HL Deb 07 December 1983 vol 445 cc1119-61

5.2 p.m.

Debate resumed.

The Lord Bishop of Chichester

My Lords, we now return to the debate on the Motion of the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster. I welcome what has been said on the Motion by other speakers. It is particularly helpful that we should have an opportunity to discuss this subject in an atmosphere which is not clouded by some recent riot or some recent serious racial trouble. May I apologise for the fact that I have to leave the House for another engagement shortly after six o'clock, and that I may therefore be unable to stay for the end of the debate.

About 14 years ago I went to live in the West Midlands. I was invited to become an assessor for the religious studies examination run by the Department of Education and Science at the University of Birmingham. When I went round the various colleges of education in that area I was not a little surprised to find that a great deal of space and time was allotted by this course to the study of non-Christian religions. It did not, however, take me very long to realise that there was a very great need for this study because of the nature of the population of the schools into which the majority of those young people being trained as teachers were to go, and that it was absolutely essential, if they were to go as religious education teachers into those schools, for them to have a deep understanding of the religion in which many of their pupils would be brought up.

That touches a little on one of the questions relating to education which the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, raised. There was in his speech, I thought, a suggestion that there might be some danger of compromising Christian witness if comparative religion were introduced into these syllabuses. No doubt there is some danger, but I believe it is a risk that we have to take if there is to be a proper understanding and a proper relationship between teacher and pupil. To look at it from another point of view, in areas where there are no large ethnic communities children receiving religious education in schools should be made aware of the presence of other religions in this country so that they adopt a sympathetic attitude towards them. This is important, in view of the enormous mobility of our population.

I turn from my experience in Birmingham to my experience when I went to West Sussex. I found there that a very unhappy situation surrounded the preparation of a new, agreed syllabus for religious education in the county. This syllabus had been agreed by the statutory conference of teachers and representatives of the Churches, who were happy to take over the syllabus already in use in Hampshire and very shortly afterwards adopted in East Sussex. But that syllabus was rejected by the county council because certain influential people argued that it was not sufficiently Christian. I do not intend to go into the merits or demerits of that syllabus. The point which it leads me to want to make is that we must recognise that racism, as a problem, exists at least as seriously and is as deeply embedded in areas of the country where there is no racial problem of the kind which exists in Birmingham and Southwark, and that we need to give very serious attention to it.

A few years ago the parish church of Brighton, St. Peter's, held a 24-hour vigil of prayer for racial harmony. This, one would have thought, was a positive, peaceful, constructive event, yet the National Front demonstrated outside the church against the holding of this vigil of prayer. Unfortunately for them, they made a mistake about the actual part of the building in which the vigil of prayer was being held and demonstrated instead outside the hall in which a meeting of the Brighton Ornithological Society was being held. However, that does not detract from the point.

There is real space in education for guidance to be given from the centre to local authorities. I hope that the Department of Education and Science will get together representatives of the Churches and of the other faiths to discuss this problem. As I have said, we do not have a large ethnic minority in Sussex, but it is 98 per cent. Asian—about 8,000—almost all of whom are concentrated in Crawley. But the racist problem is there.

The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, produced a packet of literature. I could have done the same, if I had thought. It so happens that a very large number of the headquarters and the publishing houses of the most virulent racist organisations are to be found in Sussex. A residential session of our Bishops' Council was held last year on the subject. I was horrified by the specimens of literature which were produced and set out for us to examine.

Since a good deal has already been said about the police, may I say that I have nothing but admiration for the work of the community relations officers of the Sussex police. They are, I believe, very well aware of the problem, and they are giving serious attention to it.

As the subject is so wide, perhaps I ought to mention certain religious minorities, which cause a great deal of anxiety in many quarters—"the Moonies", and other such sects. They constitute, perhaps, a special kind of religious minority which is disruptive and which has very grave and sad effects on the family. Some of the saddest correspondence and the saddest meetings I have had have been with parents whose children have been drawn into that kind of movement and almost totally removed from their parents. That is not something which is a prominent part of the situation we are debating today, but it is an aspect we must not ignore.

I will now turn to two aspects of the religious problem in a positive way. The first concerns the non-Christian religions in this country. It was Cardinal Mercier who said, in relation to Christian unity, that we shall never unite until we love one another; that we shall never love one another until we know one another; and we shall never know one another until we meet one another. I believe that something similar needs to be stated in the field of relations between the great world religions. Therefore, one welcomes the presence among us of representatives of those other great world religions because it is one thing to read and hear about them but it is quite another to meet people, to get to know their way of life, and to hear about their beliefs from their own lips.

Without in any way compromising the unique claims of Christianity, I believe that we have somethings to learn from other faiths. I mention two in particular. First, there is the example of commitment. It is the case that wherever one finds a mixture of religion and nationalism, or a racial group supported by its religion, then the whole sense of commitment is a complex one and it is not just a simple religious commitment. Allowing for that, I believe that many of the other religions do set us an example of commitment, and the extent to which their religion affects and shapes their social as well as their personal lives, which we need to take very much to heart.

The second is spirituality; an understanding of the centrality of prayer and meditation in the spiritual life. I am not referring so much to techniques such as transcendental meditation, about which there is certainly more than one view, as to the fact that religion without substantial and regular personal prayer will die. I believe that the other great world religions do perhaps say something to us about that aspect which, certainly in our Western Christian society, we have been in considerable danger of letting slip. The coming together with those other religions will help us to underline what we have in common; and it will help us also to assess more clearly the significance of the points on which we differ.

I turn now to the non-white Christians, who are overwhelmingly black and West Indian. It must be a disturbing fact that whereas in the West Indies most Christians belong to the mainstream churches, yet here, for the most part, the West Indian immigrants have not found their home in the mainstream churches but have formed their own, mostly Pentecostal churches. Incidentally, they have the highest growth rate of any Christian body in this country.

There can be little doubt that racism in the active sense has contributed to that situation, but we also need to ask ourselves what is lacking in our own churches which is responsible for that phenomenon. I would venture to suggest that there are the two factors which I mentioned earlier in relation to the non-Christian religions—a lack of commitment and a lack of spirituality. I am not saying that we ought to be scrapping our organs and replacing them with steel bands, because that is simply a superficial element. What has been happening is a call to us to re-examine the quality of our own religious life—the depth of our commitment, the depth of our spirituality, and the extent to which the principles which we profess really shape what we do.

There are important conclusions to be drawn from all this about the training of the ministers of all Churches; preparing them to work in a multiracial and a multi faith society. There must also be a similar training of teachers, which was the point with which I started. This affects the outlook of every one of us. We may live in a part of the country, as I do, where ethnic and religious minorities scarcely exist. But we all belong to a society in which they are of increasing significance, and we have to think constructively about them.

I end with the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury in an address he gave to the Birmingham Community Relations Council last year. He said: We are in fact a multiracial society, and the choice we have is between working to make this fact a matter for pride and celebration, or drifting into a situation when this fact is a matter for lament and despair".

5.17 p.m.

Lord Soper

My Lords, in thanking the noble Viscount for introducing this topic, may I express my intention to follow in the steps of my right reverend friend and to talk about the religious element which belongs to this highly complicated question—professionally, because I am sure that religion is of paramount importance; pragmatically, because the attempt to differentiate between ethnic and religious problems here is, I believe, a waste of time inasmuch as so many of the existing problems are an intermingling of ethnic and religious principles or prejudices.

I will not talk, although I might be encouraged so to do, of Methodism. Strictly speaking, I suppose that we are a minority movement; at least in quantity if not in quality. But surely this is a most difficult problem even to face. Those who embark upon any attempt to envisage a future for religion in general and for Christianity in particular are embarking upon a very tempestuous voyage.

Much of the problem is yet unsophisticated, and many of the issues have not as yet been designated, let alone treated. May I therefore set the scenario of the present religious situation with regard to minorities against the background so often canvassed these days and described as the "Victorian values".

This is an age in which the missionary enthusiasm of the 19th century has now paled considerably. But that missionary enthusiasm was wedded to the proposition that outside the Christian faith there was the darkness of heathenism. It was the business and the opportunity of the Christian Church, if by evangelical hosepipe, to baptise the rest of the world into a belief in Christian values and the way of life of Jesus Christ and his Church.

It was not an unfair criticism of the immortal David Livingstone that he very much regarded the Kingdom of God as something approaching, at least, the British Empire; and in the recessional hymn of Rudyard Kipling (which I hope has been taken out of the new Methodist hymnbook; I must look into that) the idea that God gave to the British Empire dominion over palm and pine—and that is something that we must never forget—points to an age which has in so many respects almost totally disappeared, at least from mainline Christian endeavour, though I believe that Billy Graham is still committed to the proposition that outside the Christian faith all is utter darkness.

It is imperative in my judgment to see the change that has taken place, if we are properly to appreciate the opportunities which confront us and indeed the difficulties which assail us. May I give some illustrations of this problem. In the last 100 years it was and has been the pride of the Methodist Missionary Society to conduct its evangelism in what was then Ceylon and is now Sri Lanka. It is a fact that the proportion, taking due account of the increase in population in what was Ceylon, of Christians has remained more or less static, and the assumption that another nudge in the evangelical effort and great companies of people would turn to Jesus Christ is as untrue of the general situation in Ceylon, as it was, as it is most other places. There have been revivals in Hyderabad; for instance, Pastor Harris on the west coast of Central Africa; and indeed there have been evidences in the Outer Hebrides and other places of occasional opportunities which have been seized for mass conversions, but they have been largely temporary. I think nobody could doubt the fact now that the prospect of an evangelical breakthrough such as our fathers anticipated is more or less out of date and should not be further canvassed as a practical proposition, at least in the terms in which it was advocated 100 years ago.

May I give a personal illustration of the change that has taken place. I am a loyal disciple of John Wesley in one respect—I venture into the open air. Not so many Sundays ago I was confronted in Hyde Park with Buddhist missionaries who had come over from the East in order to provide some last minute opportunity for us in the West to turn from our violence and continue to live. They had begun quite properly in the North of Scotland and had worked their way south, and there they were in Hyde Park. Your Lordships will not be surprised that they knew considerably more about Buddhism than I did. Here is a phenomenon which only expresses something of what my very reverend friend has already indicated, that we are now in a totally different situation with regard to the propagation of Christianity than were our fathers when they were not confronted, as we are, with situations that are promoted by people who believe in other kinds of religion, and are in some cases spiritually minded, as we are tempor-secularly minded, and in some cases have exhibited qualities, as some of the Buddhists have, which have put our arrogance and violence to shame in the Christian faith.

It is therefore I think imperitive that, if we are properly to approach the problem as to what should be our reaction to these minorities in the religious field so closely associated with the minorities in the ethnic field, we should divide up as best we can into rough categories as to what these particular minorities represent. They represent in the first case the great historic world-renouncing faiths, Hinduism and Buddhism. The cross-fertilisation of impact from Christian sources has modified that world-renouncing faith in some of its characteristics, notably the immolation of Buddhist priests in the interests of the fight against oppression in Vietnam.

However, in general principle there is still within the minority movements that can be called ethical and spiritual a tendency on the part of many to withdraw from the practical problems, and this is particularly illustrated from the so-called Christian standpoint when you remember the general basis of the negro spiritual— I got shoes, you got shoes, All God's children got shoes, And when I get to Heaven going to put on my shoes, Going to walk all over God's Heaven. I remember singing that as a boy.

Though again there has been a vast change—and the Rastafarians are excellent examples of that transmutation from a purely other wordly faith of pie in the sky rather than "ham where we am"—nevertheless the situation still prevails that there are a great many of these non-Christian faiths which are still world-renouncing. I shall come a little later to what seems to me to be the appropriate method by which we at least have to seek to deal with this problem.

On the other hand, there are the world-embracing faiths. I wonder whether your Lordships will be scandalised if I remind myself of an argument to which I was subjected some time ago: a very erudite man who said that Judaism was the original world-embracing faith; Christianity was a heresy of Judaism; Islam was a heresy of both Judaism and Christianity; and communism was a hotchpotch of the lot. That is of course at least a pleasantry, but it commands some very powerful recognition of a golden thread that runs through all those religions. It is the positive assumption that something is to be done about the state of the world in which the believer finds himself. This requires a very different kind of approach from the approach that ought to be given to those of ethnic and religious world-renouncing faiths.

There is a third group. Inasmuch as my noble and reverend friend has already mentioned them, I will not digress to talk much about these absurd faiths, many of them as unpleasant in their general reactions as they are quite intemperate in their propagation, and thoroughly disastrous in such thinking as they pretend to command. But the fact remains that in many respects, and particularly to illustrate from the Rastafarians, those beliefs which are intellectually beyond contempt can command the kind of allegiance which is all the more powerful because it sidesteps the need for thinking. It gives totalitarianism in religious practices the kind of edge which has been all too deplorably discovered over the last half century in political matters.

What is to be done—if anything can be done—in this melée and medley of religions which have now sprung out of the ground, so to speak, and become minority movements in this country, though in the country of their origin they were majority movements and still are? May I first of all put two negatives. I have no use whatsoever for the idea that we can return to the baptism by hosepipe and entertain the belief that evangelism by dogmatic assertion is going to bring all these other religions under the heel of a dominant Christian church and in tutelage to the Christian faith.

I think, for the time being at least, the only evangelism which is likely to be effective is that which plays very softly the general music of totalitarian or dogmatic theology, and instead—as I said here only a few weeks ago—gives an advance copy, so to speak, in its institutions of what the Kingdom of God is going to be like, and invites people to find themselves within that new environment. That I believe is a far more powerful incentive to conversion than all the theology that can be commanded by the historic evangelist. Therefore, I do not believe it is still a sensible or even a commendable policy for us to cherish and to cuddle to ourselves the proposition that one more step in the evangelical jamboree and we shall be within sight of a world converted to Christianity.

I am equally opposed to the concept of integration, if it at least means absorption. One has not really integrated a Pakistani if one teaches him to speak with a Birmingham accent. There is an idea that we must somehow flatten out the various characteristics of people of other colours, other creeds and historical backgrounds so that they may become more or less the same thing and exercise the same kind of practices, domestic and otherwise, that we cherish and believe to be part of our own tradition. I believe that this is a non-productive effort and in any case such processes of absorption pay little respect to the manifest differences that go to make up the many-coloured variety of human life of which the right reverend Prelate who preceded me gave ample evidence in talking about the way in which we owe so much to other religions for clarifying the best things in ourselves and for providing the economy whereby we can discharge and get rid of many of the ideas which those other religions can show to be unworthy.

Therefore, I conclude by making one or two suggestions in the realm of what seems to me to be practical politics. Of course I have to speak of education. There is nothing so deplorable as people who have no religious faith, and who are in any case fairly cynical about religious faith, being required to direct spiritual education in our schools. That is an absurdity and it is a monstrosity. I wonder whether the Government have considered a project which I believe has had some success in Australia. The clergy and ministers of the various faiths provide the kind of information and teaching in the general school curricula which previously would have been under the direction of the headmaster or one of the teachers.

I do not entirely subscribe to what the the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, said about the necessity to maintain a Christian evidence. I believe that Christian evidence is much more likely to be subsumed in a transformation of character and attitude, politically and economically, than in the assertion of dogmatic statements. But what seems to me to be obvious is this: one can no longer expect those who are dubious and more or less neutral in their own attitude to religion to provide a basis of understanding so that those who are so instructed may at least know when they get a little older what they are to disagree with. This is a colossally difficult task, and that is why I introduced what I have to say by confessing to the difficulties which seem to oppress us as we look out on this unprecedented religious situation in the modern world. I believe that it is necessary that those who come to decisions about religion should at least have the furniture of an informed mind with which to make that decision.

Finally, I do not believe that one can ultimately relate true religion and the constituent elements of what we call the nation state. In very many respects religious enthusiasms are polluted when they are married to the most predatory and violent institution to which man has ever committed himself—the nation state. It is in that regard that, looking further a field and with an ambition which strides far beyond my capacity to express it, I venture to commend to your Lordships that nothing would make a better difference for good to the present situation regarding ethnic and religious minorities than the prosecution of the idea that the human family is not to be segregated within the nation state, surrounded by barbed wire and propped up by war and suitable and unsuitable marriage alliances, but that the nation state must give place if there is to be a hope and an expectation of a world in which these various faiths can live together and can mutually germinate within their various and individual professions ways and means whereby it is at least possible to look, as I do, for a day when Jesus Christ will be regarded not in theological terms as the Saviour of the world so much as the one who, in economy, simplicity and directness, brings to purpose that which Aldous Huxley in his famous book on other religions indicated in his final chapter.

We were invited to remember the last words of the Te Deum. I do. I do not believe that Christianity will be confounded, and our faith will be so confounded, if we entertain a humility and an attitude of respect to those who hitherto have found themselves within the frameworks of Christian belief or non-Christian belief which in their judgment offer a way to God and a personal expression of satisfaction. May I remind your Lordships that the penultimate words of the Te Deum are: Oh Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in thee". I believe a much greater humility on the part of the Christian Church can yield a spiritual dividend incomparably greater than anything else we can do. Therefore, I venture not only to entertain it but to offer it to your Lordships' House.

5.36 p.m.

Lord Scarman

My Lords, as a lawyer, I feel a very great humility in rising to address your Lordships' House after the passionate assertion of faith which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Soper. If he will allow me to say so with the deepest respect, I most sincerely and profoundly agree with what he said as to the necessity of all men living together in a plural society without the constrictions of walls, barriers, fortresses or wire fences. He will allow me to say that I do not apply that physical description to the nation state but I do agree most firmly with him that wherever those walls and barriers are to be found between men they must be broken down. They are to be found in some places within the United Kingdom. They are to be found within some places in the inner cities. It is that type of moral ghetto which we must see is never established in the free and tolerant society which we have been lucky enough to inherit from our ancestors. I am stimulated into making those remarks, unusual for the rather dry and dusty ladies and gentlemen of my profession, by the fact that I am following two fine speeches by two fine men of God.

I should like to congratulate the noble Viscount on initiating this debate and on the wide-ranging speech with which he introduced it. It is a very wide and deep subject. However, I am beginning to wonder whether the time for review and discussion is not fast coming to an end and whether we should not, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, had in mind, move now from discussion to action.

Of course I have been interested to hear a large number of quotations from the Brixton report. It is a matter of some significance that its findings, I shall not say have proved absolutely right in every respect, but, by and large, have so far stood the passage of time. That being so, I would join the noble Lords, Lord Mischcon, Lord Avebury, and others in saying to the Government that we are now of necessity moving into a period where, unless action is taken, our plural society may well become a splintered society. A plural society is healthy for all sorts of reasons which have been developed tonight—in matters of religion, culture and variety. I think that a splintered society foreshadows the disappearance of that society.

I do not intend to detain your Lordships long. There are many matters this evening on which one could talk at length and, I hope, with advantage. I shall look at two problems only. They are related. Those problems are, first, the plight of the young black people in our inner city areas, and. secondly, the problem of police-community relations.

It could be said with a certain degree of truth that the very eye of the storm is to be found where one finds young black people frustrated, deprived and suffering disadvantage, both economic and social. We find them in our inner cities. Today these youngsters are almost all British born—as British as you and I and the rest of us. They have been through the British educational system. They are emerging and looking for jobs and for a future. Notwithstanding that career in this prosperous country—because so we still are—they perceive themselves (perhaps not always rightly) as suffering from disadvantage, and they associate that disadvantage with their race and the colour of their skin.

First of all, they do suffer disadvantage. They face the hideous and, to them it must appear, insoluble problem of finding a job. Their homes are not good because of poverty and the areas in which they live. Of course they face from time to time—although not all the time—the exhibition towards them of racial prejudice. Whether their disadvantages—which of course are shared by white young men—are racial or not, or whether racial prejudice is as common as some people say, nevertheless they meet sufficiently with the fact of disadvantage and the fact of racial prejudice shown towards them inevitably to associate the two: hence not only their frustration but their alienation from the society in which they were born. That is the social problem.

An immense amount is being done about it. No doubt we shall hear from the noble Lord replying on behalf of the Government what is being done. I know from my own observation and research that a very great deal is being done to alleviate disadvantage and a certain amount to disperse or get rid of racial prejudice. But we have to persuade them that it is being done. We have to get it across to them that if they will help themselves, we—the establishment—are there to help them.

I said in the report—and I shall say it again and then leave this part of the subject—we must at all levels of government, from the centre down to local government and the parish pump. have some sort of co-ordinated policy and direction to ensure that, for these young blacks during their education, and I hope their higher education (although that comes to very few of them), and their search for jobs, there are available on a centrally co-ordinated basis positive help and action—people are frightened of those terms but we must face them—to see that they have genuine equality in our society. By equality, I mean just this—equality of opportunity. They want liberty. By liberty, I mean the liberty that goes with social and economic position. They also need what was called in the eighteenth century fraternity and what I would now describe as brotherly love on the part of the whole of our society.

If that is done, and if the Government give a lead, there will be a positive and healthy reaction from these young people. It is already beginning. A lot is being done. Part of the message to which I am speaking is getting across. If one goes to Peckham or Haringey (I mention just two places to which I have been: I dare say there are others) we find young black people getting together and organising themselves into working groups to offer services to the community in which they live—and offering services for reward. If there is that amount of will generating, action is being taken. But it has to be heightened, deepened, co-ordinated and permeating every level of government.

I say now a few words—and a very few words—on police-community relations. An immense amount of progress has been made here. The best piece of evidence of the improvement in relations between the police and the community is that since 1981 there have been no disorders of a character or on a scale comparable with those in Brixton, Toxteth, Manchester and Wolver hampton in 1981. Both sides of the balance are entitled to credit. The police have certainly done an immense amount, and I am sure we shall hear tonight something of what they have done. The young black people have also exercised a good deal of self-control, perhaps—one does not know; I wish I did—under the leadership of their elders. That is to the good. The police have devoted themselves to a programme of training, to developing consultation with local communities, to improving the supervision and monitoring of their own forces and to a much more open approach to their operations than they did before 1981. As the noble Viscount said, 1981 has been a watershed, particularly in police attitudes. All this, undoubtedly has played an important part.

What is now needed? I think I can just preface the few remarks I make on this by saying this: what is now needed is the sort of attitude that the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police has shown in the way he received the voluminous report on the police commis- sioned by his predecessor in the last few weeks. He received it, he accepted it and he is in the process of making highly intelligent, very well-reasoned responses. That in itself is a sign of the progress that we are making. I say no more about that.

What would I like—and excuse the personal pronoun—to he done in the immediate future in addition to much that I know is being done? I can say it straight away. First of all, let us ensure that racially prejudiced conduct by a policeman is a specific disciplinary offence. The police have resisted this, but I observe in what Sir Kenneth Newman has been saying that work is being done on a code of ethics. Good. If an effective code of ethics comes forward, that will meet the point of a disciplinary offence, provided the code has teeth. That is what one has got to look for, because a contravention has got to be visited with severe punishment and, in proper cases, even with instant dismissal.

There are two other matters. I would hope that we shall get soon—I have not studied the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill yet and I am not, therefore, making a point on that Bill—a truly independent system for inquiring into complaints against the police. This cannot be brushed aside; it is of great importance; and if it can he allied with a conciliation process for minor complaints, so much the better.

Thirdly, we must recruit members of the ethnic minorities in substantial numbers into the police force. I know the problems: there are problems of hostility amongst the young blacks, but those must be overcome. One really comes back to this: we have to build in our society a bridge of confidence between our society and the young blacks suffering their disadvantages and frustrations in our inner city areas, and, if we fail there, it will not only be the police who have trouble: it will be the nation.

Finally, I must apologise to the noble Viscount that I have a public engagement and I shall be doing him and the House the quite unintended discourtesy of leaving very soon.

5.54 p.m.

Lord McNair

My Lords, when you look at the list of speakers and you find that the luck of the draw compels you to speak immediately after the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, you feel a certain alarm; but my alarm turned to something like panic when I heard the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, unconsciously perhaps confusing me with my father, describe me as "another distinguished lawyer". May I say in self-defence that although my veins are awash with legal blood, not enough of it ever reached my head to enable me to study the law.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, may I merely explain to the noble Lord that I at all events realise that the mantle of his very distinguished father has fallen upon a distinguished son.

Lord McNair

My Lords, that was very gracefully put. I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, will not think I am stretching the terms of his Motion too far if I speak about one of our ethnic and religious minorities which, because it is not homogeneous and not immediately visible, we are very apt to overlook. I want to speak about the refugees in Great Britain.

I am directly descended from a Hugeunot refugee who came to this country in the 17th century (that is on my mother's side) and I now find my grandchildren having as school friends children from Vietnam who spent many months at sea before somehow being rescued and brought to these shores. I mention these personal details simply to illustrate the fact that refugees are not an invention of the 20th century, and that their plight makes demands upon our conscience which we are very unlikely to he able to discharge within the 20th century. This is an old story with no foreseeable end.

The currently accepted round figure for the total number of refugees in the world is 10 million; but of that appalling number, it is only the minute fraction who are in this country, or liable to come to this country, who are relevant to this evening's debate. I am happy to say immediately that this country has an honourable record of hospitality and generosity to refugees, from which I am equally happy to say we have enormously benefited.

The noble, if defunct, Lord, Lord Macaulay, writing at a time when everything seems to have been much easier than it is today, and before many of the complexities of modern life had been found necessary, described Britain as "the sacred refuge of mankind." Mutatis mutandis, I hope that is as true today as when he wrote it; but it does require a really tremendous effort of imagination for anyone living in a country such as ours to imagine himself a refugee, to think the thoughts and feel the feelings, and to dream the dreams—and perhaps the nightmares—of the refugee. To see the truth of this, one only has to look at the definition of a refugee in the 1951 Convention. He or she is: a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, cannot return to his country of nationality. I find it quite impossible to imagine how any citizen of this country could ever fall under that definition. After all, what do we do with the sort of people who in other countries might become refugees? We let them work (or, at least, compete for employment); we let them say whatever they like within the law; we let them worship whatever God they choose, or refrain from worshipping any; we let them vote; we let them stand for Parliament—and even get elected to Parliament; and some noble Lords may feel that we even occasionally admit them to membership of this House. We do not persecute them, which is why, in the matter of refugees, this is a recipient country; a country of asylum and not a country of origin. We should not feel too complacent about this, but we should thank our lucky stars that it is so and take very great trouble to see that it remains so.

We should not be complacent either about our present performance. Our current economic climate and our over-sensitivity, as it seems to me, on the quite different subject of immigration, lays us constantly open to the temptation to behave more and more restrictively towards asylum seekers. The purpose of my speech today is to suggest one or two ways in which we might more fully and more helpfully discharge the obligations that we took on as signatories of the Convention. That document of course could only lay down broad principles. It would have been impossible for it to stipulate the precise mechanisms in all the widely differing signatory countries. In this country, responsibility for processing applications and for granting or refusing asylum rests with the Home Office. They are dealt with by the refugee section of the immigration and nationality division. However, it seldom seems possible to complete the process in fewer than about nine months. During this agonising period of waiting, the applicant is probably dependent on the Department of Health and Social Security for his survival. I shall concentrate chiefly on the Home Office sphere of responsibility. Of the DHSS, I say in passing that I hope it has studied closely and sympathetically the British Refugee Council's report enitled, "Asylum Seekers and the DHSS Regulations".

Many of the problems that asylum seekers and their advisers encounter seem to arise from what seem to me the unfathomable complexities of our immigration laws. What is called the immigration status of a refugee seems to depend upon exactly how he arrived here. In the nature of things, a man in fear of his life will get here by any means he can, even if it is not strictly legal. It seems to me wrong that he should then be consigned to an immigration status that may, for example, gravely prejudice his right of appeal if his first application is rejected. Refugees should not be confused with immigrants. Surely, either asylum seekers should be separated from the present immigration rules or the system should be so amended as to provide all asylum seekers with equal rights in the processing of their claims and in their treatment in the pre-asylum period.

Can I now say a word about access to advice? The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe recommended in 1981 that: The applicant shall receive the necessary guidance as to procedures to be followed and shall be informed of his rights. He shall enjoy the guarantees necessary for presenting his case to the authorities concerned and have the right to be heard … as well as the possibility to communicate freely with the office of the UNHCR and to approach avoluntary agency working for refugees". In practice, it seems to be largely a matter of luck. Those interviewed by the immigration service at Lunar House, Croydon, fare relatively well. There are very few complaints. But for many asylum seekers, their first and inevitably alarming confrontation with British authority is an immigration officer at the port of entry. Here, I am afraid, there is quite a lot of evidence that some immigration officers are lacking in training, in linguistic back-up, in knowledge of the sort of conditions that produce refugees or even, in some cases, in common courtesy. Would it be possible to ensure that asylum-seekers are interviewed by experienced officers of chief immigration officer level who have received training in basic refugee law and who have been provided in advance, if possible, with background information about the conditions in the asylum-seeker's country of origin? Should not the asylum-seeker be informed in writing, with verbal translation where necessary, where he can seek advice? And if he is detained, could not an appropriate agency be immediately told of his name and his whereabouts?

I referred earlier to the right of appeal against rejection of an application for asylum. On this subject, may I make two requests? The first is that the Home Office should give detailed reasons for its refusal. It is difficult to appeal against a decision if the reasons for it are not known. Detailed reasons might sometimes be of assistance to the applicant in making an application to some other country. Secondly, should not all asylum seekers have equal rights of appeal—even so-called illegal entrants or over-stayers? Do we hold it against a man that in fleeing from persecution, he has contravened some of the minutiae of our law of which he is probably ignorant in any case? The period between filing his application and the ultimate Home Office decision is a time of great difficulty for the asylum-seeker. Some of his needs are met, not always very generously, by the DHSS. But he is also forbidden to work. It is not uncommon for this phase to last as long as nine months or so. Would it not be more sensible, as well as more humane, to say that at least after six months of compulsory unemployment, he could take a job if he could find one?

If I had ordered this speech more skilfully, I could have put many more questions and suggestions to the noble Lord, who is to reply. He can perhaps feel grateful for my incompetence. I have deliberately left out most of the DHSS questions. I can perhaps make one general plea to the Department of Education and Science. Refugees and/or their children clearly have an extra need for education. They are, in several ways, disadvantaged in their access to our educational system. I wonder therefore whether the Department could consult with the appropriate and knowledg able agencies to work out improvements in the situation. As the noble Lord, Lord Elton, well knows, I have not given him notice of any of my questions, and I humbly apologise. I assure him that the great admiration that I have for him will in no way be diminished if he is unable to answer these questions off the cuff.

That would have been the end of my speech had I not seen in The Times yesterday a ghastly report from Singapore. I have to admit that this matter is only marginally relevant to the Motion, but it cannot be ignored. As noble Lords will know, the UNHCR worked out with the Government of Vietnam what was called the orderly departure programme, which was designed to discourage people taking to the boats and to regulate the exodus of refugees from Vietnam. This programme is breaking down. It is running out of money. The countries of first asylum in South East Asia are running out of places to which they can send refugees on. They are running out of acceptances in countries of resettlement. The camps are full to overflowing. In fact, we are witnessing what refugee-concerned people have come to know as compassion fatigue. The boat people are no longer fashionable. But they are still taking to the boats. However, now several shipping lines are deliberately avoiding sea routes where they are likely to encounter boat people. But not so the pirates. Since 1980 we read that 2,300 women have been raped on the high seas by these pirates; 1,400 people have been killed and murdered; and, of course, we shall never know the number who have simply drowned.

So my final sentence is as follows. Have Her Majesty's Government made, or are they thinking of making, any favourable reply to the requests which they must have received from the High Commission, either in terms of money or, better still, in terms of a more liberal quota of admissions for the boat people of Vietnam?

6.11 p.m.

Lord Swann

My Lords, I, too am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, but, unlike him and unlike the other noble Lords who either have spoken or are going to speak, I can count myself only a novice in the matter of ethnic minorities. My initiation, which was sudden and bewildering, took place only a little over two years ago, It came about because nearly five years ago, in the final months of the last Labour Administration and as a response to the 1977 Report of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, the then Government set up, under the chairmanship of Mr. Anthony Rampton, a committee of inquiry into the education of children from ethnic minority groups. The membership of the Committee was completed by the next Conservative Administration. The terms of reference were quite wide, ranging beyond the educational system. And, because it was suspected that West Indians did particularly badly at school, the committee was asked to make an interim report directed specifically at that problem. They set about their task, I know, with much vigour. They paid a great many visits, they sought much evidence and, early in 1981, they presented their report.

The aftermath was not happy. The chairman and several members of the committee resigned. The press savaged the report and the Government's response, to say the least, was muted. It was at that stage that I was asked by the then Secretary of State for Education to take on the chairmanship, and as a brand new Peer, brimming with a sense of social responsibility, I did so. But I have not found it an easy task.

Members of the committee felt, and still do feel, that the poor reception of their interim report was unfair, and so do I. It contained a large number of detailed recommendations and without doubt it has led to a greater consciousness within the educational system of the problems. However, it is worth spending a few moments to see why it had such a poor public reception, because this highlights some of the misconceptions that exist and some of the problems that have concerned us in preparing the final report.

The interim report gave much prominence to figures of school attainment by black children, derived from six local education authorities with high ethnic minority rolls, which did indeed indicate very marked under-achievement by blacks. The report went on to summarise the mass of evidence the committee had received which pointed to racial discrimination, particularly in schools. But, in spite of mentioning a variety of other factors which might also contribute to under-achievement and which were to be examine din detail in the final report, it came to be assumed by the public, and perhaps by teachers as well, that the interim report was laying the blame solely on the educational system, when in fact it was not doing so.

Moreover, the situation was exacerbated by the statistics of school attainment which also showed that, whereas blacks were doing badly, Asians were apparently doing just as well as the indigenous whites. Hence it was argued by the press that racism could not be the cause of poor black achievement since Asians are also the target of much racial discrimination; and the low IQ of blacks was cited, in some places at least, as the likely real cause—that is, it was alleged that blacks were simply not capable of doing so well as whites.

Some two and a half years on, we are still wrestling with these and other problems. We have received a lot more evidence on and from other ethnic minorities, primarily Asians, who of course represent not one ethnic minority but several, and on quite a number of smaller minorities. And we have managed to assemble some further statistical evidence.

We have commissioned from the National Foundation for Educational Research lengthy reviews of the research that has been done over many years on Asian and on the smaller minorities, just as the Rampton Committee commissioned a review of the research that had been done on blacks. But it has to be said that published research is not always as good or as illuminating as one might wish, and we have been able to commission for ourselves some research directed specifically at the questions we were asked to answer. Some of that has been quite exceptionally valuable. I have to say that we had great hopes of one research project—an investigation of the factors that lead to success or failure on the part of ethnic minorities within the educational system. But that, alas! we had to abandon for a variety of reasons. Therefore, we have had some disappointments.

But in spite of the complexity of the problem, I like to think that we have made some progress. We have now finished taking evidence and, with the help of our long-suffering and hugely dedicated secretariat, we are beginning to put our thoughts together, and I hope that it will not he too many months before we present our report.

Your Lordships will realise that this debate comes too early for me to be able to tell the House what our conclusions and recommendations are or will be. Some have yet to be formulated, others yet to be agreed, and, even where we have both agreed and drafted, I obviously cannot say what we have agreed.

However, in conclusion, I can perhaps make a few very general remarks. The public have a great tendency to want to believe statistics when, for whatever reason, it suits them to do so—whether they be statistics of economics, or crime, or, in this case, of school achievement and IQ. Simultaneously, the public think that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Speaking as a scientist, I have to say that this is mischievous nonsense, because statistics, if they are properly measured, are objective data, but whether they mean what naively they seem to mean is quite another matter. And nowhere is this more true than with the statistics that relate to such complex social and psychological issues as school attainment and IQ.

It is, for instance, well-established that the school attainments of white children are, in fact, highly dependent upon their socio-economic status. Socially deprived children do much worse than the children of the well-off. And, of course, by all the standard criteria of social deprivation, blacks are on average far worse off than whites. So raw statistics do not tell us whether blacks are under-achieving beyond the underachievement of comparatively deprived whites. Similar considerations, incidentally, apply to IQ figures sometimes supposed to be immutable and full of meaning. That, of course, brings us back to the well-known concept of a cycle of deprivation—namely, that deprived children do poorly at school, and this in turn leads them to yet further deprivation. I hope, but it is no more than a hope, that we may be able to illuminate the problem a little and disentangle, or start to disentangle, the complete web of possible factors involved, ranging from racial discrimination in the world at large and the job market and housing in particular, to the influence of education, and much else besides.

It will be evident from what I have said that the school performance of Asians or I should say most Asian groups, for some we believe are not doing so well—remains unexplained, for, on average, contrary to general belief, they are also more socially deprived than whites on many of the standard criteria. We hope to be able to say something about this phenomenon too.

All these matters are central to an understanding of the problems that beset our ethnic minorities. But I have deliberately not touched on the equally central problem of the proper nature of education in a society which has become increasingly pluralist, but a society nevertheless where the much vaunted British sense of fairness does not—alas!—reach much beyond a fair skin. Nor have I mentioned all the lesser concerns ranging from separate schooling to pre-school provision, to home and school interaction, to religous education, and so on.

I anticipate that we shall produce a very long report with a lot of background information, much opinion and, where we can find them, some objective data. Most of this is necessarily for the specialist reader. But we have already decided that there should be a chapter, which can scarcely be a short one, which will summarise our whole argument, so that this time we hope that the report will not be misunderstood and, outside the teaching profession, largely ignored. I hope that in due course your Lordships may find it worth reading.

6.22 p.m.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, I wish to concentrate for a short time only on one aspect of this issue, the aspect of employment, mainly because this is the only subject on which I am in the least qualified to speak, but also because I believe that if we could improve the employment position many of the other problems would begin to fall into place, for it is central to the whole question of race relations in this country.

First, I should declare an interest because of my association with a small organisation, Charta Mede, which exists to promote, on however small a scale, improved employment prospects for members of ethnic minorities. It has already been mentioned in the speeches that we have heard that the unemployment figures for members of ethnic minorities are considerably higher than those for whites. It is difficult to be dogmatic about this because the figures in which such statements ought to rest are really not very adequate. But such information as we have certainly makes it undoubtedly clear that, whatever the degree of difference, members of the ethnic minorities are undoubtedly at a very considerable disadvantage in regard to obtaining jobs.

However, this is complicated—as are so many of these figures, as the noble Lord, Lord Swann, has just pointed out—by another element, which in some ways is an even more alarming point, and that is that the members of ethnic minorities are to a much greater extent concentrated in semi-skilled and unskilled jobs in comparison with whites. Of course, people in semi skilled and unskilled jobs are far more likely to be out of work and to continue to be out of work in the foreseeable future than are people at other levels of employment. It is really this question of the employment status of blacks that is particularly important, and which is at the centre of the whole issue of employment.

Again, the figures cannot be totally relied upon, but the labour survey of 1981 suggested that the percentage of male Pakistanis and Bangladeshis over the age of 16 in the semi-skilled and unskilled grades was just over 40 per cent., and that the percentage of African/Caribbean males over 16 years of age was 37 per cent., compared with 20 per cent. for white British. That is an alarmingly high percentage in categories of skill for which the employment prospects are extremely bleak.

This is a matter of central importance, not only for the members of the ethnic minorities but for our society as a whole. If this continues and they are unable to get into the skilled grades—into the supervisory and managerial levels—and if they continue to be grossly over-represented among the unemployed, then as the years go on we shall have a concentration of unemployed who are also black and racially disadvantaged. We shall have inside industry, when they do get employment, a concentration of them at the lowest level of employment. We shall have white supervisory and managerial staffs with blacks at the lowest level. That is a recipe for disaster both in society and in industry as a whole. So I attach the very greatest importance to the issue of employment and all that goes with it—the educational side, the training side, and so on.

There are two approaches to dealing with this problem, and I want to talk about some practical action which could be taken here and now. In the first place, there has been a healthy development of small black businesses. Surely this is something which should be encouraged. Neither for black nor white is the development of small business the total answer to the employment problem, and it never will be; but it makes a contribution, and it is a contribution that should be encouraged. There is some evidence that those attempting to establish and run black businesses are having a good deal more difficulty in getting assistance through the loan guarantee scheme than their white counterparts.

The first question that I should like to ask the Minister is whether he will look into this and see whether, in fact, it is the case that it is far more difficult to receive this kind of assistance if one is black and trying to establish and maintain a business than if one is white; and, if this is so, whether he will see that some action is taken about it. Because it would be most unfortunate if this initiative to encourage black businesses, which has got going in recent years, were to fade away or he greatly discouraged because of the lack of financial assistance which in any small business starting up is of crucial importance in the early years before the business is fully established.

The second point, of course, is in relation, not to people who are running their own businesses but to those who are in employment. At last the code of practice issued by the CRE, and now approved by Parliament, is due to come into force in April next year. Surely this gives us an opportunity to make a fresh start, to give an impetus to improving the employment position in a number of different ways. I want to suggest a few of the things which might be done so that we can take advantage of the fact that the code is about to come into force; and it should be drawn to people's attention that a number of actions need to be taken.

The first point I should like to make has to do with the commission's ability to carry out investigations and to make public the findings of those investigations. I can only say that when an unfavourable report comes forward, as in the case of the Massey-Ferguson investigation, the telephone bells of those of us concerned with these questions begin to ring and we are told, "We have been reading the Massey-Ferguson report, and it seems to us that we are doing much the sort of thing as Massey-Ferguson were doing; will you tell us whether this is so, and, if so, what we ought to do about it? "Noble Lords may say that people ought to have known this in the first place, that they ought not to have needed the prod of an unfavourable report in some other enterprise in order to make them wake up and act. But the fact of the matter is that there has been very little drive behind the need to improve employment prospects; that businesses—and I fully recognise this—have had a great many other things on their plate to worry about; and that the difficulties of the CRE in carrying out investigations have meant that to a large extent employers have thought that they will not get involved in inquiries of this kind.

I have heard otherwise perfectly responsible and sensible people in industry say, "What is the chance of being caught, and what is the price if we are? "The trade unions have done extremely little to stir employers up. In those circumstances, with so many other problems confronting them, it is not surprising that the employers have done extremely little. But it must be the experience of those of us who are in any way connected with this that the evidence of action by the CRE means that they take notice and start asking questions about their own practices, which they would not do unless some prod of this kind was given. I would very much support what I believe the CRE are asking for in their proposals for change: that it should be much easier for them to undertake investigations and to carry out those investigations.

The second point I want to make has regard to the whole area of indirect discrimination. I do not believe that today there is a great deal of overt, direct discrimination of the cruder kind that we knew 10 years ago. You do not see notices, "No blacks should apply", and so on. But I know that we are riddled with indirect discrimination. I have done a certain amount of talking on this subject. I have found only one audience that even knew what indirect discrimination was. The vast majority of people think that it is a particularly devious and under-handed kind of discrimination, whereas it is in fact the discrimination which is so deeply embedded in the practices of the organisation that most people concerned do not even know that it is going on. This applies in business, where there is just as much discrimination against women as against members of the ethnic minorities.

The need is urgent to investigate whether in any organisation there is indirect discrimination; whether there are being laid down characteristics and requirements which are not justifiable in terms of the job, and which make it difficult for members of ethnic minorities to get those jobs. I again support the suggestion by the CRE that there should be liability for damages even if the indirect discrimination is not intentional, because most of it is not done intentionally. But added to the fact that people can say, "I have no intention to discriminate, and it cannot he proved that we are doing this", there is a safeguard in their own minds and they are not prodded into investigating as to whether or not discriminatory practices are in fact going on. It is certain that in a great many organisations they are, unwittingly and undetected. That is the second point, from the suggestions put forward by the CRE to which I should like to draw the Government's attention.

Then, when we move to the implementation of the code—which, after all, is only spelling out what is already implicit in the law—there is the whole question of recruitment, which is riddled with indirect discrimination. I want to make one or two particular points—and this ties up to some extent with what the noble Lord, Lord Swann, was saying—about the fact that it is true (and I think most people would agree that it is)that many West Indian children are switched off so far as school is concerned. Of course, I know that quite a number of white children are switched off so far as school is concerned, too. However, they come out of school without the qualifications and the examination successes which are appropriate for their abilities and their potential. They may not even themselves be aware of what that potential is if school has not meant a great deal to them.

This gives further force to the arguments which a number of educationists have been putting forward but which have not been put into practice to a large extent, for profiling rather than reliance on school examination results. I have two examples of the way in which this can work out. Not long ago I was looking at the intake for a good scheme, a two-year training programme, for technicians in a certain organisation which I shall not name. They had laid down certain CSE requirements for entry.

A number of West Indians applied for this scheme and practically all were turned down without interview because they did not have those requirements. There is a two-fold question here. One is whether those requirements were needed in the first place. The second is whether those West Indians, although they did not have the requirements, had the level of ability to take the training. That is what we need urgently to look at.

In a small scheme with which I have been connected myself dealing with only 10 West Indian youngsters, the collection of CSEs and O-levels between them is skimpy in the extreme. But when they were given another form of testing they all came in the top 25 per cent. of ability. You would never have gathered that by looking at their school record. So the question of entry requirements is really very important indeed.

The next point I want to make is about training. People are extremly critical about the Race Relations Act 1976, but it contains Sections 37 and 38, which allow for reverse discrimination in training for occupations in which a particular ethnic minority is greatly under-represented. These designated training courses have been undertaken. But I would urge strongly that they should be far more widespread in their application. This is all the more true if I am right in saving that the school-leaving results of many of these youngsters do not represent their potential. The entry into these schemes should he based on some form of testing, or profiling, which does not rely too heavily on school results.

The only other thing I should like to say follows the point made by my noble friend Lord Avebury about the Government's example in this regard. On a previous occasion I asked the Minister to what extent the Government themselves were using Sections 37 and 38 as an employer, because, after all, the Government are a big employer. I never give proper notice before I speak, for which I must apologise, but I did ultimately have a letter which I am hound to say did not tell me very much. It was quite a long letter. What I gathered from it was that very little was happening. It may be that I did not ask the question clearly enough. May I ask it more clearly tonight?

The previous Government produced an equal opportunities policy in, I think it was, 1973—at the latest, 1974. It is hard to see that this policy has produced much in the way of results. I know that the Government will tell us that they have been conducting experiments in monitoring in Leeds, but this is 1983, very nearly 1984, 10 years since that policy came out. Where in the higher levels of Government service are we finding members of ethnic minorities? To what extent have the Government on any occasion put in a training scheme for members of ethnic minorities for jobs in which they are not represented?

It is easier for Governments to do these things than for employers harassed, as they are, by the recession. It is not surprising if employers say, "Why should we be expected to do this when so little example is set to us by the Government as employers?"

6.39 p.m.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, in the course of his speech the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster—whom I wish to thank for introducing this vital issue, as it was described by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, in her engaging speech—made the point that the probability is that despite all the problems we have, ethnic and religious minorities in this country are better off than their counterparts in all other countries. If proof of that were required, all I would advise people to do is to read the debate that has been held on this issue in your Lordships' House this afternoon. The probability is that sometimes in both Chambers, in this House and in another place, the arguments on issues such as this can be bitter and the cut and thrust is a little deeper. What is remarkable is that this argument is not so much about ourselves, but about those who have come to live here. That reflects tremendously on the attitude of the people of this country.

It was inevitable that the issues of the police, education, housing and employment would bear the main burden of discussion. However, there is another angle which has not been mentioned; that is, the relationship between health and language. I am not talking about whether doctors should be able to speak English when they come to live in this country. That is absolutely necessary. Rather, I am concerned about people who have come here and raised families, but have never been fully able to grasp the language, and about the difficulties that they and their doctors have when illness occurs. As has been intimated by the BMA, this is an aspect concerning minority groups that the Government might want to consider.

We must congratulate the Government on the urban programme of £270 million, and it is to be hoped that in some parts of the country this factor has been taken into consideration. What is regrettable is that on the one hand the Government are sensible and generous with the urban programme, but spoil it all by cutting rate support grants, in particular for housing investment. What is more, the cut in rate support grant has hit most of all those local authorities which have the biggest problem of racial deprivation in the country. This must be understood.

The Government did not do it deliberately—but they did it. They enhanced discrimination. The noble Lord, Lord Morris, does not appear to hear me; I shall whisper this: the Government ought to be ashamed of it. This is fundamental. I have been to Liverpool, and to Cardiff, among other places. At one time it was customary for those of us in SouthWales to wonder why people of so many ethnic origins—Jews, Catholics, Arabs, blacks, Chinese, and Japanese, all living in Tiger Bay—could show the rest of us an example. They were usually made fun of by those fifth-rate BBC comics who couldearn—not earn, but receive—more in five minutes than some of those others could earn working for Britain all their lives. A remarkable example arose when the rumours of the disturbances first got round. It is true that the police were armed in the Tiger Bay area of Cardiff. But later, within one generation, that area became an example. After the Jews first came to Britain, within a generation or two they were producing individuals who could make—and who have made—a massive contribution to both the economy and the culture of our nation.

I want to ask the Government about the grant situation, in particular under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. Will they take on board the possibility of issuing new guidelines not only to those who now have problems, but also to those who might have problems as time goes by?

Much has been said in this Chamber about the Greater London Council, and not all of it has been very complimentary. I shall pay it a compliment tonight. To begin with, there is no authority like the GLC. It has undertaken a wide-ranging programme of consultation with many different ethnic communities. We are proud to have on our Front Bench this evening someone who is a member of an ethnic minority as well as a distinguished member of the GLC, and before that the LCC. I refer to my noble friend Lord Pitt of Hampstead. The GLC has adopted an equal opportunities policy for employment, backed up by a positive action programme. It has provided considerable direct assistance to ethnic minority groups through its grants programme. It has supported a large number of ethnic minority arts ventures. It has assisted the development of ethnic minority enterprises and, what is more, has advised many London boroughs on all aspects of anti-racism and race equality policies and practices.

I am hound to say, in all fairness, that while that record is extraordinarily good, much of it was carried out by Conservative predecessors in the GLC. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why what happened in Brixton and South all was confined to those two areas. I shall later say a little about Southall, but I think we should acknowledge that the laws we make in both these Chambers of Parliament are sometimes carried out to the full and involve a massive contribution by the local authorities that have to put them into practice.

On the issue of unemployment, perhaps the one thing that causes the greatest upset is that in our great inner cities, whether in Liverpool, Cardiff or any of the London boroughs, we see every day the lamentable sight of youth on the loose, because there is nothing else to do. There are some of us, such as myself, young enough to know how that kind of thing happened in the 1930s. We have a standard of living in this country which is terribly attractive to people from other parts of the British Commonwealth: yet at the same time we must acknowledge that a million of our young people are unemployed. It is about time that we took this situation seriously.

Another point is that through either insanity or inability we have not been able to reconcile the new technology with full employment. This must be something of which we must take cognisance. We are proud of our inventors and the wonderful things that can be done. We live in a world where man can walk on the moon, but we still cannot cure the common cold. We certainly have our priorities wrong. If there is one country that I believe can put that right, no matter what Administration is in power, it is my country.

I now want to talk briefly about one ghastly error that the police once made. We have heard magnificent speeches earlier this evening from my noble friend Lord Soper, and from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. Both were of the highest quality, and were totally different. Both noble Lords certainly enthralled me with the contributions they made. I wish to be critical in the constructive sense, similar to the religious sense of my noble friend Lord Soper, and the practical sense of the contribution of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. Let me explain briefly what happened in Southall. I shall do so, hoping that it will never happen again.

Southall is overwhelmingly an Indian town. There have never been any problems there whatsoever. There are people of various religions. We must understand that even within ethnic minorities there are sub-minorities. There are Sikhs and Moslems in Southall—no problems. Indeed, there are coloured Roman Catholics—no problems. A number of them decided they would have ademonstration, almost like a gay carnival. Nothing of a serious nature ever happened. But some police officer somewhere was so ignorant, so destitute of understanding when this great protest took place. People went to see because it was so colourful. There had not been one blooded nose in the entire 30 years that people had gone there. Someone suffering, I think, from some form of rheumatism, a senior police officer—sent down a few hundred tough, hard, special patrol group policemen. Within half an hour of their appearance scuffles and fights started, and a New Zealand schoolteacher was slain. That was a very serious situation because why were these things all so pacific? We were lucky in Southall in those days in having two brilliant police officers, Mr. Bernard Dee and Mr. Arthur Fanning, who had managed the situation for nearly 15 years and had brought about an almost ideal situation between a large ethnic minority and the previous people who had lived in that area.

We ought to be proud of this and I cannot understand why police officers of that calibre are not used to train younger police officers of the day because they had the experience of maintaining the peace that was there and of introducing all sorts of innovations of which policemen were a central part. Policemen were asked to come and do all sorts of things in the schools by the Asian and coloured minorities. And that was ruined by one absurd decision, because the talents of these two first-class police officers were not used to the fullest extent that they might have been. But they made a very considerable contribution.

From the Government's point of view, I suppose that they have made a contribution in education, too. This is the age of the cuts. Also they are not concerned with our future, and that is a had thing because, in my opinion, once you start cutting back on any form of education you are jeopardising the future. Let us take just one example: the threat to the North London Polytechnic. It was a superb polytechnic that had made a magnificent contribution and was known throughout the country and throughout the world. One can only conclude that somebody who secretly had a grudge against London and against Britain did what they did to the North London Polytechnic. One wonders how many others, from kindergarten to comprehensive and on to polytechnic, have suffered from this situation. Here again, the agony is that this policy hits the overcrowded areas with the biggest racial mix.

On the other hand, we have to be fair. We can take a great deal of encouragement from what successive Governments have done to help to prevent or curb any vicious form of racialism because, as the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, has said, although many of us on all sides of this Chamber are upset that certain things occur, and we know there is a great deal still to do, a great deal has been accomplished by Governments of both complexions. I think that should go on the record as well.

The comparison is easy to make. We have only to look at the United States of America with their 11 million black men, where there are still evil and ugly examples of Klu-Klux-Klan's violent racialism. calculated—not in a moment of great excitement in a clash, but deliberately worked out—and defeated only by the hideous, appalling policies of South Africa. Therefore we can understand that people do not want to rush to South Africa or to some of the southern states of America. But they know that they can have a square deal and can be encouraged at least in this country. So despite all the things that we are apprehensive about, I think we want to remember that by and large we are not doing too bad a job. But we must not be too complacent and we have to remember that there is still a great deal to be done.

In Great Britain racial disadvantage is a fact of life. It is slowly diminishing, and one can see this particularly in the younger generations coming along. However, we still have to work to ensure that ethnic origin will not in any way determine one's economic status. And, if I may say so, the minorities must also be prepared to accept certain aspects of integration into this ancient society of ours because they, too, must not discriminate either against one another or against a people who were for centuries born here. I think it is far better that should be said in a debate like this, possibly by a person with my feeling for ethnic minorities, than by anyone else. I know that no charge will be levelled against me for being in any way hostile to the people who have come from other countries to this country in my lifetime. I know that they are capable of making a contribution to our society, as we have shown in the past when other groups of people have come here.

In conclusion, I want to say that we must have an ideal to work towards. I have always believed that it does not matter if you do not really achieve it; but if you have an ideal you can move along generally in the right direction. I should like us to continue the work that we are doing so that we shall become one people, diverse in origin and religion but nevertheless one nation. With our united aim, all of us can make life worth living for us all.

Lord Morris

My Lords, I must ask your Lordships' indulgence, and indeed forgiveness, for leaping up in the gap on the list of speakers. However, I am provoked to make just one short comment, I wish neither to develop that and, still less, to draw a conclusion from it. It is simply that I do find it sad and not a little disturbing that not one of my noble friends on the Back-Benches has seen fit to contribute to this very important debate.

6.57 p.m.

Lord Walston

My Lords, we are coming to the end of this debate and I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, is happy about it. We certainly owe him very much, not only for his introduction of the debate but for the fact that we have been privileged to listen to so many really outstanding speeches. Also, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Morris, has intervened in the way that he has. I am only sorry that he did not say more, because the only sad aspect of this debate is that, apart from the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government, there have been no speakers from the Government Benches. I am sorry to say that I think there is some significance in that. I do not think it is purely fortuitous that none of those who are interested in these matters happened to be free today or that they all had important and pressing engagements. I do believe it signifies that there is no real depth of feeling among the party opposite, and I am sorry to say this and to introduce a note of party politics into a debate that has been singularly free of it. But there is no real depth of feeling concerning these matters and these injustices of which we have heard and, without that depth of feeling, we shall never make the progress that those of us who are here this evening want to see made.

My mind goes back some 21 years to when I introduced into your Lordships' House a Bill of which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, was the godfather—he being then in another place—a Bill to outlaw racial discrimination. It was an interesting debate, which repays some reading at the present time. But reading the report again, as I did the other day and casting my mind back, I could not help having a great feeling of optimism—rather different, perhaps, from what has been expressed by most noble Lords who have spoken this evening. That is because in those 21 years enormous progress has been made.

The Bill was rejected by your Lordships on the advice of the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir, on the ground that it was unnecessary, it was impracticable, it did not work and everything would be all right without it. But we now have something which is very much stronger than that very modest Bill attempted to be. We have demonstrated to everybody in this country that racial discrimination, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin or of religion, is disapproved of by the country as a whole and by Governments of all complexions.

I should like to say that it is hated by them and by us all, but I am afraid I cannot say that—I hope the time will come when I can say that—and, until there is real abhorrence of this attitude, the progress will be slow. So I start on a somewhat optimistic note, but I am certainly far from complacent because so much more remains to be done. Prejudice still exists, and prejudice will always exist, but I think we have to live with that.

I confess to prejudices. I probably have many that I do not recognise, and I say quite freely that, if I meet somebody whom I do not know and who speaks to me in a Scottish accent, my prejudice says. "This is an honest chap. I believe what he says". I do not want to say anything behind the backs of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, or the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, but, if I am introduced to somebody who speaks with a Welsh accent, I immediately say "Shouldn't I watch him a little bit? Does he really mean what he is saying?" Those are prejudices. They are not based on any of the statistical data about which the noble Lord, Lord Swann, spoke, which must be looked at carefully. Where the prejudice comes from, I do not know.

We should be deceiving ourselves if we believed that we could abolish prejudice. But what we must do is to make sure that it does not exist in any official actions, in any public actions, and it must not be present in such a way as to act to the detriment of those against whom, or on behalf of whom, we have those prejudices. I am quite certain—and one noble Lord spoke of this—that the more we get to know each other, the more those prejudices will disappear. We must judge people on their own merits, just as people who understand wine will judge it by its taste and not by the label on the bottle. It is the essence of snobbishness to judge people by their exterior and not by their worth. We must fight against that attitude.

This discrimination—and this has come out in many noble Lords' speeches—is most apparent in employment, and particularly is it apparent at this time of high unemployment. We all know—and there is a vast amount of supporting statistics for this—that it is the ethnic minority who suffer most when there is high unemployment. I shall not weary your Lordships with many statistics at this stage, but between 1975 and 1982, while unemployment overall rose by some 300 per cent., unemployment among the black population rose by 500 per cent. They were hit very nearly twice as hard as the rest of the population as a whole.

Possibly rather more significant, a survey which was carried out in 1981 by the Commission for Racial Equality found that 44 per cent. of white fifth-formers were able to get craft apprenticeships when they left school, whereas only 15 per cent. of West Indians and 13 per cent. of Asians were able to acquire similar craft apprenticeships. I am sure that that is not because the employer said, "We will not have blacks," or, "We will not have Asians", but it is the type of indirect discrimination to which my noble friend Lady Seear referred in her most interesting speech. Employment, therefore, is one of the main factors which we have to combat and of which we must he aware.

I shall not speak at any great length, as many other noble Lords have done so, but I should like to touch on the role of the police in this matter. They have an enormously important task, because they are in contact with all the people in this country, particularly with ethnic minorities, and they are fully aware of their job, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, rightly pointed out to us. We must not underrate their difficulties, because they have enormous difficulties, and in the main they fulfil their tasks well. But there is no question that, as was brought out in the report to which other noble Lords have referred, there is among some members of the police force, particularly at the lower levels, a racially discriminatory trend.

I do not believe that it is possible in recruiting young policemen to be able to assess, by any tests, whether or not they are liable to that sort of attitude. But I believe very strongly that young policemen, in common with young people from all walks of life, are enormously susceptible to the opinions of those immediately above them in authority—not the great big bosses at the top, not the managing directors, the chief constables or the major-generals, but their immediate superiors with whom they are in contact every day. Until the police force is able to ensure that those who have the job of looking after the young recruits, the young constables, have no tendency to discrimination, and are not in any way racialists themselves, we shall continue to get what was so disquietingly pointed out in this report.

It is particularly disquieting to read on page 385 of the report that: Senior officers seldom try to set a different tone, though they do on occasion, and there were some cases where they initiated racialist talk and kept it going". This is something—whether there is a disciplinary code or not—which must be stamped out now and stamped out ruthlessly, because not only will its continuation seep through the police force as those young men get up to higher levels, but it will also continue to sour relations between those whose job it is to imbue a respect for the law in the population and those whose temptation is to look on the representatives of law as their natural enemies.

There is one further aspect on which I should like to touch, and which I do not think has been mentioned; that is, the importance of small businesses in the matter of ethnic minorities. One of the most stabilising factors in our society is the gradation between the unemployed, the job-seekers, the self-employed, the people who have their own small businesses and all the way up to our big enterprises. Until we can make that gradation available to our ethnic minorities, we shall not solve the problem of creating a really homogeneous and stable society.

In June of this year a survey was carried out under the auspices of the Runnymede Trust, entitled Black Business Enterprise in Britain. It looked at Brent and showed that there has been some growth in small businesses, particularly among Asians. But it also pinpointed the difficulties that have to be overcome by people who are attempting to set up businesses. I shall read one or two extracts from their recommendations. On page 9 of the survey they recommend that: An awareness programme on the lines of the government's Business Opportunities Programme should be introduced at a local level to inform black minority entrepreneurs and their advisers about financial and other aid from both the public and private sectors and the conditions for securing such aid. The report goes on to recommend: The Government should urge the banks to use the loan guarantee scheme more frequently to create additional lending to black minority groups … Seminars and courses for starting in business and developing established businesses should be offered by local colleges and enterprise development organisations and should be orientated to black communities … In predominantly black neighbourhoods, bank services should be marketed to black firms and the training of bank managers should be introduced to sensitise them to the needs of black firms". Those are small, cheap, easily implemented recommendations, but they would have a considerable impact upon this problem and in very large measure would help to build up the kind of community for which we are looking.

May I now make one or two suggestions for positive action which both the Government and local authorities can and should take to encourage and help minorities to play their full part in the life of this country? I would underline what the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, said about the GLC. I know nothing about local government, and certainly I take no stand at this stage on the desirability or otherwise of the proposed actions concerning the GLC, but in this respect the council has done not only very good and useful work but work which no other local authority within the London area is in a position to do. Credit should be given to the GLC for that, and other local authorities should he encouraged to follow its example.

The Government should also, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, mentioned, increase the recruitment and promotion of ethnic minorities in the civil service. This country has had coloured minorities for a long, long time. A few members of the ethnic minority groups are employed by the Civil Service, but the proportion in the higher grades is lamentably low. The Government have a direct responsibility for the Civil Service. I come back to my initial remarks. If the will is there, if we in this country are determined to abolish racial discrimination, it can be done. It is only when half-hearted lip service is paid to the abolition of racial discrimination that feet are dragged and nothing comes of it. So there must be Civil Service recruitment and promotion and increasingly the appointment of coloured people to Government bodies of different kinds—not the "statutory black" whom you have to have, but the promotion of coloured people on merit. Plenty of them have proved their merit. There must also be an increasing number of justices of the peace.

To reinforce what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and other speakers, very firm instructions should be given to our immigration service to treat all would-be immigrants, whether or not they are refugees, with politeness and humanity. My noble friend Lord McNair made this point very strongly and eloquently. It is many years now since I stood beside immigration officers and watched them deal with people who had just alighted from aeroplanes which had brought them from India and Pakistan. While I stood there I saw no example of rudeness but I saw little example of humanity and understanding.

When I spoke to the immigration officers afterwards I gained the very strong impression that it was rather a game to them—that there were many illegal immigrants who were trying to prove their claim to enter this country and that, as they had no such claim, the officers' job was to prevent them from entering this country. They said they knew they caught some of them but that others got through. It was a form of game to them which was taken seriously but not with understanding and humanity. I hope that that attitude may have changed. If it has not changed I hope the Government will ensure that it does change straight away.

Most members of the ethnic minorities in this country, in contradistinction to the position 21 years ago, have been born in Great Britain. They are native-born citizens of this country and subjects of Her Majesty. They are just as British as those who came over with William the Conqueror, as those, like the ancestors of my noble friend Lord McNair, who came over with the Huguenots and as those who came over as refugees from Nazi Germany and oppression on the Continent. They must be treated as British. We must understand with our hearts as well as with our heads not that they are foreigners who should be treated differently but that they are our fellow countrymen.

7.18 p.m.

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

My Lords, we are very grateful to the noble Viscount for giving us this oportunity to look at the situation of ethnic and religious minorities in this country. This is a very important subject and I am glad that we have had a good and constructive debate. I hope that the Minister will not mind if I say I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Morris, that it is a pity that none of his Back-Benchers was there to support him.

How to make it possible for people of different races and different cultures to live together in equality and friendship is one of the biggest problems confronting the world today. This country has a splendid oportunity to make a contribution to the solution of this problem. It is extremely important that this opportunity should be seized with alacrity. The opportunity has arisen because of our imperial past. During the Second World War many black British citizens came to this country to fight for the motherland. Many others came to work in the factories which produced the sinews of war. At the end of the war many of them took their "demob" in this country and found that this country needed their labour. They therefore encouraged those of their comrades who had returned home—many of them to unemployment—to return to this country because their labour was needed. They came here and they found that that was true—and they sent similar messages to their relations and friends.

In that way, the post-war migration started as a trickle, became a stream, and—as many people say—it later became a flood. However, it is important to remember that those people came here because their labour was needed. In other words, there was a strong pull factor. There was also a push factor, in that there was heavy unemployment in the countries they left. But it was the pull factor that mattered. Thus employment was not a problem in the 1950s and the early 1960s.

Admittedly, many of those who came had to take jobs beneath the level of their qualifications. Thus we had graduates working as bus conductors and railway porters—but they had jobs. Housing was then the problem because there was a shortage of houses; it was in that area they experienced the greatest discrimination. But they endured that discrimination and they managed by many means to join together to buy houses which they shared and to rent rooms to each other. and even to endure the many racketeer landlords. They endured it all because they felt that the conditions would be better for their children and grandchildren.

Unfortunately, matters have not worked out that way. Those who came in the 1950s and early 1960s had jobs and many of them were even able to continue in those jobs until retirement age. In fact, there is now a substantial section of the elderly community who are members of the ethnic minorities. But for their children, many of whom were born here, and for their grandchildren, who were all born here and who are growing up here, the situation is, unfortunately, quite different.

Numerous local surveys have shown that it is two to three times as hard for ethnic minority youths to find work as it is for young whites. A survey of black and white school-leavers in Lewisham showed that young blacks were three times as likely to be unemployed as young whites. The survey found that educational attainment did not appear to be the critical factor in accounting for the different success rates in the job search. The report concluded, It is difficult to escape the conclusion that discrimination, he it intentional or unintentional, was an important factor in accounting for the difficulties faced by the black sample in the search for work. Black school leavers have in the past been accused of lacking motivation and of having unrealistic aspirations, of not looking for jobs through the most effective channels, and of not being prepared to travel for work. None of these accusations was borne out by young people interviewed in this survey. The young blacks we interviewed were looking for jobs just as hard and efficiently as their white peers but were still being markedly less successful". Research also shows that ethnic minority school-leavers are less likely than white school-leavers to be successful in gaining a craft apprenticeship, even when they leave school with similar or even higher basic qualifications. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, has already quoted the CRE survey in Birmingham. That showed that while 49 per cent. of white boys were successful in gaining craft apprenticeships, only 15 per cent. of West Indians or Asians were able to do so. Thus it is racial discrimination which is the basis of our problem. It is against racial discrimination that we must battle. Racial discrimination in employment is still widespread, despite the fact that it is illegal.

Racial discrimination in employment is crucial, and I make no apology for dealing with the matter in spite of the fact that it has been dealt with before by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and the noble Lord, Lord Walston. If a man is discriminated against in the employment he obtains, it also affects the type of housing he can afford. If there is also discrimination in housing, that will probably restrict the area in which he can live. These together will probably decide the type of schooling which his children will receive. That in turn will determine the sort of jobs they can hold. Thus, there is a vicious circle.

It does not stop there. If that cycle goes on long enough, it will be accepted as the norm, and then I can tell your Lordships what will happen and what is already happening. One will find that there are clever academics who will set out to prove that such people are in the position they are in because they are inferior intellectually and in other ways. That is a recipe for social discord and social disaster.

We must take every possible step to eliminate racial discrimination, particularly in employment. All employers should be encouraged to develop equal opportunity policies. Many of them are doing so at the present time and should be encouraged. And others should be encouraged to follow suit. The Government have a particular part to play in this. I have said that before and I make no apology for repeating it. It is a shame that the Government do not play the part that they should.

The Government are the largest employer of labour. They have influence on the policies of local authorities. The Government own the nationalised industries, and they are the largest provider of contracts. Equal opportunity policies in all those fields will create the climate for equal opportunity policies to become the norm. It is about time that the Government took that on board. The local authorities are already doing better than central Government in many cases. My noble friend Lord Molloy has already told us about that and about what the GLC is doing. There are other local authorities who have taken such policies on board. It is the Government who hesitate to take it on board.

The other important initiative—which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, also mentioned—is the encouragement of black businesses. Here, I wish to put some questions to the noble Lord the Minister, but he will probably have to write to me about them. The Government can do a lot more in this sphere. The experimental stage of the loan guarantee scheme is scheduled to end in April 1984. As far as I can gather, decisions will then be taken on the future of the scheme. A recent study has shown that none of the banks—note the word "none"—had used the scheme to assist any of the 120 Asian and Afro-Caribbean businesses that were surveyed. The Home Affairs Committee of the other place did in fact recommend that the Government should monitor the participation of ethnic minorities in the scheme. I must therefore ask the Government what steps they are taking to urge the clearing banks to use the loan guarantee scheme more frequently in order to create lending to black minority groups? Also, what steps have been taken to urge local authorities to lend all or part of the remaining 20 per cent. which is not guaranteed under the scheme? Again, what steps have the Government taken to monitor the participation of ethnic minorities in the scheme, as they were requested to do by the Select Committee in the other place?

Drawing on the American experience, the Commission for Racial Equality has recommended to the Department of Industry—that is Trade and Industry these days—that a specialist unit be set up within the department to formulate and administer programmes that will assist the development of black business. This could be modelled on the Office of Minority Business Enterprise which was set up within the United States Department of Commerce in 1969. I am sure the Government know about this. Can the Government tell us what they have done or propose to do about this?

I said earlier that some local authorities are doing better than the Government. Some local authorities fund experimental projects under the partnership programme. In fact, the London Borough of Hackney—which, as the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, told your Lordships I represented for 16 years in County Hall—has been doing so. Will the Government say what steps they are taking to encourage other local authorities to do likewise? These are all straight forward steps that the Government can take.

The Manpower Services Commission sponsors training courses for ethnic minorities starting up or expanding small businesses. Will the Government say to what extent they are encouraging the MSC to develop and expand this sponsorship. The Department of Industry can expand its small firms sources by opening offices in disadvantaged areas of inner cities, financially supporting business advisory services, and including among its advisers people with experience of the problems faced by black businesses and who are sensitive to their needs. Has that been considered?

There is a great deal of expertise in this field on the other side of the Atlantic. I hope that the Government will study carefully some of the successful methods used in the United States. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, here. He has obviously only known the United States of 20 or 30 years ago because things have moved forward there to a tremendous extent and they have done so because the Government have acted. As a consequence, we now have black people in all areas of activity in the United States. We now have lots of black congressmen. There is not one black MP. We now have black people in the Senate. Right! we can have black Ministers in the Cabinet! What is more, the mayors of most of the large cities are black, and a black man was nearly elected as governor of the largest state in the United States of America. None of these things would have been possible without Government action.

I have concentrated my speech on the problem of employment because, frankly, I regard it as basic. But there are many other important areas. It is essential that black people should be, and be seen to be, ordinary members of the society. I am speaking in the presence of a former chairman of governors of the BBC. It is to the shame of the BBC, particularly because they were ahead of the IBA in being established, that they have never done the job that they could do, despite foolish people like me trying to point it out to them. All that was ever required over the past 20 years was what they are now starting to do; that is, presenting people of colour as ordinary members of the society. When they are presenting a play where a character can be black or white, and it would not matter, all that was needed was that they made sure that they had black characters; people would then have accepted them.

I know what I am saving because I had an experience in 1949 which registered with me. I was then an assistant to a Dr. Stoute in Chiswick. He was black; he came from Barbados. Dr. Stoute came to me one day and said, "I have a joke for you". I said, "What is that?" He replied, "I visited a patient in this block of flats and there were two kids playing in the courtyard. The first one said to the other, 'There goes a black man'. And the other one said. 'Don't be a fool; that's no black man, that's the doctor!'" I have always thought that that acceptance would have been readily available, not only for doctors but for all other people, if they were presented in that way to the man in the street. That is what the BBC could have done for the past 20 years and has not done. I must confess that they are beginning to do it now. Another confirmation of the point I am making is that my son told me one day that somebody said to him, "You talk posh like Trevor McDonald". Those are the things that register with the man in the street. He accepts Trevor McDonald as someone to look up to. That is what you want, a lot of such activities.

I remember in 1970 having a discussion with Reggie Maudling, who was then Home Secretary; I was then Deputy Chairman of the Community Relations Commission. Reggie said, "The day half the English football team is black and we are winning, you and I will not have to talk about community relations often". We have not reached the stage where half the team is black—and as a matter of fact the team is not doing very well either—but we do have several blacks in the squad. Of course, nearly half the English track and field team at the last Olympics—and I am sure it will be the case at the next—are black. We already have several in our cricket team.

There are other areas in which we want to have black people. I have already mentioned the other place. We could have more blacks here, too. There is also the important part that I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor could play. There are plenty of good black lawyers with experience who could be appointed to the Bench. What we want to see are a few black judges and a few black stipendiary magistrates. These things can be done. What is more, it is my view that this country would benefit tremendously from having a few black diplomats.

I have spoken for long enough, and, since many noble Lords have already raised the question of the police, I shall not. I was sad to read the report. For the past 20 years I have been telling the police that this sort of development was inevitable in the way they were proceeding. I was not only telling them, but also their bosses at the Home Office, of what has gone on. All I can say is that I hope that at long last they will grasp the nettle. It is the police that the man in the street meets first, and if the situation is bad with the police it spoils the whole community. It is about time the Home Office understood that.

Finally, I want to say that I have often been asked about the future of race relations as I see them. I have always answered in the same way, and I will do so again tonight. In fact, we can go two ways. We can end up having a society of which we can all be proud, or we can end up having a terrible society. The penultimate line of the Trinidad national anthem is: Here every creed and race finds an equal place". I am not asking your Lordships to change our national anthem to include those words, but I am asking that we pray to achieve it and work to ensure that we do.

7.42 p.m.

Lord Elton

My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, has focused attention on what is, without doubt, a subject of very great importance to the future development of the whole of our society and which, as the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, said, is not by any means restricted to areas of high ethnic minority settlement. I have spent most of this morning crossing things out of my speech to make it shorter, and, thanks to the stimulating nature of the contributions by your Lordships, most of this afternoon writing things back in to make it longer. I only pray that as a result I have achieved a proper balance.

The world and this country have changed since our fathers' days and. as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, reminds us, we must change with them. Britain is both a multiracial and multicultural society. As the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in a passage which was quoted by the right reverend Prelate, we can either work at it until it becomes something in which we can take pride and delight, or we can neglect it until it drifts into something which we must lament, and of which we must be ashamed. This is a matter to be seen in proportion.

About 4 per cent. of the population—some 2 million people—belong to ethnic minority communities. Their representation in the Olympic teams is a striking triumph in that context. Their cultural and religious heritage is rich and diverse, but they share with us all one common feature—they belong to this country. Almost half of them were actually born here, and many more were brought up in this country and know no other home. They play an increasingly important part in every area of the life of this country. What is more, as we have seen in the Falklands, and as we still see in Northern Ireland, they are prepared, if necessary, to defend it. They belong to us. If anyone doubted that, they should have listened to the impressive contribution to this debate of the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, in which he paraphrased the words of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The members of the ethnic minorities in this country are committed to it, and it is right that the country should be committed to their well being and to ensuring that they are able to play a full and proper part in its life. The Government have that commitment. The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, reminded us that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, when he visited Bradford in the summer, placed on public record his determination that members of every ethnic minority should enjoy equality before the law and equality of opportunity, which are the priceless heritage of all our fellow countrymen.

Noble Lords remarked upon the absence of my noble friends who usually sit behind me and it is, of course, always a lonely feeling if one does not have all one's friends with one. But if I needed support, and if there had been a Division and heads were to be counted, they would have been here. What is more germane is that if they had not agreed with me, and if they were not in support of the Government's commitment to their racial policy, they would have been here. Their absence, in fact—and in a strange way—reflects credit on this side of the House.

We are committed to equality. As the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, so clearly and eloquently demonstrated, we do not have it now. If that equality is to exist in fact as well as in form, it will take more than mere enforcement of the law, and it will not be achieved overnight. We have to address ourselves to private attitudes and prejudices which are sometimes very deeply held among both the majority and the minority of our people. Much prejudice arises out of fear, and much fear arises out of ignorance. A great deal of both can be dismantled quite easily in our schools where our children can learn not simply from the staff, but from their fellow pupils who are the best qualified teachers of all.

That process has begun, but it will take a generation, and it will not immediately reach beyond the areas in which the ethnic minorities are settled. Moreover, the process of settlement still continues and time is needed for a balancing process. It is not simply a process of assimilation, as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, reminded us, because that implies a removal of the cultural and religious distinctions of the minority that are crucial to their identity. It is, rather, the process by which totally different people become compatible as neighbours and happy as friends without diminishing their individuality. That is what we wish to achieve.

I take the noble Viscount's point about the deprivation that exists in some third world countries, but I do not believe that that vital aim is achievable without a carefully controlled immigration policy that will prevent the process becoming overloaded, and which will reassure those by whom ethnic minorities of any kind are still perceived as a threat.

Everything I say must be seen in the ring fence of that control, from which a great number of our fellow citizens draw considerable comfort and which enables them not to see their ethnic minority fellow citizens as a potential threat. The fence is important, but it should be sustained with courtesy as well as firmness. It usually is, and where it is not I shall be obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and the noble Lord, Lord McNair, for information or an indication of where I should look. In the same spirit, for illustration of what I understand are scandalous examples of racial incitement I shall look with close interest at the documents which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has passed to me for consideration.

Racial discrimination is still a grim fact of life for far too many of our fellow citizens. This Government do not, any more than their predecessors, turn their back on that sorry state of affairs. Legislative provision against racial discrimination is contained in the Race Relations Act 1976, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin. It established the Commission for Racial Equality, and gave it a statutory duty. That duty is to work towards the elimination of discrimination; to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups generally; and to keep the working of the Act under review and submit proposals for amending it to the Home Secretary. Earlier this year the commission issued a consultative paper seeking views on its tentative proposals for amending the law. Your Lordships referred to this, and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked about the next stage. Following this consultation the commission will be submitting its firm proposals to the Home Secretary, I understand, probably in the new year. When they are received they will be given very careful consideration. As they are not yet firm, I cannot comment on them.

The 1976 Act does not apply to discrimination on the ground of religion, but the judgment in the recent case of Mandla v. Lee made it clear that religion is one factor, and an important one, to be taken into account when determining whether or not a group constitutes a racial group for the purposes of the Act. As a result, it has been established that Sikhs are such a racial group. This decision was warmly welcomed by members of the Sikh community and by all those, including the Government, who are concerned to promote good race relations. Your Lordships will also know from the legislation exempting Sikhs from the compulsory wearing of motor-cycle crash helmets that the law recognises and caters for such minorities.

The law can define the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, but personal and institutional attitudes have deeper foundations. These, too, can be expressed in law, and the derivatives of law. The Code of Practice for Employment of the Commission for Racial Equality was recently approved by Parliament and comes into force on 1st April 1984. It contains guidance for employers on, for example, the importance to Moslem employees of observing prayer times and religious holidays. It recommends that employers should consider whether they can reasonably adapt work requirements to meet cultural and religious needs.

Encouraging employers to consider the cultural needs of their workforce is an important element in establishing mutual respect and understanding and thus eliminating the ethnic stratification (if I can so call it) of businesses, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has warned us. May I thank the noble Baroness for putting her question on Sections 37 and 38 of the Race Relations Act so clearly? I shall try to see that my next letter to her on the subject is both shorter and more informative than the last. The loan guarantee scheme, to which she referred, is open, and is intended to be open, to all sections of the community. We are eager to see that this is so. I shall take careful note of the various suggestions made by noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, as to how this could be encouraged.

As to the comments of the House of Commons Select Committee on the loan guarantee scheme, the Government responded in detail to the committee report on racial disadvantage issued in July 1981 in a White Paper issued shortly after that report. I refer noble Lords to that.

Before barriers can be removed at work, it is essential to eliminate discrimination at the point of employment. That is particularly important at the present time, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said. Her noble friend Lord Walston illustrated that vividly. The CRE code of practice gives practical guidance on this vital matter. One of its recommendations is that employers should monitor equal opportunity as a matter of course. Ethnic monitoring will show whether equal opportunity policies are working as they should. That is why the Government instituted a pilot study in Leeds last year. Following its success we have introduced permanent voluntary arrangements for recording the ethnic origin of non-industrial civil servants in two areas—the North-West and the County of Avon. This was only last month and no results are yet available. But it is a significant move forward and we hope that our lead will be followed by other employers.

While I am on this subject I would say that the central theme in all MSC temporary employment and training programmes is equal access and usage. In the youth training schemes, for example, the MSC has set up, in consultation with the CRE, a number of enabler posts to help minority groups to participate more actively in sponsoring schemes. The MSC has also increased provision for work-related language training. It is estimated that over 5 per cent. of entrants to the youth training scheme are from the ethnic minorities. Figures from the community programme are not likely to be available before mid-1984. The chances of a person getting a job are often largely determined by his education. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has reminded us, I recognise that examination results are not the only, or sometimes the best, indicators of ability. Members of my family have had occasion to persuade me of this in the past.

In education, too, the Government are committed to the principle of equal opportunity founded on respect for the family and the religious background of all pupils. The importance of this is illustrated by the fact quoted by the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, that 147 languages are spoken in the ILEA district alone. In the area of education we find regrettable evidence that some, although by no means all, ethnic minority children are not achieving their full potential. This and many other practical questions are at present under review by the committee of inquiry into the education of ethnic minority children chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Swann. The Government look forward to receiving its report shortly. That appetite has been sharpened by the noble Lord's contribution this afternoon. I can tell him that the recommendations of the interim report, produced under the chairmanship of Mr. Rampton, were brought to the attention of the education service as a whole by the Department of Education and Science in a wide ranging consultation which also covered the report of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on racial disadvantage.

I turn briefly to the religious aspects of education. The object must surely be to keep faith with the spirit of the law written in the 1944 Act. We must put before our children the scripture and values of Christianity and the aspirations of a Christian community; and we must do so not only in assembly but in the life of the school as a whole. But we must do so against a background of both understanding and tolerance of others, for, although it may aspire to be a Christian community, the school—and certainly the county school—cannot always proceed as though it were a community of Christians. Manifestly, often it is not.

Where a school has pupils (perhaps even a majority of pupils) whose allegiance is to another faith, the range and content of assembly must be such that their convictions and values are respected, and even reflected, in it. They must feel that this community gathering is something in which they have a proper share and a valid part to play. Had the members of the National Front referred to by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester received a better balanced education they might have had a better balanced attitude to the rest of mankind. I am certain that one of the most important influences to be exerted will be exerted by the teachers who are committed Christians, regardless of the subject that they teach. Teaching is an honourable calling for Christian men and women, and the profession stands in great need of them.

The Government continue to increase their support for work to meet the special needs of ethnic minorities, not only in the field of education but throughout local government activity, by means of grants to local authorities paid under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. Since we came to office, Exchequer payments under Section 11 have increased. They were £29 million in 1979; they are now estimated at £70 million for the current financial year. The greater part of this money goes into education, but local authorities are encouraged to identify areas outside education as potential fields for grant. They are also encouraged to adopt a strategic approach to meeting the needs of their ethnic minority communities and to consult with those communities before applying for grant. I am glad to say that this consultation is taking place.

I ought perhaps to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, that the guidelines under which this aid is available were issued in a new and more flexible form as recently as November last year. If he finds them too general, it is, I think, perhaps because particular cases are so variable and we do not wish to put unnecessary restraints on the scheme by making the guidelines too rigid.

It will not surprise your Lordships when I say that a disproportionate number of ethnic minority communities are found in areas of urban decay, unattractive environment and poor housing. Responsibility for tackling urban deprivation in the inner cities rests with the Department of the Environment, where my right honourable friend Sir George Young has been given special responsibility for race relations aspects of his department's work. His programme of visits has taken him to most of the places in England with substantial ethnic minority communities, including Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and a number of the London boroughs. He has talked to ethnic minority community leaders and project organisers and to key people in local authorities. He has instituted a whole range of informal discussions about ways in which Department of the Environment policies can be made more sensitive to the needs of minorities and has disseminated existing good practice both by personal discussion and by publication in departmental booklets.

The urban programme itself is one of our major weapons against inner city deprivation. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, for his acknowledgment of its scale. It has increased from £215 million in 1981–82 to £270 million last year and £348 million in the current year. That is also bound to have direct bearing on the ethnic minority communities in those areas. Within the programme we have increased the level of support for projects designed specifically to meet the need of the ethnic minority groups. In 1981–82 it stood at £8 million. It rose to £15 million last year. The programme currently supports over 1,000 projects directly benefiting ethnic minority communities with a value of at least £27 million. A number of these projects cater for the needs of religious minorities. The programme does not fund exclusively religious projects, however, but it helps schemes that meet wider needs such as social, cultural and advice projects that are attached to mosques, temples and other religious buildings.

The local authorities play a crucial role in combating racial disadvantage, both as employers and deliverers of services. In 1982 we therefore set up a joint working group with local authority associations to identify and disseminate good practice in this field. It published its report in July of this year. That report has been generally welcomed, not least for the clarity with which it identifies and examines the major issues. We commend it warmly to local authorties and will draw their attention to it again shortly.

When we consider the position of the ethnic minorities in our societies, sooner or later we are bound to start talking about their relationships with the police. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, is a massively important practitioner in this, but he is very far from being alone. Following his report on his inquiry into the disorders in 1981, training in community and race relations was reviewed by a working party set up under the Police Training Council. The report, referred to by several noble Lords, was published in March and there is a copy in your Lordships' Library. A number of its recommendations for the further development of training in community and race relations have already been adopted. Others are in the process of implementation.

Recruit training will be both improved and lengthened from the beginning of next month. New recruits will receive about seven months' training before they are allowed to patrol unaccompanied, and they will undergo a carefully planned programme of further training during the rest of the two years' probation. I should like to say that we do pay very great attention to the selection of tutor constables to accompany them in their early duties.

Not least of the new departures is the establishment of a new national training support centre at Brunel University. It will train the trainers directly and it will provide training materials and advice to forces. The result of this will be a radical change in the training of police officers at all levels in community and race relations. It will have far-reaching and beneficial results. But police forces are not waiting for this to happen. They are already taking steps to improve their own training programmes; and at national level the Commission for Racial Equality is closely involved in the race relations context of training courses.

Many forces have established a specialist community relations department. A number have appointed police/community liaison officers whose tasks specifically include that of developing both formal and informal contact with leaders and members of the ethnic minority communities. The Government have encouraged the setting up of local consultative groups to establish a pattern of formal and regular liaison between the police and representatives of the local community. Some of these already have a record of which they can be proud: that in Lambeth, to which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, drew particular attention, is a notable example.

We believe that consultation arrangements should be put on a statutory basis. We are making provisions for this in the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill which will soon come, before your Lordships for consideration. I look forward to your Lordships' comments on it then. I think I should not dilate on its provisions now. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, I am sure will contribute.

His generous recognition of what the police have already done to put their house in order was most welcome. Recent improvements of selection procedures, in which he showed a great interest, include their extension to two days in length, giving a much clearer insight into the motivation and attitudes of candidates. The normal age of recruitment has been raised to 22 years. The initial test pass mark has also been raised. The search continues for a reliably indicative test of racialist attitudes of the sort which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and others—and indeed I myself—would welcome.

I said that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, was not alone in his analysis of police/minority relationships. What other growing volume of research is showing is this: there are instances of bad relationships between the police and minorities. Things are very far from perfect. But the fact is that they are not anything like as bad as some people make out. That was made clear in the Home Office Research Unit Report on Ethnic Minorities, Crime and Policing, referred to by the noble Viscount, which dealt with the experience of West Indians and whites in the Manchester area and was published in 1981. More recently, it was made clear in the Policy Studies Institute Report on the Metropolitan Police. That massive document is a work of no little merit.

In this context, very briefly I ask your Lordships to recognise just four things about it. The first is that the report was commissioned by the police themselves and that they committed themselves to publication before it had even been written. In what other country in the world could that have happened? I think it is a great endorsement of the standards of the forces by which we are policed.

The second point to recognise is that the bulk of research on which the report is based was started between 2 and 2½ years ago; all of it was completed about a year ago and there have been a lot of changes in the past two years. Many of them anticipate recommendations in the report itself.

The third aspect to recognise is that while there is a regrettable level—and it is a regrettable level—of racial prejudice in the force, it has a surprisingly small impact on the way policemen deal with members of the ethnic minorities. They appear consciously to try to counteract it and they actually exert themselves more, it seems, for black members of our society than white; and those minority members who have experience of most kinds of police work—though not all—are broadly very satisfied with the service they get.

The fourth thing to note is that the police themselves, and the commissioner in particular, recognise the importance of what the report says and are committed to acting on it. That determination is shared by my right honourable friend, the Home Secretary, who is in close and supportive contact with the commissioner on all these matters. I regard these as encouraging developments and I see no reason to remove control from the Metropolitan Police, from the commissioner working to the Home Secretary of the day. To hand them over to locally appointed and, frankly, political committees, as some would suggest, would I think court disaster. We are not persuaded that the formidable and flexible existing powers in the police discipline code would be strengthened by a specific offence of racially prejudiced behaviour. Such behaviour can already be caught and punished. The commissioner's proposed code of professional ethics and conduct is intended to provide a powerful management tool to underpin rather than to replace the discipline code. Police forces are keenly aware that their officers must be representative of the community they serve. In the first 10 months of this year their number—and the number of ethnic minority police officers in England and Wales—increased from 459 to 575, an increase of 116. Those numbers are small but they show a very encouraging trend.

I can do no more than acknowledge Lord McNair's intervention on behalf of refugees. If he looks at the Hansard of either 1978 or 1979 he will find that their cause is closer to my heart than it is to the terms of the Motion on the Order Paper; I will, nevertheless, write to him. I have dwelt at length on the police, not because of the topicality of the recent report but because they have a symbolic importance, which the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, has seized on, beyond even that which results from their important place in society. All our resources and all our subjective experience combine to tell us that there are substantial numbers of people in this country for whom the dominant fact of life is that they belong to, and are recognised as belonging to, an ethnic group that is distinct from those who comprise the majority.

Most of these people are young; most of them are black. They are the people eloquently and sympathetically described by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. They see themselves as existing in a framework of law and convention that they believe to be alien and hostile. They believe that they live under a permanent cultural and economic threat. Their numbers are not enormous, nor are their perceptions typical, but they are important. It will take time to reassure them: to reassure them of their equality (for instance before the law); to remove their disadvantage and to reconcile them with the country which is their home. We have, in Lord Scarman's words, to "get it across them" that a very great deal is indeed being done, and this will take time.

Meanwhile, all the resentment and fear must find a focus and the natural focus is the representatives of law and order walking about in uniform—the police. The police therefore have a critically difficult as well as a critically important role to play in this. They have to diffuse much of the tension generated by forces outside their influence. Just as we should be profoundly concerned with the problems I have described—and to which I have ascribed a whole range of constructive approaches—so I believe we should be profoundly encouraged by the rigorous and open self-analysis to which they have subjected themselves, and by the far-ranging steps which they and the Government are taking to fit themselves better for this important task.

I have described the position of the police and of the Government. These, with great respect to the noble Lord. Lord Avebury, amount to a great deal more than lip service. But responsibility in these matters goes far beyond the police and the Government themselves. It rests with us all. We are grateful to the noble Viscount for the opportunity of this discussion.

8.10 p.m.

Viscount Buckmaster

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to your Lordships for your wide-ranging and moving contributions to the debate this evening. I have benefited enormously from them. I should like to thank, in particular, the noble Lord the Minister, whose performance was as adept on the springboard as at the mixing bowl, and also my noble and learned friend Lord Scarman, the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and the noble Lord, Lord Pitt. May I say how extremely pleased I was to hear my noble and learned friend Lord Scarman say that he agreed with the main conclusion in my speech, which was that racial barriers are beginning to break down, that understanding is beginning to develop, and that tensions are beginning to lessen. That impressed me enormously.

A great deal remains to be done. When I was interviewing people, whether in Bradford or Brixton, Wolverhampton or Wandsworth, a great many of the Asians and West Indians I met continued to say that there was a lack of understanding in all spheres of their relations with the police and white people. I am afraid that this will take a long time to break down. I might perhaps put to your Lordships briefly the view that the effort required is not all that great when one considers what can be achieved by a friendly word, a smile, and a handshake.

I was greatly moved by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soper. If I may perhaps correct one impression I gained from his speech, I would say that I am very tolerant about religion. I have studied Islam. I have studied Judaism. I believe that they should be taught in our schools, but I still feel, with great respect to the noble Lord, that confusion can result if too many religions are taught in different ways.

This has, indeed, been a memorable day for me, even if, in my dreams tonight, I find myself mixing the Christmas pudding in the shallow end of a swimming pool. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.