JCHR Press Notice 03-04 No. 24

Session 2003-04                                            8 June 2004

Call for Evidence

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 was published on Wednesday 5 May 2004 as House of Lords Paper 78/House of Commons Paper 536. The JCHR warmly welcomed the decision to establish a Commission for Equality and Human Rights ("CEHR"). The report considered in more detail the functions, powers and structure of the proposed commission so far as they relate to human rights, and in it the Committee made recommendations about these matters (see Press Notice (2003-04) 20 from the Committee, on its website for further details).

On 12 May, the Government published its White Paper Fairness for All: A New Commission for Equality and Human Rights (DTI, Cm 6185), which set out its own proposals for the role, duties and powers of the new commission. It is consulting on these proposals. The deadline for submissions is 6 August.

The JCHR welcomes the large degree of agreement between its proposals and those of the Government. There are, however, some significant differences of emphasis, particularly in relation to the arrangements for accountability, the detail of the litigation powers of the new body, and the details of the proposed new powers to conduct "general inquiries".

The Committee will be responding to the White Paper in a short report to be published in July. In the interim, it will be visiting South Africa (6 to 12 June), where it will be looking at the powers and functions of the Human Rights Commission and other anti-discrimination bodies in that country, and the ways in which economic and social rights are promoted there.

The Committee would welcome submissions from any individual or organisation commenting on the differences between the proposals of the Government's White Paper and its own report or related matters. These should be addressed to  Paul Evans, Commons Clerk of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  Electronic submission is acceptable to meet the closing date, but a signed hard copy should also be sent in any event, witnesses are asked wherever possible to accompany hard copy by an electronic version, preferably in Word  format. Submissions should arrive by Monday 28 June 2004; evidence submitted later may not be able to be taken into account in the Committee's deliberations.

Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed or circulated by the Committee at any stage.  You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.  Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract Parliamentary privilege.