Session 2006-07 2 August 2007
Delays in producing a review of existing discrimination law and a Single Equality Bill have raised fears that equality issues have slipped down the Government's agenda, says the Communities and Local Government Committee in a report out today. Equalities legislation has grown piecemeal over the past four decades and a Single Equality Act to unify it must not be further delayed, it concludes. It wants to see the Government press ahead with the act to simplify the existing equalities law and make it more effective.
The Committee's report on Equality welcomes the establishment of a single Commission to cover all aspects of equality saying it is a positive move in the battle against unfair discrimination and inequalities.
But it fears that indecision and delays have accompanied the Government's management of establishment of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) and threaten to hamper its effectiveness, the Committee concludes.
Deep and entrenched inequalities and unfair discrimination persist in the UK. The Committee notes that at the current rate of progress, it may take decades for some groups of people to achieve parity in employment and education while for othersâsuch as Pakistani and Bangladeshi women or disabled peopleâon current trends parity will never be achieved.
Dr Phyllis Starkey MP, Chair of the cross-party select committee, said today "there are not just moral imperatives in reducing inequality and discrimination but economic and social benefits to be gained too."
The MPs also welcome the Government's consultation on the inclusion of measures within the act to prohibit age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services. However it warns that if such legislation is introduced it is important that appropriate safeguards are in place to avoid criminalising positive age related benefits, such as the provision of discounted bus passes for older people.
Dr Starkey added "We call on the Government to do still more to tackle unfair discrimination and reduce inequalities, particularly those that are deep rooted and persistent in society. The Government should press ahead with a Single Equality Bill. It is necessary to reduce the complexity of existing equalities legislation and to increase the effectiveness of the law in supporting individuals and organisations in reducing discrimination."
"I welcome the creation of the Commission on Equalities and Human Rights but it needs to be given the proper legislative support. The Government must press ahead with the Single Equalities Act without further delay if we are to eradicate unfair discrimination in our society."
Notes for Editors:
1. The Communities and Local Government Committee launched its inquiry on Equality following its examination of Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights on 24 April 2007. Its second, and final, evidence session was held with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Women & Equality), Meg Munn MP on Tuesday 5 June 2007. The inquiry examined issues around the establishment of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and the Government's role and actions to reduce inequalities.
2. The Communities and Local Government Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated bodies.
3. The current membership of the Communities and Local Government Committee is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Martin Horwood MP (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab), David Wright (Lab).
4. Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby, Media Officer, Tel: 0207 219 0718/ Mobile: 07917488557 / e-mail:
5. The Report will be available in the following ways:
â Copies of the Report may be obtained, on publication, from the usual outlets, including The Parliamentary Bookshop and The Stationery Office (reference: Sixth Report of the Committee, Session 2006-07, HC 468).
â The Report will be posted on the internet at approximately 11.00 am on 2 August, and will be accessible via the Committee's WebPages: