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Race Relations

Volume 264: debated on Thursday 19 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about race relations in the United Kingdom. [36519]

I believe that the United Kingdom can be proud of its record on race relations, which is significantly better than that in most comparable countries. Of course there is always room for improvement, and the Government will continue their policy of promoting good race relations combined with firm but fair immigration control.

Does the Home Secretary agree that it was most damaging to race relations when the chairman of the Conservative party used the televised platform of the Conservative party conference to pour scorn on the work of the Hopscotch Asian women's project in Camden? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman urge the right hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) to apologise to the Princess Royal, who has just visited that project because it is funded by the Save the Children Fund? Will he also apologise to his own Department, which last year gave the Hopscotch project a grant?

No, I will not do any of those things. I am happy to say that I am in frequent communication with my right hon. Friend and I know that he takes the cause of promoting good race relations as seriously as any Member of the House.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that good race relations depends to a great extent on firm immigration control? He is to be congratulated on his attitude to border controls. It is believed that, since 1984, a quarter of a million Sikhs have sought asylum in Germany. If there were not good border controls, there would be a strong chance that those Sikhs would join their many relatives in places such as Wolverhampton.

I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of firm but fair immigration control, particularly in the context of the need to maintain our present system of frontier controls.