Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Equality Bill reads like a pile of steaming turds

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Harriet Harman's Equality Bill is truly, utterly, dreadful. It's an attempt to put into law the worst of Labour's utterly unthought-through, vague, aspirational buzzwordage. And, surprise surprise, when you try to distil these concepts, they run through your fingers. It's like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling.

Take this clause:

8 Equality and diversity

(1) The Commission shall, by exercising the powers conferred by this Part—
(a) promote understanding of the importance of equality and diversity,
(b) encourage good practice in relation to equality and diversity,


(2) In subsection (1)—
“diversity” means the fact that individuals are different,
“equality” means equality between individuals, and
“unlawful” is to be construed in accordance with section 36.

So, to take one example, one of the statutory duties of the Equality Commission is to encourage good practice in relation to the fact that individuals are different.

This doesn't mean anything. It has no meaning.

I hope that Parliamentary Counsel was sobbing tears of red hot shame as he typed those words.

It reminds me of a story that a Parliamentary Counsel once told me. Shortly after Labour's 1997 election, when the new dawn had (had it not) broken, word reached PC's Office that the Prime Minister would like an Enterprise Bill prepared.

Er, jolly good, came the reply; what does he want it to say?

We don't know yet, came the reply. We'll get back to you on that. The point is, we want an Act called the Enterprise Act on the statute books as soon as possible, to show we are keen to promote enterprise.

Cue Parliamentary Counsel punching wall in frustration.

Update: a colleague suggests that the clause might read better if amended like this -

"diversity" means the fact that individuals are different;
"equality" means the fact that individuals are the same...


dNo said...

Typical Labour accepting good practice when i spend my life striving for best practice.
ps - JM - i am away again when news breaks - i understand Brown has abandoned his expense reforms - some more details please!

Ace Starburst said...

It seems astonishing now to think that calling someone "discriminating" used to be
a compliment