Foster: Equality Bill will pass before an election

A government minister has said he is hopeful the Equality Bill will make it through parliament before a spring election.

Minister for equality Michael Foster said he was confident that the bill, which has received its second reading in the House of Lords, would pass the Lords “broadly” in its current form by March or April.

But he added: “If there is a general election in the late spring we will assume this will go through before the end of the session.”

During the second reading there were criticisms surrounding aspects of the bill, notably on equal pay, but the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill said the best efforts would be made to “safely deliver” the bill.

Although the bill does not include provisions to outlaw a mandatory retirement age, which currently allows employers to force people to retire at 65, Foster said a planned review was now being brought forward to take place next year.

This will look at whether there should be a default retirement age or a later one.

Foster said: “I don’t understand why companies would behave in such a way [of enforcing a mandatory retirement age]. To lose all the experience and ability is daft and we do encourage companies already to think about it.”

The government hopes to see the legislation in force in all sectors in 2012.

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