How will the coalition deal with Harriet’s landmine?

How will the coalition deal with Harriet’s landmine?

Is her equalities measure going to make it harder to govern?

If you’ve got five minutes then listen to Treasury minister Mark Hoban on the Today programme this morning as he was pressed on whether the Treasury had conducted a formal study assessing the impact of the cuts on ethnic minorities ahead of June’s budget.

For one of the final bits of legislation enacted by the outgoing Labour government was a requirement in Harriet Harman’s Equalities Act to “to consider how decisions might help to reduce inequalities associated with socio-economic disadvantage”.

If there has been no formal consideration then ministers can be taken to court and their decision subject to judicial review – and, already, the Fawcett Society is planning such proceedings.

What’s going to happen? The coalition could repeal that bit of the legislation but what an almighty fuss that could create and would be a big peg for the new Labour leader to attack the government. I don’t think that they’ll proceed with that in the short-term.

My guess is that the civil service will come up with some procedure that complies with the act but imposes as little restraint as possible on the process of government.

Mike Smithson

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