Clause 145

Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 30 June 2009.

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Power to specify public authorities

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

Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

With your indulgence, Lady Winterton, I should like briefly to comment on clauses 145 to 149. The Government appear to be aiming to create wide-ranging order-making powers for themselves to fill in the gaps in the public sector duty. Clauses 145 and 146 create powers to specify—

Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton

Order. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would concentrate on clause 145, which is what we are debating at the moment.

Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

I shall make a few comments on that clause that will apply more widely to the other clauses, but I shall not repeat it each time. Creating the powers to specify which public authorities the duty will apply to is too important to be left to secondary legislation. I should be interested to hear the Minister say why, after 10 years or so of preparation, the Government have not been able to include more detail in the Bill.

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

The clause is needed to allow us to amend schedule 19 in the way that I have just described, and we intend to amend it. We have published what the general duty will involve, with the intention of extending the reach of schedule 19 to other bodies that we think should be in it, but we did not feel that it was right to do that until we had finalised the general duty. Now that duty is in the public domain we can enter into those conversations, but we need a power to add provisions, as necessary, to the schedule.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 145 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 146 ordered to stand part of the Bill.