This Library paper has been written to support the House of Commons ‘artist in residence’ project First Waves: Exploring the impact of race relations legislation in the UK. Scarlett Crawford has been commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art in the House of Commons to explore the impact of the 1965, 1968 and 1976 Race Relations Acts. This paper provides information on all three of these Acts. It explains their main provisions and looks at how they attempted to address racial discrimination in the UK.

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Race Relations Act 1965

This Act prohibited discrimination on grounds of race in public places and established the Race Relations Board with responsibility for conciliation of discrimination complaints.

Race Relations Act 1968

This Act extended the protection against discrimination beyond public places to include, amongst other things, employment and housing. The Act strengthened the powers of the Race Relations Board and established the Community Relations Commission.

Race Relations Act 1976

This Act extended the definition of discrimination to include indirect discrimination. The Act replaced the Race Relations Board and the Community Relations Commission with the Commission for Racial Equality. Individuals gained the ability to take discrimination complaints directly to civil courts or industrial tribunals. The Commission for Racial Equality was given responsibility to enforce legislation and conduct research to inform government policy on race relations.

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