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Equality North East

Lords urged to address serious concerns on the specific duties by Black think-tank

On Monday, 1 February 2010, the 1990 Trust state that the Lords and the Government must act to ensure that stronger public sector equality duties are passed, given the proposals for weakened specific duties. As it stands, if the Equality Bill is passed, given the proposals to weaken the specific duties, it will represent a major regression on race legislation and will be seriously detrimental to race equality in Britain.

The leading Black think-tank is seriously concerned that the policy statement on the specific equality duties - recently published by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) - runs the risk of fatally undermining the public sector equality duty. Far from making the duty work, these policy proposals may even fail to properly address existing race, disability and gender equality duties.

The public sector equality duty will be debated further in the Lords on 9 February 2010. The 1990 Trust urges the Lords to:
* Strengthen the public sector equality duty clauses, given the plans to seriously dilute the specific equality duties framework; and
* Ask the Government to assure the House that the specific duties proposals will not be regressive in content or effect.

The Trust is also requesting that the Government Equalities Office address:
* Why the proposals in the policy statement on the specific duties fail to build on the research commissioned by Schneider- Ross ;
* Why the government response to the consultation was not published in a timely manner so as to inform the Lords debate; and
* Why the responses to the specific duties consultation are not available on the GEO website; and request that they are made available by 5 February 2010.

Organisations are encouraged to:
* Forward their response to the GEO’s specific duties consultation (if submitted) to info.1990trust@googlemail.com;
* Write to peers involved in the debate on the public sector equality duty; and
* Write to the GEO to raise their concerns.

David Weaver, Chair of the 1990 Trust, said: “Time is running out to ensure that one of the most important legislative advances, particularly in relation to race equality, is not fundamentally undermined. We ask the House of Lords to listen and use its scrutiny role to strengthen the public sector equality duties and ensure that there is no regression in relation to either the general duties or the specific duties.”

February 3, 2010

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