HL Deb 14 July 1975 vol 362 cc1013-94

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of Listowel) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Sex discrimination against women]:

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 17, leave out ("justifiable") and insert ("necessary").

The noble Baroness said: Clause 1 is a clause to which my noble friends and I attach very great importance, along with very many supporters in this field. The principle was an innovation introduced by the Government after the White Paper, and the crux of the matter is to avoid what is called indirect discrimination, which can be very damaging indeed for women. In other words, where the conditions of a job involve training, they could, while appearing to be identical for men and women, operate unfavourably for women, because very few women could meet them. That is what the clause is about. In this clause it is said that such conditions are illegal and are a form of discrimination, unless they can be justified. The purpose of this Amendment is to take out "justifiable" and insert "necessary".

The kind of situation envisaged here, for example, is when in order to undertake a form of training candidates are required to go away for a period of residential training. This is a situation with which very many women, particularly married women, would find it impossible to comply. Therefore, they would not find it possible to attend for the training required to enjoy subsequent promotion. They would not be able to take part in such training, because their circumstances would make it impossible. There are many other illustrations which are perhaps more pertinent. It is often customary to require a certain length of service for a job. A very large number of women break their service because of having to spend a period at home, and this will rule them out. Other examples will spring to your Lordships' mind. No doubt that is why this clause is here, but the contention is that the word "justifiable" is too loose.

The word "justifiable" means that the existing conditions can he defended; that is, according to the definition in the Oxford Dictionary. All manner of things can be defended. It is a hot afternoon, there is liquid refreshment on the other side of the corridor, and one would no doubt be justified in going across and refreshing oneself, but it could not be said that it was necessary to do so. To make it a requirement that the employer must prove that it is "necessary" for the condition to exist is far tighter than merely to say that it is "justifiable". Because this clause is such a very now innovation, the way in which it operates will make a great deal of difference to the numbers of women who will benefit from this Bill. We are most anxious to see that it is drawn as tightly as possible, and that the obligation on employers should be not merely to defend the requirement but to show that it is really necessary.

Returning to the residential training qualification, it can be a very desirable and useful way of receiving training, but in many cases an employer would be hard put to it to show that residential training was really necessary and that the necessary knowledge needed for the job could not be acquired in some other way. Therefore he could defend the residential qualification as being justifiable but it would be very hard for him to say that it was necessary. It is for this reason that we hope the Government will be able to accept this Amendment. I beg to move.


My Lords, I hope that the Government will look with favour upon this Amendment. Obviously, the intention of the Government was to draw this clause tightly, so that any imposed conditions could not be evaded by the use of the word "justifiable" which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has pointed out, simply means that they could be defended. I should have thought that the word "necessary" would make the clause tighter and would better fulfil the aims and objects of the Bill.

3.26 p.m.


As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and my noble friend Lady Wootton have pointed out, the issue is whether the word to be used is "justifiable" or "necessary". The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, whose notable contribution in these matters we would all recognise, has argued that the present form of words is too loose. I think she is wrong. I should like to cite one example which will not be altogether an unusual one, because the noble Baroness will be aware of it, having heard it put forward in another place when my honourable friend the Under-Secretary at the Department of Employment pointed out the problems which would be involved if another place were to take the course of action which the noble Baroness is advocating. He pointed out that in such a situation if an employer applied a "last in, first out" policy—and many of us would recognise that in a disagreeable redundancy situation that might he the right and fair thing to do—it could disadvantage more women than men. The requirement that it should be a "last in, first out" policy would not be necessary, as the Amendment of the noble Baroness would have the Bill read, but it could easily be justifiable.

It seems to me that such a policy could well offer the fairest treatment to employees in this situation. But such a policy could be disallowed if we were to insert the word "necessary" rather than keeping to "justifiable I think that a requirement such as the noble Baroness is putting forward could, quite unintentionally, cause a good deal of bitterness in an industrial situation where redundancies were forced upon an employer. I do not think it is necessary that such a requirement be written into the Bill. That was the view of another place when a similar Amendment was put before them.

A second example I might give—I know this is treading on controversial ground, and the noble Baroness will be aware of it—is the case of an organisation or body which offers reduced fares for pensioners. The condition there would be that the person concerned was a pensioner; but of course there is a different pension age for men and women. I know there are many Members of your Lordships' House and of another place who consider that to be wrong, but we are discussing the situation as it is at present. It seems to me that it could be said that it could be justifiable to treat pensioners as a group, and while that would mean treating men and women differently at a different age, it seems to me it could not be argued that it was "necessary" so to do.

The one thing the noble Baroness and my noble friend Lady Wootton did not quote was what appears in Clause (1)(b)(ii), namely, … which he cannot show to be justifiable"— and then follow the words which were omitted— irrespective of the sex of the person to whom it is applied". I think that is important as a qualification, because an employer must be able to argue the justifiability of the requirement without reference to the sex of the person to whom it is applied. If at a tribunal hearing it became obvious that what lay behind the requirement was a preference for male employees, I think the tribunal would have to conclude that it was not justifiable in terms of the Bill as drafted.

As the noble Baroness will realise, I fear that the Government do not consider it possible to accept the Amendment, and on the basis of what I have said I very much hope that she will decide not to press it.

3.30 p.m.


The noble Lord has produced some fairly persuasive arguments but I think they boil down to two serious points. First, he maintains that the word "justifiable", followed by the words "irrespective of the sex of the person to whom it is applied", is as strong as is "necessary". I am afraid that I have still got to be convinced about that. In dealing with these matters it seems clear to me that "justifiable" is a much more difficult word. It is rather easy for anyone to make a decision as to whether or not something is "necessary". People can get away with a number of specious arguments under "justifiable" which they could not get away with under "necessary". Although the noble Lord is quite right to say that in another place this Amendment was defeated, it is interesting that this was one of the few Amendments in the Committee stage there where, regardless of Party, all the women, with the exception of the Minister concerned, voted for the Amendment, obviously feeling strongly that this was a better word.

The noble Lord produced one or two examples of areas where "justifiable" would be preferable to "necessary". Other noble Lords may quarrel with him as to whether or not that is so, but I am quite prepared to accept what he said. It is interesting that of the two examples he gave, one is in an area where we are talking more about what is to happen in the next few years in the transition period after the passing of the Bill than what would happen when we really have the equality that we are all looking for. The second example is the one to do with pensions. As he rightly said, many of us think that the different ages for pensions are unjustifiable and should be done away with; so we are being asked to resist this attempt to put forward a stronger word to safeguard the equality of women in order not to get people in a mess in what is already an indefensible position about pensions. I do not think we should be asked to do that. If there is something wrong with the pension age which makes for this difficult situation, it is the pension age which should be changed and not what we are trying to put in to safeguard true equality.

The same applies to any difficulties that there may be during a period of transition immediately after the Bill. I am quite prepared to accept that there may be bad cases, hard luck stories and things which we cannot get exactly right. But when we are passing legislation which we hope and imagine is to last a long time, and be the foundation of equality of the sexes in this country, it is right that we should try to get it right in the long term. It is much more important to get it right in the long term than in the short term. From the arguments I have heard so far, and the arguments in another place which I have read, it seems to me that "necessary" is a far better word than "justifiable", and that, regardless of minor inconveniences, we should put this in.


I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, can assist me. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and I would equate the word "justifiable" with the word "defensible", so that subsection (2) would read: … which he cannot show to be defensible". To me, at any rate, that imputes what I might call an objective test to which the would-be discriminator or the person who has discriminated is subjected. If this Amendment were accepted, the word "necessary" would certainly strengthen the Bill, but I wonder whether it does not draw the noose a little too tight. Does the test then become not so much objective as subjective? If that were so—and I see the noble Lord nodding his head but that does not go down on the transcript—then I am bound to say that I would agree with the noble Lord and not with the noble Baroness, much though I admire her.


I can say what I want to say in two sentences. It is a pity that we have to come down to semantics when we are discussing a great principle, but unfortunately we have to. The noble Baroness took objection to the word "justifiable" and said that it meant "defended". That is not quite true. It really means "defended successfully". Therefore I feel that "justifiable is a far more appropriate word than the one which she is suggesting.


I wonder whether the noble Baroness has considered the point which I shall make. If I were an employer intent on paying a woman less than a man, I would far sooner have to prove that it was "necessary" than that it was justifiable". I might say that it was necessary otherwise I should be in the bankruptcy court and my business would not exist at all. I think that is a point which has eluded both the noble Baroness and the Government and it is better to leave the Bill as it is.

Baroness SEEAR

I am afraid I cannot accept the arguments which have been put forward by the Minister or those who opposed the suggested Amendment. I have the Oxford Dictionary on my side against the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland. It says that "justifiable" can be equated with "defensible". On the other hand, I would take the case put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, when he quoted redundancy. It is true that there are certain circumstances

in which applying this Bill in all its requirements will act against women. Nobody has said otherwise and we do not argue that it ought to be so, that everything in this Bill will necessarily be favourable to women at all times. There will be circumstances in which it will be unfavourable to women; this is part of the price we have to pay for equality.

I do not think the case for redundancy which the noble Lord put forward is a very good one. Until the time comes when men and women are doing the same jobs side by side in large measure, so that there is no difference between a man and a woman in the tool room, in the factory, or wherever it may be, women are not going to be adversely affected in a situation of redundancy. At the end of the day, last in first out is always applied in such a way as to leave a measured labour force, and where, to a large extent, women are employed on women's jobs and men on men's jobs the women will not go before the men because that would leave an unbalanced labour force and no trade union would press for this. Ultimately, we hope we shall get a complete mix of the sexes on jobs, but we are a very long way from that happening. When that happens women will then have to take such disadvantages as come in redundancy.

I believe that the desire on the part of the Government to draw this clause more loosely is due to the fact that it will upset some old-established workshop practices and will lead to a challenge of the way in which things have been done, which once upon a time might have had a real reason behind it but which is now justified only in terms of custom and practice and is of no true utility. In my view, such a practice should be justified as being really necessary and should not be upheld just because it has always been done in that way. For this reason I fear that I cannot withdraw this Amendment.

3.41 p.m.

On Question. Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 37; Not-Contents, 60.

Amherst, E. Blake, L. Byers, L.
Amulree, L. Boothby, L. Chorley, L.
Arran, E. Brock L. de Clifford, L.
Beaumont of Whitley L. [Teller.] Brockway, L. Ebbisham, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Platt, L. Seear, B.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Porritt, L. Silsoe, L.
Greenway, L. Redesdale, L. Stamp, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Robbins, L. Tenby, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Royle, L. Vickers, B. [Teller.]
Kimberley, E. Sackville, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Londoun, C. St. Davids, V. Wigoder, L.
Northchurch, B. Saint Oswald, L. Willis, L.
Ogmore, L.
Ardwick, L. Evans of Hungershall, L. Mais, L.
Bacon, B. Gaitskell, B. Melchett, L. [Teller.]
Birk, B. Gardiner, L. Newall, L.
Briginshaw, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Pannell, L.
Burntwood, L. Hale, L. Popplewell, L.
Castle, L. Hall, V. Roberthall, L.
Cathcart, E. Hanworth, V. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Champion, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Slater, L.
Clitheroe, L. Henderson, L. Stedman, B.
Clwyd, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Jacques, L. [Teller.] Stow Hill, L.
Crook, L. Janner, L. Strabolgi, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Leatherland, L. Strang, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Lee of Newton, L. Summerskill, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Longford, E. Wells-Pestell, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lovell-Davis, L. Winterbottom, L.
Erskine of Rerrick, L. Lyons of Brighton, L. Wise, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Discrimination against married persons in employment field]:

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?

3.50 p.m.


For the record, may I ask whether or not a widow, or for that matter a widower, is an "unmarried person"?


I am hesitant to give an opinion in the presence of my noble and learned friend. I will seek instruction on the point and let him know.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Discrimination by way of victimisation]:

Lord HARRIS of GREENWICH moved Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 32, after first ("person") insert ("(the discriminator)").

The noble Lord said: This is a fairly simple and, I hope, straightforward matter. It deals with a point which was raised in another place. The clause as a whole deals with the problem of I victimisation and use of the technique such as the black list which is aimed at people who are endeavouring to obtain their rights under this Bill. These Amendments, which arise out of the vote in another place, extend the definition of "victimisation" and would deal with a situation along these lines. A woman institutes proceedings against a consumer credit company alleging that she has been discriminated against over the credit facilities which have been offered to her and because she has brought proceedings against them, the company puts her on a black list so that other companies refuse her credit. In the Bill as drafted, these companies would not be acting unlawfully by blacklisting her application for credit. In the Bill as amended, they would. This deals with the point raised in another place. I beg to move.


I beg to move Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 38, leave out ("him") and insert ("the discriminator or any other person").(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 41, leave out ("him") and insert ("the discriminator or any other person").—(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 5.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 44, leave out ("him") and insert ("the discriminator or any other person").—(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 6.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 1, leave out ("he") and insert ("the discriminator or any other person").—(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 7.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 5, leave out ("he") and insert ("the discriminator").—(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Discrimination against applicants and employees]:

On Question, Whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness STEDMAN

On Clause 6, may I seek clarification from the Minister regarding the question of the burden of proof. When the White Paper was issued it said that: the complainant will have to show at the outset that the respondent has acted to the complainant's detriment in circumstances suggesting that such detrimental action has been taken on grounds of sex or marriage and it will then be for the respondent to prove that the complainant has been less favourably treated than other persons on those grounds. As it stands at the moment, the Bill seems to be silent on this point although it puts the burden of proof on the employer in two very limited situations: first, when it comes to justifying indirect discrimination; and, secondly, when it comes to deciding whether indirect discrimination was intentional.

As a result of the Amendments introduced by the Government at Report stage, I am satisfied on both points, but what will happen in ordinary cases, of discrimination and also in relation to the genuine occupational qualification? If the burden of proof is to be different from that set out in the White Paper, is the Minister able to explain what it is now; and if the Government have changed their mind since the White Paper, can he explain what were the reasons for their change of mind? I am concerned about the amount and the nature of the evidence which a woman will have to produce. For example, will she have to show that she has been refused promotion and then produce enough evidence simply to suggest that sex discrimination was the reason, or will she have to bring evidence to show that on balance of probability sex discrimination was the cause? There is a considerable difference between suggesting that something has happened and suggesting that more probably it happened than not.

I appreciate that I have not consulted the Minister before raising this question and if he is not in a position to answer me at this stage I shall be happy to hear from him in writing.


I should like an opportunity to seek advice on this point before answering and would be very pleased to write to my noble friend.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Exception where sex is a genuine occupational qualification]:

3.58 p.m.

Lord JACQUES moved Amendment No. 8: Page 5, line 6, leave out from ("for") to ("different") in line 7 and insert ("a man for reasons of physiology (excluding physical strength or stamina) or, in dramatic performances or other entertainment, for reasons of authenticity, so that the essential nature of the job would be materially").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend. Clause 7(2)(a) has proved to be one of the most difficult clauses in the entire Bill. We said in the White Paper that a person's sex would be a genuine occupational qualification where the nature of the job requires a man or a woman for the purposes of physiology or authenticity—for example, in the case of modelling or acting. This gave a good enough indication of the area with which we were concerned for the purposes of such a document but it was not a precise enough formulation to be satisfactory in a Bill. When the Bill was published, we expressed this criterion as "where the essential nature of the job calls for authentic male characteristics "so that it would be wholly different if carried out by a woman.

When this clause was considered by another place, it was clear that Members were not entirely happy that such a formulation clearly achieved the desired effect and my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State the Home Office undertook that the Government would have another look at it to see whether a better form of words could be found. We feel that the subsection as it stands is right so far as cover is concerned but that the Amendment which is at present before the Committee would achieve the same effect and would have the additional merit of making the intention rather clearer.

In two respects it improves in substance the earlier version. It makes it clear that the criterion applies if the essential nature of the job would be different if it were done by a person of the other sex. The present version implies that the job itself must be wholly different. However, to the extent that the job consists of the carrying out of specified duties it will not differ according to the sex of the job holder. For example, where the job in question is that of playing the part of Romeo, whoever performs the part will go through the same motions and speak the same words, but if that person is a woman the essential nature of the job will be different. It may not be wholly different; in fact, we think that to show that it was wholly different might be so stringent a test that almost no job would ever pass it. Therefore, we have substituted the words "materially different". This seems to us to be more realistic. The subsection would then read: … where—(a) the essential nature of the job calls for a man for reasons of physiology (excluding physical strength or stamina) or, in dramatic performances or other entertainment, for reasons of authenticity, so that the essential nature of the job would be materially different if carried out by a woman. I beg to move.


I welcome this improvement, but I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet with great success? Would she get into trouble under this clause?


This part of the clause has been puzzling me. I quite agree that the Amendment conveys in more suitable and precise words what the draftsman had in mind. But it comes down to this, even when amended: that being a man is a genuine occupational qualification for a job where the essential nature of that job calls for a man for physiological reasons. I want to know where Danny la Rue stands here? Is he liable to be prosecuted if we pass this Amendment or if we pass the clause as originally drafted?


I wonder whether the noble Lord could answer this question. The clause as revised is considerably more restrictive than originally. While driving along the Al this afternoon on my way to your Lordships' House, I switched on the radio, faute de mieux, to listen to Woman's Hour. While listening to it, it occurred to me that as the redrafted clause reads, presumably it would be illegal for the BBC to specify that women should fill the post of editor, producer, interviewer, compere, or whatever it might be. The same difficulties would face the editors of women's magazines and the like, if this clause applies purely to physiological characteristics. Can the noble Lord help?


Before my noble friend replies, what do the words "excluding strength and stamina" mean in this context? That is what my noble friend read out, and I do not understand it.


I am rather puzzled about the word "authenticity" in this context. We must remember that in Shakespearean plays women's parts were originally very frequently played by boys, and those were accepted as authentic performances. On the other hand, things now happen on the stage which did not happen in my young days. I can think of one, and perhaps only one, action which is of a physiological nature, which cannot be performed by a woman. I take it this clause as drafted is intended cover that, in the cause of entertainment.


I know one of the two of the answers! I can say that both Sarah and Danny would be all right. That is a good start. It was suggested that the new clause is more restrictive, but I do not think E.O. Instead of the job having to be wholly different to get the exclusion, it has only to be materially different, so the clause is less exclusive. I was asked what is meant by "excluding physical strength". It means just what it says; it requires certain male characteristics, but excludes physical strength. We think the wording we have suggested is an improvement, but if any noble Lord or noble Baroness feels that he or she can improve this clause, we shall be very pleased to receive their draft and to consider it before the next stage.

4.2 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 5, leave out lines 26 to 29 and insert— ("(ii) Within 5 years of the passing of this Act the provision of such accommodation and facilities, or of alternative accommodation for women, is an unreasonable requirement on grounds of cost; or").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 9, and with the permission of the Committee, wish to move Amendments Nos. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 together. Where provision of such equipment involves considerable cost, it would not be considered unreasonable to require it to be done within five years of the passing of the Bill. I hope the noble Lord will consider this Amendment reasonable or necessary, with regard to the present economic difficulties. I realise that at present there is a scarcity of materials and labour, but I think the period of five years is not unreasonable. In some cases, of course, professional help will be needed, and plans will have to be passed by the local authorities which often takes time; but if the clause is left as it stands, no action—and I emphasise no action—may be taken at all, so I hope the Amendment will be accepted.

With regard to (d) and (e) because I consider they offer unnecessary exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination I should like to suggest husbands, prisons and other establishments of persons requiring special care, also provision for personal services promoting welfare or education. I gather now that under Clause 34 the Minister will propose leaving out prisons and inserting reception centres provided by the Supplementary Benefits Commission, but I suppose that this Amendment will apply equally to the Government Amendment. The exceptions as a whole are reasonable, where they are provided for elsewhere in the Bill. Paragraph (ii) provides for situations where decency or privacy requires that the job shall be given only to persons of one sex. I agree that this would appear to offer as much protection as necessary, and to provide further specific exceptions. One can only invite the use of these clauses to cover a wider field which can be considered as reasonable.

I gather that under paragraph (d) hospitals are exempt. I have been informed—I do not know whether correctly—that this is to protect the physicians, for example, of one-sex hospitals such as the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital. But what of a woman training as a nurse who could equally be used to support the decision to offer, for example, charge nurse posts only open to men. I do not know whether the noble Lord realises how many men have top jobs in the hospital service, the number being out of proportion to their numbers. I speak with some experience, because a hospital in which I am interested now has no woman matron. At present there is over-representation of men in the senior executive posts in nursing in this country. The number of men already holding posts in a profession which used to be predominantly female is now out of proportion. I hope that, if my proposal is accepted, this situation will change and encourage the trend for the promotion of women.

Paragraph (e) deals with "personal services, promoting their welfare or education ", and allows discrimination in these services to be provided by men. I understand there is no discrimination in job recruitment or training in this Bill, and all services in this area will be provided by teams comprising both men and women. If, however, in a particular case it was felt under the Bill that a man or woman could best deal with a problem, a person of the appropriate sex would be available. Exemption to such services from duty to recruit without discrimination on grounds of sex, is to provide that it might be possible to have teams confined to one sex only. If a team were all male it would appear that it would then be impossible to offer the best service. In some cases this could best be given by a woman. The converse would be true, if the teams were all made up of women. This exception might have the effect of restricting the ability, for example, of careers counselling teams using a person of a sex thought likely to be the most effective in a situation. I hope the noble Lord who is to reply will omit this paragraph. However, if he wishes to have time to reconsider the Amendment, I will then withdraw it.

I feel particularly strongly about paragraph (g). This was not in the original Bill. At col. 173 it was moved on 1st May in Committee by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment. He said: It is the fundamental principle of lawmaking that the United Kingdom cannot legislate for what goes on abroad. Of course I agree with that. The right honourable gentleman further stated in this paragraph that it was introduced to deal with: … what one might call the Middle East export salesman problem". I must say I consider this statement absolute nonsense. Having served in Indonesia and Malaysia, and having worked for the blind in East and Central Africa, I have never felt that my work has been inhibited by my sex. In fact, I would suggest to this House that it has been the other way round.

At Kano in Northern Nigeria, I went on a Parliamentary visit. I was the only woman, and I was invited to the homes of the Ministers, and invited to meet their four wives in the harem. No man was allowed to go there. The same thing happened in Bahrein. I met the guests, and they suggested I met their wives at the women's club. Even their husbands could not go there, but I attended a very interesting evening of discussion and met many of the women, who were highly educated and very intelligent. In Zanzibar, too, I had a similar experience, going to the fort and discussing with the women there the various problems. We had a very interesting discussion. This was before Zanzibar was joined with Tanzania. We met all sections of the women population in the fort; no man was allowed.

The statement appears in column 173 of 1st May. I do not know who made the representations to the Government by commercial interests, but they underestimate the power behind the scenes of women in these countries and the amount of personal money that a number of them have. It was said in the debate in the other House that it was commercial interests that had made this proposal. I suggest we should know who these people were. For instance, in the Bahrein Club many of the women came in their black boui bouis. Most of them had been educated in England or in France. When they removed their boui boui they were beautifully dressed. Had I been a sales woman in clothes, in shoes or cosmetics, I could have done very well indeed. No man could have this approach to them. But on this occasion I had to buy. They had a sale; they had made garments and collected things themselves for setting up a crêche and a play group. I mention this to show how forward-thinking they were.

I thought that we wanted to help women in the less developed countries by bringing them into contact with women from other countries, and this is one of the best ways of doing so. At present in these countries men cannot achieve this because they cannot meet the women; they are never given the opportunity. In fact very seldom do they meet them, even at social functions. I realise that part of this clause can be repealed under Clause 70, but this always makes me rather suspicious. We know that even within the Bill it may never happen.

I am disappointed that the Members of the Opposition—I am talking about the Conservatives—agreed in the other place with the Government, but I am slightly fortified when I notice that none of them had had overseas experience. It was said by the Minister in the Committee: We therefore thought that it was not right to injure the prospects of this country in trading abroad by making it possible for women to make a claim to become export salesmen in Saudi Arabia. What about a Jewish man? There is nothing to be said about this. In the footwear industry factories have been set up, for example, in Syria, and one of the qualifications is that there should be no Jews. I do not want to legislate against Jews, but why are we legislating against women? I think it is most regrettable. I deeply regret the Amendment accepted in the other place. I hope that your Lordships will be more enlightened. Not only will discrimination be stopped in these countries, but real help will be given to women in the under-developed countries, by giving them contacts outside their country with different organisations. So will their future be helped.

It may be of interest to realise that Mrs. Margaret McKay, a one-time Labour Member of Parliament, has just completed a Persian Gulf history. According to the Daily Express: She can he found among the entourage of her great mentor, Sheikh Zaid of Abu Dhabi. Obviously, he has no objection to using women in a commercial sense. I hope, therefore, the noble Lord will be able to advise the Government to accept this Amendment. If not I shall hope to proceed to a Division. I beg to move.


Amendments Nos. 9 to 15 have been proposed en bloc. The Question is that these Amendments be agreed to.


At this stage I would prefer to reply only to Amendment No. 9.


If any noble Lord objects, of course, the Amendments must be moved separately to the extent of the noble Lord's objection. Therefore, the Question is that Amendment No. 9 be agreed to.


The exception in Clause 7(2)(c) is a very tightly worded one. It applies only where it is necessary, because of the nature or location of the establishment, for an employee to live in premises where, if there were no discrimination, persons of one sex would find themselves sleeping or using sanitary facilities in the presence of members of the other sex. It provides also that where it is reasonable to expect the employer to provide other premises or to adapt those he has to provide privacy for both sexes then he shall be expected to do so. The exception can be claimed only in the hard case where the employee must live in shared accommodation and the employer cannot reasonably make other arrangements.

In determining what is reasonable a tribunal will be free to take into account all the relevant circumstances. These include, for example, both the physical possibility of adapting the relevant premises and the effect of doing so. For example, where the premises in question are a small ship it might be physically impossible to adapt the living quarters, or it might be possible to do so only at the cost of taking out most of the cargo space and making the ship useless for its main purpose. How much any adaptation would cost would also be a factor which tribunals would be able to take into consideration. If they consider that the cost would be disproportionate in all the circumstances, they may uphold the employer's claim that it would not be reasonable to require him to make the necessary alterations.

The Amendment moved by the noble Baroness seeks to provide that only during the first five years after the passing of the Bill will employers be able to claim that it would be unreasonable on the ground of cost for them to provide separate accommodation for women. But the Amendment as worded would have the effect that after the first five years any obligations on the employer to show that the cost was unreasonable would be removed. Furthermore, it would seem that the application of Clause 7(2)(c) would be dependent only on the satisfaction of paragraph (i). I think that the conception of reasonableness in paragraph (ii) is the right one and that it will continue to be right to judge the issues on this basis even after the Bill has been in effect for some years.

The clause does not apply only to the continuing situation, where the employer has premises which are in constant use and which over time he can reasonably be expected to rebuild or partition or otherwise adapt to suit employees of both sexes. We may be dealing with a one-off situation; for example, if a team is being sent to live in temporary premises on a remote building site, whether it is reasonable to expect the employer to bear the cost of erecting another temporary building to house women employees will depend upon the circumstances of the case and not on whether it is in 1976 or 1986. The time factor is not important. I am confident that the word "reasonable" in the subsection achieves the right effect, and I hope with this explanation the noble Baroness will feel that she can withdraw her Amendment No. 9.


I think it may be convenient to your Lordshps if we continue for the moment the argument on this Amendment, because the following four or five Amendments all raise their own subjects. I will certainly follow the noble Lord who has just spoken for the Government. As has already been explained, the object of this Amendment is to try to insert two qualifying or limiting phrases, to make certain that this provision really bites, and they can be separated. I should like the Government to turn their minds to the possibility of separating them. There is the question of time. Situations may arise in the next year or two which mean that it is unreasonable to expect an employer to change accommodation or to provide alternative accommodation. But over a period of time he ought to be able to plan to do something about it, because the overall aim of this Bill is equality between the sexes.

The noble Lord produced a rather good case, and I shall be interested to hear what my noble friends have to say about this matter. The example of a ship seemed quite a good one. The problem of converting a large part of the hold space of a small ship will undoubtedly be the same in 1980 as it is in 1975. It may be that my noble friends will want to take away that part of the Amendment and look at it again. But, certainly, I would not want to do that without drawing the Government a little further on this question of cost. We think that the whole question of what is reasonable is put a lot too glibly in the Bill, particularly at this point, and we should like to know what reasons the Government can produce as to why we should not impose a limit on the grounds of cost. If I understood the noble Lord rightly in his argument about the ship, he seemed to imply that that is outside the concept of cost. But of course it is not. The whole point of people going to au outlying area to provide alternative accommodation would be the cost.

Are there any cases which the Government can produce where it would not be reasonable to expect an employer to equip premises with accommodation or to provide other premises, except on grounds which boil down to cost? Unless the Government can produce such cases, and unless they hold water, there is a serious case for putting in an Amendment to cover cost. Unless the Government can produce such an argument, I shall probably advise my noble friends to withdraw the Amendment at this stage, hut to come back at Report stage with an Amendment which really does limit the requirement on the grounds of cost.

4.23 p.m.


I think that the onus of proof must lie on the mover of the Amendment. One thing that bothers me about this Amendment and others associated with it, is that theoretical situations are being examined in your Lordships' House as theoretical situations. What examples can be quoted by the mover of the Amendment, for example, to show that the Government's proposal is unreasonable, and that after a period of five years an employer would no longer be justified in trying to excuse himself on the grounds of the cost of providing this extra accommodation? I am a feminist of many years' standing, and I think that I contributed a modest share of much that has happened on this question, but I find myself at odds with some of the attempts which are now being made to push the theory of this Bill beyond what is actually practicable.

Can we assume, as this Bill does, and as the movers of the Amendments do, that when this Bill is passed women will cease to be women? We must be realistic about this. There are some situations into which I am quite sure women would not wish to put themselves merely to establish their right to be there. I do not think it is worth your Lordships' while to strain yourselves and stretch the Bill to cope with every feasible hypothetical situation. My noble friend who has just spoken gave one example where it would not be reasonable to expect an employer to provide additional separate accommodation for women after five years had expired, because of the nature of the place of employment. A small ship is a small ship, and it will always be difficult in some circumstances to make the provision necessary to comply with this clause of the Bill.

We shall be unwise to pursue some of these points to four or five places of decimals in order to establish theoretical non-discrimination, when in fact we are probably pushing the Bill further than anybody will want to go. Is it necessary to provide for situations which go further than people want to go? I thought that we were to have an Equal Opportunities Commission with large stalls and highly paid people to ensure that equal opportunities were given, and that problems which might arise in practice could be examined.

My concluding words are that we seem to have gone from one extreme to the other—from no action at all, which was the position only a few years ago, to pursuing the matter right down the corridors of hypotheses to find any situation in which at any time a woman might feel that she was being discriminated against. Are we really to have a situation in which an army of women throughout the country are testing every provision of this Bill to make sure that they can get there—and, having got there, probably giving a week's notice and saying, "Well, I have established the point."

I am sorry to intervene in this mood, but it seems to me that we might go through the whole Committee stage and subsequent stages of this Bill pressing the refinements almost to the point of absurdity. I should have thought that this Bill already covered so many possibilities that it was adequate for all practical purposes in the foreseeable future. Already we have in the Bill language which can hardly be taken seriously by many people looking at it, and wondering whether that kind of wording is necessary in order to establish the equality of women, as if one must try to prove that in almost every respect except one women are equal to men. We know that this is a palpable absurdity and we must recogise that there are some situations in which it would be unbecoming, unsuitable, and probably objectionable for women to be. In those circumstances, I think that the Government's proposal is reasonable and to deprive an employer of the protection of this clause by limiting its operation to five years is pressing the hypothesis of this clause too far.


My noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby knows that I admire him. He and I have worked together on matters that are included in this Bill, but I was surprised that he appeared to be so heated on the subject of women's desire to make this Bill truly comprehensive and to include in it such detail as will ensure that in future the measure cannot be challenged. I have no doubt that when, in 1919, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was introduced, speeches similar to his were made. The women at that time were reassured that the details need not be included, that the whole country would recognise the spirit of the Act and would recognise that equality was not only demanded but should be given to the women of the nation. The consequence was that that Act failed to give the detail which should have been given in order to prevent injustice. What has been the result? Fifty years later the women who should have received justice then have been cheated, and in my opinion one reason was that the Sex Discrimination (Removal) Act was not detailed enough and did not insist on ensuring that in every possible condition women should be treated equally with men.

Baroness SEEAR

My support for this clause derives not from a desire to push a hypothetical case to unreasonable lengths, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, suggested, but for straight forward reasons. "Reasonable" as a term is very loose; it cannot be denied that what is reasonable to one person is not reasonable to another. To argue that one can leave it to an employer to show that it is reasonable that he should do something or other, without putting any limit on that, is to leave this part of the Bill open, loose and simply a matter of interpretation.

As my noble friend Lord Beaumont of Whitley said, it is difficult to see—I cannot off-hand think of any cases—how an objection would be on grounds other than cost. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, referred to what happens on a small ship. My experience of what happens on small ships is very limited and has no relevance to what we are discussing here. However, it would seem to me that if a ship was so small the amount of additional accommodation which would have to be built into it to accommodate the very small number of women we are talking about would not be an overwhelming problem for the shipowner, because very few women would take up the whole cargo space, which seemed to be what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, was suggesting; that it would be a choice between having cargo and having women. For the amount of space that would be needed, given that five years would he available in which to provide the necessary bunks and so on for the small number of women any ship would be carrying, our request is not unreasonable. Can there be anything other than cost? If one does not consider it in this way, then this question of accommodation will be used for excluding women from a certain number of jobs.

We in this country have some very insular ideas about these matters. In Europe, as is well known—and, if it is not, it will he better known soon—it is far more common for men and women to share certain premises and conveniences than is the case in this country. Perhaps with the coming of familiarity with the EEC we shall not need all this additional accommodation. And, in any event, in this connection I have never understood why on British Rail no additional conveniences are required. Therefore, I hope noble Lords will see that we are not asking for a great deal. The fear is that this will be used as an excuse for not employing women; that it will be used indefinitely as a ground for avoiding such employment because of the need to provide an additional bedroom, lavatory or whatever the case may be. If one really thinks that it is necessary to have an additional lavatory or whatever, then five years is surely sufficiently long to enable an employer to save up the money to provide it. We are anxious that this ground is not used as a reason for not employing women and for this reason we regard this as a reasonable Amendment.

Baroness VICKERS

I am anxious and willing to reply to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, over whose attitude I was extremely astonished in view of his broad views on, for example, the Abortion Act. I do not know what has caused this change of heart on his part; he was all on the side of women in those days. He is old-fashioned, too, because in aeroplanes men and women use the same accommodation. And as for provision being made for women on ships, it should be remembered that in the Merchant Navy, certainly on bigger ships, the men can take their wives, and when in the Royal Navy wives and others are taken on trips they manage perfectly well. During the war, I was rescuing prisoners of war from Java and we had some very primitive American ships. They had been used for cargo, but we were carrying perhaps 800 people in them and we found no difficulty in providing adequate food, comfort and so on.

It may interest the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, to know that today the Suffragettes are having a meeting to which they invited me. These women are probably now over 80 and I have no doubt that they heard exactly the same arguments as the noble Lord used today when they were trying to get the vote. We want to prevent many people having to go to the EOC and if we insert these points in the Bill now there will be less work for that Commission to do. I have always thought that this House was democratic and that noble Lords would be willing to put these points in the Bill. Having been in Parliament for a number of years, I know how difficult it is to get changes made once a Bill has been passed and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, will agree that what we are seeking is reasonable.


The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, in his extremely ingenious speech, made one important point which we should get straight early on at this stage of the Bill. He said that it is for us who are proposing these Amendments to justify them. That is turning the argument completely on its head. This Bill is designed to achieve equal opportunity for women and the Government have put in, and in many cases quite justifiably, clauses which make exceptions to this. By our Amendments we are seeking to limit those exceptions; in other words, to substantiate the main theme of the Bill. In contradistinction to what the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said, it is for the Government to justify the exceptions they are putting in the Bill, not for us in our arguments on limiting those exceptions. This is an extremely important principle and something we should get right early on.

I do not wish to be unreasonable, nor do my noble friends. I think there is a considerable case for arguing separately the two points about time and cost, and I hope that when the Government reply to our arguments on this issue, unless they can suggest something much better than they have suggested so far, they will think about the matter again, particularly the point about cost. If they say that they are prepared to do that, then I am sure we shall be prepared to withdraw these Amendments and if necessary, if the Government do not table Amendments themselves, submit our own Amendments, possibly in slightly different terms, dividing these points which I admit are slightly different. I hope, therefore, that the Government will weigh up the extremely strong arguments that have been adduced, particularly on the grounds of cost, and that they will return on Report with a rather more hopeful message.


I think it should be recognised at the beginning—and I underlined it when I spoke—that the Amendment does not achieve what the proposers think it does. As worded, it would have the effect that, after the first five years, any obligations on employers to show that the cost was an unreasonable requirement would be removed. Furthermore, it would mean that the application of Clause 7(2)(c) would be dependent only on the satisfaction of subparagraph (i) which is the subparagraph which is not being amended. The Amendment is seriously defective, therefore.

However, I come back to the main argument, which is that the proposers feel that there should only be one consideration—that is, the consideration of cost. We, on the other hand, say that the question should be whether or not it is reasonable in all the circumstances, including the cost and other matters, which might be present. I would say, for example, that where there is a remote station or site where a dozen men are employed and the question of having a woman there arises, there would be first the question of whether or not it was reasonable to expect the employer to build the additional accommodation which would be required because the additional member of his staff was a woman. In such a case, cost would be a factor, but I believe that the Tribunal would also have to consider whether it was reasonable that the employer should be expected to take on one woman in a remote area where he was employing a dozen men. There is more than cost to be considered in such a case. Cost would be by far the most important factor, but it would not be the only consideration.

Baroness VICKERS

I suggest that if it were a question of one woman only, the employer would probably just have a little caravan for her. There is no need to put up a building.


My experience is that a caravan often costs more than a building.

Baroness VICKERS

Oh no!


But this does not support the noble Baroness's argument. The supporters of the Amendment are saying that only cost should come into it and what they have challenged me to do is to show that more than cost should be taken into account. What I am saying is that, in the circumstances which I indicated, matters other than cost have to be taken into account. Cost is the most important but not the only factor. We therefore believe that to base the whole question on reasonableness—not reasonableness of cost, but reasonableness of which cost would be one of the elements—is by far the better way.

Secondly, we do not accept the time limits which are implied in the Amendment. We say that if it is unreasonable to expect an employer to have separate accommodation for a woman, it is unreasonable in 1976 just as much as it would be in 1986. Consequently, we do not accept either that cost is the only element or that time is a factor. We say that it should be reasonable at any time.


I thought my noble friend had made it clear that lie was prepared to modify the wording of the Amendment if the Government would agree to the principle. It is not satisfactory for the Minister to say that because the Amendment does not achieve precisely what was intended it must automatically be rejected. He did not reply to my noble friend Lord Beaumont, who I thought made a very conciliatory gesture in offering to withdraw the Amendment if the Government would give general words of welcome to the principle so that further consideration could be given to it before Report stage, and so that, at that point, an Amendment drafted by ourselves in consultation with the Government could be brought forward to achieve the ends which we have in mind.

The second point I rose to deal with was the reluctance of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, to indicate any factors other than cost which might be relevant to the question raised by the Amendment. The only illustration which I heard in the speech to which we have just listened was that of the remote station employing 12 men to which it was suggested that one woman should be added. It was implied that there would be nebulous and undefined factors in the work situation other than those relating to the sleeping accommodation and the loos. What are they? Is the noble Lord suggesting that because this hypothetical station is remote it is impossible to have such a ratio as 12 men to one woman and that considerations would apply, for instance, in a station in Antarctica—that might be what the noble Lord has in mind—that would not apply in a normal place of work? Clearly, there are plenty of offices and factories in this country where there are as many as 12 men to each woman employed. Nobody thinks that there is anything in the slightest bit unusual about that. What is there about the remoteness of the station which raises fresh considerations? I think we are entitled to more of an explanation of the Government's objections than we have so far received.


My Lords, I thought that these vague feelings with sexual undertones as to why women could not take their place with men and as to why we cannot treat men and women equally in terms of employment were what we were trying to get away from in the present Bill. This sort of effort to make our blood creep about what will happen when one poor woman is away with 12 men on a far away site or, for that matter, when one poor man is away on a site with 12 women, is exactly what the Bill is trying to cut its way through. It is trying to do away with these vague and unjustified stereotypes which we all have to a certain extent in our minds. Let us get down to logic and to law.

I owe an apology to your Lordships in that what I thought was elegant drafting in this Amendment has turned out to be too elegant. I entirely accept what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has said, that it does not achieve what I thought it did and that it would clearly be silly not to seek, with the permission of my noble friends, to withdraw the Amendment at this stage. However, I give notice that we shall redraft it and put it forward in two separate parts at Report stage and that we certainly expect and hope to hear much better and more reasoned arguments if we are to withdraw it at that stage. I and my noble friends have heard nothing from the Government which really makes us think that the aim which we are trying to achieve is wrong or that it cannot be achieved. In the meantime, with the permission of my noble friends, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness SEEAR

Amendment No. 10 has already been moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers.

Baroness VICKERS

I moved Amendments Nos. 9 to 15 together.

The PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie)

Are the Amendments to be agreed to together?




If there is an objection, the Amendments must be taken separately. I must therefore ask for Amendment No. 10 to be moved.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 10: Page 5, line 30, leave out paragraph (d).

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is moved to challenge the assumption that in the cases referred to in this Clause it is self-evident, as it appears to be to the drafters of the Bill, that in a hospital, a prison or other establishment for persons requiring special care, supervision. Attention, et cetera, the work should be done by a man because it is men with whom that institution is specially concerned. This does not seem to us to follow in the least. In fact in relation to a male prison there is a strong case to be made out for having a certain number of women on the staff of that prison. The idea that an institution which caters exclusively for people of one sex should be staffed by people of that sex is not to us an acceptable argument. On the contrary, we should say that there would be many cases where to have mixed staff would be a very considerable improvement in relation to the supervision and care of the people in that institution. Therefore the assumption behind this, that men must always deal with men in these situations, is an assumption we wish to challenge. It is for that reason that we move this Amendment. I beg to move.


While this Bill will in most cases require that facilities and services are provided on an equal basis to men and women, we accept that there are some institutions where it may be reasonable to run on a single-sex basis. Clause 34 allows that establishments (or parts of establishments) for, persons requiring special care, supervision or attention may be confined to persons of one sex. Clause 7(2)(d), which we are now considering, complements this by allowing such establishments to maintain their essentially single-sex character where their staff are concerned as well. I should point out that the exception is a very limited one. It applies only to establishments for, persons requiring special care, supervision or attention". This will include hospitals (or single-sex wings of hospitals), prisons, hostels for unmarried mothers or for prisoners on parole, and so on. It will apply only where the inmates are all of one sex (disregarding exceptional admissions of persons of the other sex), and it will apply only to those jobs where the sex of the jobholder affects the essential character of the institution: it is not an automatic exemption for every job in the establishment. A tribunal might well hold, for example, that while the essential character of an all-woman hospital made it reasonable for the medical staff to be women, it was unaffected by the sex of the kitchen staff or the clerical staff.

In very many cases, the jobs which will qualify for the exception in subsection (2) would also qualify under some other of the criteria. Many of the staff of a women's prison are likely to need to be women for reasons of decency and privacy in the terms of subsection (2)(b). In a hostel for delinquent boys, many of the staff will be engaged in the provision of personal services to which subsection (2)(e) would apply. However, where we are dealing with social provisions of this kind we feel there is a good case for enabling the staff of single-sex institutions to qualify without going through the complexities of showing that Clause 7(2)(b) or 7(2)(e) applied. We feel, for example, that the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital, which as an all-woman hospital provides a very valuable service, especially to many immigrant women who would be reluctant to accept treatment from a man, should be able quite straightforwardly to maintain its single-sex character. We do not feel that a women's prison should have to reallocate those tasks which involve "decency or privacy" in order to admit male warders to other jobs, or defend their failure to do so under Clause 7(4). In such cases we think it far more acceptable to assess the application of the criteria on the basis of the single-sex character of the establishment.

I should, of course, remind your Lordships that we also have Clause 75. This has a provision which allows this part of the Bill to be amended by Affirmative Resolution, so that if this provision in the Bill were not found to be necessary, it could be amended in the future without additional statutory legislation.


Do I gather from my noble friend that if this Amendment is carried and the special provision is deleted from paragraph (d), it will be possible for a man to be appointed as a warden in charge of a hostel for unmarried mothers?


The answer to that is not straightforward. On the face of it, Yes, but it is very likely that there would be an escape under Clause 7(2) where we give several exceptions. The escape could, for instance, be on grounds of decency or privacy. But we are saying that it should not be necessary for a single sex institution to seek these other ways out. It should be exempt simply because it is a single sex institution of this kind.


May I raise another question on the lines of that raised by the noble Lord opposite. Let us consider, for instance, a probation hostel for boys, where it would be very much better to have a married couple at the head of it, or to have a woman, or perhaps two women, on the staff as well. It can often be extremely valuable to have women on the staff of hostels for adolescents or similar establishments. Would that not be possible under the Bill? The type of establishment I have in mind would, technically speaking, be for boys, but it would be very much better if women were in charge. Similarly, I have known of cases of schools—not schools for delinquents, but ordinary schools—where a man has been appointed as the head of the school. Nobody has objected to that and, following applications from men and women, a man has been chosen because he has been thought to be the best person for the post. A very famous girls' school has a man as its head at the moment. Would such situations be made impossible by what is proposed? If so, it would be unfortunate.

Baroness SEEAR

Has not the noble Lord the Minister defeated his own argument? He has pointed out that Clause 7(2) gives sufficient protection for those cases of privacy and decency to which he refers where there would be intimate contact between an official and a woman prisoner. That is covered by Clause 7(2). Other jobs, which are not covered by Clause 7(2), should be open to people of either sex. This afternoon we are not putting forward this case from the point of view of the benefit of the occupant of a post. But I think it was in the mind of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood—and certainly it was in my mind—that there could be positive disadvantage to a considerable degree in having mixed staffs. I have only little experience of this matter. But on one occasion I was brought into contact with it through a course being run for men who were being released after serving long prison sentences, and it was obvious that the absence of any female contact during the years of those long sentences could not possibly be anything other than a disadvantage in the running of the institution. I should have thought that all the protection needed is contained in Clause 7(2) dealing with privacy and decency, and that in every other regard the advantages of mixed staffs were over-whelming.


I should like to add one word on this matter. There is a very good case to be made out for not preserving the special character of an institution, if by that the noble Lord means that once the institution has obtained a blanket exemption under paragraph (d), it will never again employ a person of the other sex. One can think of good examples to add to the general points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, and my noble friend Lady Seear, to illustrate the proposition.

I know two women psychiatrists who are employed in the prison service, dealing with prisoners in men's prisons. They deal entirely with the male prison population. Nobody has suggested that they are not good at their job and that there may not be advantages in having women psychiatrists in the men's prison service, advantages from the point of view both of persons being treated by the psychiatrists and of the prison service generally, which would not obtain if one were to say that these institutions were of a single-sex nature and that all the psychiatrists employed in them ipso facto must be male.

I can imagine circumstances in which hostels for unmarried mothers which were mentioned by the noble Lord could benefit from the presence of some male jobholders; but to make such a blanket exemption that all hostels for unmarried mothers or all prisons should be entitled to come under paragraph (d) and ask for exemption from the Bill when, as the noble Lord admitted—and my noble friend underlined this—there is already adequate provision made in earlier parts of the clause for the preservation of decency or privacy, seems to me entirely unnecessary. I hope my noble friend will press this Amendment to a Division.


This Amendment proposes to delete a little common sense from the Bill. That is why I am against it. The stipulations here still have to be reasonable if they are to be fitting, and surely if there is a case against the provisions of paragraph (d) on the ground that to exclude women would not be reasonable, there is a remedy under the Bill. If the Liberal Party's record on women's rights were as good as their record on social security, I should be more tolerant of the political conspiracy which is going on on the other side of the Chamber.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Baroness VICKERS

May I say that I was allowed at the beginning to speak to all these Amendments.


Objection has been made to these Amendments being taken en bloc. Therefore they must be taken seriatim.

5.3 p.m.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 11: Page 5, line 41, leave out paragraph (e).

The noble Baroness said: The arguments in favour of eliminating this paragraph are really not dissimilar from the arguments used in connection with paragraph (d): the exclusion of people on the ground that they are providing a particular service or personal services that can be most effectively provided by a man. We believe that this would be for the continuation of segregation of services which is old-fashioned and unnecessary. This paragraph is not required at all. There is adequate cover in the rest of Clause 7 for the decency and privacy considerations; and the idea that services of this kind should be provided on the segregated basis is a proposition we oppose. I beg to move.


This paragraph is very closely drawn. It applies only to welfare or eduction or similar personal services. It applies, for example, to the Probation Service. One of the things that is essential for our Probation Service is that, especially in urban areas, they should have a balanced team. Another essential is that they should have not only a balanced team, but a sufficiently large team to enable the principal probation officer to allocate the right probation officer, the person who is fitted for that particular client. It is by this means that we are likely to have a successful Probation Service. There have been many cases where the widow's son has been saved by a father-like probation officer or an elder-brother-like probation officer. There have been many cases where the lady probation officer has been able to assist the woman shoplifter by talking to her about house management and child care.

We feel that there must be in this Bill provisions which would allow the mixed-team concept to continue. It particularly applies to the Probation Service, but there are also other cases where it would apply. If either a private or a public educational establishment felt that it could do a service by having a teacher of English for immigrant women and it came to the conclusion that it would get a good attendance and a successful class if it were a woman teacher but it would not do so if it were not a woman teacher, then it should in our opinion be completely free to advertise for a woman teacher for that particular job. I would ask you, as did the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, not to push this too far. If you push this Amendment, what will be the result? You are going to frustrate the people who have to make the appointment. But you are not going to stop them. If I was the chairman of a committee interviewing and making appointments to a Probation Service and you got away with this Amendment I would still get my balanced team.


The noble Lord should address the whole Committee and not individual Members of the Committee.


I am not addressing one Member. I am looking at the source from which the Amendment came.


The noble Lord said, "your Amendment". It is not the Amendment of the whole Committee; it is the Amendment of one or two noble Lords.


If I have been offensive in any way, I did not intend to be so and I will apologise. If I were the chairman of a committee making the appointment of a probation officer and the experience of us all showed that what we required in the particular circumstances was a woman, because she was best able to do the job, I should find ways and means of getting the woman, whether or not you get your Amendment. I would depend on experience. I would be able to show, and nobody outside could challenge it, that the person I wanted was this particular one because that person had the experience required for a particular job. Furthermore, you are not merely frustrating the people who would have to make the appointments by having Amendments of this kind; you are wasting the time of the applicants who do not have a chance of getting the job.

Baroness SEEAR

It seems plain that we are getting to the crux of what this Bill is about. I will not press this Amendment to a Division, but I am going to make this point. Running through all that the noble Lord has said there is a deep-rooted assumption there are some jobs which are to be done always by men for traditional reasons and some jobs to be done always by women for traditional reasons. The noble Lord said that he would support the chairman of a committee who, even if the law went the other way, was so deeply ingrained in his prejudiced belief that only a man can do a certain job, that he would appoint a man, regardless. That is what the noble Lord said; that he would support him in breaking the law because he believed that only a man could do the job. The whole point behind this legislation is that it is deeply ingrained in the minds of a large number of people that there are certain kinds of work which can be done only by men and certain kinds which can be done only by women. It is when we get down to challenging this in actual cases that we see how deep-seated these prejudices are. It is clearly in the mind of the noble Lord that it is out of the question that women should do certain jobs in the Probation Service which have previously been done by men. I would argue that what you want in the Probation Service is the best person to do the job, as I would argue in any other case. It is not always self-evident that you want a man probation officer to deal with men or boys, or a woman to deal with women and girls. Frequently, it may well be the other way round. The noble Lord will say that he agrees with that. But the whole way in which he is addressing himself makes it plain that he believes these distinctions are fundamental distinctions which should be upheld.

I do not intend to press this Amendment to a Division, but unless we are clear what we are doing, which is that in this legislation we are challenging the whole idea (which is still apparently deeply embedded in the mind of noble Lords) that jobs are divided on a sex basis, then the whole intention behind the Bill will be frustrated.


The noble Baroness is wrong. She accuses me of assuming only a man could do a certain job. That is quite wrong. I dealt with probation officers: I believe that women can do the job of a probation officer equally as well as men, but I believe there has to be a balanced team. This clause is necessary in order to get a balanced team. The Amendment would prevent that. That is why I opposed it so strongly. Furthermore, we believe there should be more women in senior positions in the Probation Service, and we are committed to seeing that is done. That was mentioned in the Second Reading. We are not prejudiced about this at all. We recognise that women are different; they may be equal but they are different. Because they are different, they can often be used in circumstances where men could not be used.


The Probation Service has been mentioned. I spent 20 years as chairman of a probation committee. I can assure the noble Lord that anyone who is chairman of a probation committee wants a team of men and women. Because you have a good team of men and women you do not say the men shall deal only with the men and the women only with the women. I listened carefully to the noble Lord. He implied that there are certain jobs which only the men can do and others that only the women can do. I support this Amendment because I do not want that kind of discrimination. I do not want people to say only men can look after men, and only women after women. It is wrong, it does not work. I may have misunderstood the noble Lord but what he was saying was not clear. What is needed is a Bill which will obtain the best person for the job, whether a man or a woman.

We may be talking about the Probation Service, but it applies to other professions. If there are clauses which say that a particular job has to be done by a man because it is considered in the Bill to be a man's job and, equally, that a job has to be done by a woman because it is a woman's job, that is wrong. What you want is the best person for the job. You want a mixed team, rather than laying down the law and saying: "This is the job a man has to do, and that is the job a woman has to do." That does not work out. I am talking from experience. I am sure the Home Office would agree. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, would back me up here. If you put clauses into the Bill which are divisive on this point, you are doing away with the whole point of the Bill, which is most unwise.


This is wrong. All this clause does is to enable the Probation Service to have a mixed team. After that it is up to the Probation Service as to how it uses its mixed team. The clause does not interfere in any way. It does not say men should deal with men or women with women; it says there should be a facility to have a mixed team.

Baroness VICKERS

It says in the Bill in Clause 7(2)(d): (iii) it is reasonable, having regard to the essential character of the establishment or that part, that the job should not be held by a woman.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

5.15 p.m.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 12: Page 6, line 4, leave out paragraph (g).

The noble Baroness said: The noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, has already spoken at considerable length, and very persuasively indeed, regarding this Amendment. She based her argument on the considerable experience she has had in countries where this situation would apply and I therefore formally move that this paragraph should be deleted.


The noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, put her case extremely well some minutes ago and I accept that. As she said, paragraph (g) of Clause 7(2) was inserted into the Bill by a Government Amendment in another place. The Opposition Members in another place had also Tabled an Amendment very much on the same lines. The Government decided to include paragraph (g) in the Bill after considering representations made by the CBI and others that the Bill should allow employers to discriminate in respect of jobs involving work in overseas countries, mainly in the Middle East, where women are not acceptable in business life.

Let me first make it clear that we are not dealing here with jobs wholly or mainly outside the United Kingdom. Clause 10 has the effect that such jobs are outside the scope of the Bill. However, there are jobs which consist of duties mainly in this country and which also involve some duties in countries overseas, and Clause 6 requires employers not to discriminate when selecting people for such jobs. It is to such jobs in countries where women are not acceptable in business life that this Amendment is directed, and we consider it right that employers should be able to restrict a job to only men in these circumstances. What we have in mind is, for example, a job as an export salesman involving work in some of the Middle East countries. It is a fact of life that the position of women and the status accorded to them are very different to that relating to women in this country. There is no question of paragraph (g) reducing the employment opportunities of women: a job of this kind will either be done by a man or not done at all, and nothing would be gained if the Bill required employers to consider women for these jobs. It is also true of course that, without paragraph (g), the Bill would not only be injuring the prospects of particular employers but also this country's export sales efforts.

I should also stress that paragraph (g) has a very narrow effect. If an employer wished to take advantage of it, he would have to show that the laws or customs of a country required the job to be filled by a man—not just the prejudices or inclinations of individual people—and that the job could not, or could not effectively, be done by a woman. I would finally add, as I have done previously, that if it were proved in the future that this clause is unnecessary, it would be possible to repeal it under Clause 75 without requiring a new Statute.

Baroness VICKERS

I am astonished and disappointed with the noble Lord's answer. Which countries have laws which prevent women working? He has mentioned the Middle East. So far as I know, there is no law preventing women working in these types of job. If the noble Lord would be kind enough to give me a list of the countries concerned, perhaps we may consider it; but if we want to advance and help women in developing countries, surely this is one way of getting them to mix together.

As I pointed out earlier, if one were selling clothes, shoes, or cosmetics one would have far more chance of selling because many of the women have a considerable amount of money to spend. I can assure your Lordships that I have been in harems where a man would not be allowed to go, and these women buy a lot of goods. it is rather ridiculous to think that people from this country cannot go in order to sell to them, whereas perhaps people in their own country or neighbouring countries can go there. There is nothing against a woman entering a household of the Moslem religion where men cannot. Talking only about exports for the moment, I would suggest that here is a real chance of increasing our exports, by having women approach other women. In that way exports would almost certainly increase.

Baroness YOUNG

I had not intended to intervene but, having listened to the replies given by the noble Lord, I hope very much that he will seriously reconsider the Amendments moved by the noble Baronesses, Lady Vickers and Lady Seear, together with this one. It seems to me that this subsection is very widely drawn. Although I understand it is intended to refer only to salesmen in the Middle East, it does not specifically say so. Women who wish to enter the Diplomatic Service or women civil servants who may accompany male Ministers, perhaps in the capacity of private secretaries—all sorts of people who, for one reason or another, wish to travel to these Middle Eastern countries—could, from my understanding of the terms of the Bill, find themselves excluded from a job because of sub-paragraph (g). If this is the correct interpretation, a good many women will, as a consequence of this Bill, find themselves worse off than they are under the status quo. I should have thought that this matter deserves the most serious consideration so that we may see exactly who will be affected by it and exactly the countries to which it is meant to apply in order that we may make quite sure that we are not making matters worse than they are at present.


I should like to raise the same point. The only African country I have visited is Nigeria. It is a number of years ago now, but I vividly remember women in wonderful blue turbans being the salesmen (or perhaps as I should say saleswomen) ill an enormous market. They were doing all the marketing and all the selling. There was one particularly enormous market, which I think was then the largest market in the world, where 80 per cent. at least of those who were selling were women. Saleswomen from Birmingham were passing goods to be sold in this market. I think the most tremendous harm would be done if at this stage it is said that women cannot get involved in overseas selling. So far we have been talking about selling. But what about nurses? What about doctors? What about child care and so on? There are many people who are very keen to go overseas and do things which would be helpful to the underdeveloped countries.

As a previous speaker has said, if we genuinely want to help the underdeveloped countries and to try to break down some of the taboos relating to the Moslem religion, this Bill is not going to help in that direction. It is absolutely condemning people to the status quo. I am sorry to say that I think that the Government are being very weak-kneed in defending this position. I think they are dealing with it in a very weak manner. We are trying to do something fresh, something new, and trying through this Bill to bring about something which will redound to the health of people not only in this country but overseas. I would think this was a most unfortunate stand to be taken by Her Majesty's Government.


I am particularly interested in the position of the salesmen, having been one myself. The noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, is absolutely correct in saying that in certain parts of West Africa and of the world women carry on the entire trade of the country. But there are many other parts of the world, greater in number, where women are totally excluded from trade. It would be a very grave mistake to force employers in this country to engage people of a particular sex who would not be received in the places where they would need to go to sell. Admittedly, it is a number of years since I wandered round the bazaars of the Orient, but, in those days at all events, a woman would have been received there with derision. They would not have thought the bazaar was the proper place for a woman to sell, and they would not expect a woman to be selling; indeed, they would think she was rather a low-class woman to come out at all. Today I believe that situation applies still in much of the Orient.

The whole purpose of the Government's Bill is to give the employer a choice as to whether he employs a man or a woman for a particular market. So far as I can make out, the ladies are trying to force the Government to put in a clause which would force an employer to employ someone of a sex whom he does not want to employ.


Is the noble Lord not being a little old-fashioned when he talks about women being derided because they want to do a certain job? May I remind him that Elizabeth Garrett Anderson met the objection—and I think it was probably said in this Chamber as well—that no decent woman would want to see the human body unclothed and therefore it would be quite wrong to admit women to the medical profession. The arguments produced today are very similar. I have travelled in the Middle East a great deal and have known a number of ladies into whose homes no man would be allowed. It has always struck me that it is so much easier for a woman to make contact with the Arabs than for a man. Therefore, whatever the noble Lord may feel about this, this is not the time to express old-fashioned views but to take every opportunity to open doors and let women go through them—not close them, as this paragraph would suggest.


May I clear up one point? I was not talking about the Arab world at all. It may be that women can go into harems and sell scent, and so on, but I was talking about the East, where all the trade was carried on by men in my time and indeed I think it still is. They would not buy from women.


It seems to me that the employer should be able to choose in each case whether he employs a man or woman, depending upon the conditions and customs of selling in a particular country. It is rather a pity that this comes under a paragraph which says that you may decide only to have a man. It really needs to be both ways, so that you can discriminate in certain circumstances.


It is actually working both ways under the Interpretation Act and under Clause 2(1). Everything in Clause 7 which applies to a woman also applies to a man, and vice versa.


What about paragraph (g), which talks about the job needing to be held by a man?


It is a man or woman, as the case may be. I would refer your Lordships to Clause 2(1) and also to the Interpretation Act. Throughout Clause 7, where it says "man" you can read "woman", and vice versa.


If that is clear, a lot of the objection to this would go, because it is common sense. As the noble Baroness said, if you want somebody to sell in a harem, a man would not be able to do so.


May I ask the noble Lord who is replying for the Government whether this means that the Government are not going to reply to some of the points which have been put to them? The noble Baroness, Lady Young, put a number of questions to the Government to which they really ought to reply if they are to do their duty to this Chamber on this point. I should have thought that if they cannot give the answers at this moment, they should at least give us an undertaking that they will provide us at the next stage with the necessary information and the answers to the points which have been made. I should have thought that that was merely courtesy. We shall then be able to decide whether we wish to press the Amendment at this particular stage or whether we should like them to take it away and look at it again. I hope they will do us the courtesy of replying to some of the points which have been raised.

May I clarify a little exchange which I had earlier with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques? I did not in the slightest way think that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, was being offensive to anyone. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is always extremely courteous. I thought it was a point worth making at a moment when we were getting a little heated as to what our prejudices were on this matter. The convention of your Lordships' House whereby we address each other in the plural and not the singular helps to take a little of the heat out of problems. If I offended against the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in anything that I said, I apologise.


Listening to the debate, I should have thought that the main argument which has been made for this Amendment is that there are practically no countries where the law or custom would require a man. My answer is quite simple—then no one would get the exemption given by this clause. It applies only where the laws or the customs of the country are such that the duties could not effectively be performed by a man or a woman as the case may be.

Baroness VICKERS

Then why do we have this in at all? The noble Lord has not indicated which countries actually have such laws. It was suggested that there might he some disability in the Far East. I lived in the Far East for six years. Women are doing trading, particularly in Malaysia where Chinese women carry on a tremendous amount of the trade, and this applies also in Indonesia. If you go to the markets down by the canals the traders are all women. The men help to carry the things in and then go off and do something else while the women do the selling. I would suggest that we have not had a satisfactory answer and I wonder whether the noble Lord will consider this again.


I suspect that in most cases the question as to whether or not a man or a woman could do the job more effectively is a matter of custom rather than law. In so far as information as to laws is available, I shall certainly supply it. But I do not wish to give the impression that the Government are giving way on this Amendment. The Government have received representations and are satisfied that they were reasonable. As a result of those representations, this clause was put in in the other place, and nothing I have heard this afternoon would convince me that I should go back and tell the Department that it is quite wrong and that they should reverse their decision.

Baroness VICKERS



May I first of all apologise to the noble Lord for having to be absent while this important issue was being discussed. I am glad to say that I have been helping in serving a great body of very attractive young men and women from Thailand. We have some of them in the Gallery and they will be very interested in the argument which is going on. It worries me that so many people who really know nothing about the countries they are talking about take part in debates of this kind. Like my noble friend Lady Vickers I have been all over the far East and know exactly what the problem is. I am not necessarily for Women's Lib., but I believe in common sense and the use of both men and women where it is right and proper.

I like men enormously, but I fear that some noble Lords are talking about countries to which they have never been and know nothing about. I know all the work which my noble friend Lady Vickers has done in the Far East and I believe that she knows far better than some noble Lords here what the problems are. I wonder whether many members of the Government know what they are talking about, or whether they are acting on a Civil Service brief? I am not interested in Civil Service briefs; I am interested in the facts of life in these countries. If some of the people who talk about these matters would visit these countries, they would realise the correctness of the Amendment being moved by my noble friend. I do not necessarily believe in putting the views of a particular Party; I believe in knowledge and experience. It is experience that counts. Some civil servants who prepare briefs do not know anything about the countries, either. In this very important Chamber I think noble Lords should talk about things of which they have had experience. I hope that speakers on this very important issue know what they are talking about. I certainly support the Amendment of my noble friend Lady Vickers.


The noble Baroness who has just spoken has betrayed her own case. She admitted that she came into the Chamber and has not heard the debate, and without hearing any of the weight of the argument she is airing her own prejudices based on ignorance.


May I answer that? I do not know whether or not the noble Lord was here.


Yes, I was.


I heard all the arguments. I happen to have travelled all over the world and I know when arguments are right or wrong. I know that wrong arguments are often put forward. It is important in political life that people should be free. I have just listened to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, talking in a friendly and delightful way to the Thais. He told the Thais that the important thing was to hang on to freedom. I am following what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said to the Thais. I am asserting my right to say what my freedom is: my freedom is to say what I like when I want to say it, and I am saying it.


I should have thought that what happens in any given country is wholly irrelevant to this debate. It is important that in some countries in some circumstances a man would not be able to carry out the sales effort and in others a woman might not be able to do so. So long as we establish that there are countries in which those two conditions might apply, there is a good case for giving a certain freedom in selecting a man or a woman, depending on where they are to operate. I do not see that what happens in any given country has the slightest relevance to this issue.

Baroness BACON

I have listened to the whole of this debate and so I know what has been said. I have a feeling that there is a genuine misapprehension about what we are discussing. As my noble friend Lord Pannell said, I think the noble Baroness, Lady Ward, came in in the middle of a discussion and she has not grasped the point. I agree with a great deal of what has been said by noble Baronesses and noble Lords opposite about the desirability of getting women into these countries and perhaps encouraging the women of other countries to take their part in the life of the country. If that is what is at issue I would be voting for this Amendment. But I do not believe that that is what we are talking about. It seems to me that it is provided in the Bill that if a firm for any reason whatsoever regarding the country where the person is going decides that a man or a woman would be more acceptable and therefore advertises the job for a man or a woman they will not be breaking the law. That is all that we are discussing. I agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken that that is what it is about. It is not whether or not we say that no woman shall go and sell these things abroad. It is that the law will not have been broken in those few exceptional cases where it might be necessary to put this clause into operation.


All this feminine ferocity is quite alien to my nature. I merely want to read out to your Lordships this clause which we are debating as interpreted by Clause 1(2). It then reads as follows. Being a woman is a genuine occupational qualification for a job only where, the job needs to be held by a woman because it is likely to involve the performance of duties outside the United Kingdom in a country whose laws or customs are such that the duties could not, or could not effectively, be performed by a man". So, what embargoes there are on women are correspondingly on men. What privileges there are for a woman are correspondingly for men. For goodness' sake, let us get on with the Bill and not spoil it.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


Amendment No. 13, the Baroness Seear.


On a point of order, a Division on the last Amendment did not take place but was called once. I dare say the noble Baroness would wish to move this Amendment if she could be given a moment of time to return. Or perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, would move it on her behalf. I think she is very close to this Chamber.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)

As they used to say in Malaya, we have a little bit of soosa—a little bit of difficulty. It is of course the custom for a Division to be called a second time. Unfortunately, those who were interested in one side of the dispute on Amendment No. 12 had already gone to their places in the Division Lobby; while other noble Lords, not quite sure how they were going to vote, remained silent. However, Tellers had been appointed and I should have thought that, although procedurally the Government should say a vote could not take place, it was in the interests of the Committee that we should assume that things had gone forward and that the call had been properly made the second time.


I am sure the noble Lord the Leader of the House is very generous in this matter, but have we power to do this? The Question was put and the Amendment was negatived. I should have thought that if those who proposed this Amendment wished to carry it to a Division they should wait until the Report stage, which they are well able to do.


If I can be of help, I have called the next Amendment.


I tried to help but it is no good; I did my best.

5.48 p.m.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 13: Page 6, line 10, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is aimed at eliminating the limitation applied to partnerships. As the Bill now stands—


No. 13.


Is this a job that should be done by a man?

Baroness SEEAR

The purpose of this Amendment is to remove the ability to apply these genuine occupational qualification exemptions if only part of the job comes under this description. It seems to us that this provision is quite unnecessary in that there is nothing in Clause 7 which suggests that the whole of the work to be done has to be covered in order that Clause 7(2) should operate. To have this provision in the Bill positively invites the situation in which an employer who wishes to exclude women will put certain matters into the job, construct the job in such a way, so that he will then be able to invoke the provisions of Clause 7, subsections (1) and (2), to ensure that only a man is employed. It is no difficult matter to reconstruct a job in such a way that some item enters into it which will enable the employer then to claim that he does not have to employ a woman. The exemption clauses as they stand are quite strong enough without being strengthened by Clause 7(3). Therefore, we wish to move that Clause 7(3) should be deleted as unnecessary for the main purpose and as leading to evasion. I beg to move.


At first sight, subsection (3) of this clause looks as if it were likely to open up a major loophole by permitting employers a pretext for discriminating, if they chose to attach minor and unnecessary genuine occupational qualification duties to a job. However, if the criteria set out in subsection (2) are met in respect of work which does not constitute an entire job, then the employer must be enabled to ensure that that work is done by a person of the appropriate sex. It would be manifestly absurd, for example, to require that a person must do all her work in the presence of other persons in a state of undress before the genuine occupational qualification can be claimed for such work. Indeed, were subsection (3) not expressly included it is more than likely that tribunals would have found it necessary to interpret the genuine occupational provisions as applying to duties as well as to entire jobs.

However, by including subsection (3) and making it subject to subsection (4)—and I stress that the two must be looked at together—Clause 7 as a whole has in fact been made very much more stringent. Subsection (4) will ensure that even if genuine occupational qualification duties are attached to a job, the employer will need to demonstrate that they cannot reasonably be reallocated. If they can reasonably be reallocated to another employee of the appropriate sex, then the exemption will not apply to the job in question. Certainly it will not be possible for an employer to evade the spirit of the Bill by attaching a tiny, unnecessary percentage of genuine occupational qualification work to each job in his employ. Subsection (4) is a very significant limitation on the exception provided by the genuine occupational qualification as a whole, and the concept in subsection (3) is necessary to its operation. In view of this, I hope the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her Amendment.

Baroness SEEAR

If the noble Lord is saying that subsection (4) so strengthens the situation that it is impossible for an employer to reconstruct the job in the way that I was suggesting, then I should be willing to withdraw the Amendment, but I am not convinced by the earlier part of his argument. The noble Lord is maintaining that without subsection (3) it would be necessary for the whole of the job to be done but I cannot see anything in Clause 7(2) which lays down that the whole of the job has to be done in order for the exemption clause to obtain. For example, if you look at paragraph (b) of subsection (2) it says that being a man is a genuine occupational qualification for a job only where— it is likely to involve physical contact with men in circumstances where they might reasonably object to its being carried out by a woman". Obviously it is not suggested that the whole of the job is of such a kind. Surely the implication is that in the course of his duties some of his work will involve him in this physical contact and nobody would read into it that in order for sub- section (2)(b)(i) to operate that contact has to be continuous throughout the job. It seems to me that all the important points are covered. There is no suggestion that all of the work has to come under the qualification in order to establish that this is an exemption. Therefore, I do not see why we need subsection (3).

I believe that the Government are telling me that subsection (4) strengthens subsection (3), but subsection (3) does not seem to me to be necessary in terms of what exists already in the previous subsection of Clause (7). Anything that is included in subsection (3) is implicit already in subsection (2) of Clause 7. The point is that by itself subsection (3) leaves a real opportunity for loopholes. Could the noble Lord give illustrations in greater detail of the way in which subsection (4) so strengthens the situation that the employer cannot use this as a loophole by the restructuring of jobs? I do not believe that the argument that the whole of the job has to comply with the conditions of Clause 7(2), with all its subsidiary paragraphs, is an argument at all.


I am saying that in the absence of subsections (3) and (4) we believe that a tribunal would decide that it was sufficient only if some of the duties of the person came within subsection (2) for them to get exemption. We say that we are strengthening the Bill by putting in subsections (3) and (4). In other words, in subsection (3) we are putting into the Bill what we believe a tribunal would decide in any case—that if some, not all, of the duties were of such a character then there would be exemption. By allying subsection (3) to subsection (4) we seek to tie it down and make it quite clear that the employer cannot reallocate the duties of his staff in order to get exemption under subsection (3).


I still think that the case of my noble friend stands the subsection does not mean anything and if it means anything it is doubtless objectionable. The objectionable part of it, however, is probably not so strong. Subsection (4) deals with the objectionable side of it, but it remains that subsection (3) is unnecessary and it is a pity that it was put into the Bill. As it is unnecessary, the Government may well, I suggest, give way on this point. Without asking the Government for an undertaking, if we were not to press this Amendment to a Division but were to give them a little time to think about it, perhaps they would see that if they removed subsection (3) from the Bill it would do absolutely no harm and might do a little good. It is always a good thing to shorten rather than lengthen a Bill. I have the permission of my noble friends who have also moved Amendment No. 13 to withdraw it. Therefore, I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw Amendment No. 13.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Partnerships]:

6.0 p.m.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 16: Page 9, line 30, leave out from ("of") to end of line 32 and insert ("partners to discriminate against a woman in relation to a position as partner in the firm—").

The noble Baroness said: The intention of this Amendment is to get rid of the exemption in the case of partnerships which allows that there should be discrimination against women in relation to partnerships up to the number of six partners. In effect, this would exempt a very large number of medical practices and a considerable number of legal practices. We see no reason why a large percentage of partnerships should have this total exemption from the operation of the Bill.


I should like to ask a question of whichever noble Lord is going to answer, partly from my own curiosity and partly to invite him to justify this particular clause. As I read the White Paper, the clause was going to operate against firms consisting originally of eight or more partners. As published, the Bill contains a provision for six or more partners. I am bound to say that when one considers the whole matter of this Bill, and the philosophy behind it, if one is going to have a clause which forbids discrimination as against partners, why have a lower limit at all? Or, if some sort of a limit is to be imposed, why not think of an example such as a small medical practice with two or three partners, which is common in the world of medicine? I am bound to say that I find attractive the argument of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and, indeed, her Amendment, if only because it apparently seeks to put consistency where at present there is very little.


In our White Paper, Equality for Women, we recognised, as did the previous Government, that all exceptions weaken the principle of nondiscrimination. The aim must be to limit exceptions to the necessary minimum, but this minimum includes provisions to ensure that legislation does not apply to personal and intimate relationships. Therefore, in the White Paper we proposed that the Bill should apply to partnerships, in contrast with the proposals of the previous Government, but that it should apply only to professional firms with more than eight partners. As a result of representations made to us, we have agreed to apply the Bill to all partnerships, not just professional ones, and to reduce the figure for exemption from eight to six. The noble Baroness wants there to be no exemption figure at all. I would readily accept that it may be difficult to detect a major difference between the figure of six and that of eight, or even a figure of six and a figure of five. However, it does not follow from this that there should be no exemption at all.

The personal relationships between partners is a special one. In a small partnership, the relationship will often be even closer than that between an employer and the employees of a small firm, yet your Lordships have already accepted that firms with fewer than six employees should be exempt. The situation is somewhat similar though not exactly the same, as partnerships of fewer than six. In the case of a partnership, there is the shared responsibility for the successful carrying-on of the business, and the partners are jointly liable for all the debts of the partnership. While these points are also true of larger partnerships, the dependence on a harmonious relationship and confidence in another person and their ability are likely to be more significant factors when there are only a few partners, and particularly so when a new partnership is being set up, or new partners are being selected.

Nevertheless, we have made provision under Clause 75(1)(c) for the amendment of Clause 11(1) so as to alter the number of partners specified. We accept that we may find, or that the Equal Opportunities Commission may recommend, that it will be possible to reduce the number of partners specified in the clause, possibly even to go so far as to apply the provision to all partnerships. Of course, I recognise that if we do not apply the Bill to the very small partnerships, this will be an area in which discrimination will continue to be permitted. However, because of the special relationship between partners, the Government are definitely of the opinion that initially, at any rate, we should not seek to apply the law and regulation of the relationships between partners in very small partnerships, as to do so at the outset would involve enacting provisions which could prove difficult or undesirable to implement or to enforce.


I think the explanation that the noble Lord has just given is rather strange. I tried to follow it. But what happens if the partners are four or five women and one man? Is that all right? Where does discrimination come in? You could have a business in which the main partners were all women, and they wanted a man in the partnership. Would that be discrimination?


If I may interrupt the noble Baroness at that point, a partnership consisting of a certain number of women could have men or women in it, as it so wished.


Would the discrimination still operate between either men or women if the partnership was under six? I gather that that is what was meant by the noble Lord. I gather that he meant that if the partnership were over six, it is all right, you are not discriminating but if it is under six, you are. Personally, I do not think it matters as to how many partners there are. One wants really good people running the business. Whether those people should be men or women to me is immaterial. Some men run businesses badly, and some women run them very well.

A noble Lord: And vice-versa.


Yes. and vice-versa. I do not think there should be any limitation at all. I speak with experience, because I am chairman of a company. We have ten partners. They are all men, and I am the only woman. But that is not to say that we cannot have women if a woman wanted to come on to the board. To talk about six people seems to me to be a very odd and rather arbitrary thing. I do not think it matters a bit if there are two or three. You want a jolly good board to run the company, and it could be just as good if it was composed of men or women, or women with a few men. You need honest, good, efficient, competent people to run the business. To say there should be a limitation with regard to discrimination with reference to six or below six is to me silly.


It seems to me that this is another case where the clause which the Government have put in is unnecessary. If it means anything at all, it is to be deplored. It pays no attention to how people set up small partnerships. I have talked to a number of people over the past few days, people involved professionally in partnerships. All of them, including those who do not share my views or those of my noble friends on the equality of women, are all quite clear that this clause has no effect, and will have no effect whatsoever. It is totally unnecessary. People choose partners for small partnerships for many different reasons, many of which are personal. There is a very intimate relationship between partners in a small partnership. That is why people have the freedom to choose who they will have as their partners. People exercise this freedom very widely, because they do not like the faces of the people who might want to become their partners, or their way of working, or practically anything else about them.

I very much doubt whether the sex of the partner comes into it at all except in the most tiny minority of cases. Partners will go on discriminating against possible partners on every kind of ground. It is quite right—and I go along with the Government here—that in small partnerships they should be able to do so. By removing this clause from the Bill we are not forcing people to take individuals as partners. That would obviously be wrong. If there was any suggestion that the removal of the clause would mean that small partnerships would have individuals thrust on them as partners merely because they were members of the opposite sex, of course it would be wrong, but that is not going to happen. It is not how small partnerships are formed, and there is nothing in this law which suggests that they should be formed by imposing individuals on them.

On the other hand, I think it is quite right that we should declare in law that discrimination should not take place on grounds of sex, because that is one of those things which a person cannot help; we should enforce as much as possible that there should be no discrimination on grounds of race, for exactly the same reason. I do not think this clause as it stands adds anything to the Bill. I think it would be a good thing to take it out, because it seems to me to be a total piece of illogicality stuck in the Bill, which, if it means something, is offensive, but probably does not mean anything. We should really take this out. It is a nonsense.

Baroness SEEAR

I want also to press one further point. In partnerships up to six, if it is known that it is legal to discriminate against women, this is a very substantial discouragement to women to train for those occupations which lead to partnerships; the young woman going into law or medicine and so on knows that the chance of getting into what is a quite substantial portion of the total market—because small partnerships are a substantial part of the total amount of work in certain areas—will legally continue to be closed to them. That is exactly the opposite of what we want to do. We want them to be encouraged to take training in accountancy and so on, where there are many partnerships of fewer than six, where under this clause they would continue to be excluded. This is a discouragement to them acquiring qualifications which lead to the position of being a partner in a small firm. As my noble friend Lord Beaumont said, it adds nothing to the Bill; it is contradictory in terms to the whole spirit of the Bill. I really think there is no analogy with the very small firm in which a small number of people, under five, are employed. This is a different kind of relationship, a different kind of job. It adds nothing, it is contrary to the spirit of the Bill and it will be a substantial discouragement to women to equip themselves for posts of this kind which they are well able to fill. I shall not withdraw the Amendment.


I thought the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, went a long way towards stating my case. He said that in a small partnership the relationship was particularly personal and intimate. It is because of those circumstances that we think there should be freedom in the partnership to appoint men or women.


If the noble Lord cares to read my argument in Hansard tomorrow, he will see that though I went quite a way with him I used it to a different end; it was a sort of jujitsu throw, I hope.


Nobody seems to have fallen yet.


It seems to me that on the arguments put forward it would be much simpler to leave out this clause altogether rather than amend it in the way the noble Baroness suggests. I[...] she really feels the way she seems to, surely the right thing to do is not to press this Amendment but to vote against the clause.


The noble Lord is, of course, quite right. There are a lot of alternatives, to leave out the clause, or adopt the Amendment, or some halfway house. In relation to the totality of this Bill, it is a very small point. There is no stronger supporter of the Bill in the House than I am. I have had some sympathy with some of the Amendments which have been moved, but, as I ventured to say on Second Reading, the time of year is a difficult one. Some legislation is obviously going to be dropped. If we do not now get this Bill in this Parliament, the way things usually go it will be 10 or 15 years before we do. We have spent 3¼ hours on 16 out of 88 Amendments. If this Bill can be got back to the other place fairly soon, I imagine it will be very difficult to drop it. But if it is to take days and days here and be substantially amended, I fear for our prospects. I would hope very much, therefore, that the noble Baroness will not press this Amendment to a Division.


It is very seldom the noble and learned Lord makes a specious argument, but I really think this is one. I have always resisted in your Lordships' House the argument, even when it has come out in more difficult times than this, that your Lordships should not have the right to amend a Bill because of the danger of what may happen to it at a later stage.


If the noble Lord will forgive me, of course this House has that right. The question is whether it is wise to exercise it.


It has always seemed to me that we should do our duty in seeing that legislation passes in the best possible way, and that it is up to the Government to find the time to pass the right kind of Bill. I think I can refute the noble and learned Lord on two other points. First, it seems to me that the time the Government have

given is more than enough time, even at the rate we are going. The earlier Amendments are almost all the important ones. From about a third of the way through the Marshalled List we get to a whole range of minor and consequential and drafting Amendments. I understand there is even fear in certain quarters, because of the lack of business, that we might finish this Bill slightly too early. I do not think there is any chance that we will delay it unnecessarily. I am absolutely certain that, even if something dreadful were to happen to this Bill, the weight of feeling in the country, in Parliament and everywhere, is such that you would not wait another six months to get a Bill like this through. It is a most important Bill and everyone in the country thinks it so. I do not think the noble and learned Lord's arguments stand up.

6.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 16) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 46.

Arran, E. Gainford, L. Rankeillour, L.
Banks, L. George-Brown, L. St. Davids, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. [Teller.] Hornsby-Smith, B. Seear, B.
Killearn, L. Seebohm, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Kimberley, E. Southwell, L.B[...].
Byers, L. Kinnaird, L. Terrington, L.
Chorley, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Dundee, E. Lothian, M. Vickers, B. [Teller.]
Ebbisham, L. Mancroft, L. Vivian, L.
Effingham, E. Margadale, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Meston, L. Wigoder, L.
Falkland, V. Platt, L.
Annan, L. Drumalbyn, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Ardwick, L. Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Maybray-King, L.
Bacon, B. Fisher of Rednal, B. Melchett, L. [Teller.]
Balogh, L. Gardiner, L. Monson, L.
Bernstein, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Pannell, L.
Beswick, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Popplewell, L.
Birk, B. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Blyton, L. Slater, L.
Castle, L. Hanworth, V. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Cathcart, E. Harris of Greenwich, L. Strang, L.
Champion, L. Henderson, L. Summerskill, B.
Clancarty, E. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Craigavon, V. Jacques, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Leatherland, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Lee of Newton, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Derwent, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.26 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 11 shall stand part of the Bill?


May I ask a question on the drafting of subsection (2), which says: Subsection (1) shall apply in relation to persons proposing to form themselves into a partnership as it applies in relation to a firm. It seems to me, on looking at subsection (1), that really only paragraph (b) applies in a case such as this, as by definition they have not yet formed themselves into a partnership. This is a group of people coming together to form themselves into a partnership, so really only subsection (1)(b) could apply. Perhaps four of them coming together might like to have a fifth or something like that. At that point the discrimination would arise, but the other points do not seem to arise at the stage of persons proposing to form themselves into a partnership. I wonder whether the noble Lord would look at that.


I should be very pleased to look at it and to write to the noble Lord.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Trade unions etc.]:

6.28 p.m.

LORD ALEXANDER of POTTER-HILL moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 10, line 16, at end insert ("other than an organisation of workers which—

  1. (a) provides services for benefits to men only, or to women only,
  2. (b) membership of which during the 12 months immediately preceding the coming into operation of this Act was limited to men only, or to women only, and
  3. (c) is the counterpart, or substantially the counterpart, of an organisation providing similar or substantially similar services or benefits to members of the opposite sex, and membership of such other organisation during the said period of 12 months was limited to members of that opposite sex.").

The noble Lord said: Now that your Lordships have enjoyed the intricacies, subtleties and complexities of Amendments moved from those with a Party political commitment, perhaps you may relax in an Amendment moved from the Cross-Benches which is based fundamentally on common sense. This Amendment is narrowly drawn. As drafted, it is specific to the teaching profession, and I do not think that it affects any other trade union or organisation. I recognise that a later Amendment, No. 22, covers the same point and is drawn in wider terms, but my purpose is to deal essentially with the position of the four organisations in the teaching profession, the four associations: one of headmasters, one of headmistresses, one of assistant masters, and one of assistant mistresses. They have two great virtues; they cooperate, and they are each independent, and it is their independence which in this matter is relevant.

I believe that this Amendment was accepted in Committee in the other House but was subsequently eliminated from the Bill. For reasons which I do not understand in the Ministerial statement, I gathered the impression that it was the view that it was almost defeatist on the part of the Association of Women Teachers not to be only too delighted to become a mixed organisation. I think that that was the phrase used in the other place. I speak from 30 years' experience of negotiations with teachers' organisations on salaries and conditions of service. The only guarantee that there has ever been that any women teachers would be present in these negotiations was the existence of the Association of Assistant Mistresses and the Association of Headmistresses, and they had the right of representation on these bodies.

If Clause 12 stands unamended, that will no longer obtain. Under the clause the Association of Assistant Mistresses would be required to admit men, as would the Association of Assistant Masters be required to admit women. Common sense would obviously suggest that they should merge and become one organisation, which would be mixed, and immediately the guarantee of a woman's voice would be lost. They are good friends at the moment, but a shotgun marriage under the Bill would not help the purposes of the Bill. On the contrary, if the clause remains unamended this Bill will weaken rather than strengthen the position of women teachers in national negotiations.

I am not citing imaginary fears but hard facts. The last negotiations which I undertook in the Burnham Committee relating to the teaching profession resulted in the Report of 1973. The teachers' panel comprised 28 members. It was reasonable that the National Association of Schoolmasters appointed men, and it was reasonable that the National Association of Head Teachers appointed men. Perhaps it was a little disappointing that the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions, which was a mixed organisation, appointed men only, but they had a limited number of seats. The National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' organisation with a majority of women members, had 16 scats and they paraded 16 men; there was not a woman among them. There were only three women in the teachers' panel of 28 members, two from the Association of Assistant Mistresses by right and one from the Association of Headmistresses by right.

This clause surely must not stand without amendment. If it does, far from fulfilling the purpose of the Bill, which is to strengthen the position of women in this as in other professions, it will have precisely the opposite effect; it will weaken the position of women. This is the simple reality and I therefore greatly hope that the Government will accept the Amendment. I am in full support of the Bill. The women's associations to which I referred are in full support of it, as are the men's associations with which they co-operate. The Association of Assistant Masters is in support of this Amendment, not against it. I believe that by altering the Amendment in another place the (Government may have changed their mind. I notice in Amendment No. 47 that the Government have less confidence in the virtue of mixed organisations; they seek to secure that within a mixed organisation provision is made so that there are some representatives of each sex. But that Amendment concerns only the organisation itself and provides no cover for the nominations from such an organisation to bodies undertaking national negotiations, and even then it is a voluntary move on the part of the body concerned. I very much hope that your Lordships will find this Amendment acceptable. Indeed, if I had an assurance that Amendment No. 22, which covers the same point but on a wider front and with more general application, was acceptable, then obviously I would be content that this more narrowly drawn Amendment should be withdrawn, but in the absence of that assurance I hope that this Amendment will be accepted.

Unless we can be quite sure that there is no sex discrimination in the teaching profession, there is very little chance of it obtaining in the rest of society. The Association of Assistant Mistresses and the Association of Headmistresses have made a major contribution towards securing that in the teaching profession—I think this is a fair comment to make—there is less sex discrimination than in any other profession in the country; there is no discrimination on salaries or on conditions of service. By the Bill itself to destroy an organisation that has helped to move towards the purposes of the Bill would surely be a most unwise action. I beg to move.


I have pleasure in supporting the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Alexander of Potterhill, who pointed out that this concerns four professional teaching organisations, two of which are all men and two of which are all women. I am a lifelong member of the National Union of Teachers and, despite what my noble friend Lord Alexander said, I pay tribute to the utter lack of sex discrimination inside this enormous union. It has fought consistently for complete equality between the sexes in the teaching profession. Having said that, I must say that the NUT has always been libertarian. In 1951 it staged a strike in the county of Durham because the county council was seeking to compel every teacher to belong to a trade union. I am certain that the NUT, although it believes, as I do, in one union for the teaching profession, would not wish by legislation to cramp the efforts of these four bodies.

I understand that it was said in the other place that they do not really object to the single-sex professional organisations, but that they say they have no right to refuse new members on sex discrimination grounds. Surely this is the only ground on which a woman's organisation could refuse a man applying to join; and if the clause remains unamended, and if this Amendment is not accepted, it will mean that in the long term the IAAM, the AMA, the Headmasters' Association and the Headmistresses' Association will be destroyed by legislation.

I noted what happened in Committee in another place. There was a vote and an Amendment in exactly the same terms as this one was carried by nine votes to three. The three who voted against the Amendment were all Ministers, and the nine who voted for it were Members of both major political Parties and included four women. Later, on Report—the Amendment having been taken out—the Government sought to put it back, and they carried it by a small Party majority. However, I note a change of heart on the part of the Minister in charge of the Bill in another place. When the Bill reached its Report stage, Dr. Shirley Summerskill moved a new clause which allowed membership of organisations which were single-sex and she said in proposing that new clause, which is now Clause 33 of this Bill: A voluntary body which exists, for example, to help women may well have, and may well wish to have, a membership which is confined to women."—[Official Report, Commons, 18/6/75; col. 1443.] That is the principle which we seek to embody by this Amendment today. The only difference between these bodies and the others concerned in Clause 33 is that these might be regarded as trade unions and come within trade union legislation. I hope that the Government, having been moved to the extent of including Clause 33, will move a step further in the same direction and will allow the four orgainsations of which I have spoken to continue to exist without fear of persecution.

6.40 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

I think it may be for the convenience of the Committee for me to speak to Amendment No. 22, which deals with the same subject, at this point. It concerns exactly the same issue as Amendment No. 17 which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. I listened with very great care to what he and the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, said and I strongly support the arguments they have used. It is perfectly true that in education now there is less discrimination against women, in that they are equally paid and that conditions of service are similar. Nevertheless, anybody who has served on an education committee or who has been a governor of a big school will be able to think of plenty of examples of occasions when there has been, if not open discrimination, considerable prejudice against giving women the top jobs. There have even been many cases of mixed schools having both the headmaster and the deputy head as men, with women filling, at best, the third tier in the school.

I believe that the Association of Assistant Mistresses has on many occasions been of invaluable help to women teachers and, therefore, to say that it can no longer continue—which would be the effect of the Bill—would not necessarily help the position of women in education generally and could make it worse. Apart from that, I believe that their position on the Joint Four negotiating body is an extremely important one. The only other occasion on which I have met the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, was when we both served on the Burnham negotiating committee. I then realised how very few women teachers there were speaking quite specifically for the women members of the profession. I hope very much, as the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has so graciously agreed to withdraw his Amendment in favour of our later Amendment, that the Government will consider Amendment No. 22 very sympathetically. It is drawn widely to make it more acceptable to the terms of the Bill. The Association of Assistant Mistresses certainly supports the principle of the Bill and has no wish to go against it. Its only concern is that its present position of being able to help women should not be weakened because of the Bill. The Amendment would mean that the Government can decide later that, if the provision were no longer needed, it would not apply. It therefore allows the principle of the Bill but retains the present position while it is still needed. That seems a very reasonable way out of a difficulty in a matter which clearly affects a great many women. I therefore hope that the Government will look sympathetically upon Amendment No. 22.

Baroness BACON

I speak as an ex-teacher and, like my noble friend Lord Maybray-King, I am a member of the National Union of Teachers. Unlike him, however, I hope that the Amendment will be resisted. I must admit that I am not quite so enthusiastic about some parts of the Bill as are some of my women colleagues. I do not believe that women can have their cake and eat it. I do not feel that they should look around and say that they want a Sex Discrimination Bill but that they do not want it to apply to particular organisations. That is what they are trying to do. I am thinking in particular of Amendment No. 17, and I must admit that I have not examined Amendment No. 22 in detail. I understand that that Amendment goes much wider, whereas Amendment No. 17 applies only to the teachers' unions.

The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, and I have traversed the education road together for a good many years. We started in Yorkshire and we progressed when the noble Lord was secretary of the Education Association and I was Minister. We are now both here in your Lordships' House. He and I both know what lies under the surface of teachers' organisations. It is one word: "Burnham". The Burnham Committee negotiates teachers' salaries and the noble Lord and I both know that one cannot go to any teachers' conference of any kind without the word "Burnham" cropping up every few minutes. It is very strange that we should be considering the Amendment today when we saw in this morning's papers a statement by the secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters, Mr. Terry Casey—who is a very clever operator—that his organisation and the Union of Women Teachers, which I believe he had a hand in organising in the first place, are to merge. They will merge not because of the Bill but because they feel that by merging they will be able to apply to get a bigger foothold in the Burnham Committee. That is the kind of thing that goes on with the teachers' organisations.

I know very well the male dominance of certain parts of the National Union of Teachers. Many years ago, when I was president of the West Yorkshire NUT the whole of my committee was made tip of men. It meant that women had to fight harder to get there. As the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, says, the majority of members of the NUT are women. I believe that something like two-thirds of the membership are women. Why are the women not there? Why are they not on the Burnham Committee? If they are not there, it is their own fault. There is nothing that says they cannot sit on the Burnham Committee. They are not there precisely because the women vote for men. It is as simple as that. If they did not, there would be more women on the executive of the National Union of Teachers and more women on the Burnham Committee. So I do not feel that in a Sex Discrimination Bill of this kind we can argue that we must have certain select little women's bodies in order to preserve the women's membership of the Burnham Committee. What is needed is for the women teachers who are in the NUT to assert themselves more in order to vote for women if they think that women are the best people to represent them. They would get on in that way.

As I say, Amendment No. 17 refers only to teachers. It is drawn in such a way that it can only refer to the four unions which we call the Joint Four. However, I understand that Amendment No. 22 is much wider and the point which I was going to make against Amendment No. 17 is that I do not see how we can do this for teachers and not for the rest of the unions. How can we say that teachers should have separate unions but not the engineers, the shopworkers, or anybody else? Once one admits it to every other union in addition to teachers, then we shall have a good deal of discrimination against women. We really shall have such discrimination if it is admitted in this way. It is because of that that I feel we should resist the Amendment.


First, we should be clear as to what Clause 12 really does. I hope that when my noble friend the Minister replies he will clear up a doubt in my mind as to the real significance of this clause. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, left in my mind the impression that this clause bars women's organisations from refusing men. As I see it, the clause merely bars men's organisations from refusing women—

Several Noble Lords



If it is both, then that doubt is removed, but it did not seem to me very clear. However, it now seems that it works both ways; in other words, that a woman could apply for membership of the National Association of Schoolmasters and not be refused, and that a male head teacher could apply for membership of the Association for Women Head Teachers and not be refused. We are all clear about that, so I understand it fully.

I now come to the principle of the matter. I am sure that the entire Committee will agree that it is undesirable to have in a Bill of this kind a provision for the indefinite continuance of single-sex unions. It runs counter to the whole principle and purpose of the Bill to remove discrimination in so many other directions yet allow it to be continued in matters of trade union organisation. The first thing I should have expected in the clause was a limit, at any rate, to the period during which the past situation could continue. It may be unreasonable merely to pass Clause 12, see the Bill enacted in a few weeks' time, and the next day it be unlawful for certain organisations to refuse membership to one sex or the other, according to the present basis of those organisations. That would represent rather swift transformation. It might lead to all sorts of difficulties. Rules might have to be amended, and problems upon which I need not dwell would arise if, by law, the ranks of unions are thrown open to people who hitherto had been ineligible for membership. A little time should be given for the constitutional changes to be made without haste or harassment, so as to give all concerned time to adjust themselves to the new situation. This seems to me, as an old hand at trade union organisation, to be a perfectly reasonable proposition.

I recall from my experience as chairman of the inquiry into teachers' pay that unions were looking at the proposals being made by the Government at the time and were expecting something of this kind. Naturally there were those applying their minds to what would happen when the provisions of Clause 12 became part of an Act of Parliament. Although they have had a little time to think about it, probably they have not had enough time to achieve the constitutional changes that may be necesary. Single-sex unions should eventually be phased out. The question is: how long should we give them to do it? I hope the Government will consider this point.

I turn to the other aspects of the matter which the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, mentioned. The noble Lord has unrivalled experience of such matters as representation on the Burnham Committees, as raised by my noble friend Lady Bacon. I know how difficult this has been, and how tiresome in some aspects is the relationship between various unions represented on the teacher panel of the Burnham Committees. When I was chairman of the inquiry into teachers' pay I declined to see any individual union. I told the unions that they must come to the Committee as the teachers panels of the respective Burnham Committees, and that I would see them together. I told them that, even if they had not been together for years, they must now come together if they wished to see my Committee, and they did this. I believe that that move was justified in the circumstances. Individual organisations were given permission by the Committee each to give any variant of the general proposition which they wished to give in the interest of their members, and we heard from a number of the organisations to which the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, referred; and they were very valuable contributions.

This is part of the sorting out process. It is clear that representation on the Burnham Committees may have to be reconsidered in the light of changes that will be necessary in the structure of the teachers' unions. Clearly representation on the Burnham Committees must take account of changes inside the union movement in the teaching profession. As to the question of composition of representation on these various bodies, this is not peculiar to unions in the teaching profession. If any of your Lordships care to go to the Trades Union Congress in September you will probably be surprised, if not a little shocked, to see the male predominance of delegates in the TUC. You may look for women in delegations from organisations which have a preponderance of women members. I have in mind, for instance, the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, for one, and some of the Civil Service organisations, which have a majority of women in their membership. Yet their delegations consist predominantly of men.

I do not think that we should say straightaway that this is due to some failure on the part of women. We must face the fact that the married woman who has a job and a home, and possibly children as well, is in a very difficult position. She cannot simply leave her husband to look after the home and kids, and go off union campaigning to get herself elected to an executive committee. But it is still presumed by her husband—the father of the family—that he has a right to go campaigning to get elected to a union executive; but the wife cannot. We have not yet got that element of non-discrimination in family life; and it is a very important aspect which underlines much of the Bill and the whole question of non-discrimination. I do not know what is the cure for this, except perhaps that a woman in matrimony should lay down firmly conditions under which she will agree to live in bondage with a man.

We may have to encourage women, by joining Women's Lib. or other similar organisations, to start an aggressive movement among married women, to insist on having their rights in the marital home, and to insist on the joint activities of husband and wife. How otherwise can this problem be tackled? How does one accomplish representation of women in a non-discriminatory situation, when the opportunity for men to become elected is much more favourable than it is for women? This matter will have to come out in the experience which lies ahead, and I hope it will. I return to the point I was originally making. Time should be given for this clause to take effect. Representation on the Burnham Committees will have to be dealt with in the consideration of how the teaching unions reorganise themselves in the light of the requirements of the Bill.

6.59 p.m.


I wish to ask a question, as I am in some difficulty. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, moved what I regarded, both from my own point of view, and that of teachers who have written to me, as quite a good Amendment. I understood the reason behind it. But my noble friend Lady Young suddenly moved another Amendment which seemed to be wider than the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. I was listening quite closely, but I do not think that my noble friend Lady Young entered into any great detail as to why her Amendment was wider than that moved by the noble Lord. I might support the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, but I certainly should not support a wider Amendment unless I am told in detail what is its full extent.

Before the matter comes to a Division, may I say that if it is true, as has been said by my noble friend, that Lord Alexander of Potterhill would be willing to withdraw his Amendment in favour of the Amendment of my noble friend Lady Young, that would put me in a very great difficulty because I do not feel that my noble friend Lady Young made the difference in the two Amendments. I can quite believe that it would be wiser to leave what ought to be done until the Report stage so that the whole matter could be properly discussed for people like me who do not know the details of all this inter-union controversy. But I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, is not intending to withdraw his Amendment until I know all the facts from my noble friend. I hope he will not withdraw his Amendment, but I am certainly not voting for anything at all unless I am told all the facts. Perhaps somebody will explain to me what the view is.


I should like to support the Amendment moved by Lord Alexander of Potterhill. We are working for an ideal in this Bill and, in particular, that many unions under the Bill will allow both men and women to join. We have here a practical example—and in this the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, was more than kind to the NUT—of a profession and a union which has always had a majority of women. Yet on so vital a committee, negotiating its careers, its wages, salaries and working conditions, we have this appalling current record of only three members, and those not NUT, on that committee. I think the Headmistresses' Association and the Assistant Mistresses' Association have every reason to be extremely apprehensive that with the passing of this Bill within a matter of weeks, or at most three months, they could find themselves with no right of representation on that committee; and at a time when women are experiencing a considerable amount of difficulty as a result of comprehensive schools where more and more of the headships are going to men. Many women who have been heads of great schools are finding, in the prime of their career, that they have to put up with perhaps second or possibly third place.

I think it is important that we should not dramatically introduce circumstances in this Bill which will make it impossible for those four organisations which are in parallel—the Headmasters' Association, the Headmistresses' Association, the Assistant Mistresses' Association and the Assistant Headmasters' Association. If over a period of time they get married and work it out between them, that will be a different matter; but it would be deplorable and against the idea of this Bill to prevent those women who do so much in the profession from being represented on that vital committee by passing this Bill to make their individual union unlawful.

7.3 p.m.


I should like to deal first with the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Alexander of Potterhill. As the noble Lord said, and as the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King also said, this Amendment is the same as one which was carried in Committee in another place and was subsequently removed from the Bill on Report when the question was considered by the whole of that House.

Clause 12 of the Bill makes it unlawful for trade unions—professional and employers' associations and similar organisations—to discriminate on the grounds of sex in respect of admission to membership and the treatment of existing members. During the Second Reading of the Bill in your Lordships' House the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, was concerned lest trade union activities were not adequately covered by the Bill and I was able to reassure her that Clause 12 dealt with membership of trade unions. I am sure your Lordships will agree that this is fully in line with the principles of the Bill and I am pleased to say that we have not received any objections from the TUC, or the trade union movement generally, to the provisions of Clause 12 which relate to admission to membership.

There are, however, a few organisations—and so far as I am aware these are all organisations in the education field—which are organised on a single-sex basis but which have counterpart organisations confined to members of the other sex. It is representations made particularly by one of these organisations—the Association of Assistant Mistresses—which have led to the Amendment your Lordships are considering today.

The question we have to decide today is whether there is justification for the teaching unions to be given exceptional treatment by a special provision in the Bill which will exempt them from the requirements which will apply to all other trade unions. The Government feel that there is no such justification. I must stress that the Bill does not make these unions unlawful. It only makes it unlawful for them to refuse to open their membership, and any ensuing benefits, to both sexes. They would not cease to exist. I know that each of the single-sex teaching unions has its counterpart which teachers of the other sex may join, and I agree that it is probably unlikely that an assistant master will wish to join the Association of Assistant Mistresses.

However, I must remind your Lordships that the Bill is about equal opportunity and the removal of barriers imposed on the grounds of sex and that the Government are committed to keeping exceptions to the minimum. If, perhaps exceptionally but not impossibly, a male teacher had a preference for the aims and policies of a female teachers' union and wished to join that union, or a female teacher wished to join a male teachers' union, then he or she should be allowed to do so. They should not be prevented from doing so solely on the grounds of sex. Indeed, it might well be to the advantage of a female teaching union to be able to show that their policies aimed at protecting and promoting the interests of women had gained the support of a man. However, no doubt in practice the teaching unions would find that the composition of their membership remained virtually unchanged even though they were subject to the provisions of Clause 12, but this is no reason for specialy excepting them.

A main argument which has been put forward for keeping single-sex teaching unions is that only by organising themselves in separate unions can women teachers ensure representation of their sex within their union structure or on negotiating bodies in education which was emphasised by Lord Alexander of Potterhill. But women are in a clear majority in the teaching profession and, I should think, are well capable of seeing that account is taken of their views. Moreover, as I have just said, their union organisation is likely to remain unchanged except to the extent that if the occasion arose they would have to be prepared to accept a male teacher as a member. I cannot see that the representation of their sex will be in any way diminished by the provisions of Clause 12. In particular, there is nothing in the Bill which will affect the representation of their Association on the various committees and advisory bodies in education to which they have made a distinguished contribution over the years. I must remind your Lordships that in many other industries and occupations women do not have the advantage of being in the majority. They are very much in the minority, and the proposed Amendment will be of no assistance to them. It is an Amendment which originates from the desire to perpetuate the single-sex organisation in one profession. I agree that it is an important profession, but there are other professions, occupations or jobs, which are equally important and where it is not considered necessary to have separate unions to represent the sexes, and where it is not suggested that women's interests will suffer unless such separate arrangements are made.

My Lords, it may be thought that if in the event the teaching unions are going to find little change in the composition of their membership, the argument today is really about a small point. This may be so. But it is an important point of principle. Where the provisions of the Bill apply generally to an organisation of workers, we do not want to encourage the emergence of special cases within that group. We do not think it right that there should be special cases. We maintain that the law should apply equally to all such organisations, and that there should be a free choice as regards membership of counterpart organisations. We would hope that all the organisations concerned would willingly make any adjustments required by the Bill in the interests of furthering the aims of the legislation.

I hope that on further consideration the noble Lord will agree to withdraw the Amendment and consider it alongside Amendment No. 47 which your Lordships will discuss later in this Committee. This new clause would allow bodies covered by Clause 12 to reserve a minimum number of seats for one sex on a committee or other elected body if this is necessary to ensure adequate representation of that sex. Regarding the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, of course we shall take the point that there are different commencement dates for different clauses of the Bill, and no doubt the point which the noble Lord was making will be taken into account in that general connection.

If I may now turn to Amendment No. 22, to be moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, although the wording of the Amendment is not the same as that to which I have been speaking, the purpose of the Amendment and the effect it would achieve are much the same as the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. There is one major difference in the Amendment tabled by the noble Baroness. This is the introduction of the Registrar of Friendly Societies who would be required to certify that the organisations concerned satisfied the conditions set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the Amendment. Furthermore, all these organisations would be required to give notice to the Registrar that none of them objected to the membership of any of them being confined to one sex. The effect of this provision would be—and I am sure this is what was intended—that if one organisation decided that it no longer wished to retain its single-sex structure, all the other organisations would be required to follow suit. In view of what I have said, I hope that the noble Baroness will also be prepared to withdraw her Amendment.


It seems that the noble Lord, Lord Crowther-Hunt, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, have rather sewn this up. The noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, made the point that representation is in the hands of the voters. I think it has always been a principle in this country—if it is not, it should be—that we do not interfere where people have the power in their own hands to choose their own representatives. They do not need protection, particularly since they come from what is, by definition, a highly educated class. There is one genuine question I want to ask of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. What are these female interests which need to be represented and to be spoken for separately? We have been told by the noble Lord that there is virtually no sex discrimination in the teaching profession. We are also told that there is equal pay. When this Bill has been passed, sex discrimination of all kinds will be against the law of the land. What are these female interests, which are not just teachers' interests, which somehow need a special female representation to look after them? It is a genuine question, and I look forward to hearing the answer.

7.15 p.m.


I accept the general argument that it is undesirable to make exceptions. I accept, therefore, that a point of time should be reached where single-sex organisations to which I have referred will become unnecessary. That time will be when the purposes of the Bill have been fulfilled. That is surely the issue. What you do not do is put out of operation bodies that have been helpful for the purposes of the Bill as soon as it becomes law. I plead therefore for a reasonable period of time. I know that the Association of Assistant Mistresses looks forward to the time when it can, with advantage, merge with the Assistant Masters' Association. But it sees that to be some time in the future when very much more progress has been made than at present.

If I may seek to answer the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, it is an interesting fact that the difference in the average salary of men teachers today, as compared with the average salary of women teachers, is greater than it was before equal pay was established. The reason is simple: in the nature of the salary structure, there are scales of salary. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, knows this only too well. What happens is that the great majority of the posts in the higher scales go to men. As you have an increasing number of mixed schools, the great majority of head teachers are men. You may say, properly, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, indicated, that there are other reasons for this. Some 60 per cent. of the women teachers are married, and they may feel they do not seek the greater responsibilities which posts of that kind would necessarily imply. It may be that they do not seek to become head teachers.

I have some doubts regarding the validity of these arguments. I have seen too many interviewing boards and, frankly, the problem is the problem you are trying to deal with in the Bill: you can give women votes, but you cannot get women to vote for women. That is the problem. The noble Lord thought the position would not become very serious for the Association of Assistant Mistresses, even if a few men applied for membership and would necessarily be admitted. I notice that under Clause 12 they would also be forbidden to seek to recruit women. Clause 12 does not allow the recruitment of one sex. Therefore let us assume we get 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. of men. It would not be very long until the proportions in the Assistant Mistresses' Association were the same as the proportions in the National Union of Teachers now—two-thirds women and one-third men. If that Association followed the pattern of the National Union of Teachers over the past 30 years, there would be no women in the national negotiating bodies at all. I think they need to be there to try to secure that the continuing prejudices are removed. Because they do continue. They continue in governing bodies and in local education authorities. It is said, "We could not possibly appoint a woman in the case of a large mixed school: she couldn't cope." It happens every day and there is nothing extraordinary about it. The women's organisations of teachers can help in these matters, and I would therefore hope that at least a reasonable period of time will be allowed. After that time, necessarily the constitution will be altered. This is bound to happen, but over a reasonable period of time, so that as the purposes of the Bill become more readily accepted the natural transition to a mixed body can take place, and in the meantime we can continue to help the cause of the Bill, which is their purpose.


The Question is that Amendment No. 17 shall be withdrawn.


I am sorry, but I should like some assurance that there will be at least some time allowed and that Clause 12 will not apply from the date of the operation of this Bill; otherwise, with great regret, I shall have to ask for a Division.


I am afraid I cannot give that assurance although, as I have pointed out, different parts of the Bill will be brought into effect at different times. That was really to meet some of the points put by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. It would be wrong of me to give the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, the specific and rather longer-term assurance that he is asking for.

Baroness YOUNG

I am bound to say that I find this a very disappointing answer. Two Amendments are down on this subject and at this juncture I do not intend to speak further on that which stands in the name of my noble friend. This, after all, is not a Party political Bill. We are all agreed on the principle and are now discussing detail. So far as I know, it is the first occasion on which your Lordships have discussed a Bill which is not a Party political Bill on which the Government have refused to indicate that they will reconsider a single point. I do not know whether it is their intention to go through the entire Committee stage without indicating that they are moved by anything that is said, even by people of very considerable experience. The number of Amendments moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear—who, after all, has very considerable experience in this field—fell on what seemed to be very deaf ears indeed, as did the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lady Vickers. Here we have a man who is undoubtedly one of the greatest national experts on education talking on an educational matter, and the Government have not even said that they will consider the point he has made.

The noble Lord, Lord Crowther-Hunt, who is very knowledgeable about education, must know full well the force of the argument, particularly on the point concerning the joint negotiating committee. I really believe that if the House of Lords is to be regarded as having any value at all it ought to have a value as an amending Chamber. This is not a matter which I believe ought to be pressed to a Division at this stage, because this is not a Party political Bill and we all want to study what is being said. But for the Government to say that they are not prepared even to consider this point seems to me, if I may say so, not a very helpful attitude on a Bill on which we, at any rate on this side, are trying to be as helpful as possible.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say to your Lordships that of course we will go away and reconsider this point, but the fact is that this point has been very carefully considered by the Government. I agree with the noble Baroness that there is no Party difference involved and we on this side are not considering it in a Party spirit; but this was an Amendment which was put in in another place and which was argued there. At one stage it was carried and at another stage was struck out.

All the arguments we have heard today were put in another place. With due respect to noble Lords who have spoken today, with all the wealth of their experience, no new argument has been advanced. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has been putting the arguments perhaps better than they were put in another place, but it is a fact that no new argument has been put today. Therefore this is not a case of the Government taking the line that they are rejecting out of hand, without any further consideration whatever. This is a matter which the Government have considered over a number of weeks, and it would be wrong of me to say that we will consider it again, when the Government have already given it a very great deal of consideration. And just for the sake of getting the Amendment withdrawn, for me to say that the Government will consider it again after having given it this very great consideration would, I submit with great respect, not be the right way for us to treat your Lordships.


I asked for an assurance, not in terms of the principle in perpetuity, but in terms of a time allowance for those organisations to come together. I gathered that was not possible, either. I find myself in grave difficulty. I speak for myself; I have no organisation. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment, but I hope that the noble Baroness will not necessarily withdraw hers.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Qualifying bodies]:

On Question, Whether Clause 13 shall stand part of the Bill?


May I ask the Government whether they can justify subsection (2) of Clause 13? This subsection appears to make it obligatory for autonomous professional bodies such as the Law Society, the Bar Council, the General Medical Council and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and so on, to have dictated to them the grounds on which they are to define the phrase "good character". I am not a member of any of these organisations, or indeed of any professional body, but I wonder whether or not the Government's proposals represent a novel and somewhat ominous step. Would the noble Lord please explain whether there is any precedent for Governmental intervention in the private deliberations of independent organisations of this nature?


I think the noble Lord has raised an extremely important point and I should like to ask another question arising from it. I admit straight away that the answer may be easy to find, but as I read this in relation to the point raised by the noble Lord, it seems to me that a body is being asked almost to describe as a bad character someone who has practised unlawful discrimination in connection with the carrying on of any professional activity. The word "unlawful" presumably limits it to what will have happened after this Bill has become an Act. Retrospectively, it surely cannot mean anything that this Bill has made unlawful but which happened earlier. I hope that point can be cleared up because I think that it must be agreed to be a little ambiguous.


I can clear up one point immediately, which is that the subsection is not retrospective. I shall be very pleased to look at the other technical issues which have been raised and to write to both noble Lords.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 16 agreed to.


It may be for the convenience of the House to consider the time at which we should adjourn this debate. I was hoping that we might proceed a little further tonight, but it is conceivable that any further discussion will take rather longer than the amount of time for which it has been informally agreed the House should sit. If there is general agreement I will now move that the House be resumed.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.