Yesterday I was proud to launch the new Equality Bill. In our 2005 Manifesto the Labour Party promised that we would have an Equality Bill. So this is keeping an election promise.
The Bill – which will be debated in Parliament next month – has 5 main points.
• introduce a groundbreaking new law to help narrow the gap between rich and poor;
• shine a light on the hidden pay unfairness against women at work;
• end the last lawful discrimination which is against older people;
• allow employers – if they want to – to make their workforce more diverse by choosing for example a woman or black person who was equally suitable for the job; and
• require public authorities – like councils – to use their purchasing power to drive equality when buying goods and services from the private sector.
It was Labour governments that introduced the Race Relations Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, new legal rights for disabled people and changed the law to allow gay and lesbian “civil partnerships”. Labour governments always stand up for equality. When the Tories were in government they did nothing to press forward on equality – instead they brought in the notorious homophobic “clause 28”.
The new Equality Bill will provide a strong legal framework. It will become law – after being debated by Parliament – in about autumn 2010. But to put flesh on the bones and to make these new measures work in practice we need a Labour government. This is an important law and it’s another good reason to keep Labour in government.
Many party members, trade unionists and others have campaigned for all the things that are in the Bill. You can find more information at www.equalities.gov.uk