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“Tackling Race Inequality: A Statement on Race”

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

I have today published “Tackling Race Inequality: A Statement on Race”. This document sets out the Government’s approach to tackling the inequalities that people from minority ethnic groups continue to face and also sets out the increasing complexity of those problems. The statement was informed by the responses to the publication “Tackling Race Inequalities: A Discussion Document” and the listening events held in April and May 2009 which supplemented the written document.

Over the past decade, the Government have worked tirelessly to build a fairer, more equal society. A society where a person’s chances and opportunities in life are determined solely by their talent and effort—not by their class, gender, beliefs, sexuality or their race. The Macpherson report in 1999 has helped achieve substantial strides towards racial equality throughout our society.

However, there is still much to do. We know that there are still areas of concern, especially in school exclusions and stop and search. But we must also recognise that Britain today is not the same place as it was a decade ago. Migration, the growing importance of community cohesion, and our better understanding of the way in which race interacts with class and other factors, such as religion and identity, have all changed the terms of the debate and made promoting race equality a much more complex challenge.

So we must recognise that we will not succeed in tackling racism without tackling all forms of discrimination, prejudice and inequality. We have to redouble our efforts to promote greater equality for all, and combine that with action to target the specific problems faced by particular groups. And we have to do that in ways which are fair, and seen to be fair, so that no group is neglected or overlooked.

This statement sets out how we will build on the remarkable achievements of the past 10 years. We now have a very strong legal framework to tackle racism and promote equality—this will be simplified once the new Equality Bill becomes law.

The emphasis in this statement is on enforcing those laws, particularly through the EHRC and through effective inspection of public services. We stress the commitment across Government Departments to promoting race equality. And we make clear that we will continue to promote targeted approaches to address the specific obstacles and barriers which hold particular groups back—such as the very successful Reach programme for black boys and young men. I am grateful to all those who have contributed to and commented on this statement. It reflects the concerns and priorities of a whole variety of individuals, community groups, and public bodies—and I look forward to working with them to deliver its ambitions.

Copies of the statement have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.