Race Relations Act 1965

The Race Relations Act 1965 (c. 73) was the first legislation in the United Kingdom to address racial discrimination.

Race Relations Act 1965
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act to prohibit discrimination on racial grounds in places of public resort; to prevent the enforcement or imposition on racial grounds of restrictions on the transfer of tenancies; to penalise incitement to racial hatred; and to amend section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936.
Citation1965 c. 73
Introduced byFrank Soskice, Home Secretary (Commons)
Royal assent8 November 1965
Commencement8 December 1965
Repealed22 November 1976
Other legislation
Amended byRace Relations Act 1968
Repealed byRace Relations Act 1976
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Race Relations Act 1965 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.

The act outlawed discrimination on the "grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins" in public places in Great Britain.[1]

It also prompted the creation of the Race Relations Board in 1966. This would consist of a chairman and two other members appointed by the Secretary of State.[2] Its remit was to consider complaints under the Act.[1]

Reasons for the act's introduction edit

The UK saw an influx of economic migrants after World War II, many from British colonies or former colonies; those from the Caribbean are known as the Windrush generation. By the time the 1965 bill was introduced, there was a population of almost a million immigrants living in Britain.[3] The Museum of London states that "casual 'colour prejudice' was part of daily life" for many.[4] The left-wing Member of Parliament Fenner Brockway had introduced a bill to put a stop to racial discrimination eight times from 1956 to 1964.[5] In 1958, London saw the Notting Hill riots,[4] and in 1963 the Bristol Bus Boycott occurred.[6]

Outline edit

The act was drafted by Home Secretary Frank Soskice with some cross-party cooperation.[7]

The bill was given royal assent on 8 November 1965 and began to be enforced on 8 December.[3] The act made it a civil offence (rather than a criminal offence) to refuse to serve a person, to serve someone with unreasonable delay, or to overcharge, on the grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins. The Act also created the offence of "incitement to racial hatred".

The first conviction under the act came in October 1967, when a 17-year-old member of the National Socialist Party was found guilty of racial discrimination at Middlesex Area Sessions.[1] The leader of the British National Socialist Movement, Colin Jordan, was also successfully prosecuted under the Act and jailed for 18 months in 1967.[8]

Black immigrants were also tried for this offence, including Black Power leader Michael Abdul Malik (Michael X) and four members of the Universal Coloured People's Association for "stirring up racial hatred against white people."[9]

Limitations edit

The act specifically excluded shops and private boarding houses, only outlawing discrimination in "places of public resort." The Race Relations Board was rather weak in its enforcement capabilities, being limited to conciliation and an assurance not to return to the discriminatory behavior.[10] It was "a weak piece of legislation" and failed to end racial discrimination in the UK fully.[11] The act did not apply in Northern Ireland.[12]

Amendment and repeal edit

The Act was strengthened with the Race Relations Act 1968, which extended the legislation's remit to cover employment and housing. It was repealed by the Race Relations Act 1976, which saw the creation of the Commission for Racial Equality.[1]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b c d "On this day: 8 December 1965: New UK race law 'not tough enough'". BBC News. 8 December 1965. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Race Relations Act 1965" (PDF). legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Race Relations Act 1965". UK Parliament. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Race Relations Acts 1965-1976". The Museum of London. Archived from the original on 12 December 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  5. ^ Smith, Evan (7 December 2015). "The Communist Party's campaign for the Race Relations Act 1965". Hatful of History. Evan Smith. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  6. ^ Editorial (10 November 2005). "In Praise Of...The Race Relations Acts". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  7. ^ Donnelly, Mark (2005). Sixties Britain: culture, society and politics. Routledge. p. 115.
  8. ^ "Colin Jordan sent to prison for 18 months on Race Act charges". Glasgow Herald. 26 January 1967. p. 7. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  9. ^ Twomey, Anne (17 April 1994). "Laws Against Incitement to Racial Hatred in the United Kingdom". Australian Journal of Human Rights. 1: 235–248. doi:10.1080/1323238X.1994.11910913. (1994) 1(1) Australian Journal of Human Rights 235.
  10. ^ "The Origins of the Race Relations Act" (PDF). University of Warwick. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Discrimination and race relations policy". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  12. ^ See 8(3) of the Act

References edit