Headlines: February 23rd, 2001

Public bodies face a new active duty to promote race equality in the provision of their services and functions.Legislation to amend the Race Relations Act of 1976 is to come into force towards the end of this year, after a period of consultation.

Whereas previously public bodies could take a passive approach to equality issues – such as answering a charge of discrimination should it arise – this new duty is aimed to encourage public bodies to avoid race discrimination before it occurs.

The Home Secretary says the new regulations won’t place undue work on those organisations already taking an active interest in ensuring race equality. It is expected to increase bureaucratic workload in those areas where the issue is not actively considered.

Detail on new duty was announced on the second anniversary of Sir William Macpherson’s report into the death of Stephen Lawrence.

The consultation document – Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000: Proposals for Implementation – will be sent to public bodies and other interested parties. The consultation document is alsoavailable on the Home Office website www.homeoffice.gov.uk/raceact/welcome.htm

Consultation ends on 15 May.