Race Relatiobs Act

Now I will discuss the issues and criticisms of the 1976 Race Relations Act

Though this report looked at the situation from an administrative angle, it helped put a number of arguments on the political agenda.   The most important of these arguments were

(a) the need to go beyond the narrow definition of discrimination used in the 1965 and 1968 Acts in order to include institutionalised or unintended forms of discrimination

(b) the need to strengthen the administrative structures and legal powers of the Race Relations Board in order to allow for a more effective implementation of anti-discrimination policies, including penalties for those found guilty of discrimination.

Taken together these assumptions were seen to support the need for stronger action by government to promote equal opportunity because as stated by the Select Committee in 1975, ‘there is a growing lack of confidence in the effectiveness of government action and, in the case of some groups such as young West Indians, this lack of confidence can turn into hostile resentment’.   In addition they were seen as supporting the need for more efficient social policies on race in order to achieve the original aim announced by Roy Jenkins during the 1960’s: namely, the achievement of a genuinely integrated society where there was ‘equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance.’

More fundamentally perhaps, the evidence that went into these reports had a major impact on the white paper on Racial Discrimination, which was published in September 1975.   This accepted the relative failure of past policies to achieve fundamental changes, the need for stronger legislation and the need for a ‘coherent and coordinated policy over a large field of influence involving many government Departments, local authorities, the existing and future statutory bodies concerned with the subject and, indeed, many individuals in positions of responsibility and influence’.   It...