HL Deb 04 February 1982 vol 426 cc1396-474

3.10 p.m.

Lord Belstead rose to move, That this House takes notes of the Report on the Brixton Disorders, 10th–12th April 1981 (Cmnd. 8247).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, during the week-end of 10th–12th April last year, there occurred riots in Brixton which involved violence and disorder un-paralleled this century. Two days after, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary appointed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, to inquire, to report and to make recommendations. Consistent with that prompt action is the fact that when the noble and learned Lord's report was presented to Parliament, not only did the Home Secretary recognise this as being a report of great significance, but he also gave a firm declaration of intent in response to many of the report's recommendations.

My right honourable friend accepted the general principles which the report set out for policing policy. He accepted the need to develop formal arrangements for consultation between the police and the community at different levels. He accepted the need for more effort to he put into training, and he accepted that the procedure for handling complaints against the police needs to be substantially reformed.

The ability to be able to see through a brick wall further than most other people is a rare gift. A debt which we owe to the perceptive powers of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, is in respect of his creative statement as to how the philosophy of policing in this country can and must be adapted in order to maintain the law. There are, as the noble and learned Lord has reminded us, two related principles of policing a free society: that of consent and balance and that of independence and accountability. But to assume that this is to invite the police, in order to preserve the peace, to turn a blind eye to crime is a misconception. In the report there is no excuse for street crime and mugging, and no question of impeding the police in their task of dealing with crime.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, did not hesitate to describe the disorders as " riots ": and in his words the police officers who had to confront that violence— deserve, and must receive, the praise and thanks of all sections of the community ". Indeed there were those who gave evidence to his inquiry who shared those views. Counsel for the Lambeth Council for Community Relations said this: If there are any who believe that some of the violence to person or property which accompanied the Brixton disturbances were the legitimate self-expression of an oppressed minority, the Council do not share those beliefs ".

But in our society the work of the police needs to be reinforced by the support of the community. Today, the functions of the police remain— … the prevention of crime … the protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquility, "— the same definition given of the duties of the Metropolitan Police when the force was established over 150 years ago. To strike the right balance between those two duties is a task which requires great discretion on the part of each individual police officer in the diverse society of today. It is a tribute to the police that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, expressed confidence that they can exercise the discretion needed to do their duty despite the many difficulties they face—and, let us make no mistake, my Lords, it is the responsibility of the community to assist the police in their task.

The noble and learned Lord said that vigorous action would be required if the composition of the police service is to become more representative of the community it serves. My right honourable friend agrees, as I am sure we all do. But there are no easy options in this, and indeed the report specifically recommended against the introduction of quota systems or a lowering of standards.

There has been some progress in recruitment from ethnic minorities, but further steps need to be taken. We must ensure that applicants are not unconsciously discriminated against. We must be sure, for example, that the entrance tests are free from cultural bias. New tests will therefore be scrutinised independently before they are introduced. Also, we are discussing with the Metropolitan Police and the Inner London Education Authority the possibility of providing suitable English courses for ethnic minority candidates who are otherwise entirely suitable but who narrowly fail the entrance test because their English is not quite good enough. However, the main problem is to encourage more candidates to come forward, and so we are setting up a special study to see how ethnic minority recruitment can be improved. Representatives of the police authorities, the police staff associations and the ethnic minority communities are being invited to join an examination of the steps that have been taken by police forces and to encourage ethnic minority candidates to come forward and to consider what more might or should be done.

It takes little imagination to visualise the problems which face the police officer on the beat, particularly the many young officers who have recently joined the service, in areas where the crime rate is high. In this respect we fully accept the importance given to police training by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. The Police Training Council, which consists of representatives of local authorities, the police, the Home Office and independent academic advisers, met on 28th January to decide how to tackle the recommendations of the report; and it is to meet again in the autumn to review progress. Meanwhile, the new Metropolitan Police " street duty courses " for probationers are designed now to give practical initial training. In recent years many forces have been unable to provide a sufficient number of suitable officers as " tutor constables ", and one of the benefits of my right honourable friend's determination to bring the police service fully up to strength is that improved recruitment and reduced wastage are helping to over-come this problem.

The report also pointed to three other areas where training needs to be increased and improved—race relations, public order and supervision and management. Substantial programmes are being provided in these three vital areas of training but here again, with the Police Training Council, we are looking at the needs for common programmes and minimum standards.

My right honourable friend has also clearly endorsed the need for reform of the complaints procedure if it is to command public confidence, and he has promised to bring forward proposals for change. Indeed the Home Office has made proposals for independent supervision of investigations and a conciliation procedure in evidence to the Home Affairs Committee in another place, which has begun an inquiry into complaints against the police and related matters. I believe this inquiry is very much to be welcomed. The evidence to be given will undoubtedly reveal the difficulties in this whole area, but it is to be hoped that the committee's conclusions will provide some of the answers. I understand that the com- mitt[...]e hope to complete their inquiry by Easter, and of course we shall wish to take into account their report before proceeding further.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, recommended that racially prejudiced or discriminatory behaviour should be a specific offence in the Police Discipline Code. On this, my right honourable friend has said in another place that the vital objective is to ensure that the public can see that the police themselves regard such behaviour as something that they will not tolerate. This was discussed last week at a meeting of the Police Advisory Board, when all concerned—the police staff associations, the Association of County Councils and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities—agreed that there could be no question of such behaviour being tolerated in the police service. But, noting that this could already by dealt with under the Police Discipline Code, they were unanimous also that it would not be appropriate to proceed by way of creating a new specific offence.

The Home Secretary has welcomed the recommendation in the report that lay visitors should have the right to visit police stations. After all, the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure referred to the need for some method of reviewing custody procedures. The noble and learned Lord refrained from offering a blueprint for legislation on this, and the Government arc considering the practicalities of a visiting scheme in the arrangements that we are following up for local liaison and consultation

That leads me to the welcome which my right honourable friend has given to the recommendations designed to promote effective consultation and accountability between the police and the public. I think it is fair for me to claim that my right honourable friend has consistently encouraged police authorities to provide a forum, where the chief constable can give an account of his policing policy and, in turn, the police authorities can express to the chief constable the views of the community. The noble and learned Lord recommended that there should be a statutory duty outside, and a statutory framework in, London for local consultation. Suggestions in some quarters that my right honourable friend has rejected this recommendation are wholly untrue.

But, because it would take some time before any legal changes could be made, Lord Scarman recommended that police authorities and chief constables should co-operate immediately in establishing local liaison committees. We fully endorse this. Keeping law and order is, after all, a responsibility for us all, and effective co-operation between police and public should surely have as its final objective the more effective prosecution of crime and the better protection of the public.

So a process of consultation about this has begun. It will include a programme of selective visits to force areas by officials from the Home Office. They will study the informal consultation arrangements which already exist in some areas and discuss with police forces, police authorities and other local groups how liaison committees envisaged by the noble and learned Lord might function. Against this background, we shall better be able, we think, to assess the practical implications of two recommendations made by the noble and learned Lord; namely, whether liaison committees might provide the lay visitors for police stations, and whether they might have a role in the conciliation of complaints. After this, there will then be consultation at national level and we shall then draw up guidelines which might be adaptable to the local needs of different communities. At that moment, I think we can finally decide on whether or not it should be put into statute.

In London, of course, my right honourable friend is the police authority for the metropolis and in this he is directly accountable to Parliament. Lord Scarman recommended no change in this long-standing constitutional arrangement. At the same time, the noble and learned Lord saw an urgent need for the development of more effective channels of communication between the Metropolitan Police and the communities it serves; and he saw the borough as being the proper level in London on which to base this consultation.

My right honourable friend is particularly keen to build on the good work which has been done since the disturbances to re-establish liaison in Lambeth, and he has taken the initiative in calling together a wide range of organisations and individuals, the police, Lambeth Borough Council, Members of Parliament for the area and other interested representatives to discuss with them how best this might be encouraged. My right honourable friend himself chaired the first meeting which was on 18th January, and on that day we were greatly encouraged by the desire of all those present to see arrangements for future consultation between the police and the community urgently developed. A further meeting is being held, chaired again by my right honourable friend, and it is this afternoon.

The Commissioner and the London Boroughs Association fully support these initiatives, but the key word is " flexibility ". At the end of the day, it really is for the police, the borough and the community to work out what best suits their particular circumstances. But I very much hope that the guidelines which we are trying to develop for London and England and Wales, as a result of our consultations, will prove helpful.

One of the problems which the report identified as underlying the disorders in Brixton is that of racial disadvantage. As your Lordships will know, the Government's reply to the Select Committee's report on racial disadvantage was published last week, and I would simply point only to the main lines of action which the Government are now taking. The Government are committed to ensuring full equality of opportunity for everyone in this country, irrespective of race, colour or religion. Members of the ethnic minority communities who were born here, or who are settled in this country, are entitled to exactly the same respect and exactly the same consideration as any other citizen.

One way of achieving this, while at the same time assessing more accurately the extent of racial disadvantage in this country, is by placing greater emphasis on monitoring the position of ethnic minority communities. It is understandable that some should express concern about the possible misuse of this information, but we really must have the relevant information available if we are to take effective steps to try to remedy racial disadvantage. My right honourable friend has already given some details of the Government's decision on ethnic monitoring in the Civil Service. With the co-operation of the Council of Civil Service Unions, the Commission for Racial Equality and bodies representing ethnic minorities, we hope that the results of that proposed experimental census will be helpful to other employers.

There has been a good deal of public debate about Lord Scarman's call for positive action as a means of promoting equality of opportunity. For the most part, the needs of the ethnic minorities should be met in the same way as the needs of the rest of the community. But, of course, where those needs are different from, or significantly greater than, those of the majority of the population, special measures are surely called for, just as special measures are taken to help other people who have particular needs. It really is quite wrong to suggest that action of this kind should give some people an unfair advantage over others. We are not dealing with reverse discrimination, which would involve such things as job quotas, lower standards of recruitment for certain occupations or other such measures. What is needed is simply to ensure equal opportunities.

One of the principal measures for tackling the problems of racial disadvantage is the grant payable to local authorities under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. This provision was introduced some 15 years ago, with the object of meeting the special needs of Commonwealth immigrants newly arrived in this country. Our experience of its operation, and the report of the Select Committee, have brought to light a number of shortcomings. So the main changes which we propose to make are these.

When the provision was first introduced, it was in the confident expectation that any disadvantage experienced by people newly arrived in this country would be short-lived, and that the need for a grant of this kind would diminish and eventually disappear. We now know that this has not proved to be the case. We have, therefore, decided to abolish the so-called 10-year rule, under which a grant is payable in relation only to those Commonwealth immigrants who have been here for less than 10 years. Under the new arrangements, it will be possible for a grant to be paid in respect of all first-generation Commonwealth immigrants, no matter how long their residence here, and grant will also be payable in respect of their children. We also intend to correct an anomaly, so that grant can be paid in respect of immigrants who were born in Pakistan before that country left the Commonwealth in 1972.

The Government are currently providing more than £50 million a year in grants under Section 11. This is a good deal of money and it is essential that it should be used to the best effect. With this in mind, we shall, as recommended by the Select Committee, institute a review of existing posts funded under Section 11 to ensure that they are continuing to serve the needs of the minority communities.

The noble and learned Lord's report is particularly valuable on the more general problems affecting the inner city areas which affect directly everyone living in those areas. The twin themes of his recommenda tions to tackle these problems are the need for a better co-ordinated and directed attack on the problems and the importance of involving people living locally in planning, in providing the services and in carrying out projects. The Government agree on the importance of these recommendations. Thus my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, through his Merseyside Task Force, is directing the search for new ways of tackling the problem of inner cities for the benefit not just of Merseyside but of other large cities with comparable problems.

The Government's urban programme has of course a very large part to play in this respect because it provides finance for special projects which can particularly benefit the communities living in such areas. Incidentally, it can give grant aid also to voluntary bodies. As the House will know, my right honourable friend has proposed a substantial increase in the urban programme allocation for the next financial year, which is to be increased from £210 million to £270 million.

Finally, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, has stressed the importance of giving black people a feeling that they have a stake in the community and has pointed out that there are too few business and professional people of West Indian origin. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Industry has taken an initiative in organising a well-attended meeting of the United Kingdom Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, and he is now engaged in further discussions with the Chamber and with the banks.

But one fundamental need is to help members of the black community to acquire essential management skills, so the Department of Industry is developing new arrangements for the small firms service to strengthen its links with the black community. The United Kingdom Caribbean Chamber of Commerce are also discussing with the small firms service how best they can reinforce their own service for members.

Black businessmen also sometimes experience difficulties in seeking necessary finance for projects. In discussion with the Department of Industry the response of senior bankers has been very constructive and encouraging and should lead to some positive initiatives from the banks to help black businessmen to improve their skills in seeking finance and to forge stronger business relationships with the banks.

This report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, points the way to real opportunities. It also identifies great responsibilities. Many rest with the Government and not least with my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. My right honourable friend has consistently shown his commitment to the work of the police and since he came into office there has been a growth of over 7,500 officers in police forces in England and Wales. That single fact is of enormous importance generally, and in particular for such things as training, for the handling of public order and for police work on the beat. But the responsibilities we face are not for the Government alone or for the police alone. They are for society as a whole and for the attitudes and approach of us all.

Moved, That this House takes note of the Report on The Brixton Disorders, 10th–12th April 1981 (Cmnd. 8427)—(Lord Belstead.)

3.34 p.m.

Lord Elystan-Morgan:

My Lords, we join the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in welcoming the opportunity to debate the content of the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, as well as the massive issues which stem therefrom. We wholeheartedly endorse what the noble Lord has said and what indeed has been said by so many, the length and breadth of Britain, by way of tribute to the skill and wisdom of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. For the way in which he has discharged his massive task, the conscientious incisiveness with which he has analysed the facts, and the clarity with which he has presented the issues, this report must be regarded as a model of its kind.

With his customary fairness and moderation the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has ranged widely over a number of issues. I hope he will not think me churlish if I say that I myself and, I am sure, many, many other Members of your Lordships' House are rather disappointed that the noble Lord was unable to spell out in perhaps more specific terms the content of certain decisions which the Government undoubtedly must be considering in relation to their strategic reaction to the problems exposed in the report. Some two and a half months have elapsed since the publication of the report. I appreciate that processes of careful consultation have to be fully indulged in. Nevertheless, I am sure the noble Lord will agree that the community expects from us swift and decisive action.

The problems with which the report concerns itself are by their nature such as to touch upon some of the deepest moral and philosophical questions affecting the concept of the Queen's peace, social justice, necessary disciplines in a free society and checks and balances upon police authority. There are many conundrums but few simple answers, and no solutions that are either easy or universally acceptable. Perhaps the most important words uttered by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, are those which do not actually appear in the report but which were spoken by him on his visit to Toxteth on 16th October of last year, when he said: Brixton is a symptom of a national disease". We must look at this report not as an end but as a beginning. Its main significance is not even what has happened in Brixton, Moss Side and Toxteth, but what awaits us in the future. If we were to turn away from the realities of this report and forget the conditions that brought about those disappointing and disgraceful scenes, there would indeed be the danger that we would pay the penalty of every community that forgets the past—which is that it is forced to relive it.

Few have sought to challenge the basic proven facts of the report, nor indeed the primary conditions which led to such occurrences: dreadfully inadequate housing, a fundamental lack of recreational facilities, a horrifyingly high level of unemployment, all fusing together in a decaying city centre area. To this there must be added the factor of steadily deteriorating relations between the police and sections of the public, particularly certain sections of the young who harboured such violent malice against the police.

To that again there must be added perhaps the most potent factor of all: that the suffering of an ethnic minority was wholly disproportionate to its numbers. In saying that, I would not invite any Member of this House or anyone anywhere to seek to justify the disgraceful disruptions which occurred on those occasions, but I submit that it would be wholly unrealistic to begin to think of how society can tackle them unless one attaches oneself to the reality of the very factors which spawned those conditions in the very first place. The central finding in the Scarman Report is probably that which appears in paragraph 9.1, and I quote Lord Scarman's words: The evidence which I have received … leaves no doubt in my mind that racial disadvantage is a fact of current British life. It was, I am equally sure, a significant factor in the causation of the Brixton disorders". That is a disease deeply embedded in the life of our community. Like every substantial and serious disease, it cannot be cured by minor applications of ointment to the surface of the skin. It is something that is endemic in the blood and bone and affects the whole constitution.

Dramatic outbursts of violence, although precipitated perhaps by seemingly minor events, always owe their origins to deep-lying and long-developed factors in the life of a community. Some of those elements will take a very long time to be eliminated or even ameliorated, but there are certain facets which in my submission are capable of remedy in the much shorter term. I am sure that it is those matters to which this House will direct its attention this afternoon.

I wish to deal fairly briefly with the social conditions to which I have already referred. As I said, the report binds the disorders inexorably with the fundamental social conditions which gave rise to them and which gave them force and expression. No sincere approach to this crisis can avoid or seek to minimise this central factor. There are in Britain a score of Brixtons. It is against that background that I would invite the House for a few moments to consider some of these issues in relation to that particular heading. We welcome the statement made by the noble Lord the Minister with regard to added finances. Without, I hope, raising too acute a note of political controversy in this matter, the House must always remember that over the past two years Her Majesty's Government have withdrawn some £500 million to £600 million from the inner cities through their changes in the rate-support system. What the House wants to know is, are the Government prepared to cancel out that withdrawal and from that base-line, as it were, then to consider what added finances they will channel to these most vulnerable areas?

The preceding Government—of my own party—sought to stimulate the development of inner city areas and tried to do so by partnership schemes. I think many of us will accept that there are massive difficulties in trying to bring about on the scale that is required the development that is called for. Probably one of the greatest dangers is that of looking at a number of different problems as though each was independent of the other, rather than as the facets of one central feature. I feel that there is call for two basic conditions; one is the adequacy of finance, and the other is that there should be a fully co-ordinated approach to these problems.

In a slightly different field, we have the precedent of a New Towns Act, in regard to which it was considered that a development which was as important as was envisaged in that context should be carried out by a body which had adequate finances and comprehensive powers; powers which indeed, for a period, included the powers of local elected representatives, because the situation was such that it could not be left to the ordinary, perfectly adequate processes of local government to deal with the massive task that was envisaged. I venture to suggest that the same principle is utterly relevant to this particular problem. Many Members of your Lordships' House will remember the experiment, which met with considerable success, it appears, in the founding of the Derry Housing Trust some 15 or 17 years ago, bringing together under the aegis of one agency all the powers that were necessary for swift and comprehensive development.

Again, there is the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee. This committee reported in July of last year. Lip-service has been paid to very many of the 57 recommendations which it makes. At some stage, possibly at the end of this debate, I am sure that your Lordships' House will welcome a specific statement by the noble Lord the Minister about which of those recommendations the Government have come to a decision. It may mean indeed that the publication of a schedule at some early date would he most advantageous.

May I mention one other matter in the context of the social background? No one reading Lord Scarman's Report would, in my submission, fail to appreciate that the outward manifestations of the problem in many respects appear on the very streets of Brixton and similar inner city areas; gangs of young men and young women, unemployed and devoid of hope, and lacking interest in almost anything creative. The gulf between them and the police is chasmic. In the United States of America some 20 or 25 years ago, in many of the larger cities, an attempt was made to tackle such a problem by the appointment of street officers from probation agencies. They were not expected to bring about any instant reform in the attitudes of these young people but they were expected and were commissioned to form some point of contact with them. It may well he that it is only by an experiment as imaginative as this that some tenuous contact between the formal agencies of the community and these young people is possible.

May I turn now very quickly to the police. The report, as I am sure everyone will agree, takes a very balanced and libertarian view of the role of the police in the life of our community. Lord Scarman conceives of them not as a gendarmerie but, as they have so often been called, citizens in uniform. It is right that we should remember that the rights enjoyed by the ordinary police officer in Britain over and above the rights and privileges of the ordinary citizen are very few indeed. In fact, 95 per cent. of the time the police carry out their duties exercising only the rights of ordinary citizens. It might be difficult to point to any police force elsewhere in the world that has fewer additional rights than our police force has over and above those of ordinary citizens. Even with a system such as ours it is inevitable in Britain that the community should recoil in horror at scenes of massive deployment of the police force, even when we know and accept that these dispositions are utterly necessary in the situation that exists. That has been a traditional attitude of Britain for a very long time.

During the Napoleonic wars there occurred an event, indeed but a very short distance from this very chamber; one of the many outbursts against the Corn Laws occurred in the City of London. A large mob gathered outside the gates leading to the other House. Members coming into the House were beaten, and indeed eventually only managed to gain access to the House due to the fact of a squadron of cavalry being called up to clear the entrance to the House. Immediately they got there they demanded and obtained an emergency debate, not to protest at their own battered and bloodied condition, but to censure the Home Secretary of the day for having dared to use force in the precincts of Parliament without a specific decision of Parliament itself. That, I think, gives some indication of the horror with which our community regards even the utterly necessary use of force. And I join with the noble Lord in what he has said of the courage and skill with which the police met this, almost, for many of them, young people, utterly unprecedented, experience.

I am disappointed that in the context of racial prejudice the Minister was not able to give us an assurance that was very much firmer. Lord Scarman recommends that there should be a weeding out of would be candidates to the police forces of Britain who are thought or suspected to harbour deep racial prejudices. Furthermore, that, of course, it should be made a specific disciplinary offence. I cannot myself see how in logic, reason and consistency the Police Federation or any police officer can object to such a rule. There arc rules in the discipline code that spell out specifically standards of hygiene that officers must observe, something that has a Victorian ring to it. I cannot see how in the context of such specific rules they can baulk at spelling out what must be a rule of every decent society. I am sure many of us would heartily endorse the recommendation of the report when it says that the breach of such a rule of discipline should normally be dealt with by way of dismissal. Racial prejudice openly manifested in a police officer must be more corrupting, must it not, than criminal corruption itself? Nothing, surely, can bring greater harm to the functions of the police than such an attitude.

We on these Benches would indeed have liked to hear the Minister deal again with the question of the recommendation that the training period should be increased to a minimum of six months. At the moment the period, as the House knows, the basic initial period, is 10 weeks training in the provinces, 15 weeks in the Metropolitan Police district, a very short period of time, bearing in mind the package of skills that the community expects of the most humble police officer, bearing in mind that that officer more often than not has to act, not in the company of colleagues, but on his own, and has to exercise a fine, nicely balanced discretion in situations that might he thrust upon him at a moment's warning. I am sure that the House would regard this as one of the most important recommendations in the context of the police. Of course, it will be a very severe drain upon resources, but this surely must be the basis of a much wider curriculum for the training of police officers, and a curriculum that would deal specifically, perhaps centrally even so far as officers who are going to carry out their duties in inner city areas are concerned, with the question of race relations.

Many of us would endorse what the noble and learned Lord said on foot patrols. As a very junior Minister in the Home Office in the late 1960s, I can well appreciate why it was necessary to use the Panda car so extensively, not because it was thought that there was any inherent virtue in the Panda car, but because it would have been impossible to provide the necessary ground cover otherwise with the manpower that we had in England and Wales. But the time, surely, has come to de-pandarise, if one may use such an ugly expression, our police forces. It may be that the level of street crime will not be spectacularly diminished thereby. There are studies, which have been carried out in many parts of the world, which suggest that that does not in any way of necessity follow. But what it does mean is that the public is always convinced that it has a better and more effective cover, and that feeling in itself is invaluable in the success of policing in a community.

Time does not permit me to deal, as I would have wished, with the question of accountability, particularly bearing in mind the composition of police authorities in the provinces. I raise this question. Bear in mind that half the membership of a police authority is made up of magistrates, people who by their interest and dedication to public service are often quite ideally suited to this role. But let us look at this through the eyes of an ordinary citizen, an ordinary young black youth, if you like, from Lambeth. He conceives of the magistrates' court as the police courts, probably calls them police courts. He appreciates that the vast majority of criminal cases, something like 95 per cent. of all criminal cases, are dealt with by magistrates. Will he regard the police as being accountable to an independent body if he knows that half that body is made up of magistrates themselves?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me. The proportions are one-third and two-thirds.

Lord Elystan-Morgan

My Lords, that is indeed so; the moment I said it I appreciated that I had slipped. The principle remains the same. Does the ordinary citizen conceive of a body upon which there is a substantial, one-third, representation of magistrates as being possessed of that independence that is utterly necessary if accountability is to mean anything at all in practice?

Lord Inglewood

My Lords, if I may intervene, the ordinary citizen knows practically nothing of police authorities all over England.

Lord Elystan-Morgan

My Lords, that is one of the problems that has brought about the situation that we are debating today. I am sure the noble Lord would not seek to dissent from that. Time permits me only to deal with one other matter, and that is the question of complaints. The judgment of Lord Scarman upon this matter was very clear. I do not think one needs to add to these words, when he says, on page 88: The evidence, which was given in the two Phases of my Inquiry and reinforced by my visits to the West Midlands and to Liverpool, has convinced me that there is a widespread and dangerous lack of public confidence in the existing system for handling complaints against the police. By and large, people do not trust the police to investigate the police. This may not be fair to the police: but unless there is a strengthening of the independent ' non-police' element in the system, public confidence will continue to be lacking ". We are concerned with grave events—events which undoubtedly cast long and deep shadows into the future. It may, indeed, be the judgment of history upon us that we reacted with vigour and with imagination and with dedication to this situation and proved ourselves equal to the peril which confronted us. It may, on the other hand, be the judgment of posterity that we turned irresponsibly and cravenly away from this situation. The rubble of history is littered with communities that allowed the quiet cancer within to bring about a destruction which the malice and might of enemies from without was not able to achieve.

4.1 p.m.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, I had the opportunity of attending as an observer the beginning of the inquiry. There was a large number of black youths outside the Lambeth Town Hall who were very actively demonstrating with banners and placards calling upon their friends and colleagues to boycott the whole proceedings. By the end of the first week the great majority of those youths were inside the Lambeth Town Hall taking an active and constructive part in the proceedings. That, I think, is perhaps the first measure of the success which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, achieved in carrying out this inquiry. He went to a community that was deeply suspicious and convinced them so very quickly that here was a person of integrity, of sympathy, with no prejudices and with no biases, who was prepared to report fearlessly upon their problems and upon the remedies that were needed.

The second measure of the achievement of the noble and learned Lord was, of course, the succinct report which we are debating this afternoon. It is, indeed, succinct, because it in fact provides material for some eight or 10 major debates in your Lordships' House and it is quite impossible, I think, to cover the many areas in any detail in the course of one day. There is, for example, the noble and learned Lord's analysis of the social conditions in the inner city areas, in Brixton, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol and, as the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, has said, many other cities as well; and the steps that might be taken to improve those conditions.

There is also the role played by racial discrimination in our society: the extent to which it exists, the extent to which it is believed to exist (even if it does not) which in many ways is just as important and difficult a problem; and the steps that might be taken to remedy that. Again that is material for another totally separate discussion.

There is also the part of the noble and learned Lord's report that deals with the whole question of law reform and what improvements might be made, particularly in our criminal law, to diminish public disorder. That again, in some ways, could be a separate topic. I only want to make one comment under that heading; that is, to ask your Lordships whether it is not perhaps time that we began to query whether the words " right to march " really mean anything at all and whether people in this country really do have the freedom, or should have the freedom, to collect together in order to go along the highway—not simply to pass along it—to an area which they know is one of maximum racial sensitivity, simply for the purpose of provoking, if possible, some degree of violence. I do not believe that there should be that sort of freedom, and I think it is very unfortunate that, as the law now stands, no such procession or march can be banned unless all marches and processions, for however innocent a purpose, are banned for some period of time. That is perhaps another matter that one might, on another occasion, debate in your Lordships' House.

I want to confine myself to what I believe to be the most far-reaching section of the noble and learned Lord's report, which concerns the whole question of the organisation and the role of the police in our modern society. So far as the organisation of the police is concerned, let me say at once that it seems to me highly desirable that we should do our very best to ensure that the police in future are recruited in such a way that, to a substantial extent, they represent all sections of the community, including our ethnic minorities.

It was said, I think, of Sir Robert Peel that he made it a deliberate policy to recruit men who had not the rank, habits or station of gentlemen. One understands what that distinguished figure was seeking to achieve: a police force which represented all sections of the community. I would not be as hesitant as the Government apparently are, or as, indeed, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, was, in considering whether there is not a case for some degree of reverse discrimination in order to ensure that the ethnic minorities are adequately represented in the police force—not, of course, by the lowering of the necessary standards, but perhaps by encouraging suitable applicants and then training them carefully and specifically so that they can reach the necessary standards and thus become fully-fledged members of the force. I believe that it is important that that training should be given and that that degree of mixed police force should arrive as a result.

I agree, too, with what the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, said about the period of training of police officers which is clearly, one would have thought, at this stage inadequate. One might perhaps hope that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, would be able to give a clear commitment before the day is over as to the possibility of adopting the specific recommendation that some six months' training is really the desirable minimum for the very difficult and complex tasks that the police have to perform in a multi-racial society.

I agree too—and I shall say no more about it—with what the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, said about making racial discrimination by a police officer a disciplinary offence. I would have thought that the arguments were strongly in favour of that, and I have certainly not yet been persuaded by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, that there is anything substantial to be said to the contrary.

Finally, on the matter of the organisation of the police, I would agree that we must at some stage, as a matter of urgency, look at the whole question of the complaints procedure. I find rather impractical the suggestion that complaints against the police should be investigated by a wholly separate body. The idea of setting up a different collection of people rather like traffic wardens, who would not be police officers at all but who would carry out the very job for which police officers are trained, is, I should have thought, an unnecessary and expensive exercise. But clearly it is necessary that there should be a greater degree of independent participation in the whole complaints procedure.

I do not want to stress this too much, because I rather suspect that much of the agitation that takes place over the inadequacy, or alleged inadequacy, of the present complaints procedure is really something which stems from dissatisfaction with the police force as a whole as it is at present organised. If our police force began to play a rather different role in our society then it might be that the emphasis would be taken away from the argument about complaints against the police and their investigation of them.

The last words that I want to say, therefore, are on the major issue of the whole role of a police force in a modern society. The police represent authority: they represent the power of the state. Quite inevitably, they are sometimes distrusted, sometimes suspected, sometimes admired, sometimes respected and sometimes feared, but only too rarely can it be said that they are liked. I venture to think that that is because in these days authority by itself is not, in its existence, a sufficient reason for anyone therefore to obey it. There is no reason indeed why that should be so. We have learnt—have we not?—in the course of this century that people will obey other people willingly and successfully only if they are let into the whole process of negotiation, discussion and consultation. We learnt it in the Army when the troops in the last war were not simply told what it was they would have to do, but why they were going to have to do it and what it was that was sought to be achieved. In some ways it was the great contribution that Field Marshal Montgomery made to the second world war. We have learnt it through the whole field of industrial relations in recent years. It is not sufficient for management to tell men what it is that has to be done. There must be a degree of consultation and a degree of exchange of views if industry is to run successfully.

I believe that in precisely the same way we now have to begin to look to the whole problem of involving our police much more as members of their own community. We, as Liberals, want to see power spread down from the top, and I am sure that that is an aim which is shared by many Members of your Lordships' House. We want to see as many local small communities as possible interested in their own environment, and playing a part in the decisions that will affect them. We would want to see the police so organised that they also become integrated members of those small communities, living among them, being friendly with them, discussing their problems freely with them and being accepted as friends and not as rather distant figures of whom one has perhaps to be somewhat afraid if one sees them coming along.

In order to achieve this, I believe that it is necessary that we should begin to set up a statutory framework within which this form of police participation in the community can take place. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, suggests that police authorities should be set up and that there should be local consultations or liaison committees, and that there should be a statutory duty on the police to co-operate with those committees. It might even be possible to go further. It might be possible to set up a statutory framework in which there are community police councils which are composed partly of representatives of the police authorities, partly perhaps of representatives of the county councils, and partly of representatives of the voluntary organisations that work in the neighbourhood.

The tasks of those community police councils would be to incorporate the community as a whole in the negotiations and the decisions that are being taken from day to day. I have in mind such matters as the whole question of law enforcement. They can be discussed freely between citizens and police officers; there is no reason why they should not be so discussed. The whole question of the staffing of the police in an area, questions of which police stations should be kept open, which perhaps are no longer necessary and where new ones are desirable, issues as to staffing and whether the local police force is adequately staffed and whether improvements might be made, are all matters that could be the subject of general discussion among the local community. It would, of course, also be those local police councils which would be responsible for the important task of sending representatives from time to time to visit police stations to ensure that all is well and that the various procedural rules are being complied with. I believe that if we can build up that sort of system—and I think that it would have to be done on a statutory basis—we could, in fact, create an atmosphere in which citizens and policemen will work side by side in complete harmony.

I know that there are those who will say that this is perhaps a little fanciful and that perhaps it is not practical to suggest that the police should necessarily consult with local representatives of the community before taking certain major decisions. I accept that there are occasions, of course, when secrecy or surprise is absolutely essential to a police operation and, of course, the sort of situation that I have been envisaging obviously could not apply. But I suspect that there are many instances where the instinctive reaction of police officers might be to say, " No, of course we cannot discuss that in advance ", when on cool and calm reflection it would be realised that it might serve a very useful purpose and that no harm could be done. I take as an example from Brixton, Operation " Swamp ", about which your Lordships will have read in the course of this report. It is difficult to see that any harm could have been done if that had been discussed with the local community leaders, and it is quite certain that if it had been, some of the consequences—the unhappy consequences—would never have taken place.

It would, of course, also be for these neighbourhood local police councils, together with the police, to ensure that there was a proper supply of neighbourhood police officers or home duty police officers whose specific function it was to mingle with the community and get to know them. It would be necessary for there to be much more co-operation than there is at present between the police and the local schools and the children, so that the children should grow up to regard the police as friends and not as enemies.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, although I agree with an enormous amount of what the noble Lord says, what would have happened if the local people had said, " No, do not do ' Swamp ' ", and the local police operations officer had said, " Yes, for operational reasons we have to do it "? Then what would have happened? I think that what the noble Lord says has an enormous amount to recommend it, but it seems that he has not put his mind to answering that sort of query.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, it is, of course, always possible that there may be a difference of opinion. But that was never even explored in this situation. It might well have been that if the local community leaders had said to the police officers, " This would be the effect of the operation; we strongly advise you against it ", the police officers, who were accustomed to work with and trust the local community leaders, would have accepted their advice.

In conclusion, I would say that the overwhelming majority of the people of this country want to live peacefully under the law. The overwhelming majority of them want to be friendly with the police; they want to join with the police in suppressing crime and in preserving law and order. I believe that it is vitally necessary that we should move forward now from the present position to one in which we can create avenues for co-operation between the police and the community that will remove much of the suspicion that unhappily gave rise to these disorders which we are debating today.

I have spoken for long enough. I must present my apologies to your Lordships for the fact that a previous commitment will prevent me staying for the whole of this debate. I shall look forward to listening to the other contributions and to reading those that I cannot hear on a subject which I believe is of the greatest possible significance to the future of our society.

4.19 p.m.

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

The My Lords, the tributes already paid to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, are well deserved, and it is appropriate to give credit to the Home Secretary for acting so promptly to set up this inquiry and for his choice of the man to conduct it. I regret that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, through illness, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, through an inescapable engagement, are not able to take part in this debate. They would be better qualified to reflect the recent experiences and attitudes of the churches in places like Brixton and Toxteth. But I was anxious that these Benches should not remain silent on such a grave moral issue.

In recent months I have done my best to keep in touch with church and community leaders in Brixton, and at the very least I would wish by my presence and contribution to record support for those who are anxious that action should be taken as soon as possible to implement the Scarman recommendations, and also to record the commitment of church men and women to play our part in removing those obstacles which block communication, and to underline the confidence and co-operation on which alone true community life can ever be established.

I begin, however, by questioning the idea that violence, whenever it occurs—Toxteth, Bristol, or Brixton—can ever simply be explained in terms of bad social and economic conditions; conditions which can be improved by the appropriate injection of Government will and finance. Unemployment and bad housing certainly play a major part in fuelling discontent which erupts into riot. We cannot be complacent about a situation in which today 55 per cent. of the black youth in Brixton are unemployed or, as the report states, 12,000 households in Brixton are living in ovrecrowded conditions. But the arithmetic of reasonable grievance does not add up without remainder to violence. All societies are flawed by fundamental human failings; selfishness, aggression, and the lust for power over others. Properly disciplined force is needed to keep these other forces in check. Men and women are not naturally peaceable and law-abiding, and no matter how good the communications, how restrained the police, force is alas, sometimes inescapable.

We do not help the police in their difficult and sometimes dangerous work by pretending that if only certain new procedures and reforms were adopted then the problem of violence would be painlessly solved. There is a danger that police seal themselves off from open debate because of defensiveness and cynicism towards critics who do not acknowledge that law enforcement must involve force, and that police officers in a real world have to choose between evils on many occasions. But the noble and learned Lord unerringly points to those factors in the Brixton riots which are susceptible to reform and Government action.

The Brixton Council of Churches issued a statement immediately after the riots: We want to see a policing that the community can truly support and actively contribute to. New approaches that have worked elsewhere should be seriously looked at. A new forum is needed in which police and community leaders can really listen to each other, and some kind of new procedure for examining and defusing incidents of friction and grievance should be looked for, because the existing complaints procedure has proved of no use for the kind of incidents which happen here, and has lost the trust of the community ". I refer to those areas of the report which respond so unambiguously to that. The question of police training: the Home Secretary has accepted all the main recommendations on police training. But, of course, it will be very expensive. There is also a wealth of experience among other professions on the relationship between initial and in-service training. It would be good to think that there was more sharing of the way in which other professions in the inner city tackle their own dilemmas in working out their attitudes; social workers, community leaders, and clergy.

Then, second, the setting up of an effective framework of police/community consultation which has the confidence of local people and in which their representatives genuinely participate. The Home Secretary has again acted with commendable speed towards setting up a voluntary liaison committee. But on the membership of that committee will depend the credibility of the experiment quite as much as the powers it will carry. Here will be the place to do battle with the sense of powerlessness.

But the question remains, how do we consult those who will not easily turn up for round-table consultation? It has been said to me more than once that it is vital to get over to the Home Office that people in Brixton, young and old, black and white, are abe to articulate their needs and have insight and experience of their area. What they lack is not leadership and know-how but channels of communication of those needs, and the material resources to meet them themselves.

While we wait for the promised legislation on statutory liaison committees and a complaints procedure, the coming months will be crucial for building the confidence in the kind of consultation machinery that the Government have in mind. The noble and learned Lord has called for a well co-ordinated and directed programme to combat the problems of racial disadvantage. He sees this in terms of enhancing the education and training of ethnic minority children to bring them to a point of equal opportunity. He does not advocate a policy of reverse discrimination under which quotas are reserved for black students.

Whatever may be the pros and cons of reverse discrimination, it is surely right that special effort should be made to give deprived sections of our community, whether black or white, the education and training opportunities which will enable them to compete on an equal level with young people in more prosperous areas. The White Paper on Racial Disadvantage published by the Government on 26th January seems to me to make splendid statements of principle but bypasses most of the recommendations in the Select Committee on Home Affairs report. Is it responsible to suggest that many of these are matters for local government when that means finding more money at a time when, as has already been stated from the Benches opposite, their rate support grants are being so savagely reduced?

In the debate over this report the concept of " community " is constantly invoked. What precisely is this " community " which we are seeking to involve and represent? One of the difficulties of work in the inner cities is precisely that the sense of community has disintegrated. As Gertrude Stein once said of Los Angeles, " When you get there, there is no there there ".

Now communities are not built of sympathetic legislation. The Scarman recommendations will act as scaffolding. We have to look for ways of replacing the bricks and mortar of community; the floors and walls we have allowed to crumble. A real community is not even built on better housing or more jobs; it is built on the way in which people treat each other.

I regard the churches in Brixton and in other inner city areas as vital agents in this fundamental community building. They are much more than bodies to be invited to give evidence to local commissions; they have a positive and creative role and they are served by ministers and priests who are actually resident in the inner city, close to their fellow citizens in a way few other professionals are and able to bring together the most diverse and antagonistic parts of the population.

It should also be remembered that the black community in this country has a better record of active church membership, largely in black-led churches, than perhaps any other section of the nation. Some of the best ministers and lay leaders I know from different churches are deployed in the inner city, and, despite financial and manpower difficulties, we are determined not to abandon the inner city and retreat to suburbia. If the Church is not seen to have a creative role to play in the future of the inner city, that is possibly a reflection on the culpably low profile on political and social matters which the Churches have adopted in places where politicians, commentators and academics live.

However, I know that in the light of this report we shall be seeking ways of extending and consolidating Christian work in education, the youth and voluntary services, as well as helping to change the malign stereotypes that groups have of each other, and challenging the mythologies which have been created. I hope and pray that Christians can be resident mediators.

We are grateful today for the encouragement we have had from the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and for the characteristically frank way in which he admitted that we were far from reaching a conclusion about the way in which the recommendations are to be implemented. The need for action at both Government and local level is very urgent, since we are perilously close to the loss of consent which must be at the basis of all public order in a free society.

4.33 p.m.

Lord Hunt

My Lords, I join with every previous speaker in praise of the Scarman Report, and in particular for the combination of thoroughness, sensitivity and speed with which it was produced in the critical situation which erupted last April. There can be very few other people with the requisite stature, intellectual and humane, than the noble and learned Lord who measured up to that job. I used the word " critical ", and it is important to remember that the crisis is still with us; it has not been wafted away by the exposure and analysis of the situation which was given to it by the noble and learned Lord. And nothing less than the full and, I believe, prompt implementation of the Scarman recommendations will do.

I have certain reservations about a few of the recommendations. I hope it will not strain the budding alliance between these Benches and the Liberal Party if I say to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, that I have reservations about the recommendation of the sanction of dismissal for racially prejudiced behaviour on the part of a police officer, but perhaps he would agree that it is bound to be dependent on the degree and nature of that behaviour. But I feel strongly that the piecemeal selection of some recommendations and the rejection of others will not do.

Doubts were expressed by the Shadow Home Secretary in the other place during the debate on 10th December on the report. His doubts were whether the Home Secretary would implement the report in full. I admit that I was surprised by those doubts, on two counts: first, because I have no hesitation in saying that I have the highest regard for the integrity and will to implement the report, in so far as he is able, by the present Home Secretary; but also because the implementation of the report does not, it should not and it cannot, rest with the Home Department alone. It lies with several departments of state; it lies with the Government, and it lies with Parliament to keep it under review and to monitor the progress of the action of the Government, and I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, speaking for the Government and not just for the Home Department.

The report devotes the majority of its space to the police and policing policy, twice as much in fact as to social conditions and social policies. That I think is in the nature of the circumstances in which the report was commissioned; but I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, would agree that had it been within his remit—had the circumstances been different, and indeed had it been (because the word was used by the noble and learned Lord) within his competence—the relative proportions devoted to policing and social conditions might have been reversed because, as the report says at page 100, paragraph 6.1: Any attempt to resolve the circumstances from which the disorders sprang must embrace the wider context in which policing is carried out ". That was a most important and timely declaration in view of the focus of public attention directed by the press on the police during and after the disorders, and I wish to make a brief comment in support of the police as they have been revealed by the report.

I received this interesting quote from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, who had received it from community leaders in Liverpool 8: We've always had bad housing and few jobs. We've learnt to put up with that. But please, get the police off our backs ". Similar statements have been made to me by community leaders in Brixton, and there is no doubt that black minority feelings are running in that direction. But I do not think it is quite fair to the police. It is essential to bear in mind the situations—the social, economic, political and criminal situations—in which the police have to operate in Brixton, Toxteth and in our other inner city areas. Those conditions are not the making of the police themselves and they make the job of the police both distasteful and very difficult indeed.

Because the responsibilities range so widely, I wish to draw attention to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, had to say about the need for a coordinated approach to tackling the inner city problems. At page 101, in paragraph 6.6, he draws attention to, the lack of a co-ordinated policy for the control of services, which must be central to any strategy designed to tackle the problems of inner city decline and minority disadvantage ". and he recommends action to remedy it. I believe that to be the most important single observation and recommendation in the whole report. It underscores the fact that its implementation must be broad-based and that it is incumbent not only on the statutory agencies but also on the local community, and not least the leaders of the ethnic minority groups.

I should like to touch upon two points relating to the police which bear on the question about the involvement of the local community and the ethnic minorities. The first concerns the policy and practice in regard to foot patrolling, which has already been mentioned. On pages 90 and 91 Lord Scarman states that beat officers must be seen as being, in the forefront of the police team ", and that their status must be enhanced. I whole-heartedly agree with that, and I should like to add two points from my own experience as a former police officer and from experience gained during the inquiry into the police forces in Northern Ireland in 1969.

The first point concerns training. It is quite obvious that foot patrolling calls for special training, and I suggest that in the spirit advocated by Lord Scarman members of the local ethnic communities might give valuable advice during, and take part in, courses for this kind of work. My second point has regard to the selection of officers for patrolling on foot. It is quite obvious that beat duties are not for every police officer. The work calls for certain qualities that not all of us have. But I hope that such duty will not develop into an exclusive, a separate and permanent job—after all, it is very largely a matter of a measure of both humanity and commonsense, and these are qualities which the great majority of police officers have in large degree—and it is not in the interests of officers themselves nor of the police force as a whole, nor, least of all, of the community, that that should happen.

I believe in the importance of ringing the changes, of enabling most officers to gain experience of at least a number of the jobs and skills in which police officers have to be involved. They should not be retained overlong in any one of them. That was one of the recommendations that we made in 1969 in regard to the formation of a special patrol group for the Royal Ulster Constabulary. I believe it is equally relevant to the special patrol group in the metropolis that they should not be on the job permanently and so be a separate kind of force.

My other point refers to the Scarman dictum contained in paragraph 51.3 on page 78 of the report, where it is stated: The object of policy must be that the composition of the police fully reflects that of the society the police serve ". That is obviously a very important statement. Under-representation of the ethnic minorities is a very serious feature of our urban police forces. In enjoining chief officers of police to make renewed efforts to rectify that, as Scarman does—and I was so glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, say that some progress is being made—it is very important to bear in mind that the responsibility does not rest with the police alone. It lies also with the leaders of the ethnic minorities to use their influence and to offer their co-operation in the creation of an ethnically and proportionately diverse police force.

I was very sorry to read recently in The Times that the Confederation of Indian Organisations had urged Britain's ethnic minority not to join the police forces until the Home Office had instituted an independent inquiry into the circumstances in which a Nigerian student had been injured in Brixton. Whatever the circumstances of that case, there is no future whatever in such a negative and unco-operative attitude. In passing, I would add that the policy of proportional diversity must be applied to all the social services. I have especially in mind the probation and aftercare service, and r would add that this is very strongly the view of its representative body, the National Association of Probation Officers.

There is much more that I should like to say about the Scarman Report, but there are a great many other speakers in today's debate. I shall conclude by stressing once again the urgency of acting on the report. Mr. Richard Crawshaw, the Member for Toxteth, speaking in the debate in the other place on 10th December, was good enough to quote from a report submitted to the Secretary of State for Education and Science in July 1967 by a committee of which I was chairman. I do not relish quoting myself, and if I do so now I hope that your Lordships will agree and accept that it is only for the purpose of pointing to the question of urgency. On page 67 of our report, in paragraph 287—

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, I am loath to interrupt the noble Lord in this important debate, but the House does have rules. I am afraid that one of them is that you cannot quote from Back-Bench speeches in another place during the current Session.

Lord Hunt

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for pointing that out. I was going to quote not from the speech in the other place, but from my report. Do I have the permission of the House to do so?

Several noble Lords


Lord Hunt

I thank your Lordships very much. We wrote: We subscribe to the view of the Brixton YMCA in their survey "— which was part of the evidence which we received— if England is not to be the scene of race riots, the time for action is now. The second and succeeding generations of coloured Britishers will rightly expect to be treated on equal terms and have the same opportunities as the rest of us. Within 10 years there will be enough of them to make their voices heard. Will each one be accepted on his intrinsic merits as one of us? This is the crux of the matter ". That was written 15 years ago. Our inquiries pointed to similar dangers in Sparkbrook (Birmingham), Moss Side (Manchester), Toxteth (Liverpool), and parts of the West Midlands. It gives me no pleasure at all to point out that our prophecy has been fulfilled; and it has been fulfilled, at least partly, because too little was done in the years succeeding 1967 to implement some of the recommendations that we made. In Lord Scarman's report that dire warning comes through once again, loud and clear, and with far greater authority than we commanded in 1967. We shall court further and greater disasters than those which occurred in Toxteth and Brixton if we do not now heed that report.

4.47 p.m.

Lord Rawlinson of Ewell

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will accept that what I have to say is said with a new sense of responsibility, because I propose introducing a note of dissent into what has hitherto been the unanimity of the debate. I do so with full regard to the importance of the subject and with the responsibility of anyone who speaks in such a debate. A visitor from another planet, or from another continent, who came to this country in November of last year and read and saw the media reaction when the Scarman Report was published, might have been forgiven had he believed that in April of last year gangs of policemen had gone down to Brixton and started to throw petrol bombs at numbers of black youths. That situation was contained not in the report itself, but in the reporting of the report, and it was the fault of the media, of which I shall have more to say a little later.

I confess that after studying the report I am concerned by what it omits, as well as by what it stresses. I say that in the presence of the noble and learned Lord the author, to whom I am bound with great elements of respect and affection as an old friend. The report is a masterly and narrative recital of facts. It is a lucid and readable document, such as has been only rarely presented to Parliament, and its findings on the facts as to what happened are totally acceptable. The noble and learned Lord heard the evidence, he paid the visits, he was demonstrably anxious to be fair and reasonable, exhibiting all the qualities of the good judge.

Yet to me the form of the report, the reflections on the social circumstances, and its tone, leave me with a feeling of anxiety. Of course, I accept that this was an inquiry under Section 32 of the Police Act 1964, and therefore the role and conduct of the police was a major element. But what dismays me is that despite the passages in the report concerning the courageous, well-intentioned police efforts, and the difficulties that they face, I am yet left with an impression of underestimation of the difficulties and problems of the police and of the justifiable anxiety of law-abiding citizens, who are the majority. I think that that impression which was conveyed to me contributed to the reporting of the report by the media, which was so slanted against the police.

My Lords, it is important to see what a heavy responsibility the media bear in regard to what happened in April of last year. They bear a very substantial degree of responsibility—not the press so much, but the television authorities. It is cited in the report that the responsibility for the escalation of the disorders, including looting, on April 11 and 12, and for the introduction of an initiative element in the later disorders, was much due to the media. The television authorities have never faced this problem with a sufficient sense of national responsibility, because they are always so greatly motivated, it seems to me, by their attitudes and determination to entertain and, alas, to sensationalise.

The consequential increase of violence in our society is in my view not a little due to the attitude of the television authorities to these matters. The ambivalent role played by the broadcasting authorities in the situation in Northern Ireland, and their attitude towards assassins, has always struck me as being very serious indeed. Some in the BBC, I know, have tried, but the corporation as a whole has never decided what is the right policy and attitude to adopt in these situations.

Nowadays, we are getting a new development—the introduction of a blurring of the distinction between reporting and commenting. There has been, in my view, a generally deplorable decline in the quality, form and amount of news reporting, especially with the BBC; and, therefore, its authority and reputation has been much reduced. Unless this decline is stopped, it could lead to demands for the removal of the news from the control of the corporation, leaving it with the role of entertainment; in other words, vesting the news bulletins in a separate entity, as is done in the case of independent television, where ITN is totally separate.

The role of the police and others in these disorders has been the subject of massive comment, but what about the television authorities, who permitted their producers so to produce programmes as to escalate disorders? Where are the programmes about their responsibility? What answers have they given to the criticisms made about them? What are the governors of the BBC and the directors of the ITV authority doing? What changes are proposed? I would ask my noble friend to tell us when he replies what the Home Secretary has done in regard to that matter.

The second body responsible are the local authority leaders. It is the responsibility of the Lambeth Borough Council. An irresponsible role was played then, and previously, by demagogic leaders. The 1981 working party on community and police relations in Lambeth, again the report indicates, worsened community relations. What has been done about the position of Councillor Knight? What about Councillor Tony Banks, chairman of the GLC Arts Committee, who is reported as saying that it was hard to tell the difference between the police travelling in plain clothes and other undesirables?—at which, I was glad to note, 10 of the Labour members of the GLC walked out of the debate. And what of the equivocal role of Mr. Botell of the GLC? What is happening to them? Is their conduct being examined as closely and as critically as that of the police? What of the CRE, about which the impression is given that it, too, is influenced by extremists and special interest groups?

Then, lastly, somehow, some of the Churches. I say this as a member of that communion whose report about Rastafarians, by the Catholic Commission on Racial Equality, has aroused general mockery and led to great distress, and has totally distanced the vast majority of reasonable members of that Church from that kind of report by that kind of group.

My Lords, those are persons all of whom bear their responsibility for what happened in April of 1981. But the essential finding is that the riots were essentially an outburst of anger and resentment by young black people against the police. That is the basic finding —and 279 policemen were injured. Of course, as the report says, nothing can excuse that conduct; but it led on, as again the report indicates, to that sinister contribution by the agitators making the petrol bombs—those people whose sole aims were directed to the destruction of a free society.

It is the philosophy behind the report which, I confess, troubles me. It is founded, as I understand it, upon the basic conception of the disadvantageous position of these newcomers into our society, and that that is unfair. Hitherto, in our society, despite the Hugenots and the Dutch at the time of King William, or even the Polish soldiers in 1945 or the refugees from the pogroms in Russia and Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries, this has always been a homogeneous society. This society has seen the arrival of not a few but of a mass of others of different attitudes, cultures, tastes and customs; and a scale of immigration over these years beyond that of helping to man the railways or the hospitals—a mass of people voluntarily coming into a wholly different society.

Is it not inevitable in such circumstances that there should be disadvantages for immigrants and their children who have emigrated half way across the world into a reserved and centralised society with long traditions and historic customs, and which must seem mutually strange and alien? It is the same for any group. What of the " Poms " (very much fewer in number) who go to Australia? They have to become Australian before they are totally accepted, and that sometimes means having to cheer for Australia when it is playing against England. When, here, those great cricket lovers are cheering for an England victory over the West Indies, that will be the time when they will be accepted as totally English. So the obligation is on the newcomer to fit in, and many have done so: welcomed they have been, and striven and succeeded. But there is no right to demand changes in the rules or the laws of the host society. If the customs conflict with those of themselves and their children, they must be prepared to change and accept them—and many do.

The report goes on to comment: … in the police, as in other important areas of society, the ethnic minorities are very significantly under-represented ". Of course, they must be. They are totally unrepresented in the ranks of the judges or the chairmen of companies or the major generals. What would you expect? You would not expect it, in one generation. But this report goes on to say that they do not join the police force for fear of being alienated from family and friends ". Noble Lords may have seen the picture of one of the ethnic minority in a fire brigade uniform and some comment by some so-called leader that it was the uniform which put off members of their family and friends from joining.

That is a great indictment. If that is the attitude, then it is a destruction of our society and there will never be any place in it for them. Of course, there has always been some police harassment. They are not perfect, for heaven's sake! There always has been and always will be. I, as counsel, have represented, using their civil remedies, whites against the police, and blacks. Two of the most distinguished lawyers in the West Indies now were very badly harassed here many years ago, and for them we obtained, as they were entitled to obtain as residents or citizens of this country, damages against the police.

That attitude is not confined to the police. In my own profession of the Bar there are many able and honourable black lawyers. The Bar's tradition is to represent the prosecution and the police, the accused or the individual, the state or the citizen. The noble Lord who is to follow me in this debate has a son of great distinction. He was a colleague of mine on the Bar Council when I was chairman of the Bar Council. A member of my own chambers, a black counsel, was one of the counsel to the Tribunals. He was one of many who exercise their profession with the greatest of honour and distinction. But there are the racists, the politicians, who vilify many who practise the law in accordance with the proper traditions. They seek to disrupt the profession. Where, for example, a judge criticises counsel for incompetent conduct, they mount a campaign against the judge as being a white racist, using the privileges of representation to advance political extremism. That is a serious problem. It is only a minority, but it creates serious problems in, for instance, my profession; and the courts and the administration of justice are the first targets for extremists. They are the real racists in our society.

I find that the report, not in its findings of fact, does not sufficiently accept the difficulties facing the police and the dangers that are threatened to our society. It is right that we should speak and be honest about it: for it is far worse and does far greater damage not to speak frankly about matters. Certainly, there is some proper criticism to be directed against the police: modern standards of courtesy and attitudes to the public are not all that they were. That is probably very general. In my view, too, the police have been too hesitant to permit some lay element in their complaints procedure. But, overall, the police in the inner cities face the gravest and acutest difficulties they have ever encountered. In face of demagogic local authority leaders who are temperamentally and politically hostile to all police, and of a negative Commission of Racial Equality, over-influenced by pressure groups and, frankly, by some misguided clergymen; and in the face of mounting street crime, of the mugging of the elderly and of mounting majority public anger and resentment, what are the police to do?

How do you police in such circumstances? The report recites the difficulties, but does it give sufficient weight to them? Did anyone ever see the Gardes Mobiles in action in France, or the New York city police, or the police putting down riots in Germany and Japan? What alternative have the police force, given the responsibility which we give to it? What alternative has it to constant and active stop-and-search and an active presence in a particular area where there is street crime and mugging on such levels?

What alternative was there, in fact, to Operation Swamp, whatever one may think of the name?—community police. There is a picture in the newspaper of a community policeman in Bristol. He is lying injured in hospital. And what of the aftermath? Have the muggings in Brixton reduced or increased in number? What of the elderly, brutally struck down? We have had recently the whole country up in arms about the evil crime of rape. Why not an outcry about the elderly, beaten about outside their doors, some of them terrified to go out? In Bristol, there were jeers and insults shouted at the police, and gangs invaded the supermarkets taking things out because the people were almost too frightened to prevent them—and the police were not there because they have to be tactful.

I am glad that as a result of this the police hereafter will be better equipped—so they should be—and better trained in riot control and more experienced to deal with the petrol bombers, those sinister people. I wonder which side of the political fence they come from? I do not think there is much doubt about that. One other matter I would raise about the report. It is the dismissal of a new Riot Act. From 1714 to 1967! Of course, the original, draconian in penalty and punishment is wholly inept and unacceptable; but I hope that the Home Secretary will consider (perhaps in greater depth than has been dealt with by the noble and learned Lord), the principle of " Disperse or be arrested! ". I do not accept that it is not possible to announce that there is a riot and that anybody who remains on the scene is liable to be arrested and convicted as a rioter. Make it a duty to keep clear and impose a burden on those who do not go away, who do not disperse and who are present. And put the burden on them to prove their innocent attendance. The report, I consider, dismisses this particular proposition too shortly.

I understand the great burden shouldered with skill and distinction by the Enquirer and the civilised desire to cool the situation and the inherent liberal reasonableness of the report. But there is anxiety which none of us can ignore lest the majority, still bewildered by the changes of mass immigration imposed upon the nation (as they think), turn against the newcomers. They say: " Who are they to overturn our society, to change our laws, because it is their custom? " Then there are the trouble makers, the immigrants who are badly served by apparently self-appointed leaders, most with extreme political views, and by those who manipulate them and who may be well meaning but misguided. The natural targets of those who wish to destroy society are the police and the courts.

The Home Secretary, I heard, has visited some victims of street crimes. I welcome that. The present situation calls for firm and resolute leadership from the Home Office; the strengthening of the police and not the weakening of it, demonstrating our society's determination not to be overborne by those who, if they do not like law, do not keep it. When the crisis arises, when the whole fabric of our society is threatened, then society must ensure that its priorities are preserved—and that is so in peace as well as in war.

In April 1981 there were the seeds of a threat to the dissolution of the state. That is how it was seen overseas. The national will and character must be demonstrated and the duty lies firmly with the Home Office Ministers. The first priority must be the forces which stand between society and anarchy; and the first lesson from the spring and summer of 1981 is that Ministers should stand by the men and women in the first line of the defence of liberty.

5.8 p.m.

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

My Lords, may I begin by thanking the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, for his report and for the extremely useful service that he has rendered the community by the manner in which he carried out his inquiry as well as the report. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, pointed out that when the noble and learned Lord was first appointed there was a campaign to boycott the inquiry. But the noble and learned Lord completely overcame the opposition, soothed their fears, removed their doubts; and at the end those who came to scoff remained to praise. It is an indication of the success of the noble and learned Lord that there has been widespread anticipation of a report with radical recommendations and there have been indications of disappointment that the report is not as revolutionary as some expected.

Unlike the previous speaker, I personally regard the report as a first-class document which, if implemented, will go a long way towards improving the situation which now exists. I must confess that I am by no means encouraged by press reports of the likely Government response. Therefore I am particularly sorry that I was not in my place to hear the beginning of the Minister's speech. I apologise to him for that. I was hoping that he would be able to reassure me this afternoon.

In the few minutes at my disposal, I shall comment on some of the recommendations. I strongly endorse the recommendation for statutory consultation machinery and that members of that committee should be empowered to pay visits to police stations, inspect detention, areas and report on those visits. The Home Secretary should be congratulated on the speed with which he has established machinery—or at least tried to establish machinery—and one hopes that he will be successful in Lambeth.

I am however in complete agreement with the noble and learned Lord that it is essential that these committees have a statutory basis. Quite a few committees exist at the moment up and down the country. They are voluntary committees and they tend to break down at the first adverse circumstance. In the first crisis somebody pulls out, others feel that out of loyalty to that group they ought to pull out too, and the committee breaks up. Therefore, if we are going to have these committees they need to have the underpinning which a statutory basis will give them. I hope that the Minister will try to persuade his right honourable friend of that fact. I was in the Chamber in time to hear his outline of the way in which they are proceeding in dealing with this matter. I have no quarrel with that. I hope that the Home Office will bear in mind the importance of the statutory underpinning of the committee when it is established.

The next aspect on which I want to comment is the mention in the report of the crucial importance of inspectors and sergeants in the manning of the forces and in the degree of management training they receive. They hold the key to making sure that constables are aware of the consent principle, and that mistakes, errors and slight misconduct are dealt with quickly.

With your permission, my Lords, and I do not think it is against Standing Orders, I want to read a leader from the Westindian World of last week. Its headline is: " Darcus nicked … then let go ". Darcus in this case is Darcus Howe who is editor of Race Today. I am reading from the leader: This point is highlighted by the experience of two men who were arrested in Oxford Street last week. The importance of case is not that it happened to our contributor Darcus Howe, but that it happened at all in the way it did. The facts of the case are that Darcus went down to Oxford Street to buy a pair of shoes for a funeral he was attending the next day, which anyone knowing his normal sneakers and boots footgear will not find surprising. He went with Michael Cadet, one of the Race Today collective, to visit two shops, where they expected to find a bargain. In one of the shops they met a friend of Cadet's, one of the assistants, and chatted briefly, before Darcus went next door to the other shoe shop to check the basement. All normal so far, but on emerging to the pavement, Darcus was stopped by two policemen, Police Cadet Willis, and PC 411 from West End Central station, who insisted on searching him as a suspicious person. He asked the reason and was told he had been seen dipping into ladies' handbags. He refused, and was arrested, waiting twenty minutes in custody out on the pavement, until a police van arrived. Once in the station, he was taken to a detention room, where the sergeant came in and asked for the policeman's version of the story. The story had changed since the arrest. PC 411 now said that Darcus had gone into six shops, and that there had been another man waiting outside, as a lookout. The police turned to grab the man, who ran, and they failed to give chase because Oxford Street was crowded. The seargeant then asked Darcus for his version, to which Darcus replied, ' He's crazy '. Imagine his surprise when the sergeant simply asked him to sign for his belongings and told him he was free to go. There are a number of possibilities. Either it was such an obvious stitchup that the sergeant was too embarassed to carry it out. Or the evidence was too flimsy to justify an arrest. Or once the sergeant realised who Darcus was he was having no truck with it. But whichever one of those it was, it is odds on that if Darcus had been any of the youths around Oxford Street at 4.30 on that day last week, he would by now have been tried, convicted, sentenced and tucked neatly away, with a big blot on his record. Willie Whitelaw and his cohorts, and our representatives, ought to be considering the meaning of that fact very carefully before they decide what sort of machinery we require for controlling the police ". I am grateful to your Lordships for permitting me to read this because it indicates the problems and the dangers. I do not know what the sergeant said to the constables, but I hope they were made aware of the harm that their action had done. The leader that I have just read also underlines the point that the noble and learned Lord made in his report about the care with which this power of stop and of search should be used and the degree to which constables should be supervised.

The next issue I want to touch on is the question of the recommendation that racially discriminatory behaviour should be an offence under the police disciplinary code. I noticed in today's Times that this is a matter that the Home Secretary is not prepared to agree to. I ask the Minister to plead with his right honourable friend to consider his attitude in this matter. It is as important, as the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, pointed out earlier—he said it was more important; I am sticking to the fact that it is as important—that police officers should be disciplined for racially discriminatory behaviour as for corrupt or improper practice; improper dress, untidiness, drunkenness or entering licensed premises. All these matters are mentioned in the disciplinary code. So I hope that the Home Office will reconsider this particular one and take note of that particular recommendation.

Now the dissatisfaction over the manner in which police complaints are dealt with is perennial. We are all accustomed to hearing about it, and since I have been active in this field for 30 years I have been hearing it for 30 years. I agree with the noble and learned Lord that nothing but a completely independent investigation into complaints against the police will satisfy those who are critical of the present method. My own view is that this can be done by establishing an appeals machinery to which both the complainant and the police officer can appeal if they are dissatisfied with the initial adjudication.

The appeals machinery can work much as the appeals machinery against decisions of the magistrates can work—that is, at the moment, a judge sitting with two magistrates deals with appeals from magistrates; in effect the case is heard all over again and a decision is then arrived at. My view is that, if it is done that way, we may at long last come to the end of the continued criticism of the manner in which complaints against the police are dealt with. This is another matter which I gather from the press that the Home Secretary is not very keen on, but again I hope the Minister will be able to persuade him that he needs to think again on this.

Whatever the machinery established, I hope the conciliation proposals contained in the report will be acted on. I think they are excellent proposals and will go a long way towards meeting a lot of the minor complaints that crop up when what people really want is an apology—they do not really want any long-scale trial and punishment. I think the conciliation suggestion is excellent.

The question of recruiting more black policemen is a very old one. The truth is that the present failure to secure the recruitment of black policemen is tied up with the present relationship between the black community and the police. They both stereotype each other, and it is the breaking down of that barrier and the shattering of the myths which exist on both sides that are really required. The present situation cannot be allowed to go on, and determined efforts must be made by both sides to try to understand each other. The truth is that the police and the black community are both minorities and react as such. In fact, they have more in common in the way in which they react than they realise.

In the meantime, the black community must be helped to understand how important the police are to them and also how important it is that black people should be in positions of authority at every level of society. Just as we need more black Members of your Lordships' House, more black Members of another place, more black councillors, more black teachers and more black magistrates and Ministers of Government, so we need more black policemen. Because just as we need black judges, so we need black officers in the higher ranks of the police services; and we cannot have black commanders or black superintendents if we do not have black constables. That is the point that needs to be got home. I personally believe that the best course is to make maximum use of the cadet scheme and try to get black youngsters fresh from school to go to the cadet college together, and in that way help to reinforce each other.

We have been told that black constables have problems regarding the attitude that the young blacks have to them, but I want to remind them that the first set of black footballers had a lot of problems. They were barracked from the terraces and spat on; but they endured it all and today we in the black community are very proud of the large number of black footballers in the top ranks of the football leagues, and we were all proud when Viv Anderson and Laurie Cunningham played for England. Therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that although there may be problems to start with, the rewards are worth while.

Now I should like to say a few words about racial disadvantage—because I cannot leave it—and particularly about racial discrimination. If you discriminate against me in the type of employment that I can get, you limit me in the area in which I can live and in the social concourse which I can have. If in addition to that you discriminate against me in housing, then you further limit me. On top of all that, as a consequence of these two things, there will be a limitation on the type of education my children will get. If you then proceed to discriminate against them in their education, you have created a cycle of deprivation which can be quite terrible.

Let us face it, my Lords, we have already gone through that cycle of deprivation. What happened when the first immigrants came? They got jobs because they came here to work in industries where they were needed and, as I have said before in your Lordships' House, some of them were recruited at home in the Caribbean; they were brought here to work, so work was not the problem. At that time housing was the problem, because it was in housing that they were competing with the home community, and it was in housing that they experienced discrimination. But their children were born here and have been to school here; and their children are now coming to a situation when they are finding it difficult to get jobs. More-over, we have a new situation—I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, drew attention to what his committee said in 1967, because it has come true—where the youngsters will not take the sort of discrimination their parents took and they will not react in the " accepting " way in which their parents reacted. They rebel, and will rebel, and it is as well that we should recognise that.

Therefore, we should set about dealing with racial disadvantage and racial discrimination, and the Government are in the best position to deal with this and to give relief. They are the largest employers of labour; they are the largest providers of contracts; they have the nationalised industries which they can influence. They can also influence local authorities—although it seems to me that local authorities are more mindful of their responsibilities than central Government.

I welcome the decision of the Government to monitor the Civil Service, but we are moving so slowly that it is not funny. The article in The Times this morning says that when the Home Secretary was asked about time, he admitted that we did not have much time. The Home Secretary was absolutely [...]ight about that. We may not yet be at midnight, but we are at the eleventh hour and we do not have much time. In any case, time is not necessarily a useful weapon. It is a good weapon only if you use it well.

In order to illustrate what I mean, I shall talk to your Lordships about Liverpool. I have the report on racial disadvantage by the Home Affairs Committee of another place, and in the first paragraph on Liverpool they said: Liverpool's ethnic minority population is estimated at around 40,000 by the Merseyside CRC (eight per cent. of the city's population) half of whom are black British of several generations. The criteria for section 11 funding excludes Liverpool as having fewer than two per cent. Commonwealth immigrants, and it is not widely perceived as a city with race relation problems. The situation of Liverpool's ethnic minority population is, however, of particular interest because of the way in which patterns of disadvantage in employment, education and housing, so far from disappearing with the passage of time, have if anything been reinforced over the years, to the extent that Chinese or Asian ' newcomers ' are in a better position than Liverpool's indigenous blacks. If we cannot combat racial disadvantage in our other cities now, we will soon have a dozen Liverpools but on a far greater scale ". That is a fact. Liverpool is there and has been there all along, as an example of what we must try to avoid. During the whole of my period on the commission, I have tried to get the Government to understand that simple fact; that if we do not take active steps to combat discrimination and to deal with racial disadvantage, what we shall have will be a large number of Liverpools.

In one of Martin Luther King's famous speeches, he said that he had a dream. I must confess that I have a nightmare and I have had it for 20 years. What is more, as time has gone on, and most of the things I feared have happened, my nightmare has become worse. I said earlier that this is the eleventh hour. What I really believe is that the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, can be used as a pointer, to point us in the right direction. By using and implementing it, we can stop the drift downwards and move towards the sunlit uplands. I said earlier that time is not on our side. Let us start acting now.

5.34 p.m.

Lord Plowden

My Lords, perhaps I should begin by declaring an interest—an interest by association. I was, until the end of January last year, chairman of the Police Complaints Board, I was deputy chairman of the Edmund-Davies inquiry into the police, chairman of the Home Office working party which looked at certain proposals for handling complaints made by the Police Complaints Board and I am still chairman of the Police Negotiating Board, which settles their pay and conditions. Therefore, over the last few years I have had a very considerable amount to do with the police. But this afternoon I want to confine my remarks to the handling of complaints.

There are each year about 30,000 complaints against the police, of which just short of 15,000 go forward to investigation, and those complaints originate in 43 forces throughout England and Wales. About 20 per cent., or slightly more, arise within the Metropolitan Police area and about 33 per cent., or slightly more go on to the Director of Public Prosecutions. All are seen by the Police Complaints Board.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, proposed in his report that there should be a completely separate body to investigate complaints against the police, if confidence in the way in which complaints are looked at was to be restored. Indeed, he went on to say that the main stumbling block to confidence in the police was really the way in which complaints against them were investigated by the police themselves. Quite naturally, he did not in his report say how he would organise a completely separate body of this kind, but he pointed out that there were practical difficulties. How would it be staffed? To whom would it be responsible? What would be its relationship to the Director of Public Prosecutions, to the Police Complaints Board and, most important, to chief constables who would remain responsible for the discipline of their forces?

In preparing our triennial report, the complaints board studied the possibility of setting up an independent body, but we rejected it, partly on the grounds of the volume of complaints, partly on how you would recruit and train sufficient people to carry out investigations of this kind and partly because, as most of the information of which a complaint has to be investigated is in the possession of the police, you would have to invest the members of a lay body with the powers of a constable.

Where would you recruit people of this kind? Obviously, it would not be sensible to recruit ex-policemen. That would not restore confidence, if confidence is lost, because they are now investigated by policemen. Some people have said that you could recruit lawyers. But how would you make a career structure of a kind that would attract the sort of people who it is suggested might be brought in? You would need to have people who not only had the confidence of others, but who were also trained in investigation. My own experience is that investigation of this kind is a very special attainment.

May I say, anecdotally, that in 1954 when I became the first chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority, we had many hundreds of people who had not been security cleared, and until they were cleared we were unable to exchange information with the United States Atomic Energy Commission. We recruited about 150 people to do this work. Most were retired policemen, but some were people who had been intelligence officers in the forces during the war. Some were retired lawyers, and there were others. I can only tell your Lordships that our experience was that the policemen were far better at doing this work than the others. The others were impatient and upset people, and we had proportionately far more trouble—not from all, but from some of them. Of course, one could train a body of men if one could recruit them.

Sometimes, I think it is not realised how extensive is the range and volume of inquiries that are necessary, even for quite a minor complaint of indiscipline. Witnesses have to be seen, but they are not always there. Witnesses are sometimes unwilling to be seen. They may be scattered throughout the country. For instance, football match incidents could mean that the people concerned had scattered and were miles apart. Having read many files of cases, I can assure your Lordships that one accumulates an enormous volume of paper which is the fruit of a great deal of time. So there would have to be a lot of people in a body of this kind.

What is the real extent of the dissatisfaction? In their triennial report, the complaints board, consisting of 19 men and women drawn from a wide range of professions and experience and from all parts of the country, who between them had seen many thousands of complaints and the investigations which had been made into them, was able to write: The Board are satisfied that in the vast majority of cases which come before them a thorough and fair investigation has been made by the police into the complainants' allegations and though this may not reveal the whole truth it will nevertheless provide all available evidence on which to make a proper adjudication ". Perhaps the most important point about setting up an independent body would be a conflict of interest. One would be setting up a kind of second police force—a police force to police the police. To me, for the reasons I have given, this would present unacceptable organisational problems and it could lead to very great morale problems.

The complaints board was not satisfied with the way in which all complaints were dealt with. It felt that unexplained injury, sustained by someone during arrest or while in police custody and which was denied as having been caused by the police themselves, presented the main focus of the discontent over complaints against the police and the way they were handled. They believed that violence is the factor which causes the greatest damage to good relations between the police and the public. In their triennial report the complaints board put forward the proposal that a body of policemen should be seconded for a number of years, that it should be under the direction of a layman, preferably a lawyer with some judicial experience, and that it should be charged with the investigation of complaints of serious injury while in police custody.

The Home Office set up a working party under my chairmanship to look into this proposal. For a variety of reasons it came to the conclusion that to set up a seconded body of people would not be the right way to go about it. In cases of serious injury, after the usual initial inquiries, the normal procedure should be to bring in an officer from another force, and an assessor from some body, either the complaints board or the Director of Public Prosecutions, should be associated with the inquiry. It was made quite clear that this procedure would in no way affect the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions to initiate criminal proceedings if he thought that this was right.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, accepted the suggestion of a special body if he was unable to secure a completely independent body to inquire into all complaints. But he added two important points: that rather than having any discretion in the matter, deputy chief constables should be placed under an obligation to appoint an officer from another force to investigate all complaints of a serious nature. He went on to say that the independent supervisor, whom he suggested should be the chairman of the complaints board or his deputy, should be involved in the investigation process from the beginning and should be treated as a member of the investigating team. That is, he should keep regularly in touch with the progress of the investigation and should be able to offer guidance and influence its conduct. To use his words: He must not be treated as an irrelevant fifth wheel on the investigation coach ". I accept that these proposals are a great improvement. I endorse them and hope they will be accepted. I go so far as to say that in the long run I hope it will be found possible to have a seconded body of police officers, under a civilian, to investigate cases of serious injury, corruption, or anything of that kind which it is felt should be investigated. This was felt to be unacceptable to many senior police officers. But most police forces, including the Metropolitan Police, have set up a unit specially to deal with complaints. I do not see why it should be more difficult to do that nationally than to do it locally. If, however, this is to come about it will need the wholehearted backing of senior police officers.

The noble and learned Lord suggested that there should be a mechanism for extending the process of conciliation for the handling of minor complaints. He said that at every police station there should be an inspector with the duty of receiving all complaints before recording them and then seeking to conciliate the complainant. My experience is that many complainants do not really want to go through the whole disciplinary procedure. They want to register a grievance and to receive an apology or an explanation of why the action was taken. This is already done on an informal basis in some forces and I fully endorse the suggestion that it should become universal.

I believe the suggestion that a lay person should sit with the conciliator should be tried, but on an informal basis—I would suggest, at first possibly in one or more city centres. I suggest that one needs experience of hybrid work before one can set it up on a formal basis. Some commentators have suggested that dissatisfied complainants should have the right to have their case independently reviewed after the event, on the lines of the ombudsman. There are two objections: first, the sheer volume of the work involved. I believe that the ombudsman investigates about 300 cases a year. With a volume of 15,000 cases, many more people would, I am sure, be dissatisfied with the result and would say that they wanted an ex post facto review. This would introduce, in a big way, a double jeopardy for police officers, which is a very real difficulty. If a police officer had been through either the Director of Public Prosecutions or a disciplinary body and was told that he was innocent and if the matter was investigated again and the decision reversed, I do not believe that this would be acceptable. If this power was not to rest with the Director of Public Prosecutions, I cannot see what good it would do.

I believe that the noble Lord endorsed a suggestion of the complaints board that there would be a real advantage in trying to avoid having to refer every case of a criminal nature to the Director of Public Prosecutions; obscene language and minor road traffic infringements and things of that kind. I am sure that it would require legislation, but it would be quite possible to do, and it would simplify the very elaborate way in which it now has to be done.

It is sometimes suggested that public disquiet about the complaints system is due to the fact that so few police officers are prosecuted. What is overlooked and that, apart from cases where formal charges are preferred, about 8 per cent. of all complaints result in officers being advised or admonished. Any of us who have had responsibility for people will know that to give him advice is very often a far better way of helping the young and inexperienced person; it might be quite severe advice as to how he should behave, but that is much better than carrying out a form of punishment.

Some people, when commenting on the police, seem to forget that policemen have the same rights as other citizens; they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In a body of 125,000 men and women there will always be a small minority who are bad-tempered, violent, and corrupt, as in society as a whole, but if we put a body of men and women in authority over others, as we do with the police, we must require them to be better than the average in society, and to achieve this requires wise selection and better training. I was encouraged when the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, placed emphasis on the extra training that I thought he indicated was going to be given to the police in all manner of things, and in particular in the way in which they deal with the public.

In seeking to put all this right, we must not allow our natural indignation to endanger the morale of the great majority of decidated and devoted men and women in our police forces. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, said in his report, in considering disorder the role of the police is critical. It is not the police who create social deprivation, poor education or racial disadvantage. The police are not responsible for the disadvantages of the ethnic minorities. They did not create unemployment and frustration. That wider responsibility rests with society as a whole; it rests with all of us.

Following on what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, I feel that there are a great many good things—not that I agree with all of it—in Lord Scarman's report. But what is essential is that we should get on with implementing them and not spend too much time discussing the minutiae. I was encouraged because I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, was indicating that that was the Government's intention.

5.54 p.m.

Baroness MacLeod of Borve

My Lords, like other noble Lords, I would like as a very junior Back Bencher, to congratulate very sincerely the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, on his brilliant report. To me, it was brilliantly written and brilliantly put together. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, said most lucidly, the report was so helpful and covered so much ground. I am very grateful to Lord Scarman because it was in 1959 that my late husband was made Secretary of State for Colonies, and in the ensuing two years I had the opportunity of meeting people, not only in London when they came over to conferences, but also people whom we are calling tonight the black ethnic minority in their own homes. I learnt then to have a great affection for them and to be completely colour blind; and I also wished with all my heart that when they came over here to live they would be well and truly absorbed into and be part of our community.

In reading the report, I asked myself the reasons for the riots. I came up with an answer nowhere as good as the noble and learned Lord's, but I came up first of all with unemployment, which, of course, all noble Lords know a great deal about. Then I put down the lack of leisure facilities, discontent, frustration, insecurity and unhappiness. When I went into it further, I discovered that 22 per cent. of all the single parent households in Lambeth are in the two wards of Tulse Hill and Herne Hill. Not only that, but 21 per cent. of the children in the same wards were in care—that is, children under 18 years of age who have no home of their own. Further, I discovered that it is reported that between 200 and 300 young people are sleeping rough or in squats. Those three figures are, in my view, a recipe for insecurity and unhappiness. If those young people were to grow up to be unemployed and have nothing to do then surely we were asking for trouble—and in 1981, unfortunately, we got it.

I am rather keen about sports, and on page 6 of the report I looked to see what the noble and learned Lord had said about the lack of leisure facilities. I discovered that there was only Brockwell Park and Angel Park—both very small pieces of open ground shown on the map at the back of the report—which can be used for outdoor facilities for sport. However, there is the Brixton Recreational Centre which was started in 1973, and I personally hope that it will be completed in the new near future. Unless people have something to do they are going to muster on street corners. We all know that the black people in their own countries do muster on the street corners, because they all come from nice, happy, sunny lands—but mustering on the street corners in this country in the snow and the wet is not exactly a happy way to spend one's days. That is perhaps part of the frustration that they find.

I would like to see every single square inch of land such as school land and school playgrounds used to the full whenever it is not being used by schools. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, referred to some of our most brilliant cricketers, athletes and soccer sportsmen who come from these countries and who are now British and playing for us. I need only remind your Lordships of Sobers, Roland Butcher, Viv Anderson, White and Laurie Cunningham; of Daley Thompson, Tessa Sanderson and Sonia Lannaman. They are all of international repute. They have come to our country and they are now representing our country.

I also looked to see what the noble and learned Lord had to say about the police. I am not nearly as well qualified as the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, or other speakers in your Lordships' House, to talk about the police. I have a great regard for all they do, but I realise the difficulties of a young policeman trying to keep law and order among people from a different culture, albeit on his territory. It is a very difficult problem indeed. Therefore, I would like to see more training given to the police by people who know, I would hope perhaps at first hand, the background from which these young people who have been causing these disturbances come, because it is very different from our culture here. One needs very little imagination to know the difficulties of young policemen put straight on the beat in the areas concerned. I was also hoping that the six months' special training period would be brought into effect, certainly for police who are likely to have to go into these areas.

I also have another suggestion, to which perhaps the Home Office will not take too kindly. In this country we have always had special constables. I think perhaps we have not nearly as many as society would like. I have always understood that special constables were people who were part of the local community, people who were trained in policing and trained in law but who were also known as people who could be approached; not always in uniform; people who had some sort of qualification, albeit small, to give up some of their time to help in policing their local areas. The ordinary policeman will obviously go up the ladder—at least one hopes so—and may leave the area he has got to know very well; and therefore the young person will suddenly find himself bereft of the policeman that he has perhaps had tremendous regard for. I would have thought that perhaps special constables, drawn from the local community, of all colours, would fill the gap. They are there. They might well be of the older generation, people who have up to this time done their very best to obey the laws of our country.

My Lords, I am grateful indeed for what my noble friend Lord Belstead was able to tell us this afternoon about the way in which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is hoping to implement the very important parts of this report. I, for one, hope that such flexibility will always be part of the thinking. I am grateful that the Government are acting so quickly. But, for my part, I hope that such a report and the reasons for it will never occur in our country again.

6.3 p.m.

Lord Gifford

My Lords, may I begin with an apology to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and to the House because I shall not be able to stay to hear his reply to the debate. With a lot of regret, I have to put in a dissent to the general expressions of praise which have greeted the publication of the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. As the noble and learned Lord knows, I followed the inquiry very closely and I was well aware of the good impressions that were created in many quarters about the noble Lord's handling of the inquiry. I am all the more deeply disappointed by the report as it has come out.

My views were very much reflected by the same Mr. Darcus Howe to whom the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, referred, in an eloquent and disturbing article which he wrote in The Times on 26th November entitled, " My fears after this failure ". The essence of what he was saying was that the good recommendations in the Scarman Report amounted really to no more than tinkering in the face of the failure to face up to the one historical factor which above all caused the Brixton disorders, which is that the police force in Brixton and other inner city areas have again and again and again abused the rights and freedoms of black citizens. They have abused them without their superiors or their political masters or the courts making the efforts which are called for to stop them. That was the charge that was made and which has been made by responsible leader after responsible leader of the black community.

I want to examine how the noble and learned Lord deals with that central charge. The key part of the report is Part IV. The noble and learned Lord reports on a deep and widespread sense of grievance among the black community against the police, and that I share. But he does not come to terms with whether that widespread sense of grievance is justified or not. In paragraph 4.67 there is a key passage which reflects much of the analysis in the report. It reads as follows: Whether justified or not, many in Brixton believe that the police routinely abuse their powers and mistreat alleged offenders. The belief here is as important as the fact. One of the most serious developments in recent years has been the way in which the older generation of black people in Brixton has come to share the belief of the younger generation that the police routinely harass and ill-treat black youngsters ". Where I do not agree is with the contention that the belief is as important as the fact. If those beliefs are justified, they call for a far more root-and-branch examination of the way in which our police force polices than emerges from the report.

Equally, if that belief is not justified, it is necessary to say so, and in saying so, of course, to be saying that members of the black community are over-credulous, are hasty to make accusations, are purveyors of myths about racialism where they do not exist. My belief is that that sort of charge would simply not be true, that the black community in Brixton has borne racial discrimination with enoromous patience; that it accepts that the guilty people among its community should be punished, but what it does not accept is that the innocent should be harassed and framed.

The central finding of the report on this issue is at paragraph 4.63, and it is this: Such plausibility as this attack "— that is, the attack of racialism— has achieved is due, sadly, to the ill-considered, immature and racially prejudiced actions of some officers in their dealings on the streets with young black people. Racial prejudice does manifest itself occasionally in the behavour of a few officers on the streets ". That comes nowhere near the mark in the experience of countless people in the black community, who have written and spoken about the conduct of the police in their midst.

It is extremely difficult for those of us who are trying to bring home that unpalatable truth, to do so with effect upon the authorities. If we raise particular incidents such as that which was detailed by my noble friend Lord Pitt of Hampstead, or such as those which from time to time are made the subject of campaigns in the press, we are told that those are just isolated matters which are unfortunate. If we make more general statements, we are accused of being over-sweeping and generalised.

I recall with some bitterness a debate in this House on 14th December 1978 on a private Bill to abolish the crime of " sus ". I sought in that debate, in talking about police misbehaviour, to rely upon responsible sources: upon reports written and published by people who were worthy of respect—and very bitter reading they were. I recall the speaker for the Government—who was, incidentally, the same speaker as the one who is about to follow me; namely, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich—saying that I had made a quite extraordinary speech and implying, indeed, that it was pernicious.

Today I would like to take one episode, which is dealt with in the Scarman Report, and the noble and learned Lord's treatment of it, to try to show that we are failing to treat occasions of harassment with the seriousness that they deserve. I am referring to a very important incident because it is the one which caused the commencement of the gravest of the disorders on the second day, the Saturday. It is dealt with in paragraphs 3.30 and 3.31 of the report. I shall quote the facts as they were found by the noble and learned Lord. The incident occurred on Saturday 11th April and the scene is a car hire office and a car parked outside it. It says: As the two officers passed the car they looked in and saw the driver placing what appeared to be pieces of folded paper in his right sock. Having in mind the reputation of the area for drug trading, they thought that the pieces of paper might contain drugs and decided to investigate. The officers approached the driver and questioned him about what he had in his socks. They explained that they thought he might be in possession of drugs and asked if they could search him. The driver laughed and told them that as a mini-cab driver it was his practice to put his money in his socks for safe-keeping. He agreed to be searched. PC Cameron searched him and found nothing incriminating. The pieces of paper proved, as the cab driver had said, to be bank notes ". If the incident had ended there, there might never have been a riot; but it did not end there. The police officers in question continued by insisting to search the man's car, and doing so. A crowd was gathering all the time; tension was mounting all the time; protests were mounting all the time; and within minutes there was an arrest and the disorders were set ablaze. I should have thought that any of us would say that that decision, once the initial suspicion had been allayed, to conduct a search of that man's car was an unlawful invasion of his freedom. But that is not what the noble and learned Lord finds. At paragraph 3.78 he dismissed it as a piece of police action of no great consequence and in the next paragraph as an action which was not unlawful, but merely perhaps a bit indiscrete.

The relevance of that is not merely that that incident started the riot and was something which manifested to those who were watching yet another example of the over-use of police powers. The relevance of it is that even the noble and learned Lord did not think fit really to censure it. I suggest that we are beginning to lack vigilance if we fail to see, even in comparatively small actions of over-use of police powers, that our freedom is being invaded. If we tolerate and condone that, then we are on the way to tolerating and condoning things which are much worse.

What are we now to do? I am as anxious as anybody to be constructive about the future. I do not believe that the black community is so alienated from the democratic process that they will not want to take part, if they see it happening, in positive democratic improvements to the way in which the police are acting and are controlled. So first I shall take what I feel to be the good recommendations of the noble and learned Lord.

I shall deal first with the matter of police training. We give a huge power to police officers to dispose of our lives day by day, to stop us, to search us, to arrest us and even to prosecute us. Yet the training period in London is 15 weeks and 10 weeks outside and then a period of, as it were, learning on the spot. I would go to the recommendation which the noble and learned Lord I think wanted to make but did not, and say that a 12-month period of training is the minimum which can adequately allow a young officer to have the powers that he or she has. The training needs to go much wider than the techniques of policing: it needs to include the social history of the United Kingdom and the history of the communities which form part of it. It needs to go far wider than the particular laws which have to be enforced—the reasons for them, the concepts of natural justice and civil rights.

Secondly, there is the question of discipline. Like many noble Lords I was appalled to hear, first the Police Federation and then, as I understand it, the Government, oppose the recommendation of the noble and learned Lord that racial discrimination should be a disciplinary offence. Thirdly, there is consultation and the proposal that there should be a statutory duty to consult. It was deplorable that an operation which affects the community so much as " Swamp '81 " should be carried out without any kind of advance warning or explanation or consultation whatever. It is the mentality of the police seeing themselves as a force and the community as an enemy; and you do not, of course, communicate with the enemy. If that is the attitude, it affects the way in which every member of the force carries out his duty.

The question was raised during this debate about what happens if there is a clash between the community and the police over this kind of operational decision. I go further, much further, than the noble and learned Lord and ask for a real accountability, particularly of the Metropolitan Police. In the ultimate it should be for the democratic representatives to decide. At the moment, in London in particular, there is nowhere to complain to and I wholly support the efforts of the Greater London Council to establish a police authority for London.

In conclusion, I want to deal with the wider question which has been raised, of social deprivation. To say that social deprivation causes riots does, I think, blur the issue. You can have social harmony and harmony between police and public in conditions and areas of poverty. You can have good community relations in areas of poverty. Indeed, there are many good community relations in Brixton itself. Conversely, the spending of money does not automatically cure or redress grievances. What provokes rebellion is the experience of injustice, and particularly injustice which goes unredressed.

Racism by those in authority is among the bitterest forms of injustice. The whole community has a duty to stamp out racism, but where it is experienced, principally by the black community in areas like Brixton, is at the hands of the police. I implore that we recognise this and that both within the police force and outside we do the necessary to reduce it, and also to provide channels which can work to punish the offenders where racism occurs.

6.20 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, let me begin by saying that I propose to devote the whole of my speech to those aspects of the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, relating to the police. In doing so, I should, I suppose, declare an interest of a kind in that I am a trustee of the Police Foundation, with the noble Lord, Lord Sieff of Brimpton, though that foundation has no views on the matters which we are discussing today. I should make that clear at the outset.

I think there has been general agreement throughout this debate that what happened at Brixton, Toxteth and Moss Side, and, indeed, elsewhere last year was deeply disquieting. As has been said by a number of people, the police have not, of course, created the social conditions that have arisen in our decaying inner city areas. But they, like many others, have to recognise that there have, indeed, been errors and that in a number of respects there will have to be new attitudes as well as changed policies.

Let me say at the outset—and it is a particular pleasure to say this, following the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford—that I believe that by his report the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, has rendered a notable service to the state. It is, I think, a report of high intellectual quality and great wisdom. I believe that if a Government were to ignore his recommendations, they would do so at the greatest peril. Fortunately, the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary has indicated that the Government accept the report and I, for one, welcome that. However, in one important respect, with which I shall deal a little later, I have not detected firm evidence that the Government do, indeed, propose to implement some of the noble and learned Lord's most important recommendations. As I indicated, I shall return to that issue in a moment.

Before coming to the three particular issues I want to discuss this evening, I should like to say this by way of introduction. I think it is imperative that the police draw the right conclusions from last year's disturbances. However, I am sometimes a little concerned at the belief, apparently held by a number of people—certainly many outside this House, but perhaps some within it—that there is some relatively simple solution to the problems of crime in our inner city areas if we were to take some special type of action.

Certainly, I agree that the police have to get closer to the people whom they are policing. Yes, there must be a more determined effort to get more black recruits into the police service. But there is no easy formula, no style of policing, which, if adopted, could necessarily be guaranteed to avoid the clashes that we have seen in the streets, and indeed—as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, pointed out earlier this afternoon—what happened in Bristol only last week-end, when a well-liked community constable, Police Constable Bennett, who had worked in the area for some years was savagely beaten up by a gang of youths: first a bottle was smashed in his face and then a block of concrete. It is quite obvious after episodes of that kind and the dedicated efforts made by the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset to change the style of policing in the St. Paul's area, that changing the style of policing will not, by itself, avoid episodes of that character.

Neighbourhood policing, community policing, however it may be described, is admirable. It is impossible to overstate the importance of involving local beat officers with youth clubs, old people's groups and, of course, the various social agencies. Indeed, this is being done in a number of police force areas from Birmingham to Exeter to Leicester. But however responsive the police become to the needs of their local communities and to the oppressive problems in many inner city areas, it is an illusion to believe that policing, however skilfully practised it may be, can by itself necessarily avoid some of the serious problems that arose last year. I believe that the police can play an important role, but others too have responsibilities: the Government themselves elected local representatives and local community leaders.

I come, if I may, to the three issues which I wish to raise this evening. The first is the question of complaints. Having been involved as a Minister in introducing the Police Act 1976, I accept at once the finding in paragraph 7.14 of the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, that the new procedures have failed to stem criticism of the complaints system. However, I also agree with him that no one will satisfy all complainants or silence all critics, even if there are the most substantial changes in our complaints system. I think that the noble and learned Lord was right in his judgment when he said that dissatisfaction with the present system arose primarily in relation to the most serious allegations of police misconduct.

Here, one starts with two very substantial practical difficulties. I should like to take two examples. First, one has to recognise that when an allegation is made that, for instance, a prisoner has been assaulted in a police station, in the overwhelming majority of cases there will be no witnesses other than other police officers. Secondly, it is important to recognise too that there are a very substantial number of false allegations made against the police. It is also important to recognise that, indeed, some professional criminals make a particular point of making allegations against the police in an attempt to create a satisfactory explanation as to why they have made some damaging admission.

This, frankly, is where I come to one point of doubt as regards the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. It is the issue of the independent investigation of complaints. I do not propose to go into this matter in great detail because the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, has already produced a very powerful argument as to why, as I think, this matter has to be thought through extremely carefully. I have great doubts about creating what, in fact, would be a national police force with the role only of investigating allegations against the police. I think that it would be costly and ineffective, and I think that there are great problems in terms of recruitment, because if one was to recruit a new wholly independent force, presumably one would have to refuse to accept an application from any present or past member of another police service. I think that this creates exactly the sort of problems which were highlighted in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and is why I have some doubts, certainly at the moment, as to whether a new system of this character would necessarily be desirable.

Nevertheless, I welcome the more limited recommendations made by the noble and learned Lord, particularly, if I may say so, in relation to the suggestion that he made that not all minor allegations of criminal conduct should necessarily be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and that there should, indeed, be some new conciliation procedure. I think that both these recommendations are admirable and, speaking for myself, I welcome them unreservedly.

I turn now to the question of accountability. I welcome the fact that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, has indicated in the clearest terms the very significant powers already held by police authorities. All I would say in passing to the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, whose speech at the beginning of the debate was, I think, one of considerable im- portance, is that I doubt his view that there is great public concern about the existence of magistrates as members of police authorities. Of course, I am quite well aware of the fact that many elected members do not like having magistrates as members of police authorities, but I think that that is a view held much more passionately within local government than outside it.

I would add that when the noble and learned Lord made his recommendation (which is an important one) that there should be a new statutory framework of consultation within local communities, one problem arises, and it is desirable to face it bluntly: who is to appoint the members of these new local liaison committees which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, recommends should be established? I am not sure that there would be immense enthusiasm if local authorities were given this responsibility, for it would be just another form of patronage placed in the hands of local politicians.

Any of us who has served on local authorities has witnessed—sometimes, I regret to say, has participated; one must not be self-righteous on an occasion such as this—the ritual execution of school governors which takes place when power changes in a particular local authority. I would therefore be particularly sorry, if these new local committees were established, if the whole power of appointment was given to local authorities. On the other hand, I am by no means convinced that this is a role for central government either. I think it is a matter which requires a great deal more careful consideration.

In the meantime, I should like to welcome the fact that the noble and learned Lord has confirmed the position of the Home Secretary as the appropriate police authority for London. Successive Governments have rejected the proposal that the Greater London Council should be the police authority. I very much regret the fact that since going into Opposition the Labour Party has changed its position on this matter. In our capital city it is right that the Home Secretary should be accountable to Parliament for the Metropolitan Police. I believe that that view would be supported by the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens. Without wishing to embark on particular partisan comments in a debate such as this, I am by no means as convinced as the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, who preceded me, that there would be a great deal of public enthusiasm for power being transferred to the Greater London Council led by Mr. Livingstone.

I come to the third and last issue and, in my view, one of the most important single elements of the recommendations of the noble and learned Lord. It is the one to which I referred earlier and it is the one which causes me most anxiety, and that relates to police training. It is always, I think, unreasonable when one has heard a skilful speech, if I may say so, from the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, at the beginning of this debate, to criticise the Minister concerned, who has had to cover such an immense amount of ground, for not having covered a particular issue in which one is interested oneself. Nevertheless, I hope that he will take a substantial amount of time at the end of the debate in explaining whether the Government are, or are not, going to accept the recommendations made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman.

The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will have heard a formidable array of speakers in this debate today—the noble Lords, Lord Wigoder and Lord Elystan-Morgan, the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, and the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, and others—all of them asking for a specific undertaking on this particular question. I should like to remind the House what the noble and learned Lord said in his report on this matter. In paragraph 518 he says. I am satisfied that the length of the present period of initial training for recruits is insufficient. It cannot be right—and it is no criticism of them if I say so—that young men and women of 19 or 20 are enabled to exercise the powers and responsibilities of the office of constable after a period of initial training which lasts only 15 weeks in the Metropolitan Police and only 10 weeks in the training centres which serve the provincial forces. After pointing out that there is an addition of some limited additional training within the forces, the noble and learned Lord adds this: Nevertheless, the recruit to a British police force receives a good deal less training in total than his counterpart in a number of other countries. I do not see how the increasing complexities of a police officer's task can be adequately covered—even at the basic level—in the present initial training period. I am fortified in this opinion by the fact that it appears to be the view not only of the great bulk of those non-police organisations and individuals who commented on training in submitting evidence to me, but of at least two of the three police representative organisations. The noble and learned Lord indicated that in his view—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, made this point—a case could be made for establishing an initial training period of 12 months. Nevertheless, he recognised that there were substantial resource implications so far as this particular recommendation was concerned, and he said that in these circumstances he would recommend six months, and he would keep the probationary period at two years. The noble and learned Lord's recommendation on training was welcomed immediately by the Association of Chief Police Officers and by the Superintendents' Association. It is also backed by the Police Federation.

I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, quite bluntly: Is this recommendation going to be accepted? We are, I suspect, all well aware that of course this recommendation has significant resource implications, but I am sure that the Government will appreciate the consequences of not accepting this recommendation, or of trying to suggest that there is some form of cheap, cut-price alternative. There is not. The present length of the initial recruit training is by a large margin the shortest of any police force in the industrialised West. Even if it is raised to six months, it would still be one of the shortest, if not the shortest. It seems to me quite extraordinary—and I say this as a former Home Office Minister who must accept his responsibilities for the existing situation—that we have put up with the situation of having this absurdly short training period for as long as we have. The reason we have done so, of course, is money.

I recognise, in having said that, that the Home Secretary faces formidable difficulties. One of his major accomplishments as Home Secretary has been largely to exclude the central law and order services from the Chancellor's public expenditure cuts. Indeed, in a number of areas he has secured substantial additional resources, in particular for the increased prison building programme. I know that some believe that this programme is a profound mistake, but I believe that the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary is right, and that his critics are wrong.

Of course, in this situation it is obvious that the Home Secretary is in a difficult position in demanding still further resources from the Chancellor. But I must put it directly to the Government that there will he the most serious alarm throughout the police service if it becomes clear that the noble and learned Lord's recommendation, one of the most vital in his report, is in fact not going to be implemented. Indeed, if anything, I understate the case.

The police both in London and elsewhere have been criticised in a number of respects for their response to the disturbances. The noble and learned Lord has rejected many of these criticisms, but he has undoubtedly upheld a number. He has made it abundantly plain that he does not believe that further errors can be avoided in future unless there are new policies. One of his central recommendations is on this question of recruit training, and I do not believe that the Government can do other than to accept in full his recommendations. I hope to hear tonight that they will do so.

Indeed, improved training lies at the heart of the report, just as it did that of Mr. Byford when he was making his recommendations following the errors which undoubtedly took place during the investigation of the Yorkshire Ripper case. Mr. Byford, a distinguished former chief constable and now an inspector of constabulary, pointed out the need for better training in a number of respects at superintendent and chief superintendent level, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, refers, quite apart from the issue of recruit training, to the urgent need to improve management training for sergeants and inspectors, a view which I share completely.

As I indicated in the House following the Statement of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, on the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry, it remains my view, having been a Minister at the Home Office for some time, that the resources we are making and have made available for training are woefully inadequate. The police college at Bramshill has, I believe, improved markedly under the leadership of Sir Kenneth Newman, but the resources at the college remain very limited indeed compared with those provided by the armed services at their staff colleges. The training opportunities provided for potential assistant chief constables compare extremely unfavourably with those provided for the officer who may command an infantry battalion, and I can see no conceivable argument to justify such a lack of balance.

There are no simple solutions available to meet the formidable array of difficult issues which are identified in the Scarman Report. Certainly many cannot just be solved by infusions of more and more public money. But in the area I have raised— the resources available for police training—a substantial improvement is now urgently required. I believe that despite all the difficulties they have faced in the last year, the police service retains a high reputation among the British public. But there is a clear need for changes in a number of important areas; a requirement for a more outward-looking service better attuned to the needs of the increasingly diverse society it serves. That is the challenge that confronts us all—the police service, Parliament, Government and public—and it is essential we should succeed, for it is the only way by which we can maintain the cohesion of our society which, despite all our problems, remains the envy of much of the world.

6.43 p.m.

Lord Inglewood

My Lords, I am glad indeed to speak following the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, not least because we have both taken part in debates on a number of occasions where the police has been an important subject, and although we have not always agreed, one thing we have in common is that we both have a great interest in the police service. I have been long interested in police problems and, from speeches I have made in your Lordships' House, many noble Lords will know that I have had a close association with the police, and one of the reasons why I have maintained that close association is that I have felt trouble was coming. I look on 1981s misfortunes not as a great surprise but, to some extent, as a harvest of wasted years; so little preparation did we make in the face of the many warning lights. I have never served as a regular police officer, but I have had that long association and I wish to pay tribute to the help I have received from several police forces in this country, some of them much more forthcoming than others—but no names no disciplinary charges!

The Scarman Report refers in paragraph 5.58 to the police, slipping into an enclosed fortress of inward thinking and social isolation which would in the long term result in a siege mentality ". I will not continue with that quotation. All too few of us arc familiar with life inside the fortress, other than perhaps cell passages, but the ways of the police and the whole life of a policeman is not too well known in this country and one of the things we must do over the next few years is to narrow that gap between the police and the public they serve, and that means greater knowledge. The tendency has been reversed by Sir Robert Mark and those who have followed him, but I still feel that life inside that fortress is too far removed from the life of the rest of our people.

I must also pay tribute to the help that I have received from several German police forces. It is fair to say that no request that I have made to extend my experience has ever been refused by a German police force; it is a remarkable privilege to have had extended to a foreigner, and the reason I gave for my motivation was so that I could be a more useful Member of your Lordships' House because I should then be in a position to compare what happens in this country with what happens in another industrial country. I am not sure that is quite as urgent as it was because my researches lead me to believe that there are three Members of this House who are serving regular police officers.

I do not want to make an unjustified claim, but what I shall say tonight is based largely on practical experience, not just on what I have read in the press or seen on the television screen, and there have been some dreadful things recently on our TV screens. I admit too that I am as infected by police loyalty as are many regular officers, and a very strong force it is, but I am, I hope, not so far infected as to be encouraged always to close ranks, whatever the reason, or to fail to dis- tinguish between the stronger and weaker points in the service, about which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, spoke.

Strong points in the service are numerous, although no purpose would be served in my just reciting them. Much more purpose is to identify the weaker sides and help bridge the gap between police and people. I have found the Scarman Report most valuable, not merely because of what it says about Brixton but because of what is said in relation to the long-term problems as well. However, the speed with which the noble and learned Lord had to work and the terms of reference restricted him somewhat, and I feel that a complete survey should give more consideration to the problems of senior ranks and of the Home Office; but perhaps it was difficult for the noble and learned Lord to comment too much on the Home Office, considering he had been appointed by the Secretary of State. At this point it is worth noting in passing that in this House over two or three years in a number of short debates in which the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, has played a big part, we have discussed many of the points raised in the Scarman Report and have come to the same conclusions. However, our debates and the conclusions we reached in them have never had the same attention paid to them, either by present or former Ministers, compared with the interest paid to the Scarman Report; but I must not go further into that or seem envious.

Before coming to the main points I wish to raise, I would make two general comments. I feel it is rather hard that we must have a £30 million riot before the Home Office and some chief constables start talking about home beat men and returning men to patrolling on foot. Similarly, there is talk about the great innovation they are achieving by having young PCs spending rather longer on the streets under some system of working with older men which has just been devised by the Metropolitan Police. Neither is an innovation. They are both the basis of sound policing and should never have been abandoned to the extent they have been. The Scarman Report says a lot about young PCs, and perhaps too much criticism has been directed at them. It is probably true that too many immature young men have been working in Brixton and similar areas, and I have heard it said that during the troubles some young PCs were taken to Brixton from Hendon in the middle of their initial training and to provide a reserve, to be available to thicken up the thin blue line should things become worse. Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply will tell us whether that was so.

The period of the initial training, which has been referred to, is without any doubt the shortest in Europe. The period of six months which appears in the report of the noble and learned Lord is the same period as was discussed in this House on the Home Affairs day during the debate last November on the humble Address to Her Majesty. I would agree with the noble Lord opposite that six months is all too short a period, when one considers that the Germans, who attach much greater importance to training than we do, take 2½ years, and include a great deal of general education in the training too.

I should like to feel that our problem is not only a question of extending the initial training, but also of changing its character, so as to include more general education in the syllabus and to have a certain amount of the instruction given by civilians—and not all of it by police officers. We must accept the fact that a young man's training after he has joined any uniform police force includes a big element of conditioning, as well as general education, but we do not want to let that element of conditioning get out of hand, as it has threatened to do during the short initial training period that we have had in this country.

Again, before we criticise young PCs too harshly, we must realise that the world, or a crowded street, looks different when one views it from underneath a cap with a diced band. You feel isolated and self-conscious; or you can feel twice the man. But I would say that neither of those feelings is helpful to a young officer on duty; and I would imagine that that applies even more so in his early days when he is wearing a helmet.

We must remember, too, that the police are a tribal organisation and, rightly, a very tough organisation. We want them to be an organisation that we respect, and I should like to feel that the criminal world also has an element of proper fear of our police. But a young man may feel that he must show his manliness or toughness before he can be fully accepted, and he may be encouraged, too, by his fellow officers as well as by a tough sergeant. Even though keeping a league table of arrests is now out of fashion in most police stations, I am sure that it still exists in some.

It is understandable that there should be fewer references in the report of the noble and learned Lord to senior ranks, but I would say that any survey is incomplete without an assessment of seniors as well as juniors. In different forces in this country I have met senior ranks of outstanding quality, and I have also met other men under whom I would not be at all happy to serve. So unimaginative and insecure did they seem that I wondered how they had got so far. They must once have been competent PCs or sergeants, but these are different qualities from what are needed after an officer has been through a staff college (to use the general term) and finds himself in a position where the responsibilities are quite different and are not merely those of a sergeant on a much bigger scale. I do not wish to be unfair, but noble Lords will remember many appearances recently on TV screens of men of fairly senior rank repeating predictable party-line comments on various situations.

Taking this point a little further, I come to chief officers. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper had a very good article about two weeks ago on the recruiting and training of the type of men whom we want to see going through the initial stages, then the specialised training, and finally to hold the highest positions. The article was of the view that we were not getting a large enough share of the really able young men coming into the service at the bottom, and I believe that that is a view which is widely held.

We have some very outstanding men at the head of our police service, but we have others who seem strangely over sensitive. We in this House are quite accustomed to being told that we ought to be abolished and to having other remarks made about us. But senior police officers seem strangely sensitive about any comments on their position or powers. Some are oversensitive and over-concerned about their powers and their autonomy. Nearly all of them suffer from paranoia about politicians, a strange disease but widely spread. They tend to hold at arms length too many people of good will who are willing to help them and who are prepared to work. And today the police need help from all of us in this country; that is, from people with every kind of background.

It may be unusual to quote St. Theresa of Avila during the course of a debate of this kind, but the other day I came upon a remark of hers. Speaking of God, she said that she was surprised that he had any friends, he treated them so badly. I feel that the same thing could be said about the regular police in Britain.

I do not wish to be unfair, but chief constables, too, have a very remarkable power of survival after things have gone wrong. In the Army or in business if there is failure in operation, generally there is also a change of men in the senior positions. But if we have failure or difficulties in the police service, we have, first, rather traditional statements from Home Office Ministers, and then the same chiefs reappear ready to stay on until the age limit for retirement which, as we have on other occasions said in this House is completely out of step with the age limits for ambassadors, senior civil servants, major generals, and the rest. It is very remarkable and not to the advantage of the service that this exception should continue.

I now turn to the question of consultation. Much has been said about consultation, and very important it is. It is not easy to devise a system which will be acceptable all round. On the whole the police are not keen to consult and discuss their problems, especially with the rather more partisan type of local authority member, if I may put it that way. But I should like to ask the Minister whether the Government have studied what has been happening in Germany since the end of the war. In the British zone we encouraged the Germans to set up a system of consultative bodies for their police, and that has met with mixed success.

Clearly it would be very wrong for the Minister to suggest any particular scheme to us without having assessed the system which exists there and which was partly set up under our enthusiasm. Such a scheme would be particularly difficult in London, where there are approximately 30 boroughs. It is suggested in the report that we might have such committees on a borough basis. It seems to me that that is far too small a scale. Members of the committees would tend to be parochial, and an enormous strain would be placed on senior officers to attend the committee meetings. I should like to think that there might be one overall committee of certain high level, with perhaps four in a second tier. For certain purposes the Metropolitan Police district is divided into four, and anything below that would be on a much less formal basis.

I want to move on quickly from point to point, I do not want to speak for much longer. I turn to the question of lay visitors to police stations. I am sure that there would be great advantage if something acceptable could be worked out, but I am too much of a policeman not to be suspicious of this proposal and in particular of any panel drawn from local politicians. I wondered why there was no reference in the report of the noble and learned Lord to such panels being comprised of members of police authorities, who have rights of access to these premises at all times; the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has twice told me so during the course of last year. I should have thought that without the need of any legislation police authorities could form small groups—we do not want more than four, five or six in a police area—of members who could be charged with this special duty.

Another alternative would be to put the high sheriff in charge of it, because at the moment high sheriffs are not overburdened with work and are non-political. They are the principal law enforcement officers of the Crown and they are not political. It could be done, too, with a high sheriff in charge of a panel of former high sheriffs. But the Metropolitan Police, of course, are a special case, and it is too late for me now to go into any detail about some reforms I should like to see, leaving always the Secretary of State as the authority for the Metropolitan Police.

My Lords, few of us would want to change our police for any other that we know and our recent political history has given our police great advantages over some continental forces. They have very many strong points and they have some weaker ones, which we have been discussing during this debate. Without any doubt our task in this House, as I see it, is to help those who are responsible to overcome the weaker points and to strengthen the bonds between the police and the public, and I sincerely hope that our debate today will be a help to that end.

7.1 p.m.

Lord Seebohm

My Lords, I must add my thanks to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, for his report, which I found very fair and excellent, although, of course, tragic. Having read it, I must confess that I came to the conclusion that we are dealing with a crisis situation which needs immediate remedies without any necessary relevance to any long-term plans. I think that things are extremely serious, not only in Brixton, as the noble Lord says, but all over the country. We have seen that again recently in Bristol.

There are two other reports which I have read since I have read the report by the noble and learned Lord. One is a report which appeared in 1977 called Inner Cities—Dispersal and Balance, which was produced at the instigation of, I think, the DoE. It was a deep research project based on Stockwell, which included the Brixton area. The same lessons were drawn in 1977; and there was also a White Paper called Inner Cities produced in the same week as that report was brought out. I must say that I am rather glad that the author of that report is listening to this debate today.

Taking those three reports together, I have decided that I am not going to say anything at all about policing. I will deal with Part VI, which covers social and other environmental problems. The reason I am going to do this is because the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, himself says: I have sought to identify not only the policing problems specific to the disorders but the social problem of which it is necessarily part. The one cannot be underrated or resolved save in the context of the other ". If I may say so, I think it is high time that we had a good look at this as well as at the policing, as a material part of the report. The noble and learned Lord then defines the aspects to which he wants to give specific attention, and they are housing, education and employment.

I will start with talking about housing, because the earlier report to which I have referred described the appalling state of housing in the inner city of Lambeth, and I see from the present report that there is no improvement. I find it horrific to think that there are now 18,000 people on the waiting list for houses, and that there are 12,000 houses which they say are overcrowded. People will say, " I know, but we have not got the resources to put this right ". I want to give your Lordships, perhaps to put this in perspective, the ratios in other countries as compared with our own. I find these extremely interesting. The figures I have are from the OECD report, and they are up to the close of the year 1979.

The statistics are as follows: that we in the United Kingdom spent 16 per cent. of our fixed capital formation on housebuilding; the comparable figure for France was 29.8; in Germany it was 28.7; and in the United States it was 26 per cent. As a proportion of GDP, which is perhaps more important, the relative figures are: 3 per cent. in the United Kingdom; 6.4 per cent. (that is, over double) in France; still more, 6.9, in Germany; and 4.8 in the United States. My Lords, our priorities must be wrong. We know perfectly well that our housing stock is going down instead of increasing. We know also—at least, I know from my experience when I was chairing the Committee on Personal Social Services—that in some areas, particularly in London, the children's department would say that 50 per cent. of their entire work was due to inadequate housing, which caused misery, crime and ill-health. This seems to me a priority now which cannot be denied, and it seems an absolute tragedy that even the GLC are saying that they are going to do no more for housing.

Another figure that I think I must give your Lordships is that according to my Economist's Diary, which I opened this morning, there are 20 million households in this country. It also says that it is reckoned that 60 years is the average life of a house. If you divide the first by the latter you find that merely to stand still we ought to build 325,000 houses a year. Another statistic I was given is that the number of houses completed in 1981 is 120,000, and the estimate for 1982 is another 120,000 houses. This seems to me an appalling situation, and if we do not put it right then by the end of this decade we shall be in a real mess.

Another point which I think is relevant is that I think housebuilding is one of the least costly ways of reviving the economy. Housebuilding is not only creating an asset—it is not being wasted—but it in fact affects almost every industry one can think of in the country; that is, all the consumer durables, particularly all sorts of elements of the construction industry, where there are already 330,000 unemployed, which is more than there are in a great many other industries. It seems to me that this has been well aired in your Lordships' House and in another place and in the media, and I find it very difficult to understand why there is not a very high priority, for all the reasons I have given, on housebuilding.

Now I come to education and employment. These things go together. We know perfectly well from the Scarman Report and other reports that in the inner cities, and particularly in the area that we have been dealing with, in Brixton, the black youths of 16 are coming out completely ill-equipped for life. Their standard of education is far too low for them to be accepted in normal terms by commerce and industry. This is a complete failure of our present educational system. I am going to tell your Lordships (I may have mentioned this before in your Lordships' House) of an experiment in which I have been involved since 1977—an experiment in seeing what is wrong.

I was a founder member, and am still president, of Project Full Employ. This is an organisation which tries to find what is wrong and how to improve the situation of these young men—actually, the age group we take is between 18 and 21—as to why they cannot get jobs. We started the first course in 1977, which lasted 3¼ months. I must admit that we actually placed them in jobs, but a year later 75 per cent. of them were still in jobs.

I will now give your Lordships very short case histories of three of the students—I have picked them out at random—who we have been training in recent courses in Project Full Employ. The first case, which I will call Miss A, is an unmarried mother in Bristol. She is not yet 19. She has two children, one aged five and one aged two, so your Lordships can work that one out. She had no qualifications of any kind, and she had given up applying for jobs. She had no self-confidence, but after attending our course, although at first she failed to get a job, she came back as a volunteer and set up her own mini-employment bureau in the office, and shortly got a full-time job as out-reach and is now in fact training to be a careers officer.

Miss B was aged 19, and was a single parent. She was brought up in a children's home and had no self-confidence and no qualifications. She had had one temporary seasonal job only, and had given up looking for one. After our 3¼ months she is now a telex operator with an American bank in London, and is taking evening classes in more advanced office technology.

My last case is Miss C. She is 18, one-parent family, expelled from two schools and has a criminal record. She was referred to Full Employ by her probation officer and is now a shorthand typist with a clearing bank. She has been so for a year and has given complete satisfaction. Some of these girls have come from Bristol; there are boys as well, and not all are black. The method used by Full Employ (which, to my mind, has proved so successful since its original course) has enabled us to increase the scale and we now operate in a number of places, including Bristol and Birmingham as well as London, and the through put is about 600 students a year. Thus, in this decade, we shall probably save 6,000 young people from the scrapheap.

The other interesting thing is that, although, on the first course, we cheated perhaps by placing these children in jobs, we now do nothing like that. They get their own jobs; there is no discrimination and nothing charitable about it. They are being rescued, all of them. What is the secret? The three months' course is run on commercial premises by secondees from commerce and industry, who have no teaching experience other than the normal in-experience that one gets in business. They are experts in the particular jobs in which they are training these people. They know what is required in the office or in the shop.

This soon changes the attitudes of the young people, none of whom have had any work experience and who, for the first time, appreciate and understand the value of companionship and of working with others—and they like the discipline that goes with this office work. This is a real education for life and is something which will never be found in the present educational system and can never be found there. I am not sure that it can be found even in further education when it is handled by local authorities.

The students get employment because they are eminently employable and in no sense objects of charity. The positive discrimination that I advocate is merely giving the disadvantaged the same opportunities to develop their potential as their luckier contemporaries in a more stable environment. I do not say that this example of Full Employ is the answer to our problem, but it is an answer. It shows possibilities for new initiatives and methods as a departure from the old principle of teaching. It shows two important things. One is that the people that we take on with no qualifications and who have mostly been in trouble are potentially capable and all get jobs. In the follow-up, six months later, we find that 80 per cent. of them are in the same job. This is an extremely good record.

Your Lordships may remember a very moving speech made in your Lordships' House not many weeks ago by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, who spoke about unemployment. He told us of his experience in the 1930s when he was in an area where schoolchildren were leaving at 14 years of age and many of them, if not most of them, had four years of unemployment—at the end of which time they were unemployable. He ended by saying pray Heaven he does not see that again in the 1980s. He is seeing it in the 80s; he is seeing it in Brixton. I feel that there is a very strong case for positive discrimination for youth and for getting them into employment before they become unemployable.

The cynics ask whether it is any good making people employable if there are no jobs. What about the jobs? I have already said why I think we should discriminate in favour of these young people. In fact, the training we do is for shop assistants and for office workers and particularly the new technological jobs. There is a great shortage of people for these jobs and there is no difficulty in employing them. We do not turn anyone else out of employment. It is worth saying, too, that even if there are no jobs, the essential thing is that there is some structured activity in the lives of these young people. They need it. I do not want to go on any longer except to say that I am not suggesting that nothing is being done and that there are not a lot of other activities—for example, in Lambeth there is a host of community projects—and I know that the Government have plans which I hope are being implemented as a matter of urgency. I end by repeating what I said at the start. I am convinced that we are in a crisis situation where immediate remedies are essential without necessarily any relevance to long-term plans. I also hope, therefore, that Brixton may show once again that good may come out of evil.

7.15 p.m.

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sccbohm, has made a weighty speech and we have listened in the last four hours to many weighty speeches. I shall not attempt to compete with them even if I were capable of doing so. My speech, I expect, will be the shortest of the day—although I see that the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is to follow me and he is not usually long; so perhaps I shall be the shortest but one. I shall speak from a special angle, a limited angle, certainly a relevant angle. I am speaking as one who has been a patron for the last 12 years of the Melting Pot Foundation; that is, ever since it was started. It is a black community organisation which offers shelter, counselling and training to young blacks in the Brixton area. I have visited it often over 12 years but I visited it immediately after the riots. It is close to that scene.

The Melting Pot, I should say, receives considerable support from Government funds and I think it can be said to have won a wide measure of respect. It provided evidence for the Scarman Committee and was represented before that inquiry. I am sorry to say that what I am about to tell the House—and it is something which represents the point of view of the Melting Pot Foundation—may be unwelcome to some Members of your Lordships' House and certainly to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman—although he knows the minds of the black community so well that I hardly think that what I say, when he reads it, will come as any surprise to him.

The Melting Pot Fund were deeply impressed by the noble and learned Lord as a human being. For example, they were touched when he took Lady Scarman to tea with them and when, in many other ways, he showed his desire to place his mind alongside theirs to the fullest extent. I quote something that they wrote to me: We are convinced that Lord Seaman sought diligently for the truth. While doing so, he gave a sense of security to the black community. We are grateful for the earnestness, sincerity and sense of urgency which he brought to bear and with which he conducted the inquiry ". That is how they found the noble and learned Lord during the inquiry and I am sure that their respect for him as a human being is not diminished.

But I am afraid that they were grievously disappointed with a rather fundamental aspect of this report. They are disturbed by the noble and learned Lord's failure to acknowledge the real nature and pervasiveness of institutionalised racism in our society. This is an expression which the noble and learned Lord, I am sure, dealt with quite fully; although it was not an expression that was familiar to me. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, wrote: It was alleged by some of those who made representations to me that Britain is an institutionally racist society. If by that is meant that it is a society which knowingly, as a matter of policy, discriminates against black people, I reject the allegation ". He goes on to say that there is a sense in which he would realise that it would have a good deal of meaning. In the view of the Melting Pot Fund—and they are responsible black people; their leaders are responsible, though no doubt many of those people who use the facilities are wild young people; but the leaders are responsible people—the noble and learned Lord has gone sadly astray. When I say they are responsible people—and I take one example—the chairman of Melting Pot came over to this country in the war to serve in the Air Force. That is one example of their patriotic outlook. They consider that the evidence submitted to the Scarman Committee supports the view that Britain is an institutionally racist society. We may feel that these are words, and I have not in these few remarks I promised to make in this short time the opportunity to explain what they may mean by that phrase, or what others might mean.

There may be people who say, " In Britain we-never have any institutional discrimination ". Some of us may remember that for 40 years after women were admitted to the House of Commons they were kept out of the House of Lords. That was institutional racism in the most blatant way. Even after four eminent ladies were permitted to come here as Life Peers, still the hereditary ladies were discriminated against for another five years. They only came in by a side wind. So when we are so sure we never discriminate in our institutions, we have a very blatant example of how we did until very recent days, long after the time when many of us entered this House.

However, I am really here to explain, on behalf of these responsible black people, that the view of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, in this matter is in their opinion much too optimistic and much too favourable to our actual society. If anybody chooses to say, " Well, that is just what they say ", the answer is that these are representative black people and if their opinion is going to be ignored, it would be at our peril. They are just one black organisation and no doubt we shall hear from others. So I am afraid that I must ask the House to believe that this was a great disappointment and they regard this institutional racism as the prime causal factor of the disturbances. They take the view that until that is recognised we shall never put our house in order.

May I sum up their attitude in my words? They believe that the black community will never get a fair deal and can never be expected to have confidence in the forces of law and order until it is recognised that there are powerful elements in our society which deliberately discriminate against them—that does not mean that everybody discriminates. I did not hear every speech in this House this afternoon. I do not know whether a doctrine of racial discrimination was preached by any noble Lord—perhaps not explicitly, though I believe one noble Lord shocked a good many Members of the House.

At any rate, we hold these debates here and in another place and, on the whole, an attitude of universal objectivity is adopted. The idea of racialism is regarded as beneath us. Yet the people that we are talking about believe that this attitude of racial discrimination is very strong. I am not going to continue, my Lords—I have promised to be short—but it is only right, as I have been associated with these people and I have such confidence in them, that I should place their views before the House.

7.24 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, it is over 40 years ago since I published a book entitled Public Order and Popular Disturbances. I was dealing with disturbances to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, referred, in the late 17th and early 18th century, when one of the causes of disturbance was prejudice against immigrants not from distant climes but from the Continent of Europe. Many of the same things that have been said in criticism or enmity towards our more recent immigrant population can be found in the popular literature of that time.

In defending them, Daniel Defoe wrote a once famous satire entitled The True Born Englishman in which he pointed out that wherever you stood in British history, the population was in fact the result of long waves of immigration which gradually coalesced into whatever the English nation was at a particular juncture. He said in the preface to this satire: An Englishman of all men ought not to despise foreigners as such, since what they are today we were yesterday, and tomorrow they will he like us In other words, Defoe believed nearly 300 years ago that the key to success in continuing an organised and—with exceptions—law-abiding community in this country was an ability to assimilate.

It would obviously be more difficult, and is obviously more difficult in a variety of ways with which we are familiar, to contemplate assimilation—certainly with the rapidity with which, let us say, French Huguenots or the Dutch followers of William III were assimilated into English society. As my noble friend Lady Macleod reminded us in a moving speech, it is colour blindness that would have to be added to the other virtues of tolerance that Defoe preached.

What I find difficult about the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, and about other publications in the general field of relations between the races in this country to which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, referred, is that I am not clear whether what is hoped for, what is envisaged, as a long-term solution is a situation in which there is so little prejudice—and prejudice there must always be—and so much colour blindness, if I can use that shorthand, that relations between citizens and the authorities are not affected by this factor. However—and sometimes this seems to me to appear in some of the phrases used in the noble and learned Lord's report and in other documents of a similar kind investigating these problems—do we now assume that we are for good what is called not only a multi-ethnic but often a multicultural society?

Do we think it necessary not merely to preserve the freedom of the individual, to have access and even to try and make his access easier to employment, to promotion, to a full participation in national life, or do we say that we have somehow to treat these groups as though they were separate, independent and permanent features of our scene? This in many parts of the world is a familiar situation. In a country like Malaysia there are three such groups. In other parts of South-East Asia, in parts of Africa and in a different sense in the Indian sub-continent, there is this situation. All one can say is that although such relationships exist, they make democratic Government and many aspects of Government very difficult. In other words, when we are encouraged to give the toleration of cultural diversity a prominent place in our schooling or the training of our policemen, do we do this because those spheres are, as of now, obliged to face these evident facts of difference, or do we now say that we are embarking on a wholly new period of British history?

The interpretations of what happened at Brixton seem to vary—sometimes internally in the noble and learned Lord's report and certainly in what has been said about it in various quarters—between these two quite separate basic underlying philosophies. The noble and learned Lord's explanation, as we know, is that there is a continuation of deprivation—and how deep that deprivation is we have been reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm—falling particularly heavily on the young coloured population in the Brixton area, together with some insensitivity in policing policy, which is perhaps the easiest element to correct in this situation, and that if we make a double-pronged attack on deprivation and insensitive policing we shall have solved the problem.

But that is not the only view of what happened in Brixton, The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, referred us to an article which was written by Mr. Darcus Howe, the editor of Race Today, in The Times on 26th November last. If one reads that article, one finds that Mr. Howe is not talking in terms of a riot or a disturbance. He is talking of an uprising, a revolt, which the mere palliatives (as he sees them) recommended by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, can do nothing to prevent from deteriorating into something more serious—what he calls " full-blown manifestations ".

When I read that article 1 was tempted to say that it is known that Mr. Howe is perhaps one of the more extreme leaders or spokesmen of the black community, but we have had him recommended to us today by the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, who is very familiar and intimate with that community, as a representative figure. We find, indeed, that friends quoted by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, also believe that the matter is much more serious than anything that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, has been willing to contemplate.

So that while I think there would be, and ought to be, general agreement on positive discrimination—if you like, direct attacks on disadvantage of the kind to which the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, referred—and although I agree that the price of doing this could be the possible feeling of the host community that some people are being given advantages which arc denied to others, I believe myself that this is perfectly acceptable, but acceptable only if it is seen as a means by which the black community's situation can be " normalised "—I should prefer that word rather than the word " assimilated "—so that we can look forward to its members filling a variety of roles in our society rather than being condemned to roles, many of which are humble and connected with material deprivation.

But when we come to the noble and learned Lord's recommendations about the police and their recruitment, he says: The object of policy must be that the composition of the police fully reflects that of the society the police serve. Nothing less will suffice ". That seems to me, if I may say so, to be a quite breathtaking doctrine, because it is surely highly improbable in any society that the police will accurately reflect the various divisions which may exist in that society. Some groups will find such a career more attractive than others. If you take the greatest multiracial city in the world—New York—it would appear at first blush to be inhabited mainly by Italians, Jews and Puerto Ricans and to be policed largely by Irishmen. Nobody, I think, suggests that is something which must in itself lead to discrimination.

Obviously it is desirable, particularly as a short-term measure perhaps in order to help to restore the faith of at least some members of the black community that there is no institutionalised racism, that the numbers of black policemen be increased. But it is also the case—and this has been referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson—that many of them would be prevented by their community from accepting positions in the police, even if arrangements were made for them to be better equipped to face the tests of entry—because to some extent it has become a part of, if you like, the community philosophy of this group that participating in the exercise of authority is itself damaging to their own self-image.

Again, I find in the matter of police training, to which the noble and learned Lord refers and which has been referred to by others—and I would not at all disagree with what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said about the need to extend and deepen it—that he says something very specific. He says that police training must be directed towards an understanding of cultural backgrounds and attitudes to be found in our ethnically diverse society.

Obviously it is desirable that all of us should be aware that we live in a society in which many people have different backgrounds, attitudes, faiths, philosophies and habits; but when you say that the police especially must be aware of this, I do not think we should overlook—and I believe this is what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, was reminding us of—the fact that the business of the police is primarily the protection of society against crime—to put it at its simplest, to make the streets safe to walk in. I think one must then ask: When it is desired that the police should have some of this special training in inter-ethnic sensitivity, is there something about these minorities which makes their participation in the crime which the police are supposed to prevent numerically or actually more significant than that of the community as a whole? It seems to me that you are then very near to the position of adopting another form of racism. Of course a policeman should not show prejudice or preference in respect of one subject of the Queen's rather than another, but I think it is dangerous to go without query into the assumption that there is this direct connection between ethnicity and crime.

The noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, said that he could see no reason why racial prejudice—which is of course, when discovered, already an element in the police disciplinary code—should not be brought out and made a specific offence, quite apart from other offences which might be charged against a policeman. If the noble Lord were present, I could only reply to him that my reasons were amply illustrated by the speech of his noble friend Lord Gifford. It seems to me, after the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, that any policeman who arrested a member of the black community might well find himself up against an advocate whose line of defence would be that the policeman was racially prejudiced; and a policeman who cherished his career prospects would hardly wish for that to be the case. I believe that there are other members of the legal profession—and, again, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, referred to them—who, out of political ambition, to put it no worse, would be prepared to make it an additional case. In other words—

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, would the noble Lord particularise this grave allegation against the Bar as a whole?

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I think that the noble and learned Lord was not present when the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, examined a case in the Scarman Report about the stopping of a driver of a minicab, who asserted that the policeman in question, in continuing to search the cab, was animated by racial prejudice. As I understand it, the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, is a member of the Bar. The other was a reference to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, who no doubt had other examples in mind.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, what I was complaining about was the generality of what the noble Lord was saying. He was not addressing his remarks to the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, at the time. But I shall not pursue cross-examination.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, it is, though, very difficult to see why there is this pressure to put this element into the police disciplinary code, unless it is expected that it will be used. I think there is a general view, which has been stressed by many noble Lords, that policing can be of full effectiveness only where the community itself is disposed not to tolerate the aspects of criminality against which the police are bound to strive. This means, of course, that there are implications for education, and that an element of discipline, which has been absent from our schools—as so many West Indian parents have pointed out in evidence to various bodies—needs to be restored; because one way of coping with any tendency towards taking the law into one's own hands is to be brought up to respect those placed immediately in authority over one, even at the level of a child.

Again, it has been said that it would be important, as a contribution of the educational authorities, if the curriculum of schools was varied further to introduce what is sometimes called a multi-cultural aspect, to instil in children respect for those of other cultures. No doubt, in an ideal world this ought to be an important element in the education of everyone. But I should have thought that, from the point of view from which we approach this, which is the matter of crime and violence arising out of police attempts to repress crime, there is something more important that ought to figure in the education of an insufficiently homogeneous community; that is, some insistence upon what I take to be the core of our own civilisation in this country—the long struggle to impose upon the strong an indefeasible element of protection for the weak. That, I should have thought, is what English history is about. If one recollects the success which the American school has had over the past two centuries, in accommodating to the American way of looking at things—which is not the same as ours, but is equally respectable—generations of very varied immigrants, one can see that, perhaps, there is somewhat of a national failing at the moment, when we think it more important to teach other people's cultures than our own.

There is only one question which must arise in relation to the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, and to whatever part of it—or the whole of it—the Government are going to implement; that is, will it be truer, or less true, that an unarmed woman of any age can walk safely through any London street, at any time of the day or night? Statistics suggest that we have not yet attained, and are not yet in the process of attaining, that position. But until we do, it seems to me that there is a degree of sentimentality in assuming that there is any short-cut to becoming once more a harmonious and ordered society.

7.46 p.m.

Lord Wilson of Langside

My Lords, it is a matter of great personal regret to me, and it may be also to your Lordships, that I am not qualified nor equipped to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, into those areas on which he has touched in the course of his stimulating and reflective speech. Indeed, the only point that I wish to make to your Lordships is a short, sharp political one of no great subtlety, which I imagine will not commend itself a great deal to noble Lords opposite, or such of them as are still here when I come to it. Let me just say that, if I take more than 10 minutes to come to it, I shall sit down and allow the debate to proceed. But if I do come to it in under 10 minutes, I shall take just a moment or two to make it.

The country as a whole is, surely, in debt to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, for this report and I would echo the many words of admiration which have been expressed by so many of your Lordships tonight for his efforts. I am only sorry that I have no original wisdom to contribute to your Lordships' debate, but having listened to it I must say that I found the most stimulating contribution the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, combined with that of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, because they both questioned the validity of the report from two somewhat different points of view. Certainly, as I listened to what they had to say—and I do not say that there was not validity in much of what they both said—I felt that if we probed underneath what they were both saying, we should be likely to arrive at the truth.

What we know from the report is that over that weekend in April last year, there was an eruption of violence in Brixton of such ferocity that the events there, together with those at Toxteth and elsewhere, will have a significant place in the history of riot in Britain. The essence of this immensely valuable report is to give us a vivid and detailed picture of what it must have been like in Brixton during those four days, and to identify the variety of contributory factors. We need not be frightened about this picture, but we must all—particularly Government—think seriously about it. After thought, there is something for all of us, but particularly for Government, to do, if we are not to have a repeat performance and a further deterioration in the field of law and order.

I would echo the words which have been spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and others, so far as the urgency of action is concerned. Because this is a field in which I have been engaged a good deal, off and on, since World War II, I have pondered greatly on what I ought to say about it. The area of the country in which I was involved in this field of law and order did not have the complex problem, so acutely presented, of the ethnic minorities which have been spoken about in the course of the debate. So I was a little hesitant about what to say.

I thought at one stage of more or less philosophical reflections upon the unwillingness of so many in modern society to accept authority without question, starting perhaps with the stirring words of one of the Bacons. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, I am sure, will know which one. I always confuse them. I never could tell Francis from the others. He said. Truth is the daughter not of authority but of time ". These philosophical reflections can have no place at this time of night.

At another stage, I thought of talking of racialism. Then again I saw that I was in the company of people like the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and many others who know much more about racialism than do I, and I should have thought it a presumption on my part to say anything.

Then I heard the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, touch on the history of immigration into this country. He seemed to imply, starting with the Huguenots and finishing up with the French and the Germans, that we should be less concerned, because of that, about the present state of affairs. This led me to remember that we all know that many animals resent the intrusion of the stranger and the foreign into their territory. Apart from the Huguenots and the French, the German and the Russian immigrants, I have no doubt at all that when the Scots took the high road to England after 1603 there was a good deal of harassment on the streets of London by the authorities for law and order. I am sure that at that time there would have been a lobby for a voluntary repatriation of the Scots. I sometimes think that something of that attitude lingers on in certain ruling circles in Britain. But that does not make the present racial tension any more acceptable. Xenophobia is an illness which must be treated if it is not to disrupt and perhaps destroy our society. I felt that perhaps the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, in his most interesting speech did not sufficiently recognise this.

I thought of saying a word about the media. This has been touched upon, too, in the course of the debate. I would have started with the report, which I wonder whether some of your Lordships heard, of Mr. Dimbleby on BBC1 on Monday. I thought this was a most unhelpful report, one unlikely to promote understanding of the problem. His statement that crime is worse in Brixton today than before 10th April may be true, for aught I know, but his implication that this was the fault of Lord Scarman's report showed a narrowness of conception, appreciation and approach which in this context I should have thought a really good media man would be better without.

I come to the only point I want to make, which is the sharp and political one. I want to take a swipe at the Conservative Party. I want to take a swipe at that Party for its cynical electoral exploitation of law and order. The fact is that over the last 20 years, and more, the Conservative Party at the hustings has presented itself as the party best equipped to provide the British people with protection against lawlessness. It is a rich and sad irony that after two and a half years of Conservative government we have had over these last months at one end of the country, Brixton, and at my end of the country an application for a private prosecution for a crime of bias. It would be improper for me to anticipate the outcome of this application but it is clear that, because of the muddle and guddle in the Crown Office in Edinburgh, for the first time for the better part of a century we have an application for a private prosecution in Scotland which I gather is unlikely to be opposed by the Crown.

Having made that point, I am not saying that this Government are responsible alone for what happened in Brixton. That would be too silly. I am not saying that the Conservative Party is alone responsible for what happened in Brixton. That, too, would be silly. I am not suggesting that politicians should not as individuals talk on the subject of law and order if they feel so disposed, or if they are asked about it. But I am saying that it is a little ironical, in these circumstances, that a Party which officially has presented itself as the Party concerned about lawlessness and likely to give the protection to the people that they want should find itself, after two and a half years, in this situation. What I hope noble Lords (who would never make such claims, of course) will say to their Party is that this is not a matter for the hustings.

Over my five years as a law officer in the Labour Government I took the view that it did little good and a significant amount of harm—this was a view which was supported by such respectable organs as the legal correspondent of the Financial Times—if the issue of law and order was treated as a vote-catcher by any political Party. Whenever it was so treated I thought it produced much confusion in the public mind. The argument tended to be polarised around and dominated by two brigades, two extremes: the " lash'em and bash'em " brigade and the " let's not be unkind to the criminals who are the product of our society " brigade. This polarisation contributed not at all to the resolution of this quite complex and troublesome problem of the socially recalcitrant in modern society.

Before I sit down, let me just say that this was nowhere better reflected than in my favourite strip cartoon which appeared in the New Statesman in the days when it was easier to read than some of us think it is now. The first little picture in the cartoon presented the wretched looking criminal in the dock facing the judge who was saying to him, " I find you guilty ". The next little picture showed the outraged criminal saying, " What do you mean, you find me guilty? I am only a product of society ". In the next little picture the judge was saying, " So am I. Hang him ".

8 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, your Lordships will be greatly relieved to hear that I shall drastically curtail my speech. It is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, and I hope he will forgive me if I do not retrieve the political gauntlet that has been flung down, really for two reasons; it is rather late, and its admission is rather irrelevant to the very serious subject which we have the privilege to debate. But however one curtails this speech, I would wish to associate myself with the tributes to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, who by the imprint of his own personality, no more no less than that, has influenced our way of thinking as a requisite prelude to remedial action.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, that all facets of this problem require attention, a point well made, if I may say so, with great objectivity and eloquence. And those factors include, of course, the social and economic factors, which of course provide no excuse for public disorder but at all events an explanation for it. The report itself has said that if we ignore these we put the nation at peril. However, it is not my intention to deal with such matters, but only to concentrate on two aspects.

The first point is that it was a relief to hear from my noble friend Lord Belstead in opening, that steps had already been taken to implement recommendations as regards recruitment into the police, as regards participation in police related activities and as regards liaison and consultation pending the formulation of some statutory framework—a very great relief, and, if I may say so with respect, a very great credit to all of those concerned in its implementation. But there is, your Lordships may well think, a very serious problem of implementation of these recommendations as regards recruitment and participation that has not really been fully considered in your Lordships' debate. It was touched upon by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, so eloquently as the breaking down of barriers, the shattering of myths—a phrase that I shall always remember for its power and its picturesque eloquence.

The problem is this. There are many—and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, would agree with me—of the representatives of the ethnic minority communities who not only respect the police but co-operate with them, but do not have the respect and the co-operation of those whom they represent, for this reason: sometimes you have a generation gap, not even one generation but two; sometimes you have the gamekeeper-cum-poacher syndrome. I see the noble Lord nodding his head. Sometimes you have status considerations. Sometimes you have earnings differentials. There is this gap. There is the problem. How do we deal with it? None of the noble Lords who have spoken has really seized this problem.

I, with respect, do not know how to deal with it; I can only make respectful suggestions for your Lordships' consideration. How do we soften this hardcore of resistance? Well, I would respectfully suggest that what should be done is that we mount a campaign and that it should be on two levels, central Government and local government. Here, with respect, I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead. I would suggest that the prime responsibility should lie with local government, and not with central Government. At central Government level I would respectfully suggest there should be an advisory panel with the three elements—Home Office, police and representa- tives of the ethnic minority communities. They should provide material which is suitable to implement the recommendations, material which is available for the local authorities. They should also seek to establish a panel of voluntary speakers, approved, who could go down to the local government, when asked, in order to further these ends. At local government level one would rely on voluntary associations, the schools, the training colleges, the Churches, and of course direct police involvement. This is why the brunt of the drive is really at local authority level. I wish I could say to your Lordships that I knew more about it, but from the little I know, the problem is disparate in different parts of the community in England; therefore, to deal with it effectively, and in an understanding and humane fashion, and to produce results, one needs perhaps slightly disparate treatment in the different areas where this arises.

Lastly, my Lords, I wanted to say a word about the police complaints procedure. I was relieved up to a degree, not a very great degree, to hear my noble friend Lord Belstead say that this was under active consideration. But surely it is essential that a tribunal or board should be set up which is independent of the Government of the day, which is independent of the Government and Parliament, and which is independent of the police. Surely it is right that the procedure for this tribunal should be laid down by statutory instrument approved by both Houses of Parliament; that the chairman should have legal experience; that the lay members should include a representative of the Home Office, a representative of the police, and in every case where there is an ethnic minority community complaint a representative from a panel—he would be one of the representatives on that board. Why?— so that not only may justice be done but, indeed, be seen to be done.

I defer to the doubts, of course, expressed from experience by the noble Lords, Lord Plowden and Lord Harris of Greenwich. But let me remind your Lordships of what is said in the report at paragraph 7.16. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, says: I find that the existing system is more concerned with the determination of disciplinary matters concerning individual police officers than with satisfying the complainant ". Then at paragraph 7.28 he said: A complaints procedure which is generally acknowledged to be fair and impartial—to the public and to the accused police officer—is essential if the police are to enjoy the degree of public support they must have in order to discharge their onerous and necessary task. If public confidence in the complaints procedure is to be secured, the early introduction of an independent element in the investigation of complaints and the establishment of a conciliation process are vital ". Those are the recommendations of the report. Although, of course, one defers to the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, in particular, I would submit to your Lordships that, if one sets aside a separate category of the apology cases with a sifting mechanism for those, the broad thrust of the Scarman Report should be implemented notwithstanding the reservations expressed by the noble Lords, Lord Plowden and Lord Harris of Greenwich. The reason is given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, in his report, and I would suggest that a system such as that is essential because it would do much to remove tensions and to remove, for example, the sense of injustice which leads to rebellion, if one wishes to use the concepts of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford—and why not? The noble Lord speaks from the other side and that has a value because those are the fears. If one does not cross the divide to meet the fears one cannot cope with the problem. Therefore, it is no use pretending that there is not a problem. I would most earnestly urge upon the Government that they should give consideration to the implementation of this wholly independent complaints procedure. Apart from the fact that every newcomer must be at a certain disadvantage, which was a point made by my noble and learned friend Lord Rawlinson, I am sure that the noble and learned Lord, who fortunately is present, would agree that once the newcomer is allowed to remain here as of right, he is then entitled to say, " The law is no respecter of persons ", and to have the full benefit of that legal concept. I am sure that my noble and learned friend Lord Rawlinson would not have wished, and did not in fact suggest, otherwise. If we look into the mirror of the mind and we see two images, one black and one white, then it is time that we either changed our spectacles, consulted an oculist or even perhaps a psychiatrist.

8.14 p.m.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, towards the end of this long debate I rise to draw attention to the Rastafarian dimension in the life of the West Indian community in Britain. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, mentioned this on page 44 of his report. He wrote—and I compress very slightly his words: The Rastafarians, their faith and their aspirations, deserve more understanding and more sympathy … from the British people. The true Rastafarian is deeply religious … His aspiration—the return to Africa …—is embodied in a religious and peaceful discipline ". I believe that we should ponder very deeply this assessment of a group which might, at first sight, appear outlandish and incomprehensible if only because of their hairstyles and their devotion to the late Emperor of Ethiopia.

The roots of Rastafari are to be found in Jamaica in the last century. In this century, Marcus Garvey's teaching anticipated much of the later and still current black theology, black consciousness and black power. Some Rastafarians are members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, an ancient Christian body. Those who do not belong to this church are, however, profoundly Biblical people who draw deeply on Judaeo-Christian sources. Prayer and meditation and discussion play an important part in their lives.

Over the years in Britain we have come to give respect to many religions, including some that we once used to persecute. Respect is what Rastafarians ask for, and I believe that we should give it to them just as we do to the Jews or to the Sikhs. We should recognise Rastafarian customs and observances, just as we do those of other faiths.

I should like to draw attention to the report on Rastafarians in Jamaica and Britain, recently published by the Catholic Commission for Racial Justice. Not all are in full agreement with this report, as was made abundantly clear by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson. However, I would dissent from him and I commend the conclusions of this report both to the Christian churches and to the Government. I urge that Rastafari should be recognised as a genuine and valid religion. In this connection, I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, whether he can confirm that the Home Office is revising Circular No. 10 of 1976, which is of great importance to Rastafarians who are in prison. If so, when does he expect the new guidance to be published? Can the noble Lord say that Her Majesty's Government will ensure that Rastafarians are treated with sympathy and understanding by all departments of central Government and by local government and, of course, most importantly, by the police?

Rastafari is more than just a religion: it is also a culture which expresses itself in many ways, not least in reggae music. It gives cultural identity to some of those who reject both traditional West Indian society and contemporary British urban values.

In the last few days I have been able to meet and to talk with Rastafari leaders and with ordinary members of that movement. Both groups impressed upon me most vehemently their concern with repatriation. They pointed out that though some West Indians came to Britain freely and as adults, others arrived with no choice in the matter since they were children at the time, or else they were born here subsequently as the second generation. Some now desire to return to the West Indies; others wish to go to Africa. This point is touched on in the evidence given to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, on behalf, for instance, of Caribbean House.

I think that we should discuss the question of repatriation very carefully, very thoroughly and very dispassionately, freeing ourselves from prejudice, from racialism, and from fear, or from any other disturbing emotion. I suggest that we need to face our own past history and present attitudes to West Indians openly and honestly. In the past we were leaders in promoting the slave trade and we were also pioneers in emancipating the slaves. We invited black people to work in Britain, and yet our inner cities leave very much to be desired, both for indigenous and for immigrant people alike.

Our responsibilities are, therefore, very great. It will only be with courage and with strong leadership that we shall begin to discharge them. I support what the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and then noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said when they urged the importance of caring for and fostering whole local communities as well as meeting the needs of individuals and families. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, I would say that I believe that this applies just as much to whites as to black communities.

8.22 p.m.

Baroness Lockwood

My Lords, I welcome the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, as being a very real contribution towards solving what is a very difficult problem. I want to concentrate on and refer in particular to what he says in his conclusions, when he calls for a concerted attack on discrimination co-ordinated by central Government and related in particular to education and employment. He says: A policy of direct co-ordinated attack on racial disadvantage inevitably means that the ethnic minorities will enjoy for a time a positive discrimination in their favour. But it is a price worth paying if it accelerates the elimination of the unsettling factor of racial disadvantage from the social fabric of the United Kingdom. I believe this task to be even more urgent than the task of establishing on a permanent basis good relations between the ethnic minorities and the police ". I should like to say something about positive discrimination because I feel that there is some misunderstanding of the problem. Indeed, in his otherwise very admirable speech today, the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, appeared to be confused too, because he challenged the report by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, and asked whether it would not be preferable to go in for reverse discrimination. He went on to define reverse discrimination as being a policy to encourage and train immigrants for the police. Surely this is the positive discrimination for which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, calls in his report.

From listening to some of the discussions that have taken place on the media since the report was published, it is clear that there is confusion on this issue. It seems to me that if we are fully to understand why positive discrimination is necessary, we need, first, to understand what is meant by indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination is a much more dangerous concept than the concept of direct discrimination, which most of us would recognise and on which we would be able to make an immediate judgment. But indirect discrimination is really the equal rule with the unequal effect. It arises not from deliberate discrimination, but from the way in which institutions and procedures adversely affect an individual or a group of people. Therefore, it is something with which we need to familiarise ourselves and to try to take account of in our thinking on this whole problem.

I recall a seminar and a discussion on discrimation in which I was involved some few years ago when the concept of indirect discrimination was illustrated by the fable of the fox and the stork. The fox invited the stork to have supper with him and provided two flat plates of soup which, of course, the fox was able to lap up without any difficulty, but the stork found it impossible to partake of the soup. If we relate that to our institutions, very often the services which are provided by our institutions are, like the soup, not readily and not easily taken up by our immigrant communities. But unlike the stork—because the stork was able to get his own back on the fox by inviting the fox to dine with him and providing the fox with a pitcher of liquid which, of course, the fox was not able to enjoy—our immigrant communities are not able to reciprocate in that way because they are here in this community and they have to work with and through the institutions which are operating in the country. So I think that we need to bear that problem in mind when we are looking at the positive measures, the positive discrimination, which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, has advocated.

In his report in relation to the police at Part V, paragraph 5.9, he deals with this very admirably. He does not call for quotas because positive discrimination is not quotas; he does not call for a reduced standard, because, again, positive discrimination is not reducing standards. But what he does is to ask for special help for the ethnic groups to be trained up to the minimum standard which the police require. That surely is what we all want to do—to lift up the immigrant community to the necessary standard so that they can compete on an equal basis.

On the other side of the coin, the report goes on to call for better training within the police service so that police officers can understand the culture and the problems of the ethnic groups. I totally disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, on this. I do not see anything wrong in asking that the police—who are dealing with a group of people who have a different background from the indigenous community—be given some training which will help them to understand the approach of the immigrant groups. Indeed, I would go even further. If one were talking about education, one would suggest that in the training of teachers there is an element which deals with this problem of the ethnic communities. If one is talking about employment, again one would want to see in the training which is given within companies for management, shop stewards and trade unionists, an element of training on the problems of the immigrant community.

This is not something new. This is something which surely any personnel officer in a company with good policies would endorse, and he would say that this is the natural and straightforward thing to do. I would disagree totally with the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, in his approach to this. I hope that, not only within the police force but within the many areas where the ethnic community has to be dealt with in groups as part of the structure of society, attention will be given to this whole problem of understanding the differences in culture between the new immigrant groups and ourselves. Again, I would disagree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, on this.

I do not think that by doing this, by introducing this element of training, we are doing anything different from what has been done in the past. Surely in the past all of us who have been associated with new groups coming in have tried to understand what the differences between the groups are. We may not have set out deliberately to alter our institutions, but nevertheless the development of British society has been influenced by the influx of new people.

Reference has been made to the Huguenots. Certainly in the part of the country I come from the Huguenots had a tremendous effect on the development of the culture and attitude to work. So again I do not think we arc introducing new principles but are dealing with a problem with a different dimension, because we are dealing now in some parts of the country with a very substantial percentage of the population which is not indigenous to the United Kingdom. At least some of them are now indigenous because they are second and even third generations, but they have not been with us sufficiently long, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said, to be assimilated into our community.

Because of all these reasons there is a need in our educational policies, in our employment policy, to be positive; to encourage positively the minority groups to come into industries and professions where they are not present at the moment. As the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, said earlier, it is absolutely essential that in all the different professions in the country we should see members of the immigrant communities at the top so that it can be demonstrated that they are assimilated and that they are part of the total community.

But this is not going to happen by itself. It is not going to happen unless companies and educational bodies deliberately set out to build into their policies help for these communities. That is what is meant when we talk about positive discrimination. Again, the report refers to the need to introduce general information and education about the problems that will have to be faced in the work situation if we are to integrate the ethnic communities and if we are to avoid a backlash and a resentment developing. Part of the policy must be to try to help the white community to understand why these policies are being carried out. In that respect the Government could, and I think will, give some lead but it will have to be taken up at all levels.

It is no good expecting central Government to be able to do everything. Central Government, as the report says, must give a lead and must co-ordinate, but the issue must also be taken up at all levels within our community. And nowhere, I would suggest, is it more important than in the workplace, where it is absolutely essential for matters to be taken up equally by management and trades unions, and for a contribution to be made to a greater understanding of the problems of the minority groups. Therefore, I would certainly commend the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, and I would underline the urgency which is written into that report.

8.36 p.m.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

My Lords, I think I am the only Member who has spoken today who had agricultural estates in Jamaica. I went there regularly for 12 years after the war, and so I got to know the people extremely well. In all the time that I went out there, I never came across any riots. The only riots I came across were riots of joy on the estate, because when I arrived I always gave a big barbecue for all the children and the people, and it was a riot of joy.

It is rather difficult for me, speaking so late in the evening as the last speaker, because I should have liked to say a great deal as I have great experience of the West Indies from first-hand. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, was speaking about the Rastafarians. I quite agree with the noble Lord that they want to be repatriated. If they do, I think that the Government ought to give liberal funds for them to be repatriated. I cannot see why any immigrant family, if they are unhappy here, should not be repatriated if they want to be, and I should like to see the Government giving a family £5,000. Of course, at the moment the Government give them only the barest travel allowance.

In Jamaica, the only thing we rather had against the Rastafarians was that I think as part of their religion they smoke marijuana, ganja. I never had any trouble on the estate. I had only kindness, politeness, and no rudeness. It was frankly one of the happiest periods of my life. The only trouble that we met occasionally was when they smoked marijuana, ganja. Then they lose their inhibitions, and for their own protection there had to be strict laws to protect them from themselves. When they lost their inhibitions they would never harm a white man in those days, but they would harm themselves. That was the only trouble one ever had.

Your Lordships must remember that on those estates the Jamaicans were in their own environment. There was a mild discipline and they were very happy on my estate, certainly, and I was sorry to leave. But I am glad to say I left it in a better condition than when I found it. I recall that when independence was coming certain things happened. For example, on one occasion when I was parking my car in Kingston—actually my estate was on the West coast of Jamaica, whereas Kingston is on the East coast—I asked a black man if he would mind backing his car a few feet to enable me to park mine, and he said, " You want me to do that only because you are white and I am black ". I replied, " Don't be so silly. Nothing of the sort. If you do not want to move I will find somewhere else to park ". But once that sort of attitude crept in I felt it was time to leave.

I find it very difficult to think that the stock of those people, who I knew well and who, to me, were not at all violent, should have changed so much. Reading the Scarman Report and seeing such happenings on television and so on, it seems incredible that such people should make and throw petrol bombs. It is not in their character to do that, and I am sure those petrol bombs were given to them or thrown by others, probably some of them white people.

One cannot blame the immigrants for coming here. There were certain not particularly scrupulous agents who figured out—I am going back to 1959–60, that sort of time—that a combination of cheap air transport and the welfare state, coupled with a number of vacancies here at that time, was a golden opportunity to bring immigrants over. In one year in those days I believe 600,000 were brought in from the West Indies, and of course in this grossly over-populated country it was difficult to find them all jobs.

The agents about whom I speak told them, " If you do not get a job, no matter because you can go on the welfare state, where you will get as much ". We must remember that the total income of some of those people would probably have been about £50 a year, although that is not a fair comparison with this country because in Jamaica one does not need any heat and hardly any housing, and even if one is unemployed it is possible to live off the land because it is so fertile, with four crops a year and plenty of delicious fruit and everything else. They all thought the streets of London were paved with gold, and sometimes they used to ask me if that was the case. I told them, " If the streets are paved with gold, it must be borrowed gold ". As I say, we cannot blame the black immigrants for coming here. For a number of years Governments in Britain were caught napping; they should have tried to slow down the inflow when they saw it was becoming so great, especially when jobs were not available here. But it is no good crying over split milk.

Those points are preliminaries. I wish only to speak about the reasons for the disorders, and I speak from practical experience, as I have explained. A number of noble Lords have mentioned housing as a reason, but it is clear from the Scarman Report that housing is not a main cause. We must remember, too, that these people came from far worse housing than one finds in Brixton. The majority of houses in Jamaica, despite, or perhaps because of, the very good climate, are wooden shacks with no sanitation. I built some brick houses there, but the majority of their housing is extremely poor. Paragraph 2.8 of the report says in this context: My visit to Stockwell Park confirms that in spite of the enlightened neighbourhood management approach by the Council, the dreams of modern architects and planners do not necessarily provide any more of a setting for social harmony than do the rundown Victorian terraces in Railton and Mayall Roads ". As I say, I do not think housing was one of the prime causes.

When we come to education and employment, however, it is another matter. Of course one cannot expect employers to employ people who are illiterate, or virtually so. If money is to be spent, I should like to see it spent on training black teachers to train black people because black teachers understand their culture far better than white teachers. In the average school in Jamaica the teachers were all black and the pupils were very disciplined.

Having said that, I believe that the underlying cause lies in the fact that the family life of the West Indians has been broken up. That aspect is mentioned some-where in the report. Family life is extremely strong in Jamaica. In my time there, it was chiefly a matriarchal society, because the man sometimes disappeared. I do not mean he would fall down a hole or something of that sort; he would just wander off. However, the family was a very extended network of kin—mothers, grandmothers, aunts and so on—who brought the children up very strictly and they attended strict schools.

When the families came over here and the children went to our schools, they found themselves plunged into our permissive society, and they got out of the control of the family. I say that is one of the causes of the riots. After all, if you take such simple people—I do not use the word " simple " in a derogatory way, because we have among them some brilliant lawyers and doctors; I suppose one could call the people who were on my estate simple, having been brought up in the country—and plunge them into the maelstrom of what is called western civilisation, there is bound to be trouble. They are open to all the pornographic filth and all sorts of other filth that the media spills out. In that situation they are bound to go off the rails. Seeing violence on television, I suppose it is natural for young people to think they will try it for themselves. However, as the report points out, for whatever crimes they commit and whatever they do, they must be subject to our legal system and our laws.

I should like for a moment to draw attention to the action of the Director of Public Prosecutions at the Bristol riot trial in withdrawing cases against two of the accused in the interests of racial harmony. That is a very dangerous thing to do. If that custom grew, it would probably have the reverse effect. I also think that such a gesture is insulting to the black people as a whole, and it is very patronising, too.

There is such a lot that I should like to say, but I must end soon. I found that many of the people on my estate were very good with their hands; they had a natural aptitude for carpentry, carving, and all such things. We have sent them to colleges, but I suppose that where there is a language difficulty it is not much good doing that until they speak the language properly. They were brought up to speak English, but they had a different type of English, much more the abbreviated style, and clipped.

I should like to say a few words about positive discrimination. This term comes from America. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, must have pinched it from America. It was President Johnson who started the idea. The original idea was to relieve social tension in America. The Americans said—and I think that this, too, is extremely patronising—that it was intended to enable the blacks to catch up; in other words, to give a black man a job in preference to a white man, even if the white man had far higher qualifications. That idea has been tried out for quite a few years in America, and it has not been very successful. There is now quite a backlash among the majority white population. We must be careful in this country regarding such matters. Such a thing might be all right in some isolated cases, but we must be careful that we do not get a backlash here, though we are, I believe, a far more tolerant country.

That is all I propose to say, my Lords, though I should have liked to say much more. I am the last Back-Bench speaker, and time is getting on. I shall end by saying that I hope that in Britain, in the United Kingdom, we can get rid of black and white prejudice without at the same time destroying equal opportunity for all.

8.54 p.m.

Lord Belstead

My Lords, today's debate has responded in kind to a report of very great significance and breadth. My noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard was the last of your Lordships to have spoken of both a range of issues arising from the policing of our society and the problems of society itself. But, starting with, I believe, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, we have in this debate reinforced the view expressed in the report that it is wrong to pretend that the maintenance of public order and a lawful society are responsibilities that can be laid at the door of the police alone.

The principal task which the report sets for the police is the application to our developing society of the traditional principles of British policing. The purpose is to enhance police effectiveness in the broadest sense. My noble friend Lord Beloff said that there is an element of sentimentality in assuming that with current levels of violent crime there is a short cut to law and order—I paraphrase my noble friend. I would agree with him, and indeed the report fully acknowledges that the prevention and detection of crime remain fundamental duties of the police. The report emphasises the serious problem of crime, particularly of street robbery. It confirms that there will continue to be circumstances in which the use of what it calls hard methods of policing, including the deployment of the special patrol group, are essential. It concludes that the power of stop and search is necessary to combat street crime.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, said that the law is the law, and it must extend to all, and it must be applied firmly, fairly, and sensitively. The report emphasised that in order to achieve that, consultation is an essential part of police effectiveness. Unless the police know well the different communities in which they work, and unless those communities grasp fully what the police are trying to do, and how they are going to try to do it, then there will be distrust and inevitable damage to police effectiveness. That is the reason for the recommendations for formal consultation arrangements, which the Home Secretary is already acting upon. If I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, I think that we must complete the consultations which we are very actively pursuing before we can finally decide on whether or not they should be put into statutory provision.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, pointed out, quite rightly, that exactly how the liaison committees are to be composed is not yet clear; and this is a considerable difficulty. That is why we are proceeding as swiftly as we can with consultations, though at the end of the day surely it must be for local communities to have some flexibility to decide.

I am very happy to be able to add a word or two to what I attempted to say to your Lordships at the beginning of the debate. There took place this afternoon the meeting, which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary chaired, of those representing different interests in the borough of Lambeth. The meeting was able to reach agreement on a firm framework for future consultation between the police and the community in Lambeth, and there was expressed a a firm resolve that the new group should meet again, in Lambeth, before the end of the month to begin its necessary work. My right honourable friend and his officials will be ready to give any help that is needed to the new group as its work develops.

Before turning to the specific questions that I have been asked, I should like to refer to another point. Some noble Lords have implied—I quite understand why—that the only proper response from the Government to such a report is to implement it in full. In another place the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Hattersley, chided my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on just that point, but then himself rather surprisingly went on specifically to reject the recommendation that the Home Secretary should continue to be the police authority for London. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, to whom I always listen carefully, and with practically the whole of whose speech I agreed, will not mind my saying that he made very much the same point about accepting the report in full, and then expressed obvious reservations—I thought quite rightly—about dismissal being the normal penalty for any offence of racial prejudice.

In all friendliness, I challenge your Lordships to find a major and wide-ranging report in the last many years which has been published and which has had such a warm and specific welcome from the Government of the day. It is common practice for the reports of Royal Commissions to be published with only a request for comments from interested parties. On consultation, on training—but I will come to that in a moment more specifically—and on the complaints procedure, my right honourable friend said on publication that he accepted the direction of the recommendations and wanted to make progress quickly and firmly. I was very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and indeed to many of my noble friends who made speeches this afternoon, and to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, for saying in essence that they understood that the Government are intending to get on with implementing as much of the report as we possibly can. We are doing so, and work is continuing with all the energy and drive which my right honourable friend can impart.

If I may refer specifically to training, which so many of your Lordships have talked about, the Police Training Council will pursue its tasks as quickly as possible; but do not let us lose sight of the fact that much excellent training is already being given at all levels, and that in some of the important areas identified in the report improvements have recently been made or are under way. For instance, there are the improvements in the Metropolitan Police to which I referred earlier in my speech. So far as their initial training courses are concerned, in April Metropolitan Police training courses are to be extended from 15 to 16 weeks.

My noble friend Lord Inglewood, the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod, the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, and, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, all referred to the desirability of accepting the exact wording of the report—the six-month training period for initial training. It is the fact, of course, that Lord Scarman recommended this training period, and indicated one or two subjects that should be given prominence in extending the period from the present 10 weeks. But the noble and learned Lord did not offer a blueprint for the training period, and, really—and this is quite genuine—we must consider, and we must be advised by the Police Training Council, what should be the substance of extended initial training (and by that I mean what the balance should be between initial courses at police training centres and the job training which takes place in individual forces) before determining the exactly right period of time for this.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, if I may ask the noble Lord a question on that, I take his point completely, of course, and I am most grateful to him, with his customary courtesy, for giving way. But the fact is that the noble and learned Lord indicated that he wanted a 12-month training period and was prepared, because of the resource implications, to accept six months. Is the noble Lord aware that all the police organisations have indicated that they want a six-month training period run within Home Office training establishments? Are the Government prepared to accept that recommendation if it is indeed the position of all the police organisations, as, of course, I am aware that it is?

Lord Belstead

My Lords, I will answer the noble Lord as honestly as I know. The Police Training Council last met on 28th January. I said in opening that it had looked at how best to try to tackle the recommendations of the report. In fact, my information is that the Police Training Council decided that it would set up working parties on certain specific subjects, and surveys on other certain specific subjects, and would come back in the autumn to decide then what it ought to do.

What I would add to that—and I speak advisedly—is that we look forward to receiving the Police Training Council's detailed recommendations on what changes are required and on how best they can be achieved, but until we get that, the exact increase in police training, with the resources which it will imply according to what the balance of training is going to be, is something on which my right honourable friend simply cannot make a definitive statement.

So far as complaints are concerned, if I may turn to that matter, I was reminded by the discussion which again took place this afternoon on police complaints, of Lord Scarman's comment that the objective of a complaints procedure which is fair both to the complainant and to the accused police officer is as easy to state as it is difficult to achieve. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, and to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, for putting forward (which is not an easy thing to do) their own ideas as to how the complaints procedure could be improved. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt, really wanted what is in effect a post hoc procedure, which has certain drawbacks which were brought out in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden; and my noble friend Lord Campbell's concept was of a board which he would see as being wholly independent.

At this hour, all I would say on this subject is that of course Lord Scarman, after putting forward his own preference for an independent investigation system, then recognised that there were a number of difficulties, largely though not exclusively of a practical nature—difficulties which were explained to the House in some detail by the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, who of course speaks with such great experience of this and, indeed, of other aspects of police matters. It is in the light of that that the evidence which the Home Office has put in to the Select Committee of another place in fact goes for the concept of the non-police supervisor and a conciliation procedure, which of course is favoured by Lord Scarman and which in fact is taken from the report of the working party which was chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, after the triennial report of the Police Complaints Board.

I think that what we must strive to achieve from all this is a fair, effective and workable system that commands public confidence and thereby contributes to the general purpose of strengthening relationships between the police and the public they serve; and in order to do this we simply have got to wait for the report, which we hope will come out at Easter, of the Select Committee of another place.

Perhaps I could go now specifically to just one or two points before I end. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt, made the point that the black community should realise how important the police are to them; and the noble Lord went on to say that, therefore, recruitment from the ethnic minorities to the police is very important. The Government most certainly agree; and without repeating the measures which we are taking, to which I referred at the start of this debate, I assure the noble Lord that active encouragement is being given to improvement of recruitment.

On recruitment, my noble friend Lady Macleod of Borve suggested that, while it might not bring agreement from the Home Office, she would recommend an increase of the special constabulary and particularly more mature specials from the ethnic minorities. On the contrary, the Government agree strongly with my noble friend. I would say to her that in recent months in London and in the Midlands I have met West Indian and Asian special constables who have confirmed to me the correctness of the view expressed by my noble friend Lady Macleod of Borve.

Finally, my Lords, there are four quick points. If the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, will forgive me, I will not follow him down the avenues (which are very much in the report) of housing, education and employment. I listened with great interest to what he said on those. I would generally say to the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, that the proposals which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has made on the rate support grant settlement for next year will provide half a billion pounds more in grant than for this year. It is easy to talk as though authorities are being cut to the bone. It is a huge cash increase; but, maybe, as the noble Lord would say to me—and he is always fair—not enough. As I explained in my opening remarks, the Government have already responded to the Select Committee on Racial Disadvantage and we believe that the document which the Government have put out is a positive one. It shows that the Government accept a number of recommendations made by the Select Committee and in particular that relating to ethnic monitoring in the Civil Service and to the considerable reforms being made now in the administration of the Section 11 grants.

I will reply specifically to my noble and learned friend Lord Rawlinson who was critical of the reporting of news by the media in the context of the Scarman Report and the disorders of the summer. The broadcasters have a duty to report news accurately and with due impartiality and not to include anything in their programmes which is likely to encourage or incite to crime or lead to disorder. My noble and learned friend felt that reporting and commenting at times became confused; but under our broadcasting arrangements, as trustees of the public interest in broadcasting, the BBC and the IBA are bound to take a view of the effect that news coverage and news gathering can have on what is being reported and recorded. I would say that the BBC and the IBA maintain and keep under review guidelines from which I will not quote but which are down to earth and practical about the portrayal of violence in a whole range of programmes, including news programmes. It is for them—and I know that they have much taken this to heart—to decide whether any review of the guidelines is needed in the light of the Scarman Report.

Meanwhile, my noble friend asked what the Home Secretary had done. During the passage of the Broadcasting Act 18 months ago, on behalf of my right honourable friend I told the House that the BBC and the IBA, in response to an approach from my right honourable friend, would include in their annual reports an account of complaints made to them about programme content. I believe that this is the right way to deal with a matter like this. My noble friend may be interested to know that the BBC and the IBA are now jointly involved in research into the difficult matter of the copycat aspects of television reporting which have given cause for concern.

Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, asked about Rastafarians. As far as Circular 10 of 1976 is concerned, instructions have already been issued to wardens of detention centres, where the general practice is to require all inmates to have their hair cut short, to give Rastafarian inmates the opportunity to retain their long hair.

My Lords, this has been a useful debate. It has directed attention to specific areas of the Scarman Report which your Lordships find to be of great concern and the Government attach great significance to the report. I think that it is important and fair to recognise how quickly my right honourable friend has responded to many of the report recommendations. The report points the way forward for the support of the community to enable the police to be able to deal more effectively with crime and to protect the communities which they serve, and of which they are themselves a part. The same path leads to continuing the attack on the problems of the inner cities and the disadvantages of some in our society. I believe that this debate represents a further step in taking us forward on that course.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

My Lords, one of the reasons why there is this attitude to the police from some immigrants is that they brought that over from the countries they came from, where their police are far tougher than ours. It will probably take them some time to realise that our police are far better.

On Question, Motion agreed to.