By ANN KIMMEL
FORMATION of a national standing committee on race relations was called for on Monday by a meeting of 30 Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants brought together by Christian Action.
The participants — who included clergymen and members of associations that help immigrants—also agreed to urge local authorities to f or m neighbourhood groups to intprove inter-racial under;tanding.
Professor George Catlin, a Catholic and vice-president of Christian Action, explained that permanent national and local groups were needed "not just where there is a blazing bonfire but also where there are only smouldering embers".
The national committee will be formed by Christian Action in co-operation with other groups. Only a handful of communities throughout England already have neighbourhood "friendship" associations.
Monday's meeting at Church House. Westminster, also resolved that Christian Action should urge the Government to pass laws against discrimination and to back theni up with bodies that will examine alleged cases of discrimi. nation.
"The Government has failed to eve any lead in this problem because it's a hot political potato." said Mr. Michael Page who spoke as a private individual. "Christian Action can put pressure on politic.ans and encourage them. Failure to do so will be disastrous. II' we fail to integrate. the result will be the disintegration of our society.
Lord Brockway, who has tried to get such legislation for years, said he thought a Bill would be introduced some time this year.
Another resolution determined to urge the Government to employ coloured immigrants in its offices, on magisterial benches and in the police force.
It was important that coloured people should have a chance to take highly responsible positions, as well as routine clerical jobs. said Dr. David Pitt. chairman of the newly formed Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, "Many negroes would rather live in the United States, where they know how they stand, than here where the problems are more subtle but lo less real." he said. The English "folklore" tradition tended to make people believe coloured people were inferior.
"We are a particularly insular people, replied the Rev, Edward Rogers, a Methodist. "Not only the coloured man is regarded as slightly inferior, but also the Frenchman and the American."
Speaking as chairman of The British Council of Churches` committee on race relations, he went on: "Prejudice is irrational. It is also real. And it does not just
exist in a small group of frantic Naai extremists."
Mr, John Thirlwell described the difficulties he and Dr. Pitt had in trying to find jobs for coloured youngsters. "Today we have 17 and 18-year-olds leaving school properly qualified but completely unable to get any kind of white collar job. People of 20 who were born here go into the Town Hall and are told 'foreigners' don't get on the housing list" .
When it was suggested that the conference should ask the Catholic Church and the British Council of Churches to appoint more chaplains to immigrant groups, heated objections broke out from three clergymen, including Fr. John Coventry, S.J. They felt special chaplaincies would lead to more separation and less integration. But the motion was passed Another resolution aimed to "make the churches a positive force for inter-racial harmony" by asking them to conduct an education campaign and to set aside one day in the year for racial peace.
The Rev, Jack Read. who runs a large-scale community project from his Anglican church in Spa rk brook, Birmingham, declared that immigrants should be prepared to fit in with English ways before they leave home.
He also called for more adequate preparations here to meet newcomers, particularly better housing for them,
The immigrants themselves, he added. should he strongly advised to conform to British social standards of behaviour. Those who do not, after sufficient friendly warning, ought to be deported.
The meeting resolved to ask employers who recruit labourers from abroad to make sure they will have proper housing and other necessities when they arrive.
Another speaker. Mr, Lewis Mkosi, an African journalist, said: "1 he real reason why black people are being menaced in this country is not because they're black or because of cultural differences but because they haven't got power."
Until the "so-called African States" become viable economic powers. he said, Europe would never learn to respect negroes. "So far you're talking to slaves. asking them to love their masters and you're asking the masters to love their slaves."
Professor Catlin, the chairman. agreed that the problems of African countries were very serious, but dismissed them from the present discussion on the situation here in Britain.
Professor Catlin said: "Now we feel it is time to turn our attention to our own country." There are several hundred active members and many more supporters throughout England and Wales.
Christian Action began after the war as an inter-faith relief movement for Europe. In recent years it has concentrated on promoting civil rights in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia.