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Race Relations

Volume 884: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will initiate an equal opportunity in employment programme in order to improve race relations in the field of employment.

As I stated in reply to a Question on 3rd December, we are planning to extend the Department's work in promoting equal opportunity between workers of different races. I hope to hold discussions in the near future with the various agencies concerned with this field to consider how the work can best be developed: [Vol. 882, c. 398.]

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the problem is widespread, that it represents a great loss of talent and skill to the community at large and that it causes a great deal of frustration to those on the receiving end of discrimination? Does he accept that such frustration can easily lead to anti-social and even criminal behaviour?

I agree with my hon. Friend. It would be wrong not to use the full range of talents of people who have settled in this country and who are of a different colour from that of the white indigenous population. Having good race relations is of benefit not only to the minority but to the white community.

Does the Minister agree that the problem is exacerbated at a time when unemployment is increasing? Will he give an indication of any special action being taken by his Department to deal with the problem in the present circumstances?

There is no evidence before me—the figures are not available at present—of special problems arising out of unemployment. We are trying to develop language programmes. A Question has been tabled on that subject. If people have a skill and a command of the English language their chances of re-employment are much greater than if they suffer the disadvantage of not speaking English.