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Race And Colour Bar

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1947

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asked the Minister of Defence, what restrictions of colour, race or religion prevent British subjects from voluntary enlistment in any one of His Majesty's forces.

The present position is that Regular engagements in the Army are confined, as they were before the war, to British subjects of pure European descent. There are no restrictions on religious grounds. The position is substantially the same in the Royal Navy except that non-Europeans are accepted for local service on non-continuous engagements. The R.A.F., however, is now open to all British subjects without discrimination of race, religion or colour. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War has indicated, future policy in this matter is under consideration.

In view of the fact that there was no restriction of colour on British subjects coming to the help of this country during the war, is it not entirely repugnant that there should be any distinction whatsoever?

I have said that the whole matter is under consideration, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wait until that consideration has been completed.

Are these considerations likely to come to fruition, and can the right hon. Gentleman say when?

Can my right hon. Friend say why it has taken over a year for the other two Services to follow the good example of the Royal Air Force?

There are different circumstances in some parts of the Services. I must repeat that the whole matter is under consideration between the three Services, and I will make a statement as soon as possible.