Lib Dems accuse government over equality legislation

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson has accused the government of dragging its heels over equality issues.

Jo Swinson claimed that discrimination law is in a mess and that the proposed Single Equality Bill is “long overdue.”

A spokesperson for the Government Equalities Office said that work on the bill has not fallen behind and that it will be introduced in this parliament as promised.

“We have had over 4,000 responses and Harriet Harman (the minister who oversees the work of the GEO) wants them considered in full – hence there was not an opportunity to put it into the Queen’s Speech,” she told

“We are considering a substantial response to the draft and the bill will be introduced this parliament.”

Ms Swinson, Lib Dem Women and Equality Spokesperson, complained that “the Discrimination Law Review was delayed by nearly a year and we will now not see the Single Equality Bill in its final form for at least another 12 months.”

The Discrimination Law Review asked the public for their views on the proposed new Equality Act.

The purpose of the new legislation is to simplify the current piecemeal discrimination laws and to strengthen the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, which began work last month.

The rights of disabled people, older people and women are mentioned in the consultation document, but some politicians have complained that transgender people may not get enough protection.

In an exclusive interview with last month Trevor Phillips, head of the EHRC, called the government’s Green paper for the Equality Act “rather timid” and said it is up to the commission to ensure there is equality of protection for not just all groups but all citizens.

“If your great Equality Bill is about letting people buy drinks at the golf club bar, excuse me, but don’t waste my time.

“Happily I think the new ministers have a greater and deeper ambition – Harriet Harman has been completely clear about this – we think that actually the opportunity of the Equality Bill should be more than to deal with some really specific situations.

“What it should do, rather like the Human Rights Act, is to enshrine certain values in British law.

“The value we think, since Gordon Brown wants to have a new constitutional settlement, of the Equality Act, is to say the that number one plank of a new constitutional settlement in this country, is for greater equality.”