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Mr. Hughes: When does the Minister expect new authorisations in relation to this part of the Bill to be made?

Mr. O'Brien: I cannot give a date now, but we would want to implement the provisions as soon as we possibly can. Although we would have to take account of the analysis of controls that is currently being done, we would, as I said, want to implement the provisions as soon as reasonably possible. I undertake to write to the hon. Gentleman and to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) to let them know when we anticipate implementing them.

5.45 pm

Government amendment No. 35 provides that a finding of unlawful discrimination by the independent appellate authority in an immigration case will trigger the power of the Commission for Racial Equality to seek an injunction under section 62 of the Race Relations Act 1976.

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Government amendment No. 36 extends section 66 of the 1976 Act to allow the CRE to give assistance to people in immigration proceedings before the independent appellate or the special immigration appeals commission.

Government amendment No. 37 amends section 67 and will protect applicants whose visa applications are successful, but who nevertheless consider that they have been racially discriminated against by an entry clearance officer. It ensures that redress is available in the county court.

Government amendments Nos. 41 and 42 extend the Lord Chancellor's current jurisdiction under the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 to make rules.

Government amendments Nos. 44 and 45 are technical ones to ensure that in cases in which a claim of racial discrimination has been certified as manifestly unfounded, an adjudicator is able to determine whether it was correct for the Home Secretary to issue a certificate when the claim was made and to make a decision on that certificate. A consequential amendment has also been made to the equivalent certification provisions on human rights and asylum in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

I hope that the House will accept not only these technical and consequential amendments, but the more substantive amendments that I have outlined.

Mr. Cohen: My amendment No. 1 was always a probing amendment, to express concern and to get answers, and I appreciate the answers that the Minister has given. I particularly welcomed his answers as they touched on the role of civil servants and the race monitor and on the transparency of the criteria. I am still concerned, however, about the broad exemption being granted to the service. It is too great in the case of the IND and it should have been reined in a bit more. Although I heard the Minister's comments about exemptions being no wider than necessary, I do not think that the exemption granted to the IND should be any wider than that granted to other public services.

Nevertheless, I also appreciate the full answers that the Minister has given to my questions. I also realise that the Home Secretary has broad shoulders, and that he will not be too worried about the comments of Frances Webber that I quoted.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 3, in page 2, line 41, after "1999" insert--

'but excluding sections 28A to 28K of the Immigration Act 1971 so far as they relate to offences under Part III of that Act'.

No. 4, in page 3, leave out lines 46 and 47.--[Mr. Touhig.]

Clause 2

Specified authorities: general statutory duty

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Paddy Tipping): I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 4, line 5, leave out from beginning to "due" in line 6 and insert--

', in carrying out its functions, have'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 6 to 10, 24, 26 and 28.

Mr. Tipping: Government amendment No. 5 alters the wording of the new general duty on public authorities to

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promote race equality to reflect better the Government's policy intention. It makes it clear that public authorities, rather than simply putting arrangements in place to have regard to the need to work towards the elimination of unlawful racial discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups, must have regard to that duty. Although they should of course make arrangements to meet that obligation, greater focus is placed in this amendment on the outcome rather than on the process itself. The wording follows the approach taken in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and has the support of the Commission for Racial Equality. I commend the amendment to the House.

I deal now with Government amendments Nos. 8 and 9, which are perhaps slighter than the preceding one. Many public authorities are already subject to various statutory duties imposed by other legislation. I cite as an example the Greater London Authority Act 1999, which subjects the Greater London Authority to a duty in relation to equality of opportunity for all people. In clause 2, the proposed new section 71(2) of the Race Relations Act 1976 will allow, by order, the Secretary of State to impose on bodies that are subject to the general duty to promote racial equality specific duties aimed at ensuring their better performance of that duty.

The proposed section 71(6) in clause 2 allows the Secretary of State to make

as appropriate when, by an order under the proposed section 71(5), he amends the list of public authorities subject to the duty in schedule 1A.

We wish to have similar powers in the proposed section 71(6) in relation to orders as those made under the proposed section 71(2). That will allow the Secretary of State, when making such orders, to amend other legislation imposing duties on bodies in order to remove any overlaps on the duties. That is necessary to avoid a body becoming subject to separate but possibly conflicting duties.

Amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 10 are technical drafting amendments. Amendment No. 24 adds a new entry to schedule 1A to bring the coverage in Scotland of certain health bodies under the general duty into line with coverage of the Bill in England and Wales. Amendment No. 26 adds regional development agencies, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to the schedule, along with the London development agency which was already in it. Certain housing bodies covered by the existing section 71 duty are added by amendment No. 28 so that they remain seamlessly specified for the purpose of the new duty. That extends the scope of the bodies covered. I commend the amendments to the House.

Mr. Lidington: I am grateful to the Minister for the way in which he moved the amendments. I understand the Government's reasons for proposing the new draft of the general statutory duty, but I would like to press him on the Government's thinking on what they expect public authorities to deliver under the statutory duty. It is important for the Government to clarify their thinking, given that we are proposing to grant the Secretary of State extensive powers by order to impose specific requirements on individual public authorities if he believes that they are failing to comply with the

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general duty. That marks a significant departure from the arrangements set out in section 71 of the Race Relations Act 1976, which places a duty on every local authority to make appropriate arrangements to carry out their functions with a view to the need

The 1976 Act does not give the Secretary of State the power to step in to say that a local authority is failing in that duty. However, under the Bill, central Government will be able to insist on certain actions being taken or certain codes being adhered to so that a local authority or group of local authorities complies with the Government's view of how to give effect to the general duty. That is important, partly for the parliamentary reason that the order-making power is subject only to the negative resolution procedure. It could come into effect without any debate or formal approval by this or the other House.

More important, when we judge the amendments and the definition of the statutory duty, we need to pay careful regard to the specific obligations that we wish to impose on specific public authorities as a result of what is phrased in fairly general terms in the Bill. I hope that the Minister will give us some idea of his thinking on that.

The precedent set by the 1976 Act shows that in the 24 years in which local councils have been under a statutory duty, most have used the requirement in section 71 to good effect in serving their local communities. That is how I would like things to continue.

However, certain local authorities have hit the headlines because they have interpreted the duty in the 1976 Act in a way that many people have found outrageous and not in accord with their expectations of their local council. In the past couple of weeks, the report of the Runnymede Trust's commission, which was chaired by Lord Parekh, has been published. Although I do not disagree with everything in the report, it calls for a much greater degree of central Government interference in promoting good relations than I believe to be justified.

We are told by the media that Home Office Ministers had intended to welcome the report with open arms and to announce several specific measures to give effect to some of its recommendations. It is not unfair to ask the Minister what he expects local councils and other public authorities to do that they are not doing already. For example, do the Government intend to impose on all public authorities the more onerous requirements of ethnic monitoring that the Runnymede Trust's report recommends?

To take things to the extreme, do the Government foresee that they might want to implement what I would regard as one of the daftest recommendations in the report--namely, that museums and art galleries whose exhibitions do not comply with the Government's idea of what promotes racial equality should lose some of their funding? The report is explicit in that it recommends:

The amendments and clause 2 will give the Home Secretary or his colleagues in the Cabinet the power by an order, which is subject only to the negative resolution

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procedure, to instruct a local authority museum or art gallery to change its way of doing things. If it does not do what he prescribes, it will stand to lose its grant.

In our previous debates, the Minister has also shown himself to be a reasonable chap who wishes to argue constructively, so I hope that he will be able to reassure me that my fears are misplaced. Given the general terms in which the statutory duty is defined in legislation, it is only fair to ask the Government to be more specific about the practical measures that they wish authorities to undertake or that they will seek to impose on them.

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