Schedule 6

Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 23 June 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Office-holders: excluded offices

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone Shadow Minister (Children, Schools and Families), Liberal Democrat Spokeperson (Children, Schools and Families)

I beg to move amendment 199, in schedule 6, page 170, line 9, at end insert

‘or other authorities of the GLA family’.

An amendment to clarify that elected members of GLA authorities (MPA, LFEPA etc.) are to be treated in the same way as members of the GLA.

This really follows on from the clause 2 amendment where we attempted to include the Greater London authority in the socio-economic duty. There seems to be a similar anomaly, so I am trying to get the Minister to clarify whether elected members of the GLA authorities, which include the Metropolitan Police Authority and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, will be treated in the same way as the members of the GLA itself.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

Paragraph 2 of the schedule excludes political offices from the protection—available under clauses 46 to 48—against discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The provision ensures that essentially political matters, such as appointment to council offices or indeed to ministerial offices, do not come before a tribunal. There is a carefully drawn exclusion of specific offices in specific political settings, which include GLA offices held by the Mayor and members of the assembly. That is obviously a good thing.

The connection between election and offices in places such as the MPA is not so clear. Protection for people holding offices in such bodies will be available in any case only if the office satisfies the definition of a personal or public office for the purposes of clauses 46 to 48, or if it fits under any other provision in part 5, but it will not arise as a result of election.

The amendment would cause confusion between members of the authorities mentioned in it, some of whom are elected, although many are not. We think it would complicate the provision. In essence, the provision protects people who are elected, as opposed to those  who get to their office in some different way, and it would be unlawfully regressive if the amendment were accepted.

The hon. Lady has made her point; she has probed the issue. I hope that she now appreciates the complexity of the matter and I invite her to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone Shadow Minister (Children, Schools and Families), Liberal Democrat Spokeperson (Children, Schools and Families)

I have listened carefully to the Minister. To clarify, is she saying that if someone is elected to the GLA and then appointed to the MPA, which is what happens to elected members on the GLA, they will not be protected?

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

If it was a personal or public office, or if they were in employment, but otherwise not.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clause 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.