New Clause 10 - Equality impact assessments

Part of Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 29 November 2022.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy) 2:15, 29 November 2022

The Government have a track record of inadequate impact assessments going back a few years, and they are not showing much sign of improvement with this Bill. Labour sees it as our duty to push for new clauses that would force the Government to wake up and properly assess the impact of this Bill and policies that will flow from it. As we are approaching the end of proceedings, I will try to keep this brief.

Subsections (1) and (2) of both new clauses should be somewhat familiar to those who have been following our new clauses closely. In both new clauses, subsection (1) simply states that the new clauses would apply to national authorities making regulations under clauses 12, 13, 15 and 16, or section section 1(1), and subsection (2) mimics the timeframe stipulations in our other new clauses; it requires that at least six weeks before the legislation comes into force, or at least three months before it is revoked, a report should be laid before the House that sets out the issues outlined in the new clauses.

The two new clauses differ in the issues that the impact assessments are designed to tackle. New clause 10 focuses on the impact that modifications will have on each authority’s obligations under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. If Members are unaware of what that includes, it is a duty to consider the need to

“eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act…advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it” and

“foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.”

Those are principles that I hope all members of the Committee can sign up to, so it should not be seen as an unreasonable requirement on the Government to prepare such an assessment. In fact, I would be deeply concerned if they were not planning to do that as a matter of course.

The Minister told us last week that the Government were committed to retaining all necessary equality legislation. Leaving aside the question of who decides whether legislation is necessary, if the Government were committed to maintaining equality, they would surely as a matter of course want to know the impact on equalities of all the changes that Ministers are giving themselves the power to make under the Bill. All the new clause does is require the Government to lay a report on these issues before Parliament in good time. Can the Minister tell us whether the Government intend to undertake equality impact assessments of each legislative change in the Bill? He mentioned this morning that there was a commitment to undertaking assessments, but I do not think that we specifically heard that there would be equality impact assessments.

I remain sceptical that we will get the full and proper assessments that we need, because there has been little time and space for proper scrutiny and assessment of the consequences of the powers that Ministers are giving themselves in the Bill. That is, of course, not an accident. As I argued last week, it is by design, so that as little attention as possible is drawn to the impact of any changes that the Bill may deliver.