The SNP wants Scotland to be fully devolved on equality to become ‘world leader’
The Scottish National Party has called for full devolution of equality powers.
The SNP’s spokesperson on equalities Angela Crawley, said the new powers would allow Scotland to be “a world leader on equality”.
The amendments, backed by Scotland’s leading equality charities, will be considered in the House of Commons on Monday when the Scotland Bill has its report stage.
Angela Crawley is the SNP’s equalities spokesperson
If passed the amendments would give the Scottish Parliament the powers to improve equality protections in Scotland, including through legislation and regulation.
They would allow Scotland to advance equality measures for gender, disability, LGBT and race, outlawing discrimination, and pursuing policies on gender quotas.
Angela Crawley MP, the SNP spokesperson on Equalities, Women and Children, said: “Devolving equality powers to the Scottish Parliament would enable Scotland to build on its growing reputation as a world leader on equality.
“Tory and Labour MPs should back the SNP amendments to the Scotland Bill, and listen to Scotland’s respected equality charities who have made clear that they want the Scottish Parliament to have these powers so that it can make Scotland a fairer and more equal country.
“The Scottish Parliament has consistently shown itself to be a leading light on equality using the limited powers that it currently has, but if Scotland had full devolution of equality law we would be able to go further to address the inequalities in the law and society, including by improving anti-discrimination law and pursuing progressive policies such as gender quotas on boards. ”
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Emma Ritch, Executive Director of gender equality charity Engender, said: “Engender is of the view that devolving equality would enable Scotland to respond better to persistent gender inequalities, by aligning anti-discrimination law with our distinct public sector architecture. Women in Scotland have benefited from powers around violence against women being used to develop a world-leading approach.”
Bill Scott, Director of Policy at disability equality charity Inclusion Scotland, said: “When we consulted disabled people over what powers should be devolved to Scotland they were very clear that they wanted to see responsibility for all Equality Law being passed to the Scottish Parliament.
“They felt that Westminster had been giving them a pretty raw deal in recent years and that the Equality Act had actually reduced their rights and figured that it would be difficult for Holyrood to do worse. Whilst we welcome the limited equalities powers coming to Scotland they will not in themselves be able to tackle the appalling inequalities and discrimination that disabled people face”.
Tim Hopkins, Director of LGBTI equality charity the Equality Network, said: “The Equality Network has always believed that Scotland would be able to make more progress on equality if equality law itself was devolved. We have been calling for that since 1998, because it would allow more appropriate and effective equality legislation for Scotland’s specific needs.
“We welcome that the UK Government has now adopted some of the other equality amendments that were proposed by the SNP group at the Committee stage of the bill in July to clarify the equal opportunities clause. That is a step forward, but we remain concerned about the technical details of the clause and that there may be unintended difficulties with its implementation. We urge the UK Government to discuss this further with the other parties.”
Jatin Haria, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), said: “Devolution brings power closer to people – and this is particularly important for marginalised and discriminated groups. In addition, many areas which intersect with equality law are already devolved and different in Scotland (e.g. policing or health) and further devolution of equality legislation would better allow the Scottish Parliament to push for specific outcomes which could lead to real improvements in the life chances and experiences for all people living in Scotland.”