HL Deb 31 March 1998 vol 588 cc16-7WA
Lord McCarthy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures they are taking to promote greater racial equality in the Armed Forces following the decision of the Commission for Racial Equality to abandon legal action against the Household Cavalry. [HL1318]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert)

The decision by the Commission for Racial Equality on 25 March 1998 to abandon altogether the question of legal action against the Household Cavalry was most welcome. It reflects, quite rightly, the considerable efforts which have been made over the last two years, across all three Armed Services and including the Household Cavalry, following general criticisms of the implementation of our racial equality policies. The achievement of this progress has required considerable determination, which Sir Herman Ouseley, the CRE's Chairman, has described as a "model of leadership in action". We are delighted with the excellent progress which has now enabled the Commission to recognise the Armed Forces' willingness to make real, permanent progress; I congratulate the Services upon what has been achieved.

It is essential that the commitment to change is maintained. For this reason we have agreed a five-year "partnership agreement" with the Commission and I am placing a copy in the Library of the House. The agreement is comprehensive and reflects the considerable challenges which lie ahead for the Armed Forces as they seek to put in place and develop, through the strong leadership now being demonstrated, robust racial equality policies. The agreement, which includes meeting challenging ethnic minority recruitment targets, and developing monitoring and evaluation of personnel policies, will require rigorous application. We will be looking to build upon the constructive co-operation we have with the CRE. We know that the Services are determined to address the partnership agreement with vigour and we shall be fully supportive of their efforts.