Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Further memorandum from the Carnegie Third Age Programme

  Following our session with the Committee last week, I have been doing some reflection and further work on the issue on integration which we discussed there. I thought it might be helpful for you to have the following list of reasons why I and others believe that a policy of integration makes sense.

  By a policy of integration, I mean:

    (a)  that instead of progressing individual Bills relating to age, religion and sexuality in order to fulfil the requirements of the EU Equal Treatment Directive, Government should bring forward a single, consolidating measure, incorporating the existing statutes relating to race, gender and disability, which would make it unlawful to discriminate unfairly on any ground either in employment or in the provision of goods and services;

    (b)  that instead of creating new statutory commissions for age, religion and sexuality to correspond to the existing commissions for race, gender and disability, Government should take the opportunity to create a new, single commission which would integrate the roles of the existing commissions within an all-embracing equality remit.

  The reasons for advocating this integrated approach are as follows:

    It would reduce both the volume and the complexity of existing UK equality legislation instead of adding three new statutes to those already in force.

    It would take a uniform approach across the various causes of discrimination, focusing on the promotion of diversity rather than the prohibition of a growing list of different forms of discrimination.

    It would remedy the inconsistencies between the existing statutes, including the confusing variation in their application to employment and the provision of goods and services, and the inconsistencies between the remits of the existing commissions.

    It would I believe be preferable to both employers and providers of goods and services—reflecting the best practice of both by addressing equality and diversity issues in a positive, holistic manner as distinct from a negative, piecemeal manner.

    It would respond to the often-expressed concern of employers and their organisations to avoid what they see as the increasingly complex and burdensome load of regulation.

    While employers might once have preferred to have no regulation in these areas, our research (related to age—of which you have a copy) indicates a strong employer view that if they are to be regulated, it should be done in an integrated manner.

    It would forestall pressures for legislation to cover causes of discrimination not so far covered either by UK legislation or the Directive.

    It would avoid the absurdity of Government having to choose between the creation of three new commissions or having no commissions dedicated to the three new areas.

    It would reduce long-term cost through the economy of scale of a single commission.

    It would reflect the positive experience of both Northern Ireland and New Zealand of operating in this way.

    It would save Parliamentary time by combining discussion to a single Bill rather than three separate Bills.

    It would follow the recommendations of the respected independent Cambridge review chaired by Professor Hepple, whose publication was marked by a remarkable measure of agreement between the CBI, TUC and the existing equality commissions as to the desirable long-term direction of equality legislation and structures.

  In conclusion, I believe that these reasons combine to form a very powerful case indeed for pursuing an integrated approach. I recognise that there may well be matters related specifically to age and other equality issues which might need to be addressed as such—for example the questions of genuine occupational qualifications and mandatory retirement ages. However, I believe that it would be far preferable to address these in the context of an integrated Bill rather than in a separate Bill with all its disadvantages.

    I hope this is helpful and would be happy to discuss or elaborate in any way you might wish.

The Carnegie Third Age Programme

February 2001

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