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indication that a statement will now be made, as during the morning we have heard that the Queen flew into Heathrow overnight. We do not know whether the runway used was close to the incident, but in view of the Home Office's clear responsibilities, not just for the security of all passengers going through Heathrow, but obviously for one or two, I wonder whether you have now been given an indication that the Home Secretary intends to make any statement to the House, having obviously briefed the media on the matter during the morning ?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes) : I have received no such indication.

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Racial Hatred and Violence Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

2.8 pm

Mr. Hartley Booth (Finchley) : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

A cement holds this nation together. Although we have in the Chamber representative division in the nation, nevertheless three ingredients in the nation hold our people together : first, the spirit and fairness of our people ; secondly, the rule of law ; and, thirdly, the liberties and freedoms that have come out of the Chamber and the House. All three are challenged by racial dispute, hatred and violence. That is what the Bill seeks to address.

There are serious problems in our nation, the first of which is the lack of awareness of the problem. Some 140,000 complaints of racial abuse were lodged last year and a similar number has been lodged each year for some years, yet the legislation in place has yielded only five prosecutions over the past few years. We cannot say that the law is adequate ; we must look at it again.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South) : I thank my hon. Friend and close political neighbour for giving way. Is he willing to join me in condemning some of the vicious, nasty, hateful anti-semitic literature that is circulated in north London, much of which is never prosecuted ?

Mr. Booth : I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention. He is well versed in many racial issues, particularly anti-semitism. I have evidence of the rise of anti-semitic literature. Reports to the Board of Deputies of British Jews have risen by 120 per cent. over 10 years. That worrying element of abuse can be set alongside the 14 racist murders in the past two years and the fact that an act of racist violence is reported every 28 minutes.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Deva), who had difficulty getting into the previous debate, told me earlier this week that a constituent came up to him recently and rudely said that he should go back to the jungle. My hon. Friend illustrated the fundamental point when he told the constituent that 700,000 Indians gave their lives in the past two world wars, including two of his great-uncles, so that that constituent could stand there and say that.

People are not aware of the depth of the problem, which has even reached hon. Members. We need to act.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his initiative, which is fully supported by the Opposition. Is it not terrifying that on an estate in east London, just a few miles from here, racial terror is the order of the day ? It is promoted by all the racist, fascist gangs like the British National party. Is it not essential that the Government give positive support to the hon. Gentleman's Bill ?

Mr. Booth : Yes, of course. Among Conservative Members there is a well of support to fight racism in all its ghastly guises. The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) says that the Opposition support the Bill. I am grateful for that and for the Liberal Democrats' support. I am also grateful for the support given by the chairman of the Bar Council, the president of the Law Society, the Churches Commission for Racial Justice, the Society of Black Lawyers, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and groups throughout the nation. The Bill has had almost

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unprecedented support. I anticipate some form of welcome from the Government, but I know that they have difficulties with the report of a Select Committee and various other problems.

The Conservative party has a long tradition of standing for the whole nation, which is why we are repelled by racism.

Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva (Brentford and Isleworth) : As a co-sponsor of the Bill, may I say that the Bill is needed because of the growing tide of fascism in Europe and the world. It is time that we identified some of the problems that we wish to avoid in this country.

Mr. Booth : I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention. As time is limited, I shall concentrate on the five main provisions in the 14- clause Bill. I cite them in chronological order : the first deals with arrest ; the second is intended to improve the case for the prosecution and make the hurdles easier to jump ; the third covers sentencing and appeal ; the fourth introduces a new civil offence ; and the fifth will establish a much-needed register of what has been done about the 140,000 racial incidents reported each year. The first provision covering arrest has been requested by the police themselves. At present, there is no power to arrest publishers and distributors of the ghastly literature that comes through letter boxes, including mine and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall). We also need a power of arrest for racial harassment. The Bill attempts to rectify the extraordinary situation in which a vile but ordinary crime--ordinary in the sense that it is so common, ghastly though it is--is dealt with by the Attorney-General. How can he deal with 140,000 cases a year ? It is beyond his Department to do so, and the cases should be dealt with by the Crown Prosecution Service, as suggested in the Bill.

The Bill also changes a definition which has hitherto hindered the prosecution. The prosecution has to prove hatred, which in many cases is far too high a hurdle for prosecutors to jump. Unlike other aspects of criminal law, the prosecution in this case has to prove that not only an individual but a group of people has been hurt. Is the prosecution to bring hundreds of people to court ? Of course not. The same rules should apply in this respect as in others. I believe that only one witness who has been hurt by a racist attack should be enough to spark the prosecution into action.

Many of my Conservative colleagues have made the case for the charge of racial violence. We considered the issue with colleagues from the Opposition parties and decided that there was a battery of offences of violence already on the statute book. We concluded that the power of the judge should be restricted and that he should be constrained always to consider the evidence of racism when he or she passed sentence so that the element of race was an aggravating factor.

Finally, the Bill introduces the offence of group defamation. If I or any of my hon. Friends are accused of theft, we can sue for libel or defamation, but if a group of Asians, Africans or any other racial minority were accused of being thieves they would feel offended, hurt and wounded, but they would have no redress in law. The

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proposal for group defamation would deal with that hurt. It must be regarded as a crime ; one would not expect a group of individuals to bring a case if it were not.

I deal now with appeals. At the moment, we have the extraordinary situation where, if a person publishing obscene racist material is found guilty in a lower court, that material can still be published pending his appeal. That must be wrong and the Bill puts it right. In the limited time available, may I quickly paraphrase what I would otherwise have said about the other areas of the Bill ? The Bill contains a new proposition that we should have a civil remedy for racial abuse or harassment. Since the domestic violence civil provisions were introduced in 1976, it has been obvious that it has been of vast use to married couples who have had disputes. The ability to apply for a civil injunction has been very useful. We need that in cases of racism, too.

There is also a proposal for a register and alongside it is the requirement that everyone who makes an entry should record what is done about each allegation.

Ms Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford) : The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Front Bench. I simply wish to put it on the record that Labour Front- Bench Members support every measure

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) And the Back Benchers.

Ms Ruddock : Indeed, together with my Back-Bench colleagues, we support everything that the hon. Gentleman has outlined to the House and we are delighted that he has introduced the Bill. However, we fear that he is running out of time.

Mr. Booth : I am most grateful for that. I have been mauled before by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), but I do not mind at this stage because his hon. Friends have supported what I have been saying.

In the light of the unprecedented support, of the compelling arguments which all of us know are right and because of the overwhelming need that we all know is there, I urge the Government to back the proposals either today, or in the near future if they find it administratively difficult at the moment with Select Committees and other areas of business. I press the case for all our people and commend the Bill to the House.

2.27 pm

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Peter Lloyd) : First, may I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mr. Booth) on the trouble that he has taken to put together his comprehensive Bill and on his tenacity in securing the debate, albeit a short one. Since the Bill was No. 14 in the draw, it is a considerable achievement. As we do not have very long, I shall make a few brief remarks. I would have liked to say what I think of each part of the Bill, but there will not be time for that. However, if I had, it would have shown why the Government feel that it would not be right for that Bill to go forward at this time. [Interruption.] However, I am certain that hon. Members on both sides of the House share my hon. Friend's abhorrence of racial prejudice, especially when it is manifested in racist propaganda, discrimination, violence and harassment. I have a great

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West) rose

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Mr. Lloyd : No, I will not give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman.

There are a great many things that I would like to say about the Bill. I certainly agree with my hon. Friend's purpose in many respects, especially his assertion that we need to consider the part of the Public Order Act 1986 which deals with harassment. However, I do not believe that he has chosen the right route, or that his section 10 would do much to help racial minorities or to promote good race relations by making some forms or harassment unlawful when racially motivated. If a nuisance can be committed by ill-disposed people on a family of the same colour-- [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. The Minister is entitled to be heard. When I am unable to hear because of sedentary interventions, I take strong objection to it.

Mr. Lloyd : I regret that I am unable to deploy a proper case in the couple of minutes that I have left. However, I am quite certain that it would be a mistake to try to legislate before the House and the country at large have had the benefit of the serious and thorough investigations of the Select Committee, of the racial attacks group, which consists of the police, the Commission for Racial Equality and the relevant Government Departments, and of the special investigation into the workings of the Public Order Act that we have set in motion.

My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of those matters. They involve the safety of a minority of our fellow citizens, the peace of mind and confidence of many more and the quality of community relations for virtually everyone.

I am glad that, with the Bill, my hon. Friend has sounded a note of urgency ; I feel that note of urgency myself. However, I hope that he will forgive me if I say that a close reading of the Bill also underlines how complex an area this is and how difficult it is to devise amendments to the law which are clear and effective in dealing with the practices that we all deplore. Having read the Bill carefully, I do not think that it fits that requirement.

2.29 pm

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam) rose

Hon. Members : Shame.

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. It is a cardinal principle of the House that an hon. Member be heard.

Lady Olga Maitland : May I give a warm welcome to the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mr. Booth)-- [Interruption.] It is appalling that Labour Members should be shouting when we are debating the important issue of racial harassment, which is a subject that we all take very

It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned . Debate to be resumed on Friday 6 May .

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Remaining Private Members' Bills


Order for Second Reading read .

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes) : Second Reading what day ? No day named.


Order for Second Reading read .

Hon. Members : Object.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 15 April .


Read a Second time .

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.--[ Mr. Cummings .]

Bill immediately considered in Committee ; reported, without amendment .

Motion made, and Question , That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith and agreed to .

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, without amendment .


Order for Second Reading read .-- [Queen's consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]

Hon. Members : Object.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 29 April .


Order for Second Reading read .

Hon. Members : Object.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 15 April .


Read a Second time .

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.--[ Mr. Cohen .] Bill immediately considered in Committee ; reported, without amendment .

Motion made, and Question , That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith and agreed to .

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, without amendment .


Madam Deputy Speaker : Not moved.

SEVERN BRIDGES ACT 1992 (AMENDMENT) BILL -- Order for Second Reading read .

Hon. Members : Object.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 13 May .

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Clause 1 --

Prohibition or restriction on roads in connection with certain events

Amendments made : No. 1, page 1, line 22, at end insert (2A) Before making an order under this section the authority shall satisfy themselves that it is not reasonably practicable for the event to be held otherwise than on a road.'.

No. 3, in page 2, line 26, leave out existence' and insert safety and convenience'.--[ Mr. Peter Atkinson. ]

Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, with amendments ; as amended, considered ; read the Third time, and passed.


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [4 March].

Madam Deputy Speaker : Not moved.


Madam Deputy Speaker : Second Reading what day ? No day named.

BRITISH NATIONALITY (HONG KONG) BILL [-- LORDS ] Order for Second Reading read .

Madam Deputy Speaker : Not moved.


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [ 25 February ].

Hon. Members : Object.

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Debate further adjourned till Friday 22 April .

NURSERY EDUCATION (ASSESSMENT OF NEED) BILL -- Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [ 18 February ].

Hon. Members : Object.

Debate further adjourned till Friday 18 March .


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [ 4 February ].

Madam Deputy Speaker : Not moved.


Order for Second Reading read .

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House. - -[ Mr. Malone. ]

Committee on Friday 15 April.



That, at the sitting on Wednesday 16th March

(1) notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business), the Speaker shall not later than Seven o'clock put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Ways and Means Motions and the Motions in the names of Mr. Secretary Brooke relating to Ecclesiastical Law, Mr. Secretary Heseltine relating to Atomic Energy and Radioactive Substances, Mr. Secretary Lang and Mr. Secretary Gummer relating to Rating and Valuation and Mr. Secretary Lang relating to Legal Aid and Advice (Scotland) ; and

(2) the Speaker shall put the Question necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Motion in the name of Mr. Tony Newton relating to Local Government (Wales) Bill [Lords] not later than Ten o'clock, if the proceedings commence before Ten o'clock, or forthwith, if the proceedings commence at or after Ten o'clock ;

and the above proceedings may be entered upon or continued, though opposed, after Ten o'clock.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]

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M11 Link Road

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]

2.39 pm

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton) : I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the M11 link road, and I am pleased to see the Minister for Transport in London here to reply. I enjoy my annual rambles with him and the Friends of Epping Forest--but this is no time to ramble on, so I will get straight to the point.

The Department of Transport's pig-headed approach to the M11 link road has been a shambles, and a costly one at that. There have been years of neglect and of mean inflexibility, during which the Department has insisted on the cheapest possible option, whatever constructive alternatives have been suggested and regardless of the cost to the community. There has been political chicanery, too : a bribe in the shape of a tunnel for Tory Wanstead, but maximum damage has been thought good enough for Labour Leyton. The Department has sabotaged sensible community proposals--for instance, in the 1980s, when it was suggested that we should have a tunnelled road with homes and a park on top of it.

Now the Department is reaping what it has sown. There have been bitter and protracted protests about the road, involving high costs and even a possible risk to life. The costs for the Government are not only financial but political. On a recent edition of "Any Questions ?" on which the Secretary of State for Transport appeared, no one had a good word to say about the Government's road programme. Even the chairman of the radio programme said that the balance of views had been accurately reflected because no one had phoned in to "Any Answers ?" to offer any support for the roads programme. If the Department gets its way, it will have inflicted a social and environmental disaster on my part of east London, yet it is ploughing on regardless. It has just authorised two contracts amounting to £110 million for two miles of road. In Wanstead, the project has cost £500,000 in police time alone, to take over and demolish a 250-year- old chestnut tree and half a dozen houses. There are security guards on every corner at all hours of the day and night--the whole thing is like a private police state, a miniature equivalent of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. In this case, the Department is using a private army to occupy the self-declared free state of Wanstonia. The protests have only just begun ; there are many more to come. The total length of the road is about four and a half miles, about one and a half miles of dual carriageway and three miles of three-lane motorway. In my constituency, much of the road will pass through built-up areas and it will involve building two and a half miles of three-lane dual carriageway, a mile of new local roads, tunnelling under Epping forest, a new roundabout, 13 new bridges and five subways. Mainly, the road will run through shallow cuttings ; the part around Temple Mills will be on an embankment and will be about two fifths of a mile wide.

In Leyton, the result will be 21 acres of tarmac for the main road and two and a half acres for local roads. A total of 1,380 houses and flats, with about 4,000 people living in them, will be within 100 m of the road. Part of Leytonstone House hospital will be lost, as will 25 commercial and industrial premises which would otherwise have created 100 jobs--important in an area with 20 per cent.

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