Barry Sherman, Labour MP for Huddersfield and chairman of the education select committee, said many MPs were concerned about some of the changes in their communities since last summer [when there were race riots in some northern towns] and since 11 September.
He welcomed recent government initiatives but asked education minister Ivan Lewis to meet a group from particular constituencies to talk about the 'serious concerns that we a picking up at constituency level about race relations between pupils'.
'It is important to stress that members of parliament have an important leadership role, as do local councillors, in tackling these issues and getting to grips with them at any early stage - rather than avoiding or denying them - and being a force for good in their communities'.
Earlier, Graham Brady, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said both sides of the commons wanted good race relations in schools and, as the minister had accepted, the vast majority of schools already enjoyed harmonious race relations. He questioned whether it was really necessary to require all schools from next week to draft and publish a new race relations policy, and to require them to collect data and analyse pupil performance, admissions, discipline and exclusions by racial group.
For good, harmonious, well-led schools, this would be yet another unnecessary bureaucratic burden, and another diversion from the central priority of raising education standards for all children, he declared.
Hansard 23 May 2002: Column 373-375