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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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Andrew Copson: Our view is that there will always be, to some extent, a mixture of provision in that way. There will be some clear needs, especially locally and in particular communities, to provide services by a certain group for a certain group. That is the way that a public authority could satisfy their obligations, but equally it might be the case for services that are delivered or co-ordinated on a national level that they are provided in the other way. However, I do not think that the Bill tends in one direction or the other. Our concern is far more likely to be that if organisations such as religious ones are providing a public function, they are held to the same non-discrimination rules as secular or state agencies and organisations that are performing public functions. That is something that the Bill does not fully do at the moment, because it allows religious organisations to discriminate in employment and in the provision of services, even when they are providing a public service under contract. We would say that they should not be allowed to. We make no judgment about whether it is right or wrong to allow religious organisations to contract to provide public services, but we say that if they do so, they should be subject to the same requirements as everyone else.