JCHR Press Notice 03-04 No. 19

Session 2003-04                                                   29 April 2004

Forthcoming Publication

Commission for Equality and Human Rights: Structure, Functions and Powers

The Eleventh Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights of Session 2003-04, on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights: Structure, Functions and Powers will be published on Wednesday 5 May 2004 at 10.00 am as House of Lords Paper 78/House of Commons Paper 536.

In March 2003 the JCHR published a report (its Sixth Report of Session 2002-03, The Case for a Human Rights Commission) in which it found that there was a "compelling" case for the establishment of a body to promote and protect human rights in Great Britain. In the light of the government's proposals for a "single equality body", the committee recommended the establishment of an integrated equality and human rights commission charged with the promotion of all the various "strands" of anti-discrimination legislation (incorporating the functions of the present Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission with responsibilities relating to discrimination on grounds of age, sexual orientation and religion or belief) as well as with the promotion and protection of human rights generally. In October 2003 the government announced its intention to proceed with the establishment of a "Commission for Equality and Human Rights". It is hoped that legislation will be passed in time to allow it to begin operating in 2006.

This latest report from the JCHR considers in more detail the functions, powers and structure of the proposed commission so far as they relate to human rights. In it the committee makes recommendations which it expects the government to take into account in formulating the White Paper prefiguring the legislation establishing the new commission. They are directed at ensuring that the new body can discharge its role effectively.