Clause 76

Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 23 June 2009.

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Ships and hovercraft

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Sandra Osborne Sandra Osborne Labour, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

I want to ask the Minister a brief question. I hope that it is on the clause—no doubt you will be quick to tell me if it is not, Lady Winterton. Albeit that I have a long coastline in my constituency, I do not know much about seafarers. As I understand it, for some time the Government have been promising to reform the seafarers’ exemption from the Race Relations Act 1976 and to change that outdated discriminatory legislation. However, I understand that the Bill does not contain specific proposals to reform the existing seafarers discrimination, but that enabling legislation will allow reform in secondary legislation. Clearly, the seafarers and the trade union wish the Government to commit to full and effective reform of that discrimination legislation as a matter of urgency. I hope that the Minister can respond to my points.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office 5:15, 23 June 2009

I shall try; I can give a partial explanation and then write with the rest. My hon. Friend will have that before Report, in case she wants to seek any changes then.

Section 9 of the Race Relations Act 1976 allows for differentiations in pay on the grounds of nationality. The Bill does not retain that provision for seafarers recruited outside Great Britain and in line with global shipping practice. The details of the regulations have not yet been settled, but we anticipate that the regulations applying the employment provisions to seafarers will allow employers to continue to operate pay rates that distinguish on the grounds of nationality between seafarers recruited outside Great Britain, other than those from the European economic area and relevant associated states. If there is more to it than that, I shall write to my hon. Friend. However, it is quite clear—I am afraid—that pay differentials will remain between those recruited from affluent Europe and those from other areas of world.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 76 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.