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Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the assessment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission that institutional racism is no longer a feature of British society but that systemic bias exists, requiring different responses. [HL827]

The Government agree with the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission that institutional racism has not been eliminated but that there has been much progress since the Macpherson report was published 10 years ago. The Government's new equality Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech in December, will help to address the issue by creating a single new equality duty on public bodies to tackle discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and encourage good community relations. The new duty will cover race, disability, and gender, as now, but will also include age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and religion or belief, replacing the three existing, separate duties with a single more effective framework. The equality Bill will also contain provisions on positive action that go further than ever before, to the limits of what is permissible under European law. Any use of these provisions will remain voluntary, but we believe that there are sound and compelling business arguments for organisations to take positive action steps to ensure that they employ a diverse workforce. Diverse workforces ensure that organisations such as the police services better reflect the make-up of the society that they serve.