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Equality Bill 2003

  • Background to the Bill
  • Equality Bill 2003
    (published on the
    U.K. Parliament website)
  • Explanatory Notes
    (PDF Format, 550KB)
  • Executive Summary
    of Responses to the
    Public Consultation

    (PDF Format, 139KB)
  • Press Releases
  • Information for Media
    (PDF Format, 149KB)
  • (To view PDF files you will need
    to download Acrobat Reader)

    * *

    The draft Equality Bill has been drafted for the Cambridge Centre for Public Law by Stephanie Grundy, in conjunction with Professor Bob Hepple QC, Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC and the Odysseus Trust. The Bill gives effect to the main recommendations of the Cambridge Centre for Public Law's Report, Equality: a New Framework, The Report of the Independent Review of the Enforcement of UK Anti-Discrimination Legislation (Hepple, Coussey & Choudhury, Hart Publishing, July 2000).

    The Bill seeks to address the serious defects of current equality legislation, setting out a single framework for eliminating discrimination and promoting equality between different people, regardless of their racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sex, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age or disability. It has been drafted in response to the Government's continuing failure to conduct a widespread review of the present fragmented, inconsistent and unsatisfactory system of legislative protection against discrimination and to give effect to the recommendations made by the equality agencies and independent experts for the reform of the law. It goes beyond the minimum provisions required by the EC Race Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Employment Directive (2000/78/EC) in tackling all grounds of unfair discrimination in all spheres of activity, including employment, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, the disposal or management of premises and the management of private members' clubs. It extends the positive duty requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 beyond race to sex and disability. The basic aim is to ensure the equal protection of the dignity and worth of every individual through a single coherent legal code. The Bill also establishes a single body, the Equality Commission for Great Britain, with a range of statutory powers to oversee the implementation of the Bill and to encourage and enforce observation of the Bill's requirements.

    The Bill places emphasis on positive duties to promote equality, which do not depend upon the proof of fault by an individual complainant. Basing itself on British and international experience over the past four decades, it seeks to encourage an inclusive, pro-active, non-adversarial approach to fair participation and fair access while providing effective remedies and sanctions. We believe that is in accord with the UK's obligations under EC law, international law and European human rights law.

    Current Status:
    The Bill passed successfully through the House of Lords and moved to the House of Commons. The Bill was supported by Angela Eagle MP (former Minister for Race Relations) along with Vera Baird QC MP and Norman Lamb MP (Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson). The Bill received a tremendous welcome in the Commons with over 246 MPs signing an Early Day Motion in support. Despite this overwhelming support the Government continued to refuse to support the Bill with the result that the Government whips did not find any time for the Bill to have a second reading. The Bill therefore fell at the end of the last session and must be reintroduced for any further debate.

    The Trust remains involved heavily in the campaign for a single Equality Bill. The legal officers are members of the Equality and Diversity Forum. This campaign has the support of all the Equality Commissions, major NGOs, Trade Unions and some employers groups.