Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Straw slammed for failing Lawrence inquiry
Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993
Home Secretary Jack Straw has been accused of failing to follow up "zero tolerance" pledges made in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
The Commission for Racial Equality says not enough has been done to enforce new reforms of the 1976 Race Relations Act.
The reforms were recommended during the inquiry report by Sir William Macpherson. It was established by the Labour government into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1983.
The report contained 70 key recommendations for society to show "zero tolerance" for racism.
The letter continued: "I believe that the fact of continuing significant racism and racial discrimination across Britain as we approach the millennium is something that no government should be willing to tolerate.
"In order for the strong commitment to racial equality which you made in February to retain its credibility, it will be important for you publicly to indicate how you now propose to take forward the proposals that the government accepts."
Sir Herman said the 1976 act was out-of-date with the government's own modernising plans.
He continued: "We cannot achieve a modern, inclusive, just and fair society with out-of-date regulation and hollow commitments."
The letter was prompted by Mr Straw's response to CRE proposals for sweeping reform of the Race Relations Act.
Sir Herman welcomed Mr Straw's agreement with many of their proposals, including his "unconditional" acceptance of the call for the act to cover all public bodies, including the police.
A spokesman for the Home Office insisted the government was fully committed to achieving real change in race equality.
He said: "The government has already introduced three specific criminal offences of racially aggravated violence, harassment and criminal damage in the Crime and Disorder Act."
The spokesman said the government has consulted on the recommendations made by the CRE and has "responded positively".
He continued: "The home secretary announced in the response to the Stephen Lawrence report that the government would bring forward legislation to extend the act to all public service as soon as parliamentary time permits.
"The announcement of bills for the next session is a matter for the Queen's Speech."
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