Hancock breaks ranks with attack on Equality Act

Tory MP Matthew Hancock launched an attack on the Equality Act at the Conservative party conference yesterday - just days after Theresa May praised it.

Tory right-winger Matthew Hancock has told a group of businessmen the Equality Act will cause “an awful lot of problems” for the government – just days after home secretary Theresa May commended the Act for “clearing a path towards equal pay”. Mr Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, also appears to be at odds with most of his colleagues. Only four Conservative MPs voted against the final reading of the Equality Bill.

Mr Hancock, a former adviser to George Osborne, was speaking at a fringe meeting of the British Chambers of Commerce at the Conservative party conference yesterday, in which he also said: “I apologise that Harriet Harman got her equalities law through.” The debate was chaired by Tory blogger Iain Dale.

Last Friday, Ms May wrote in The Guardian:

Today marks another milestone in the journey towards equal pay with the introduction of the main provisions of the Equality Act 2010. One of the measures in the Act is to make pay secrecy clauses unenforceable, allowing women to find out if they are being paid less than their male counterparts…

We also need to break down the glass ceiling that too many women face in their careers. Last week, I met with some of the UK’s biggest employers and business leaders to identify real action that we can take to help get more women on to the boards of British businesses…

The coalition is absolutely committed to breaking down the barriers that remain to equal pay in modern Britain today.

Last month, Mr Hancock used an op ed in the Times to justify the government’s accelerated spending cuts programme, an argument contested by Left Foot Forward.

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