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David Lammy elected to chair Government race group

TIME TO TALK ABOUT RACE: David Lammy has been appointed chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on race

ETHNIC MINORITIES cannot be pushed to "the back of the queue" for jobs as Britain's unemployment continues to worsen, said politician David Lammy.

His statements come after being elected on Monday, July 11, as chairman of a cross-party Government committee focusing specifically on race issues.

The Labour politician has taken over from Diane Abbott as chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community which was reformed last year.

He said: "People have grown afraid to use the word racism. I am pleased to be taking up chair of a group of members across all parties who are not afraid to use that term.

"Some very serious concerns came up at our meeting this week including the lack of jobs in this country which has a disproportionate effect on black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.

"Are we going to see a lost generation who get forced out of the job market and unable to get back in? That’s what has happened in previous decades.

"Our role is to ensure that with the current shortage of jobs black and ethnic minority people do not find themselves at the back of the queue."

Unemployment in Britain now stands at approximately 2.45 million and has seen a rise of 24,500 over the past three months in the number of claimants for job seekers allowance.

The committee was reformed last year after being inactive since 2005. Abbott, Britain’s first black MP, was elected chair but has since stepped down to focus on her shadow cabinet responsibilities.

Lammy said: "The group wants to find out the importance of racial equality to this Government; we have heard very little on that topic. In fact, there are fears about a downgrade of the Equalities Act. There is a lot going which suggests a watering down of the act we brought in."

The Equalities Act 2010 was passed by the Labour Government to honour a commitment made in its 2005 manifesto and consolidates all the anti-discrimination laws in Britain regarding race, pay, disability and gender.

The Tottenham MP was elected in 2000 and has been vocal on a range of issues from absent fathers, to racial discrimination at Oxbridge universities and against Tottenham Hotspur's bid to move to the Olympic stadium in Stratford.

He added: "I think it’s fair to say that I have never been a single issue politician. It's true; I'm a loyalist. I'm a loyalist to the Labour Party and I am a loyalist to the people who live in Tottenham who have elected me to represent their interests in parliament.

"I turned down a job in the shadow cabinet, so I could speak my mind freely."

The Runnymede Trust, a multicultural think tank, will act as secretary for the group.

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