Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Rights watchdog 'should be axed'

The EHRC costs millions of pounds and contributes 'very little to meaningful equality', a report said

The UK's human rights watchdog should be scrapped, a think-tank has said.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) costs millions of pounds, contributes "very little to meaningful equality", and inaccurately blames Britain for statistical differences between some groups, Civitas said.

However the EHRC said its job is to "start a debate on issues where we could see better outcomes for people suffering unfair disadvantages".

Launching its report, a Civitas spokesman said: "Ultimately, abolishing the EHRC itself would not just be a cost-saving exercise. It may well present an opportunity to channel resources into addressing the most pertinent issues holding back equality and fairness."

The report, Small Corroding Words by Jon Gower Davis, described the commission's goal of equality as impractical, saying that it wishes that "life outcomes be entirely divorced from health limitations, cultural practices and lifestyles".

The EHRC "draws attention to the comparatively small differences in life expectancy between all British-born women (80.5) and women of Pakistani origin (77.3), but fails to draw attention to the much larger difference in outcomes between British women of Pakistani origin and women living in Pakistan (67.5)", Civitas said.

It also accused the commission of refusing Britain a fair hearing, instead holding it responsible for factors over which it has no control.

The EHRC also has an illogical use of statistics and a "narrow approach to social policy" which is neither reasonable nor useful, the think-tank said. It also criticised the pay and expenses of the commission's most senior staff, including chairman Trevor Phillips, and questioned its value for money.

Mark Hammond, chief executive of the EHRC, said: "There are many reasons why people experience different levels of prosperity, health and happiness, but in some cases this can be because of discrimination and unfairness.

"No one blames Britain for that but it's our job to start a debate on issues where we could see better outcomes for people suffering unfair disadvantages. Mr Phillips does not hold the views attributed to him by Civitas."

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