HL Deb 03 February 1993 vol 542 cc225-6

3.4 p.m.

Baroness Seear asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether Section 71 of the Race Relations Act 1976 is being observed by Scottish Homes and, in particular, whether Her Majesty's Government consider that proper resources are being made available to housing associations run by members of ethnic minorities.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)

My Lords, Scottish Homes is obliged by the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 to observe Section 71 of the Race Relations Act 1976 in the same way as local authorities. Members of ethnic minorities are involved in the running of a few housing associations in Scotland, but Scottish Homes has to date received no applications for registration from representatives of ethnic minorities wishing to run associations exclusively for the benefit of people from ethnic minorities. Associations generally have access to considerable resources from Scottish Homes.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. But the Question reflects some anxiety among ethnic minorities as to whether they are obtaining a fair share of the accommodation available through local associations. What percentage of tenancies of Scottish housing associations have been given to members of ethnic minorities?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, I cannot give the noble Baroness any figures. I can say only that representatives of ethnic minorities are participating in the committees of a number of housing associations in Scotland. My understanding is that in Glasgow there may be a number of people within the ethnic minorities who as a result of the refurbishment of much of the property there moved out of the city but are now anxious to return to the city centre. In future years there may be some need to see more housing associations which are specifically directed towards the needs of the ethnic minorities.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, my noble and learned friend will be aware that, if the English are not counted, the largest ethnic minority in Scotland is Pakistani. Is he aware of any complaints from Pakistanis about connections with housing associations or Scottish Homes? I have an interest as patron in chief of the Scottish Pakistani Association.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, I am not anxious to enter into the delicate question of the definition of ethnicity, but I can say to my noble friend, with his interest in the Pakistani community in Scotland, that I am not aware of any problems with regard to housing associations affecting that ethnic minority.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, the Minister's replies so far have been helpful. What is the difference in the attitude of housing associations towards the funding for ethnic communities in England and in Scotland? I understand that there is a belief in Scotland—it may be largely anecdotal—that in England the families in the ethnic communities and their population tend to be much larger and therefore they started their ethnic housing earlier. The feeling is that the Scottish ethnic population is still not large enough. Things are changing. The Minister spoke about members of the ethnic communities returning to the city. Perhaps the idea of providing more funding for ethnic housing in Scotland should be looked at again.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, I am aware that south of the Border the Housing Corporation commits some 9 per cent. of its development budget to ethnic minority housing and another 9 per cent. is for housing for ethnic minorities by mainstream associations. There is no such specific ring-fencing in Scotland because, as yet, there have been no applications by such groups. However, Scottish Homes is at present carrying out a review of its policy with regard to ethnic minorities which will be concluded by the early summer. This issue will of course be part of the review.

Lord Hughes

My Lords, is the Minister aware—

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, we have passed the 30th minute—

Lord Hughes

My Lords, there are four minutes of the Question left.

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