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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 11:31 am, 9th June 2009

I want to pick up on one point that Dianah made. Dr. Harris’s question was specifically about clause 153, which is about recruitment and promotion decisions. My reading is that the explanatory note applies only to people who are equally qualified, whereas the language in the Bill—which we will probe in Committee—talks about people who are “as qualified”. That does not seem to be the same thing. The measure does not allow you to have a policy of discriminating in favour of particular people. It must be done on a case-by-case basis. I agree with the broad consensus that it will not be possible to use it very often. The chances of there being two equally qualified candidates are pretty slim. There must also be evidence that they are equally qualified. Given that—one or two of you have already picked this up—is this really the right way? If you look at clause 152, you will see that it focuses much more on the positive steps that employers can take to reach out into different groups that they perhaps do not recruit from. Is that a more productive way of approaching this matter than clause 153?