Good question from Jo Swinson, good answer from Nick Clegg

Earlier today there was this exchange in Parliament:

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Will the Deputy Prime Minister reassure my constituents that the Government will resist any siren calls to water down the Equality Act as part of the red tape challenge?

The Deputy Prime Minister: I can certainly confirm that, as far as I am concerned, there will be no move to dilute incredibly important protections to enshrine and bolster equality in this country under the guise of dealing with unnecessary or intrusive regulation.


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  • I am surprised to see the Lib Dems defending an Act containing what is known as “socialism in One Clause”.

  • The act was needed.
    The coalition are welcome to improve on the provisions contained within the act but for it to be included in a review where the option is not to amend and improve the working of the act but rather have the default position that it should be repealed is a betrayal of those who are disabled, those who are from different ethnic minorities and those who are not heterosexual.

  • Clegg hasn’t ruled out changing the Equality Act, nor did he say that the Coalition wouldn’t. All we can infer is that he, Nick Clegg, thinks that equality legislation won’t be undermined. It’s personal opinion, nothing more. Disingenuous to imply otherwise.

    Oh, and looks like abortion rights are under attack…

    @Andrew Tennant
    How do you make any change to anything without some people being affected differently to others?

    The point of equalities legislation was to discourage discrimination against groups based on innate attributes such as their gender, sexuality or ethnicity. Not based on their income, employment, location or other non-innate attribute.

    Legislation which negatively impacts on somebody because of an innate characteristic, something they cannot conceivably change, is unfair and illiberal and it would be shocking if government watered down equalities legislation to permit this..

  • ‘Clegg hasn’t ruled out changing the Equality Act’, technically and semantically correct ‘g’. But that is all.

    @Andrew Tennant – I understand what you’re saying, but the Government is not being taken to court for cuts disproportionately affecting women. It is because they did not even assess whether or not this is the case. You have mis-understood the Act if you think it stops anyone making changes, it just requires local authorities, central government and other bodies to at least be aware of the impact they could be having.

    What I love, most of all, is that only two tories voted for the Equality Act – Ken Clarke (aside from his recent mis-speaking, the most liberal justice minister in at least 20 yrs), and John Bercow.

  • @Andrew – well, the point I was making was that the massive headache was probably the Government’s fault rather than the Act, and yes, I think policy making in full possession of the facts is better than not 🙂

  • @Andrew Tennant

    Is equality a government’s sole priority? If not we must ask whether this prevents higher priorities from being achieved.

    What, in your opinion, are higher priorities than ensuring that people are not unduly discriminated against as a result of government policy?

  • Ruth Bright 25th May '11 - 7:03pm

    Poor old Coalition having to summon its collective genius to work out that abolishing Pregnancy Grants disproportionately affects women.

  • @Andrew – your second point, namely that equality is Government’s sole priority was not at all what I was implying. I am a Lib Dem. So there are plenty of bigger priorities! I didn’t realise we were trying to pick the sole one.

    I see the point in your first paragraph, but I think as it stands the EA it is best not to leave the judgment about appropriateness to the body that is having to make that assessment… Thus I think it is right that it is not up to the government to choose whether to consider – when spending its money – the impact on all individuals. [If I were trying to spin it, I would say that this might be an impact on their liberty, which of course should ideally be equally dished out – to everyone.]

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