House of Commons - Explanatory Note
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330.     The Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA) for the establishment of the CEHR (which is being published separately and is available at or from analysed the areas where the proposals to create the CEHR might have particular implications for race equality, assessed the impact and recommended that the proposals set out in the Fairness for All White Paper (May 2004) should be adapted to ensure there is no negative impact on race equality. In this Bill the recommendations made in the REIA are reflected in the:

  • enforcement role for the CEHR in clauses 22 to 34, and the absence of any statutory criteria for the CEHR to decide which individual cases to support in clause 30;

  • provisions made for the CEHR to conduct inquiries into named bodies, as well as into sectors and general themes in any area of its remit i.e. covering equality, human rights and good relations - clause 17;

  • powers for the CEHR to make recommendations in the course of or following an inquiry or investigation - clauses 17 and 22;

  • no 'public interest test' has been set for the launching of general inquiries which can lead to 'formal investigations' where suspicion of 'unlawful acts' is uncovered - clause 17;

  • the CEHR will have powers to compel evidence without recourse to the Secretary of State - clauses 17 and 22 and Schedule 2;

  • the CEHR will have powers to enter into binding agreements with those who may have committed unlawful discrimination with a view to preventing any recurrence - clause 25;

  • provisions made to enforce the public sector duties on race, disability and gender equality - clause 34;

  • there is an obligation on the Secretary of State, when making appointments to the Commission, to have regard to experience and knowledge of all sorts of discrimination, including race discrimination - clause 2 and Schedule 1 Part 1;

  • flexibility for transfer of race equality work from the CRE to the CEHR - clause 38. .

331.     The Equal Treatment Appraisal for the Bill (available at or from examines the impact of the proposals on the other five equality strands (i.e. age, disability, gender, religion or belief and sexual orientation).

332.     For the new strands of sexual orientation, religion or belief and age, this is the first time that institutional support for combating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity will exist.

333.     The functions of the EOC and DRC will be carried forward (with minor modifications to update and harmonise certain provisions where necessary) into the CEHR.


334.     The Bill extends to Great Britain.

335.     Equal opportunities are in principle reserved to the Westminster Parliament, but the encouragement of equal opportunities is an exception to this rule and falls within the devolved competence of the Scottish Parliament.Some clauses of this Bill fall partly within the competence of the Scottish Parliament. These include clauses relating to promotion of equality and diversity in Part 1, the promotion of equal opportunities in the gender duty and duties imposing functions on Scottish Ministers in Part 3. The Scottish Parliament will be invited to agree that it is content for Parliament to legislate for Scotland in this devolved area. Human rights as a topic is neither reserved nor devolved - a human rights issue falls within the competence of the Scottish Parliament if the underlying subject matter is not reserved. The CEHR's human rights role in Scotland is intended to be limited in practice to human rights issues on reserved topics.

336.     Under the Welsh devolution settlement the subject matter of equal opportunites is not transferred to Wales.

337.     The Bill does not extend to Northern Ireland since equal opportunities are "transferred matters" under the Northern Ireland Act 1998. But the Bill will make a small number of consequential amendments and repeals to legislation which applies in Northern Ireland, and so the Bill will need to extend to Northern Ireland to that limited extent.


338.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before the Second Reading.

339.     There is not believed to be anything in the Bill which conflicts with the Convention Rights. Indeed, the CEHR will work to promote compliance with the Human Rights Act.


340.     The Race Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (2002/73/EC) require Member States to create equality institutions for the promotion of equal treatment on the grounds of race and sex. The bodies' competencies must include providing assistance to victims of discrimination in pursuing complaints, conducting independent reports and making recommendations on any issue relating to discrimination. The EOC and CRE currently have the competencies required by the directives. These competencies will be carried forward to the CEHR.

341.     The Employment Directive (2000/78/EC) (which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age) does not require Member States to create an equality institution for the promotion of equal treatment on those grounds. However, where an organisation exists which has a legitimate interest in ensuring the directive is complied with, the organisation should be permitted to engage in litigation on behalf or in support of complainants, in accordance with criteria laid down in national law. Once created, the CEHR will be such an organisation and will be able to engage in litigation in support of complainants, as required by the Directive.

342.     The Employment Directive has been implemented (in respect of the religion or belief strand) by the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. This Bill will slightly modify the definitions used in those Regulations in order to provide consistency between the Regulations and the new religious discrimination provisions contained in Part 2 of the Bill. The changes do not however have a substantive effect on the scope of the Regulations.


343.     The provisions of the Bill and the Schedules will be brought into force on a day or days appointed by commencement order of the Secretary of State. As provided for in clause 38(3), each of the existing equality commissions are to cease to exist before 1 April 2009, and the commencement orders and dissolution orders to be made under clauses 83 and 38(1) respectively will achieve this.

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