'Politically motivated' equality law to be scrapped

An equality law dubbed "socialism in one clause" will be scrapped, Home Secretary Theresa May said today.

The measure was intended to force public authorities to take into account disadvantage and inequalities when making decisions about policies.



But Mrs May, who is also the equalities minister, said in reality it was just another bureaucratic box to be ticked.



Harman's Law, named after the Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman who introduced it under the previous government, could have meant public spending would have been skewed towards certain parts of the country with public services being closed down in some areas to be reopened in others, Mrs May said.



Bin collections and bus routes would have had to be designed "not on the basis of practical need but on this one politically-motivated target".



Mrs May said the previous Labour government "thought they could make people's lives better by simply passing a law saying that they should be better".



"That was as ridiculous as it was simplistic and that is why I am announcing today that we are scrapping the socio-economic duty for good," she said.



"We shouldn't just compensate people for the barriers to opportunity that they face, we should take action to tear down those barriers altogether."



But it is still unclear whether the Government will go ahead with Labour legislation which would require employers to disclose whether they pay women as much as men.



Mrs May said: "Decades after equal pay laws were passed the full-time gender pay gap for women stands at over 12%, increasing to 22% if part-time employees are included."



Asked what her plans were, she said the public would have to wait for a further announcement in the future.



But she added: "There will be something coming through on that."



Only about 90% of the Equality Act came into force in October, with the remainder put on hold as the Government reviewed several sections of the legislation passed by Parliament in April.



The Government's failure to implement the Act in full "undermines every speech coalition ministers ever gave endorsing the notion of a fairer Britain", campaigners said.



The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, said failing to bring in the powers was "tantamount to endorsing the shocking gender pay gap".





















Mrs May said the previous Labour government "stopped treating people like individuals and instead viewed them as part of some amorphous herd".

The coalition Government will stop dictating to people how they should behave, she said.



Among the measures outlined today, she said the Government will extend the right to request flexible working to everyone, not just parents and carers.



And she announced plans to make it possible for those with old convictions for consensual gay sex to apply for their record to be deleted from the police national computer.











But in a controversial introduction to the Home Secretary's speech, leading gay rights campaigner Ben Summerskill joked about the royal engagement.

"It's a very special day, of course, we're all celebrating Prince William's engagement," he said.



"I'm going to try to remember exactly who's partnered with whom. I think it's Katie Middleton with Prince William and Chelsy Davy with Prince Harry - and there's also Sir Noel Coward with the late Duke of Kent."









Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable