§ 18 Vera Baird (Redcar) (Lab)
If she will make a statement on progress towards a commission for equality and human rights. 
§ The Deputy Minister for Women and Equality(Jacqui Smith)
The Government are committed to the creation of a commission for equality and human rights to champion equality and human rights, to give better support and advice to individuals, businesses and communities and to crack down on discrimination. We have created an expert taskforce to provide advice on the role and priorities of the commission. Its discussions have already been productive and its advice will inform the forthcoming White Paper.
§ Vera Baird
I am pleased by the progress that the taskforce is making. Will my right hon. Friend address concerns that gender may be sidelined by bringing it together with disability and race? The public sector has a duty to promote race equality and will soon have a duty to promote disability rights. Although a duty to promote gender equality was announced, the public sector is not currently subject to it. Will it be imposed and, if so, when?
§ Jacqui Smith
As my hon. and learned Friend points out, we made a public commitment on that duty. The commission will contribute to all the strands that it will cover, not least of which is gender. One of our priorities in designing the new commission is to ensure that no one strand will trump another. In fact, a single champion for equality and diversity across all strands will be more powerful and influential, and better able to deliver results than each strand working separately.
The other key issue is that women do not exist in isolation. It is sometimes the case that women who are disabled, who are older, who come from certain ethnic or religious backgrounds, or who are lesbians are likely to face additional discrimination. The commission will be uniquely placed to enable all parts of an individual's identity to be taken into account, benefiting women across the board.