MPs on guard against unfair laws

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The Independent Online
The Equal Opportunities Commission is enlisting MPs as vigilantes for its cause with a package of measures designed to put equality into every government measure.

Although ministers have rejected the idea of a House of Commons select committee for equal opportunities, the commission is working with MPs to set up an all-party group instead. It is also sending a "check-list" to all MPs, MEPs and peers to arm them with questions they should ask to assess the impact of legislation on men and women. Kamlesh Bahl, chairwoman of the EOC, said that a great deal of legislation had passed through Parliament without anyone realising that it was discriminatory. This had led to costly legal cases which could have been avoided. The Building Societies Act, for example, decreed that there should be only one member per account. Because couples often described themselves as "Mr and Mrs", women were not deemed to be members; the loophole means that wives do not automatically get their share of windfall payouts.