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Mr. Hayes: I am grateful to the hon. Lady and I shall not attempt to punctuate her speech unnecessarily with further interventions. I should like her to develop the theme that she initiated. She is telling the House that those are not matters of choice but unconscious matters; when people act in a prejudiced, unreasonable, unfair or discriminatory way, they are not making a personal choice for which they should be sanctioned but are doing something that is unconscious. She said that we were not aware of our prejudices. I suppose she would say that we are imbued with them.

By saying that, is not the hon. Lady letting people off the hook? One cannot blame individuals if those individuals did not make a conscious choice about their prejudice.

Ms King: The hon. Gentleman seems to have failed to understand what I was saying. I am not blaming the individual, I am blaming the institution. However, there is often a failure to blame either. The Lawrence inquiry showed that neither the institutions nor the individuals were blamed.

Let us consider cases in which British juries have found, in actions against the police, that the police have fabricated evidence, maliciously prosecuted people, and assaulted people. British juries have found in favour of the plaintiffs, yet the police are left to walk away scot free. I say that that does not just damage us as members of British society; it damages the police as well. As has been said, the police themselves believe that that needs to change.

The recommendations of the Lawrence inquiry have provoked much debate. In the few minutes remaining, I shall concentrate on some of those recommendations--for example, recommendation 38, which deals with people being tried twice. Originally, I was implacably opposed

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to that recommendation, but I ask hon. Members to listen, as I did, to one argument that was put to me. Recommendation 38 states that

    "consideration should be given to the Court of Appeal being given power"

to bring a fresh case where there is "viable evidence". What is viable evidence? It is, for instance, clear DNA evidence that may prove beyond reasonable doubt a person's link with a murder.

We should consider another case--that of Fred West, the serial killer. He appeared before the police many years ago, but they did not have enough evidence to prosecute him at the time. Let us suppose that he has been prosecuted, but that that prosecution has failed because of lack of evidence. Twenty years later, the bodies are dug up from under his house and there is clear proof that he was responsible for those murders, because fresh evidence has come to light. Should not the Court of Appeal be given the right to "consider" putting fresh evidence before a court in such a case? After all, that was done--the other way round--in the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six cases. If we can allow the Court of Appeal to review a decision when there is a conviction, why cannot we consider allowing it to consider fresh evidence when there is an acquittal? We have to realise that if we fail to do that we will risk encouraging people to take the law into their own hands, which surely cannot be what any of us want.

Recommendation 39 concerns the use of racist language in private. I am still very uneasy about that recommendation, although, as with all arguments that are put before me, I want to give it a fair hearing. There is an anomaly here. Some of the suspects said, "We think that niggers should have their legs cut off; let them swim with their stumps back to their nigger country." If they had been overheard saying that in the community centre on their estate, they could have been arrested and the police could have searched their homes. The police would have uncovered all manner of other evidence to show that something was amiss with that particular family and those particular people. However, if their neighbours hear them saying such things through the walls, nothing can be done.

To me, it seems strange to allow something to be done in one case--many people are under the impression that we are not allowed to act if we hear such language in the community hall, but we are--but not in another. If we allow action to be taken if such language is used in one place, why are we making that distinction if we are trying to prevent racist attacks? Remember, we are looking at prevention and prosecution--those were the terms of reference of the Lawrence inquiry.

I shall conclude because of time constraints. We need a new Race Relations Act--that goes without saying. I have seven further points on which I should like a response. First, what measures will the Home Secretary take to ensure implementation of the Lawrence report? How can it be embedded in the mainstream? Secondly, what measures will he take to bring the minority of criminal elements in the police to justice? Thirdly, given that 50 per cent. of those arrested for racist crime last year were under 16, does he not agree that we need an effective youth service? How will the Home Office tie that into its plans?

Fourthly, I am told that a colour bar apparently operates in the Army. I believe that that should also be the subject of an investigation. Fifthly, will the Home Secretary

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ensure that the pilots for stop and search take place in all the main concentrations of ethnic minority people? Sixthly, will he consider giving adequate funding to the police? We cannot expect them to implement the recommendations without that money. Seventhly, will he appoint Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence to the proposed steering committee?

Will it not be ironic that, when people say, "What contribution have black people made to British society?" we need look no further than Doreen and Neville Lawrence? They--two black people--have brought us to this stage--we will all benefit from a fairer, less racist, less biased and more competent police service and democracy, which is in all our interests.

7.5 pm

Mr. David Maclean (Penrith and The Border): To keep the record straight, I wish to inform the House again that I am pleased to be an adviser to the Police Superintendents Association. I stress that I am an adviser; I am not a spokesman for the association and I do not make speeches in the House on its behalf. I always give my own view. I intend to be brief. The House may not entirely agree with my views, because what I shall say may be regarded as slightly controversial.

Two things immediately stand out when one reads the Macpherson report. The first is that the report is an exceptionally good analysis of the failings of the Metropolitan police murder team investigation of this awful and brutal murder. The second is that a large number of recommendations are not backed up by any supporting evidence. In some ways, I found it a rather schizophrenic report, as though it had been written by two people. Perhaps, in some ways, it was.

Many parts of the report were written by the Sir William Macpherson who is a good casework judge. When presented with this awful Gordian knot of contradictory facts and assertions, he cut through it forensically and reached sensible conclusions on the evidence. He analysed the failings of the murder investigation and one can have no quibble with his conclusions. Then I looked at the parts of the report written by the Sir William Macpherson who recommends that a whole range of things in the country should be changed. It seemed to me that those recommendations were based not on any firm evidence that he received, but on untested and unquestioned assertions. I was surprised; if he had the evidence to justify his recommendations, why was it not cited in his report? I came to the conclusion that a good casework judge Sir William Macpherson may be, but a Lord Scarman he is not. Even less is he a royal commission.

Why has Sir William got parts of his report so wrong? I wonder what was the impact of the initial statements made by Michael Mansfield and other lawyers, which were perhaps designed to frighten him into adopting a more radical agenda, even if there was no evidence for it. The House will remember the remarks by some lawyers, criticising Sir William Macpherson even before he had started his work and saying that he was bound to be unsympathetic to their aims and aspirations because of his background. Did that make him bend over backwards to please? I do not know; we do not know.

An incredible, but disgraceful and highly revealing episode took place when Sir Paul Condon was questioned. A member of Sir William's own inquiry panel,

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Dr. Richard Stone, urged Sir Paul, "Just say, 'Yes, I accept institutional racism exists.' I think a lot of people here are willing you to say that." That is an extraordinary comment from one of the inquiry team assisting Sir William, who has signed the report. He said that "a lot of people here are willing you to say that." I do not think that that counts as impartial judgment, which we expect from an investigation.

So, on reading the report and on reading that comment from Dr. Richard Stone, it seemed to me that, no matter what the evidence presented, the preconception of institutional racism was the underlying mood and driving force. We have been asked to accept all of Sir William's report and his recommendations as though they were the new ten commandments. I merely say that if any other court of law had run a trial in the way that this inquiry was conducted, I suspect that all its findings would have been overturned quite quickly by a Court of Appeal.

I must tell the House that I am not suggesting for one moment that all of Sir William's recommendations are wrong--merely that a large number have apparently been produced from thin air without any evidence to back them up. The recommendations relating to the conduct of police investigations seem to be perfectly valid, in my experience. The suggestions on training are sensible, as are the suggestions for improvement in family liaison and in respect of family liaison officers, but the Government will need no advice from me when I tell them that the police will require massive extra resources throughout the country to implement them. Improving family liaison for all the serious categories of crime, where victims will now expect the back-up that Sir William has recommended, will be extremely expensive.

Some of the other recommendations might also be sensible, but we cannot judge that from the report because Sir William has not presented the facts and arguments to justify them. The Home Secretary must be greatly relieved that Sir William inserted the word, "considered" before his wilder recommendations on changes to English criminal law. I merely ask the House to imagine the following: that, at the end of some other criminal trial, a hypothetical judge--perhaps called Harman or Pickles--ended his judgment by stating that all our institutions were intrinsically racist, that double jeopardy should be abolished and that it should be a criminal offence to make racist comments in one's own home. I imagine that the Government and the press would quickly suggest that that judge had lost the plot and his retirement was long overdue. Yet those are the suggestions in the report. Thank goodness that the Home Secretary can, in the nicest possible way, except some of them by "considering" them and then kicking them into the long grass where eventually they will be raked into the compost heap of history.

My difficulty, which is shared by nearly everyone to whom I have spoken in my constituency and elsewhere about the Macpherson report, is this. If Judge Macpherson can get some of the recommendations so badly wrong, and if his judgment is crazy enough that he can suggest that criminal offences should be created for possessing an offensive weapon, having offensive thoughts or uttering offensive language in one's own home, why should we accept that his judgment is perfectly wise on all the other matters in his report?

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