Robert Halfon proposes bill to reform Social Mobility Commission

Chair of the Education Committee Robert Halfon to introduce legislation to give greater powers and resources to the Social Mobility Commission (SMC), the body set up to promote social justice

The bill is supported by the education committee and follows a report by the committee on the SMC, which called for the commission to be equipped with greater resources and powers, enabling it to publish social justice impact assessments on government policies and to proactively advise Ministers on social justice issues. The SMC published a State of the Nation report in November saying that social mobility was a stark postcode lottery in Britain and too many people were being left behind.

The bill would also create a minimum membership of the commission, of seven members in addition to the chair. After the resignation of chair Alan Milburn, deputy chair Baroness Shephard and two other members in December, the SMC was left with no members (from an initial membership of ten).

Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Committee, said: “If the government is serious about fighting the burning injustices in our society, we need a commission with real teeth and we now have an opportunity to make that a reality. The changes in this bill would strengthen the commission, giving it the vital task of assessing all domestic legislation for its impact on social justice and would also give it the power to hold Ministers’ feet to the fire.

“Support for our bill will be the first step in bolstering the commission. An effective social justice commission working in tandem with an implementation body at the heart of government can help to begin to heal some of the great social divides in our country and give the most vulnerable in society the chance they deserve to climb the ladder of opportunity.”

The legislation would also change the name of the commission to the social justice commission to more accurately reflect its role in seeking a situation where all people have equal access to all opportunities.”

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The committee published a draft Bill in March alongside its report.

In its report, the committee also called for the establishment of a new implementation body at the heart of government to drive forward the social justice agenda.

The bill will be put forward during a Ten Minute Rule motion where an MP makes a case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. An opposing speech may also be made before the house decides whether or not the bill should be introduced. If the MP is successful the bill is taken to have had its first reading.

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