Equality Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 9th November 2005.

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Photo of Lord Lester of Herne Hill Lord Lester of Herne Hill Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities 4:00 pm, 9th November 2005

My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 6 and speaking to Amendment No. 5, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 7 and 8. The Minister explained clearly the object of the amendment, which I strongly support. It ensures non-regression; that is, it ensures that what the EOC can do will be able to be done by the new commission. There is just one snag, which comes from the problem of lists. I can see the Minister scowling but nevertheless I must deal with it.

The snag is that the way in which Amendment No. 5 is drafted does not properly reflect the EU race directive or the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, so it does not properly reflect community law with regard to the other commission—the CRE. That is why my Amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 8 have been tabled, to fill the gap in the Government's amendment. To be clear, under EU law, nationality discrimination is forbidden, which is why Amendment No. 6 would add the word "national" and Amendment No. 7 includes the words "nationality (including citizenship)". That reflects both the race directive and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. That is why my Amendment No. 8 would include equal opportunity "between different racial groups", as between men and women.

This problem goes back to the well known problem that the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, refers to often—the problem of having lists. The moment you have lists, you find that you may leave something out. It is important that the race side of the question has not been properly dealt with. I would not be surprised at all if the Minister were to say that the matter needs to be thought about further and dealt with in the other place. I should be entirely content with that—but I want to get right these provisions about giving assistance, as a matter of Community law. I beg to move.