Debate Magazine

Lib Dems Unite to Save Equalities Mission Statement

Posted on the 06 March 2013 by Lesterjholloway @brolezholloway

6168738207_4e8bac4ecd_b (2)Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) have joined forces with the Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA) to submit a motion to spring conference calling on the party to oppose moves to scrap an equalities mission statement.

The move comes just hours after the Lords voted to keep the ‘general duty’ in the Equality Act which expresses a desire to promote good race relations and end prejudice and hate.

The Government want to axe the general duty claiming it sets “unrealistic expectations” but peers – including six Liberal Democrats – defied the whip to preserve the aspirational statement.

Now EMLD and LDDA have submitted a motion to the party’s spring conference which is due to be debated on Sunday morning (10th March).

EMLD hope to rally support for this debate at a fringe meeting on Friday (8th March) with keynote speakers Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, entrepreneur Roger Lynch and Phil Stevens from the LDDA. The fringe will be held at 8.15pm, hall 8A at the Hilton Metropole in Brighton.

The EMLD / LDDA motion calls on the Liberal Democrats to:

  1. Oppose Conservative attempts to weaken the Equality Act and in particular to oppose any weakening of the Public Sector Equality Duty;
  2. Object and voice opposition to proposals to remove duty not to harass
  3. Object to proposals which would remove the promotion of good relations between different groups and valuing diversity
  4. Apply the whip to ensure all proposals which endanger the rights of diverse groups are voted against in stages through parliament
  5. Uphold the values of equality by maintaining the rights of diversity strands in employment.
  6. Reassert the importance of addressing harassment and victimisation in the work place and work towards a more inclusive society whereby all people, no matter what their background, can achieve their full potential.   

EMLD lobbied Lib Dem peers over the need to keep Section 3 of the Equality Act 2006, which includes the ‘general duty’ on Britain’s equality watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to work towards an equal Britain.

The organisation intend to lobby the party’s MP’s to keep the general duty when the Enterprise and Regulation Reform Bill (ERR) returns to the Commons, and hope that Sunday’s motion to spring conference will add weight to the case.

The motion also urges the party to oppose Clause 58 of ERR which proposes to remove section 40 of the Equality Act to remove any prevention of harassment of employees by employers or colleagues.

And the motion also urges opposition to Clause 59 of ERR which proposes to remove sanctions for those that breach the Equality Act.

EMLD are greatly concerned by attempts to repeal various parts of the Equality Act as well as scrap Equality Impact Assessments which Britain’s 40,000 public bodies use to scrutinise new policies to ensure they do not discriminate.

EMLD also plan to join forces with those opposed to the Governments’ plans to axe another part of the Equality Act, a questionnaire that employers must fill in when facing a tribunal action from an employee alleging discrimination.

By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway

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