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Commission on Social Justice

equality , fairness , progressive politics



The Commission on Social Justice was established by John Smith QC MP, the then Labour Party leader, in 1992 on the fiftieth anniversary of the pathbreaking Beveridge Report. Its aim was to reassess the understanding of social justice, and to update our thinking on how best to respond to old challenges, but also account for new inequalities and divides.

The commission’s 1994 report, Social Justice: Strategies for National Renewal , offered a strong vision for a more progressive Britain grounded in a clear understanding of forces shaping the world we live in. The report was highly influential and its recommendations have been the subject of considerable debate.

Many of its key themes, such as the need to balance rights with responsibilities, the idea that economic prosperity could go hand in hand with social justice, and the value of life long learning were instrumental in shaping policy after 1997.

ippr used the ten-year anniversary of the original Social Justice Commission to carry out a flagship project - Rethinking Social Justice. The final report of this project, Social Justice: Building a Fairer Britain is available to purchase.


  • Sir Gordon Borrie QC (Chair)
  • Professor A.B. Atkinson FBA
  • Anita Bhalla
  • Professor John Gennard
  • The Very Reverend John Gladwin
  • Christopher Haskins
  • Patricia Hewitt (Deputy Chair)
  • Dr. Penelope Leach
  • Professor Ruth Lister
  • Professor David Marquand
  • Bert Massie
  • Emma MacLennan
  • Dr Eithne McLaughlin
  • Steven Webb
  • Margaret Wheeler
  • Professor Bernard Williams