Will Scotland be excluded from UK Equality legislation?
UK legislation to tackle inequality and discrimination may not apply in Scotland if the Scottish Government gets its way.
Westminster’s Equality Bill contains a commitment to ensuring that spending by government at every level and by public bodies is scrutinised to ensure that it is fair to all, including a duty which would mean public bodies would have to consider how its decisions might tackle inequality – for example, in health and education.
Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, wrote to the UK Government on 25th March saying that she was not prepared to extend this “socio-economic duty” to Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee, however, agreed unanimously that the Scottish Government should consult on this measure and the Scottish Government has now responded to that pressure.
Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie said that she was worried that services such as health and education would not address economic and social disadvantage if the UK legislation was not adopted in Scotland.
“If you share my concerns, then tell Nicola Sturgeon that she must extend this to Scotland. It is not enough to claim that disadvantage is being tackled, we need to have an obligation to tackle disadvantage and transparency so that we can see whether problems are being addressed.
“The Scottish Government consultation says that this issue is primarily for public bodies; I believe it is a matter for everyone who wishes to see a fairer, more just, Scotland. If you don’t want Scotland to fall behind in the struggle against inequality and discrimination, you can either respond to the consultation direct; or write to Nicola Sturgeon MSP; or write to or email me as your local MSP.”
The Scottish Government consultation has now been launched and can be accessed at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/08/Socio-EconomicDuty
The closing date is 26th October 2009.