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26 Feb 2007 : Column 1133W—continued

Religion: Equality

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what factors were taken into account when deciding (a) to include religion as an equality strand covered by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and (b) not to include political belief or expression as an equality strand. [120652]

Mr. Woolas: Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006 protects people from discrimination on grounds of religion or
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belief—in this context “belief” includes philosophical beliefs, and also any lack of belief. Both in the Government's Strength in Diversity consultation exercise on a Community Cohesion and Race Equality Strategy and the White Paper, “Fairness for All”, on the proposals for the creation of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, there were strong voices calling for the extension of protection against religious discrimination, which the Government took into account. In neither case was there an equivalent call for protection from discrimination on grounds of political beliefs. The Government also took account of the imbalance that had occurred through case law under the Race Relations Act in which Jews and Sikhs were afforded protection while members of other, multi-ethnic, religions were not.

The coverage of Commission for Equality and Human Rights duties is derived from the underlying equality legislation, including discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

Temporary Accommodation: Children

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless households with dependent children there were in each form of temporary accommodation in 2006-07 in each government region. [122177]

Yvette Cooper: Information reported each quarter by local authorities about their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households in temporary accommodation on the last day of the quarter, and, since 2002, those that include dependent children and/or expectant mothers.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 7 December 2006, Official Report, columns 700-701W.

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