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CHAIR OF NEW EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS BODY ANNOUNCED

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Local government secretary Ruth Kelly today announced the appointment of Trevor Phillips as the chair of the new Co...
Local government secretary Ruth Kelly today announced the appointment of Trevor Phillips as the chair of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).

This body will be a new organisation and will inherit the responsibilities of the existing equality commissions: the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission. It will also have responsibilities on rights in relation to age, sexual orientation, religion and belief, and will ensure that Unions and organisations such as the Citizen Advice Bureau have the correct training and information to advise people on these rights.

The new body, which will become operational in autumn 2007, will provide a powerful, authoritative, single voice on equality and human rights. In addition to its legal role in enforcing equalities legislation, the body will work to ensure that organisations and individuals have access to clear and understandable information in order to foster debate, tackle issues early on and encourage a change of culture within institutions. A new helpline and website will be launched to give people clear advice on what to do if they have been discriminated against. This will make it easier to get advice on how to handle discrimination at work or in schools and, for example, what to do about homophobic bullying or what to do if you are made redundant because you are pregnant. It will also have new powers to combat prejudice and to monitor, prevent or reduce crimes affecting communities, particularly hate crime and crimes of incitement.

People and institutions will now have a single point of contact on equality and human rights issues. DCLG will be the Department responsible for this body. The equality body will provide a more coherent focus: often the things that work to remove barriers to opportunities for one group of people, will work elsewhere. The creation of the new equalities body is part of government's wider work to simplify and modernise the law through the Discrimination Law Review leading to a Single Equality Act in the lifetime of this parliament. The Equalities Review - reporting early next year - will be exploring wider causes of deep rooted injustice.

Ms Kelly said:

'We all want to live in a society where everyone can get on in life irrespective of their background. Whether it is at school, at work or in how different services treat people this sense of fairness is deeply held. The new equality body will be a powerful advocate for a fairer society for many years to come. It will fight for people who face any barriers or discrimination in their lives.

'Trevor Phillips is the best man for the job. He has a proven track record, a wealth of experience and is prepared to tackle the difficult and controversial issues head on. This will be a valuable asset right across the whole equalities'.

Mr Phillips said:

'We need a society where our origins do not determine our destiny, where the dignity and equal treatment of the individual is unfailing, where the disadvantaged are protected and empowered. Our ambition must be to create a society that is at ease with all aspects of its diversity. Bringing Britain closer to this vision is probably the most exciting task of our time.

'When I joined the CRE I believed it could be a great job. In fact, it's turned out to be the best job I ever had. I am thrilled to be asked to lead this completely new organisation which I hope will inherit the best of its predecessors and be enriched by the contributions of the new equality strands. The CEHR will be a modern, creative, open, powerful and above all independent voice for equality and human rights in Britain and internationally.'

John Hutton, secretary of state for work & pensions said:

'This new equality body has a strong chairman in Trevor Phillips who is prepared to challenge conventional thinking and lead from the front. I am confident he will now begin a process of engagement with disabled people and other stakeholders in order to ensure that the new body builds on the strong legacy left by the Disability Rights Commission.'

Baroness Catherine Ashton, minister for human rights, Department for Constitutional Affairs said:

'I welcome Trevor Phillips' appointment and know he brings huge experience to this role. I look forward to working with him and the new commission to champion equality, diversity and human rights as central values of our society'.

Brendan Barber from the TUC said:

'The new commission has an absolutely vital job to do and we look forward to working with the new chair, commissioners and staff. It is important that the new body maintains its law enforcement powers alongside its broader community role. Both will be critical if we are to increase equality and justice in the workplace.'

Notes

1. Trevor Phillips has served as chair of the Commission for Racial Equality for the past three years. Prior to this he served as chair of the London Assembly in the Greater London Authority.

2. Trevor Phillips will step down as chair of the CRE as soon as the secretary of state has had the opportunity to make arrangements to replace him. A process for appointing a new CRE chair will be put in place immediately. The process will cover arrangements for the leadership of the CRE until it is assimilated into the CEHR.

3. The Commission for Equalities and Human Rights was established by the Equality Act which gained Royal Assent in February 2006, and is one part of the Government's wider programme of reform on equality.

Others include the examination of the root causes of inequality in our society through the Equalities Review and a consideration of the current legislative framework in the Discrimination Law Review.

4. The appointment of Trevor Philips as chairman of the CEHR is for a period of three years. Appointees to the CEHR may be reappointed for a further term subject to a satisfactory appraisal and agreement on both sides. The appointment is payable pro rata based on a full time annual remuneration of£160,000.

5. Mr Phillips is also chair of the Equalities Review. This public appointment is not remunerated.

6. This appointment has been made in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointee's political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Mr Phillips has confirmed that he has obtained office as a member of the London Assembly representing the Labour Party.

7. The Commission for Equalities and Human Rights was established by the Equality Act which gained Royal Assent in February 2006, and is one part of the Government's wider programme of reform on equality.

Others include the examination of the root causes of inequality in our society through the Equalities Review and a consideration of the current legislative framework in the Discrimination Law Review.

8. The appointment of commissioners will begin this month, with the Chief Executive to follow before the end of the year.

9. Further details on these appointments can be found at:

www.cehrappointments.co.uk

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