Any of our business? Human Rights and the UK private sector - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80 - 82)



  Q80  John Austin: Do you think those powers could be extended or are you referring to their wider powers on promoting good practice and awareness?

  Ms Zerk: Those powers could be extended by primary legislation to turn the Equality and Human Rights Commission into the kind of institution that CORE is seeking, that would be possible. We actually think that because the issues relating to human rights and business are so complex and specific and there are so many different kinds of business impacts and corporate sectors where these issues can arise that a specialist institution is necessary.

  Q81  John Austin: So you would need a specialist commission?

  Ms Zerk: Yes.

  Q82  Lord Lester of Herne Hill: It would not be realistic, would it, to give the Equality and Human Rights Commission a transnational remit? It has already got to deal with all the strands of discrimination plus the entire UK human rights remit as well. It has got the greatest problems in trying to deal with that mandate. If you saddled it with dealing with discrimination abroad or other human rights of nations you would probably risk blunting whatever remains of its cutting edge?

  Ms Zerk: Yes, I would agree with that and given the extraterritorial aspects and the special considerations that are raised by lawyers and also the fact that we are talking about a Commission that will focus in particular on the business of human rights issues not human rights issues in general, we really believe that a specialised Commission is necessary.

  Chairman: I think that is all our questions. Is there anything any of you want to add before we close your part of the evidence session? Okay, great, thank you very much. We will just adjourn for a couple of minutes while we swap our panel over.

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Prepared 16 December 2009