas if he prefers an immigrant to a native he certainly will not? In other words, are we not, with the laudable intention of preventing the balance tilting one way, proceeding to tilt it the other? Are we not, in order to promote social equality, setting up legal inequality?

The danger of this is that it may create a lingering resentment among our own people in which racial prejudice may flourish instead of diminish, and (what I think is even more dangerous) it might perpetuate among the immigrants the sense of being an alien minority, necessarily protected by law because imperfectly absorbed into a semi-hostile environment. Which is precisely the mentality we do not want to produce. The danger of the Bill is that it may become a perpetual reminder that there are elements in our society for whom the normal laws and institutions of the country do not suffice, and thereby may prolong a sort of hyper-consciousness about race which would indefinitely delay the growth of that easier, more natural and open attitude to it which is the prerequisite of any satisfactory racial assimilation.

There are several things in the Bill that puzzle me, and I will mention two, quite briefly. The first is that it seems to me that, however lawyers or drafters define "discrimination", it is going to be extremely difficult for the man in the street to know when he is breaking the law. Your Lordships may have noticed that about a week ago there was a report that a tenants' association in a place called Warley, in Worcestershire, claimed (with what accuracy, I do not know), after two or three years of inquiry, that there must be something like 500 polygamous immigrants in their neighbourhood. They went on to ask, "Where does this take us in relation to the Race Relations Bill?" If somebody discriminates against a possible neighbour on the ground that he is polygamous, is he discriminating against him on the ground of ethnic origin or only on an ethnic characteristic? I do not know the answer, but I can imagine a number of situations in which it would test the wisdom of a Solomon to distinguish between ethnic characteristics and ethnic origins, perhaps particularly when it comes to Indians discriminating against West Indians, or West Indians discriminating against Pakistanis, as they certainly will. I presume that this also will be covered by the Bill.

I am a little puzzled by the provision for prosecution under the civil law by the Race Relations Board. I noticed that not only the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, but also the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, welcomed this, and treated it as something which would be much less formidable a deterrent than criminal procedure. But here again I come back to the point I made before: that the Bill is closely modelled on the American example. Those of your Lordships who have followed American writings on this subject will have noticed that the American authorities and experts are very explicit: first, that coercion is an essential part of conciliations; and secondly, that the civil law must be preferred to procedure under the criminal law because it is so much more formidable a deterrent. They point out that damages are likely to be much heavier than a fine would be, and may even encourage complainants.

And, of course, quite apart from the expense of defending a civil case, there is the possibility not only of heavy damages, but of heavy costs, whereas the complainant's case has been handed over lock, stock and barrel to the Race Relations Board, which can draw upon the unlimited financial resources of the State. I cannot think that many defendants will be likely to face a civil trial with those possibilities.

The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the Home Secretary, when moving the Second Reading, both said (I ought to have mentioned this) that this is only a last-resort procedure, intended for most blatant and prolonged offenders. I can only hope that they are right, and that it will be used very seldom: because if it were used much. I can see it producing an atmosphere of resentment in which again race relations may deteriorate instead of improve.

Finally, my Lords, my main complaint of the Bill is that it is modelled too closely on the situation and the legislation of another country, neither of which answers to our conditions; and that it does not think enough of our own people, their manifold distresses, their long record of tolerance, and all the minorities whom they have absorbed in the past, all the more readily, perhaps, because there was no legislation. However, like everybody else, I want this Bill to succeed. When it goes through, I shall wish it well. I have listened as optimistically as I could to the various prophecies of success, but I could not help remembering that a good many of those who made them so confidently had equally confidently denounced the Act of 1962, which I do not suppose one in a thousand of the electorate would wish to see repealed now. Nevertheless, the object of the Bill is racial harmony and equality, which we all want to see, and when it is passed I can only hope that my forbodings may prove to have been unjustified.

8.6 p.m.


My Lords, as the sixteenth speaker in this long debate it is difficult for me to find some original arguments, but following the noble Lord, Lord Elton, if I cannot produce any original arguments, I can certainly produce some diverse ones. I may say (and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Elton, will allow me to make a joke on this serious subject) that whenever the noble Lord speaks on immigration or race I regard him as (shall I say?) my bête-noire or my bête-blanche. I really find that I could not disagree with the noble Lord more.

Let me take just a few of the points. The noble Lord talks about the fact that it is the number which is the difficulty and the problem about immigrants. What he means—and he should "come clean" about this—is the number of coloured immigrants. He does not include the Irish, as I have asked him, or the Hungarians, or the Italians, or the Maltese, or the Cypriots.


I should certainly have included them if a similar number had arrived in so short a space of time and they were the subject that we are discussing this evening.


I must say that 2 per cent. of the population is not a figure that we need dread; and neither is it a figure that has any grave consequences for the native population of this country. In fact, when one speaks about all the disabilities of the British in this country—the disabilities that they suffer on account of these coloured immigrants —I think it is most unfair not to take into account the fact that we require them here; that they are needed here f or the jobs that British people do not want. I think that the meanest myth that is being propagated to-day is the myth that these immigrants, by this Bill, are to become a privileged section of the community, when we know that they have the worst housing, they suffer the worst education, and they have disabilities of all kinds. It is this Bill which is going to try to put some of these things right.

This debate to-day is on one of the greatest moral issues in the world—race prejudice—and it has really been going on in this country for the last three years. But it has come to a head in the last few months. It is not a problem that need be approached on Party lines. As I see from the Tory Election Manifesto of 1966: We must ensure that all immigrants living in Britain are treated in all respects as equal citizens and without discrimination". That is from the Tory Party Manifesto of 1966. I take that in complete good faith.

What we are arguing about is whether racial discrimination can be eradicated by legislation or what legislation can do to help to alleviate it. Many Conservatives maintain that racial discrimination can be eradicated only by education with the help of voluntary community organisations. In fact, they go on to say that legislation in this field infringes the cherished right of freedom of speech. This is what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said in his most admirable, moderate speech which he made this afternoon, which I greatly admired because I know that he disagrees with the legislation in this Bill. I cannot think, though, that the noble Lord would really stretch this argument so far as to include freedom to discriminate strongly. Freedom to make an insulting remark—we all know about that; but I doubt whether he would really include freedom to discriminate strongly in freedom of speech. There was only one point which I greatly disagreed with in the noble Lord's speech, and that was when he said that he would put a stop to allowing immigrants' children between the ages of 13 and 16 to come and join their parents here. I think he might think again about this.

Personally, I would agree that good race relations are achieved by education, but I contend that legislation is an integral part of social education in this sphere and an essential starting point in this educational process. I do not believe that in tackling racial discrimination it can be left to good intentions, to the good intentions of the individual, or, as the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, said, to good manners. Of course, one does not legislate for morals, but one can legislate for good behaviour, and in this wicked world I would gladly settle for decent behaviour and bypass the human heart. It is true that racial prejudice is universal and may be intractable, but there is one saving grace about it. Opinions on race are flexible and can change. Legislation has an important role to play in setting decent standards of behaviour which, in their turn, can change social attitudes. Most people accept and adjust to new laws and the fact that the law is applied to everyone, as hos been said by several noble Lords to-day, is a help in overcoming individual irrational prejudice.

So, my Lords, I welcome and warmly support this Race Relations Bill and regard it as an act of political courage by the Government at this particular time. This Bill has many good features and some weaknesses, as other noble Lords have pointed out. It is widely drawn and retains the conciliatory measures of the 1965 Bill. It provides for an independent Race Relations Board. The Attorney General has no part in it, which means that it has no criminal measures. It is, however, criticised on several counts by those whose support it, as several speakers have already pointed out. The racial balance clause is really rather objectionable, and would make it possible for the prejudiced to discriminate against coloured citizens. This makes an inroad into the objectives of the Bill, and this clause is unnecessary since the true test of application for employment in this Bill is merit. Why bring in colour? Those who criticise this clause suggest that it would have been better if the employment procedures were regulated by the Race Relations Board.

There is much criticism also of the new definition of "discrimination". This is, of course, something for lawyers to worry about, and I should have thought that, with our rich and beautiful English language, a simple and precise definition could be worked out which was not open to misinterpretation by the courts or to suspicion by laymen. It seems to me that the 1965 definition was a better one than the one in this Bill, and I do not know why we did not leave it alone. Of course, the achievement of legislation is not an end in itself; only the beginning of an end.

At this time there is a great deal of loose talk denigrating the activities of Parliament, and a great responsibility falls on politicians for the laws they enact and the speeches they make. We have all heard speeches, and though I did not want to mention Mr. Enoch Powell's name, as his name has been mentioned I will do so, too. I should like to make one or two comments on his speech on the problems of race and immigration. Several noble Lords have said how courageous he was in making this speech; how we have always swept these problems under the carpet. I have never been aware that we have swept these problems under the carpet and I regard his speech as a cowardly speech, and I will explain why. His speech exploited the fears both of the privileged and of the underprivileged, of the people who were underprivileged and who were insecure about all sorts of things which had nothing to do with race. I regard that sort of speech as cowardly in this respect. It provided people with a ready-made scapegoat for their emotions. None of them, not his speech nor other speeches of this kind, have ever put forward any solution to the problems in our society. They speak of this country, not as if it were an island surrounded by the sea, but as if it were a castle surrounded by a moat; and all they seek is to haul up the drawbridge continuously and stop people from coming into it. It is the unthinking response to such attitudes that makes legislation absolutely imperative.

I would refer to the arguments of those who argue against the value of the Race Relations Bill. They say it is a bad Bill, comparatively few people will be caught by it and widespread opposition to it will be aroused; they maintain that it is a weak Bill. But if these arguments are so, if it is a weak Bill, why should it engender widespread opposition? Also, some of those who criticise its mildness are the last people in the world who would want a stronger Bill or who would seek to strengthen it. But, my Lords, what moral case can anyone make out for refusing legal equality? We are witnessing the social and economic consequences of generations of racial discrimination in America. Can anyone deny that if there had been legislation against race discrimination years ago much prejudice would by now have been overcome and dealt with? We should learn from the mistakes of our American friends, although, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said, the situation or the problems are not the same. This Bill enlarges individual freedoms by extending equal rights to the coloured citizens of this country. This is not to make them a privileged part of this community, but to give them equal rights. Immigration policy must go hand in hand with this Bill, but not a selective one, one on racial grounds, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, suggests.

Here I should like to make a comment on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, whom I may say I regard as a friend. It was as if a liberal (with a small "1") were struggling to come out of the image of an English conservative gentleman (with a small "c") and a very conservative English lawyer. I found none of his arguments particularly convincing. The noble Lord asked whether it was a crime for the people of this country to wish to retain their customs, and that sort of thing, and suggested that this was not being racial. Of course it is not. But I wonder whether he has read —and I am prepared to show him—letters such as I have received on occasions when people like the noble Lord make remarks of this kind about immigrants? Perhaps he would be a little surprised to find Colin Jordan grasping at some of the mild statements he has made to-day.

Legislation of the kind contained in this Race Relations Bill are great social measures, and when we tackle one social injustice it is usually a stimulus for tackling others. Here I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amber-ley, that this is really giving the women of this country ideas. I think that as a result of the Race Relations Bill women will try to go forward to get equality of status in this country. It makes people conscious and concerned, and we continue to legislate for different kinds of injustice according to the problems of the day as they arise.

Incidentally, the expansion of tribunals such as the Race Relations Board is an imaginative kind of legislation and a great help in working out a flexible, administrative law. This Bill is farsighted. The Government are aware of the damaging effects of racial discrimination and are taking practical steps to deal with some of the problems by means of social legislation. The Government deserve congratulations for their political courage and for providing the framework within which good will can operate, for there has to be a framework—it cannot just be left to the human heart. The Bill is not opposed by any of the three political Parties.

Finally, my Lords, as a delegate to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, I shall be able to hold my head high, to point to this Bill with satisfaction and to counter such taunts as, "Yes, you have human rights for white citizens in your country but not equal rights for coloured citizens". By this Bill we make clear to the world that we are really against racial discrimination.

8.24 p.m.


My Lords, I want to offer a welcome to this Bill and to hope that it will receive an unopposed Second Reading. I should like immediately to continue, as it were, from where the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell finished her admirable speech. I promise not to talk about immigration, for although it is an ancillary problem it is not particularly germane to this Bill and at this time of night ought to be excluded from any comments which speakers make, purely because of the lack of time and the patience with which this House has already attended to so many speeches.

I shall not go into the morphology of racial intemperance, although I believe that to compute it mathematically is too simplified an answer. I should like to remind the House of the winding up speech of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, who confined his case in another place to four simple questions which are positively answered in this Bill. Those questions were as follows: first, is it necessary?; second, will it do more harm than good or more good than harm?; third, is it practicable?; fourth, is it enough?

To begin with, is it necessary? On two grounds I believe it to be amply justified. It is necessary in the first place, because there is a great evil to be righted; and in the second place it is necessary because if that evil is to be righted then legislation must play its part in the process. Moreover, evidence has been presented of the facts of racial discrimination. I would add that as a social worker in housing and employment I am regularly confronted with problems which at the moment are almost insoluble and yet reflect a large degree of racial intemperance and of racial injustice—the very things which at the moment cannot be treated as they should be treated and which demand moral and practical action.

There is another aspect of this subject which has not been mentioned in your Lordships' House to-day, and that is the amount of racial intemperance and racial prejudice that now exists in those ghettoes and among the dark and black people themselves. When we are thinking of housing it would be quite improper to think that the only kind of discrimination which takes place is discrimination against those who are coloured. In many places in Notting Hill to which I could take your Lordships the very opposite is the case: there is real, permanent and growing discrimination.

Secondly, the argument that this can be dealt with without some kind of procedure at law seems to me to be altogether too facile an assumption. I am all for education, and I shall revert to that in a moment or two, but there can be no doubt, surely that some kind of legislation must play its part, not in changing human nature but in making large changes in the pattern of human behaviour, which is as much as social education can ever hope to do.

I wish the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, were here because he, rather incautiously, I thought, ventured into the field of theology when he insisted that from a Christian standpoint loving one's neighbour could not be expressed in legislative terms. If I may refer him to the Sermon on the Mount, which perhaps can be regarded as the ecclesiastical Hansard, he will find in chapter 5 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, verse 22: whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca! shall be in danger of the council". Now "Raca", as perhaps your Lordships know, is not only a word of insult but of discrimination. It involves, in fact, the very principle that we are talking about to-day, of discrimination, because it assumes that the other man, whom you call "Raca", is an inferior being and can be called as such. Further, in verse 25, Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Then, in verse 26: Verily I say unto thee. Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. It would be most intemperate, in my opinion, for any theologian to insist that in the Christian faith we think so lightly of any legislative procedures as to regard them as the "poor relation" of other forms of social action. I believe it is our Christian, as well as our social, duty to seek where we can to provide those social means to assist people to be decent, although we cannot command them to be.

The second question asked by the Home Secretary was whether this particular piece of legislation, if it went through, was likely to do more harm than good, or more good than harm. I should like to draw the only illustration I will take time on to-night, by describing my own experience on a place called Tower Hill, where free speech has been enjoyed (and sometimes mistreated) for a long time now. I was very much concerned in 1965, and indeed before that, at what was happening at Speaker's Corner and on Tower Hill, where free speech was being largely inhibited by a great deal of racialism, and I have found that the passing of the first part of this piece of legislation, the 1965 Act, has materially improved the situation and has increased the facility for free speech, because it is now known that the Government are committed—in principle, at least—to that free speech which cannot be exercised under conditions of racial discrimination. Therefore I would feel it is necessary to complete the process, in the same hope and confidence that what has been achieved in that field can be achieved in the field of housing and employment generally.

Is it practicable? I join with the noble Lord, Lord Byers, in a good deal of apprehension at the prospective change from like treatment to less advantageous treatment, for I am sure that unless we have a more or less neutral definition of what we mean by discrimination—and I heartily agree with the suggestion he made—we are likely to find ourselves involved in subjective inquiries as to what is less favourable, as well as in the very greatly increased danger that in getting rid of discrimination we may create apartheid; that we in fact provide like and equal opporlunities but not desegregated opportunities, in fact segregated opportunities. Therefore, I believe that, unless we are prepared to find a definition at the beginning of our legislation, we shall be in considerable trouble in implementing it later. As the hour is late, I will not speak of other matters in this particular field.

I cannot see how anybody can regard this as impracticable in principle. It seems to me to proceed on the right lines. It begins with the kind of conciliatory offices now being exercised and gives them freer play. It provides in the Race Relations Board a conciliatory principle—and here I disagree with some who have criticised their lack of power. I think the less power in itself the Board enjoys, the more likely to attract the confidence of those who are asked, but not required, to appear before it. The third tier is the tier of legislative action, and this would commend itself to me as, I hope, a reasonable person. Were I not already involved in thinking about it, I should regard it as a piece of sensible procedure.

Let me refer to the last question. The Home Secretary asked whether it was enough. Of course it is not. It is not enough because a great many of the problems are problems not only of numbers of black people but numbers of black people in congested places where there are equally large numbers of other coloured people. Of course it is not enough, because we have a social system in which we still regard housing, in some respects at least, as a matter of private enterprise and calculated in terms of profit, whereas it seems to me that it is possible to have an equable society only when housing is regarded in exactly the same light as we now regard teaching, education and the provision of the., welfare services. It is not enough, because we cannot isolate our own islands; we have to see this in a larger context. It is not enough because education is not enough.

The word "education" has been much used to-day. I am well aware, as I am sure your Lordships are, that it does not come from the Latin "educere"—to draw out, but from the Latin "educare" —to nourish. I owe that to the great Dr. Temple. I heard him say it many years ago; it came as a flash of light, and it has remained an illumination ever since. What is the nourishment unless it not only contains the acquisition of facts about the material world, and some expertise in finding one's way around in that material world, but the final objectives of life are equally well presented to the one to be educated?

I should not be fair to the collar I wear unless, before finishing, I said this. This particular Bill is an attempt to achieve a measure of social righteousness of which I believe we are all dimly conscious, and of which many people are keenly conscious; and unless it can stimulate us to a more general apprehension of what is our business here on earth, and what is a multiracial society as the family of God, and what is man's relationship to himself and his neighbour and his enemy and his friend; unless it can help in this direction, it will be not merely insufficient but impotent. I venture to hope that if such a measure as this is passed here and becomes law, it will play some part in the juster society to which I am sure all of us, on both sides of this House, desire to move.

8.35 p.m.


My Lords, when this debate began this afternoon, after I had listened with admiration to the very lucid and fair account of the position by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and then I listened to the brilliant speech from the other side of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, it seemed to me that it would have been a good time to close this debate, because almost everything worth saying had then been said. But I have been sitting here all the afternoon, for some hours, and I have been infected with the idea that there are one or two points which I would still like to emphasise.

To begin with, I do not think it can be too often emphasised that no one questions that all citizens within our boundaries must have the same freedoms and responsibilities; in fact they must enjoy the same general rights of citizenship and the same opportunities. But that applies to all who are here now, without this Bill, and it does not connote a free-for-all attitude towards would-be immigrants from other lands in the future. It must be emphasised, I think, that stringent restrictions, stringent conditions on immigration, should be based on our capacity to absorb; and, not only that, but on the capacity of the immigrants and their willingness to be absorbed. We do not want contending and possibly unacceptable customs, habits, ways of life and outlook on life to be intruded extensively on our own people, nor for them to be forced to accept distasteful differences on anything like a permanent basis.

But it is when we give legal sanction to the policy that discrimination on grounds of race, colour, ethnic group or nationality merits penal discouragement that it seems to me we run into difficult and dangerous ground. Personal liberty of choice in all aspects of life is surely a precious possession. I am not a racialist. I have intimate friends, coloured friends, all over the world, and I know them well, both in my own house and elsewhere. But I am a determined believer in personal liberty, qualified only by the rule that my own exercise of it does not unfairly limit the basic rights of other citizens. Nor have I any right to organise mass objection to groups of other citizens who are law-abiding.

I think it is wrong to legislate to make discrimination unlawful, for the simple reason that such a law is unworkable in practice without becoming a tyrannical imposition of the State's will upon reluctant citizens. This Bill will not work in practice unless it represents the wish and the will of the vast majority of the citizens of this country; and if that were the case, the Bill would be quite unnecessary. I do not think that it has that backing; nor do I believe that it can be operated without the practice of the very discrimination which it condemns. There is a further consideration: is this law necessary? Well, we have heard from one or two speakers to-day that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which this country signed, contains all the rights which any accepted citizen of this country need bother about.

My Lords, the reason for my dislike of the Bill is that it is subject to these fundamental defects which do not admit of being improved or extensively altered in Committee. One admits that there are problems, but they are not problems that can be solved by legislation, which is apt only to intensify the resentment that one wishes to avoid. It surely requires lengthy education, not the intrusive encroachment by law on the sphere of personal decision.

One is bound to ask: would this law really help to diminish discrimination? My reply to that would be, No: I think that it is likely to magnify by centralising resentment to such interference. There are many forms of discrimination. Why select racial discrimination? Life is full of discrimination. The noble Baroness, Lady Emmet, mentioned one in the shape of the discrimination of the sexes in this country; and of course there are religious discriminations and social discriminations. Are we to look forward to an extension of this system, a kind of system of escalating deterrents applied to any exercises of personal preference? It is a horrible prospect.

As the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said at the beginning of his speech, you cannot legislate to alter the hearts of human beings; but you can of course educate and lead them. The process is slow, but it is better surely than reaching for the totalitarian handbook and using force. In my opinion, the answer lies in quite restrictive selection on entry and, after entry and acceptance, help in housing, education and health. Much can be done by voluntary effort of all kinds, but whatever you do, or however you legislate, you cannot enforce tolerance by decree or create good will by force. It all takes time, as we have all learned during our lives. That is why I dislike this present Bill, which I know will pass into law. I regret it, but it is now certain to happen. I do not for a moment question that it is inspired by good intentions, but we all know what famous road is supposed to have a similar pavement.

8.45 p.m.


My Lords, I welcome and support this Bill. Like the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, I do not think we must expect too much from it. It is, of its very nature. a rather negative piece of legislation. But the whole of the criminal law is negative legislation, and it plays an essential part in our legislative system. I agree with him that we shall have to look to education, the constructive side of the shield, so to speak, even more than to this Bill.

I must say that I found the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who has just resumed his seat, extremely unconvincing. I seem to remember hearing them almost verbatim on the occasion of the previous Bill. Yet this afternoon we have heard from the most reverend Primate, who knows more than anybody about the work that has been done under that Act, how successful it has been. I have little doubt that substantial s recess will also be achieved under this Bill when it becomes an Act.

Of course, at this stage in a debate of this kind there are few arguments left which have not been used; indeed, many of them have been deployed more than once. I shall do my best not to keep on dotting i's and crossing t's, an exercise in which I ought to be becoming rather expert by now because I find myself so often in this position. However, I believe that on an occasion of this kind, when an attempt is being made to grapple with a problem which is among the most difficult, complex and dangerous that Parliament has ever had to handle (again I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke on this), it is one's duty to testify. I use that word on this occasion almost in a religious sense. Equality of citizenship is indeed, I think, a matter of political faith. I am not, of course, talking about politics in the sense of Party politics, but of what one might call a general democratic and humanist faith, which indeed was enshrined by the Chinese many centuries ago in a famous maxim which I think appears in Confucius; that Within the four corners of the world all men are brothers". Not that I would bring any charge of denying the Brotherhood of Man against those who have been opposing this Bill in Parliament—in this House this afternoon in rather sotto voce terms, but in another place a great deal more strenuously, and even bitterly. Certainly, I should not like to bring a charge of racism against them, but I must say that I regard the sizeable vote which was cast against the Third Reading in the Commons as one of the most regrettable events which has ever occurred during the whole of my political lifetime, a really regrettable business altogether.

It is a black, disastrous truth which has come out repeatedly this after-loon, that there are quite a lot of racists in our community. It is to these unfortunate people, who I believe are more neurotic than anything else, that "Powellism", as it has come to be called, can easily make an appeal; and provide a fig-leaf of decency for what is really shameful. For it is in "Powellism" that they will find, so to speak, authority for their unfortunate and dangerous outlook. It has lent the prestige of a powerful political figure in the community to a doctrine which I think all of us in this House would regard as a pernicious one. Per contra, of course, it persuades our coloured fellow citizens—and I want to underline the fact that they are fellow citizens, as indeed many other speakers have done to-day, I am glad to say, and who are certainly not in such an emotional state that they can judge these matters in a calm and impartial manner —that an important section of one of our great historical political Parties, led by men who have held high office in the State, are ready to deny them justice; and that is a most unfortunate state of affairs. How can we successfully pursue a policy of racial integration against a background in which such deep feelings have been stirred up, and have been made as bitter as we know them to be?

It was this feeling that the advent of "Powellism" in recent months has basically affected the political climate, I think, that caused Mr. Hogg and the majority of the Conservatives to alter the position that they had taken up on the Second Reading in the Commons—that is, the decision to oppose the passage of the Bill and to agree to the Bill's going through without voting against it. I must say I should like to congratulate them very much on that wise and statesmanlike policy. I admired their good sense, and particularly the eloquent and very well argued speech of Mr. Hogg on that occasion. Although it was no doubt not possible for him, as a matter of practical politics, I think that in logic Mr. Hogg should have gone further and advised his followers to cast an affirmative vote for the Bill.

I myself see no possibility of solving this intractable problem except on the basis of an inter-Party agreement about the proper solution of it. I bitterly regretted that the Conservative Party had taken up a position of opposition to the Bill at the beginning, but I regret just as much that little, if any, really genuine effort was made by my own Party to provide a basis on which an agreed solution of an inter-Party character could be reached. Nor, so far as I could make out, were any very serious steps taken to initiate inter-Party discussion on this problem before the Bill was worked out in a fairly finalised sort of form.

I quite agree—and indeed I go further than the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor—about the seriousness of the present position. In my view, the situation is one of a seriousness corresponding to that which brought the Parties together in May, 1940, and led to the formation of a National Government, if we look at the matter from the point of view of the need for a happy and harmonius future for the British people. And I suggest that that is the way this matter ought to be looked at, because unless we can solve this problem there will be no happy and harmonious future for the British people as such. Of course I am not proposing that we should set up a National Government to deal with this matter, but surely we could hammer out a policy which men of good will in all the Parties could accept and determine to make operative.

The Times, in its famous, or shall I describe it as its "infamous" leader of July 6 said this: This Bill is concerned with how we should treat our fellow citizens. That sentence has been re-echoed throughout the debate to-day, and I am very glad that that is so, because surely this is exactly right; and surely it is a sentence which can be accepted not only by us in this place but by all men of good will throughout the community. I do not want to say more about this Times leader, which has aroused so much Conservative anger, except that in a pretty long experience I have always found that the criticisms to which those who were criticised were most sensitive were the criticisms which were in fact the most valid.

The only other point that I wish to make is concerned with this question of liberty, which has been raised by more than one speaker, and which was very much discussed in the debate in another place. It is contended, and has been contended—it was contended a minute or two ago by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton—that the proposed law will be a serious interference with a man's liberty to deal in all sorts of ways, to employ whomsoever he likes, to let his property to whomsover he likes, and in many other ways. There is, of course, an interference of a sort, but "liberty" is a word which everyone likes to conjure with and to conjure within his own particular way, and we are all susceptible to this temptation. But at the heart of the matter it seems to me that particularly in politics liberty is a question of balance. Almost every Act of Parliament involves some interference with liberty, greater or less. We restrict a man's freedom, or the freedom of a particular group of people, in the interest of the community as a whole. That is the acid test by which we judge whether the interference is a legitimate one.

I have mentioned the criminal code of the country already in this speech. The criminal code is one long interference with the liberty of the subject, but it is an interference which is absolutely essential if you are to have a civilised community functioning at all. Sometimes, as the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, pointed out, as in the case of the "Breathalyser" Act, our interference is so obvious that it takes Parliament quite a long time to pull itself together and determine to take the plunge for an interference of this kind; yet now that we have done it after all these years we are satisfied that it was a very important and valuable interference with the liberties of the subject.

It is noteworthy that the Bill before us does not add any new offence. It is not a criminal Statute at all. It is not relying upon the sanctions of the criminal law in order to enforce the principles on which it is based. It may be that that is a weakness in it. I am not at all sure that we might not, in some respects at any rate, have followed the American plan where they enforce the civil side of this matter in sore important respects by bringing in the crimial law. Indeed, in this respect, this Bill is quite a long way behind our old Common Law. At an early stage it was an indictable crime—it still is, although it is never enforced in practice—for an innkeeper to turn away without good cause a traveller who had come to seek lodgings in his inn, or for a common carrier to refuse transport to a merchant and his goods: that also was an indictable offence at Common Law. These matters are covered by this Bill, but it does not go anywhere like as far as the Common Law went, and used to be enforced, until the beginning of the last century. At Common Law if you carried on a public occupation, the law placed a responsibility upon you to carry it out properly. If you provided a service to the public you were to perform that service; you were not to pick and choose the people for whom you would perform it.

The proposals in this Bill seem to me to be based on the same sort of principle as that of the Common Law, and the alleged infractions of the principles of freedom seem to me to be largely illusory. The landlord who makes his income from letting houses to tenants has from early in the present century more and more been controlled both in Iegard to the rents he is allowed to charge and the provision of certain minimum standards of houseworthiness in regard to the premises which he lets. This control has been accepted by all Parties; it has been accepted as much by the Conservative Party and by Conservative Governments over recent years as it has been accepted by the Labour Party. With these considerations in mind, I do not think one can say that such interferences with liberty as there are in the present Bill are not counter-balanced by the social justice which this Bill should help to secure. Therefore, it seems to me that this cry of "Liberty in danger", which is so often raised on this sort of occasion, is altogether a "red herring" and that we ought not to pay any attention to it. For these reasons I support the Bill, and wish it a safe passage to the Statute Book in the near future.

9.3 p.m.


My Lords, nobody could quarrel with the aims of this Bill, which are to achieve a noble purpose, and that is to try to do away with racial discrimination in this country, but at the outset I should like to say that it is a pity that Party considerations need enter into matters such as discrimination, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, et cetera. These issues ought to be looked at as a matter of conscience; that is my personal opinion.

A few noble Lords have tried to simplify this question of racial discrimination. They have made it out to be entirely a question of colour. It is my opinion that the average man it this country, from whatever class, does not care what colour a man is, whether he is black, brown, yellow or blue—if you can get a blue man. I believe one finds blue people down in the South of Morocco—they call them "blue", but it is only because they wear blue clothes. The real trouble is a question of habit and customs. Every race has its own habits; you cannot blame it for that. I believe that in this country a great deal of the problem of racial dislike is because of over-crowding, although the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, did not agree with that.

We have been told that coloured immigrants in this country amount to only 2 per cent. of total population. I did not think that it was quite as much as that. If they were spread throughout the whole country there would be no trouble at all, but when they are concentrated in two or three cities one is bound to get friction. If you are an ordinary working man who has never travelled out of England and has never mixed with other races, then if you get two families of different races on either side of you, it is natural that there will be friction. We have to take these matters into account. It is all right for those of us who have travelled abroad. I used to have plantations in Jamaica and for 12 years I went out there a great deal. I have had a lot to do with coloured people. I am Chairman of the Victoria League of my area of England; I have a great many Commonwealth people down and I show them round and entertain them. They are people of all races and all colours. It is easy for us not to have any feeling of discrimination, but we have to remember the ordinary person.

There is one thing which I do not quite understand about the Bill. Why has not religion been included? One gets a good deal of discrimination in religion. One remembers the row over the Sikhs in Wolverhampton—I think it was Wolverhampton—because they were not allowed to drive buses wearing their turbans. This was complete and utter nonsense, because turbans are a very attractive form of headgear. I should rather like to be able to wear one myself. It would certainly suit me far better than a hat with one of those horrible brims. That was all to do with religion, which is a matter that is not included in the Bill. While I completely support the principles of the Bill, I am rather frightened —and I have said this before in all the other debates on racial questions—that if you legislate against the natural likes and dislikes of men you may accentuate the problems. But that is a danger that we must risk. I have a dog which always chases cats. I beat the hell out of this dog, but it is just his nature to chase cats. It is the same with this question of racial prejudice—and, of course, it is complete prejudice. Its roots go very deep and we have to treat this matter very carefully.

I am not complaining about what we are doing in this Bill, because I think we are right to do it, but we are infringing on the personal liberties of a majority in order to protect the personal liberties of a minority. It is no good saying that we are not infringing, because we are, but it is probably right to do it. This country has a wonderful record of tolerance, but what we are doing is dangerous. Yet we do not want to have a class of second-rate citizens in this country.

We do not want to talk about the rate of immigration, because this Bill has nothing to do with that. But the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, made some remarks about Powellism. So far as I am aware, Mr. Powell did not criticise at all any methods of helping immigrants in this country. He was talking only about the flow of immigrants into this country.


My Lords, I was not accusing Mr Powell of racism at all. What I was saying was that his attitude was adopted by the racists, and it had a bad result from that point of view.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord for thinking that he was criticising Mr. Powell for being hard on the coloured immigrants already in this country. Perhaps I did not understand him aright. What has been brought out in this debate is that it is the children who are going to be the great problem. Even if we had no more coloured immigrants coming into this country, their natural rate of reproduction is fairly considerable and the problem is going to grow. They are naturally going to increase very greatly through their birthrate. So I am particularly in support of this Bill in regard to the children born in this country, who do not know any other home. But with regard to the adult immigrants who come here, I should like to say that if I emigrated to a country I should not expect the law to be altered to suit me. I am not objecting; I am only stating a fact.

The particular clause about which I am rather worried is Clause 3. Clauses 3, 4 and 8 relate to employment, and I fully support Clauses 4 and 8 because I have had a factory and it has been very difficult for employers if shop stewards said, "We are not having any coloureds here, as otherwise we shall strike" So Clause 4 will protect employers from that form of blackmail. But I am a bit worried about Clause 3 and the word "qualifications". A white man and a black man with the same qualifications could apply for a job. I know that to-day we live in a world of qualifications, where character, record and integrity are not taken very much into consideration. We are becoming a nation of robots. Provided you are qualified, you are all right. But the thing I am frightened of, as an employer, is this. In the past, if several white men came to apply for a job and you did not like the look of the face of one of them, you need not employ him. If they all had the same qualifications, you could pick the one you liked best because you liked his personality, his character, or whatever you call it. Perhaps I am wrong here but, as I read this employment clause, if a white man and a black man come for a job and they both have the same qualifications, if you do not employ the black man you will be hauled up before the Board, and so, in order to avoid that embarrassment, you will obviously choose the black man. I am not quite happy about that. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor may be able to say something about it.

Before I leave the question of jobs I should also like to point out—and this applies to all races—that some people have an exaggerated idea of their suitability for a job. I am an employer, unfortunately—J wish to heaven I was not! I wish to heaven we could have a Bill for non-discrimination against employers!I think we really deserve it, because you will soon have no employers in this country—at least, no prival e employers. I should just like to make the point that some West Indians and some Africans—and it applies to whites, too —may think they are perfectly suitable for a job whereas they may not be; and, of course, they may get resentful and it will be all very difficult.

May I just draw attention to the insurance clause here?—I think it comes under Clause 2, subsection (2). I have a lot of friends in insurance. Insurance companies keep very good records, and they have certain classes of people who they find, through experience, are worse risks than others. For instance, undergraduates are thought by insurance companies to be a poor risk regarding the driving of cars. It may be very unfair on the sober undergraduates and the careful indergraduates who drive well, but, none the less, insurance companies have these categories. Now in the West Indies I have been a big employer of Jamaicans. I have got on very well with them and I am very fond of them; but they can be very dangerous sometimes when C riving trucks. They are very volatile people, and if they have a tot of rum they may very easily smash the truck up. The insurance companies may find, through their records, that West Indians, Africans, Pakistanis, or whatever the race is, have a bad record; but under this Bill here they cannot do anything about it. I am rather worried about that.

When we come to the housing clause, I am pleased to hear that a private person, if he does not put his house in the hands of an agent and does not advertise—I am not sure about advertising, but certainly if he does not put his house in the hands of an agent—can sell it to whomever he wants. But if you want to sell your house you really must put it in the hands of agents; and this clause appears to be favouring coloured people in the buying of houses. I am not complaining about that: I am merely saying that, to me, this clause appears to be favouring them. Perhaps am wrong, but that is how it appears to me.

The other point—I think two or three noble Lords brought this subject up—concerns the question of the civil courts; that if the matter goes beyond the conciliatory stage and goes to the civil courts, very big damages can be given against you there. I am afraid that there may be some complainants who may complain on a trumped up charge in the hope that they will get damages. That could happen, but it would be rather unfair on the defendant, because the Race Relations Board pay all the complainant's costs while the poor defendant has to pay his own costs, and he might get heavy damages against him. You will then find that no landlord or anyone likely to be involved as a defendant in one of these actions will ever go to court. He will think the dice are loaded too much against him.

I would draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 24, which is the research clause. I hope that the Government do great research on this matter, because in this question of race relations the more research we do on it the better. I should like to say that I hope this Bill works when it becomes law. Perhaps in this House we may alter it slightly; but it appears to me to be rather uneven in application according to the law. I am not a lawyer. I see the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is glaring at me; but I should have thought that as drawn it was not very good law. But I am an absolute novice in matters of law.

I would end by saying that I hope the Bill stops racial discrimination, because racial discrimination is a very nasty thing and an extremely unfair thing. I should also like just to say that I hope that the B.B.C. take this Bill to heart; because in my opinion they have been rather inclined sometimes to put on plays that show racial discrimination. I hope that this Bill, when it becomes law, will really stop all that; because racial discrimination is a horrible trait. I do not like it at all.

9.23 p.m.


My Lords, I found the speech of the noble Viscount who has just spoken an enchanting cliffhanger; I still do not know whether he is for the Bill or against it; but I do wish that he would stop beating hell out of his dog!Two things seem to mark this debate to-day. First there seems to have been a great deal of soft-pedalling on the part of the Opposition. We have heard little of the words that we heard in the Commonwealth Immigra- tion debate, and also the numbers are neither as present nor as vocal as they were on the Rhodesian Sanctions debate. Another thing that struck me was that people who have been talking round or about or against the Bill have carefully used the word "immigrants" and have kept off the word "coloured"; whereas what I think we all know and should accept and face frankly is that this Bill is about coloured people. It is not about immigrants as immigrants; it is about people who are coloured, people who are dark—dark in different shades perhaps, but who are not the same colour as white people.

One of the comments which I am afraid shocked me most was that made in the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, when he said that the root of the problem is not prejudice, is not colour, but is numbers. I am shocked, because I accept his sincerity and believe that he means what he says. I do not believe that comment; and I do not think that the evidence we have, the research that has been done and the knowledge that we have of the subject, supports it at all. It is true that a concentration of numbers increases a problem; but the fact is—and it is an unpleasant fact to have to accept—that there are numbers of people in this country who are blindly, automatically, unpleasantly, prejudiced against dark skins. Unless we are prepared to face that, not say it in the way of Enoch Powell, in order to get them "off the hook" and make it respectable, but say it in the way which makes it distasteful, absurd and unrespectable, I do not think we can start talking honestly about the problem at all.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Baroness to say that so far as I was concerned I was talking of immigrants in general, no matter what their colour?


My Lords, I was not referring to the speech of the noble Baroness; I was referring to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. Also in his speech the noble Lord said that if he were to leave England to go to another country he would not expect to be treated in the same way as the people of that country were treated. I hope the noble Lords will forgive me if that is not an accurate transcript of what the noble Lord said, but I think it was the intention of his words. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, said that when you seek to emigrate to another country you do not normally seek to change the laws of that country. For the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, with his background and education and his status to compare himself with some poor immigrant, uneducated and poverty-stricken, who comes to this country seems to me extremely unfair and an irrelevant analogy. So far as the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, is concerned, one may not seek to change the laws of the country to which one emigrates but surely one does not expect the lack of hospitality amounting to brutal humiliation and deprivation that many coloured people are experiencing in this country.

My Lords, only a few days ago the National Youth. Employment Council published its most recent report on the Youth Employment Service. I will not go over the pouts made by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, about the difficulty of immigrants, particularly young coloured immigrants, in getting jobs in service industries, especially where they come into contact with people. But in this report reference is made to the P.E.P. Report which found that the more highly qualified met with the greatest discrimination —which again seems to me to be an answer to the theory about numbers. The report goes on to say: If this pattern were to be repeated when more qualified young people are leaving school, a serious situation could arise. In other words as my noble friend Lord Stonham pointed out, young people who were not themselves immigrants, and were born in this country would experience the same sort of discrimination as their parents had experienced or as those who have come to this country are experiencing now.

If one accepts these facts—and they are facts—then it seems to me there can be no argument against the necessity for legislation. I think that this was conclusively indicated, and the best answer to the need for legislation provided by the statement on Race and Racial Prejudice published by UNESCO in September of last year—namely; The law is among the most important means of ensuring equality between individuals and one of the most effective means of fighting racism. Of course we know that legislation is not an end or a cure in itself, but it does give a framework in which actions can he controlled and attitudes gradually altered. After all, in the 19th century, when the Factory Acts were first passed, nobody thought that the Industrial Revolution would continue at the same pace if women and children were kept out of the factories. When women finally won the vote it was thought that that would be almost the end of civilisation, but your Lordships have now to endure the presence of a certain number in your own House.

One of the awful results of the present discrimination which we have, and must recognise, is that it creates a vicious circle. We hear complaints: I hear them as a magistrate, sitting in an area where there are a great many coloured immigrants living in crowded conditions. We hear of coloured people exploiting one another; of overcrowding; of none and trouble which they cause and which affects and annoys the people living near them. The exploiters are able to exploit, and the victims are ready to be victimised because they are discriminated against; because the housing available to them is strictly limited. And when one has a situation in which a group of people are treated by a certain number of other people with contempt, ridicule and abuse, it would be most unusual if in some cases contempt did not product contemptible behaviour.

For these reasons, my Lords, I feel that legislation, even with its imperfections, is essential. One of the interesting things about both this debate and all the debates in another place has been that even those who are opposed to this Bill, but who have said that legislation was necessary, have so far not put up any viable alternative. I feel that we should try to make this Bill work, and I should like to mention briefly one or two ways in which I think we could improve the present Bill.

I agree with those noble Lords who do not like the present definition of discrimination, and I also prefer that laid down by the United Nations. I do not like the clause about the labour force because, although my noble friend Lord Stonham pointed out that people born here were no longer immigrants but citizens of this country, they will still be regarded as part of a racial group and therefore part of a balancing labour force.


My Lords, on this point my noble friend is wrong. The Bill lays down that those who are mainly or wholly educated in this country would be of the same racial group.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend. I thought that they were going to be in a racial group according to the colour of their skins. I am still a little confused about this, and perhaps when my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor replies he will put me right on this.

I think it is a pity that the disputes with regard to employment go to the Ministry of Productivity and Employment, rather than to the Race Relations Board. I should like to see the Board given power to subpoena witnesses and the right to demand the disclosure of documents. Even more important, I find the time limit of two months far too short. People who come here have difficulty in finding their way around, and I think they need more than two months.

I hope that we shall be able to improve the Bill in Committee. This legislation gives time and opportunity for many matters to be considered again. Those of us who belong to other minority groups realise that people need to meet the reality rather than to indulge in legislation gives time and opportunity referred to an article in yesterday's Observer. One of the most striking things about that article was the number of remarks that were made which were second and third hand, made by people who did not know any coloured people at all. This Bill will encourage people who are fairly neutral in this matter but who do not want to fall out with their neighbours or workpeople to go ahead and not feel at any personal disadvantage. It will also give an opportunity to trigger off Government action in planning housing and education in a much more long-term way.

Finally, this Bill, even with its imperfections, will take this question out of the largely emotive area in which it is at the moment and give it some legal substance and some dignity, so that we can fight against prejudice and recognise the contribution that coloured people can make to our society, that they add to our ethos and our culture. If we do not let people in we become a static, sterile society. I think we should remember some of the positive contributions they can make, as well as some the difficulties that arise.

9.35 p.m.


My Lords, as I think your Lordships know, I have been a colonial civil servant for the greater part of my life, and I have listened tonight with the greatest interest to all the speeches that have been made. One discards most of what one intended to say at this late hour, but endeavouring as I am to collect my thoughts on what has been said, one would expect that I should be defending up to the hilt the coloured people in this country. When one has associated with them for the length of time that I have, that would be the most natural reaction. And in what I have to say, I am still defending them. But I think there are two sides to this question. This is a British Parliament, this is the House of Lords, and what we are considering is the welfare of our coloured people and the welfare of our own British people. We have to think of this problem in that context.

My Lords, there are many things which have disillusioned me over the years since I have returned to this country. One is the attacks that have been made on our institutions, and everything that we stood for the beliefs which we carried with us abroad, and by which I am still sustained. I was gaoled for four years in the last war for my British beliefs. During that time I was sustained by coloured peoples, who had a great faith and belief in everything that Britain stood for. In the ensuing years since that time, as I have said, there has been much disillusionment.

I think that in part this is due to the attacks that have been made on this country by the coloured peoples themselves. It may well be that this is only a form of reaching adulthood and attacking those with whom one was formerly connected. Nevertheless, there has been a tendency for us to remain silent against those attacks, and this is what our British people see outside. This causes fear in our community, and it is something that I think must be taken into account in the situation in this country.

If one is to accept this Bill—and I accept that it is necessary—one must calm the atmosphere and create a climate in which it will work. I cannot say that I am enamoured with the processions which one sees in this country in connection with racialism, and which are followed by counter-processions. This is not a contribution to the furtherance of good race relations. I would suggest to the organisers of processions of this kind that if they want good relations in this country they should abandon these processions altogether. Those are just some of the fears.

There are one or two other things which I should like to say. I feel that there has been an excessive tendency to underline an exaggerated form of liberalism. I do not mean by this that one must not have a liberal outlook, but in connection with the first part of what I have had to say, we have seen our institutions under attack, and if there has been any sort of discrimination, some of the worst discrimination which takes place in the Commonwealth still exists in India, where they have the caste system and where discrimination is practised against the sweepers and people who do menial jobs, who are not allowed to cook food for their masters. I think that many of our people in this country see all this and are greatly worried by what they see.

I want this Bill to succeed. I want the atmosphere to be created in which it can succeed. I shot Id like to see the coloured leaders of the community in this country and British leaders get together; and I should like to see a happy country in which we can preserve the ideals and the greatness of our Commonwealth.

9.41 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a very remarkable discussion and debate, if I may say so, and the level of the contributions has been quite remarkable. Above all, there has been a very temperate attitude towards this Bill, a Bill which I want vigorously to support. It has its defects; they have been pointed out, and therefore one does not repeat them, but I hope that in the wisdom of your Lordships' House we can strengthen the real purpose and meaning of the Bill. However, as it stands it is a contribution which I think is of tremendous importance, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell, not only to what can he done in this country but to creating a positive effect throughout the world. We shall be seen to be doing justice to tae race problem.

My noble friend Lord Soper quoted my right honourable friend the Home Secretary as saying it is not enough. I think we all agree that it is not enough. It is a very important step forward; it is a meaningful step forward. It is actually putting the brakes on a very slippery slope of degeneration in our relationships with our fellow men and our fellow citizens who are people who happen to be distinguished by colour. As he said, we are not here really talking about discrimination in terms of immigrants or anything else; we are literally, definitely and conspicuously talking about our attitude to people who are a different colour from ourselves, who recognise they are different and who regard themselves in the situation at the present time as victims of circumstances which are not dictated by the numbers in which they are here or any such factor.

I want to illustrate this point. In the 1920's I was a crime reporter in Glasgow. We had there a most terrific problem. We hear a lot about Glasgow today, but the real trouble in Glasgow in the 1920's was a very violent racial problem. We did not have colour, except green and orange—not blue, not led. The troubles there were very much the troubles we have here to-day. In Western Scotland at that time, around 1924, when the first depression was hitting us, the people who were picked on were the Irish. The reason why they were there was the fact that they had been brought in quite deliberately by the farmers and landlords to pick the potatoes; and they stayed on to be the scavengers of Glasgow, doing jobs that no decent Scotsman or Glaswegian would take at that time. But the depression came, and these were the jobs the workless people in Scotland wanted to have, bit they were occupied by the Irish. We had troubles there just as we have them here to-day.

Here we have a situation which is now accentuated by the fact that we have, not religious differences which one happens to find out by accident or by going to church; we now have something which is entirely a question of pigment of the skin. We are looking at people and saying, "These are different", and we are looking at them and saying "They are different not only in terms of appearance but they are accepting the jobs which presently we shall want". If any of your Lordships saw the B.B.C. programme last night entitled "Your Witness" you will have seen exactly what will happen. The docker in that programme was defending this attitude on the ground that the coloured people would eventually do him out of a job, and he was talking about it in the same terms as he referred to automation.

We are talking about economic circumstances in a period of change in which, again, there is a very small minority—and we must keep on hammering this; it is a very tiny minority, less than 2 per cent., as has been repeatedly pointed out to-day—which are recognisable and distinguishable. They are taking the jobs that you never knew you wanted and yet one day you might want. It is economic: it is not a question of genetics, anthropology or ethnology; it is a distinguishable and recognisable colour picture of the threat of an economic replacement. You cannot hit out at a machine but you can spit in the face of the coloured fellow in the bus. This is the reality, and by this Bill—which will become an Act, I hope, with the help of your Lordships—we are giving to decent people courage, which they do not possess at the moment, to say, "I will not turn that man out of my pub", or "I will not refuse that man a job: the law says I must not". At the moment, he has not even the courage to say it because he has to face his customers in the saloon bar or talk to his workers. We are giving him the courage to say, "I will not discriminate". My Lords, I hope we are going to make a reality of this Bill.

9.47 p.m.


My Lords, as the twenty-fourth speaker at a quarter-to-ten at night there is a tremendous temptation to "scratch", but as my noble friend Lord Hunt said in the Rhodesian debate, there are occasions when one wants to stand up and be counted, and to-night I claim that right without further apology. Three quite separate problems have been running through the debate to-day, somewhat tangled, and I think it might help to disentangle them. First, there is the question of who shall be allowed into the country and at what rate. That is a problem with which we are not concerned to-day, but it is worth noting, in passing, that it is possible to hold the most impeccable egalitarian views about equal rights of citizens of any colour or race and yet hold very decided views about the rate of immigration, which is in fact the position of the Labour Party to-day.

Secondly, there is the problem of help for new arrivals and how to work them into the community. Thirdly, there is the much more fundamental problem: do we accept those who are here, and their children, and their children's children, as equal partners with ourselves in a multiracial society? That is the question on which all the rest hinges. If the answer to that is "Yes", then any question of discrimination is reprehensible; if the answer is "No", then we want to do as little as we can get away with while at the same time keeping order. Leaving out that with which we are not concerned, we are very much concerned with what happens when they come into the country. Here I think we have done far too little and we need a policy, not of equal rights but of positive discrimination.

I have the honour to be associated with an organisation called "Family Service Units" and I have here some figures from part of their work in London. These figures are interesting. This organisation deals with what are known as "problem families"; that is to say, families who, for one reason or another, fail to stand up to life. In Haringey they dealt with 33 such families, of which there was only one coloured family. Yet what is curious is that the proportion of coloured to white children is 22 per cent. Again, in North Kensington and Chelsea, of 60 families only six were coloured or mixed, but it is thought that the percentage of coloured in the actual area is much higher than that, although the breakdown by districts is not available. These two examples suggest to me that the families who come and settle in this country, with all the problems of unfamiliarity which face them, may nevertheless be getting less help than our own failures. I think perhaps the immigrant families who get into trouble stick together and help one another as best they can, but make far too little use of existing services.

Why is this? Why is there not a widespread organisation to seek out people and help them before they come unstuck? When the influx of Hungarian refugees came into this country they were received and helped and found houses and jobs, and the whole affair worked smoothly. Yet there is no planned reception for these people used to conditions so widely different from our own. Here I think that we could learn a good deal from the performance of the Dutch in accepting and settling 300,000 people from Indonesia since the war. Admittedly their problems were different from ours, but the figures are staggering, and would amount to 1¼ million in relation to our population. The Dutch have spent £6million—not £200,000 but £6 million—.a year for the last ten years on this work. This has covered health checks, clothes for a year's need, grants for furniture and equipment, subsidies for rent, insurance and pensions, maintenance in special transit camps, properly staffed old people's homes, and, most important of all, contract boarding houses, of which there were 600 in 1950. Arrivals were thus dispersed in an orderly way.

I do not want to press the analogy too far: there were many quite important differences. Even so, it shows that problems of this kind can be handled better than by leaving the newcomers to shift for themselves. At the least, it seems to me, there should be reception committees to help new arrivals, with someone meeting the aeroplanes and boats, and an office to which families or individuals without proper arrangements could be referred for help. I do not think we in this country should want to adopt quite such a dirigiste attitude as the Dutch, but I have no doubt at all that many people arriving for the first time in a strange, cold and almost certainly rainy country might be very glad indeed to be met by someone who could provide comfort and advice.

The most reverend Primate's Committee has begun something along these lines, and so has the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; but I think he would agree they have not yet succeeded in covering the whole of the human problems involved. Clause 23 gives him wide powers. I hope that his Committee (and I am sorry to hear that he is not to continue to be chairman) will give some priority to the second-stage welfare work designed to deal with problems of the transition from one society to another. Sir Roy Wilson's Report recommended that there should be something of this kind, some hind of reception committee at the various points of entry, and at official expense. But it fell to the axe of false economy and has never been implemented. Any policy of equal rights which is to succeed must begin by special discrimination in favour of new arrivals; and this, in my opinion, has been our greatest failure.

May I turn now to the larger moral problem of equal rights in the multiracial society? This subject has already been fairly well mulled over, so I shall not be long. The children and grandchildren of immigrants will have been brought up with the benefits and disadvantages of our educational system and our Welfare State and should be able to take their place by level pegging with their English contemporaries. It is the ideal of all of us in all parts of the House who believe in a multiracial society that this should happen, and to doubt its possibility or desirability seems to us to adopt a frankly racialist attitude, using the word "racialist" in its proper sense —namely, as believing that one ethnic group is fundamentally incapable of reaching the standards set by another, which is what, in my opinion, "racialist" means.

People who hold this view seem, for some reason, to dislike being called racialist—so much so that it is almost impossible to find one in any public place, though I think they thrive in pubs and drawing rooms. It is like the Nazis after the war: suddenly they hid all disappeared. It reminds me of the corporal who was had up by his commanding officer accused of being inimical to the fellaheen, but he said "Sir, it is not true. I am not inimical io the fellaheen, I just can't stand the sight of them". I feel that this is the kind of answer that after a good dinner you might get from some of our prominent speakers on this subject, who are so quick to deny that they are racialists in any sense at all. In my sense of it they are.

I may be being unfair, and I do not want to claim that everybody who does not feel as I do is necessarily either a fool or a knave—only that he is wrong. I do not know how many people feel in their hearts consciously superior to coloured people of equivalent education, but I know quite a lot do. Here, I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, still less with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that colour prejudice is not a big thing in this country but is merely a question of numbers. Numbers, of course, make it one, but I am afraid there is no doubt that there is a quite vicious streak of colour prejudice. I meet it again and again among my friends of all classes, I am sorry to say. I believe there is no getting around it.

The real differences are due not to colour of skin, but to background and upbringing. Two or three generations ago the rich, who were then co-terminous with the upper classes, looked upon what they called "the poor" as a class apart, of a different order from themselves. This did not preclude a relationship of real affection, even love, but it absolutely precluded equality. And in a sense this represented a sort of reality, in that the differences in wealth, comfort, ease, health and education were too wide for the true values of personality to bridge. Of course, if you have been brought up in comfort with an expensive and leisurely education, you will have some quite material advantages over others brought up perhaps in a slum and with little or no schooling. But as slums slowly disappear and public education raises its standards, and Marks and Spencer's dress the girls, the differences are increasingly seen to be differences of environment and not of basic potential.

This will be no surprise to those of your Lordships who breed cows, or employ other people to breed cows, because you will know that 80 per cent. of a cow's performance is the result of management and environment, and less than 20 per cent. of heredity. People used to a much simpler way of life and quite different weather, and receiving little or no education, will of course be at a disadvantage in our very different but hideously imperfect society; but their children, brought up under our conditions, good and bad, will have no such drawbacks except those imposed upon them by discrimination, and it is this, in effect, at which this Bill is aimed. So the first thing we want to know is, who opposes the Bill on the grounds that the second generation of immigrants cannot, in general, be the equal of their English counterparts? Because that is the great divide. It seems to me really to be a racialist attitude. It seems to me to be a continuation of the bad biology and bogus philosophy of that renegade Englishman, Houston Chamberlain, which was taken to its disgusting logical conclusion by Rosenberg.

The Germans between the wars were racialist as a nation. They thought coloured people, Jews, Slays, Latins and all the rest, to be inferior races. I suppose we are all a little tainted by racialist feelings, though not necessarily in the same direction. I have certainly never had any doubt since the 'thirties that I much prefer the Jews to the Germans. The very idea that the great Slav culture, the great Chinese culture, the great Indian culture and the great Hebrew culture are in any way inferior to the German version of the European culture is ludicrous.

This is the great divide. I believe more people think they are superior to coloured people than are ready to admit it. I believe that they conceal their own views even from themselves, certainly from me, because when they express the feeling in words it is so arrogant and disagreeable that it shocks them. They confuse it with a cheerful jingoism, the sort of harmless national vanity that thinks foreigners funny, held, I suppose, most strongly by the Chinese but to some degree by every nation worth the name. It is a primitive point of view which will not stand up to examination for a moment; but it is clearly not evil, and it accounts for the readiness of decent people to hold views which to me are so abhorrent. When it is combined with the false and tendentious approach of pseudo-science, there it becomes really nasty, and on this point there can be no compromise. Those of us who believe in equal rights, believe it as a direct appreciation of a moral fact which can be supported and strengthened but probably not proved by argument. Over issues of degree, of method, of speed, of effectiveness, we can argue; over the principle we can only fight, and it is that principle which this Bill is designed to support.

10.0 p.m.


My Lords, when I asked that my name might be included in the list of speakers to-day, I indicated that I should like to have an early place. I find myself as the last speaker from these Benches but perhaps after all there is something appropriate in that allocation. It was my noble friend Lord Sorensen, who spoke earlier, who was the pioneer of legislation against racial discrimination. I am not quite sure how many years ago it was that he first introduced a Pill in another place. I can only claim to have been persistent in this matter.

I cannot fully express the feeling of gratification which I have this evening, not only because of the introduction of this Bill but because of the way it has been received in this House. I say that because as recently as 1951, when I first introduced a Bill in the House of Commons against racial discrimination in public places, the only sponsors that I could find for my Bill were the little group of Left Socialists, Michael Foot, Sydney Silverman, Barbara Castle, and the others who have always seemed to me to be the soul of our Labour Party. And yet, my Lords, when I introduced my Bill nine years later I had the support of representatives from the Front Bench of the Lab our Party, I had the Leader of the Liberal Party, I had Conservative Members, indicating the quite extraordinary change that had taken place in those years. Before the Election our present Prime Minister announced that the Government would be introducing a Bill on those lines. My Lords, I was a happy person then, and am a far happier person to-night.

Last year I introduced a Bill to amend the Race Relations Act so that it would extend to employment, housing, and credits. I am happy to-night because the Bill for which the Government have become responsible has so closely followed the Private Member's Bill which I introduced, but I am the more happy because in the debate which has taken place in the House to-day no speaker has said that he would vote against the Bill; and even those who have been critical have expressed the hope that this Bill might reduce racial tensions in our country. That that should happen within the period of 10 or 15 years is one of the most encouraging changes in public opinion that could possibly have occurred in this country.

I recognise at once that racial feeling in this country is not only due to the Enoch Powells. It has also been due to those of us who have opposed the Enoch Powells. Therefore, I want to be very careful to-night not to say one thing that is likely to intensify racial feeling in our country. I have appreciated tremendously the debate in this House, in contrast with the debate in another place, because I do not think that it is likely to intensify racial feeling among our people.

I want to begin by endorsing what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that we are to-night discussing an issue which is reflected in our own land but which is really a world-wide issue. Those of us who throughout the years have been engaged in trying to bring harmony between the races must be more depressed now than we have ever been because, as the world has grown smaller in technical content, the racial conflicts within it have grown. I recognise at once that this is not a matter of black and white. Unhappily, perhaps the most intense expression of it is in Africa, between Africans and Africans. This was reflected only to-day in this House by the Questions which were put about the terrible conflict in Nigeria and its results. Not one of us who has been working for racial harmony in the world can be other than depressed to-day as we look to Asia, Africa, the United States of America—in fact anywhere in the world—and as we look at the beginning of the problem here in Britain. Nobody who has that sense of what is happening in the world can take a crude or primitive view about racial relations.

To deny that among human beings there is racial prejudice is to deny what has existed through the generations. Of course there is racial prejudice. It arises from strangeness in relation to these people with different customs, of a different colour. It has happened between tribe and tribe, between race and race, between nation and nation, between hemisphere and hemisphere, all through history and we shall not overcome it in a few years or by this legislation. When one sees that problem the world over, the problems in our own country become almost small in comparison.

Racial prejudice here, yes; but, stimulated and encouraged by social conditions and by the different standards of life of the coloured immigrants and our British people. But we should remember that for the lower standards of life in the West Indies, in India and in Pakistan, our own colonial administration in the past has a very considerable responsibility, Different habits, yes—sometimes good and sometimes bad—and different cultures. In addition to these distinctions there are problems of social conditions: the housing shortage, the coming of the immigrants to take the houses, their overcrowding, the feeling that they are ousting those who should have an opportunity for houses; problems in the schools, the immigrant children coming in and not knowing the English language, so preventing English children from getting on in their classes; problems in the hospitals, when English women want to go in for the birth of their children, and find immigrant women there.

Those problems are not really the problems of the coloured immigrants: they are the problems of the shortage of housing, of schools, of classes, of teachers, of hospitals, of beds—problems for which we as a nation and the Government, were responsible before the coloured immigrants came in large numbers to this country. The coloured immigrant has been made the scapegoat of our own failure, of our own shortage, of our own inability to build enough houses, schools and hospitals for the people of our own territories.

In addition, there is the fear by our working class of unemployment. It is a little peculiar that in our present situation the areas of unemployment in this country are in fact the areas where there is a very small coloured population. The coloured population have naturally gone to their Birminghams, their Londons and their Sloughs, where there is easy employment. There is fear, again, that the coloured immigrants may undercut standards of life in our country. Once again, those are not really problems of coloured immigration, but problems of the failure to deal with our own economic conditions and situations.

Many of us take the view that in the conditions of to-day, with productivity and economic opportunity, fears about unemployment, and even the fear that wages may be cut, are absolutely inconsistent with all the possibilities for production and wealth which now exist. Therefore, my Lords, I am saying that in addition to instinctive, primitive, racial prejudice, racial harmony is being destroyed by social and economic conditions for which the immigrants are not responsible but for which we, over the years, have been responsible, and which is a part of our present economic and social system.

My Lords, if that analysis is in any way true, I think it follows that if we could remove the social and economic causes which stimulate and encourage racial discrimination we should go very far to secure conditions where the experience of different races living together would mean that harmony would develop. Why do I say that? It is because in those strata of society where coloured persons and white persons are living on the basis of equality there is very little racial prejudice or racial discrimination: the students at our universities, the doctors, the artists, the athletes, the cricketers. Cricket is one of my great relaxations—at least, watching it now is. Cricket, that great English sport! Here to-day, we have been debating, in the House of Lords, where the religion, almost, of I suppose nine out of ten of us is cricket, but not a single word has been said because West Indians, Indians and Pakistanis are now taking over first-class cricket in this country and our county clubs. In all these spheres there is no inequality, no discrimination. For "pop" singers there is praise, adoration. It is because of the social and economic differences which I have described, on the top of primitive, historical, racial prejudice, that we have the present situation in this country.

My Lords, it is for these reasons that I welcome this Bill. It deals with unemployment, with housing, with credits and so on. It will contribute towards removing the causes of dissension and tension which now exist between the races. But I would conclude, my Lords, by saying this: that while I welcome this legislation, I recognise that we are not going to conquer this problem merely by legislation. It means education; it means the adjustment of social and economic standards to those in which there will be an opportunity for the races to live together; it means an experience; it means that we need a new ethic that all of us. whatever our colour, whatever our race, belong to the one human family.

10.19 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a long debate, many speeches have been made and I am full of notes of what everybody has said. It is unusual, perhaps, for so many to be present at the end of a debate. I do not know whether most of your Lordships are really here to hear the Unstarred Question about Australia; but, if not, may I say I think it particularly courteous of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and the most reverend Primate to have stayed to the end of the debate.

May I start by taking the world setting in which my noble friend Lord Brockway left us? I imagine that if in twenty years' time, somebody looked back and asked: "What is the most important thing that happened during that Government's life?", we should find them referring to something which was reported in the Press; but not much was made of it because it was not a row. I noticed a couple of days ago in a most respectable newspaper that on one page alone there were half a dozen paragraph headings, no fewer than three of which included the word "row". I forget whether it was a row in the Conservative Party or a row in some other Party or an immigration row. But the event to which I was referring could not expect publicity of that kind; for it was not a row. It was only an agreement, the nonproliferation agreement, and what may be regarded as the start of a breakthrough in relation to nuclear armaments, an agreement on which my noble friend Lord Chalfont had done so much for so long—and, of course, my noble friend Lord Caradon. What Lord Caradon is doing here, for he has not spoken to us, I am not quite sure.

But this is all part of the racial problem; because so long as the big Powers go on spending as much of the world's resources as they do on nuclear armaments and on space travel there cannot be the money left for the relief of poverty that there ought to be. And with science as it is, it is only a question of time before the four out of five, the black, yellow or coloured, are not going to put up with their degree of poverty when they see the rate at which the one out of five, the white people, live, spending 80 per cent. to 90 per cent. of the whole of the world's income. Therefore this is a general problem, although tonight we are considering it in relation only to this particular country. I hope that we may be in time—because the immigrants are only 2 per cent. of the population; unlike in Rhodesia where the coloured immigrants are 8 per cent. of the population; although, of course, when I say "coloured" in relation to Rhodesia I mean coloured white.

If the description of the state of affairs at Wolverhampton which was reported in the Observer was correct indeed it would be difficult to exaggerate the gravity of the problem. The noble Lord, Lork Brooke, said that it was the greatest social problem of the half century. I would respectfully agree with that view. Tackling it, and what is the right thing to do, is another matter. Some of us have said of this Bill that it goes too far; some that it goes not far enough. I wish that I had the complete confidence of some people that they know the answer to the racial problem.

One of the few things which the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said that I did not altogether agree with was that the problem was really one of numbers and not of colour. It is really both, is it not? Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, was right in saying that if a village which had never seen a black man before sees two, then they are very interested in them and do not dislike them at all. That is probably because they know they are leaving the next day. But if you produce 1,000 black men and they are to stay permanently the villagers would feel rather different. It is really two things, numbers and colour. If the article on Wolverhampton was right—it said that the writer had never heard of any complaints at all about 1,000 Italians—is that not really because they cannot see them? Surely the difficulty of putting into a town like Huddersfield within a given period 10,000 fluent English-speaking Norwegians and, on the other band, in the same period, putting in 10,000 Pakistanis is not the same. To draw attention to the fact that it is not the same is not to be racialist; it is to be realistic. Therefore it is not just the problem of numbers; it is also a problem of colour.

I suspect that the only way to deal with this is to do three things. The first thing, it seems to me, which one must do is to control the rate of immigration. Surely there must be a maximum rate at which immigrants can possibly be assimilated. If you were to put into Wolverhampton tomorrow, in addition to their present 14,000 coloured immigrants, or whatever it is, another 14,000, plainly there would be an explosion, would there not? Therefore, it seems to me that the first thing one must do is to control the rate of immigration. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that all Parties were to blame before 1962 because whether it was right to become a multi-racial country or not, no one ever decided. It was just allowed to happen by drift without any conscious decision, and it seems to me to have been wrong. And the situation in 1962 in which a quarter of the whole population of the entire world had the legal right to come here was one which could not possibly be continued.

My Lords, it was a matter of great distress to me recently when so many of my noble friends disagreed with the Government's view that even in relation to those who were the subject of the recent Commonwealth Immigrants Act, we could not allow hundreds of thousands to have the legal right to arrive here tomorrow; and when it was necessary for us to say, "We are not saying that you cannot come in, but you cannot all come tomorrow." Whether that was right or not, we have now at last got real control over the rate of immigration. What we should do may well be a matter of opinion.

The second essential, it seems to me, is education and conciliation, and much the most important part of the Bill. I think, is the provision of the Community Relations Commission. In the end this is not something which can be done by law. It can he done only by a mixture of education and conciliation, and what the conciliation committees do, what the various bodies who are working for race relations do, is I think very much more important than anything in the Bill.

Thirdly, my Lords, I think that we need a law, not because people can be made to behave properly or to think differently or to feel differenty by law, but because the law sets a standard, and because it helps those who are trying to do the right thing. I believe that, broadly speaking, most of our people aye by nature tolerant people. This will enable the landlady who does not mind letting to coloured people, but who is afraid of what the neighbours may say, to say, "Well, I cannot help it, it is the law."

The noble Lord, Lord Byers, is one of those who are unhappy about the definition clause. Well, my Lords, no doubt we can consider that. We started with the one of 1965, and this was considered to be an improvement. But the general attitude of the Government throughout, as I have made plain my own is, has been that we are not confident that we have all the answers. Personally, I approach this in a spirit of humility, ready to consider anything. The Convention definition would, I think, create difficulty, partly because it is not a definition of "to discriminate"; it is a definition of "discrimination", and most of the wording of the Act would have to be changed. Of course, Clause l has to be read also with Clause 2, and I do not think that there is any real danger of it being given the construction which has been suggested.

Then the noble Lord, Lord Byers, wanted the Board to have power to make orders; and, of course, there is also the view that the Board should have power to issue subpoenas. Here again is a matter which we can consider. I think the majority of those who have spoken expressed the view that that would be a mistake, though I think the most reverend Primate was rather in favour of subpoenas. I think it difficult to have a body which in effect is going both to punish people and to conciliate at the same time—I think it must be one or the other. The power to subpoena is a power which no one in the country has except a court. Even the police cannot subpoena people, and once you allow somebody other than a court to do that, who is to send them to prison when they do not obey the subpoena? We should have the police and Government Departments making orders to send people to prison. If somebody says that he is not going, what do the Board do? It is not suggested that they have the power to send people to prison. The matter would have to go to the county court. It is not easy for a court to send anyone to prison for not obeying orders that some other body has made. This, again, is quite a new principle. The court might not agree with the order. The judge might think that it is impossible to send somebody to prison for not obeying an order which the court thinks ought not to have been made. This is a difficult subject, but it is one we could discuss in Committee.

The most reverend Primate also stressed, as one would expect of him, the importance of conciliation, as do the Government. It is more important, I think, than anything else in the Bill. Ultimately, the relations between communities of different races in England will depend more on education and conciliation than on anything in the Bill, though I think it is important that there should be a law. My noble friend Lord Walston wanted to know what form financial help would take and when it would be available. I am afraid that this is still being worked out. We have not, after all, got the Bill yet.

The noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, was one of the few speakers who seemed to be against the Bill, mainly on the ground, I think, that we were overcrowded already. But, of course, that is not so. At the present time we are losing more than we are gaining. It appears, if she will allow me to say so, that her real object in speaking was to deal with discrimination against women, on which subject she knows that I have considerable sympathy with her, and I quite agree that we should not lose a chance of speaking about it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, is a strong supporter of the Bill. I appreciated the point of view from which my noble friend Lord Hirsh-field spoke. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, wished to stop immigration. Obviously, honest men may differ on the question of to what extent we should continue immigration. Personally I agree with the Government's policy, that apart from what is now a limited number of vouchers, immigration should be limited to the wives and children of those already here. The noble Lord said that this required careful consideration. That is quite appropriate. He said that the legal provisions were novel—they are not necessarily the worse for that. I agree that we can look at the question of damages. The noble Lord also referred to Clause 22, dealing with privileged communications. The sole object of this is that people may feel able to speak freely in the course of conciliation proceedings without feeling that what they say is going to be used against them.

My noble friend Lord Sorensen delivered a fine appeal to us that we should all do our part. The noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, hoped that the Board would be sensible. He raised a point on Clause 12(2), but I think he had not taken into account subsection (3), as my noble friend Lord Stonham pointed out at the time. My noble friend Lord Strabolgi raised several points, the first about research. That is still under examination. Then he raised the question of whether a circular would constitute an advertisement. I should think that it would do so. Then he asked about the clubs. Clubs, as such, assuming they are bona fide clubs, are not covered. Of course, there are many places which are masquerading as clubs and which clearly are not. The noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, urged the Government to provide the necessary housing, and so forth. Of course, this is very much part of the whole problem, as I should be the first to agree.

The noble Lord, Lord Elton, was, I thought, treated a little harshly by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell. I have never before agreed with anything the noble Lord has said on this subject, but tonight he said something with which I agree. He said that it is both colour and numbers that we are concerned with. He said—and it is quite true; it is something which has been very much in the mind of the Government—that in considering the whole of this Part of the Bill the difficulty is that it is very easy to do something which will make coloured people feel less against white people, and by exactly the same means make white people feel very much more vicious about black people. This is not difficult to do. You can do things to reduce the ill-feeling which one race has to the other, but they only exacerbate the feeling of the other race. This is one of the difficulties. The noble Lord spoke, I think quite fairly, of tilting the balance and of the prospect of this causing resentment.

My noble friend Lady Gaitskell was quite right in saying that nobody is seeking by this Bill to put coloured people into a privileged position. That is an idea that we must get out of everybody's mind. And I was glad to hear the reference my noble friend made, as no doubt was my noble friend Lord Caradon, to our being able, as a consequence of all this, to hold up our heads at the United Nations.

The noble Lord, Lord Soper, I always agree with, of course; he always says, I think, everything that is right. He referred to the four points which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary had made in concluding the debate in the other place. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, did not like the Bill at all. I never thought he would. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, stressed the importance of getting agreement, so far as one could.

The noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, told us the effect which it was having on his dog—well, whether it was the effect his dog was having on the Bill, or the effect the Bill was having on his dog, I am not quite sure. He was a little worried about Clause 3, employment. I do not think he need be. If there is a mass of proceedings, of course, the Bill will have failed. It is essential to have a law here, but all the conciliation side and the Race Relations Board side will obviously have failed if there is a substantial number of proceedings. But if there are cases in the employment field, the onus of proof is on the applicant to satisfy the court that the reason why he was not employed was because of his colour, and not because of something else. So, assuming that the noble Viscount is not a racialist, he will have nothing to worry about.

Then the noble Viscount was worried about insurance. But there is nothing in the Bill which will not enable insurers to consider their insurance experience. I should be very surprised to hear that coloured people have worse driving records than most. I should expect to hear that some were good and some were bad. Certainly from everything that I saw of the Negro drivers in the American Army in the war in Western Europe they were all magnificent drivers. I see the noble Viscount shake his head.


They were handpicked.


The noble Lord, Lord Byers, says that they were hand-picked. But they were very fine truck drivers. I did not very much appreciate the reference to the tot of rum. I do not know whether it hat been the noble Viscount's experience that white people do not have tots of rum. I do not think the noble Viscount need be unhappy about it.

My noble friend Lady Birk brought us back to the fact that it is colour. She is also, I think, unhappy about the definition and as to whether the Board ought not to have more power, and as to whether two months was a sufficient period for a complaint. But she also brought us back, I think quite rightly, to the tremendous contribution which the coloured people have already made to this country. The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, made what I thought IN as a most reasonable speech. I agree with him in that I doubt whether these processions do much good. I was grateful for his cordial approach towards the Bill as a whole.

Then I always appreciate very much whatever my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder says with his great experience from Glasgow onwards. I think he was quite right in stressing the fact that if you are black then you are recognisable. My noble friend Lord Donaldson made what really was so good a winding up speech, I thought, that I felt, "Anything I say after this must be an awful anticlimax". He referred, as I remember I did the last time we were discussing this subject, to what the Dutch had done in this field. I hope that we shall again consider what they have done and whether we cannot usefully take a lesson from them.

As to the author of the Bill, my noble friend Lord Brockway, really I never have any sympathy with him because he has the great advantage, like me, of being pretty old and of having had many, many occasions on which everybody has said, "You are absolutely 'cracked'. You must be mad". Then one went and talked about the matter in the village hall, and one wrote letters to the local papers, and the years went on, and now, in our very old age, in case after case we are seeing our dreams come true. One need have no sympathy with somebody who is in that position, because I think, and he knows that I think, that on practically everything he has always been right.

My Lords, if I may come back finally to the importance of the whole subject (I really cannot get Wolverhampton quite out of my mind to-night), I am sure that we must have control over immigration. Exactly how many immigrants we should allow in is a matter of opinion. The real job that must be done is in the field of education and conciliation, but I hope very much that the bodies—and I suspect that there are probably too many different ones—which are helping on race relations will bring in as many of our young people as they can, because I think there is much less racial feeling between young people than with an older generation. The young people are usually more tolerant; they are idealistic, and I am sure that this is what we ought to do. My Lords, I hope that meanwhile—and not expecting it to do more than its proper task—we can feel that this Bill is part of the way ahead, and vote for its Second Reading accordingly.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.