WEC report and Government response: Ensuring Strong Equalities Legislation After EU Exit

In October 2017, the Government published a response to the WEC’s February 2017 report on ensuring strong equalities legislation after Brexit.

In the response, it is recommended that:

  • The Government should bring forward an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to empower Parliament and the courts to declare whether legislation is compatible with UK principles of equality
  • The Government should include a clause in the Great Repeal Bill that explicitly commits to maintaining the current levels of equality protection when EU law is transposed into UK law
  • The Government should develop a cross-government equality strategy in order to ensure engagement across government departments and provide a platform for linking with and drawing on the expertise of civil society organisations
  • The Government should assess the extent of research and other equality initiatives that currently receive EU funds and replace and ring-fence these funds to allow current equalities research to continue undisrupted.

Commenting on the Government response, Committee Chair Maria Miller said:

“I welcome the Government’s assurance that it that it shares the Committee’s goal of ensuring there is no erosion of equality rights and protections after the UK leaves the EU.

However, it is disappointing that the Government is not taking opportunities to turn its policy intentions into legislative commitments.

In its report on equality and the EU exit, the Committee set out a number of clear, practical options for ensuring that maintenance of current levels of protection is explicit in law, but the Government has not engaged with these suggestions.

Neither has the Government set out a clear rationale as to why the rights in the Equality Act 2010 cannot be given a similar level of protection to those in the Human Rights Act.

Both Acts set out schemes of individual rights protection, and the Government response has not given compelling reasons for not incorporating the equality rights in EU withdrawal legislation.

I welcome the news that the GEO and DExEU are working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on equalities issues and the exit process.

We look forward to hearing more about these discussions, and about the work and priorities of the cross-government working group on equality-related issues.”

Read the Government response (pdf).

Read our response to the WEC report, ‘Ensuring strong equalities legislation after the EU exit’.