Clause 130

Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:15 pm ar 25 Mehefin 2009.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Burden of proof

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

I beg to move amendment 81, in clause 130, page 95, line 27, after ‘offence’, insert ‘under this Act’.

This amendment would remove an inconsistency between Clause 107(7)(a) and Clause 130(5).

The amendment is just to correct a minor drafting error.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

I want to raise an issue about the clause, Lady Winterton, so I hope you will let me do so now. Then, I suspect, we will not need to debate clause stand part. The clause sets it out that, under current legislation, in most cases the burden of proof is reversed once the claimant has established a case to an initial level. However, the explanatory notes say that

“the burden of proof is currently not reversed in race discrimination claims brought on grounds of colour and nationality; claims of victimisation which relate to race discrimination; non-work disability discrimination claims; and sex discrimination claims which relate to the exercise of public functions. In these areas the burden of proof will now be reversed once the claimant establishes his or her case to an initial level.”

I suspect the Minister’s answer will be brief, but why is it that under the current law the burden of proof was not reversed in those cases, and why have the Government decided to change that? It may be self-evidently right to reverse it, and perhaps there were some very good reasons why that did not happen in the past. I am curious and it would help the Committee to know about the principles.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

As far as I know, it is just a historical accident that two bits of race legislation, which were added later, followed the relevant way forward and earlier bits did not. I think that is correct. If there is more to say, I shall write to the hon. Gentleman and he can read it.

Amendment 81 agreed to.

Clause 130, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 131 to 137 ordered to stand part of the Bill.