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Equality North East

Equality Bill passed by House of Lords - COI

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, today welcomed the completion of the Equality Bill’s third reading in the House of Lords.
The Bill, which sets out groundbreaking new laws that will help narrow the gap between rich and poor, require businesses to report on the pay gap between men and women and outlaw age discrimination, will now return to the House of Commons, where MPs will consider amendments made by the Lords. The changes made in the Lords include:

• Adding a power to outlaw caste discrimination. The Government will now look into the issue to see if action is needed.

• Removing the prohibition on Civil Partnerships taking place in religious premises. This move, which was supported by religious groups including the Quakers and Liberal Judaism, means religious groups will be allowed to let Civil Partnership ceremonies take place in their churches, mosques, synagogues and so on if they choose to do so. It will not force any religious group to do anything that is not compatible with their faith.

• A ban on asking for health and disability information prior to making a job offer. This will stop employers screening job applications to avoid interviewing people with disabilities.

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said:

"I’m pleased that the Equality Bill has completed its Third Reading in the House of Lords and I want to thank our ministers in the Upper Chamber, Jan Royall and Glenys Thornton, for their hard work and commitment in steering it through to this stage.

"This is a historic piece of legislation that contains a range of new rights, powers and obligations to help the drive towards equality, including tackling the overarching inequality caused by where you are born and what your parents do for a living.

"I look forward to it taking its place on the statute books following further scrutiny by the House of Commons, but that will not be the end of the story. After the Bill is passed we will set to work implementing and enforcing it, putting equality firmly at the centre of Government."

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March 25, 2010

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