Response to the call for evidence from the Joint Committee on the Draft Deregulation Bill

September 2013

After careful scrutiny, our analysis is that there are very compelling reasons why the growth duty should not apply to the Commission.

First, the Commission does not have many of the functions of a non-economic regulator that the growth duty proposals are intended to affect. Equality and human rights law is proposed by Government, determined by Parliament, interpreted by the courts and tribunals, so the Commission does not set the relevant standards. In addition, there are formidable legal problems in applying the growth duty to the Commission in the way the Government intends. Parliament has already provided in the Equality Act 2006 that the Secretary of State must have regard to the desirability of subjecting the Commission to as few constraints as possible, and this conflicts with the growth duty proposals.

Finally, the application of the growth duty to the Commission undermines the requirement for the Commission to be independent from the Government in the respects required for compliance with the United Nations Paris Principles for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI). We believe the application of the growth duty to the Commission creates a real risk that our United Nations 'A' status NHRI accreditation will be lost. DCMS have made considerable effort to retain and protect this status, with the strong support of FCO. The ‘A’ status of EHRC as a NHRI is important to the exercise of British soft power.

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Last updated: 05 May 2016