Posted by Vicki 28 July 2010 : education ,

The School of Pharmacy, Brunel and Queen Mary’s are the three universities with the largest proportions of black and minority ethnic (BME) undergraduate students according to data released this week by the government.

The data – which was released in response to a question from shadow universities minister David Lammy – also highlights that London Universities are more likely to have bigger proportions of BME students.

The twenty universities with the largest proportion of BME students are as follows:

Posted by Vicki 23 July 2010 : Conservative , representation , coalition ,

Today’s blog post is written by Runnymede’s public affairs intern Farrah Sheikh

In equality oral questions yesterday in the House of Commons, the equalities minister Lynne Featherstone was quizzed by MPs about ways to increase recruitment to the civil service from black and minority ethnic communities. In response, Lynne Featherstone reiterated the government’s commitment to create more internships for people from BME backgrounds within the civil service and added that the civil service is gradually becoming more diverse following a drive to target BME people.

Elsewhere, newly elected Conservative MP Nicky Morgan received an answer to a written question on government policy on helping people from BME backgrounds gain senior positions in both the public and private sectors. In reply, Lynne Featherstone outlined the coalition government’s commitments to promoting equality and opportunity for all under represented communities. In addition to internships, she added that the government will provide mentoring and funding for entrepreneurial BME people who want to start a new business.

Posted by Vicki 21 July 2010 : financial inclusion ,

Newly elected Labour MP Kate Green has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) arguing that the government’s recent decision to scrap the Child Trust Fund and Savings Gateway will have a disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic people.

The EDM – available here – also mentions recent research by Runnymede which found that 60% of black and asian people have no savings, and argues that the Child Trust Fund and Savings Gateway allowed many black and minority ethnic people on lower incomes to rely less on credit and debt. The EDM currently has 18 signatures.

Posted by Vicki 16 July 2010 : Lib Dem , criminal justice ,

Today's blog post was written by Runnymede's public affairs intern Farrah Sheikh

During her maiden speech, the latest Lib Dem addition to the House of Lords - Baroness Hussein-Ece - highlighted severe overcrowding and overrepresentation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in UK prisons. Currently, this is 27% of the total prison population.

Baroness Hussein-Ece argued that we need to change the way we deal with offenders, focusing on prevention, support, and rehabilitation. She told the House that many offenders suffered from poor mental health and that their issues were only noticed when inside prison. Showing her passion for this issue, she argued that prisons should not be expanded and more meaningful ways of reducing the prison population needed to be looked at. Favouring a more holistic approach, Baroness Hussein- Ece said there needed to be partnerships between mental health trusts and local authorities who ought to allocate proper resources for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse.

The Baroness declared that budget cuts should not be used as an excuse to avoid this problem, adding that taxpayers currently pay around £40,000 per annum per prisoner. She believes that it is far more financially viable to focus on reducing the prison population by giving people the help and support that they need before entering a life of crime.  She added that this is especially important as much of the ethnic minority prison population were found to have untreated mental health problems only when they entered the prison system.

Posted by Vicki 15 July 2010 : muslims , anti-terrorism , coalition ,

Today's post was written by Runnymede's public affairs intern Farrah Sheikh

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that Prevent - a scheme introduced by the last government to prevent violent extremism - is to be re-evaluated in the counter terrorism review later on this year.

The Guardian had originally reported that the scheme was to be scrapped altogether. However, May clarified the Home Office’s position on Prevent in a response to a parliamentary question from Alan Johnson MP, saying that she wanted to separate the community cohesion and integration elements of Prevent from the counter-terrorism strands. Stating that it was “right and proper” that the two elements be separated, she told the House that Prevent was being rejected by those it was supposed to help because it currently merged the integration aims of the Department of Communities & Local Government and the Home Office’s counter terrorism measures.

Elsewhere in the House, MP’s called for any change in the Prevent strategy to include all communities. Kris Hopkins and David Davis both said that many Muslims felt that Prevent was targeted specifically at them. They highlighted the importance of moving away from this position and ensuring that all communities were engaged in any new counter terrorism policy.

Posted by Vicki 14 July 2010 : select committees ,

Over the past few days a number of select committees have confirmed their membership under the new parliament, including some of those committees relevant to those working in the race and equality sectors. Full details of the membership of the home affairs, communities and local government and justice committees are available on their websites.

In addition, the justice and home affairs committees will be holding one off sessions on the 21st and 15th July respectively to question the relevant secretary of states for their departments.

Home affairs committee chair Keith Vaz has highlighted in particular that he wants to quiz the home secretary on recent government announcements including the migration cap, the election of police commissioners and plans to reduce police bureaucracy.

Posted by Vicki 13 July 2010 : criminal justice , anti-terrorism , human rights ,

The Home Secretary Theresa May has today announced that a “rapid review” of counter-terrorism and security powers is currently underway.

Following May’s announcement last week that stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 will be immediately scrapped, the following areas will also be reviewed:

  • The use of control orders
  • The use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography
  • The detention of terrorist suspects before charge
  • Extending the use of deportations with assurances to remove foreign nationals from the UK “who pose a threat to national security”
  • Measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence
  • The use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) by local authorities, and access to communications data more generally.

The review will be carried out by the Home Office, with oversight from Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions. Lord Macdonald was made a Liberal Democrat life peer in May this year.

Posted by Vicki 13 July 2010 : antisemitism , Conservative ,

During the past week, the Conservative MP for Southend West David Amess has received answers from the government to questions on anti-Semitism and higher education and on the government’s plans to reduce anti-Semitism overseas.

Arguing that “there is no place for racism of any form, including anti-Semitism, in higher education”, the skills secretary David Willetts MP stated in response that universities have “primary responsibility” for ensuring students are not subject to abusive behaviour on campus, adding that the government would expect them to vigorously tackle these issues.

He added that the previous government provided updated guidance to higher education institutions on “Promoting Good Campus Relations, Fostering Shared Values and Preventing Violent Extremism in Universities and Higher Education Colleges”, available here. He also stated that a meeting between the Jewish community and high education stakeholders is in the process of being arranged.

In response to David Amess’s question on international anti-Semitism, foreign office minister Jeremy Browne said that combating all forms of racism remains an “important part of the government’s human rights agenda”. He added that the government supports the All Party Parliamentary Group on anti-Semitism in its work tackling the issue across Europe. 

Posted by Vicki 09 July 2010 : Labour , education ,

New MP Rushanara Ali and Labour front bencher David Lammy both raised the issues of ethnic minority employment and skills in the Commons this week.

Rushanara Ali, the recently elected Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow highlighted Bangladeshi and Somali unemployment in her constituency this week’s opposition day debate on jobs and the unemployed arguing that they face both social class barriers and ethnic penalties. Highlighting that the unemployment rate in her constituency is 11% - significantly higher than the national average – she argued that 8,500 young people in London stayed off benefits due to interventions by the previous government.

She also welcomed the government’s plans to introduce 50,000 apprenticeships, but argued that they should introduce them sooner than the planned implementation date of next spring.

In addition, the former higher education minister David Lammy asked a question regarding the achievement gap between white and ethnic minority university students last week. The skills secretary David Willetts responded by arguing that the coalition government is committed to social mobility and added that “the coalition agreement is clear that future activity in these areas needs to be judged against the findings from Lord Browne's independent review of higher education funding and student finance”.

Posted by Vicki 02 July 2010 : representation , coalition ,

Today's post was written by Runnymede's public affairs intern Farrah Sheikh

The BBC has reported that a referendum for the Alternative Vote (AV) system is to be held on 5 May next year - the same day as the local elections.

Whilst this announcement will be music to many Lib Dem ears, the proposal is set to face serious Tory opposition, with one of Prime Minister Cameron’s election pledges being to vote “no” in any AV referendum. However, this is also one of the key agreements of the coalition government, putting Cameron in a tricky position. Currently, all three Labour frontrunner candidates are in favour of the alternative vote. Labour support is likely to prove vital in pushing the bill through the House of Commons.

But what does this mean for race equality? As some readers may remember, our senior policy researcher, Dr. Omar Khan recently wrote an article for Left Foot Forward, arguing that proportional representation or the alternative vote system alone would not increase BME representation within the UK parliament. He adds that other measures should be introduced alongside any change in the voting system in order to improve representation. You can read Omar's article here.  

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