Equality Act to be scrapped?

Allan Beavis's picture
 10
The Government have just launched a new website to encourage the public to tell them where to cut red tape. One of the first areas to be examined includes the Equality Act – and one of the suggestions requiring comment is to scrap the Act altogether to cut unnecessary bureaucracy on business and the public sector.

http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/equalities/#comments
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Ben Taylor's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 16:31

Intelligence, objectively assessed, should be a protected characteristic under this Act, in order that those of all classes including the poorest can be given an education fitting their needs.

Tokyo Nambu's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 16:39

It doesn't improve the case against this incompetent government to misrepresent things by selective quotation (and, for the avoidance of doubt, unlike a lot of soi-disant progressives _I_ voted Labour).

Firstly, the option that has you so upset was one of five, and it's a proforma: the same "should they be scrapped entirely" item (and the other four) appears next to all regulations up for discussion, including inter alia the Trading with the Enemy (Transfer of Negotiable Instruments, etc) (Austria) Order 1947. I hope you wouldn't object to the proposition that "scrap it entirely" is a reasonable thing to discuss in the context of the Trading with the Enemy (Transfer of Negotiable Instruments, etc) (Austria) Order 1947?

Secondly, the comments below the line almost without exception sing the act's praises which is (a) unusual on that website given some of the dingbattery it's attracted over the past few weeks and (b) is nice, public, vocal support which is nice to see.

To interpret a website which puts "Should they be scrapped altogether?" next to every single piece of regulation that affects businesses, and invites (and gets) the response "no", as "Equality Act to be scrapped?" is just superficial, yah-boo politics.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 17:25

The Red Tape Challenge is certainly that! Eight topics. I clicked on the first one: Retail. Eight sub topics. I clicked on Consumer Information and Protection. 37 different regulations. I clicked on one of them: Sunday Trading Act. Entire text of Act appears: Introductory Text: nine sections. This is followed by five schedules. I clicked on the Schedule one: 9 subsections.

So I’d have to read the whole lot before being able to comment.

To make it worse there was a disclaimer at the top of the Sunday Trading Act:

"Changes to legislation:
There are outstanding changes not yet made by the legislation.gov.uk editorial team to Sunday Trading Act 1994. Those changes will be listed when you open the content using the Table of Contents below. Any changes that have already been made by the team appear in the content and are referenced with annotations"

So: outstanding changes not yet written down, but the changes will be listed. Clear as mud.

Most people who wish to take up the challenge are likely only to comment on legislation that affects them. Some topics might receive very few comments. This leaves the government free to change/scrap whatever they want and then say, “But we consulted.” Too much, too soon.

The danger is that good legislation will get chucked out with the bad.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 17:33

Aaaagh. I’ve just realised I was only looking at one major section: Retail. There’s another major section: General Regulations. Six of them including Equalities, Pensions and Employment Law. Equalities is the smallest one – there’s only one Act, the Equality Act 2010. I clicked on the link to the full Act. 218 sub sections and 28 schedules. Oh, and the same disclaimer:

"Changes to legislation:
There are outstanding changes not yet made by the legislation.gov.uk editorial team to Equality Act 2010. Those changes will be listed when you open the content using the Table of Contents below. Any changes that have already been made by the team appear in the content and are referenced with annotations"

I think they’re having a laugh.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 17:38

"Intelligence... should be a protected characteristic." I should hope so. If it were not, then can we expect a cull of those whose intelligence is above, say, 90?

Hang on - didn't Mr Gove say he wanted a cultural revolution like they had in China? http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/malcolmmoore/100069981/a-dunces-hat-fo...

Perhaps we should be afraid, very afraid.

Tokyo Nambu's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 19:16

Consultation exercises get infinitesimal response rates. I've taken part in mainstream legislative consultations: RIPA 2000, ID Cards, changes to the distribution of the edited electoral roll and some technical codes of practice for RIPA, even to the point of showing up to Home Office sponsored meetings with the public (all ten of them). Even though RIPA has assumed major importance as "the snoopers' charter" and "terrorism legislation" (and is the kernel of the dispute between the Met and the DPP over the News International hacking), and ID Cards were a divisive proposal that did Labour significant harm at the ballot box, in each case there were less than a hundred responses, most of them from commercial entities with pecuniary interest. I think responses from the general public barely made it into double figures.

Labour was happy to go ahead with ID Cards on the basis of that consultation exercise and some incredibly flimsy polling data which asked loaded questions, and got hammered for it (and wasted a lot of money). In the case of RIPA, some of us predicted problems that would later emerge but still the legislation went through unchanged. By the standards of current consultation exercises, this one from the Tories looks like the full council of an Athenian city-state, with Plato in the chair.

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 19:42

Interesting discussion but not sure what any of this has to do with schools.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 20:10

I'm so sorry. I wanted to draw attention to this as I was keen to know what people thought might be a motive behind it when applied to the potential removal of the notion of equality in schools - admissions, discrimination against teachers, bullying, discrimination of minorities etc.
Apologies again for not making this clear at the beginning but as this is a schools site I didn't think!

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 20:15

I think it probably does have relevance to schools - just wondered what it might be , as I am not familiar with the Act. Does it require equality impact assessments? In which case very relevant to the setting up of new schools....

Tokyo Nambu's picture
Wed, 13/04/2011 - 21:18

The DfE's view on the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on schools is here: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/inclusionandlearnersupp...

But to reiterate, dubbing this some sinister Tory plan to abolish the Equality Act is over-reaction on a cosmic scale. The website asks the same five question of each and every piece of primary and secondary legislation that impacts on employers.

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