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Abolition Of The Commission For Racial Equality

Volume 23: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1982

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4.49 pm

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to abolish the Commission for Racial Equality.
This is a time to unite the British people and not to divide them. Britons of all shapes and sizes and colours and origins must stick together. We can do without an institution the sole purpose of which is to emphasise our differences. I believe that the Commission for Racial Equality should be abolished because it does more harm than good to the cause of harmonious race relations. It sets Britons against Britons.

It sets blacks against whites. In the end, the tragedy is that the black citizen suffers most from its activities.

I shall not give way.

The black citizen is prevented by the commission and its local counterpart the community relations councils, from identifying himself as being as British as the rest of US.

Order. There can be no intervention in a speech introducing a Ten-Minute Bill.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With the greatest respect, there have been interventions in speeches on Ten-Minute Bills. My speeches have been the subject of such interventions. It has happened in the past.

It is contrary to the practice of the House. I do not know of the episode that the hon. Gentleman quoted, but there can be no interventions today.

The Commission for Racial Equality does more harm than good to the cause of harmonious race relations. Those who suffer most are black citizens because they are deprived of the identification——

—that most of them seek—to be British citizens like ourselves.

The Select Committee on Home Affairs recently studied the Commission for Racial Equality and published a report that was fiercely critical of its effectiveness and credibility, and scathing about its management. The commission is our worst quango. It spends almost £8 million of taxpayers' money annually. It campaigns against Government policies. It issues prohibitions in cases such as the advertisement for a Scottish cook and the professional man who wanted a Christian colleague. Those prohibitions are not merely fatuous but dangerous because they give the impression to the public that that which is lawful is, in fact, unlawful. It was always Parliament's intention that such matters should be lawful.

The commission actively promotes racial discord—

I know of a London employer who requested the local jobcentre to find a clerical assistant for his staff.

He was sent 32 applications, 31 of which were coloured men. Not one of them was suitable. But soon afterwards the Commission for Racial Equality sent him 31 forms, in respect of each of the coloured men seeking an appointment, demanding full reasons why each one of them had not been appointed.

The same spirit pervades all the commission's work. It has press conferences restricted to black journalists. Its house magazine New Equals represents the commission as the champion of the blacks against the guilty whites.

We all need good race relations, but this is not the way to achieve them. We should rely on the normal interplay of social forces within the law of our free democratic society to ease racial friction.

The average white Briton is amazingly tolerant and helpful to a coloured neighbour who runs into difficulties. It is a matter of great regret—indeed, it is disgraceful—that so many people, and the commission, should give the impression that the ordinary white Briton is racially prejudiced.

May I draw the attention of the House to the words of Mr. David White, a West Indian, who recently secured exemplary damages from the High Court for an assault made on him by policemen? In the Daily Mail on 26 April, Mr. White said:

"It all started to go wrong when they made this race relations law. Everybody knows that if you tell someone they can't do something, soon as you turn round, they want to do it.
I don't think there was a real racial prejudice before then, not like you have today. I came to England in 1956—that was when people used to advertise rooms to let and say: 'Sorry, no coloureds.' They were honest about it and they did say sorry. And why not? —you can't make everyone like black people. I can understand that some old lady with a room to let might be frightened by the sight of a black face by the front door.
It is just the way things were then. Racial prejudice was not something people thought was wicked. It was just a fact of life and all of us-blacks and whites together—accepted it.
There were still plenty of people who took us for what we were—ordinary citizens who just happened to be a different colour…I'm just an ordinary man who was wronged and I got my justice. I knew I would. I didn't go to the community relations people or anyone. I didn't want people to demonstrate outside the court. I just went to my solicitor and then didn't tell another soul."
Those words reveal a depth of wisdom and understanding about race relations which the Commission for Racial Equality cannot even begin to comprehend. The commission is nothing but a mischief maker and trouble rouser in race relations. Whatever it might have done for the cause of good race relations, it has ceased to do it now. The commission should be abolished. I commend my Bill to the House.

4.59 pm

This is the second time in 12 months that I have been compelled to listen to the obnoxious nonsense that, from time to time, is spouted by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on these matters. His racist comments today make his comments during the British Nationality Bill last year pale into insignificance. If the hon. Gentleman is unwise enough to seek leave to introduce the Bill, I sincerely hope that the House will show its contempt for the hon. Gentleman's speech and the contempt in which it holds his Bill to abolish the Commission for Racial Equality.

If the House allows the hon. Gentleman to introduce the Bill, the effect on the morale of the black community will be devastating. Further, it will create the impression that the Government and Parliament—the white establishment—do not care a tinker's cuss about eliminating racial discrimination or reducing racial disadvantage.

Acceptance of the Bill would also reinforce the sense of alienation in certain parts of the black community We have already seen the consequences of that in Bristol in 1980 and in Toxteth, Southwark and other places in 1981. We are likely to see a recurrence of such incidents unless we eliminate the causes. Abolishing the CRE would do nothing to rid us of the causes. It would only exacerbate matters. For that, if for no other reason, the hon. Gentleman's proposal should be condemned.

All decent hon. Members agree that there is racial discrimination in employment and housing. The black community is condemned to live in decaying inner city areas. After the evidence presented to the Home Secretary, we condemn the 7,000 racially motivated attacks on our fellow citizens. We share the right hon. Gentleman's shock and distress at the statistics.

The Government have committed themselves to a just and united multiracial society as the Minister of State, Home Office said. The Government only last week in their White Paper gave the CRE in a large measure a vote of confidence. But the Government's good intentions have been undermined by their economic policy, which will increase racial disadvantage. Their deflationary policy, which has led to 3 million unemployed, has had a more adverse effect on the black community than on the white community. The cutback in expenditure on housing has condemned more and more black people to live for longer periods in the decaying parts of our inner cities. If the Government increased public expenditure for housing more houses could be built and those people could he rehoused. Our decaying Victorian schools are not being replaced because of the cuts.

Order. The hon. Gentleman must relate his remarks to the abolition of the commission.

Public expenditure reductions have also affected the commission's effectiveness and efficiency. Only two years ago the Government decided to reduce its budget. I hope that the next Labour Government will strengthen the commission and change the law to make its work more effective. We should increase its budget so that more formal investigations can be carried out and more educational and promotional work be done to change the hearts and minds of many of our citizens. The law should be changed so that the onus is on the employer to show that there is no discrimination. Many individuals trying to prove charges are intimidated by the apparatus of the law and the pressure that employers can bring to bear.

I hope that the House refuses the hon. Gentleman's permission to introduce this obnoxious and evil Bill.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you confirm that the vote, if it comes, will be on whether my hon. Friend has leave to bring in his Bill and that hon. Members who vote against it may have been more persuaded by the speech that my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) would have made and are not necessarily voting in support of the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall)?

I can confirm that the Division will take place on whether the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) has leave to bring in his Bill.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at Commencement of Public Business):—

The House Divided: Ayes 51, Noes 283.

Division No. 135]

[5.10 pm


Alexander, RichardKnight, MrsJill
Bevan, David GilroyLangford-Holt, SirJohn
Biggs-Davison, SirJohnLloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Blackburn, JohnMacmillan, Rt Hon M.
Brinton, TimMarland, Paul
Brotherton, MichaelMaude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)Mawby, Ray
Clark, SirW. (CroydonS)Molyneaux, James
Cockeram, EricMontgomery, Fergus
Colvin, MichaelMorgan, Geraint
Costain, SirAlbertPowell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
Cranborne, ViscountRidsdale, SirJulian
Dover, DenshoreRost, Peter
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardShepherd, Colin(Hereford)
Dunlop, JohnSpeller, Tony
Farr, JohnStanbrook, Ivor
Fell, SirAnthonyStokes, John
Fox, MarcusTownend,John(Bridlington)
Fry, PeterWall,SirPatrick
Glyn, DrAlanWard, John
Goodhew, SirVictorWells,John (Maidstone)
Griffiths, Peter Portsm'thN)Wickenden,Keith
Hawksley,WarrenTellers for the Ayes:
Holland.Philip(Carlton)Mr. Tony Marlow and
Howell, Ralph (NNorfolk)Mr. K. Harvey Proctor.
Jessel, Toby


Abse, LeoBerry, Hon Anthony
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBest, Keith
Alton,DavidBiffen, Rt Hon John
Ancram,MichaelBooth, Rt Hon Albert
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBoothroyd,MissBetty
Arnold, TomBoscawen,HonRobert
Ashley, Rt Hon JackBottomley, RtHonA.(M'b'ro)
Ashton,JoeBottomley, Peter (W'wich W)
Atkins, Rt HonH.(S'thorne)Bradley, Tom
Atkins, Robert(PrestonN)Bray, Dr Jeremy
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,)Brocklebank-Fowler,C.
Bagier, GordonA.T.Brooke, Hon Peter
Baker,Kenneth(St.M'bone,)Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)
Barnett.G uy (Greenwich)Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'yS)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)Brown, Ron(E'burgh,Leith)
Beith, A. J.Buchan,Norman

Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.Haselhurst, Alan
Buck, AntonyHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n&P)Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Campbell-Savours,DaleHayhoe, Barney
Canavan,DennisHaynes, Frank
Cant, R. B.Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Carmichael,NeilHeffer, Eric S.
Channon, Rt. Hon. PaulHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hicks, Robert
Cocks, Rt Hon M.(B'stolS)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Cohen,StanleyHogg, N. (EDunb't'nshire)
Coleman, DonaldHolland,S.(L'b'th,Vauxh'll)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.HomeRobertson,John
Conlan, BernardHomewood,William
Cook, Robin F.Hooley, Frank
Cope, JohnHoyle, Douglas
Cormack, PatrickHuckfield, Les
Cowans, HarryHughes, Mark(Durham)
Cox.T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Craigen, J.M,(G'gow, M'hill)Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Crowther,StanJay, Rt Hon Douglas
Cunliffe,LawrenceJohnson, Walter (Derby S)
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)Johnston, Russell(Inverness)
Dalyell, TamJones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Davis, Clinton (HackneyC)Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Davis, Terry (B'ham,Stechf'd)Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Deakins,EricKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Kerr, Russell
Dewar, DonaldKilroy-Silk,Robert
Dixon, DonaldKinnock,Neil
Dorrell, StephenLang, Ian
Dubs, AlfredLatham, Michael
Duffy, A. E. P.Lee, John
Dunnett, JackLeighton, Ronald
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.LeMarchant, Spencer
Dykes, HughLester, Jim (Beeston)
Eadie, AlexLestor, MissJoan
Eastham, KenLewis,Kenneth(Rutland)
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)Lyell, Nicholas
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)Lyon, Alexander(York)
Emery, Sir PeterMcCartney, Hugh
English, MichaelMcDonald, DrOonagh
Ennals, Rt Hon DavidMacfarlane,Neil
Evans, loan (Aberdare)MacGregor,John
Evans, John (Newton)McKay,Allen(Penistone)
Field,FrankMacKenzie, RtHonGregor
Fisher, SirNigelMaclennan, Robert
Flannery,MartinMcTaggart, Robert
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'ghN)McWilliam,John
Fletcher,Ted (Darlington)Major,John
Fookes, Miss JanetMarks,Kenneth
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMarshall, D(G'gowS'ton)
Forrester, JohnMarshall, DrEdmund (Goole)
Foster, DerekMarshall, Jim (LeicesterS)
Foulkes, GeorgeMartin, M (G 'gowS 'burn)
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th,N'w'd)Mawhinney,DrBrian
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldMaxton,John
Garrett, John (NorwichS)Meacher,Michael
George,BruceMellish, RtHon Robert
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnMeyer, Sir Anthony
Ginsburg, DavidMikardo, Ian
Golding, JohnMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Goodlad,AlastairMiller, Dr M.S. (E Kilbride)
Graham, TedMills, Iain(Meriden)
Grant, John (Islington C)Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Greenway, HarryMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Grimond, RtHonJ.Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Grist, IanMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Gummer, JohnSelwynMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hamilton, James(Bothwell)Morton,George
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Hardy, PeterNeedham,Richard
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterNelson,Anthony
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithNewton,Tony

O'Halloran,MichaelStallard, A. W.
O'Neill,MartinStewart, A. (ERenfrewshire)
Onslow, CranleyStewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Palmer, ArthurStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Park,GeorgeStoddart, David
Pavitt,LaurieStraw, Jack
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Summerskill,HonDrShirley
Prentice, Rt Hon RegTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Price, C. (Lewisham W)Thomas, Datydd (Merioneth)
Race, RegThompson,Donald
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTinn,James
Rees, Rt Hon M ('Leeds S)Trippier,David
Renton, TimUrwin, Rt Hon Tom
Rhodes James, RobertVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Richardson, JoVaughan, DrGerard
Rifkind, MalcolmWaddington, David
Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Wainwright.E(DearneV)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Wakeham, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conway)Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Robertson,GeorgeWaller, Gary
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)Watkins,David
Rooker, J.W.Wellbeloved,James
Roper,JohnWells, Bowen
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)Welsh,Michael
Rossi, HughWhitelaw,RtHonWilliam
Sever, JohnWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Sheerman,BarryWilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Sheldon, Rt Hon R.Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Shore, Rt Hon PeterWoodall.Alec
Short, Mrs RenéeWoolmer,Kenneth
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)Wrigglesworth,Ian
Silvester, FredWright,Sheila
Sims, RogerYoung, David (Bolton E)
Skinner, DennisYoung, SirGeorge(Action)
Soley, Clive
Spearing, NigelTellers for the Noes:
Speed, KeithMr. Andrew F. Bennett and
Spriggs, Leslie Mr. Stan Thorne.

Question accordingly negativated.