Equality Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 11th May 2009.

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Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Labour, Leicester West 4:58 pm, 11th May 2009

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her support, because she has done outstanding work on the issue.

On the second issue, I want to return to the point made by my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn about caste discrimination, because it is certainly the belief of Caste Watch UK that the current law does not adequately protect those in south Asian or, indeed, other communities who find themselves discriminated against on those grounds. I understand that the UN human rights convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination prohibits discrimination on five grounds: race, colour, national or ethnic origin, or descent. Of course, the UK ratified the convention in 1969, but I do not believe that our existing law, or indeed the Bill, is as explicit on that point as, for instance, the legislation in Australia. It would be helpful if the Minister addressed that issue.

The Bill is a landmark measure and it deserves the wholehearted support of the House. I certainly wish it well in Committee. I believe that in years to come it will be seen as another milestone on our long march to a fairer and more equal society.