Claire Perry is one the MPs most prominently campaigning for internet censorship.
She has just brought a new dimension to the debate with a tweet that caught the interest of the internet community.
She wrote on twitter:
100% of negative or abusive commentary about opt in system for internet porn is from the chaps. Women 100% positive (so far)
Shaun has emailed her to take issue with the comment:
Dear Ms Perry MP
I am sorry but I have to take issue with statements you have made! On your twitter site you wrote: 100% of negative or abusive commentary about opt in system for internet porn is from the chaps. Women 100% positive (so far)
For example Cheryl (presumably a girl) replied there:
If you don't want your kid to see porn, then don't leave them with a computer or anything that can access the internet, in their bedrooms or allow internet access on mobile phones. Keep all devices that access the internet in the
family area and simply disconnect the modem when you do not want your kids going online.
Also I bet at least 50% of all the internet porn your kids have seen comes not from the friendly home PC, but from their friends houses, their friends mobiles and even their school IT room. - Cheryl86, mansfield uk, 19/12/2010
But the truth of a statement doesn't seem to be all that important to politicians does it ?
There are other women there who do NOT support your idea. You will find that the MAJORITY of people there, who are traditionally your OWN supporters do not want this.
MS Perry - I voted conservative on the ground we would get increased freedoms after the years of NL nannying which people are SICK TO DEATH of. It seems you folks are going to be even worse, and I won't be voting conservative again
unless things change very quickly. Yes there's going to an opt in so you can get the internet uncensored, so you say! The problem is that people simply do *not* trust you. They believe that a slippery slope with mission creep will come to pass and
eventually only government approved material will be allowed.
MS Perry in political speak: Censorship of this kind has no place in any kind of free and democratic country.
I have children now in their late teens, who have been online for over TWELVE years. There are ways you can monitor their access and restrict what they do without this. The internet IS NOT a child's playground.
If you persist in running a censored feed you should set it up yourselves (the government I mean) PAY for it, and then offer it to ISPs as an option, to connect through it, for those who want it. That way you cannot blame the ISPS
or fine them when it fails, which it surely will.
As for comparison with child abuse filters, already in existence, this is unfair for the following reasons:
1: The number of such sites is very small compared with the number of so called Adult sites
2: The effectiveness of the child abuse filters cannot be tested as to bypass them and download the material would turn you into a criminal. Few would dare risk that I think.
3: Adult censorship systems will be tested to destruction by both sides, those for, and those against. Those who are for, will make sure it works properly and complain when it does not. Those against, will test it, so they can say
We told you so and information how to bypass the scheme will be plastered all over the web.
MS Perry, censorship is a necessary evil and should be kept to a minimum in any kind of free country. We are not China or North Korea. Or is that the kind of environment you politicians really want to create for your children ?
It took me a long time to wish New labour was out of power. I think I've got to that position with the current coalition already.
If you think men are against this, it is simply because men tend understand the workings of the internet more, and certainly trust the government LESS when it goes on these kinds of moral crusades. You should not really keep taking
a pot shot at men as you do. This is insulting and sexist. Yes we might be more stimulated by explicit images. There is some truth in that. That however is a product of evolution. It does not mean we don't care about keeping our children safe. However I
really would like to see more evidence of the harm, before you go on a censorship crusade. I have followed this debate for some years, ever since realised exactly how much censorship was imposed on our media back in the nineties, compared with the much
more free countries of Europe.
If you do have a censored feed, it should be one which is requested by PARENTS. I should not have to ask my ISP for my freedom of choice, and perhaps be put on a list of people who have done this. (Another fear of many people, who
are against this)
I am not a constituent, but I would be grateful for your reply, and any reassurances you might care to offer.
BTW: I find it APPALLING that a political posturing group such as SaferMedia have been granted charitable status, when I don't think there is anything remotely charitable about their activities. As far as I can tell, they
exist simply to try to persuade politcians to impose a narrow-minded Christian agenda on everyone else. I have asked the charities commission to review their decision in light of their political activities.
Ed Vaizey doesn't seem to have found many takers for his ideas about website blocking at ISP level. Very few commentators can see any way whatsoever that a single shared blocking scheme can fit the requirements of the whole family.
Perhaps he would be better off suggesting some more advanced networking architectures where multiple users can have individually tailored internet connections depending on their login.
But as for the shared scheme, it deserves nothing but derision.
If something like this is set up, who will be doing the filtering? Will the people doing the filtering really be sensible, reasonable people? Or will they be experts headhunted from the BBFC and various moral pressure groups?
Does anyone here think that such a new internet regime would conduct itself fairly and reasonably? Would their be a level playing ground, whereby melonfarmers could have a raunchy pic in an advert on its pages and it would get the
same treatment as, say, Amazon? Are people absolutely certain that, the presence of advertisements to adult product sites would not be a wonderful excuse to close down access to sites such as melonfarmers?
People doing the filtering are invariably going to be a collection of the usual suspects.
Any idea of an appeal system will be pretty much a joke, as the whole undertaking will be so bogged down with the sheer scale of the task of finding all adult sites, that it will dedicate virtually no time to appeals.
Aside from that, appeals would be handled from the position of defending the credibility of the organisation. i.e. We must have been right, as we're the experts. Therefore the appeal must be unjustified.
The last thing Britain needs right now is another panel of self important experts on matters decent. Given that this government is supposed to be interested in cutting the number of quangos their desire to create yet another
one, strains credulity.
More busy bodies with clip boards. More self appointed moral guardians. More high handed injustice in the name of protecting us all.
Those are all great reasons not to waste untold millions of pounds either creating a government great firewall , or requiring ISPs to do the same. But here's the most important reason of all: it won't work.
Any think-of-the-children internet filter has a fundamental problem: if it's effective enough to actually block adult content, it will also be irritating enough that almost everyone will turn it off.
An effective filter would have to censor Flickr, which has a large amount of adult imagery. It has to censor every blogging platform: Tumblr, for example, has a whole swathe of porn blogs, and there are untold numbers of sex
bloggers writing reams of explicit text. And it has to censor YouTube, particularly if 4chan decide to flood it with porn again. Facebook could probably be let through, thanks to its strong filtering policies – although right now, most mobile
providers block it for under-18s anyway.
If an adult content filter allows those sites through, it fails. And if it blocks those sites, then hardly anyone will use it – and it fails.
And of course practical and monetary concerns from the ISP industry
In response to the government proposal, Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Ispa industry body, said:
Ispa firmly believes that controls on children's access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down.
ISPs currently block child abuse content which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent. Blocking lawful pornography content is less clear cut, will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content and is only effective in
preventing inadvertent access.
Trefor Davies, chief technology officer at ISP Timico said:
Unfortunately, It's technically not possible to completely block this stuff
He said the sheer volume of pornographic material online and the number of ways that people access it, via the web, file-sharing networks, news groups, discussion boards and the like, made the job impossible.
While some proponents of a national pornographic filtering scheme cite the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as an example of how such a scheme might work, Davies said it was not a good guide. Such a system would not work if it was used to deal with
millions of porn sites, chat rooms and bulletin boards.
If we take this step it will not take very long to end up with an internet that's a walled garden of sites the governments is happy for you to see.
And what happens (politically) when censored connections still show porn?
You can bet your last dollar that the censorship will be tested to destruction by the zealots. When it fails (which I am sure it will) who will take the blame for the failure?
Remember, it will be tested to destruction because the material under test isn't illegal to seek out. No one DARE test the effectiveness of the online system of censorship of child porn because to do so, can easily make you a
criminal. It isn't the case with adult porn is it?
The UK Government is push for ISPs to block internet pornography unless parents request it.
The biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes.
Instead of using parental controls to stop access to pornography - so-called opting out - the tap will be turned off at source. Adults will then have to opt in.
It follows the success of an operation by most British internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent people inadvertently viewing child porn websites. Ministers want companies to use similar technology to shut out adult pornography from children.
TalkTalk is already introducing a new free service early next year called bright feed, which allows people to control the internet so that all devices are automatically covered without the need to set up individual controls.
Homeowners can either specify which adult sites they want to receive or put a cinema-style classification on their feed to restrict what is received according to age ranges, such as U, 12 or 18.
Vaizey said: This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it's the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children. I'm hoping they will get their acts together so we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the
situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.
Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes and a keen lobbyist for more restrictions, said: Unless we show leadership, the internet industry is not going to self-regulate. The minister has said he will get the ISPs together and say, 'Either you clean out
your stables or we are going to do it for you'. There is this very uneasy sense for parents of children that we do not have to tolerate this Wild West approach. We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our
children aren't stumbling across things we don't want them to see.
Previously the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) has told MPs that such a blanket ban would be expensive and technically difficult to operate.
But Miranda Suit, co-founder of the political 'charity' Safermedia, which held a conference on internet porn at the Commons last month, said: Technically we know it can be done because the ISPs are already removing child porn after the government put
pressure on them. In the past, internet porn was regarded as a moral issue or a matter of taste. Now it has become a mental health issue because we now know the damage it is causing. We are seeing perverse sexual behavior among children. Legislation is
both justifiable and feasible.
The X Factor nonsense escalated as the Inequalities Minister warned that the raunchy performances should never have been shown to children.
Lynne Featherstone said that the 'sexualised' routines, which have now sparked 3,000 complaints from viewers, were unsuitable for the show's young fans.
Featherstone said X Factor bosses should have made pre-watershed performances by American pop star Christina Aguilera and Bajan singer Rihanna less raunchy .
Featherstone said: It was a bit much because so many young kids – seven and eight-year-olds – watch it.
She spoke out last night as pressure grew on the TV censor Ofcom to launch a full-scale probe into the routines as the regulator said it was still assessing complaints.
There have now been 1,500 calls of complaint made to the censor, with a similar number made to ITV. Up to four million children are believed to have watched the show on Saturday.
Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who wrote a Home Office report on the 'sexualisation' of children, accused ITV and show producers of behaving irresponsibly. She said: What is happening is that sex seems to have become the most important thing. Christina
Aguilera and Rihanna are very talented singers and yet the whole performance is not about skill, it is about being sexy. Children are being bombarded with the message that being sexy and being sexual is the way to be appreciated or to be validated. This
is a terrible message to be sending out. [But being sexy is a skill too. Surely the whole range of talents should be available for people to excel at. Why disallow one? Jealousy maybe?]
A spokesman for the Mothers' Union said: Do you want a society where young people think their worth is defined by sex appeal – because this is what is being normalised. Its president, Reg Bailey, has already been asked to chair an
independent Government review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. [Not showing any bias at all then! This is a worthless report before it's even started]
Last night an ITV spokesman said: We are confident that the performances given by our guest artistes on Saturday were appropriate for the show.
"Christians have something unique to contribute to the discussion"...The same old bollox
The Christian Institute has voiced its 'alarm' over the plummeting standards of decency in broadcasting after lewd performances by US pop stars Rihanna and Christina Aguilera.
Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said ITV had made a catastrophically bad error of judgement in allowing the production to go out before the watershed. He expressed concern over the effect of such performances on young people in
Lots of people are concerned and parents are particularly concerned about the effect this kind of thing has on their sons and daughters, he said. Daughters are made to feel that this is a normal way to behave in public and sons are taught to
expect women to behave like that. It is very unhealthy.
Calvert said the level of concern expressed over the performances ought to both encourage and challenge to Christians: It shows we are not the only ones to be concerned about the plummeting standards of decency in broadcasting.
Christians have something unique to contribute to the discussion. As Bible believing Christians, we believe in values like dignity and virtues like modesty and we ought to be more courageous in advancing these values and virtues, whether it's with the
neighbour over the garden fence or from our pulpit.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned a government-commissioned review, expected to be led by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers' Union, will lay the ground for new laws which could see individual companies persecuted.
Bailey's review will gather evidence of ways children are having unfair commercial pressure put on them or being prematurely sexualised by retailers amid protests over high-heeled shoes and provocative underwear aimed at girls as young as 10.
Ministers at the Department for Education intend to legislate or regulate against the supposed offenders, many of whom have already sparked nutter criticism from parents.
Coalition sources said the planned new laws could see businesses targeted individually, while it was likely a new industry-wide standard would be established. Parents, furthermore, could be given the power to challenge offending advertisements or
products specifically over child-related issues. Sources drew a parallel with the way complaints are currently made to trading standards officials or the Advertising Standards Authority.
The move is backed by David Cameron, who hit out at the premature sexualisation of children in one of his first major interventions as Conservative leader, more than four years ago.
Reg Bailey, a father of two and committed Christian who is the first male chief executive of the Mothers' Union – the international Christian charity that seeks to support families.
Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May has announced that the socio-economic duty, which was created as part of the 2010 Equality Act, will be scrapped.
The announcement came as the Home Secretary outlined a new approach to equalities that rejects political correctness and social engineering.
In a speech at the Coin Street Community Centre in south London, the Home Secretary announced plans to tackle inequality by treating people as individuals rather than labelling them in groups, and ending the top-down approach that saw Whitehall trying to
impose equality from above.
At least there is at least one welcome twig on the government bonfire. The speech also included the Home Secretary announcing that a measure in the Freedom Bill will allow people who were prosecuted for having consensual gay sex at a time when this was
illegal to apply to have their convictions deleted from criminal records.
Up to 12,000 men will be treated more fairly thanks to the changes relating to convictions for consesual gay sex with over 16s.
The Freedom Bill, due to be published by February next year, will change the law so that people can apply to have such convictions deleted from the Police National Computer.
Until 1967 gay sex was illegal, and many men who were convicted in the 1960s now find themselves unable to volunteer with charities because criminal record checks show they have been convicted of a sexual offence.'
David Cameron often speaks about openness in government, but a Downing Street innovation to encourage greater public
participation has been quietly shelved. Officially, the No 10 e-petitions website, launched by the previous government, is under review.
Senior Whitehall sources insist it will not return, however, partly because of the negative publicity it generated. Online petitions were used to embarrass Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Shortly after the site's debut, 1.6 million people signed a
petition demanding an end to road pricing, and nearly 100,000 used it to demand Brown's resignation in April last year. [Cameron's communications chief] Andy Coulson does not want to see a repeat of that, said a Whitehall insider.
A line on the No 10 website says e-petitions were suspended when the general election was called and hints they may return.
Martha Lane Fox, the government's digital tsar, is understood to have considered their future as part of a wider review of DirectGov, the website for all public services, commissioned by the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude. But her report,
presented to Maude last month, made no recommendations on e-petitions, and civil servants are convinced the experiment is at an end after four years. [It's] been kicked into the long grass, the Whitehall source said.
A Cabinet Office spokesman has said that the government had already committed to pushing for a formal debate in Parliament for any petition that draws more than 100,000 signatures from the British public. The petition with the most
signatures would then be tabled as a Bill. Indeed, the proposal is laid out in the Coalition's recently published business plan for the next four years.
The government said it will present its petitions proposal to the House of Commons next month and, if Parliament approves, it will have a petitioning mechanism introduced in November 2011.
What's less clear is whether the 10 Downing Street e-petition website, which was largely ignored by the previous government, will be ditched in favour of bringing such a service under the roof of Directgov.
I can't pretend to be surprised by the retreat from the promised repeal of crackpot laws.
With Theresa May - definitely not to be confused with Teresa May without an aitch! - at the Home Office, this retreat is sadly to be expected. One of the more disgraceful exchanges in the last parliament was between her and
the possibly even more egregious Harriet Harman. May asked the right honourable lady to join her in deploring research which debunked the great trafficking myth. Harman, unsurprisingly, immediately did so.
Read that again - very slowly and very carefully. May asked Harman to join her in deploring.... RESEARCH. You know, the stuff carried out by academics, with a string of degrees as long as your arm, in universities,
published in refereed academic journals, read by other equally brainy academics who will jump down the authors' throats if there's the slightest fault in the argument and/or data. So watch out, Julian Petley, Julia O'Connell Davidson, and any
other scholar who stands out against this tide of bullshit. Don't expect much government funding for your work. That ministers or shadow ministers should spout off in parliament deploring research is a crass attack on academic freedom. How dare
people who know what they're talking about dare to challenge the bovine prejudices of May and Harman!
Nick Clegg's Freedom Bill
...a bit of a damp squib
The Deputy Prime Minister announced with great fanfare in July that he would pilot a Freedom Bill through Parliament, sweeping away meddlesome legislation and freeing up individuals and business from overbearing rules.
A massive consultation was launched with people invited to submit their ideas for laws which should be scrapped on a website run by Clegg's department, the Cabinet Office.
Some 46,000 people logged on and left their ideas, with each entry generating a stream of comments and debate.
Now Clegg has told friends there is simply too much detail . And he has handed the project to the Home Office, where officials have been charged with truncating the scheme and turning it into a much smaller civil liberties bill.
Deregulation measures aimed at freeing up business have been stripped from the Bill to make it simpler, to the dismay of Tory MPs.
In a sweeping statement at the launch of the Freedom Bill initiative, Mr Clegg had vowed to free our society of unnecessary laws and regulations – both for individuals and businesses. He promised to strip away the excessive
regulation that stops businesses from innovating. He urged citizens to get involved and said it was a totally new way of putting you in charge . Launching the Your Freedom consultation site, he said: Every suggestion and comment
will be read. So please use this site to make yourself heard. Be demanding about your liberties, be insistent about your rights.
One Lib Dem insider said: Nick felt he was being tied up in knots so he washed his hands of it.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office last night confirmed that the Freedom Bill was now being handled by the Home Office. However a spokesman for the Home Office said: I don't think any one department has ownership of this bill.
This was one of the LibDem flagship policies. A concession wrestled from the Tories in the coalition agreement. And now Clegg has handed it to the Home Office.
Check out the Home Office ministers.
Theresa May, Con
Pauline Neville-Jones, Con
Damian Green, Con
Nick Herbert, Con
Lynne Featherstone, LibDem
James Brokenshire, Con
Somewhat of a Tory weighting in that department. And the Tories in question are not of the Ken Clarke variety. Would a Tory group of this nature really be keen on repealing laws? Pauline `MI6` Neville-Jones and Damian `Immigration` Green? I
So it seems Clegg has not so much handed it over, but abandoned it altogether. In short, once the LibDem leader washed his hands of it, the repeal act died. There is not a chance of a Tory Home Office investing any political capital in what they
would see as wet, wishy washy policies which would, in their eyes, subvert authority and control.
Seems to me Clegg simply sold out on this one. Even though he'd won coalition support - simply because it proved tricky to do.
When the coalition reached government, they commissioned a review. To oversee this review, they appointed Ken Macdonald, the
former director of public prosecutions, who is now a Liberal Democrat peer. That appointment was taken as a signal of intent to repeal or reform those laws that are most offensive to the principles of justice. The former DPP was a particularly
potent critic of control orders and 28-day detention without charge.
But here's the rub. The review may be associated with Macdonald, but it has actually been conducted by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, a unit based in the Home Office staffed by active or former members of the security services.
The head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, wants to keep control orders. He used a speech last month to lobby publicly for the governing parties to break their promises to the voters. One senior figure with a ringside seat for this battle remarks: This
is what they always do. When Jonathan Evans eyeballs the prime minister and says, 'I can't guarantee that the public will be safe from terrorism if you don't give me this , it is hard for the prime minister to stand up to that.
The review's conclusions were supposed to have been made public at the end of September. Then publication was kicked back to the end of October. That is because weeks of fierce internal argument have resulted in deadlock. Lord Macdonald has not
changed his views. He recently warned the home secretary that he will write a dissenting report. This has put Theresa May in a funk. A surprise choice for home secretary, she came to the job with no history of engaging in the delicate judgments
the role demands. She has already signed off on two new control orders. Insiders believe an inexperienced home secretary has been easily captured by securicrats who are always reluctant to give up powers once they have them. She has come down on
their side, but knows it will be hugely embarrassing for the government if it publishes their recommendations only for Lord Macdonald then to denounce them. Ms May went to Number 10 a fortnight ago for a difficult meeting with David Cameron and
Nick Clegg. When she revealed that they had hit this impasse, both men were horrified. David Cameron told the meeting: We are heading for a fucking car crash.
Ed Vaizey, the minister responsible for internet regulation is planning a new mediation service to encourage ISPs and websites to
censor material in response to public complaints.
Vaizey said internet users could use the service to ask for material that is inaccurate or infringes their privacy to be removed. It would offer a low cost alternative to court action, he suggested, and be modelled on Nominet's mediation
service for domain disputes.
The communications minister said he will soon write to ISPs and major websites including Facebook and Google to discuss the initiative. He conceded that industry is likely to resist any attempt at greater regulation, but he is keen to set up a
system of redress for the public: I'm sure that a lot of internet companies would say that is almost impossible, but... one does at least want to make an attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet
companies on this issue.
Under the Licensing Act, a performance by one musician in a bar, restaurant, school or hospital not licensed for live music could lead to a criminal prosecution of those organising the event. Even a piano may count as a
licensable entertainment facility . By contrast, amplified big screen broadcast entertainment is exempt.
The government says the Act is necessary to control noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety, even though other laws already deal with those risks. Musicians warned the Act would harm small events. About 50% of bars
and 75% of restaurants have no live music permission. Obtaining permission for the mildest live music remains costly and time-consuming.
In May, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity and for unamplified performance by one or two musicians. The government said no. But those exemptions would restore some
fairness in the regulation of live music and encourage grassroots venues.
Currently the Coalition Government is reviewing the situation concerning live music performance at smaller venues, and the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose MP, is considering the result of the Consultation on
Live Music which closed in March.
The Coalition is committed to cutting Red Tape, to encourage live music and is keen to find the best way forward. A number of options are being considered and the Minister will make an announcement in due course.
The Home Office have issued a press release about their plans to scale back the vetting scheme being applied to workers who may
come in contact with children:
In order to meet the Coalition's commitment to scale back the vetting and barring regime to common sense levels, the review will:
consider the fundamental principles and objectives behind the vetting and barring regime, including:
evaluating the scope of the scheme's coverage
the most appropriate function, role and structures of any relevant safeguarding bodies and appropriate governance arrangements
recommending what, if any, scheme is needed now; taking into account how to raise awareness and understanding of risk and responsibility for safeguarding in society more generally
Announcing the review, Featherstone said: While it is vital that we protect the vulnerable, this scheme as it stands is not a proportionate response. There should be a presumption that people wishing to work or volunteer with children and
vulnerable adults are safe to do so unless it can be shown otherwise.
The review will also take on board the criminal records regime, which Featherstone describes as having developed piecemeal and due for an overhaul to ensure that we strike a balance between protecting civil liberties and protecting the
Hugely controversial Big Brother plans to store details of every internet click, email and telephone call that we make are
being revived by the Coalition, it has emerged.
Police, security services and other public bodies would be able to find out which websites a person had visited, and when, where and to whom a text or call was made.
The plan – which was kicked into the long grass by Labour amid a public outcry – will put the Government on a collision course with civil liberties groups.
They argue it is a snooper's charter which will allow the state to spy on millions of innocent citizens.
So far ministers have insisted they want to provide a correction in favour of liberty when it comes to the powers required to protect the public. But this is sounding pretty weak now ministers have been persuaded of the case to give the
police and security officials enhanced rights to access the public's communications.
Firm plans will be published later this year on how the personal information should be stored.
British Government to enact Harman's equality legislation
Perhaps its about time to outsource the job of government to Asia. Asia can manufacture or provide services much more cheaply, not being manacled by massively expensive and stifling state control/social micro management. I fear that the current
down turn is a permanent step down, rather than the optimistically assumed downward section of a cycle.
Ministers have announced that the vast bulk of Labour's controversial Equality Act would be implemented immediately, despite concerns about its impact on business and office life.
The legislation, championed by Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman, introduces a bewildering range of rights which allow staff to sue for almost any perceived offence they receive in the workplace.
The act creates the controversial legal concept of third party harassment , under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive – even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren't there at the
time the comments were made.
They can sue if they feel the comments violate their dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment . They could even have a case against their employer if a customer or contractor says
something they find offensive.
Business leaders warned that the equality laws could derail Britain's economic recovery, with fears that employers will face frequent trivial discrimination claims.
Tory MP Philip Davies said the decision to press ahead with Labour's Equality Act showed the politically correct consensus is still alive and well in Government . This is Harriet Harman's politically correct legacy, full of stuff that is
completely barmy to most people. It will be the end of the office joke. It is a charter for lawyers and people who want to make vexatious complaints that will tie employers up in knots.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who is also minister for women and equality, has defended the decision to press ahead with the laws, saying: In these challenging economic times it's more important than ever for employers to make the most of all the
talent available. When a company reflects the society it serves, it's better for the employer, the employees and the customers.
Offsite Comment: There's nothing Enlightened about the new equality law
There could be no better illustration of the extent to which modern-day liberals and humanists have lost their way than their current clamouring for more state intervention into religious affairs. Their only criticism of the government's new
equality legislation – dreamt up by New Labour and enacted by the Liberal-Conservatives on Friday – is that it doesn't go far enough in forcing religious groups to modify their employment practices to bring them into line with the rest of
society. They seem blissfully unaware of the fact that the Enlightenment creed of liberalism, which they claim to represent, sprang precisely from a principled opposition to the invasion of the civil authorities into matters of faith.