Vince Cable on equalities

As part of the Social Liberal Forum conference last weekend, I took part in a blogger interview with Vince Cable and took the chance to ask him about his attitude towards equalities issues. My reason for asking is that I’ve always viewed Vince as a firm liberal on such matters (perhaps in part because of his own personal history) but there have been plenty of murmurings that his department are rather keen on abolishing regulations in this field.

His answer was very firm, saying he and the party is “completely committed to the equalities agenda and must remain so”. He pointed to steps his department has been taking, particularly on parental leave and on increasing the number of women on boards (a measure which, as I pointed out, there is increasing evidence to show leads to improved company performance as more diverse boards are more successful).

The “however” came with his view on some existing regulation, which Vince Cable said has the right principles but is too bureaucratic in its approach. He also repeated his concerns about how easy it is for someone to take an employer through a costly tribunal process.

For links to the other accounts of the interview see the Social Liberal Forum website.

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10 Comments

  • Norman Fraser 20th Jun '11 - 2:31pm

    It’s actually very stressful, difficult and costly to take an employer through an employment tribunal process and you need union or legal representation to win one. I do not agree with Vince on this at all.

  • Yellow Bird 20th Jun '11 - 2:48pm

    I completely agree and would echo Norman’s comments about bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The balance of power is already heavily in the employers’ favour in this times of recession and high unemployment.

  • And Government is also proposing to abolish all legal aid and advice for employment cases – Vince has really brought into the CBI briefing about employment claims which is sad (see his recent “Empolyers Charter” which really skirts around the margins of what’s legally acceptable) – if you look at Germany they have far stricter employment protection regulations and far better employment relations as a result when the workforce have rights to be treated fairly. If Vince is committed to equalities agenda then he should take the deregulation website sposnored by his department that is consulting on repealing all equalities regulation.

  • Im afraid that whenever you see the words ‘its too bureaucratic in its approach’ what is really meant is an attempt to roll back worker’s rights. Fair enough from the Tories as it’s in their DNA but Vince should have no truck with this.

  • @peebee:
    Vince should have no truck with this.

    Your whole party should have no truck with this. But I don’t hear any voices from the LibDems in Parliament complaining…seems they’ve all lost their voices not only on this but on a whole host of other issues. Shame.

  • Don Lawrence 21st Jun '11 - 8:32am

    Sadly, Vince is right in many respects regarding equalities legislation being bureaucratic. Many of New Labour’s laws seem to have been written with maximising the role and income of lawyers at the expense of the wider community.

    Recently, in our area, all the Car Parks were brought up to DDA standards, more spaces, all in the nearest position to the exit, improved signage, consultation with disabled groups etc etc. Charges were then imposed on all users (i.e. no longer free for blue badge holders). Now we have Car Parks with 6 disabled spaces, and never have I seen more than one in use, when the rest of the Car park is virtually full. Partly of course this is because blue badge holders have extra rights re parking on yellow lines, and some dedicate disabled only bays.

    Next a challenge received from “No claim, no fee lawyer” on behalf of a few people, challenging the quality of the assessment carried out, and we are told we can’ t take the risk of litigation as it probably isn’t 100% perfect, as a few less common disabilities would not have been expressly covered.

    The problem with this sort of legislation seems to be that it insists on at least equality in every separate area, which means that the cumulative effect is that the disabled in this case actually end up with an overall advantage well in excess of whatever is deemed necessary for equality at the expense of everyone else. All this has to be paid for by the wider community, in this case rich blue badge holders get free parking, while the poor non-disabled have to pay the full amount.

    The question is how can we maintain a fair provision for the disabled when the law allows us to be strongarmed into these sorts of corners, by a skewed legalistic framework; or will we always be forced to give more at the expense of other disadvantaged groups who are not specifically protected by such legislation.

  • It took 4 years and apparently £250k to contest my appt at LSE. Vince is right that the system needs reforming.

  • Vince has misunderstood the point as to whether the Employment Tribunal is too costly for employers. It’s not the employee’s fault that the ET is inefficient, rife with delay, or procedurally complex so as to mean cases take longer to resolve. The employee is entitled to seek legal redress if their rights are infringed. The way to stop that is to ensure employers know and understand their legal obligations towards their staff. That way there would be no (or less) cause for claims!

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