Wed, 8 December 2021

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Parliamentary Briefings

Parliamentary Briefings from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. 


 

Draft Domestic Abuse Bill 

A number of the priorities for the Commission also echo findings and recommendations of the Draft Bill Committee.

The Commission welcomed the opportunity the Bill presents to ensure better support and protection for survivors of domestic abuse in England and Wales.

However, we consider that a number of changes to the Bill are required for it to be the transformative legislation the Government aims it to be, and to ensure compliance with the UK’s international human rights obligations.   

Read the full briefing from the EHRC here 

 

Reforming the Mental Health Act

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been given powers by Parliament to advise Government on the equality and human rights implications of laws and proposed laws. This briefing provides our advice to parliamentarians on reforming the Mental Health Act 1983. 

Read the full briefing from the EHRC here. 

 

EU (Withdrawal Bill)

A Second Reading Briefing from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Ahead of Second Reading of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has stressed the importance of setting out a positive vision of the kind of country we want to be after we have left the EU.

To achieve this positive vision, the Commission’s briefing – developed with our stakeholders – recommends five changes to the Bill:

1.  rule out the use of delegated powers to amend equality and human rights laws

2.  include a principle of non-dilution of equality and human rights law in the Bill

3.  retain the protections in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights 

4.  introduce a constitutional right to equality

5.  ensure the courts have regard to relevant EU case law where there is doubt in construing or applying law relating to equality and human rights.

Read the full briefing from the EHRC

 

EUW Bill Lords committee stage, day 2 - Briefing from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a further briefing for Committee Stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which can be found here.

This updates our previous briefing (focusing on the Charter and EU case law) so that it now includes advice on amendment 63A that relates to how the Charter will work after we leave the EU.

To summarise, in this briefing we recommend supporting the following amendments:

  • 34, 14, 20, 25, 41 and 63A to ensure protections in the Charter are retained.
  • 56 which requires a court or tribunal to have regard to future decisions of the European Court where relevant to the proper interpretation of retained EU law.

The Commission has also published a ‘Supplementary legal note on how the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights works, and would work after Brexit’ to accompany this briefing. This note explains why there is no reason courts should not be able to continue to apply the rights in the Charter to retained EU law, and to actions of UK public bodies which fall within the scope of retained EU law, in the same way as they do at present. To do so will promote legal consistency and certainty, and ensure there is no weakening of human rights protection as we leave the EU.

 

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill  House of Lords Report stage

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced the second in a series of briefings for House of Lords Report Stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which can be found here. This covers amendments to: 

  •  retain the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Amendment 15) 
  •  clarify the status of future decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU (Amendments 21, 23, 24, and 25) 
  •  ensure non-regression of equality rights (Amendment 30A) 

This briefing sets out our analysis of the steps that need to be taken to ensure the EU (Withdrawal) Bill fully delivers the Government’s commitment to non-regression of equality and human rights protections, in a way that guards against the excessive transfer of power from Parliament to the Executive.

Read the full briefing from EHRC here

 

EHRC Briefing - EU (Withdrawal) Bill Report stage day 6, 8 May 2018

This third briefing addresses Amendments 83A and 83E that aim to rule out the use of delegated powers to reduce equality protections which will be debated on Tuesday 8 May. The full briefing is available here

 

EHRC briefing - EU (Withdrawal) Bill - 3rd Reading, House of Lords, 15 May 2018 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing for the Third Reading of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which can be found here.

 
EHRC Briefing - Question for short debate - 10 May
 
This  briefing prepared by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) in contribution to the upcoming Question for Short Debate on 10 May concerning the case for a disability commissioner on the Commission.
 
The briefing provides an overview of the way we structure and deliver our work to promote the rights of disabled people, the role the Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) and an overview of selected recent and planned work to advance the rights of disabled people and combat disability discrimination.​ You can view the briefing here

 

EHRC Briefing - EU (Withdrawal) Bill - Commons Consideration of Lords Amendments 12 June 2018
This briefing (available here) sets out the Commission’s recommendations for support to Lords amendments that we consider are critical to protecting our human rights and equality framework after we leave the EU.

 

EHRC briefing - EU Withdrawal Bill 18 June

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing for Lords consideration of Commons amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, taking place on 18 June, which can be found here.

 

International Women's Day 2018 parliamentary briefings 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published briefings in contribution to International Women’s Day debates in the Houses of Parliament on 8 March 2018.

The Commission’s briefing in contribution to the debate in the House of Lords, on the steps being taken to press for progress on gender equality globally, is available here.

The Commission’s briefing in contribution to the General debate on Vote 100 and International Women’s Day in the House of Commons, is available here.

These briefings set out some of the important work the Commission is doing on a range of issues to advance gender equality, including in relation to:

  • political participation;
  • the gender pay gap;
  • pregnancy and maternity discrimination; 
  • sexual harassment;
  • welfare reform;
  • asylum seekers and refugees; and, 
  • personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE).

 

Case for HPV vaccination for boys

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing for tomorrow’s Westminster Hall debate on the Case for HPV vaccination for boys, which can be found here. This recommends that the UK Government:

 

  • carries out and publishes a robust assessment of the equality implications of not extending the HPV vaccination programme to all boys, in line with the requirement of the Public Sector Equality Duty in the Equality Act 2010; and
  • ensures that its decision is compatible with Articles 2 and 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (right to life; and right to private life), and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which protects the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health).

 

EHRC briefing: Debate on the impact of the Government's "hostile environment" approach towards illegal immigration on those with residency and employment rights - 14 June 2018

The briefing provides an overview of the Commission’s principal concerns related to the impact of the Government’s various “hostile environment” policies in the health, housing, banking, education and other sectors, on vulnerable groups and those who share protected characteristics, including indirect impacts on refugees and asylum seekers. You can read it in full here

 

EHRC Briefing - Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, Report and Third Reading, 15 June 2018  

In this briefing, the Commission recommends support to amendments that will:

  • Guarantee the independence of investigations into deaths (New Clause 1)
  • Ensure that information provided to patients is understood by those with different access requirements (Amendment 2)
  • Ensure the annual report of the Secretary of State includes reference to statistics on the use of force disaggregated by patients’ protected characteristics and that the Secretary of State makes a statement before Parliament shortly after its publication (Amendments 82, 83, 84 and 85)

You can read more here.

 

EHRC Briefing - Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill, 2nd Reading, 20 June 2018

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s has released a briefing for the second reading of the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill, available online here

This briefing identifies issues to be addressed that have implications for Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) under the European Convention of Human Rights, and are relevant to the requirements of the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. The Bill presents an opportunity to address the Government’s approach to reforming the courts system and to consider how it can ensure human rights compliance and equal access to justice.

 

UKIM Briefing - Westminster Hall Debate -Government's response to UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities report

UK Independent Mechanism’s (UKIM) briefing in contribution to the Westminster Hall Debate taking place tomorrow concerning the Government's response to the report of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The briefing is available online here.

 

UKIM briefing - HoL debate, challenges facing disabled people in the UK 28 June 2018

The UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM) – which comprises the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission – has produced a briefing for Thursday’s debate on the Challenges Facing Disabled People in the UK in 2018, which can be found here.

 

EHRC Briefing - Third Reading debate of the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, 6 July 2018

Ahead of Friday’s Third Reading debate of the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing.

The full briefing can be found here.

This briefing highlights key provisions in the Bill aimed to improve accountability, reporting and investigations into the use of force in mental health units.

The Bill addresses many of the concerns and recommendations that the Commission and UN Treaty Bodies have made previously in relation to the human rights and equality issues arising from the use of force.

Given the important provision in this Bill, as well as the cross-party support it has received, we hope that you will be able to attend this debate and help ensure its continued progress.  

 

EHRC briefing - HoL, Committee stage, Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill

This briefing (can be found in full here) sets out our analysis of and support for the following proposed amendments to the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill:

  • Amendments 8 and 10 which set restrictions on which judicial functions can be delegated to authorised staff
  • Amendments 9 and 11 providing the right to apply for judicial reconsideration of a decision made by authorised staff

 

EHRC briefing - Trade Bill, HoC Report Stage

Ahead of next week’s Report Stage of the Trade Bill, please find below the summary of a briefing from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

In this briefing, we set out our analysis of the steps that need to be taken to ensure the Trade Bill fully delivers the Government’s stated commitment to non-regression of equality and human rights protections, in a way that guards against the excessive transfer of power from Parliament to the Executive.

This briefing covers our priorities for this Bill, which are to:

1) Clarify that delegated powers cannot be used to reduce equality rights and human rights protections, and 
2) Ensure robust equality and human rights impact assessments of trade agreements. 

Read the full briefing here.

 

EHRC Briefing - Westminster Hall Debate on asylum accommodation contracts (Wednesday 10 October, 2.30-4pm)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has released a briefing in contribution to the upcoming Westminster Hall Debate concerning asylum accommodation contracts that will take place on Wednesday 10 October at 2.30-4pm. 

New contracts for the provision of asylum accommodation and support (the Asylum Accommodation and Support Services Contract (AASC) and the related Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility contracts (AIRE)) are about to be awarded. The current contracts are known as COMPASS and are undertaken by private organisations on behalf of the Home Office. Significant concerns about the delivery of the COMPASS contracts have been raised by a range of organisations and parliamentary scrutiny bodies such as the National Audit Office and the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) including in relation to equality considerations. This is a timely and crucial opportunity to ensure the new contracts reflect lessons learned from the COMPASS contracts and build in mechanisms to ensure equality considerations are embedded from the outset.

You can read the full briefing here.

 

EHRC briefing - Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill

The Bill would allow some judicial functions to be delegated to authorised staff of HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Our priorities in relation to this Bill are:

  • ensuring that delegation does not prejudice the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights as protected by the Human Rights Act, in particular the requirement that rights are determined by an independent and impartial person
  • ensuring that such delegation helps rather than hinders courts and tribunals to meet the needs of those with particular characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010.

In our briefing, we support Amendment 8, which provides for a right to apply for judicial reconsideration of a decision made by an authorised non-judicial officer. The Amendment would ensure the power to delegate judicial functions is compliant with fair trial rights as protected by the Human Rights Act, in line with our priorities set out above. It is our view that the right to judicial reconsideration ensures the independent judicial scrutiny of decisions made by authorised staff and provides an important backstop protection.

The full briefing can be found here.

 

EHRC Briefing -  Voyeurism (Offences) (No.2) Bill - Second Reading, 23 October 2018

This briefing addresses the issue of ‘up-skirting’ within the Voyeurism (Offences) (No.2) Bill. It sets out the analysis of the Commission in relation to this new offence. Our views relate to international human rights law as well as our remit to strengthen the legal and policy frameworks that protect people from identity-based violence and harassment.

The briefing is available online here.

 

EHRC Briefing for Westminster Hall Debate: The future of legal aid, Thursday 1 November 2018, 1:30pm

 
The Commission has made eight recommendations for action, set out in full in the briefing. These include that the Government:
 
identify where LASPO has had a disproportionately negative impact on people sharing certain protected characteristics and take mitigating action 
revise the means test with a view to expanding eligibility and ensuring that any contributions individuals are required to make are truly affordable
reinstate legal aid for initial advice, in at least family and housing cases, so that legal problems can be addressed before they escalate
reform the exceptional case funding scheme to ensure the absence of legal aid does not lead to violations of people’s human rights 

You can read the briefing online here

 

EHRC briefing – Debate on the Dame Laura Cox report on the bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff, 5 November 2018

This briefing provides an overview of the Commission’s principal concerns regarding the exisiting policies and procedures in place for House of Commons staff to raise complaints of bullying and harassment, the proposed future scheme for dealing with such complaints and the findings of Dame Laura Cox’s independent inquiry (the Inquiry).

The Commission supports the implementation in full of Dame Laura Cox’s recommendations.

The Commission agrees in particular that the Valuing Others Policy and the Revised Respect Policy should be abandoned as soon as possible. Members of staff wishing to complain about bullying, harassment or sexual harassment should no longer be required to use them and should instead have full access to the New Scheme regardless of when their complaint arose.

The briefing is available online here.

EHRC Briefing - Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill 

In this briefing, we recommend that:

  • the Bill should be amended to provide safeguards to ensure compliance with fair trial rights
  • the programme of court reform should be accompanied by a sound evidence base and an assessment of the cumulative impact on access to justice for different groups sharing protected characteristics.

EHRC debate briefing: Cumulative Impact Assessment of Changes to Disability Support, Wednesday 19 December 2018

As this briefing sets out, in March 2018 we published an assessment of the cumulative impact of tax and welfare reforms on people sharing different protected characteristics. Our assessment revealed that changes to taxes, benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit announced since 2010 will have a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people, among other protected characteristic groups.  

You can view the full briefing online here.

 

EHRC Trade Bill briefing - House of Lords Report Stage - 06.03.19

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing for Lords Report Stage of the Trade Bill.

The full briefing can be found here.

 

EHRC briefing - International Women's Day debate 7 March 2019

The briefing follows the recent review of the UK’s gender equality record by the United Nations and the EHRC conducting its largest ever review of women rights. Encouragingly there have been areas of progress in recent years e.g. forced marriage has been criminalised and shared parental leave has been introduced, but, as outlined in the briefing, there are key issues of concern which deserve attention where progress needs to be made.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has drafted a briefing for tomorrow’s International Women’s Day debate, which can be found here.

 

Trade Bill - EHRC briefing - House of Lords Third Reading

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing for tomorrow’s Third Reading of the Trade Bill in the House of Lords which can be found on our website here (apologies for this late provision; the amendments we are briefing upon were tabled late yesterday). 

 

EHRC briefing - Government’s plans to support victims of domestic violence and abuse, House of Lords, 6 June 2019

This briefing provides an overview of the Commission’s recommendations on measures needed to ensure better support and protection for survivors of domestic abuse in England and Wales and to meet international human rights requirements. We comment on measures proposed in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and make recommendations for amendments to the Bill.

The briefing is available on our website as a pdf document here and as a Microsoft Word document here.

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