A CROSS-PARTY group of peers will propose new laws against racial harassment and violence in the Lords today, amid fears that the Government's own solution to the problem will backfire on ethnic minorities.
Lord Irvine of Lairg, Labour's shadow Lord Chancellor, has tabled amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which would create a new offence of racially motivated violence and make it easier to convict on existing incitement and harassment charges.
The new offence would add up to five years to the prison sentence of anyone convicted of a violent racially motivated crime. The changes have the backing of the Commission for Racial Equality and peers from all parties.
The peers' move is prompted by growing alarm at the rise in racially motivated crimes, with British Crime Survey figures suggesting there were 130,000 such incidents in 1993. "The present law is simply not adequate," Lord McIntosh, the Labour frontbench home affairs spokesman, said. "Between 1987 and 1993 there were only 13 prosecutions for incitement and harassment."
Lord Irvine's bid to tighten the law comes after similar amendments tabled by Sir Ivan Lawrence, Conservative …