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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"There's widespread agreement that having indirect racism in the bill is better than leaving it out"
 real 28k

Jack Straw MP, Home Secretary
"All public authorities would be under duty to promote equality, not just on race"
 real 28k

Gerald Howarth MP, Conservative
"It seems to be a very dangerous road to go down"
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The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"All public bodies will now be forced to ensure their policies prevent racial discrimination"
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Wednesday, 26 January, 2000, 19:05 GMT
Race law to cover public bodies

ford worker Sukhjit Parma was bullied by racists at work

The law against racial discrimination is to be boosted, in response to demands by pressure groups.

The Race Relations Bill will be extended to outlaw indirect discrimination by public bodies.

The government says it will also introduce a statutory requirement on public bodies to promote race equality.

The changes represent a climbdown by ministers in the face of strong pressure from the Commission for Racial Equality and other pressure groups.

stephen lawrence The report into the Lawrence murder advised strenghtening the law

Extending the law to cover the police and public bodies was a key recommendation of the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

And the government had been planning to overhaul the race laws, but ministers had been criticised for not going far enough.

The climbdown also comes just as research by the TUC suggests that workplace racism is getting worse for black and Asian workers.

The survey found that the number of people from ethnic minorities who became managers had fallen over the past 10 years - despite having a higher proportion of degrees than white workers.

'Principle outweighs risk'

Home Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement that the government had always been in favour of the principle of including public bodies in the legislation, but had been concerned that public bodies could be open to legal challenges when they had behaved entirely properly.

"We have listened carefully to the arguments put forward about this issue," Mr Straw said.

"And we have concluded that on balance, the risk of spurious challenge is outweighed by the principle of including indirect discrimination in repect of public sector functions."

Indirect discrimination might include, for example, a school which changed its catchment area to exclude a housing estate which included a high proportion of black and Asian families.

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See also:
03 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Race relations law row
26 Jan 00 |  UK
Black workers 'face glass ceiling'
17 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Race reforms 'not enough'
06 Dec 99 |  UK
Employers urged to monitor racism

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