Northern Ireland Bill - continued        House of Commons

back to previous text

The Equality Commission
     1. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland shall-
    (a) keep under review the effectiveness of the duties imposed by section 61;
    (b) offer advice to public authorities and others in connection with those duties; and
    (c) where it thinks appropriate, request a public authority to make a first or revised scheme showing how it proposes to fulfil those duties in relation to some or all of its functions.
Equality schemes
     2. - (1) A public authority shall respond to a request under paragraph 1 by submitting a scheme to the Commission as soon as reasonably practicable.
      (2) A scheme shall state, in particular, the authority's arrangements-
    (a) for assessing its compliance with the duties under section 61;
    (b) for assessing the likely impact of policies adopted or proposed to be adopted by the authority on the promotion of the equality of opportunity mentioned in section 61(1);
    (c) for publishing the results of assessments;
    (d) for consulting on matters to which a duty under section 61 is likely to be relevant (including details of persons to be consulted);
    (e) for training staff;
    (f) for ensuring, and assessing, public access to services provided by the authority.
      (3) A scheme shall-
    (a) conform to any guidelines as to form or content which are issued by the Commission with the approval of the Secretary of State;
    (b) specify a timetable for measures proposed in the scheme; and
    (c) include details of how it will be published.
     3. Before submitting a scheme a public authority shall consult, in accordance with any directions given by the Commission, representatives of persons likely to be affected by the scheme.
     4. On receipt of a scheme the Commission shall-
    (a) approve it; or
    (b) refer it to the Secretary of State.
     5. - (1) Where a scheme is referred to the Secretary of State he shall-
    (a) approve it;
    (b) request the public authority to make a revised scheme; or
    (c) make a scheme for the public authority.
      (2) A request under sub-paragraph (1)(b) shall be treated in the same way as a request under paragraph 1(c).
     6. - (1) If a public authority wishes to revise a scheme it may submit a revised scheme to the Commission.
      (2) A revised scheme shall be treated as if it were submitted in response to a request under paragraph 1(c).
     7. - (1) If the Commission receives a complaint made in accordance with this paragraph of failure by a public authority to comply with a scheme approved or made under paragraph 4 or 5, it shall-
    (a) investigate the complaint; or
    (b) give the complainant reasons for not investigating.
      (2) A complaint must be made in writing by a person who claims to have been directly affected by the failure.
      (3) A complaint must be sent to the Commission during the period of 12 months starting with the day on which the complainant first knew of the matters alleged.
      (4) Before making a complaint the complainant must-
    (a) bring the complaint to the notice of the public authority; and
    (b) give the public authority a reasonable opportunity to respond.
     8. - (1) This paragraph applies to-
    (a) investigations required by paragraph 7; and
    (b) any other investigation carried out by the Commission where it believes that a public authority may have failed to comply with a scheme approved or made under paragraph 4 or 5.
      (2) The Commission shall send a report of the investigation to-
    (a) the public authority concerned;
    (b) the Secretary of State; and
    (c) the complainant (if any).
      (3) If a report recommends action by the public authority concerned and the Commission considers that the action is not taken within a reasonable time-
    (a) the Commission may refer the matter to the Secretary of State; and
    (b) the Secretary of State may give directions to the public authority in respect of any matter referred to him.
previous section contents continue
House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998
Prepared 28 July 1998