HL Deb 01 October 1976 vol 374 cc761-811

2.57 p.m.

The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do again resolve itself into Committee. —(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 41 [Acts done under statutory authority etc.]:

Lord O'HAGAN moved Amendment No. 49: Page 25, line 25, leave out from ("Crown") to end of line 29.

The noble Lord said: Clause 41 explains how the Government are excluded from the provisions of the Bill. My Amendment gives the Government an opportunity to explain what one of these provisions means, and no more than that. It deals with paragraph (c). I should like to know whether that paragraph entitles the Government to pass Statutory Instruments of a very wide nature, which can retrospectively exclude certain actions by the Government from the provisions of this Bill. If it does not mean that, what does it mean? I beg to move.


This is an important clause. Its predecessor in the 1968 Act is Section 3(2). In Clause 41(1) we are seeking to protect various kinds of discrimination which are required by or are in consequence of an Act of Parliament. Presumably the noble Lord feels that paragraphs (a) and (b) ought to be sufficient for this purpose and that paragraph (c) is unnecessary. The problem that we are trying to deal with is that not all discrimination which emanates from the Statute and ought to be protected will be covered adequately by the exception in Clause 41(1)(a) and (b).

The best example of the particular problem over the subsection to which noble Lord has referred is the work permits scheme. That, like the immigration control, is exercised through the immigration rules and instructions, not all of which are "instruments" in the strict sense of paragraph (b). The point about instruments is dealt with in paragraph (b) rather than (c). The work permit scheme is an example of the sort of problem we are attempting to deal with here. It is therefore necessary to go wider than enactments and subordinate instruments because of paragraph (c). I would explain that while we believe the courts would not hold that immigration officers, in exercising their statutory functions, are within the scope of this legislation on the grounds that they are not, for example, providing a service, it could well be argued that the allocation of work permits by the Department of Employment constitutes a service or facility or, alternatively, that the Department is exercising a "qualifying body" function and therefore comes within the scope of Clause 12. It would be manifestly quite wrong to leave this matter to the courts to decide. The Bill must make this matter certain. This is a narrow point, but an extremely important one, because we do not want to leave the matter to chance.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation. Once again he has raised this curious question of what is or what is not a service so far as it applies to Government officials. We had no really satisfactory explanation yesterday but perhaps we may have one at a later stage. Meanwhile, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said and I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Acts safeguarding national security]:

On Question, Whether Clause 42 shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to ask one point. We all want to safeguard national security, but how is a judge to apply this in a court of law? How is a judge to decide whether an act is done for the purpose of safeguarding national security? Who would be recognised as doing the act for that purpose, and on what principles of guidance can we expect the court to act?


I think the answer is that Clause 69(2) provides for a certificate signed by or on behalf of the Minister of the Crown to be conclusive evidence that an act specified in the certificate was done to safeguard national security.

Clause 42 agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Listowel)

Before I call the next Amendment, No. 50, I should point out to the Committee that if Amendment No. 50 or No. 51 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 52.

Clause 43 [Establishment and duties of Commission]:

3.3 p.m.

Lord O'HAGAN moved Amendment No. 50:

Page 26, line 7, leave out ("Commission for Racial Equality") and insert ("Race Relations Commission"),

The noble Lord said: There are a number of Amendments on this particular clause and I wish to take this opportunity to ask the Government why they have chosen the name they have chosen. I do not say that the name I offer is necessarily any better, but may we have an explanation on behalf of the Government, in a little more detail than was given on Committee stage in another place, of what are the advantages of the particular name that now appears in the Bill? I beg to move.


This is an extremely difficult matter; the Government recognise that. It would not he fair to say that this is the only possible title. A large number of titles have been considered by various groups of people and the Government, rightly or wrongly, have chosen this—and for a very simple reason; that is, that the Bill itself is really concerned with equality. One can talk about "race relations"; the noble Lord, Lord Monson, likes the word "harmony", and both have a great deal of merit. But when one considers the Bill carefully one realises that it goes beyond harmony and the question of race relations. It is primarily concerned with equality. Other people have put forward other titles and the matter has been discussed very fully in another place, as the noble Lord knows. It was not adopted unanimously, and there was opposition; but it would be right to call this body "Commission for Racial Equality" because that is the primary concern of the Bill. Everything else—racial relations, harmony and all the rest of it—stems from that.


Have the Government considered that the title "Commission for Racial Equality" may raise a doubt in some minds that somehow this body will become a little like the VAT inspector is alleged to be like on occasions—a little too officious in the carrying out of duty?—merely because it has such a title. While expressing a worthwhile objective, the title could be interpreted as implying compulsion of some sort. I am not doing terribly well in explaining precisely the nuance I am trying to express, but have the Government taken this into account in coming to the decision they have reached?


I think the noble Lord has put it very clearly. I think I can understand what is at the back of his mind. However, there has been a whole range of suggested titles and, looking at them, I doubt whether the others can honestly be said to be as clear in their definition as that which the Government, in their wisdom or stupidity, have chosen. Let us accept the fact that there are other points of view as, for instance, "community relations". It is not very well defined. We want harmony but, let us face it, we want to go beyond harmony; we want to establish racial equality. I grant you that "racial equality" has overtones, but one has to choose between what is rather "wishy-washy" and what is absolutely definite. We have come down on that side, rightly or wrongly.


I am afraid must totally disagree with what the noble Lord has just said. One of the worst things about this Bill is its very name. We are trying, I hope, to establish that all the people who live in this country are a community and that they live together in harmony. You can say what you like, but once you put "race relations" in there you split the thing into two. You split it into the people who have their origins in this country and those who come into it. What we are trying to do, I hope, is not to establish race relations but good community relations, and I fail to see anything in this Bill but extremely good election propaganda for the National Front—and the title of it is the worst thing of all.


It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to speak briefly to my own Amendment, at the same time as commenting upon that moved by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan.

As was expressed several times in another place, the word "race" is an emotive word: the kind of word that makes people's hackles rise. In contrast, the word "harmony" is a smooth and pacifying word. That is why, in an unwonted moment of optimism, I tabled an Amendment that would have the effect of changing the title to the Commission for Racial Harmony, because I believed for a brief moment that the Government really might compromise on this Bill, and agree to having its more coercive elements removed. But the Government, I fear, have not given any indication of doing so and therefore, for the reasons expressed so eloquently by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, yesterday, I believe that the duties with which the Commission will be charged as a result of this Bill will be likely to lead to antagonism and resentment, rather than otherwise. Therefore, I believe that to call it the Commission of Racial Harmony would mean that it was running under false colours. So I do not propose to move my Amendment, unless any noble Lord thinks that it has some merit.

What is the alternative? One thing is certain; that is, that the present title is totally inappropriate. What on earth do we mean by the word "equality" in this context? Equality before the law? This is rubbish. All citizens in this country have always had equality before the law. We have never had a Group Areas Act or pass laws, or anything like that in this country, thank God! All citizens have always been equal before the law, and to suggest otherwise is a mere politicians' platitude. What else? Equality of appearance? Thank goodness we do not live in Zanzibar (and noble Lords will know what I am getting at). Equality of achievement? That would be almost impossible to secure. You could not do it by levelling up. You could do it only by levelling down, by trying to stifle the natural talents of each racial and national group, starting at childhood. So that, for instance, Jewish children would have to be forbidden to take piano and violin lessons, Welsh children would have to be prevented from receiving tuition in singing and voice production, black children would have to be prevented from receiving coaching in track and field events, Gujarati children would have to be kept away from their multiplication tables until well into their teens, and so on.

So what are we left with? —surely, equality of opportunity. Then why not say so in the first place? This is the sole raison d'etre of this Bill, as I see it. Why not call it the Equal Opportunities Commission? We are told that this cannot be done, because it clashes with the duties of the sex discrimination people. Surely some way round this could have been found. Failing this, I believe that a far better alternative is the Amendment to be moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers. I hope that she will move it and press it to a Division, and I will gladly follow her into the Division Lobby.

3.13 p.m.


What does it matter what title one gives to the new organisation, when we all know precisely what it is for and when this is what we have been discussing so far for three days in Committee. I should have thought that if the noble Lord, Lord Monson, had been paying attention to the situation of other people he would have had some idea of the purposes of the Bill, though we are not yet more than halfway through it. We did not need to go beyond Clause 1 for it to be understood in the clearest possible terms what is meant by "equality"; that is, the elimination of discrimination, the word "discrimination" being defined very clearly in Clause 1(1), and if the noble Lord will go back and read that—I do not propose to repeat it and waste the time of the Committee—he will see quite plainly what is meant.

I think that the word "equality" in the title is an improvement. I made a suggestion to the Home Office to which I did not intend to refer, but I will do so since we are discussing the title. I should have thought that if one could have put into the title the word "executive" it would have been an improvement, to emphasise that in the previous legislation we were not concerned with a body which had any real teeth. We are now dealing with, as I should have preferred to call it, an executive which has very wide powers of general investigation, which has the ability to issue stop notices and to do many other things which its predecessor in title was unable to do. I should have thought that if one could have emphasised that in the title it would have been helpful in bringing it home to the members of the ethnic minorities, who have suffered from discrimination over the years, that something really positive was at last being done.

Subject to that point about the word "executive", I believe that the title that was inserted by another place is an improvement on the original wording, because it emphasises the word "equality". if one goes back to Clause 1, one understands what "equality" means, and I think it is up to Parliament to explain very clearly, in whatever title is chosen, the functions of the new bodies it creates. Subject to the one reservation that I made, we have done that and it is best to leave it alone.


I do not want to say very much except this. I thought of putting down Amendments about this, and I do not think it is an unimportant matter either. But simply regarding the convenience of the Committee, and that only, I cannot but reflect that we are fighting against an almost impossible timetable. I have put down Amendments only on matters which I think are of practical importance and of principle, and I rather hope that we can get on with the business rather more rapidly than we have been doing, so that, if we are to have battles later on, we may come to fight them at a reasonable hour of the day or night.


After that, I think all I can do is withdraw the Amendment. However, I think it was worth while to spend a few minutes looking at the title. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.17 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS moved Amendment No. 51: Page 26, line 7, leave out ("Commission for Racial Equality") and insert ("Community Relations Commission").

The noble Baroness said: Of course, I agree with my noble and learned friend that we have spent a great deal of time on very important subjects, but up to now I do not think I can be accused of wasting any time in these discussions. But having listened to all the debates on the Bill I am becoming more and more depressed. It appears to me that we are not doing anything at all to help relations between the races—quite the contrary, through legislation making conditions more and more difficult. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has just stated that we could have found out quite easily about this Bill at the very beginning. That is all very well for us in this House, but I am thinking of what will be read into this Bill when it gets into the hands of the general public later, and how they will interpret it.

I should like to quote from a very impressive statement made to the Select Committee studying this whole subject on 11th December 1975, by Mr. Courtney Lewis, who is probably known to a great many Members of this House and is a very prominent local community worker in Brixton. He said: Brixton is a very nice place in which to live. We have no fears about racial tension. We all live together. The mass media create fears and suspicions in the community. We are talking about working class people who suffer the same ills and political problems.

This state of relationship is exactly what all noble Lords in this House want, but I am beginning to fear that we are not going to get it. We have been told, time and time again, about the Sex Discrimination Act and I should like to quote from a headline in The Times which said: Interventions reflect political dilemma of Equal Opportunities Commission".

You can go on to read the article and see the difficulties that it is running into. So I am frightened that through this Bill we may be creating political dilemmas in the future.

On 20th July at column 829 of Hansard, in his usual courteous way, the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, whose views I always respect, stated, when I asked a question on Second Reading concerning the name of the Commission, that this matter had been discussed at great length in another place. I do not think that is any real argument why we should not discuss it here. We are entirely wasting our time if we come along day after day, and night after night, as it appears, and are not allowed to put forward our views, and I hope, have them thoroughly considered. I was very disappointed by that remark. Surely that is no argument against expressing our views in this House. Otherwise, I do not think we need be here this afternoon.

He also added, We would regard it as disingenuous to flinch from using the word in the title. At the same time, we have introduced the positive concept of equality into the name of the Commission and we think the present title of The Commission for Race Equality gets the balance about right.

I beg to differ about this. It takes a very long time to achieve equality between the races, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. "Equal work for equal pay", which also comes under the Sex Discrimination Act, has been widely accepted, but I regret to say that it has been a very disappointing slogan.

We have Community Relations Councils which up to now have been responsible to the Community Relations Commission and to the Race Relations Board but now they are to be absorbed into the Race Relations Commission. Why introduce again the word, "race"? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that it is a very emotive word and believe that the name "Community Relations Commission" would be better. The Times of 12th December 1975 stated that it is the responsibility for supervising the local Community Relations Councils, now exercised by the Community Relations Commission, which involves the new Commission at one remove in the campaigning and inevitable in-fighting at local level, and that it was not inevitable that he—that is, the Minister—should reject the idea of placing the community relations officers under local authorities. The Times article went on to say that it has certainly inhibited them from speaking out as conscientiously in public as some of them have chosen to do on occasions, but it would have given them—this is the most important point—the opportunity of influencing from inside the official machine decisions which are bound to be of great consequence for the black and other minority communities. In other words, by this means we are actually stifling free speech. Also, during the Second Reading debate the noble Lord the Minister said in reply to my noble friend Lord Boyle—


I am very interested in what the noble Baroness has said about the role of the local community relations officers. Could the noble Baroness say how that role would be altered in any way: why they should be more or less responsible to the local authorities than they would otherwise be if there were the change in the title that she suggests?

Baroness VICKERS

I was only trying to help to bring about the continuation of the name. I think we should keep the name "community" throughout. We have community councils, neighbourhood community councils, community officers, and so on, and I think that it would be much better to keep the same word. We do not call them "race relations officers" and it would be a great pity if we did.

If I may return to what I was about to say regarding the question of the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, concerning local community relations councils the Minister replied: The Government recognise the importance of local community relations councils. The relationship between them will not be changed. Surely that relationship will be changed by this Bill.

At present we have community relations officers, community relations councils and neighbourhood community relations councils, so why not keep this name? As the elected President of the International Friendship League I started some of these councils and found that they worked very well. It is always difficult to speak of one's own personal experiences but having fought the 1945 Election I left the country for nearly eight years and worked overseas. Therefore I have considerable experience of working with other races. I was in Indonesia for 14 months, in Malaysia for four years, in East and Central Africa for one year, in India for nearly nine months and in Australia with the flying doctors in the Northern Territories for three months. Also I led delegations to China in 1961 and 1973. In these countries we never referred to race. In Malaysia, in particular, we talked of "the Chinese community" or "the Indian community". One did not refer to a person as "that person of Indian race". They were always members of their own communities.

By chance, somebody rang me up this morning and said that she was worried about this Bill. She gave me a very good example of how race relations can be improved without legislation. Apparently, a man and his family were living in a road where they were the only people who were not of local British stock and they were very lonely. They asked this social worker what they could do about it and, very wisely, she said, "I understand that you have a garden. Go along to one of your neighbours and ask whether they can help you with the kind of plants to have in your garden". This he did. Also, the social worker advised the wife to ask about knitting for her child. This man now has a whole neighbourhood of friends around him and he is delighted and very happy about it. Surely this personal touch, this working within the community, is far better than any legislation.

It is very interesting that over the generations this country has received many refugees—many people from Malta, Cyprus and so on as well as a great number of Jews and people from Hungary. These refugees came here with practically nothing, although in the case of the Maltese and the Cypriots; they came because they needed work. They have played their part in the community extremely well. We have never experienced difficulties with them and I do not see why we should, unless we ourselves make difficulties over the people coming to this country at the present time. We have to realise that these people have come here not as refugees; they have not been fleeing from something and leaving everything behind. They wanted to come here because they knew that whatever the conditions were like here they would be better than they were in their own country—that they would find better housing and education and that it would be for the benefit of their families. As we know, they arc at liberty to go home at any time. They do not have to stay here if they do not feel that they are welcome.

I suggest, therefore, that we should get away from this most emotive word "race". I do not like this Bill and I hope that we shall accept the suggestion, although it may not be the best one, that is contained in my Amendment. If the noble Lord who is to reply can offer a better suggestion, or if he can say that he will put my point to the new Home Secretary who may have different ideas about this, I shall not press my Amendment to a Division.


I, too, do not want to take up the time of the Committee unnecessarily, but I think that the noble Baroness has been a little unfair so far as I am concerned. I hope that I have never said or even implied at any time that because something has been discussed at length in another place it is in any sense binding upon this House. From time to time I find that I am not in agreement with the other place and I would never suggest at any time that we should feel that we are obligated by any decision that is taken there. This is a House in which we express our own opinions. I have said that we recognise that there are differences of opinion so far as this title is concerned, but what I meant to convey, although probably I did not do so very well, was that the Government have given a lot of thought to it. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, mentioned that he saw my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich and mentioned that the word "executive" should be brought in. If I remember rightly, that discussion took place in February last. Therefore this is not an overnight decision and something which was put into the Bill a short while ago.

Recognising that there is not going to be unanimity among us in this Committee, all I want to say is that we have put down three Amendments, each of which is different. Let us look at what we are trying to do, which is to foster better race relations. We want to try to get rid of racial discrimination and, so far as is humanly possible, to give more than just utterance to racial justice. We want to provide opportunities for racial equality. Why run away from this?

The title ought to reflect all these things. It is more than just community relations;

it is more than just having harmony in the community. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Monson, will not mind my saying that it is possible to have harmony without justice; it is possible to have harmony without equality. I am sure neither he nor any other Member of your Lordships' House would deny that. Let us have the courage to have a title that really reflects what we want to do, which is to have a Commission for Racial Equality. I hope the Committee will accept that. It may not be ideal but I think we are being honest: this is what we are wanting to do and I hope the Committee will agree to the title.

Baroness VICKERS

I understand from what the noble Lord has said that he does not intend to reconsider this. That being so, I should like to test the feeling of the Committee.

3.31 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 51) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 58; Not-Contents, 50.

Arran, E. Grimston of Westbury, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Auckland, L. Hawke, L. Redesdale, L.
Birdwood, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Robbins, L.
Boyd of Merton, V. Killearn, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Carr of Hadley, L. Kinnaird, L. Sackville, L.
Carrington, L. Lauderdale, E. Sandford, L.
Cathcart, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Spens, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Luke, L. Stamp, L.
Cottesloe, L. Lyell, L. Strathclyde, L.
Craigavon, V. Marley, L. Tenby, V.
Cromartie, E. Melville, V. Teviot, L.
Daventry, V. Merrivale, L. Tranmire, L.
de Clifford, L. [Teller.] Monck, V. Vernon, L.
Denham, L. Monson, L. Vickers, B. [Teller.]
Ebbisham, L. Mottistone, L. Vivian, L.
Effingham, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Elles, B. Munster, E. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elton, L. Newall, L. Young, B.
Gainford, L. Northchurch, B.
Gridley, L. O'Hagan, L.
Airedale, L. Foot, L. Platt, L.
Ampthill, L. Gardiner, L. St. Davids, V.
Avebury, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Seear, B.
Brimelow, L. Hale, L. Shepherd, L.
Brock way, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Shinwell, L.
Byser, L. Henderson, L. Simon, V.
Castle, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Jacques, L. [Teller.] Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Chelmsford, Bp. Janner, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Chorley, L. Kirkhill, L. Stone, L.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Strabolgi, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Crook, L. Maybray-King, L. Wigg, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Northfield, L. Wigoder, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Oram, L. Winterbottom, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.) Wynne-Jones, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

3.39 p.m.

Lord BROCKWAY moved Amendment No. 52A:

Page 26, line 9, after ("basis") insert ("not less than half of whom shall be from ethnic minorities").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to be sure that not less than half the members of the Commission shall be from ethnic communities. The same principle is involved in my Amendments Nos. 68A and 73A. The former proposes that at least one of the lay members of the tribunal shall be of an ethnic minority, and the Amendment to Clause 67 suggests that one of the county court assessors shall be from an ethnic minority. Therefore, to save time I will be dealing with the principle of all these three Amendments together, though I understand the Amendments must be put separately.

There has been a great suspicion among the ethnic minority communities—West Indian, Indian and African—about the Race Relations Board. They have not felt that it was making an effective or even a sincere effort to meet their problems. That suspicion has largely been met by the chairman of the Race Relations Board, Sir Geoffrey Wilson, whose sincerity and sense of human equality have been so great that he has won the confidence of many representatives of the ethnic communities. But the suspicion is still there. I want to urge that in setting up this Commission it should not be regarded as a device by the whites granted to the non-whites. It must not be "do-goodism". If this provision is to succeed, it must be a genuine partnership between the communities in this country, between the majority white community and the minority non-white communities.

There are now representative groups and organisations of nearly all the ethnic minority groups, the West Indians, the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Africans. It would be perfectly possible to have competent representatives on the Commission who could make this a real partnership in community relations. I move this Amendment in connection with the membership of the Commission, suggesting that a real partnership could be attained if at least half of the members of that Commission came from the ethnic minorities. I beg to move.


There seems to be an insuperable objection to this Amendment. It is doing the very thing which this Bill seeks to prevent, discrimination as between races, and I shall vote against it.


I shall take this very shortly. The effect of this Amendment would be to place a statutory duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that at least half of the members of the Commission should be from ethnic minorities. My recollection is that Clause 43 says the Commission should consist of not less than eight and not more than 15. I can well understand what my noble friend Lord Brockway has said about the feelings of ethnic groups, that they might not get a fair crack of the whip; but it is clearly essential that the new Commission should command the confidence of the minority groups. I do not think anybody would dispute that.

The White Paper on Racial Discrimination made it clear that the Government fully accepted this, and emphasises that the new Commission would include a substantial number of minority group members. But I feel bound to say that I do not think it can be emphasised too strongly that the new Commission must command the confidence of the community as a whole. The whole community has got to have confidence in the new Commission. The new Commission is not to be a pressure group representing one section of the community. It must represent public interest at large. In the view of the Government it would be quite wrong to specify proportions in the way that my noble friend Lord Brockway has indicated in his Amendment.

The members of the Commission will be appointed by the Secretary of State. I suggest his freedom to appoint individuals on the basis of their personal qualities and experience should be unfettered. It would be quite wrong if the Secretary of State were required by Statute to fill a certain quota on the basis of race. I think that the Secretary of State should be able to state who is going to have this responsibility. I was going to say in reply, when the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, raises his Amendment No. 57, that there have been wide consultations. Wide consultations are going on. We realise that the ethnic groups must have a good representation, but I think it would be quite wrong to fetter the Secretary of State in this way. I think it would be quite wrong to lay down a quota.


The noble Lord, Lord WellsPestell, keeps on saying "Consultations are going on", which I am sure is quite correct, but for the purposes of people like myself, could we have a list of the people being consulted? That would make a great deal of difference to me, because some people are consulted and others are not. I should like to know who the consultations are with. I should like a list of the people involved.


The noble Baroness, Lady Ward of North Tyneside, can always have an answer, and is always determined that she gets one. It so happens I have not come prepared with the list of the bodies which have been, and will be, consulted. If I can lay my hands on it during this afternoon, perhaps it may be possible for me to find an opportunity to convey the information to the Committee, otherwise I will let the noble Baroness know.


I thank the noble Lord very much indeed.


Could it not be put in the Official Report? Then we could all have it.


In view of the fact that my noble friend the Minister has indicated there will be a substantial number of representatives of the minority ethnic communities on the Commission, and his recognition of the fact that it is so terribly important to win their confidence, I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.49 p.m.

Lord MONSON moved Amendment No. 53: Page 26, line 11, after ("of") insert ("unlawful").

The noble Lord said: This is a much more important Amendment than superficially it might appear to be. Its purpose is to clarify subsection (1) of Clause 43 which defines the duties of the Commission as being: to work towards the elimination of discrimination;", insofar as it is covered by the Act and to promote equality of opportunity, and good relations…".

It is true that in Part I of the Bill discrimination for the purposes of the Act is defined fairly fully. But very few people are going to have the time to read the whole Act. When members of the public, interested in what is happening, want to find out what are the functions and duties of the new Commission, they will go perhaps to their citizens' advice bureaux, perhaps to the town hall, perhaps they will speak to their Member of Parliament, or even they may telephone the Commission itself. More likely than not, they will be quoted paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1). Without the clarification given by the word "unlawful", they are going to be led to believe, quite mistakenly I hope, that it is one of the duties of the Commission to pursue every kind of discrimination, lawful or otherwise. All of us spend our entire lives discriminating, from the moment we get up in the morning and decide whether to have tea or coffee, throughout the day. There is nothing wrong with discrimination as such. I hope we are correct in thinking that it is no purpose of the Commission to chase and harry people in respect of discrimination which is perfectly lawful under the Act; that is private and personal behaviour, small boarding houses, small partnerships and so on and so forth.

The word "unlawful" is really what I suppose lawyers would call a "for the avoidance of doubt" type of word. I cannot really see any objection to the Government accepting it. If they do object one can only draw one of two conclusions. The first is that, contrary to what we have been led to believe, it w ill be a function of the Commission to pursue, chase and harry people over every kind of discrimination, lawful or otherwise—social engineering on a vast scale; or, alternatively, that this is not in fact a function of the Commission, but the Government hope that by leaving the clause as it is people will be misled into thinking that various forms of legal discrimination are illegal. This would be utterly dishonest, in my view, and I hope it is not the Government's intention. I beg to move.


I cannot accept what the noble Lord, Lord Monson, says, for a variety of reasons. I can see the anxiety that could be in his mind about the Commission going beyond the line of duty, which he implied in what he said just now. But I think we ought to see it against the sort of background philosophy of the Bill as a whole. The Amendment would seem designed to limit the Commission's action against discrimination to discrimination made unlawful in the Bill. I think we have to ask ourselves whether this is really what we want. At present the Commission may concern itself with discrimination which is not made unlawful by the Bill, and I would think it is right and proper that it should do so. The meaning of "discrimination" is defined in Clause 3(3) and also in Clause 1(1)(a). There is a reference to indirect discrimination in Clause 1(1)(b). So it is the intention of the Bill that the Commission could concern itself with discrimination, and it does go so far, in Parts III, IV and V, as to emphasise that discrimination is made unlawful only by virtue of the provisions of Parts III, IV and V. In these Parts, as in Part VI, there are exceptions to the general principle that discrimination is unlawful.

Behind the legislation is the overall principle of non-discrimination, and I would say that I think we ought to keep it as the overall principle. I do not think we should anticipate that a responsible body of people are going round looking in every nook and cranny, hole and corner, to try to manufacture some kind of discrimination. There duties and responsibilities are very clearly set out in the Bill. Clause 43(1) sets out the general duties of the Commission; it is in broad terms, I acknowledge. But surely it is right that the terms of reference of the new Commission should embody this overall principle. It does not follow from the Commission's broad terms of reference that it will take oppressive action to eradicate behaviour which the Bill itself does not make unlawful. The new Commission has wide advisory and promotional powers, and it is surely desirable that it should have as its overall objective the task of encouraging and persuading people not to discriminate. This does not affect the principle that no one should be put in jeopardy for acts which are not unlawful.

The placing of this duty upon the Commission does not remove that safeguard. Although the Commission may inquire into matters outside the provisions of the Act, such inquiries are intended to produce recommendations or advice. There are sanctions only against unlawful discrimination. I do think—I say this quite sincerely to the noble Lord—that his Amendment is going to tighten something, to put it in a kind of watertight compartment. What we want is to have this broad overall outlook towards discrimination so that the Commission can do the kind of job that is envisaged in the various clauses to which I have referred.


Perhaps I may say this very briefly. As the Committee knows, I have put down no Amendments of my own to this Part of the Bill, but I do not want to be misunderstood about it. I made my position, I hope, very clear on Second Reading; that is, that I disapprove of the whole of this body. I thought that it combined two incompatible functions, that of law enforcement and promotion of good relations. Either you accept that principle or you do not. I do not, and I do not think you can improve something which has really got off on the wrong foot. Therefore, I deliberately refrained from making any suggestions for improvement of what I thought was radically wrong. This puts me in an awkward positiion and it puts those who agree with me in an awkward position. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Monson, made a valid point; that is, that if one is going to have a law enforcement body, and this is a law enforcement body, one ought not to give it functions outside the enforcement of the law, outside the enforcement of what is legal.

The noble Lord replies, "Oh, but this is not only a law enforcement body; it is a race equality body and it is going to give good advice and persuasion to people". That is also a very valid point. But I think the two functions ought to be contained in two separate bodies. As I ventured to say on Second Reading, with what The Times called a "rhetorical flourish" for some reason, you might as well try to combine Sir Robert Mark with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The thing is basically a nonsense, and I cannot take part in these debates. I am very glad incidentally, but I shall keep fairly silent from now on.


I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord is right in saying that we should not give to a law enforcement body any functions outside law enforcement. I am assuming that the police force is a law enforcement body. Does he really suggest that the police force should have no functions outside law enforcement? Every day when I come up to the House I see policemen leading little children across a busy street. That is hardly law enforcement; it is an act of great kindliness.

Surely, therefore, it is possible for a law enforcement body to have functions outside the strict interpretation of the words, "law enforcement".


I am certainly not going to be drawn on the police at this stage of the debate; we really must get on.


The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, albeit in his usual charming and courteous way, has confirmed all my worst fears about the functions of the Commission. It is as I feared; their function is to chivvy people. He may call it encouraging and persuading, but the word "persuading" has all sorts of connotations. One has only to think of the "B" film where the Gestapo officer says, "Ve have vays and means of persvadink you to talk". Seriously, this is not the way to go about things.

I was very impressed by what the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, said about the street she mentioned where one immigrant family lived among a street of English people, and, using their own devices, doing it in their own time and way, the immigrant family were welcomed into the community in the street. This is the way to do it; to allow people to do their own thing and not bully and chivy them. I wonder whether the noble Lord realises how much the words "Race Relations Board" strike fear into peoples' hearts? Unfortunately, my noble friend Lord Clifford of Chudleigh could not be here today, but I know that he was going to tell your Lordships about one particular example, and I dare say that other noble Lords know of many others. But, as I have not had much support for my Amendment, I think I had better beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.1 p.m.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 54: Page 26, line 12, leave out ("and good relations").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I should like to consider along with Amendment No. 54 Amendments Nos. 55, 59, 60, and 61, as they all deal with different aspects of the same proposal. I should like also to say that I am not on this occasion speaking for my Party, and indeed the official policy of the Liberal Party on this matter is different from the proposition that I am putting forward. It is of course a matter of mechanics and structure that we are now discussing and not a matter of aims and objectives. On the matter of aims and objectives we are totally and absolutely at one. But although I lack the support of my Party on this occasion, I am not without substantial support in many well informed quarters for the point of view I am putting forward, which is the point of view which was raised a few moments ago by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham. In substance, behind all these Amendments is the point that, as I see it, it will hinder and not help the attainment of our objectives if all the duties are allocated to one body instead of two as was the case under the 1968 Act.

The point of view that I am putting forward is, as will be known to your Lordships' House, substantially the point of view of the Race Relations Board, which I served very inadequately on a conciliation committee for a considerable length of time. It is also a point of view which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, has supported; it was supported in the Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, and I believe there are other Members of your Lordships' House who agree with the argument which underlies these Amendments.

I know that it will be said—it is always said when this question of whether one should have one or two bodies for the purposes of this legislation—that in the United States they have one body, and since they had one body they have made very considerable progress in improving race relations. I think it will be clear to your Lordships' House that it does not necessarily follow that their improvement in race relations is due to the fact that they have had one body. They might even have improved their race relations more if they had not had one body but had had two. One cannot establish that it is cause and effect.

That is not, however, my main point in referring to the United States. In a previous discussion on this Bill I think it was the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, who pointed out that the circumstances in the United States in relation to race relations and the circumstances in this country are widely different. But even that is not the main point in the lack of wisdom in basing our proposals on the proposals, and indeed the practices, in the United States. Rather should I put it like this. While we have gone along with the United States in proposing one body, that one body that we are proposing has powers markedly different from the powers of the one body in the United States.

The United States has decided, no doubt for its own good reasons, to set up a unified body, but to give that body very much stronger punitive powers than are proposed in this legislation. If you decide—I am very glad that we have not decided—that you are going to tackle a problem of this sort by the use of pretty drastic powers, by much heavier penalties than are proposed in this legislation in this Bill, by the use of such matters as affirmative action very strongly pressed home, then you can no doubt make progress. I believe myself that it is progress which will boomerang. I do not believe that this is the way in which, in the long run, you bring about this kind of change. But at least you are arming yourself with the weapons to carry through the changes you want by the use of strong and coercive measures. We have not got these measures in this Bill and I, for my part, do not wish us to put them in.

But it flows from this that if you are not left to pursue your objectives by the use of coercive measures, what are you going to rely on to a very great extent? You are going to rely on the use of persuasion. You are going to rely on the subtler and in my view wiser and more enduring methods of attitude to change by enabling people themselves to see ways such as the ways that were illustrated by the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, to bring about change in their own way and in their own time.

If that is what you are relying on—and to a large extent we are in comparison with what is happening in the United States—then the use of one body seems to me to be singularly damaging. It is just not sense to give to one organisation roles which in fact conflict. Of course it is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, said a moment ago, that the police do not exclusively act as an enforcement body when they take little children across the street, but they are pre-eminently perceived to be a law enforcement body. You do not go to the police, you do not weep on the shoulder of the policeman, however sympathetic he may be. You do not discuss problems freely and openly with him. He is seen first as the enforcer of the law. If you are, and this body is to be, an investigating body, a law enforcing body, I am glad it can be. We needed these things—we lacked them before—and such penalties as are going to be inflicted I know will be carried out by the courts. But the first steps towards enforcement in the courts come as a result of actions by this body.

This is how this body will be conceived; as the instrument for the implementation of the law which can in the end lead to penalties. You cannot at the same time be doing that and be perceived—and this is what matters—by the public, by the many groups on whom you wish to work, as the organisation with which you can frankly and freely discuss the problems you need to discuss. You cannot do that if you are also the law enforcement body. I believe we are going to fall between two stools. I believe that this body will be feeble in its enforcement, because there are not very many strong powers here, but it will be not acceptable as a body of education and persuasion. Indeed, with the best will in the world—and I accept that the Government's objectives here are with the best will in the world—this is a bad instrument for achieving its objectives.

Let me take one or two examples of what I mean. You may want to encourage organisations, companies, should we say, to investigate with outside bodies—and this is going on at the present time through the work of the Community Relations Commission—and with the use of outside experts, the nature of their own problems of race relations. Those outside people are being financed not by the enforcement body but by an organisation which is not seen to have any enforcement powers. The result is collaboration between firms and the Community Relations Commission. Firms open their doors to let people connected with that Commission come in, because they see the Commission not as an instrument of the law but as a source of knowledge, advice and help.

I go so far as to say that I know, because I do, that in one instance the Race Relations Board, as the enforcement body, was having all manner of difficulties getting access by a public authority at the very time when people from the Community Relations Commission were getting access to that same institution, simply because of the different ways in which the two organisations were conceived. By putting all the powers in the hands of one body we will make it impossible for that kind of work to go on.

That is at the national level. Even more serious is the intention to make the local community relations councils responsible to and ultimately controlled by this enforcement body. The essence of the work of the community relations councils is that they are local and free. If they are perceived as being the instruments in the community at local level of this law enforcement body they will be suspect in the way that any enforcement body is suspect and I believe that they will lose the power to do the excellent work—of course we know that they vary in the quality of their work—that many of them are doing. To fetter the work of the local community relations councils by tying them to the enforcement body will be to undermine some of the best work that has been done under the 1968 Act.


My noble friend will be aware that in another place when Ministers were pressed to spell out what the role of CRCs would be under the new legislation, they declined to do so on the grounds that it was entirely a matter for the Commission, so there is nothing in the Bill which defines their role.

Baroness SEEAR

I am glad that my noble friend made that intervention because it may make it possible for the Minister to reassure those of us who are extremely anxious about the future of the community relations councils that they will stay with the freedom they have had up to now. Such an assurance would not go the whole way to meeting my fears but at least it would do something to see that there was some instrument left that was not tied to this central body; otherwise I have the gravest fears that despite the excellent intentions of the Government—which have the support of all on these Benches, whether or not we agree with the administrative proposals—the end result will be a much less satisfactory one even than we have had under the 1968 Act.


I agree with almost everything, indeed I think everything, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said, and I should desperately like to agree with the Amendment for that reason, but my absolutely considered conclusion—perhaps many of my noble friends think I am wrong—is that to do what she proposes would mean restructuring the whole of this part of the Bill and then handing it back to the Government to operate when they do not believe in the policy. If I had been trying to frame a Bill, it would have been on exactly the same lines as the noble Baroness, who I hope will not think I am being unsympathetic.

I tried to do something of the sort when I was thinking of tabling Amendments, but I did not think it was on. If we introduced the number of Amendments that might be necessary and persuaded the Government to operate a policy in which at the moment they do not believe, we should lose the Bill this Session. I would not be sorry about that, but I do not want it to be said that the Conservative majority in the House of Lords had sabotaged Government legislation. They try to improve it and express opinions about it, mostly rather critical. On the other hand, I do not want us to do that and in our zeal make it impossible for the Government to carry out policies to which they are committed. I hope therefore that the Committee will respect my rather difficult point of view about this. I express it again because I feel in a sense that it is a difficult position to maintain, but it is the one I hold; that this is a radically wrong Part of the Bill and that it would be practically impossible from any practical point of view for an Opposition to improve it without putting the Government in an impossible position.


I am wondering whether there is a great deal between the Government and the noble Baroness on this matter.

Baroness SEEAR

I fear that there is.


Let us see if she feels the same when I have completed my remarks. I am grateful to her for presenting her views in her usual balanced and unemotional way, because that approach helps one to consider them in a similar way. As I understand the situation, the effect of the Amendment would be to remove from the Commisssion the function of financing, co-ordinating and supporting local community relations councils and it would also relieve it of the power to support other groups concerned with promoting equal opportunity and good relations. The Government are convinced, and I must say this at the outset, of the crucial role which the local councils and other voluntary bodies should play in working towards improved race relations. It is right to seek to make the best arrangements for the continuance of the support they receive.

A number of different views have been expressed on the question of the arrangements which would best meet the need to support local field work, allowing maximum flexibility and at the same time providing central support and co-ordination. After considering the opinions of, among others, the Community Relations Committee, the Race Relations Board, the Select Committee, the National Association of Community Relations Councils, the Runnymede Trust and the local authority associations, the Government came to the conclusion, after all those consultations had taken place, that on balance it was right to establish one national commission responsible for all aspects of race relations, including the co-ordinating and the supportive role.

That does not mean to say that the Government do not recognise the dangers of a conflict of interest inherent in the wide range of responsibilities to be vested in the Commission. This must be clear. But there are many advantages. The Commission will benefit in the understanding of the local situation and needs which responsibilities for the local councils will bring because they will have responsibility for the local councils and the local councils will have access to the much wider expertise available in the Commission and will benefit from the co-ordination of effort and approach.

The Government believe that these advantages are really important. I ask the noble Baroness to consider the position which is set out in Clause 44(2) where, under a deputy chairman and a committee, the responsibility, … shall be discharged under the general direction of the Commission by a committee of the Commission consisting of at least three but not more than five Commissioners, of whom one shall he the deputy chairman or one of the deputy chairmen of the Commission. This will in fact be a committee. I believe that it will also—though I know the noble Baroness will not accept this—function as the second body because it will be doing the various things which the noble Baroness has in mind. The special committee will provide a degree—and I shall not put it any higher than that because I want to be fair about this—of separation, though I acknowledge that it will not be quite the body that the noble Baroness has in mind. On the other hand, I think there are advantages in having this sub-committee of the Commission which, as I said, will be responsible for the various other activities that have to be carried out at local level through the community relations council.

The noble Baroness asked me to say something about the local community councils. My understanding of the situation when I asked—and I did ask that—what would be the position of the community relations councils when the new body came into being was that they would remain unaffected. There are something like 85 of them, with 150 community relations officers. As the noble Baroness will know, they receive fairly substantial aid at present and that aid will continue. I believe it is envisaged—I hope I am right in saying this—that the new Commission will have something like £3 million to see that the work of the 85 community relations councils is able to continue. There will and must be a degree of responsibility by the Commission through its sub-committee for the work of the community relations councils. I feel that it is quite obvious that the subcommittee will have a good deal of influence over them. I acknowledge that the community relations councils will still remain independent, but it is desirable that they should remain so. I know that there is a fair amount of criticism. I am not exactly outside the field myself. I know the criticisms that are made in various places—some quite justified—and I have read the reports which have been issued quite recently.

However, I feel that one can, so to speak, throw it back at the noble Baroness and say that we could fall between two stools in a quite different way if we had two completely different bodies one of which had to be financed by the other. That could raise difficulties and I think it much better to leave the position as it is and to have the new Commission with this committee which will be responsible for the work which the community relations councils are going to do, where there will be a good deal of influence and oversight, not only money, coming down from the main body. I hope the noble Baroness will be able to accept this because I believe that it is right and I hope that the noble Baroness will also conclude that it is.

Baroness SEEAR

I regret that I am quite unconvinced. I believe that there is a real conflict of role built into the work of the council. I do not accept that having a sub-committee which is still within the framework of the main Council to deal with this matter makes any difference at all. I find it difficult to put this because there is an element of confidentiality, but I have seen this conflict at operating level between the persuasive and the enforcement roles, where someone coming from the Board was establishing the kind of relationship with the company in order to bring about improvements and beginning to soft pedal the enforcement activity which should have been his primary role. I wish to say no more about that, for obvious reasons, but it made a very deep impression upon me.

I feel that the noble Lord forgets that what matters is not only what the Council will do and how it will perceive itself, but how it is perceived by the people with whom it wishes to work. That is what matters. How will they see these people who come to give advice? They will see them as officials, as people coming from outside, as enforcers? If so, this link—this working together—which is what we want will not develop. With the best will in the world, I warn the Government that by setting up this organisation they will be going a long way to defeating their own objectives and worsening race relations. Without the support of the Conservative Opposition, I know that we shall not be successful if we divide and I may be without even the support of these Benches. here. Therefore, all I am going to do—


I am only interrupting my noble friend to say that she is not without support on these Benches.

Baroness SEEAR

I want it on the record that this is how I at any rate see it. I am not going to divide. It is nearly half past four and we should not get through quickly. If the Conservatives do not support the Amendment it would be a waste of your Lordships' time. However, I am convinced that I am right and the Government are wrong.


May I, too, put on record that my noble friend is also supported from the third row of the Liberal Benches, which is a long way back. She has made points very clearly which I like to re-emphasise. In particular, in relation to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, about the police, she answered that adequately on the grounds that they are an enforcement body. It is also true that the police perform different functions and recognise distinctions between them. One does not expect an inspector from Scotland Yard to help a child over the road, though he would of course do it. Nor does one expect a traffic policeman to track down criminals on the drug racket, though no doubt he would do it. They are different functions. I entirely agree with what my noble friend said. It seems to be like asking a referee at a football match to act also as somebody who is trying to appease the high feelings that arise on these occasions.

With great respect, I do not think that the Minister's suggestion that there will be not two bodies but a number of spiritual small bodies which will all be doing this kind of work in their own way will make the position easier. Instead of falling between two stools, it seems to me that one will be entangled in the branches of a monkey puzzle tree. I may be quite wrong and I shall not waste your Lordships' time, except to say that the only connection I have had, not with race relations but with a very emotive subject, was when a very large demonstration took place last year on the issue of abortion. There, it was necessary, as there were thousands of people concerned, for the police to take part, but it was also necessary to have persons present who could, in case trouble had arisen—none did—soothe people down. There were therefore a great many stewards who were nothing to do with the police and who had no role of that sort to play but who were able to help. I believe that had either the police or the stewards been entrusted with both roles there might have been chaos. That may be a bad analogy, but I feel that my noble friend's analogy with the referee is a good one. I believe that one must emphasise the fact that achieving good relations and equality of opportunity are two quite different functions. I believe it well worth continuing to think about that.


I rise to say that I, too, deeply regret that the noble Baroness will not press her Amendment to a Division. I found every word she said extremely cogent, not from a Party, but from a constitutional point of view. I was strengthened in this belief by the weighty words uttered by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, whose subsequent surrender, so to speak, seemed to be in some respects regrettable. When I listened to the sympathetic and friendly way in which the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, expounded his point of view, I found it extremely difficult to agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, that if the Bill were restructured as he thinks it should be restructured, it would be badly administered by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell.


I was not trying to say that. I do not want to take up the time of the Committee and I realise that there are other people who think that my view is pusillanimous. But all one can do is to apply one's own judgment to things as best one can. I do not believe that it is within the power of an Opposition to restructure the part of the Bill in such a way that we would make a workmanlike job of it. In this House we cannot vote against a Second Reading. When I say that we cannot vote against the Second Reading, of course in fact we can, but we very seldom do. Unless I were voting against the Second Reading, which I would have done in the lower House, I really do not believe that it is on to improve this matter. But I absolutely agree that the noble Baroness has made an irrefutable case. The only reason that I did not pursue the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, was that I thought his analogy was perhaps rather more a debating one than one which added light to the subject under discussion.


May I ask the noble Lord Chairman whether we are now going to put Amendments Nos. 54, 59, 60, and 61, if I heard aright?


The question is that the Amendment be agreed to.


I thought that the noble Baroness had said that she had withdrawn the Amendment.


She has not said so yet.

Baroness SEEAR

I want to divide the Committee. I have changed my mind.


The Question is that Amendment No. 54 be agreed to. As many as are of that opinion say "Content". To the contrary "Not-Content". I think the "Contents" have it. Clear the Bar.

Tellers for the Contents have not been appointed. Pursuant to Standing Order No. 50(3) a Division therefore cannot take place and I declare the Not-Contents have it.

Amendment negatived.

4.38 p.m.

Lord AVEBURY moved Amendment No. 56: Page 26, line 14, leave out ("and") and insert— ("() to provide advice and assistance for, or other services for the welfare of, persons who have rights of appeal under Part II of the Immigration Act 1971; and ")

The noble Lord said: I am moving this Amendment from this Bench because it is one which I have tabled entirely in my personal capacity and one on which I would not expect my colleagues in the Liberal Party necessarily to agree with me as they normally do invariably on other issues. In discussing the machinery for assisting appellants in immigration cases, there is nothing in what I have to say which should be interpreted in any way as a criticism of the persons who are engaged in the management of the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service, and particularly my noble friend Lord Foot, the chairman of that body. He has served it with distinction as chairman, I think ever since its inception.

When I first tabled the Amendment there was no question of the internal difficulties which the service, to my great sorrow, has encountered since then and which have resulted in an inquiry being set in motion, the results of which are not before your Lordships' Committee, and of course it would be improper and discourteous to those conducting the inquiry to discuss that on this occasion.

What we are interested in is whether the assistance which is now provided to appellants in conducting their appeals against refusals of leave to enter, refusals to vary conditions to remain, and so on, should be provided, as it is at the moment, by the United Kingdom Immigrants' Advisory Service, or whether we should take the opportunity of this legislation to lay a duty on the new statutory body which is to be created under the Bill, the Commission for Racial Equality, and ask its officers to undertake those duties.

The crux of the matter, I think, can be summarised in a quotation from Mr. Vishnu Sharma, who was writing in the publication Immigrants' Voice the other day, and who said there: The connection between race relations and immigration policy is obvious and inevitable". That does not mean to say that the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants supports these Amendments. Indeed, on the contrary, they would probably take the view—and I have not asked them although I have, as some of your Lordships may know, a very close relationship with the JCWI—that if the United Kingdom IAS cannot be genuinely independent as long as it gets most of its money from the Home Office (and that has always been their view all along) then the right solution would he a considerable strengthening of the services which are now provided by the JCWI themselves on a totally voluntary basis. I am only supposing that this would be their attitude because, as I say, I have deliberately made a point of not discussing it with them so that I cannot be influenced by possible considerations of the rivalry which has always existed between the two services.

But what does that sentence actually imply? I think that as long as we have a racist immigration policy, as I have attempted to demonstrate on many previous occasions when we have discussed the matter, it is going to be an uphill task, if not a virtually impossible one, to eradicate discrimination within the boundaries of the United Kingdom. If both the law and the rules which are made by the Secretary of State in exercising his power under the immigration laws are designed to keep black people out, then some native whites are always going to think of black people as a threat or, as they are frequently described, as a problem that we try to prevent by excluding it, just as we might with rabies or Colorado beetles. I think under those circumstances it really is going to be very difficult indeed to ensure the success of the new machinery that we are now setting up. If I can put it another way, how can we in fact establish a Commission for Racial Equality to fight discrimination everywhere else—in the fields of employment, housing, education and so on—but deny the Commission for Racial Equality the right to scrutinise racism in immigration, which effectively stops a person from exercising any of the other rights supposedly conferred upon him by this legislation?

An interesting sidelight on this was, I thought, opened up when the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, in a discussion on an earlier Amendment in relation to Clause 43(1)(a), said that the Commission may inquire into matters outside the scope of the Act; and the immigration officers have also been said to be outwith the Bill because they are not providing a service. But that does not mean to say that the racist elements in immigration policy, which have to be carried into effect by immigration officers, could not be examined by the Commission for Racial Equality.

If one goes back to 1967, when the Wilson Committee on Immigration Appeals made its recommendations, they said that an advisory welfare service should be available to immigrants who are affected by controls. When they said that, of course, the situation was entirely different, because at that time there was no question of setting up an organisation, as we are doing under this legislation, specifically to fight racism. Ten years ago I think it would have been generally agreed that the task of fighting racism should be left entirely to voluntary bodies, and in the two and a half years (I think it was) that elapsed between the recommendations of the Wilson Committee and the establishment of the United Kingdom Immigrants' Advisory Service all the discussions proceeded on the basis that advising immigrants on appeals was also a function which should be undertaken by a voluntary body; so far as I can remember there was nobody suggesting at that time that a statutory body would be more appropriate. Indeed, so far as I can recall at this distance of time—and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, will correct me if I am wrong—the critical reason why the joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants withdrew from the discussions which had been set up by the Home Office to form the new organisation was that the independence of the UKIAS, as they saw it, had been compromised because an invitation was extended to the Community Relations Commission to nominate a representative to the executive of the new body. Some people still think that the UKIAS is too much part of the establishment; that because it is in receipt of something like 98 per cent. of its income from the Government it is not exactly free to campaign against Government policies on immigration.

We are always told that local government cannot be truly independent of its parent Departments if an increasing proportion of its revenue has to come from the taxpayer. One can draw the analogy here that, while an organisation may be statutorily free, it is sometimes difficult for it to be seen to be free if it derives all its income from a single source. I am not going to say whether this is right or wrong; I will merely remark that there are two separate and distinct functions. One is to give help and advise to people who want to exercise their rights under the immigration appeals system, including representations before the adjudicator or before the tribunal; the other is to campaign against aspects of immigration law which are seen to be unfair and particularly those features of it which are held to be of a racist nature.

The UKIAS does the first of these functions; but, I think, only to a limited extent the second because—and I am not blaming it for this—its grant is for the purposes mentioned in Clause 23. But we see, as the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, has underlined, that the CRE has the right of remit under Clause 43(1) to work towards the elimination of discrimination. Therefore, I believe it would have the power to attack the roots of the problem in the legislation itself. That would not, I must emphasise, inhibit others from criticising Government policy on immigration from their own points of view; nor prevent anyone who wanted to do so from assisting immigrants or would-be immigrants in presenting their individual cases. Notwithstanding the existence both of UKIAS and JCWI at the moment some people may prefer to go to their Member of Parliament or to some agency such as the Cypriot Advice Bureau in Camden or even to a solicitor; although, generally speaking, I would say that was a waste of money. In conclusion, may I refer to the practical reasons for this proposal. One is that the point of entry to the system of obtaining advice would be more widespread if we gave the function to the Commission because there are many more community relations officers spread across the Kingdom than there are offices of the UKAIS. This is inevitable since it is an organisation with much larger resources.

That brings me to the second point, on resources, and I am supported in this by the secretary of the ASTMS community relations group who writes in support of the Amendment, that: The new Commission should be able to allocate adequate resources to its regional offices and local community relation councils to provide am efficient advisory and representation service relating to immigration legislation. I should also inform the Committee that I have had some letters from individual CROs disagreeing with the Amendment; but it is hard for me to say what is the reasoning behind their disagreement because in every case they have merely stated disagreement without going into the background.

Finally, there is the question of career structure for the officers themselves. I think that if the officers who are concerned with providing these services are part of a larger organisation, of a statutory organisation, clearly there would be promotion and the opportunity of moving into other fields of a related nature; and I think the universe of people from whom recruitment of the officers could be expected to come could be greatly enlarged. It is not everybody who wants to work in a small voluntary organisation, particularly at the level of salaries that are normally offered. One can make a virtue of this. Mr. John Ennals, in a letter which he wrote to The Times, pointed out that the service was offering a very economical picture in that for a quarter of a million pounds they were providing a network of service all over the country. In all fairness, I must admit that if my Amendment were carried and the functions were incorporated in the CRE, inevitably it is going to cost more money. We might be compensated for that additional expense by reason of the fact that we should open up the area of recruitment and people would have access to the service at so many more points.

On that, I have a letter from the assistant community relations officer in Bristol, which is fairly typical. He says: A great many people come to our office in Bristol for advice on immigration matters and I am continually making representations on behalf of people and assisting others with their appeals. He says he is writing the letter on behalf of himself and the CRO in Bristol. A great many CROs and assistant CROs are already doing precisely what I am recommending in the Bill. Whether the Amendment is passed or not, that will continue. I am interested in providing a more efficient service. I am interested in taking up the political aspects of our immigration law and dealing with racism in the immigration law and rules as we are in every other sector of our national life. I beg to move.

4.52 p.m.


I should like to support this Amendment. This is to be a Commission for good racial relations. In the non-white communities of Britain one of the deep reasons for antagonism is not only the immigration laws themselves, but the way in which those who are entering this country are treated under those laws. I am not suggesting for a moment that this Commission should engage in a campaign against the immigration laws; that clearly is a political matter outside their sphere. I suggest that they should be concerned about those trying to enter this country who are often refused admission at the airport or other ports and who make an appeal for a reconsideration of their case.

I have two of these cases each week. I want to pay tribute to the Ministers for the way in which they receive representations. That applied under the Conservative Government to the Minister at the Home Office who was then responsible. It applies to Mr. Lyon and Dr. Summerskill, who are now responsible. Over 50 per cent. of the cases which I take up are met by Home Office consideration.

In supporting this Amendment, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Foot, that I am not in the least motivated by any opposition to the organisation of which he is chairman; but it seems to me that if you have an official advisory committee and then set up a Royal Commission to deal with community relations, it is logical that the functions at present officially carried out by the Advisory Committee with Government support should be transferred to the Commission for Race Relations. It is perfectly true that at the present time in the minority communities there is considerable suspicion even of the organisation of which the noble Lord, Lord Foot, is chairman, because it is thought to be an "Establishment" organisation. Because it is financed by the Government it is regarded as part of the Government structure. Whether that suspicion would remain if this function were carried out by the Commission for Race Relations would depend entirely upon whether that Commission wins the confidence of the minority communities. I think it very probable that in the first instance the independence of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants would continue. My hope would be that there would be such confidence in the new Commission that the minority communities would co-operate with it. Therefore, I hope that the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, will be accepted by the Committee.


Before the Government reply on this matter, perhaps a few words from me would be appropriate. I hope that they will be relatively few. I do not want to criticise either the mover or the seconder of this Amendment, but I should like to leave the Government under absolutely no illusions about the view we on these Benches take of this Amendment. We are against it, and we are against it on grounds which I hope will prove both reputable and acceptable to the Committee.

I regret the constant use by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, of the word "racism" in connection with immigration laws. I know what I mean by "racism": it means the doctrine that one race is better than another. I see no trace of that in our immigration laws, and I will return to that point later. But it is an insult to the people of this country—the two main Parties of whom have not agreed entirely but have to some extent co-operated, at any rate as regards the main lines of policy—to suggest that they are actuated by racism, if that word bears the unpleasant connotation which I have attributed to it.

Secondly, I made it plain in an earlier brief intervention that I do not agree with the amalgamation of the functions of law enforcement with the improvement of relations. That is a duality of purpose which I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, will be a serious blot on the administration of this Act in the future. Here we are discussing a third, and even more incompatible function; namely, to add to the Commission which is going to enforce the law for racial equality and the Commission which is going to encourage good relations within the country the function of assisting immigration into the country. This is yet a further incompatible function, and since the affirmation of the Creed I have never heard of anything which more completely confounds the substance of policy without dividing the persons.

I must say that on that ground alone I am against it. But I personally must say this, too, and I hope the Government take the same view—whether or not they do, I cannot say. The object of these laws, whether they are wise or foolish, is to give people who are lawfully inside this country equality of status and a fair opportunity in life, and to prevent people insulting them or treating them in a discriminatory manner. We may differ as to the method but that is the purpose, and with that I agree. It seems to me inherent in the right of sovereignty of the British people that they can control their own immigration into this country by people who are not, up to this moment, people who have a right to come in. I see those as two different aspects of policy, although I absolutely agree with those who say that we have got to do the second and control immigration if we are to achieve the first.

I must say this, although I am not trying to make a Party point of it because what happened was wholly outside the prevision of, I think, most of us in 1948. I have always taken the view that Section 1 of the British Nationality Act 1948, which took away from the people of this country the right to control their own immigration, which they have only gradually recaptured for themselves, has been a gross injustice to them and many of our ills flow from that one piece of ill-advised legislation. I believe that this Amendment, were it carried, would do a great deal to worsen race relations in this country because I believe that people of all Parties and classes in this country are deeply resentful of the fact that there are people in their midst who do not think they ought to be able to control immigration into this country, and this Amendment would give rise to confirmation of those suspicions. Unrestricted immigration of any kind depends upon the proposition that this country is under-populated at the moment. I do not believe that this country is manifestly under-populated at the moment, and I do not wish to see the adult population of this country increased by unrestricted immigration, and if that is racialism then I am all for it.

5.2 p.m.


I intervene reluctantly in this debate and I shall be as brief as I possibly can. I think that I am obliged to say a word or two because, as my noble friend Lord Avebury has said, I have been the chairman of the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service since its inception in 1970, and it may be that some members of the Committee will have had some difficulty in understanding what this Amendment is all about. If I may explain in simple terms, what my noble friend is proposing is that the opportunity should be taken under this Bill of transferring to the new Commission the functions which have been performed by the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service over the last six years under the Immigration Appeals Act 1969. May I simply deal with a few facts as to what we do, and what our purpose, our object and our function is.

We were set up under, I think, Section 15 of the Immigration Appeals Act 1969. That was when the appeals system originated, and it was foreseen by the Government, and by the Wilson Committee who had investigated this matter and who were virtually the authors of the appeals procedure, that it would be desirable to have some body which could be financially assisted by the Government, but which would nevertheless be wholly independent of the Government in the way in which they carried out their function; and that that body should be given the task of advising and assisting people in their appeals, whenever they had a right of appeal under the immigration law and the immigration rules. That is what we were set up to do, and during the last six years that is precisely what we have been doing.

We have never seen it as part of our business to campaign for alterations in the immigration rules. When we have seen rules which we thought caused hardship, we have drawn the attention of the Home Office to our views about them. But never, during the whole of the six years, have we mounted any campaign one way or the other on immigration. Indeed, in my view it would be fatal if we did.

May I tell the Committee what is the constitution of the executive council. The executive council was set up in 1970 when the appeal system was introduced, and it consists of some 16 persons, the majority of whom are representative of different immigrant groups in this country; the rest are representative of different social welfare organisations. I was not appointed by the Government, of course, but I was asked at the outset whether I would chair the executive council. That is what we have been doing over the last six years. I hardly need to say that no member of the executive council is paid by anybody—certainly not by the Government. The money which we receive by way of grant from the Home Office is used entirely for running the service and not for the services of those who sit on the executive council.

I depart for a moment from pure fact. Although I do not feel called upon to defend my organisation, in my view it has made a very valuable contribution over the last six years and I believe that that contribution is recognised by the great majority of the immigrant groups in this country. What we have succeeded in doing is this. First, we provide an entirely free service, both advisory and in representation before the adjudicators and the tribunal, to anybody who is caught up in the immigration net and who is in need of advice and assistance. Not only do we provide a free service but also, I believe, at very great economy to the Government because it is only this year that our grant has reached the figure of £250,000. It started off at £75,000 and it has gone up progressively as the work has increased.

The second great advantage of this organisation is that because we are a voluntary body and in no way beholden to the Home Office, except for a financial grant, we are regarded, I believe, and certainly we have insisted upon this, as entirely independent of the Home Office as to how we conduct the appeals and the advice that we give.

We recognise that because the Home Office give us the grant they are entitled to look in to see whether we are using the money efficiently and effectively, but so far as the presentation of appeals is concerned we have dealt with many hundreds of thousands of them over the last six years compared with the two a week to which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, referred, and I have known no occasion when any Home Secretary or any Secretary of State has attempted in any way to interfere with the way in which we conduct those appeals. It is because of that entirely proper attitude by the Home Office and the Secretary of State, that we have been allowed to present our appeals and represent people as we think best. We are responsible to the Home Office for the administration of their money only so far as we are obliged to be efficient and economic. It is because of that, I believe, that we have established a situation of independence and have therefore gained the confidence of the great majority of the immigrant people who are living in this country already and of those who are trying to come in.

What is now proposed by my noble friend and by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is that that position of independence should be undermined, because it is now proposed that the administration of this service, representing people before the appeal tribunal and the like, should be put into the hands of an organisation under the wing of the new Commission and one sees at the very beginning that all the commissioners are going to be appointed by the Secretary of State. How in the world do either the mover or the seconder of this motion think that putting the whole thing under the wing of the paid Commissioners appointed by the Secretary of State will give confidence to the immigrant community that that body will be more diligent in pursuit of their interests than the body which now exists?

Of course the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, is entirely right when he says that, as he has already explained and as my noble friend Lady Seear said just now, and as has been said constantly throughout these discussions, there are many objections to trying to contain in one organisation the business of law enforcement and the business of establishing better community relations among different communities. But it would be absolutely absurd (would it not?) to try to join a third function and to put that function under the supervision of people who are appointed by the Secretary of State. I cannot conceive that if that were done there would any longer be any confidence among the communities that that is a body which is in fact independent of the Government and whose sole concern is the pursuit of their lawful interests. I am sorry if I have spoken for much longer than I intended to, but I thought it right that the Committee should know the present state of affairs and what would be the results of what is now proposed.


The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and the noble Lord, Lord Foot, have in fact—and I must say this because it is true—said much of what I was going to say myself. In some respects I am sorry that one cannot throw a crumb of comfort to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, but I think the principal objection to the noble Lord's Amendment is that we simply do not believe that it would be right from the point of view of the functions we are now proposing to give the new Commission, or that it would be in the interests of good race relations for the new Commission to become directly involved in the administration of our immigration legislation.

The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, suggested that really the Commission would have quite enough on its plate, and even suggested that there should be quite a separate organisation to deal with promoting equality of opportunity and good race relations. And now the suggestion is that on top of that they should be given the responsibility of immigration. We feel quite strongly that they have enough to do for any one new body.

Furthermore, the Government are not enamoured with the idea of giving the Commission for Racial Equality the responsibility of immigration. We think the two things should be kept apart. It is one thing to suggest that the new Commission should concern itself with immigration in a broad sense. I think it may be right and proper that it should do so and there can be no doubt that it will do so, but as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has commented, immigration does link with race relations, and immigration issues are such that I think in the public mind there would be a conflict as to what the responsibility of the new Commission would be and in some respects I think it would damage the work of the new Commission. So far as the Government are concerned, they find themselves unable to accept this Amendment for the reasons that I and others have given.


I did not really expect to get much support for this Amendment, and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for his remarks. I shall detain your Lordships only for a few minutes in order to reply to a couple of points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. The noble and learned Lord said that this Amendment would lead to unrestricted immigration. Obviously, he had not read it or listened to the speech I made in moving it.


May I say that I said nothing like that at all. It would have been a very silly thing to say, and silly as I am, I did not commit that particular form of silliness.


The noble and learned Lord certainly implied that the Amendment would lead to unrestricted immigration.

That was the reason why the noble and learned Lord said that it would do a great deal to worsen race relations. That is nonsense. I repeat the words, racism in immigration policy, and if the noble and learned Lord disagrees with my words, well, often the truth is painful. Our immigration policy and the rules made under it are quite clearly racist in their nature, in that we exclude black people of certain categories where we would easily admit white. If the noble and learned Lord has any doubt about this, would he consider the application of the direct discrimination clauses if they were applicable to the admission of dependants?

If we erect a condition which, while not expressed in racial terms, is more difficult for members of a particular ethnic minority to comply with than others, then we are discriminating, as has already been discussed under Clause 1. But we know that dependants from the Indian sub-continent by reason of the operation of the immigration system, find it very much more difficult to come here than dependants, say, from Australia or Canada where the majority are white. So we are directly discriminating against people from the Indian sub-continent who wish to bring their dependants here.

So far as the remarks by my noble friend are concerned, I would reiterate that what I said is in no way a criticism of the excellent work which he has always done as Chairman of the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service, and the sterling work which the field officers do. I think the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is with me on that. All we are concerned with is the question, which must be one of opinion, as to whether it is better to have a single organisation dealing with the casework, and also combating the general nature of the immigration law. I do not believe that, because the Commissioners of the CRE are to be appointed by the Secretary of State, in fact that would make the kind of difference my noble friend has in mind.

After all, if one looks at Clause 66 of the Bill, the Commission is empowered to give all kinds of assistance to persons fighting cases in the industrial tribunals, or, indeed, in social security tribunals. I do not think my noble friend would pretend that because the members of the Commission will be appointed by the Secretary of State, the aggrieved persons making complaints before an industrial tribunal would think they would get less than a fair deal. Having said that, I appreciate that the majority of the Committee disagree with the views expressed by myself and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Before we come to the next Amendment, I wonder whether the Government would now begin to consider where they want us to get to before we adjourn.


I am so sorry that my noble friend has not done this. I understand it is the intention of my noble friend to ask the Committee leave to adjourn at half-past five.

5.19 p.m.

Lord AVEBURY moved Amendment No. 57:

Page 26, line 18, at end insert— ("() Before appointing the Commissioners (other than the Chairman) the Secretary of State shall consult such organisations representing ethnic minorities as he considers appropriate.").

The noble Lord said: On an earlier Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, we discussed the composition of the Commission. The noble Lord was suggesting that some kind of numerical formula should be inserted so as to make sure that ethnic minorities were properly represented there. I did not speak on that Amendment. While I agree with the general tenor of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, if I may say so with respect, I think it would have been a mistake to tie down the Secretary of State to any kind of numerical formula whatsoever.

At the same time, I believe that it is important that we should satisfy the minority communities that the undertaking given in the White Paper and in the speeches in another place, and now by the Minister in this House, are properly embodied in the Statute. Those noble Lords who attended any of the regional conferences organised by the Community Relations Commission in the period leading up to the White Paper will be aware that the representatives of the minorities wanted something even stronger than the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, was proposing. They talked about some kind of machinery for election of members of the minority ethnic groups so that they would have control over the representation of their own groups within their own hands, and there would be no discretion left with the Home Secretary to choose between nominees whom they would suggest to him. So I think there has to be some concession written into the Bill to that point of view, but obviously it would be quite unthinkable to go as far as an electoral system, which would be extremely difficult to work, if not impossible.

The noble Lord the Minister says that the Secretary of State has already gone very carefully into the wishes of minority groups; he said there had been wide consultations and these are still going on. What I am suggesting is merely that this should be recognised in the wording of the Bill, and I think that if that were done, as he put it, the whole community would have greater confidence. But, at the same time, in the wording of this Amendment we are not in any way fettering the absolute discretion of the Home Secretary. All we are saying is that before making any appointments, other than the chairman, to the Commission he shall consult such representatives of ethnic minorities as he considers appropriate. We are not even laying down which organisations representing ethnic minorities should be taken into consultation. I think it would be extremely difficult to do that, because noble Lords who are familiar with these matters will know that the representative organisations change their titles from time to time; new organisations come into existence and old ones disappear. I think it would be impossible for us to lay down that the Secretary of State should specify those organisations by Statutory Instrument. That would be to import into the Bill a degree of inflexibility which I think would be harmful.

Finally, if the Secretary of State were prepared to accept this Amendment, it would follow the precedent of the Health and Safety at Work Act, to which I refer the noble Lord. In that case we moved an Amendment requiring consultation to take place, before appointing members to the Commission, with such professional organisations concerned with health and safety as the Secretary of State felt appropriate. There again, the phrasing of the Amendment, which was accepted by the Government, was extremely general. We were not tying him down, for instance, to consult the British Medical Association or the Institution of Civil Engineers, two organisations one might have had in mind. The Minister who answered then—and I am not sure it was not the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell—said: "Of course, we had intended all along to consult such organisations, but if they would like it written into the Bill we are happy to do it". I can assure the noble Lord that it would give great confidence to minority ethnic groups if this were written into the Bill, and I hope that the Government will accept the Amendment. I beg to move.


The Government do not disagree with the principle of consultation which the noble Lord's Amendment enshrines. On the contrary, we are firmly committed to it, but we do not believe it is desirable to write it into the Bill. The Amendment would certainly not place any undue limitations on the Secretary of State's discretion. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, mentioned the Health and Safety Commission, but I am bound to say that it is a vastly different body. It was necessary more or less to set out the organisations, the type of people, the local authorities, other organisations, the professional bodies, and so on, because health and safety at work covered such a wide field. This is in comparison a much narrower field, and the Government do not think that it is necessary to enshrine it; and furthermore, as I have already said, these consultations are taking place.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ward, asked me if I could name some of them. I can do this. The Home Secretary has consulted a number of local and national organisations representing the main ethnic minority groups, including the main umbrella organisations. These include, among others, the Standing Conference of Asian Organisations: the Standing Conference of African Organisations; the Standing Conference of Pakistani Organisations; the West Indian Standing Organisation; the National Black People's Organisations Post Conference Constituents Committee. In addition, the Home Secretary received a considerable number of suggestions from interested individuals, local community organisations and minority groups. This is by no means exhaustive. The Home Secretary has consulted other bodies but those were the only names I could lay my hands on at this stage, but I think they show that consultation has been pretty extensive.

There is really nothing between the noble Lord and the Government on this so far as intention is concerned. What I have said will be recorded in Hansard, and I should have thought that if one wanted any written evidence it is all that would be necessary at this stage or in the future.


I thank the noble Lord very much.


I have no doubt at all that the Home Secretary would have consulted all these organisations, and I am grateful to the noble Lord, the Minister, for having given us some of their names. The only thing that I am still anxious about, in spite of the assurances he has given, is that if we do not write this into the Bill, on future occasions when vacancies arise on the Commission then a successor to the present Home Secretary might not engage in such extensive consultations as the Minister described. I am sure that the words that the Minister has used will be of tremendous value in reassuring the ethnic minorities that these consultations have been very thorough and effective; and with those words I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed.