HC Deb 16 October 2002 vol 390 cc859-60W
Bob Spink

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policies he is planning to improve racial harmony in Britain. [74445]

Beverley Hughes

The Community Cohesion Unit, part of the Home Office, is committed to improving community cohesion—which will contribute to improving racial harmony. It supports local authorities and other public bodies to tackle immediate problems in communities; integrating community cohesion into mainstream policy and practice; and developing and disseminating knowledge, experience and expertise to local authorities.

It is, for example, funding a programme of community facilitation to encourage dialogue and tackle local grievances or misunderstandings that threaten good community and race relations. A Ministerial Group has been established from across Government whose role is to ensure that their policies promote community cohesion, and it is working with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), Local Government Association (LGA) and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to produce practical guidance on community cohesion for local authorities. A draft of this guidance was made available earlier in the year.

The new Government PSA target on race equality, on which the Home Office leads, will deliver improvements in race equality and community cohesion over the next three years, bringing about measurable improvements in race equality and community cohesion across a range of performance indicators, as part of the Government's objectives on equality and social inclusion" (Home Office PSA 9).

The EC Article 13 Race Directive, which should be transposed into UK law by 19 July 2003, establishes, for the first time, a minimum standard of legal protection from racial discrimination across Europe. The UK's domestic legislation already conforms to most of the provisions of the Directive. However, some technical amendments to the Race Relations Act 1976 will be required in order to implement it. The Government is considering a range of legislative options for achieving this. The Government intends to issue another public consultation exercise on the detailed proposals. This will take place in the autumn.