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Racial Discrimination

Volume 959: debated on Tuesday 28 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects, following his consultations with the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress and the Commission for Racial Equality, to begin monitoring the policies and practices designed to eliminate racial discrimination in employment by Government contractors.

The CBI, TUC and CRE have now been informed of the proposals referred to in the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 10th November and have been invited to discuss them. The aim will be to introduce new monitoring arrangements as soon as possible after these consultations have been completed.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, but will he impress strongly on the CBI that all these private firms have an inescapable duty to avoid racial discrimination in their employment policies? Does he agree that the Government might have a better chance of success in this area if we put our own house in order in terms of having effective equal opportunity policies in the public sector?

I very much hope that the CBI and the other interested parties which are being consulted will see this as a worthwhile and progressive step forward. Within the public sector a great deal is going on. We pursue the policy of equal opportunity in the public sector, and all the nationalised industries and other public sector bodies have been asked to review their policies. We shall be looking at the results of that exercise to see what further action might be necessary.

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the biggest discrimination applied in industry nowadays is over promotion, and that all too often unions and management together are equally culpable?

I accept what the hon. Gentleman has said. It is one of the matters that we have been looking at within the race relations employment advisory group, which I recently set up.

Will my hon. Friend undertake to make sure that whatever information can be made available in this regard will be provided to chambers of commerce and chambers of trade, and particularly to those working within the inner city partnership area committees?

We want to make as much information available about this as possible. The services of the Department of Employment's race relations employment advisory group are always available to any of these bodies if they want to consult it.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Conservative Opposition regard this as a very important matter and that we would like to do anything that we can to help the Government to make more information available, from Government Departments in particular, not only in regard to jobs taken, but jobs on offer and to whom those jobs go?