New clause 5 - Equality Duty

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 14 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Sir Drefaldwyn 9:45, 14 Chwefror 2002

The Minister will need to show how building in the need to have due regard to the promotion of equality of opportunity between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status and sexual orientation and between men and women generally can compromise an organisation's ability to do its job. I suggest that the opposite applies. It would give an assurance to people in those groups-all of us are in one or more of them-that they would not lose out on account of prejudicial behaviour or attitudes displayed by any of the groups or individuals listed in the new clause. I thought that the Minister sounded pedantic

because I do not understand why the Government should resist including something that is already there by precedent as a result of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 for comparable groups and organisations. Why is the Minister not willing to extend it by using what could almost be regarded as a housekeeping amendment to bring all the other organisations into line?

If this new clause or something like it were implemented, it would be unlawful for a public authority to discriminate or to aid or incite another person to discriminate against a person or class of persons on the grounds of, for example, religious belief or political opinion. New clause 5 seems to be an insurance policy against discrimination rather than a barrier to equal treatment. Can the Minister explain why he thinks that it is a barrier, as so far he has not done so?