Clause 2

Part of Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 11 June 2009.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 1:30, 11 June 2009

I will be brief. I just want to pick up from our previous discussion one or two of the Minister’s remarks about the nature of the public authorities. This clause, which is the one that I said we were not very happy with, gives Ministers the power by regulations not just to add public authorities that are subject to the duty, but to remove authorities and to vary the functions to which it will apply. The Minister said she felt that the Government had covered most of the authorities that they wanted, but they had left the power to add them in case they had missed any, and her response to the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green suggested that there were one or two authorities that the Minister needed to consider again.

However, given that the Bill has these authorities in it and the Committee has now accepted them, it seems to me that Ministers being able to take them out pretty  much whenever they felt like it would not be acceptable. I would therefore like the Minister to say a few words about where Ministers thought they might use the powers. Is it an administrative thing? In other words, is it about taking authorities out when they cease to exist or there is a reorganisation and they are called something different or the machinery of government changes? Are we pretty much stuck with the list barring that happening, or will it be the intention of Ministers to take out authorities for other reasons? I would like some understanding of Ministers’ thought processes.