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Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, I am sorry that I have to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, whose period as chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality overlapped for a time with my period as chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission. However, given the nature of the new commission and the number of strands that it will have to cover, I think that the recommendations in the amendments put forward by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor give the commission the best possible chance of attaining a balanced membership, as opposed to the proposals in the noble Lord's amendments, which could, in effect, take up three-quarters of the total membership of the commission. I know that it is possible for one person to be both a member of an ethnic community and a woman; nevertheless, under the terms of the noble Lord's amendment, it is possible that three-quarters of the commission could be taken up by places allocated not to individuals but to the strands covered by the commission.
From my experience as chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission working with two governments, one of each colour, I feel that the commission, and the chairman in particular, should be adequately consulted about the needs of the commission. I feel absolutely confident that that would happen under the proposed new structure. So I thank and support my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor for the whole range of amendments that he has brought before us this afternoon. They have my complete support.
Lord Adebowale: My Lords, I support the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Ouseley and I take account of the useful comments that the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, has just made. We are faced with a real opportunity to increase the confidence of the black and minority ethnic communities in their ability to access justice through this Equality Bill.
It is worth reminding the House that these amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Ouseley, supported by myself, are not simply the ideas of my noble friend and me. They come from the 1990 Trusta well respected policy advice and research organisation which looks into the issues affecting the black and minority ethnic communitythe Commission for Racial Equality and the Greater London Authority. None of those bodies has arrived at these amendments overnight. They have consulted widely among the black and minority ethnic communities and have arrived at these amendments with due support for the Government in their attempts to create a credible Equality Bill and a credible mechanism for addressing race within that Bill.
Turning to the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, it is possible that three-quarters of the commission could be assigned, but it is
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also possible that more than three-quarters of the commission could have no representation and therefore no respect from a large majority of the population who, in this day and age, we must engage in the debate on equalities. This House will debate issues concerning terrorism, mental health and many other issues that disproportionately affect members of the black and minority ethnic communities. We owe it to those communities to respect their views on how the Equality Bill will be received by them. I urge the House to think again about how appointments are made to the Equality Commission.
I reflect on the amendments that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor tabled. They try to be helpful in this regard, and they are noted as such, but one can drive a coach and horses through what they say. I agree with my noble friend Lord Ouseley that appointments will of course be made on merit, but will they also be made with due regard to the experience of those communities and will they reflect the genuine concerns of the BME community as regards this Bill?
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I have listened carefully to the arguments of my noble friends Lord Ouseley and Lord Adebowale, but the more I look at what is contained in the amendment tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, the more I believe it really meets what is required. The last thing we want is to be over-prescriptive, but it is quite clear that we need people with knowledge and experiencepersonal or practical experiencein this area. That is what we are looking for. I believe that this really is a good amendment and I am happy to support it.
Baroness Howells of St Davids: My Lords, I am sure it will be of no surprise to noble Lords to hear that I support the noble Lords, Lord Ouseley and Lord Adebowale. I shall not add to what they have said, but I want to mention to the House a statement made by the Prime Minister. He was surprised that young people born in this country took part in the bombing of this country. I dare to advance to the House the proposition that, when bringing forward something as important as the Equality Bill, unless we show practically that those people are part of the community, we may be in danger of facing more and more incitement to racial hatred.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am grateful for all the contributions of noble Lords and for the support given to the Government's proposals to deal with the important issues raised in this group of amendments. I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Lester and Lord De Mauley, on the critical role that my noble friend Lady Ashton has played in relation to this. She has been second to none in the work she has done in achieving agreement on these issues. The one point on which we all agree is that we want to see the Bill go forward in the best possible form. I also agree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Lester, on the work of Daniel Greenberg, which has been exemplary.
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I turn to the points raised by the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, in relation to Scotland. Equality is a reserved matter and human rights is a Scottish matter. He raised specifically the forthcoming Scottish Human Rights Commission. Our commission created by the Bill will co-operate with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, announced by the Scottish Ministers. Our commission will deal with reserved matters and the Scottish commission will deal with devolved matters. There will be a memorandum of understanding to tie up the loose ends, which are an inevitable outcome of the Scotland Act 1998 to ease potential rubbing points between the commissions and to provide the flexibility necessary in the relationship for efficient and effective human rights coverage.
I turn to the important and impressive debate between, on the one hand, the noble Lords, Lord Ouseley and Lord Adebowale, and my noble friend Lady Howells of St Davids, and, on the other hand, the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and my noble friend Lady Lockwood. I completely agree with the definition given by the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, of what we want the commission to do. It should be competent, confident, independent, accountable and visibly representative. I also completely agree that people who see it must believe that the commission is on their side. However, I disagree with him and agree with the other side that those aims are not achieved by being over-prescriptive on who must be appointed as commissioners.
can be appointed. That is sensible. It gives the right degree of focus, but it does not give the degree of inflexibility which I believe, far from promoting the aims we all want, could well lead to a restriction in the delivery of those aims.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 15 establishes a decision-making committee to be known as the Greater London Committee. It follows the same principles as the previous debate on representativeness in as much as it seeks to prescribe what the commission should be doing.
The Equality Bill is relatively silent on how the Commission on Equality and Human Rights will have a regional presence and relate to existing regional structures. Once again, I point to the anomaly that the
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Bill specifies responsibilities for Scotland and Wales but does not recognise other existing regional arrangements. It does not state how the commission will align itself with such arrangements. In the context of London, particularly Greater London, we are talking about the most ethnically and culturally diverse capital city in the world. Its uniqueness is characterised by an elected mayor with statutory responsibilities and duties on equality that are exceptional and warrant a parallel recognition of London's importance alongside those of Scotland and Wales, notwithstanding the fact that they are nation states.
We have to address, however, the demography of Greater London, and the fact that it is seen as a place the world comes to. London's diversity is recognised globally. What undoubtedly captured the world and made 2012 a reality for London was its cultural, global and ethnic diversity. It was the nap hand that won the Olympics for us. Our culture of diversity is second to none. Even in the United States and Canada, two countries that see themselves as advanced in the area of promoting ethnic, racial and gender equality, they look at the work we do in this capital city and sometimes marvel at it. Notwithstanding the fact that we still have much to do, we have achieved a great deal in the way we have organised coherently, with that statutory responsibility placed on the Mayor of London, to bring about a real engagement with the communities, and we have sought to parallel the concerns to achieve outcomes related to the needs of the different groups of people represented in this city.
Of course there is great complexity, but we look to London for its leadership role, not only in managing equality in the Greater London area, but also how the city becomes an exemplar for other countries. There are times when people see London as overexposed and, because of its resources, diversity and profile, wanting to tell others how to do things. This is clearly not the case, because what happens in London cannot happen elsewhere. We are as unique as every other part of this great nation is unique. Rural racism, and how we address that, is quite different from racism in the urban environments, such as estates. That is an important part of our diversity.
There is a lot to learn from the way in which we bring about greater cohesion, notwithstanding the wide range of problems. This amendment would enable us to see the commission establish, as a requirement, a Greater London committee with similar decision-making responsibilities as Scotland and Wales, aligned to the statutory arrangements that already exist for Greater London, and which the CEHR will have in place along with those for Scotland and Wales. I beg to move.
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