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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:39 am on 9th June 2009.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 10:39 am, 9th June 2009

Thank you, Mr. Taylor. It is a pleasure to see you here this morning.

I want to raise two issues, one of which has been raised specifically by the Catholic Bishops Conference. I will question its representative first and then other panel members can comment. The issue is the employment exceptions for the purposes of religion, and the changes between the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Bill. The Catholic bishops say that the Bill narrows the exception, while the Government’s position is that it simply clarifies existing law. However, you can read it both ways. This specifically looks at the extent to which a particular religion or belief is a genuine occupational requirement of a job. Can I ask you, Mr. Kornicki, to set out your position and the extent to which you feel the language in the Bill does or does not significantly tighten or limit the exceptions in existing law?