Home Office internal guidance states that anticipating and identifying the potential equality consequences of any policies (including significant rules changes), and ensuring that as far as possible any potential negative consequences are minimised or eliminated should be part of the normal policy making process. We have adopted a best practice approach so, as well as fulfilling the legal requirement to equality assess for race, disability and gender, we consider the impact of policies on all equality strands e.g. gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, and age. Equality assessments draw on previous assessments and other evidence as appropriate.
In deciding whether to consult on specific immigration rules changes in the future, the Home Office will act entirely in accordance with the Cabinet Office's Code of Practice on Consultation, which makes it clear that Ministers have discretion on whether or not to conduct a formal written consultation exercise on particular proposals.
Notwithstanding this point we are mindful of the concern expressed by a number of organisations regarding the changes to Immigration rules announced in April 2006, by the then Leader of the House, 19 April 2007, Official Report, columns 447-48, who undertook to hold a Government debate on this subject as and when parliamentary time allows.