Lords debate: A multicultural Britain

25 May 2012

Lords including a former chair and members of the Commission for Racial Equality, debated the contribution made by minority ethnic and religious communities to the UK’s cultural life and economy yesterday (Thursday 24 May)

The debate commemorated the 150th anniversary of the forming of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe. 

Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench), who says he is the 'first Zoroastrian Parsee' to sit in the House of Lords, tabled and opened the debate. 'I am often asked to express what Asian values are and I summarise them as the importance of hard work, family and education. Britain prides itself on being a secular and multicultural society where all religions are allowed to be practised and where all races, communities and cultures co-exist side by side,' he said.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Labour), a former government spokesperson for equality, spoke from her perspective as ambassador for the charity UpRising, supporting young community leaders. 'For too many people, hope is lacking and without hope, people put up protective barriers,' she said. 

In his speech Lord Dholakia (Liberal Democrat), a former member of the Commission for Racial Equality, stated that the UK needs to examine changing patterns within all its communities.

He said: 'True multiculturalism is proactive and means that equality and diversity is at the core of everything we do, from government to individual responsibility. We need to take a much more pro-active stance towards combating racism and discrimination... not merely tolerating - the contribution of different cultures and perspectives, and treating them with respect.'

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative), vice-chair of the Faith and Society All-Party Parliamentary Group, referred to his experience as a British Muslim. 'Today, as the world focuses on London, with Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee and the arrival of the Olympics, from churches to synagogues, from mosques to temples, and from gurdwaras to community centres - let us raise a glass, say a prayer... to celebrate these two historic occasions, and also our country and people who make Britain the absolutely incredible place that it is.'

Other speakers included:

  • Baroness Afshar (Crossbench), founder member and chair of the Muslim Women’s Network
  • Lord Alderdice (Liberal Democrat), former member of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding and Joint chairman, International Dialogue Initiative
  • Baroness Coussins (Crossbench), former member of the Commission for Racial Equality
  • Lord Janner of Braunstone (Labour), co-president of the Coexistence Trust
  • Lord Ouseley (Crossbench), former chair and chief executive of the Commission for Racial Equality, council member of the Institute of Race Relations and Chair of Kick It Out
  • Baroness Prashar (Crossbench), president of the Royal Commonwealth Society

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright

More news on: Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, Communities and families, Ethnic groups, House of Lords news, Members of the Lords, Lords news

Share this page