HC Deb 23 September 1943 vol 392 cc443-4W
Mr. Harvey

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to colour bar discrimination against British colonial subjects engaged on National Service in this country; and whether he will take steps to prevent the proprietors and managers of hotels, especially in London, from making any such discrimination in future?

Mr. Leslie

asked the Home Secretary how far licensed hotels are permitted under their licence to exclude coloured people; and what steps, in this connection, he proposes to fake to safeguard the liberties and privileges of British subjects of all races from indignities while resident in Britain?

Mr. Riley

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that on 31st July the manager of a hotel in Russell Square, London, requested Mr. Learie Constantine, a British West Indian subject at present employed as a welfare officer in this country, to leave the hotel, together with six other British West Indians, on the ground that they were coloured subjects; that Mr. Constantine had a signed contract with the hotel for four days' accommodation; and will he take the necessary steps to prevent a repetition of such insults to British subjects?

Mr. H. Morrison

As it is reported that this case may be the subject of legal proceedings, it would not be right for me to express any opinion on the legal aspect of any action taken by the management of the hotel in question, but I am advised that hotels which provide accommodation for travellers are under a common law obligation not to exercise arbitrary discrimination and not to refuse a traveller, for whom accommodation is available, except on some reasonable ground, such as that he is not in a fit state to be received. Apart, however, from any question of law the House will, I am sure, agree with me that there is a responsibility on all members of the community, including not only those who manage hotels and places of public resort but also their clients and guests, to avoid any discrimination against a fellow British subject on grounds of race or colour. If in this case there has been failure to accord to a British subject in this country the full equality of status and treatment to which he is entitled, I would assure him that any such failure is deeply deplored and strongly condemned by responsible public opinion throughout the United Kingdom.

Mr. I. Thomas

asked the Home Secretary whether he will take steps to prevent a repetition of the incident in which Mr. Leary Constantine was obliged to leave a London hotel on account of colour prejudice?

Mr. Morrison

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I have given to-day to other Questions on this subject.