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Black Lives Matter Movement

Volume 677: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2020

What recent assessment she has made of the implications of the Black Lives Matter movement for the priorities of the Government Equalities Office. (903364)

No one should face discrimination. Individual Departments and their Ministers must take account of the equality impact of their policies, and I can assure the House that my ministerial colleagues take this very seriously. Across the whole of Government, we have already taken significant steps to tackle the sorts of concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, including continuing to act on the Lammy report, working to improve trust between citizens and police forces and ensuring that record numbers of ethnic minority people continue to go to university.

Over the past two weeks, we have heard members of the Government, including the Prime Minister, repeat that black lives matter, yet their policies fail to reflect that. The Unity Project’s report presented the Home Office with evidence that the “no recourse to public funds” policy discriminates against black British children and leaves them growing up in poverty. What steps can the Minister take to protect black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and black people in particular, against further discrimination to ensure that the UK Government’s words are matched by their actions?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The issue of no recourse to public funds has been raised multiple times, and the Government are doing many things to tackle situations in which people who may not necessarily have been able to access public funds are able to do so. For example, the Government are ensuring that anyone who needs NHS treatment is not being charged, and programmes such as the coronavirus job retention scheme are available to people who have no recourse to public funds.

I wonder whether the Minister agrees that some racism is down to unconscious bias, and helping people to recognise and address their own bias could make a real difference. If she agrees, will she welcome the creation of the all-party parliamentary group on unconscious bias? It will conduct several investigations, starting with racial bias, so will she commit to working alongside us and to consider any recommendations with an open mind?