Published in 2010, The Giving Green Paper sets out the Government’s initial ideas for building a stronger culture of giving time and money to start a national debate on our society’s attitude to giving.
The closing date for responses was 9 March 2011.
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The European Commission published a report on ‘Good practice exchange on public policies combating discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin in accessing and progressing in employment’ following a seminar in October 2010.
Government representatives from 14 EU Member States took part in the Good Practice Exchange seminar organised by the European Commission and hosted by the German authorities on public policies combating discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin in employment that was held on the 4th and 5th of October 2010 in Berlin.
Based on the seminar presentations and discussions that allowed a deeper examination of the good practice in this field, the seminar report identifies the key elements and the factors that enabled the development of this good practice.
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In 2011, Rights of Women published ‘Women’s Access to Justice: a research report’.
This report sets out the views of just under one thousand respondents to Rights of Women’s surveys on legal aid, making the case for legal aid in strong terms.
As Emma Scott, Rights of Women Director states, the result is a research report which ‘makes a case for reform, but not the reform that the Ministry of Justice proposes. Rather than a cost-cutting exercise that threatens the very existence of our publicly funded system of justice, what is needed is increased access to legal advice and representation, and with it, increased access to justice. Put simply, without this women will continue to be unsafe, discriminated against and unequal in our society.’
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Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published a Report on the Public Bodies Bill on 21 January 2011.
The Bill was published following the Government’s review of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). It proposes to create a number of delegated powers by which the Government can abolish, merge, modify the constitution, functions or budgetary arrangements of a body or authorise delegation of a body’s functions to a third person or body.
This Report focuses on three significant human rights issues arising in the Bill. The Committee is concerned that there should be no adverse impact on the ability of the UK to safeguard individual rights and liberties protected by domestic law and the ECHR, and to meet its international human rights obligations.
The Committee’s three main concerns are:
- First, the inclusion in the Schedules of this Bill of bodies which serve a function as part of the institutional machinery for the protection of individual rights in the UK. This may undermine their functional or perceived independence and their ability to give effect to the UK’s human rights obligations in practice. These bodies include: the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Children’s Commissioner, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the Parole Board, the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council and the Legal Services Commission.
- Second, the abolition or reform of other bodies which serve a particular decision-making function. This may undermine the right to procedural fairness guaranteed by the common law, the right to a fair hearing guaranteed by Article 6 ECHR and procedural protections guaranteed by specific articles of the Convention (e.g. the right to liberty in Article 5 ECHR). Although the Government has tabled amendments proposing to delete some of these bodies in both of these groups from the Bill, these concerns still remain.
- Third, the excessive use of delegated powers which may reduce the effectiveness of parliamentary scrutiny for human rights compatibility of proposed legislation. The Committee regrets that there is currently insufficient information about the Government’s intentions with regard to most of the bodies listed in the Bill, and about proposals to delete some bodies and retain others; and notes that, despite vigorous debate in the House of Lords and a number of amendments proposed by the Government and by peers, the safeguards against possible abuse of powers within the Bill are still clearly insufficient.
Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said: ‘The breadth of delegation proposed in this Bill appears wholly inappropriate. We remain concerned that the broad use of delegated powers in the Bill would erode Parliament’s role in protecting and strengthening human rights. It would undermine Parliament’s ability to influence or prevent changes to the operation, functions and existence of bodies which play an essential part in protecting individual rights and liberties in the UK.’
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On 26 January 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published statutory Codes of Practice on Employment, Equal Pay, and Services, Public Functions and Associations.
The purpose of these Codes is to explain the new statutory provisions of the Equality Act. The Codes will help to ensure that the law is applied consistently by lower courts and tribunals. They will also help make the law accessible to a wider audience, such as those who have obligations and those who have rights – or their representatives. The new Codes will replace those Codes of Practice issued under previous discrimination legislation.
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