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PART 4

THE EQUALITY COMMISSION

The Commission

38     The Equality Commission

(1)    There shall be a body corporate to be known as “the Equality Commission for Great Britain”.
(2)    In this Act, the Equality Commission for Great Britain is referred to as “the Commission”.
(3)    The Commission is to have the functions conferred on it by or under any provision of this Act.
(4)    Schedule 4 makes provision about the Commission's constitution and status.
(5)    The following bodies are to cease to exist on the coming into force of this section—
(a)    Equal Opportunities Commission; and
(b)    Commission for Racial Equality.
(6)    The Secretary of State may by order make provision—
(a)    for any functions which this Act confers on the Commission to be exercisable by the Disability Rights Commission (“DRC”);
(b)    modifying provisions of this Act in their application to any functions exercisable by the DRC; and
(c)    modifying provisions of this Act in their application to the functions of the Commission (in particular, functions which would otherwise have been exercisable by it in relation to persons who have or have had a disability).
(7)    Any functions which, by virtue of subsection (6)(a), are exercisable by the DRC are in addition to any other functions which it has.
(8)    The Secretary of State may by order —
(a)    provide for the DRC to cease to exist on such date as he may appoint; and
(b)    in consequence, provide for the functions of the DRC to become exercisable by the Commission (in particular, the functions conferred by or under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (c. 50) and the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 (c. 17) and any functions conferred by or under this Act).
(8)    But no order may be made by virtue of subsection (8) before the end of the period of three years commencing with the coming into force of this section.

39     The Commission's general duty

(1)    In discharging its functions under this Act, the Commission must act in a way which it considers most appropriate with a view to—
(a)    eliminating unlawful discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds; and
(b)    promoting equality of opportunity (both in general terms and in relation to particular cases) as between persons in each of the different groupings specified in subsection (3).
(2)    For the purposes of subsection (1), the Commission must, in particular, have regard to—
(a)    the international obligations of the United Kingdom in the field of human rights;
(b)    the need to conduct its affairs in the public interest and with an appropriate degree of independence;
(c)    the need to secure effective remedies for acts made unlawful by this Act or for breach of duties imposed by it;
(d)    the need to seek to secure good relations between persons of different racial groups.
(3)    The different groupings are—
(a)    persons generally without regard to their age;
(b)    persons of different racial groups;
(c)    persons generally without regard to any disability they have or have had;
(d)    persons of different family status;
(e)    persons who have undergone a gender reassignment and other persons generally;
(f)    persons of different marital status;
(g)    women who are pregnant and other persons generally;
(h)    persons of different religions or beliefs;
(i)    men and women generally;
(j)    persons of different sexual orientation.
(4)    The reference to the international obligations of the United Kingdom in the field of human rights includes—
(a)    the European Convention of Human Rights;
(b)    the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
(c)    the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
(d)    the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
(e)    The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination;
(f)    the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
(g)    the Convention concerning Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation; and
(h)    the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

40     Financial arrangements

(1)    The Secretary of State must pay to the Commission such sums as he thinks fit to enable it to meet its expenses.
(2)    The Commission may make charges for facilities or services made available by it for any purpose.
(3)    In discharging its functions under this Act, the Commission must aim to secure an appropriate allocation of its resources—
(a)    between eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity; and
(b)    between such of its activities in pursuit of either of those goals as are carried on with reference to each of the different grounds mentioned in subsection (4).
(4)    The different grounds are—
(a)    age;
(b)    colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins;
(c)    disability;
(d)    gender reassignment;
(e)    religion or belief;
(f)    sex, pregnancy, marital or family status;
(g)    sexual orientation.
(5)    In determining what allocation of resources is appropriate for the purposes of subsection (3), the Commission must have regard to (among other things)—
(a)    the need to use its resources in the most efficient and economic way;
(b)    the effect that its activities may reasonably be expected to have in relation to each ground separately, taking due account of such of its activities as affect more than one ground;
(c)    the need to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated annually in respect of each of the different grounds;
(d)    the principle that strategic allocation of more resources to general issues, or to issues which affect only one or more (but not all) of the grounds, may be the most effective means of achieving steady progress towards either or both of the goals mentioned in subsection (3)(a) or (b);
(e)    the differing natures of the different grounds;
(f)    the degree of recent progress made in respect of any particular ground towards achieving equality of opportunity.
(6)    The Commission must review the allocation of its resources at least once a year.

41     Reports to Parliament

(1)    At least once a year the Commission must—
(a)    lay before each House of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales a general report on the exercise of its functions under this Act; and
(b)    arrange for the report to be published.
(2)    The report under subsection (1) must in particular—
(a)    give details of how the Commission's resources have been divided up in complying with section 40;
(b)    contain a statement of its main objectives and priorities for the year ahead;
(c)    such other matters as the Secretary of State may from time to time direct.
(3)    The Commission may from time to time lay before each House of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales such other reports with respect to those functions as it considers appropriate.

General functions

42     Acquisition of information etc

(1)    The Commission has the function of obtaining, compiling and keeping under review information about matters relating to the carrying out of its functions.
(2)    That function is to be carried out with a view to ensuring (among other things) that the Commission has sufficient information to take informed decisions and to carry out its other functions effectively.
(3)    In carrying out that function the Commission may carry out, commission or support (financially or otherwise) research or surveys and publish reports.

43     Provision of information etc to the public

(1)    The Commission has the function of—
(a)    promoting awareness of the ways in which eliminating discrimination and removing obstacles to equality may improve efficiency and competitiveness and benefit the economy of United Kingdom;
(b)    promoting good practice;
(c)    promoting awareness of the requirements of this Act and the remedies for which it makes provision;
(d)    promoting awareness of the effect of article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
(e)    giving information or advice to the public in respect of matters relating to any of the Commission's functions.
(2)    In carrying out those functions, the Commission may—
(a)    publish educational materials or carry out other educational activities; or
(b)    support (financially or otherwise) the carrying out by others of such activities or the provision by others of information or advice.

44     Provision of information etc to Ministers and other public bodies

(1)    The Commission has the function of making proposals, or giving other information or advice, to any Minister of the Crown or other public authority (including proposals, information or advice as to any aspect of the law or proposed change in the law).
(2)    In discharging its function under subsection (1), the Commission must, at least once every five years, review and report on the working of this Act generally, including a review of the effect of the exclusions in Schedule 2 and of whether there is a need for new exclusions.
(3)    A Minister of the Crown may request the Commission to make proposals or give other information or advice on any matter relating to the discharge of its functions and the Commission must, so far as is reasonably practicable, comply with the request.
(4)    If the Commission makes or gives any proposal, report, information or advice it must make a copy available for inspection by members of the public in a legible form and may publish it.
(5)    “The law” includes Community law and the international obligations of the United Kingdom in the field of human rights (within the meaning of section 39(4)).

45     Codes of practice

(1)    The Commission has the function of preparing and issuing codes of practice giving practical guidance on any matter for which this Act makes provision.
(2)    A failure on the part of any person to observe any provision of a code of practice made under this Act may be taken into account by the Commission in exercising its functions under this Part and under Part 5 and, if it appears relevant, shall be taken into account in any proceedings before a court or tribunal under Part 5.
(3)    A code of practice issued under this section may, in particular—
(a)    seek to encourage good practice and good relations in any of the protected areas of activity in which acts are made unlawful by Part 2;
(b)    give guidance identifying the acts made unlawful by any provision of Part 2;
(c)    give practical guidance to any person on how to avoid doing any such unlawful act;
(d)    give practical guidance on the circumstances in which the requirements of any exclusion contained in Schedule 2 are, or are not, likely to be met;
(e)    give practical guidance as to the circumstances in which a person may present to a tribunal a complaint under Part 2;
(f)    seek to encourage the use of conciliation services;
(g)    give practical guidance to any person as to the effect of, and on compliance with, any duties imposed on him by or under Part 3;
(h)    seek to encourage good practice regarding the treatment of any relevant group.
(4)    Schedule 5 makes provision with respect to the procedure for issuing codes of practice.
(5)    The Secretary of State, the Scottish Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales may request the Commission to prepare a code of practice on any matter specified in the request and the Commission must comply with the request.
(6)    “Relevant group” means—
(a)    any group of persons identified by reference to a particular age group into which they fall;
(b)    any group of persons identified by reference to their colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins;
(c)    any group of persons identified by reference to a particular disability they have or have had;
(d)    any group of persons identified by reference to their family status;
(e)    persons generally who have undergone a gender reassignment;
(f)    any group of persons identified by reference to their marital status;
(g)    pregnant women generally;
(h)    any group of persons identified by reference to their religion or belief;
(i)    men generally or women generally;
(j)    any group of persons identified by reference to their sexual orientation.
 

 
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Prepared 16 January 2003