Last updated: 2004-08-09
The Board of Deputies on behalf of the Jewish Community has sent the Department of Trade and Industry its comments on the White Paper "Fairness for All: A New Commission for Equality and Human Rights".
The Board welcomes the proposal to set up a new Commission to deal with all the six 'strands' covered by anti-discrimination laws (race, religion, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation) and the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998. At present only Jews and Sikhs have been able to obtain protection against discrimination under Race Relations legislation. Under the CEHR it is hoped that all religious groups will be able to approach the new body for guidance and assistance in respect of religious discrimination and human rights issues.
The Board has urged on the Government the need to provide equal protection for all groups covered by the new Commission. This would require consistent legislation for each of the equality strands at the earliest opportunity. It is thus disappointing that there is no real imminent prospect of this. Without consistency in the law it is hard to see how the CEHR will be able to function properly or serve its stakeholders fully.
The Board also expressed concern that so many different interests were being covered by the six different strands in the CEHR. This could well mean that the specific cultural and individual needs of particular communities - including our own - would be subsumed.
Board Director General Neville Nagler commented: "The Board has welcomed the opportunity to respond to the White Paper on the establishment of the CEHR. We support the principle underlying the proposed new Commission, but have expressed a number of concerns. We trust that the Government will take these into consideration; otherwise there is an obvious risk that the new Commission will be unable to treat all groups equally. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Government over this initiative."