Race Relations Act comes into force
The 8th of November 1965 AD
In the mid- Sixties Britain was becoming more racially diverse. New arrivals to Britain and immigrants long established in the country shamefully often faced discrimination: signs on lodgings stating: “no blacks”; people refused entry to certain pubs and shops because of their race; discourtesies and even assault in public places by those who resented the changing face of the nation. The 1965 Race Relations Act was an attempt by the Labour government, albeit a very weak attempt, to address this situation.
Discrimination, however, was made a civil not a criminal offence, partly because of arguments put forward by the Conservatives that race relations would be soured further were the legislation to be given teeth. And though discrimination “in places of public resort” was outlawed, inexplicably shops and private boarding houses were excluded; so was discrimination in employment, and even local authority policy on renting property. The act, then, was very superficial. There are times when British compromise can be laudable; this was not one of them. The legislation was given greater range in 1968 and 1976.
The 1965 act did, however, set up the Race Relations Board, which came into operation the following year. It initially had very limited scope and powers, its remit monitoring and persuasion; but a seed had been sown.
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