Devolution4 Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are three separate countries in the UK with devolved administrations. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments have different histories in relation to BME presence and experiences. Whilst Northern Ireland has separate equality legislation, the Equality Act 2010 applies in England, Scotland and Wales. However the Equality Act provides for certain powers to be exercised for Scotland and Wales by Scottish Ministers or Welsh Ministers respectively.5 There are policy areas within the exclusive remit of the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh Governments which may be enhanced to better protect BME groups and further eliminate racial discrimination within these different regions. We would therefore encourage that the recommendations made by CERD to the UK state include devolved administrations where applicable to ensure that the rights of all BME people are promoted UK wide.
Consultations with NGOs in Scotland and Wales have brought to light the fact that the Government, in its report to CERD, omits to mention certain policies, for example health or mental health in Scotland. We recommend that all areas of devolved policy for all administrations be included in the UK state report as failure to do so will hide the gaps in legislation and has the potential to undermine the quality of information offered to the Committee.
In other instances, we note that the UK state report at times takes credit, as the UK Government, for policies that are developed in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in particular when these policies are progressive and contribute to the advancement of equalities for BME and migrant populations. By way of example, whilst Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have given specific and targeted attention to Roma inclusion, through the development of a Roma Integration Strategy (as part of the European Union Framework for Roma Integration Strategies), this has not been the case for England.6 Recommendation: The UK Government should include in its report to the Committee, information on all areas of devolved policy across the UK. It should also ensure that best practice from devolved government is built on in all devolved administrations and at the UK-level too. Additionally, where recommendations may be applicable to devolved administrations, this should be made explicit by the Committee.