The new equality bill, further details of which are due to published this summer, has been described by a minister as "a major de-cluttering exercise".

Speaking at the launch of a report concerning the benefits of workplace equality produced by the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), minister for women and Commons leader Harriet Harman said that the legislation will make it easier for firms and individuals to understand the law.

The bill will replace nine major pieces of legislation, including the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Ms Harman stated: "Successive governments have built a framework of equality laws which between them protect people from unfairness and discrimination on grounds of race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation and disability."

However, in order to work, equality legislation must be "clear and understandable", she added.