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Commission For Racial Equality

Volume 981: debated on Thursday 27 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the responsibilities and functions of the Commission for Racial Equality; how the work of the Commission relates to local race relations councils and similar bodies; what powers the Commission has to fund such bodies; and whether there is anything in these powers which would preclude the Commission from giving financial support to a particular political interest.

The Community Relations Commission was replaced by the Commission for Racial Equality on 13 June 1977. The Commission's statutory functions are to work towards the elimination of discrimination; to promote equality of opportunity, and good relations, between persons of different racial groups generally; and to keep under review the working of the Race Relations Act 1976 and to submit proposals for amending it.Community relations councils are independent voluntary bodies, established to promote good community relations locally. The Commission may give support to the work of local community councils and to other local organisations undertaking community relations work.Section 44 of the Race Relations Act 1976 empowers the Commission to give financial or other assistance to any organisation appearing to the Commission to be concerned with the promotion of equality of opportunity, and good relations, between persons of different racial groups. Details of grants given to community relations councils and other organisations under section 44 are published in the commission's annual reports.Although nothing in section 44 of the Race Relations Act 1976 expressly precludes the Commission from making a grant to an organisation with a particular political interest, the criteria which that section requires must be satisfied would be difficult to reconcile with such a grant and I understand that the Commission's policy requires political representation on community relations councils to be broadly balanced.