HC Deb 25 July 1990 vol 177 cc530-1

26B.—(1) It is unlawful for an advocate, in relation to taking any person as his pupil, to discriminate against a person—

  1. (a) in the arrangements which he makes for the purpose of determining whom he will take as his pupil;
  2. (b) in respect of any terms on which he offers to take any person as his pupil; or
  3. (c) by refusing, or deliberately omitting, to take a person as his pupil.

(2) It is unlawful for an advocate, in relation to a person who is a pupil, to discriminate against him—

  1. (a) in respect of any terms applicable to him as a pupil;
  2. (b) in the opportunities for training, or gaining experience, which are afforded or denied to him;
  3. (c) in the benefits, facilities or services which are afforded or denied to him; or
  4. (d) by terminating the relationship or by subjecting him to any pressure to terminate the relationship or other detriment.

(3) It is unlawful for any person, in relation to the giving, withholding or acceptance of instructions to an advocate, to discriminate against any person.

(4) In this section—

(5) This section does not apply to England and Wales.".'.—[The Attorney-General.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 107.

The Attorney-General

In Committee, the Government introduced, and the Committee accepted, amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976 to make it unlawful for a barrister or a barrister's clerk to discriminate against a pupil on grounds of sex or race and for any person giving, withholding or accepting instructions to a barrister to discriminate on grounds of sex or race. That is effected by clause 53 of the Bill.

In Committee the Government gave an assurance that an amendment to cover Scotland would be tabled on Report. The new clause and the amendment fulfil that undertaking, which has the support of the Faculty of Advocates. I am much fortified by the presence of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who marks the importance that we attach to the presence of a Scottish Minister when Scottish legislation passes through the House.

A separate clause is required to cover Scotland, because there are differences between the ways in which barristers in England and Wales practise and the way in which advocates in Scotland practise. The most relevant difference for these purposes is that advocates do not practise from chambers in the way that barristers do. Therefore, references to tenancies, which occur in clause 53, would not have any meaning. I have said enough about this thoroughly worthwhile provision.

Mr. Fraser

As I am of Scottish ancestry, it is better that I speak to the new clause. Of course we welcome it, as we welcomed the extension of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976 to barristers and solicitors. It is a pity—I say this with the authority of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland—that the new clause does not appear in the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, which finished its Committee stage at 3 o'clock this morning and is due to come back to the House. We say that for the practical reason that it would be much better if a Scottish clause were found in a Scottish Bill. It is almost the only Scottish provision in an English and Welsh Bill. It would sit better in Scottish legislation. Perhaps that could be considered at a later stage.

The Attorney-General

It is a great pity that several things do not appear in the Bill to which the hon. Gentleman referred. We mark the peculiarity—I shall not go so far as to say anomaly—to which the hon. Gentleman referred by the presence of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. I should be delighted if he said something about it, although I doubt that there is much more to be said. My hon. Friend is here and he will say at once if he wishes to contribute. I think that he would. I shall postpone the remainder of my answer for a moment, if that is in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

I had not anticipated that I would have to speak on the new clause. The Faculty of Advocates—I am an advocate—would regard discrimination of any kind as unthinkable. It is altogether appropriate that the new clause should be inserted in this Bill, but I shall consider the point that the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) mentioned in case there is any possibility of putting the provision in the Scottish Bill. However, I believe that it is satisfactory in this Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is willing to leave it at that, I shall be most grateful.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Forward to