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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee 16 November 2021 [Draft]

Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Subordinate Legislation, Conversion Therapy (PE1817)


Contents


Subordinate Legislation


Equality Act 2010 (Specification of Public Authorities) (Scotland) Order 2021 (Draft)

The next item on our agenda is consideration of two affirmative instruments: the draft Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 and the draft Equality Act 2010 (Specification of Public Authorities) (Scotland) Order 2021.

I welcome to the meeting Ivan McKee, who is the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, and his officials, who are joining us virtually. Pamela Berry is team leader for South of Scotland Enterprise sponsorship in the directorate for economic development, and Jennifer Singerman is a solicitor in the Scottish Government legal directorate.

I refer members to paper 1 and I invite the minister to make opening remarks on both instruments.

Good morning. It is great to be here.

The two Scottish statutory instruments that you are considering today are routine. They concern the application of the public sector equality duty and of the Scotland-specific equality duties to our newest enterprise agency, South of Scotland Enterprise. South of Scotland Enterprise was established in April last year; the SSIs will bring it into line with Scottish Enterprise, Highland and Islands Enterprise and a large number of other non-departmental public bodies.

The Equality Act 2010 (Specification of Public Authorities) (Scotland) Order 2021 will add South of Scotland Enterprise to the list of public authorities that are required to comply with the public sector equality duty. That duty requires public authorities, when exercising their functions, to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations between persons who share a protected characteristic and persons who do not.

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 will apply the Scotland-specific equality duties to South of Scotland Enterprise by adding it to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012. That will require South of Scotland Enterprise to, for example, publish equality outcomes and report on progress towards achieving those outcomes; report on mainstreaming equality; and publish information on the gender pay gap and equal pay. I recognise the importance of ensuring that South of Scotland Enterprise exercises its functions with regard to the equality duties, and I consider the SSIs to be the best approach to achieving that.

I hope that that provides a useful overview to the committee. I am happy to answer questions.

Good morning, minister, and thank you for setting that out. My question is probably quite basic. Why, given that South of Scotland Enterprise was created in 2019, are we adding it to the list only now? Has the Government done any assessment of the time that we might have lost in that, and of whether there is a risk that we could have lost some vital work?

That is a good question. The provision cannot be put in primary legislation; it needs to be in an SSI, in a separate process.

Your question about the time gap is very valid. Clearly, a lot of this has happened during Covid time, when the focus was elsewhere. It is important that we correct that now. When it comes to concerns about the implications of that, I assure you that South of Scotland Enterprise has, in any event, complied in all regards with the requirements, and was set up on that basis. The board and management are very clear about the requirements in the SSIs, which have been baked into their operation right from the start. We have not lost any time in that regard. This is, in effect, a tidying-up exercise, to bring the body into line with the legislation that applies to other enterprise agencies.

As there are no further questions, we move to items 3 and 4, which is the formal business on the instruments. I invite the minister to move motions S6M-01530 and S6M-01531.

Motions moved,

That the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee recommends that The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 be approved.

That the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee recommends that the Equality Act 2010 (Specification of Public Authorities) (Scotland) Order 2021 be approved.—[Ivan McKee.]

Motions agreed to.

The committee will make a short factual report on our deliberations on the instruments that we have considered today.

That completes consideration of the instruments. I thank the minister and his officials for attending.

10:05 Meeting suspended.  

10:07 On resuming—