Labour Party

An Equal, Inclusive Society - Labour believes everyone is of equal worth and entitled to respect. Our vision is of a fair, inclusive society where there is opportunity for everyone regardless of gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, race, religion or belief.

Labour is the party of equality. From challenging disability discrimination and to tackling the pay gap, to fighting racism and introducing civil partnerships, Labour has been at the forefront of change. We have done more than any government in history to support opportunity for all. We should be proud of our record, but we recognise that there is more to do to attack prejudice and make sure everyone can make the most of their talents and get a fair chance.

The Equality Bill represents a radical shift in our approach to fighting unfairness and breathes fresh life into our equality agenda. It forms part of the government’s longstanding commitment to ensure legislation catches up with the aspirations of those trapped by persistent disadvantage.

Key achievements - Introduced the National Minimum Wage – two thirds of the beneficiaries are women and it has played a substantial part in narrowing the gender pay gap.
* Established the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) to act as a strong, independent champion to tackle discrimination and promote equality.
* Strengthened the law to improve protection against disability discrimination in employment, and to improve access for disabled people to goods, services, facilities and premises.
* Widened and strengthened the Race Relations Act to include a positive duty on public bodies to promote good race relations and legislated for aggravated sentences for racially motivated crimes.
* Through the introduction of civil partnerships, Labour has for the first time given legal recognition to same-sex partners. Gay couples now have the same inheritance, pension and next-of-kin rights as married couples.
* Labour is the party of equality and diversity. We have the best record of any UK political party in terms of women’s representation. In Westminster we have 95 women MPs to the Tories’ 17 and the Lib Dems’ nine – more than three times the number of women MPs than the opposition put together. Labour has 13 Black and Asian MPs. The Tories have just two and the other parties have none.

New Labour, your Britain - We will defend and enhance human rights: ensure that our common sense human rights legislation is properly understood and applied; combat myths and misreporting of the Human Rights Act; and consider further steps including a British Bill of Rights and Duties and a written constitution.
* We will work through the Office for Disability Issues, established by Labour, to ensure cross Government action to achieve substantive equality for disabled people by 2025.
* We will empower black and ethnic minority women to build cohesion within their communities and as a bridge between communities by encouraging black and ethnic minority women to become councillors.

Labour is introducing the new Equality Bill, which will: - Unify and simplify the nine major pieces of existing equalities legislation.
* Impose a new Equality Duty on public bodies covering race, disability and gender, as now, but will be extended to pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation, gender re-assignment, age and religion or belief.    
* Increase transparency in the workplace: the government will expect employers in the private sector with over 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap. The Government’s intention is to enforce this in 2013 if insufficient progress has been made. The bill also bans pay secrecy clauses.
* Contain powers to outlaw unjustifiable age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities or services.
* Extend positive action in employment, political life and public appointments  

Democracy and Citizenship

Democracy and Citizenship - Why Labour? For Labour, democratic renewal is intended to forge a new relationship between government and citizen, so that Britain is better equipped to respond to the challenges that lie ahead. We want to create a society where power is held accountable and where individuals are able to maximise control over their own lives. That core objective is what has guided the substantial programme of constitutional change which we have undertaken since 1997 and will be entrenched in the vigorous reforms we are now undertaking to rebuild public trust and people's faith in politics for the future.

Key Achievements - Devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, an elected Mayor and Assembly for London and directly-elected mayors for those cities that want them.
* Modernised local government, introducing a clearer and more transparent decision making process, allowing local councillors to spend more time leading their community.
* Greater freedom for local authorities through additional resources and local public service agreements.
* Substantial reform of the House of Lords including the removal of the vast majority of hereditary peers, as the precursor to final, lasting reform of the second chamber.
* Increased rights for individual citizens through the Human Rights and Freedom of Information Acts.

Britain's Future

Winning the fight for Britain’s future - These have been significant and radical reforms, but we must go further. We want to rebuild trust in politics, strengthen Parliament vis a vis the executive, and put more power in the hands of individual citizens so that they can influence the decisions which affect themselves, their families and local communities. .We will work with the British people to deliver a radical programme of democratic and constitutional reform. Our plans include:
* Measures to increase transparency and strengthen public accountability of members of the House of Commons including: an independent regulator for Parliamentary standards, a binding Code of Conduct for all MPs, reform of the system of MPs’ allowances, tougher rules for expenses claims and declaration of any additional income.
* Limiting, or surrendering to Parliament, prerogative powers previously held by the executive, including: the power to send troops to war; the way treaties are ratified; judicial appointments, parliamentary oversight of the intelligence services; the power to dissolve and recall Parliament; and to place the Civil Service on a statutory basis by enshrining its core values in law.
* Ensuring a fair say for all by devolving power away from the centre and to local people; giving councils more power to promote local democracy to increase citizen involvement and improve services by making them more responsive to local needs and ambitions.
* A green paper to examine the case for developing a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
* A dialogue with the British public about how we might develop and articulate an inclusive view of our shared values.
* Measures to strengthen disciplinary arrangements and increase accountability of members of the House of Lords, as well as broader reform, including completing the process of removing the hereditary principle. We will bring forward proposals for a smaller and democratically constituted second chamber.
* A new Supreme Court to create a highly visible symbol of judicial authority, one which is accessible to the public.
* Legislation to increase controls on unregulated local candidate election expenditure, to make political donations more transparent, and to increase voter registration.
* We established the Youth Citizenship Commission to consult on the case for lowering the voting age to 16, which Labour supports, and we are exploring other measures that would help involve young people more actively in society and politics.

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