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Armed Forces: Racial Discrimination

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action the Government have taken to eradicate racism within the armed forces. (159059)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: The Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force have done a great deal in recent years to promote racial equality and continue to work hard to develop an organisational culture that welcomes racial diversity and places the highest priority on tackling racism. The armed forces respect and value every individual's unique contribution regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, social background or sexual orientation. The goal is to create a working environment free from harassment and unlawful discrimination, in which all have equal opportunity to realise their full potential. From 1997 to 2006, the armed forces worked in formal partnership with the Commission for Racial Equality to improve racial equality.

The MOD published a race equality scheme (RES) in 2003 and subsequent reports about the scheme detail the range of measures that the armed forces have undertaken to improve racial equality. The RES was superseded in June 2006 by the Department's overarching equality and diversity scheme. The armed forces achievements in promoting racial equality were recognised when all three services finished in the top 10 in Business in the Community's annual Race for Opportunity annual benchmarking report for 2006.