HC Deb 22 June 2004 vol 422 c1323W
John Barrett

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to tackle racial discrimination in employment; and if she will make a statement. [176732]

Fiona Mactaggart

I have been asked to reply.

The Race Relations Act 1976 prohibits racial discrimination in employment (as well as education and the provision of goods and services) and established the Commission for Racial Equality to enforce the Act and provide advice and support to victims of discrimination. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 strengthened the Race Relations Act by prohibiting racial discrimination in almost all public functions not covered by the Race Relations Act and by placing a statutory duty on public authorities to promote racial equality, including in the field of employment. We have further strengthened the law on discrimination by transposing the EU Race Directive into domestic law in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003. These improve the protection to employees by, for example, reversing the burden of proof in race discrimination cases, introducing a definition of harassment and narrowing the permissible exemptions to the employment provisions of the Race Relations Act 1976.

In addition to the legislative changes, the Government are also implementing the recommendations of the Strategy Unit report— Ethnic Minorities and the Labour Market. This report makes 11 recommendations to improve equal opportunities in the workplace which are being taken forward by the Home Office and the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), but also by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) Implementation of these recommendations will result in better advice and support for employers; increased effectiveness of existing mechanisms to ensure race equality; and increased transparency and awareness.