White Paper: ‘The single-tier pension: a simple foundation for saving’

On 14 January 2013, the Government published a White Paper outlining proposals to reform the State Pension into a single-tier State Pension.

The White Paper also includes proposals for a regular and structured mechanism with which to consider changes to the State Pension age in the future.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith said:

This reform is good news for women who for too long have been effectively punished by the current system. The Single Tier will mean that more women can get a full state pension in their own right, and stop this shameful situation where they are let down by the system when it comes to retirement because they have taken time out to care for their family.

Click here for details

Click here for Age UK Briefing on the White Paper

Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

In September 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that the Government is backing the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill brought forward by Gavin Barwell MP, which received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 14 September.

The Bill repeals section 141 of the Mental Health Act, which sets out that an MP automatically loses their seat if detained under the Act for more than six months. It also amends similar discriminatory provisions in legislation concerning jurors and company directors.

In November 2012, a House of Commons library briefing on the Bill was published.

Click here for announcement

Click here for details of the bill

Click here for briefing

 

Church of England votes against women bishops

In November 2012, the General Synod of the Church of England voted to reject the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops.

In an interview with the Guardian published on 24 November 2012, Equalities Minister Maria Miller MP expressed her disappointment about the outcome.

Click here for announcement on the Church of England website

Click here for Guardian interview with Maria Miller

European Commission reports on the application of the Race and Employment Equality Directives

The European Commission emblem.

The European Commission will in 2013 report on the application of the two anti-discrimination directives (Directive 2000/43/EC on Racial Equality and Directive 2000/78/EC on Employment Equality).

Gay Moon, Special Legal Advisor to the Equality and Diversity Forum, has provided a short briefing note:

The requirement of an implementation report from the Commission every five years is set out in both Directives. The first implementation reports were adopted on in 2006 (Racial Equality Directive) and 2008 (Employment Equality Directive) at a time when there was not yet much experience on their application. Due to the same regulatory approach and identical content of many provisions in the two anti-discrimination directives as well as common transposition in many Member States, the Commission has now opted to report jointly on these two directives.

The consultation of Member States was launched on 28 September and the Member States had 8 weeks from that date to reply to the EC questionnaire. The Commission has invited the Member States also to provide information concerning their national equality bodies and such information will be particularly relevant to the forthcoming report due to the important role of the equality bodies. The Commission says that it trusts that Member States will ensure that their equality bodies are consulted for the reply to the Commission.

The European Commission is holding its annual Equality Summit in Cyprus on 22-23 November 2012 when, no doubt, some of the issues arising out of the reporting process will be discussed.

A report by the Council of the European Union on 16 November 2012 states:

While significant progress has been made under the Cyprus Presidency in the attempt to clarify the scope [of the Equality Directive], particularly as regards access to social protection and access to education, there is a clear need for extensive further work on the proposal.

Further information will be posted on this website as it becomes available.

Click here for link to the Racial Equality Directive

Click here for link to the Employment Equality Directive

Click here for information about the Equality Summit

Click here for report by the Council of the European Union

Bill to introduce job-sharing for MPs

The Representation of the People (Members’ Job Share) Bill aims to  introduce job sharing for MPs

The Bill been put forward to enable more people to become MPs who may not be able to at present because of their disabilities or their caring responsibilities.

It follows a campaign and e-petition by Disability Politics UK. The e-petition reads:

The House of Commons is not representative of the electorate. The House of Commons has 650 MPs. Of these 650, there are 504 male MPs, so women are seriously under represented. There are 27 MPs of black and minority ethnic (BME) origin, but there would need to be 55-60 BME MPs to be representative of the BME population. There are a handful of disabled MPs but there would need to be 65 disabled MPs to be representative of the number of disabled people in the population.

Letting MPs serve on a job share basis would enable more people from under-represented groups to stand for Parliament.

We ask that the law be changed to allow MPs to serve on a job share basis.

Legal advice about job sharing for MPs has been obtained by the Equality and Human Rights Commission from Karon Monaghan QC.

John McDonnell MP presented a ten minute rule Bill to the House of Commons on 20 November 2012 to seek to change the law to enable MPs to job share. He has made a video explaining that Parliament does not really reflect our community overall.

In addition, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion, has produced a video explaining why she thinks that allowing Parliamentarians to job share would help to make Westminster more inclusive.

Click here for link to the Bill

Click here for Explanatory Notes

Click here for details of petition

Click here for information on the Disability Politics UK website

Click here for legal advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission about job-sharing and MPs

Click here for link to John McDonnell’s video

Click here for link to Caroline Lucas’ video

Click here for Guardian list of people and organisations who support a law change to allow MPs to job share

ESF-Age Network

ESF

The ESF-Age Network consists of public authorities from 16 EU-member states and regions.

By working together and pooling knowledge, the Network hopes to identify, validate and disseminate high-level strategies to manage the ageing workforce in Europe effectively.

Click here for details

Report of seminar: ‘Rewriting our rights? Human rights and the UK constitution’

On 12 November 2012, the British Academy Policy Centre, EDF and the EDF Research Network held a seminar about recent human rights developments in the UK.

Tumultuous and politicised debate about human rights protections in the UK led the Government to appoint a Commission on a Bill of Rights to consider the future of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the possibility of introducing a British Bill of Rights. As the UK awaits the Commission’s report to be published at the end of the year, the British Academy, the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) and the EDF Research Network held an open discussion on developments around human rights in the UK.

The event considered how those who campaign, research or make policy on this issue should build their respective cases using solid and effective evidence covering:

  • criticisms of the Human Rights Act and whether they have any grounds;
  • the cost of tampering with a functioning system;
  • the legal complexities surrounding this issue;
  • what a new Bill of Rights might mean for the UK.

Speakers were:

  • Professor Sandra Fredman QC, Oxford University, EDF Research Network co-chair, and member of the British Academy steering group for the report (Chair)
  • Colm O’Cinneide, Reader in Law, UCL, and author of the report, Human Rights and the UK Constitution
  • Sarah Isal, Director, UK Race & Europe Network /Deputy Director, Runnymede
  • Joshua Rozenberg, legal commentator
  • Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Mind

Click here for event flyer

Click here for summary of the event by Faith Marchal, EDF Research Network

Click here for link to a recording of the event on the British Academy website

Click here for tweets from the event

Click here for details about and link to ‘Human Rights and the UK Constitution’ by Colm O’Cinneide

'Human Rights and the UK Constitution' by Colm O'Cinnedie

Speakers at the seminar on 12 November 2012

Professor Sandra Fredman QC, chairing the seminar

Dr Robin Jackson, Chief Executive, British Academy, welcoming participants

Amanda Ariss, Chief Executive of the Equality and Diversity Forum

Women on Boards: European Commission proposal for 40% objective

The European Commission emblem.

On 14 November 2012, the European Commission proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises.

Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively.

Click here for announcement

ECRI recommendation on combating racism and racial discrimination in employment

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance ECRI

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s General Policy Recommendation no. 14 on combating racism and racial discrimination in employment was issued in September 2012.

The Recommendation is intended to provide governments with clear guidance on dealing with racism and racial discrimination in both the public and private sectors.

Click here for link