Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Attempts to Amend the Equalities Bill

Our local MP Michael Foster was appointed Government Minister for Equalities in June 2009, and is responsible for helping to steer the Equality Bill through Parliament.
According to his website the Bill, published in April, sets out "new laws which will help narrow the gap between rich and poor; require business to report on gender pay; outlaw age discrimination; and significantly strengthen Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation."

The BHA maintains that the Bill should be amended to tackle ingrained discrimination against non-religious people in our equality laws. However the Conservative Baroness Warsi, has tabled an amendment to the Bill which would remove the phrase ‘or philosophical’ in the definition of belief, which currently reads: 'belief' means 'any religious or philosophical belief'. This is opposed by the Conservative Humanist group.

The BHA states: "There are now amendments that seek to privilege religion over philosophical beliefs such as Humanism in law, to grant even wider exceptions to permit religious organisations to discriminate in their employment on a number of grounds, including sex and sexual orientation, and to permit people providing public services to refuse to provide a service should that conflict with their personal beliefs."

There was a letter in the Hastings Observer last Friday from a Liam Atkins which maintains "This bill is discriminatory to all religious groups ... and erodes relgious liberty completely ..." but does not give explicit examples of what liberties he means. I hope that the MP will respond in this weeks paper.

This is our 100th post to this blog, since it was started in February last year, so we have maintained a steady flow of ideas, about two a week.


  1. Hi there,

    Thanks for the comment. Michael Foster has now responded to my brief letter in the Observer.

    Please watch out for my response, which when written I shall post back here.

    Thanks and all the best,

    Liam Atkins
    Hollington Conservative Council Candidate

  2. Yes I saw Michael Foster's letter. I'm slightly worried where he says "... we intend to ask our colleagues in the Lords to amend the Bill ..." There are so many amendments tabled. Which does he mean?

  3. Unfortunately my response was not printed in the Observer.

    I was pointing out the exact bit I had objections to, but c'est la vie. Highlighting the bit that he had only glazed over- and deliberately missed my point.

    The bit I was mentioning has now been rejected by the Lords. "Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservatives’ shadow minister for Community Cohesion, hailed the vote as a “victory for common sense”. "



  4. There's more in the Hastngs Observer this week (5th February issue) including a quote from me. See the first February post above.