Red-Tape Task Force to Target Tangled Discrimination Laws
Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY
BRITAIN'S chaotic and controverersial anti-discrimination laws are to come under the spotlight of Tony Blair's red-tape task force.
Its chairman Lord Haskins said they were so complex and had grown in such a 'disjointed' fashion that many businessmen on the receiving end found it difficult to understand what their responsibilities were.
He pledged to investigate whether the review by the Better Regulation Task Force could achieve 'greater
consistency and coherence'.
His promise follows rising unease at the way the laws penalise firms.
A sex discrimination tribunal recently awarded [pounds sterling]1,500 to Lisa Tomlin, who announced she was pregnant within 30 minutes of starting a new job that involved heavy lifting work.
In another case, a transsexual received [pounds sterling]77,000 because an airline refused to employ her.
Yesterday Lord Haskins also announced reviews into the regulations covering those in 'sensitive' occupations, ranging from those who work with children, to nightclub bouncers and private security guards.
He also plans an inquiry into European directives that are 'overprescriptive and unnecessary'.
He announced the task force's latest targets as he launched its first annual report.
On his plan to review the anti-discrimination laws, Lord Haskins said: 'The laws have developed in a disjointed fashion over a period of years. The complexity of anti-discrimination law is a very great difficulty.
'We think there is merit in looking at a more controlled approach to it.
Rules concerning discrimination over gender, age, and race could all be involved.' Regarding job regulation, he said: 'On the one hand there is strong public pressure to ensure that unfit persons do not work with children and are not employed as bouncers or taxi drivers.
'On the other, there are concerns that overreaction is contributing to the lack of male role models working with young people, and that the creation of formal qualifica-
tions might exclude excellent candidates from consideration for certain jobs. …