Tory victory could jeopardise Equality Bill

A Conservative victory in the next general election could mean the Equality Bill will never be properly implemented, the minister taking the Bill through Parliament has told Personnel Today.

Solicitor general Vera Baird has voiced concern that although the Bill would be likely to gain Royal Assent in March 2010, the Tories could repeal it when they came to power.

David Cameron’s party voted against the Bill at its second reading in May.

Baird said: “We will get the Bill through parliament unless there is a general election before March, so it will become law. If we were to be not elected again, there is a very serious worry that the Equality Bill wouldn’t be implemented. [The Conservatives] could repeal the legislation.”

Janice Shersby, director of policy at the Government Equalities Office, responsible for the Bill, admitted last week that although it would gain Royal Assent next March, some provisions would not be timetabled to come into force until autumn 2010, to give employers time to adjust to the new law.

The Bill reached committee stage earlier this month, with amendments up for debate that include Liberal Democrat equality spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone’s proposal to ban names from CVs, and a clause to force employers to report their gender pay gap from 2013.

Other provisions in the Bill include the ban on secrecy clauses that prevent staff from talking about pay, and using public procurement to promote equality.

The Bill is tabled to be debated in committee stage until 18 June, when, if successful, it will enter report stage for possible further amendments.

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