The Equality Bill was published on Monday 27 Apr
The Bill aims to replace nine major pieces of legislation and around 100 statutory instruments into one single Act. It will include measures to fight discrimination on the gender pay gap where women still earn on average 22.6% less than men: it will introduce a new public sector duty to consider reducing socio-economic inequalities: place a new Equality duty on public bodies, replacing the three existing duties on gender, race and disability; use public procurement to improve equality, ban age discrimination form the workplace; introduce gender pay reports; extend the scope to use positive action; strengthen the powers of employment tribunals; protect carers from discrimination, protect breastfeeding mothers, ban discrimination in private clubs; and strengthen protection from discrimination for disabled people.
Also published on 27th April 2009 was the Government Equalities Office publication ‘A Fairer Future: The Equality Bill and other action to make equality a reality’. This guide to the Equalities Bill outlines the measures in the Equalities Bill and where it will apply.
Progress of the Equality Bill
The First Reading of the Equality Bill in the House of Commons was on 24 April 2009 and Second Reading followed on 11 May 2009. WNC gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee on 2 June 2009. The Committee considered amendments to the Bill from 2 June 2009 to 7 July 2009.
The Equality Bill successfully passed through the report stage and final reading in the House of Commons and entered the House of Lords on the 3rd December 2009. The Equality Bill completed its final reading in the House of Lords on the 23rd March 2009; the Lords made a number of minor amendments to the Bill. The Bill returned to the House of Commons on the 7th April 2010, where the Lords' amendments to the Equality Bill were considered. The Commons accepted all of the Lords' amendments without a vote and the Bill has therefore completed all its parliamentary stages. The Bill received royal assent on the 8th April 2010, and is now the Equality Act.
The Equality Bill has been agreed by Parliament with cross party support for the overwhelming majority of its provisions, many thanks to all our partners who have assisted us with monitoring and contributing to the development of the Bill over the past year.
WNC Commissioners’ Equalities Bill Group
The WNC Commissioners’ Equalities Bill Group meet regularly to discuss the Bill and the WNC also held a Ministerial round table with the Equalities Bill Minister, Vera Baird on 14 May 2009 to consider and discuss key concerns along with GEO officials and key stakeholders.
A letter was sent to Ministers for Women Harriet Harman and Maria Eagle and Bill lead Minister Vera Baird on 5 March 2009, setting out WNC’s welcoming of the Bill and the opportunity for debate it presented. The letter explored ways forward, highlighted any areas of concern, and gave examples of good practice particularly from the Northern Ireland experience. It is available here.
If you have any views on the Equalities Bill you would like us to know about or to pass on, please let us know by E mail on