The year 2000 saw the publication of an important document that made a set of wide-ranging recommendations for the harmonisation and reform of equalities legislation in the UK.

Equality : a New Framework : Report of the Independent Review of the Enforcement of UK Anti-Discrimination Legislation by Bob Hepple QC, Mary Coussey and Tufyal Choudhury (Oxford: Hart, 2000) was carried out under the auspices of the Centre for Public Law and the Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge. It was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Nuffield Foundation.

The report argued that reform was necessary to replace the previous emphasis on ‘negative prohibition of discrimination’ with ‘a positive duty to promote equality’. It said that ‘laws are not enough’ and ‘politicians and society all have a role to play’.

The report highlighted, too’ how existing legislation ‘deals with only race, sex and disability, and ignores other arbitrary exclusions from work and society, such as age, religion or belief, and sexual orientation’.

Amongst a set of 53 recommendations, it argued for the creation of a single ‘equality’ statute and one single commission (in place of a separate CRE, DRC and EOC) to cover all ‘arbitrary exclusions’. This drew in part on the model that have been followed in Northern Ireland where the Northern Ireland EOC and Fair Employment Commission had been replaced with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998).