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Exiting the EU: Equalities Policy

Volume 636: debated on Thursday 22 February 2018

3. What assessment she has made of the effect on the Government’s policies on equality of the UK leaving the EU. (903876)

The UK Government’s record on equalities is one of the best in the world, and leaving the EU will not change that. The equality Acts and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland provide the cornerstone of equalities protections in the UK and in some places go much further than EU requirements, for example, in our world-leading approach to gender pay gap reporting. We do not need to be part of the EU to sustain our record in this area.

A recent study published in Social Policy and Society has found that the UK’s voting record in the EU has historically placed business interests over women’s rights. What steps are this Government taking to ensure that post-Brexit Britain will not place business interests above ensuring equality?

This Government have a proud record of protecting and enhancing women’s rights, and that record of action predates our membership of the EU, as seen, for example, in the Equal Pay Act 1970. The EU’s own gender equality index places us sixth out of 28, and our gender pay gap reporting requirements and our public sector equality duty are world-leading initiatives that go beyond EU law in many ways.

As on employment rights, the UK has a been right at the forefront of advancing equality across the world. Will the Minister confirm that that simply is not going to change?

Yes, we have a proud record, history and tradition in the UK of supporting workers, protecting civil liberties and championing human rights. Leaving the EU will in no way affect that historical tradition, of which we can all be proud.