HL Deb 27 June 1995 vol 565 cc686-744

House again in Committee.

Clause 28 [Victimisation]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 129:

Page 21, line 18, leave out ("his disability") and insert ("or a person who has had a disability, the disability in question").

The noble Lord said: We have already debated this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 28, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 130 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clauses 29 to 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 [Appointment by Secretary of State of advisers]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 131

Page 23. line 19. at end insert ("and persons who have had a disability").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Airedale)

I must advise the Committee that if Amendment No. 132 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 133.

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 132:

Page 23, leave out lines 28 to 30 and insert: ("(6) The Secretary of State may by order—

  1. (a) provide for section 17 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 (national advisory council and district advisory committees) to cease to have effect—
    1. (i) so far as concerns the national advisory council; or
    2. (ii) so far as concerns district advisory committees; or
  2. (b) repeal that section and Schedule.").

The noble Lord said: Clause 33 provides a power for the Secretary of State to appoint people to advise and assist him on matters concerning the employment and self-employment of disabled people. This amendment is being introduced to clarify the wording of subsection (6) which concerns the power to end the current arrangements for national and local advisory bodies.

We believe it important to ensure that the legislation under which the advisory bodies of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State operate provides sufficient flexibility for them to be adapted as circumstances require. The clause provides for this by giving him the option of retaining the existing arrangements for so long as he considers them to be appropriate or of bringing them to an end, either in part or in full. He would then have the power to appoint people to advise him either nationally or in relation to particular localities on employment issues.

At present my right honourable friend receives advice and assistance on employment issues affecting disabled people from NACEPD and from the 60 committees for the employment of people with disabilities (CEPDs). These bodies are established under Section 17 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 and are referred to in that section respectively as a "national advisory council" and "district advisory committees".

Although both types of body are appointed under the 1944 Act, they have different functions: NACEPD advises on national employment and training issues relating to people with disabilities, while the CEPDs advise on local employment issues, including matters referred to them in relation to the registration and quota provisions of the 1944 Act. In practice, CEPDs work with the Employment Service locally to promote the employment of disabled people. The two types of body are independent of each other. Subsection (6) was accordingly intended to enable the provisions concerning NACEPD and CEPDs to be repealed either separately or together as appropriate. Our legal advice, however, is that the current wording of subsection (6) does not make this option sufficiently clear.

The amendment before your Lordships is, therefore, intended to remove any doubt that may exist that the duty to have NACEPD and the duty to have CEPDs can be ended separately or both together. It does this by expressly providing the Secretary of State with a power to provide by order for either the repeal of the whole of Section 17 and Schedule 2 to the 1944 Act or separately for the part affecting NACEPD or CEPDs to cease to have effect. The amendment is an improvement over the original wording as it provides clarity on what can be done. For those reasons, I commend the amendment to the Committee. I beg to move.

Lord McCarthy

I accept what the Minister says about the wording of subsection (6). However, I rise because this is our first opportunity to explore what the Government mean in Clause 33. In many ways, it is a very funny clause. Subsection (1) gives the Secretary of State the right to appoint such advisers, as he thinks fit to advise or assist him in connection with matters relating to the employment of disabled persons". We are not told who those people shall be or what kind of people they shall be. Indeed, the schedule does not tell us what kind of people they shall be. We are not told what kind of advice or assistance they shall give. We are not told with what matters relating to the employment of disabled persons they shall concern themselves; we are merely told that the Secretary of State, may appoint such persons as he thinks fit". That is subsection (1).

Subsection (2) states that such persons, may be appointed by the Secretary of State to act generally or in relation to a particular area or locality". We are not told how they are to act generally or in what way that relates to what they do in particular areas or localities.

In some ways, subsection (3) is even more curious because those people are not to receive any money—at least, they are not to receive salaries—so they will not be the kind of people the Conservatives normally appoint to such bodies. We are told in subsection (3): The Secretary of State may pay to any person appointed under this section such allowances and compensation"— this is very low-level stuff— for loss of earnings as he considers appropriate". We are talking about out-of-pocket expenses for such people, not about full-time jobs. What on earth do they do? My first question is: can the Minister tell us more about these funny people? Who are they? Where will they come from? What will they do? Most importantly, for whom will they substitute?

That brings me to subsection (6). I do not think that there is any substantial difference between the wording of the amendment and that on the face of the Bill. Subsection (6) gives the Secretary of State the power to repeal Section 17 and Schedule 2 to the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 and to abolish, at a time that seems right to him, the national advisory council or the local advisory committees. Therefore, we must ask whether the advisers have anything to do with that. Will those advisers at some time in the future do some of the work of the subsequently abolished national advisory council? Will they operate as a private army of the Secretary of State? Will they meet collectively? Perhaps they will never meet collectively because we know that the Government do not like collectivities. Perhaps they will be consulted individually. Will the advisers be an alternative to what we believe to be the best way of dealing with the problem if the Government want to get rid of the national advisory council, as it seems to me that they do?

It seems to us that in the end it would be better to have one council dealing with both sides of the Bill. If we cannot have a commission we will have to have, in some ways, an improved council. We would rather have that on a representative basis than have all these people who come from nowhere, who are appointed, to do we know not what, by the Secretary of State. That is what I am asking.

I have been glad to hear in the debates we have had so far, that Ministers have been prepared to say that the work of the existing council has been useful. When the Minister for Employment, Miss Widdecombe, went to the established council on 25th January, she said, among other things: I know that you recommended that the new National Disability Council should take on responsibilities similar to a commission".

So we accept that that is what the old council wants to do: it wants, as it were, to disappear into a commission. But if it does not disappear into a commission, we do not mind it disappearing if it disappears into a properly constituted council, established in broad terms under the provisions of the Bill, if that is possible. I take it that it is possible, because the Minister can add to the present council's functions. He could give the present council powers to act on the employment side. That would be our chosen way of doing it. Will the Minister tell me tonight that in the end—this year, next year, some time, never—whenever they get rid of the present council for employment affairs, the Government will give its functions to the existing council and not to all these funny advisers? Even if they can say that, will they tell us what the advisers will do?

Lord Inglewood

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, for explaining that he did not understand what the clause meant. It appears on the face of it to be straightforward. I do not have a great deal to add to what he has read out to us. This is a general power to appoint advisers. We said in the consultative document that we would review the advising arrangements under the 1944 Act.

The clause gives the Government the power to set up a new advisory arrangement. The basis for payment is similar to that under the 1944 Act, which is both for NACEPD and for the CEPDs. My noble friend Lord Mackay has already described the valuable work that NACEPD does, and why we believe the council should be retained, at least for a period after the legislation is enacted.

As we have heard, NACEPD provides expert help on employment and training issues and comprises well-respected individuals in the disability world. I do not want to repeat the reasons for keeping NACEPD, because the Committee has already heard them, but NACEPD's continued existence after the employment right has been implemented is clearly something that must be considered carefully. We have already said that we will do so. Now, however, is not the time for that consideration. The Government have committed themselves to reviewing the position before June 1997, when the terms of office of NACEPD members end.

We shall look closely then at the situation prevailing in deciding whether it will be sensible to amend NACEPD's remit or its constitution, or whether to introduce entirely new arrangements. New arrangements could of course include the transfer of NACEPD's responsibilities to the NDC. Some Members of the Committee think that that is a desirable course of action.

Such transfer is already provided for in the Bill, because Clause 23(10) provides for the NDC automatically to take over the responsibilities currently discharged by NACEPD if it ceases to exist. No one has been appointed under Clause 33 to advise the Secretary of State. Now is not the right time to determine when NACEPD should be abolished. We should therefore not prejudge the review that will be undertaken. I am obviously interested in hearing the Committee's views now. However, it is only right for me to say in turn that I should need some persuading that it would be appropriate, within a year of the Bill's passage, to do without a specialist committee, well-equipped to consider a wide range of employment and training issues.

While the two bodies exist, we shall of course expect them to arrange appropriate means of ensuring, so far as possible, that they adopt a consistent approach towards related issues and take account of each other's views, where appropriate. We discussed that issue earlier today. As has been said, it is likely also that in appointing members to the NDC the Secretary of State will seek to provide some common membership.

For the reasons I have mentioned, I believe that it is right to maintain the current flexibility provided by the Bill. After all, the Bill's provisions are flexible. They provide for a variety of advisory arrangements, depending on what is appropriate. For example, NACEPD could be retained indefinitely or for a particular period only. If NACEPD were to be abolished, the new advisers could be appointed on national employment issues. If no such advisers were to be appointed, then the NDC would take over that role.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, will feel that he is much better informed than he was and will find this a satisfactory reply to the questions that he asked.

Lord McCarthy

If the Government cannot decide what to do about these two councils, it is not surprising that they cannot decide whether to join a single European currency.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 133 not moved.]

8.45 p.m.

Baroness O'Cathain had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 134:

Page 23, line 30, at end insert "within one year of the passing of this Act, at which time any outstanding responsibilities of the national advisory council shall become the responsibility of the National Disability Council").

The noble Baroness said: I may not necessarily move the amendment, but I want to speak to it. My noble friend the Minister has just stolen all my thunder, because he said precisely the things that I was going to say.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that NACEPD and the NDC should work closely together, and that, if the requirement for NACEPD no longer exists, it should be subsumed into the NDC. I appreciate my noble friend's assurance that the statutory existence of both those bodies is not necessarily set in stone, because it is much better, even with common membership, to have one organisation. I have never been convinced that having two separate bodies would always be the best way, certainly in the long term. As my noble friend has given me an assurance that there will be close contact in the short term, and that the long term is to be looked at, and that NACEPD may die a happy death, I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 134 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardhrecknish moved Amendment No. 135:

Page 23, line 30, at end insert:

("(7) At any time before the coming into force of an order under paragraph (b) of subsection (6), section 17 of the Act of 1944 shall have effect as if in subsection (1), after "disabled persons" in each case there were inserted ", and persons who have had a disability," and as if at the end of the section there were added— "(3) For the purposes of this section—
  1. (a) a person is a disabled person if he is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and
  2. (b) "disability" has the same meaning as in that Act."
(8) At any time before the coming into force of an order under paragraph (a) (i) or (b) of subsection (6), section 16 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (which extends the functions of the national advisory council) shall have effect as if after "disabled persons" in each case there were inserted ", and persons who have had a disability," and as if at the end of the section there were added— "(2) For the purposes of this section—
  1. (a) a person is a disabled person if he is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995: and
  2. (b) "disability" has the same meaning as in that Act."").

The noble Lord said: The amendment has already been debated. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 33, as amended, agreed to.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde moved Amendment No. 136: After Clause 33, insert the following new clause:

("Duties of local authorities etc. to keep records of disabled persons employed

.—(1) It shall he the duty of local authorities, health authorities, government departments and government agencies to keep such records regarding the numbers of disabled persons employed by them as the Secretary of State shall by Regulation prescribe.

(2) Regulations may prescribe:

  1. (a) the definition of disabled person to be used for recording purposes:
  2. (b) what particulars shall be recorded:
  3. (c) the mariner in which such particulars shall be collected and published

(3) Regulations made under subsection (2) (b) may, in particular, make provision for particulars to be collected separately with respect to different categories of employee.

(4) Regulations made under subsection (2) (c) may, in particular, make provision for the confidentiality of information collected about individual employees.

(5) In preparing such Regulations the Secretary of State shall consult—

  1. (a) The National Advisory Council on the Employment of People with Disabilities: and
  2. (b) such organisations representing the interests of disabled persons or employers or employees as he considers appropriate.").

The noble Baroness said: As it presently stands, the Bill will eliminate the register of people with disabilities. The amendment provides that a record will be kept in the public sector—in local authorities, health authorities, government departments and government agencies—of the number of its employees with disabilities.

The Select Committee on Employment in another place in its recent report on the operation of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 which was published in April this year said, among other things: We believe that the maintenance of accurate statistics on the position of disabled people in employment is essential in order to tackle discrimination against them, and to open up training and promotion opportunities".

We agree with that view. Nor is it only we who agree with it: many reputable companies in the private sector also do so. They use statistics within their own companies as a focal point for development and implementation of their employment and training policies. They also publish those statistics. As employers, they accept the requirement to publish the number of employees. They agree that it provides an incentive annually to review progress and to ascertain whether any new initiatives need to be instituted in their organisations in order to take more disabled people into their workforces.

Why do they do that? Perhaps I may quote one leading company, Rank Xerox. It recently stated, "If you don't measure it, it won't happen". "It won't happen" must be put into the context of disabled people having an official unemployment rate almost three times that of able-bodied people. "It won't happen" was recently confirmed in a report published by the social policy research unit at York University. That report recommended a mechanism for ensuring that employers keep records of the proportion of disabled employees. The same report referred to the experience of 15 other countries. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, for instance, operate alongside anti-discrimination legislation, such as that which we are debating, various forms of employment equity.

Experience has shown that monitoring is recognised as the best practice in developing and assessing the success of equal opportunities policies. The Government do that in a number of areas. For instance, in the Opportunity 2000 project in the health service they continually assess. monitor and publish statistics in regard to the impact of equal opportunities for women in that organisation.

With the elimination of the register, as provided for in the Bill, and if a new standard for the monitoring is not developed, the whole thrust of the Bill in the employment area will be fragmented. In the view of many representatives of groups of people with disabilities, it will put their position hack. It will not take it forward, which is the clear intention of the Bill. Without any record, how will they know what progress is being made and whether the situation is getting worse for disabled people in employment? What yardstick will be used? Without some comparison, how will the private sector know whether it is meeting its responsibilities and the intentions of the Bill? The public sector is a good area to use as a model in requiring the information to be published.

In our view, regulation in this area is the right way forward as regards assessing data, using it for the details to be recorded and deciding the manner in which those details will be collated and published. That is all to be prescribed under regulation. We accept that this is a sensitive area and that consideration must be given to what is and what is not appropriate from the information gathered. That is why the amendment provides for regulations to be made. Best practice exists and can be used as a model in the race relations field where the monitoring and publication of statistics is important while maintaining the confidentiality of the individuals concerned.

The Employment Select Committee in another place supports that approach, as does the Employers Forum on Disability. The public sector is particularly crucial in this area. Subsections (3) and (4) of the amendment cover issues of confidentiality and the different categories of employee. Subsection (5) requires the Secretary of State to consult on the regulations before they are drawn together and published. That consultation will be required with the National Advisory Council on the Employment of People with Disabilities and other appropriate organisations which represent the interests of disabled people.

Perhaps I may refer to our earlier debate on the issue. Trade unions represent thousands of disabled people in the workplace. Many unions have policies which encourage the recruitment of people with disabilities. Indeed, within the workplace there are model agreements under which the employer and employee organisations monitor the progress made.

I suggest that we need to have the requirement to consult on the face of the Bill because there will then he no doubt about it. We believe that the amendment is sensible. It will enhance the Bill and will not lead to the situation in which in a few years' time many people wonder why we did not get the Bill right when it went through Parliament. Why do we have a situation in which so many disabled peopled are not in the workforce? We do not know the statistics because they are not published. We do not know what the role model should be for a company in taking on employees. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Croy

The noble Baroness introduced the amendment most lucidly and helpfully. Its purpose is clear and I look forward to hearing about its practicability and how much has been done already in this area.

I have only one inquiry. The noble Baroness spoke about statistics and numbers, and I am sure that we must have those figures. The confidentiality of information is mentioned in subsection (4) of the new clause. However, there is a problem because, unfortunately, many employees refuse to allow themselves to be branded as disabled even though they are clearly disabled. That has been the main problem with the quota system of the 1944 Act. Is it intended that an employee who clearly is missing an arm or leg but who refuses to be categorised as disabled will be included in the figures? I note the point about confidentiality, but will information about him be communicated elsewhere? That has been a basic problem.

I am all in favour of the availability of statistics and numbers because that helps employers. However, there is a problem with many employees who refuse to allow themselves to be categorised as disabled people. Although I am in favour of the principle of the amendment I sec a major problem.

Lord Addington

I must declare an interest because I am a green card holder. It has been of no great use to me but I took it out when I discovered that I was entitled to be registered as a disabled person. Many dyslexics repeatedly refuse to agree that they have a disability. The noble Lord. Lord Campbell of Croy, is right about that. As a result, we do not know how many dyslexic people are unemployed, how many arc employed below their skill base, and so forth. The noble Baroness is therefore taking on an important issue.

Knowledge should be turned into power. If we know what is happening in this field we will be able to do something about it if it is going wrong. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, pointed to the problem. How does one persuade someone to say, "I am disabled but there is nothing the matter with me"? That is an odd concept. Perhaps political correctness will fulfil a useful purpose in this case. If such a provision can be included in the Bill or in regulations we shall be taking steps towards educating ourselves about the problems of employment and, it is to be hoped, encouraging disabled people to admit that they have problems in certain areas. It is agreed that something can be done about the vast majority of those problems. We should encourage disabled people to register themselves and others to pay attention to the information.

Lord Ashley of Stoke

It is not surprising that some people did not register for the quota because the failure of governments to enforce the quota meant that there was little benefit to be gained from registering. That is one of the main reasons for non-registration. However. I do not see that as an argument against the amendment. I am optimistic that the Minister will accept it. I am sure that the Minister, wanting to help as always, will not use the excuse of lack of practicability because there arc no practical problems in collating statistics. It is the simplest matter in the world.

One of the flimsy excuses which Ministers use habitually to evade Parliamentary Questions is that the information is not held centrally or that it is not available. As far as I know, the Minister has not said that. But I am sure that he will wish to help the Committee by agreeing with the principle behind the amendment. As the quota system is intended to be abolished by the Bill, there will be no record at all of the employment of disabled people. We shall be dependent on ad hoc surveys and that clearly is not good enough.

I speak from experience when I say that the absence of information about disabled people is the main reason for discrimination. The fact is that when no one knows what is happening, disabled people are disregarded. It is a matter of out of sight, out of mind; and out of consideration, out of a job. That afflicts far too many people who are not considered merely because the Government do not compile adequate statistics. Although I shall argue to maintain the quota system in a later amendment, its relative failure was due to lack of relevant records. As my noble friend rightly said, without records we cannot tell whether the situation is improving or deteriorating. I am sure that the Minister would wish to monitor his own Bill when it becomes an Act, as it will do under the next Labour Government.

The public sector should lead the way in providing information in relation to the problems of disabled people in employment. As far as I am aware, no responsible organisation ever establishes a new, complex system without monitoring the provisions. The Government would be irresponsible if they legislated for new provisions in the Bill and rejected this minimal amendment, because my noble friend is far too modest in her proposals. I believe that the Government will regret it if they reject the amendment.

9 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I did not wish to interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, but I believe that he slightly misunderstood what I said. I do not suggest that the lack of registration in the quota system is a reason to oppose the amendment. I am merely inquiring whether employees who are unwilling to allow themselves to be branded as disabled will be included in the lists of disabled. I rather hope that they would, but it is quite a difficult matter of citizens' rights whether somebody should be included as a disabled person in an establishment when he is utterly opposed to being so considered. Will that person be included in the figures? As I say, somebody may be obviously disabled—missing an arm or a leg—and yet utterly refuse to be so categorised. We do not wish people who are partially disabled to feel that they are in any way inadequate. That was the point I made. I understand why the noble Lord did not quite take that point, but I wanted to make it clear.

Lord Ashley of Stoke

I would not believe that we were debating disability if the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, did not accuse me of misunderstanding or misquoting him. However, I am beginning to warm to these debates because in the opening debate the Minister was very kind to me and in this debate the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, was exceptionally generous to me. Therefore, I am beginning to enjoy the debates.

On this point, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell. that people do not declare themselves disabled. But the main reason for that is that they see no benefit in doing so. That is a problem, but it can be solved. I am fairly sure that the Minister will look sympathetically at the amendment and we shall then move forward to encourage disabled people to register their disabilities.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

Before the Minister replies, I commend his attention to the fact that the amendment calls for consideration to be given to how that should be done. There has certainly been a problem because people perceive that it is against their personal interests to register as disabled, to go on a list and be identified as such. But that is very different from agreeing to take part in a survey which will identify anonymously those people who have a disability and are in employment.

In my experience in local government I have known people who are totally blind and who are prepared to have their names recorded voluntarily as having a disability but who do not wish to become registered disabled because they fear that they may go against them when seeking promotion.

Lord Inglewood

I am reassured that the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, is feeling benign after our debates today. I hope that I shall not put him in an ill humour with some of the comments that I am about to make. I agree also with my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy that the noble Baroness clearly set out exactly what is in her mind when introducing the amendment. I do not believe that there is anything between us in our wish to see as many disabled people as possible both in work and integrated fully into society at large.

There is, clearly, a case for encouraging employers to monitor the numbers of people with disabilities that they employ. The employment code of practice will accordingly encourage employers to do this. I believe, however, that this type of information is of value first and foremost as management information for employers to monitor their performance against their own equal opportunities policies. I fear that the prescriptive system proposed in the amendment would place an unnecessarily onerous burden on the bodies concerned. The employer would be required, by the amendment, to request prescribed information from a large number of employees in a wide range of employment situations. Such a system would be inflexible. The information would be of more value if it is designed to suit the policies and circumstances of the individual employer.

I should also like to echo the note of caution that has been expressed by a number of speakers about those whose disabilities are not obvious and who may still prefer not to declare their disability to their employer. As has already been said, we see evidence of a similar reluctance now where people choose not to register as disabled because of the stigma that they believe—perhaps, entirely wrongly—is attached to registration. We return now to the kind of points raised by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy in that respect. Therefore, to make it useful, employers need to develop sensitive techniques for collecting information on whether an employee has a disability. Overcoming the harrier of mistrust may be difficult. We do not believe that that would be helped by imposing a prescriptive system for the collection of such information.

The Government will, of course, want to monitor the position of disabled people in the labour market after the Bill is implemented. That will be done using a variety of methods, including research conducted by government and others, and through regular surveys such as the Labour Force Survey. The Labour Force Survey will provide nationally representative information on the employment of disabled people across all sectors of the economy. It will not be restricted to the public sector which accounts for less than a quarter of total employment. It will provide more reliable and useful information on the employment of people with disabilities, and the effects of the new legislation, than any pulling together of information from local authorities, health authorities and other employers in the public sector.

The Government can, of course, already arrange by administrative measures for government departments and agencies to monitor their employment of people with disabilities. There is, therefore, no need to establish a statutory requirement for monitoring to be done by those bodies. In fact, the Cabinet Office has already taken positive steps, and actively promotes the programme for action to achieve equality of opportunity in the Civil Service for disabled people. Under this, government departments and agencies are already required to monitor the numbers of their staff and applicants who have a disability.

It is correct that the numbers of registered disabled people employed by government departments, local authorities and National Health Service trusts are published annually in the Employment Gazette. As Members of the Committee know, only about one-third of people with disabilities actually choose to register—a point that we discussed earlier. Therefore, the information is not accurate as regards the number of people with disabilities employed in those organisations. Under any statutory system, employers would still be faced with the difficulties that I have already outlined in identifying those among their workforce who arc disabled and should therefore he counted. On that count alone there would be no real advantage to such a statutory requirement.

The noble Lord, Lord Ashley, made some remarks about the quota. I believe that it is important to get the point about the quota, and prosecutions in that regard, into some sort of perspective. There have been only 10 cases of prosecution since the quota was introduced. The last prosecutions took place in 1975 as part of an experiment in stricter enforcement policy. There was no evidence that that materially improved the position of disabled people generally. During the 1970s there were five prosecutions under the 1944 Act, two of which were brought by a Conservative Government and three by a Labour Government. Therefore, I do not believe that it has anything to do with the political complexion of the government at the time. That seems to be pretty conclusive evidence that, as an instrument of trying to achieve some of the things that we all want to see, it simply is not working.

I am sure that other employers, including local authorities and health authorities, will see the benefits of introducing over a period of time similar initiatives to the kind that I described. It is certainly our intention to promote such good practice. As I said, the employment code of practice will include guidance and encouragement for all employers to implement effective equal opportunities policies and appropriate methods for monitoring them. For the reasons that I have already given, such voluntary arrangements will, we believe, be more effective than what is proposed in the amendment. We also believe that the reality of the amendment is that it would not achieve anything substantive and of value.

Lord McCarthy

Before the Minister sits down, would be not agree that to rely, as he does, on the Labour Force Survey is somewhat naive? That survey asks 40 or so questions on a household basis. It could not ask any detailed questions; indeed, those concerned would have to ask respondents questions like, "Are you disabled?" or, "Do you regard yourself as disabled?" If the Government rely upon the Labour Force Survey and nothing else and will not accept the amendment, what, they are really saying is that they cannot find out how many people are disabled.

Lord Inglewood

I am extremely pleased to be able to reassure the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, on that point because he clearly did not hear exactly what I said. I said that the Government would rely on a variety of methods, including research conducted by the Government and others, and through regular surveys such as the Labour Force Survey. Therefore, the Government will be flexible in the manner in which they approach the problem.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

I am rather envious of the feeling of warmth felt by my noble friend Lord Ashley. It is not a feeling that I have as yet experienced whereby the Minister agrees with me. However, I look forward to that day, although I thought that this might be it. I thank all Members of the Committee who spoke in support of the amendment. I should say straightaway that the contributions from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington, were both helpful and, indeed, extremely realistic.

As regards the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, as to why people do not register, perhaps I may put forward my small experience in the field while representing people at work. Such people would quite often not want to register because they were afraid that they would be discriminated against in employment, in job training, in promotion and, indeed, in all kinds of opportunities. Even if they were working for a good employer where they would not be discriminated against, such people felt that if they left that employment, or if there were redundancies and they lost their jobs, they would have no chance of gaining other employment if the disability label was attached to them.

I do not suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, proposed that for that reason the amendment should not be accepted; rather the reverse. Education of employers is a key factor, whether in the public or private sector.

I hope that at the end of the process we are now going through we shall have an Act which will make it illegal to discriminate against someone on grounds of disability. It will also provide individuals with an opportunity to rectify discrimination in a court of law. I hope that that will encourage people to recognise that they have rights. Those rights may have always existed in some areas but not in others. They will be backed up by law and by due process.

The Minister said that there was nothing between us. There is a big gap between us if we agree on the problem but cannot agree on the means of rectifying it. It will be a major problem if there are no public statistics on which one can assess how we are progressing and what policies should be put in place.

I accept the Minister's view that a code of practice will encourage employers. The public sector is a major employer. How helpful it would be if the public sector—local authorities, health authorities and national government, which are covered by the amendment—was required to keep records. Government support for what we propose would send an important message to the private sector.

The Minister says that it would be wrong to be prescriptive; if what was required was set out on the face of the Bill there would be no flexibility. We recognise the problems that exist and that there are different problems in different sectors. We also recognise that there needs to be consultation. Equally, we recognise the overwhelming problem of confidentiality. That is why we have proposed in the amendment that this be set out in regulations. I do not see that that should present a problem.

The Minister relies on voluntaryism. The voluntary system did not work in relation to sex discrimination and we had to have a Sex Discrimination Act. The voluntary system did not work in race relations in Britain and we had to have a Race Relations Act. I suggest that, unfortunately, when too much water has passed under the bridge, we shall find, if the Bill remains as it is, that the voluntary system and the code of practice will not work when it comes to equality of access to employment and training for people with disabilities.

It is clear that the Minister is not prepared to budge from his position. That is extremely disappointing, not only for me but for the people who hoped that this measure would be in the Bill to protect them. It is therefore with a great deal of regret that I seek the leave of the Committee to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 34 [Amendment of Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944]:

9.15 p.m.

Lord Gladwin of Clee moved Amendment No. 137:

Page 23, leave out lines 41 to 43.

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 137 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 138 and 139. All of the amendments are designed to protect severely disabled people who are either in employment or seeking employment.

As we have already discussed, the 1944 Act gives the Secretary of State for Employment powers to provide facilities for and to subsidise employment for people with severe impairments who would otherwise find it difficult to get jobs. This is a supported employment programme which takes two forms. The first is supported factories such as Remploy and the British Legion poppy factory and sheltered workshops run by local authorities and voluntary organisations. The second takes the form of a sheltered placement scheme in which a local authority or a voluntary organisation acts as a sponsor employing people with severe impairments who are then placed in "open" employment with host employers who pay the sponsor for the work done. Those sponsors are subsidised directly by the Employment Service.

However, the 1944 Act prevents the Government from providing funding for supported employment in companies which distribute profits. Clause 34(3) removes that prohibition. That sounds acceptable, but there is anxiety that it could lead to discrimination against more severely disabled people. For some time now supported employment providers have been under pressure to act more like commercial enterprises, and there is anxiety that those pressures are forcing them to recruit employees with less severe impairments and not recruit severely disabled people. If "not-for-profit" organisations feel constrained to discriminate against more severely disabled people, the pressures on dividend distributing companies will be even greater.

The issue was not discussed in the other place. The only reference was made in this House when the Minister responded to a question by my noble friend Lord Ashley of Stoke about the future of Remploy. I ask the Minister therefore for an assurance that there will be no reduction in the number of jobs provided for severely disabled people under the supported employment programme.

Secondly, at col. 889 of the Official Report of 22nd May, the Minister stated that before using the power provided, he would consult, relevant organisations, particularly those representing existing supported employer providers". Can I be assured that he will also consult representatives of the workers in supported employment establishments?

There is anxiety about the possibility of creaming off. There is concern about the kind of jobs which will be provided by profit distributing companies for people with severe disabilities. There is concern that the money used to fund supported employment in dividend distributing companies will not be new money but will be funds diverted from existing providers of supported employment. Will the Minister confirm that that is not the case?

Amendments Nos. 138 and 139 seek to retain the statutory register for disabled people and the quota scheme. I appreciate that it is difficult to argue that the quota scheme has been a major success, but we all know the reasons for that. We have discussed them in the House.

A number of noble Lords have experienced, as I have, the reluctance of many disabled people to register because they regard registration as a stigma and because they fear that it could affect their prospects of employment and promotion. In other words, they are afraid of being discriminated against.

My experience encompasses two different situations. Like my noble friend Lady Dean and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, on many occasions I have sought to persuade members of my organisation to register. On the other hand, I used to deal with factories in which every single employee was registered disabled. It is those people about whom I am particularly concerned.

The provisions of the Bill should remove the anxiety that disabled people will be discriminated against. But how will we know that it is removed if we abolish the register? Therefore the first argument for retention is monitoring. We have already discussed that.

Secondly, registration is an effective method of assisting the more disabled people to obtain jobs through the supported employment programme. The White Paper states that the ending of statutory registration will require new arrangements for identifying severely disabled people who should be eligible for supported employment. Why invent new arrangements when we have the register? If, after consultation with supported employment providers and representatives of disabled employees, the registration scheme needs modification, then so be it. But do not abandon it. Do not throw out the baby with the bath water.

On the question of the quota, I agree with the view put forward at Second Reading by my noble friend Lady Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde and the noble Lord, Lord Rix; why not follow the suggestion of the Employment Select Committee in another place and allow the quota scheme to run concurrently with the new employment right for a period of up to five years?

In his reply at col. 887 of the Official Report of 22nd May, the Minister said: I do not believe that it would be practicable or reasonable to overlap the quota provisions with the new provisions in this Bill, even for a year". I believe that both employers and disabled people seeking employment would find it both practicable and reasonable to retain the registration quota scheme until we are sure that the new legislation is working in the way that Parliament intended. I beg to move.

Lord Rix

I realise full well that the Minister regards trying to keep registration and the quota—while welcoming the new anti-discrimination provisions as they affect employment—as being rather akin to bringing your sandwiches to the Lord Mayor's banquet. I realise, too, that there is within that fairly broad church—the so-called disability lobby—a strong view that registration and quota are not only ineffective but, in themselves, discriminatory. Had not the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, spoken in defence of the quota and of registration at Second Reading, and indirectly just now, I should have been much minded to refrain from further argument in support of a cause which seemed to have few supporters. However, since the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, is having another go it seems worth while rehearsing the arguments yet again.

Quite simply, is it not prudent to make quite certain of the new-found way of doing things before firmly jettisoning the old way, especially when we have yet to hear a convincing explanation of how the new arrangements are to be monitored? Indeed, the Government seem to accept the contention with their views on the future of NACEPD.

In addition, I have to break ranks with those who say that the quota never did any good and that people with disabilities can always gain and keep employment simply on merit without any artificial aids. I know that it has done some good, particularly for people with a learning disability and with the MENCAP Pathway Employment Service. It has set a standard; it has provided a prompt in individual cases for employers to look at their practice; and it has sometimes been the key that turned the lock and got someone a job. I notice that in all the long history of attempts to discredit the quota scheme by those not minded to apply it, there are frequent references to, "employers really are employing 3 per cent. of disabled people, if only you count X, Y and Z". Would anyone have thought of it in such terms without the quota? The quota represents positive discrimination, albeit very modest positive discrimination, and in a society which sets so much store by physical and mental perfection I am not ashamed to say that there is a case for a little positive discrimination. That is permitted in the case of sexual and racial discrimination and I see some case for encouraging it for disabled people, who do not always meet quite what the employer had in mind, especially those with a learning disability.

The Bill sets out to change society: first, its behaviour and then its attitudes. As that begins to happen, registration and the quota will become increasingly old hat. But I am not convinced at the moment that they have actually passed their sell-by date.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I am glad to speak after the noble Lord, Lord Rix. First, I wish to explain to the Committee why I appear to be defiling the Privy Counsellors' Bench by putting my leg up on it. I hope that it has been noticed that I tidily have a protective cover underneath the leg, but I am under doctor's orders. A few weeks ago, a thrombosis was diagnosed in one of my legs, which is disabled. I took my medicine during the adjournment and I am only allowed to be here this evening on the basis that I keep my leg up. My doctors are keen that I should take part in proceedings on the Bill. At first they wanted me not to do so and forbade it, but they are now keen that I should take the line that I am and be available to do so. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will understand and I seek its indulgence.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwin. has taken the three amendments together. I am sure be was right to do so. On the first amendment, as he probably knows, I have been a strong supporter of Remploy and been much involved in its activities over the years. However, I wish to concentrate on the other two amendments and the quota.

Following the noble Lord, Lord Rix, I start by saying that I have never discredited the quota system. I have just been sad that in recent years it has not worked properly. It started 50 years ago and I shall not repeat my Second Reading speech. Of course, it was mainly intended for the very young disabled people from the war. Unfortunately, for the past 25 years—about half of its life—less than 3 per cent. of the workforce has been registered as disabled. Therefore it has not been feasible to enforce the quota system under the Act. The lack of registration has occurred under both Labour and Conservative governments. On a previous Committee day I referred to questions asked by Labour Members of Parliament and answered by Labour Ministers in the 1970s pointing out exactly the same; namely, that it was impossible to fulfil the quota or bring action against establishments and firms because far less than 3 per cent. of the workforce was registered as disabled.

The important point for the future is one upon which I think we are all agreed: in any system we must somehow persuade or encourage people who are disabled—particularly the severely disabled—to register; or we must bring in some new system whereby they are known and can be encouraged. But that is for the future.

One of the alternatives in the past 20 years would have been to reduce the quota to 1 per cent. That percentage could have been met. I understand that at present 1 per cent. of the workforce is registered as disabled. A 1 per cent. quota could be prescribed by statutory instrument. The 1944 Act did not in its primary legislation prescribe the quota. That was left to Ministers. But that would have been a very depressing signal. I should not have recommended it, and I do not recommend it now. To continue the quota system and bring the percentage down to something that could be achieved would be a sign of failure. Therefore, I dismiss that option.

There is another option. In France, anyone entitled to a disability benefit is automatically registered. I do not know whether compulsion of that kind would be acceptable in the United Kingdom. I do not believe that it would be acceptable immediately. It might in time be possible. That has been practised in France. Britain has a different system of benefits and it would be more difficult for us to follow that course. Our benefits do not necessarily apply just to disability.

In France and Germany there are penalties in the form of fines for establishments that do not reach the quota. This is another option. Some firms in Germany prefer to pay the fine rather than employ the disabled people. In this country in 1981, when I was much involved in a prominent position with the International Year of Disabled People, the Manpower Services Commission was asked to carry out a full review of the quota system. Members of the Committee will probably remember that it recommended that the quota system should be dropped and that a code of practice should be adopted. That was not accepted by the Government of the day. However, there was very wide discussion at that time among the disability organisations, and a wider debate in the country as a whole, as to whether a system of penalties such as exists in France or Germany should be brought in. The majority, particularly among disabled organisations, appeared to be against a punitive system of fines. The reason was that they felt it would make disabled people appear to be a costly burden rather than members of the workforce who could contribute as much as or more than other members. I absolutely understand that. That was the main objection in 1981 to our bringing in such a system. I suspect that it would still be an objection in this country to our bringing in a system of fines as a penalty for failing to meet the quota. I just mention these alternatives before we drop the quota system, which is the intention under this Bill. I do not think that the alternatives are very attractive.

I should not object to the quota system being continued for a time, as a target. I know how much it has helped MENCAP, as the noble Lord, Lord Rix, mentioned. I have mentioned that point before on various occasions. However, if it were continued, it would be dangerous for too much faith to be put in it. We know now that it can only be a target. It will have to be—and should be—phased out. I should not be against the Government continuing it for three or five years, or whatever it may be, until the country becomes familiar with the new system that is being introduced in this Bill. But I do not feel that we ought to put faith in the quota.

For at least 25 years I have lived with the system. As the Committee will know, by the time of the 1944 Act I had been wounded and was disabled. I have followed the system ever since with colleagues and men whom I commanded getting jobs and so on. In the first 25 years the quota system was successful and did what was intended. But I do not believe that even the parliamentarians who in 1943 and 1944 passed that Bill would have expected it necessarily to be functioning as they expected 25 years later. In fact, it has gone on for 50 years.

I would not discredit the system or pour scorn on the 1944 Act. But it has served its purpose and now parts of it are no longer applicable. In particular, the quota system needs to be replaced by something else, even if it is not brought to an end immediately.

Lord Ashley of Stoke

We have come to a delicate part of the evening, when we are in danger of repeating our speeches from earlier occasions. I do not want to fall into that trap. I am as willing as anyone to repeat my points ad hominem, ad infinitum and "ad horum", but I should only set even more people against me.

I hope that I can make different points with regard to the quota system. First, it remains because it is not and never will be redundant. It complements and does not replace this Bill. It protects disabled people as a group. This Bill protects the individual rights of people. That is a very important difference.

The system is capable of revision by the levy, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell. I am in favour of the levy. If some employers do not want to keep the quota and say that they will pay the levy, that is fine. At least they are contributing to disabled people. Finally, it is the only method of curbing the prejudices of wilful, evasive and discriminatory employers, who resist everything but the strongest compulsion.

I complete my brief remarks by endorsing what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, said about Remploy and the position of very seriously disabled workers. It is very serious. I hope that something can be done under the Bill by the Government accepting these amendments.

Lord Addington

Let me say very briefly that I am very much in the minority in having taken part in the old green card system. It set a target which has become increasingly unrealistic. One reason for that is that the nature of work has changed since the system was introduced. There are no longer production line jobs on which large numbers of people were employed and a quota could easily be set. The nature of employment has changed.

It is also the case that certain groups of people, for whom this Bill is not designed, have found the system very useful. The noble Lord, Lord Rix, can perhaps confirm MENCAP has found it difficult to find employment for much of its client base. Other groups have not benefited from it.

We have already decided in another case not to have a register. We have just discussed that point. But we do have a register in this case. Many good things were said about the register, including the idea of knowing how many people are involved in it. If the Government would breathe life into the green card—or even change its colour and make it a blue card or even a pink card (let us be radical)—that system would work. Something which tells us who the person is, and possibly the nature of his disability as well, would be helpful.

The quota has not worked in recent years for the vast majority of people of whom we are talking. That is the one thing that marks it down. It has worked for certain groups but it has not worked for others. If the Government had accepted any of the amendments discussed earlier, they could probably say that there was sufficient process here, especially within the council, to make sure that a quota system was not needed, and that they had a positive and aggressive stance. It is the only thing we have left. The idea of registration, and the ease of access to those supporting bodies around it, has not been mentioned but should be taken into account. If one possesses a green card, at least one knows where to go in the employment services to obtain help.

I shall not pretend to know what the answer is. Can the Government give an assurance that the quick lines which the green card provides to the support services will remain intact and that there will be guidance to inform disabled people, whatever definition is used, that the services exist? It is important that disabled people know what they are entitled to in the realms of support. That has not yet been raised but should be borne in mind.

Lord Renton

On the substance of this matter I agree with what was said by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy. I merely add that in order to obtain a full picture we must realise that various lists are already kept by those in the public service who pay out various allowances to people with various kinds of disability. A list must be kept of the war disabled who are in receipt of war disability pensions. A list must be kept of those who receive disability allowances and unemployability supplement. I forget what the other allowance is called, but my severely handicapped daughter receives it. She has to be careful all the time; she cannot do anything herself and receives the allowance because of that. There are therefore in existence various lists.

I realise that the noble Lord who moved the amendment is concerned with the register to which there is public access; that is another matter. I agree with my noble friend Lord Campbell. However, there is a purely technical point—I hope Members of the Committee will not think it boring—that I wish to raise on the drafting of the amendment. Clause 34(7) on page 24 reads, The following provisions of the Act of 1944 shall cease to have effect". Many times I have complained about the use of that phrase because it really means "repealed". In Schedule 5 we find that each of the provisions mentioned in the subsection is included in the list of repeals. If we wish this provision to be endorsed, why cannot we be consistent in the words that we use in the statutes and say in subsection (7) that those provisions are repealed?

Lord McCarthy

I do not want to rehearse the disparate arguments that have been put forward to persuade the Government to say something. But that is what we want. We want them to say something about the two different general topics dealt with in the amendment.

My noble friend Lord Gladwin asked the Government to say something about three specific matters. He asked whether or not there would be any reduction in the severely disabled programmes. He asked about the consultation procedures on the workers' side and, most importantly, he asked whether there would be any new money or whether the changes which the Government propose in the subsidy and funding arrangements will result in money being taken away from existing programmes. I ask the Government to seek to answer those questions this evening. They are serious questions which worry a considerable number of people. If the Government cannot answer them tonight because they are new questions and they have not thought about them before, let them say that they will go away and write to my noble friend, giving him the answers to the questions.

We come then to the second general heading relating to the quota scheme. We know that the Government are going to abolish the scheme. We do not intend to divide the Committee on these amendments at this time of night. We know that it is long gone. But almost everyone on this side of the Committee and around the Committee has been asking whether the Government accept in any sense that the original objectives of the register are still there to be met. If the Government abolish this way of doing it, have they no proposals at all to follow through the original objectives of the scheme in other ways?

As the noble Lord, Lord Rix, said, in many ways this is extremely modern. It is astonishing that in this country in 1918, before anyone thought of it in the United States or anywhere else so far as I know, we legislated a system of positive discrimination. It is true that we did it in the aftermath of a world war, but we did it. It worked for some time, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, said, and then began to fade away because circumstances changed. Successive governments of all political persuasions felt that they had more important things to do and therefore did not look at the way the scheme was operating and try to bring it up to date. They did not find effective ways of working it or set up a Royal Commission on what was wrong with the quota scheme; they just left it there. And now this Government want to do away with it. Those are matters that we ought to feel sorry about; and we on this side of the Committee and noble Lords in other parts of the Committee are sorry about them.

The original aims of the quota scheme deal with the more severely disadvantaged. They deal with those who are prepared to register and try to induce others to register and give them significant benefits so it is worth their while registering. Those objectives and aims are surely as relevant today as they always were. Therefore, we ask the Government for answers. We know what they are going to do. But can they answer the first few questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, and can they answer us in a positive way as to what they feel should replace the quota scheme?

9.45 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

I merely want to add three points which I hope the Minister will take into account when he replies to the questions posed by my noble friends. First, many appointments made by public bodies—local authorities and local education authorities—are now made not directly by people who are part of the staff of the local authority but by thousands of school governors and teaching and non-teaching staff. It is very difficult to keep a record in those circumstances unless there is a requirement to seek to comply.

Secondly, as a result of government policy much more of the work is being carried out by private sector companies which submit tenders. We heard about this in the Dinner Break tonight. Without a requirement that information should be collected it is very difficult for local authorities to demand contract compliance in the way that they did when they were employers. Finally, as a result of government policy there is a growth in the private sector directly providing in areas where in the past the public sector provided; for example, homes for the elderly. Therefore, there is a need for this monitoring to be continued.

I repeat and stress what I said when I spoke earlier. It is not that the system is excellent and works—because of the difficulties we have outlined. We arc not talking about sticking rigidly to an outworn system. We are talking about the need to continue the monitoring and to insist that the Government accept that principle, go away and look at it and come hack with an amendment that will require that to be done.

Lord Inglewood

We have had an extremely worthwhile debate focusing on three principal matters: first, the supported employment programme; secondly, quota: and, thirdly, registration. I am grateful to the noble Lord. Lord Gladwin. for raising the matters and also to the doctor of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, for having allowed him to be here. I am also grateful to the noble Lord for the contribution he made once he got here. Before getting to the substance of this amendment, I thank my noble friend Lord Renton for his drafting comment, which I am sure that those who are responsible for these matters will be pleased to have heard and will reflect on.

As the Committee will be aware, the supported employment programme was set up under the auspices of the 1944 Act to provide job opportunities for people who, because of the severity of their disability, are unable or unlikely to be able to obtain or retain work in open employment. Around 21,800 severely disabled people are currently helped by this programme at a cost of about £153 million. This includes around 9,200 people in Remploy Ltd, some 4,600 people in local authority and voluntary body workshops and around 8,000 people on the supported placement scheme which provides job opportunities for severely disabled people to work in open employment. I emphasise that the Government are fully committed to this programme and intend to maintain the current level of provision, but we have to recognise that the needs and expectations of severely disabled people are changing, and the supported employment programme needs to be flexible enough in its administrative arrangements to continue to meet those needs and expectations.

Amendment No. 137 would hinder that flexibility on the mistaken premise, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, that private companies would be able to exploit severely disabled people or in some way cream off less severely disabled people to maximise their contribution to productivity. The suggestion appears to be that supported workshops would be left with a workforce made up entirely of the most severely disabled people. This is not plausible. We have contractual arrangements which deal with standards in existing placements, including payment of the rate for the job, and I can assure the Committee that contractual arrangements would be put in place to ensure similar standards in future placements.

As to the potential to cream off those who arc less severely disabled, we propose to consult on the precise mechanisms for entry to the supported employment programme, but we do not expect the broad criteria to change significantly. The current criteria arc that severely disabled people should be capable of productivity within the range of 30 per cent. to 80 per cent. of a non-disabled worker. The specific type of provision to be offered will continue to be decided by the Employment Service and the individual disabled person, in liaison with the relevant providers.

This amendment would prevent the Secretary of State from funding places in private companies which had demonstrated a commitment to the principles of the programme. It would do so despite the fact that those who responded and commented on this aspect of our Disability on the Agenda consultation document overwhelmingly agreed that there was no reason to exclude dividend-distributing bodies from participating in the programme.

We recognise that under the supported placement scheme existing host companies in the private sector are already involved in a range of supported job opportunities through providers who act as a form of agency. This amendment would limit the Employment Service's flexibility in funding additional places in reputable companies located where local provision was too limited to meet the needs and expectations of severely disabled people.

I can assure the Committee that the Government do not propose to exercise this power immediately, nor until they have consulted further with relevant organisations, including employees, on the detail of how the power might be used. Particularly, we would consult those groups representing existing supported employment providers. Mention has been made specifically by a number of speakers of Remploy. I want to make it absolutely clear that the Government remain committed to Remploy and the changes made by the Bill leave Remploy's statutory position unaffected.

The supported employment programme, however, must be open to change, and this is an opportune time to introduce further flexibility into the administrative arrangements to allow in the longer term an opening up of supported employment across a wider range of occupations and locations and to help tailor provisions more precisely to the local employment needs of the most severely disabled. I hope that this gives a clear picture of what the Government's thinking is on this matter and indicates that the more dramatic scenarios that seem to be behind some noble Lords' contributions are not founded.

I should now like to continue by speaking about the quota scheme.

Lord Gladwin of Clee

The Minister did say "additional", did he not? The anxiety is that by doing what the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, suggested earlier and by opening it up and becoming more flexible, there will be no more money and the current providers, such as Remploy and the other sheltered workshops, will wither on the vine. That is the fear. I want to be absolutely clear that the Minister is saying that that is not the intention and that the intention is to have more funding for more places for the severely disabled. If that is the case, we are on board.

Lord Inglewood

I think that the noble Lord has jumped further than we have. At this stage, all that the Government are seeking to do is to acquire the power to be able to do that. There is a considerable amount of consultation to be done before anything actually happens. I cannot give a commitment about funding levels some time in the future. It would be unrealistic to do so. If noble Lords opposite were in the same position as I am and at this Dispatch Box, they would not do that either. As I have said, we are committed to the scheme and to trying to provide the hest form of placement that we can. We believe that it could be the case that something along the lines of what I have described could assist disabled people, which, after all, is the purpose of the Bill. We seek that power and, as I have explained, before we exercise that power we shall consult to try to identify (with a greater degree of precision than I have been able to do this evening) what we have it in mind to do.

Lord McCarthy

With great respect, surely the Minister could at least say whether it is the Government's present policy and intention to run down the subsidies for Remploy.

Lord Inglewood

As I said, we are committed to Remploy. There is no policy of deliberately running down Remploy or of deliberately promoting Remploy. The positive policy is to try to ensure that the best provision and the most cost-effective provision can be provided for as many severely disabled people as possible. As I explained, there are a number of ways of doing that and we wish to have a portfolio of options in our pocket so that we can do what is best for people.

Baroness Seear

I should like to get this point quite clear because it is very important. If there are to be new opportunities in the private sector, helped by Government funding which I understand is the idea, will that mean less money for Remploy or is that to be in addition to the money that already goes into Remploy? That is the crux of it. If it is additional money, we are all for it.

Lord Inglewood

We are talking about some time ahead and, as I explained earlier, I am not in a position to give or to talk figures. We do not even know yet exactly what we are going to do. We have to reserve our position in order to be able to do what we consider to be the best for the various people concerned. I do not want to say things which will subsequently be played hack at me—albeit that I may do so with the best intent in the world.

Lord Gladwin of Clee

I am sorry to be persistent, but the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, said on Second Reading: As regards profit-distributing organisations, we are committed to the supported employment programme which provides jobs for nearly 21,000 severely disabled people. The new power will enable us to fund supported employment in dividend-distributing bodies".—[Official Report, 22/5/95: col. 888.] That is the new element. All that I and my colleagues are asking is whether the noble Lord, Lord Mackay. in saying that, meant that as well as supporting Remploy and as well as the 21,000 jobs that already exist, the intention is (for the flexible reason that is described in a later paragraph in Hansard) to provide more. That is the worry. That is what is concerning a lot of people not only from Remploy but many other people in sheltered employment. For people who cannot get jobs in the open market and who need sheltered employment, the question is whether it is the Government's intention (in line with the philosophy behind this legislation) to increase the number of opportunities. It is a simple question.

Lord Inglewood

I have nothing to add to what I said earlier, but let me try to explain it slightly differently. Remploy remains an integral putt of the supported employment programme. The Government's continued commitment to the company is demonstrated by the £94.2 million that will be allocated this year to compensate for the cost of employing severely disabled people. As the Committee will be aware, that represents about 60 per cent. of the Government's total allocation to the supported employment programme of over £153 million. Furthermore, spending plans for the supported employment programme, including Remploy, are already published in the report of the Department of Employment. They show that we propose to maintain funding for Remploy throughout the planning period to April 1988. That date is stipulated because it is the current timescale for the Government and the departments' public expenditure bids.

I return to the point I made earlier. In the foreseeable future, the position is clear, and I have explained it. But what happens beyond that must inevitably depend upon the circumstances at the time. When faced with the circumstance of that time, we want to be able to respond with the maximum flexibility. I cannot see anything contentious in that approach, even if one disagrees about the particularity of some of the detail.

I should like to touch briefly on matters to do with quota. It has been agreed on all sides of the Chamber that the scheme is not working as originally intended. There may have been varying degrees of support for it, depending upon an analysis of how effective people felt it to be. It is not working as it should have done, and that has been recognised. It is impossible for all employers to meet the 3 per cent. quota because only a third of those in the workforce who are eligible to register do so. That point has been touched on, but perhaps the logic of the position was not spelt out. However, research indicates that employers would, on average, meet the quota if all those disabled people, who were eligible to do so, registered.

In its recent report on the operation of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944, the Employment Select Committee described quota as a system which classes disabled people as a problem. I agree with that description. Quota sends, in our view, an entirely wrong signal to employers about the abilities of people with disabilities. In effect, it is saying, "Here is a group of people who are unable to get work by their own efforts. You, the employer, must therefore reserve a proportion of jobs for them." That is patronising. We should therefore take the opportunity provided by the introduction of the new right not to be discriminated against in employment to repeal the quota scheme.

I know that it has been argued that we should perhaps retain the quota scheme for a time in tandem with the new employment right. That would be wrong. It would serve only to confuse employers and people with disabilities alike. If one looks at the two schemes, they represent two separate and different ways of dealing with the problem. Not only that, the quota scheme itself is not effective. It is narrow in scope. After all, it covers only recruitment and dismissal phases of employment. It places no duty on the employer to help employees in matters such as training. promotion, or adapting jobs so that individuals can cope better with them. It entails criminal offences which we belie e to be inappropriate in today's employment situation. It has no effective provision Cm a disabled person to be compensated or reinstated.

We believe that quota is a poor second best to the new rights we want to introduce. Moreover, it would sit oddly alongside them. I find it hard to reconcile the right not to be discriminated against—that is to say, being treated in the same way as other individuals—with the special treatment of jobs being allocated preferentially to people with disabilities and where a burden on the employer would be entailed in keeping both systems. In effect, employers would have to follow two incompatible management styles simultaneously. That cannot be right.

We believe that the quota scheme is outdated. I urge the Committee to replace it with something better, which is what the Bill does—something which focuses upon individuals rather than groups and which we believe will be more effective than quota in dealing with the type of employer mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ashley. At the end of the day, we are talking about individuals who are disabled. It will be poor consolation to a particular person under those circumstances if an employer says to him, "I have met my target. It doesn't matter any more, does it?"

The point about our approach is that it is necessary to deal with each individual as an individual, taking into account his or her particular disability problems.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

Would the Minister care to comment on a case of someone seeking employment as a teacher who begins to suspect that he or she is not being shortlisted whereas other people with similar qualifications are? If that person takes action because of a feeing that he or she is being discriminated against, the person will not obtain a job in the locality if it is a fairly small area in which to seek employment. Surely during the period of overlap we need the belt and the braces. The belt will provide that the school governors need to record the trends. With all the caveats and the recognition of what is happening, there is a need to record the trends. Far too many people may be hurt during the changeover period because of the Government's failure to recognise what is happening.

Lord Inglewood

The noble Baroness has merely given a specific example of the generality of the problem that we intend to address. She appears to be saying that in such circumstances a disabled person should be employed rather than someone who is more suitable. The Bill contains an entirely logical and coherent mechanism for dealing with such a problem as and when it arises. We dealt with this in our discussion on Part II of the Bill. We do not believe that an approach which entails quotas will achieve anything that is beneficial. On the contrary. we believe that it would be less efficacious than our proposal.

I turn now to registration. Were a quota to be retained, it must follow that registration must be retained too. But doing so would fail to take into account the views of disabled people. who have shown by their reluctance to register that the system fails to meet their needs and aspirations. Registration is seen by many disabled people as stigmatising them and sending the g messages to employers about their abilities. We should be concentrating on their abilities and not on their disabilities.

We have heard arguments that disabled people chose not to register because quota is not working as a result of lack of enforcement. I do not accept that. Experience of stricter enforcement in the 1970s showed that the employment position of disabled people generally did not improve. Disabled people choose not to register for a number of reasons. Research commissioned by the Employment Service—I refer to Employment and Handicap 1990—shows that one of the main reasons for not registering is that potentially eligible people either do not believe that registration is appropriate for them because they do not see themselves as disabled or see no reason to register at all.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, raised a particular point. I wish to make it clear that a green card is not needed for help from the Employment Service. Disabled people will continue to receive specialist help where they need it and the Employment Service will continue to make sure that disabled people know about its services. We believe that registration is not worth keeping simply as a route into supported employment. We shall consult interested parties on the new arrangements but we expect the criteria to be broadly similar to those which now exist.

I have already touched on the key to our approach to these three matters. We believe that the new employment right contained in the Bill will be better and more effective in helping people with disabilities to obtain and to keep jobs. It is important that the new right goes wider than the right under the 1944 Act; and we believe that we should not keep this time-expired scheme alongside it. For those reasons, I urge the Committee to reject the proposals if the amendment is put to a vote. However, I hope that, as the noble Lord intimated earlier, he will reflect on what I have said.

Lord Gladwin of Clee

I am grateful to the Minister. I shall reflect on what he has said, as I am sure will my noble friends. I am sorry that I harried the Minister and I feel sorry for him. The Bill takes away things with which we are familiar, whether they have worked or not. and it puts nothing in their place. Therefore, in discussing the amendments the Minister is in a somewhat defensive posture.

I sincerely hope that before we reach further stages of the Bill—certainly before the autumn—we shall have a better idea about what the Government intend to put in place of what we have. This is not a peripheral matter. There is a great deal of anxiety among people with serious disabilities that, although we all support this legislation, in this area people may be worse rather than better off. I am sure that that is not what the Government want. We all want this legislation to succeed but at the moment the Government are batting off sensible suggestions in a rather defensive way. However, at this hour of the evening. I shall not divide the Committee and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 138 and 139 not moved.]

Clause 34 agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 139A:

After Clause 34. insert the following new clause:

Public service vehicles

PSV accessibility regulations

(".—(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations ("PSV accessibility regulations") for the purpose of securing that it is possible for disabled persons—

  1. (a) to get on to and off regulated public service vehicles in safety and without unreasonable difficulty (and, in the case of disabled persons in wheelchairs, to do so while remaining in their wheelchairs); and
  2. (b) to be carried in such vehicles in safety and in reasonable comfort.

(2) PSV accessibility regulations may make provision as to the construction, use and maintenance of regulated public service vehicles including, in particular, provision as to—

  1. (a) the fitting of equipment to vehicles;
  2. (b) equipment to be carried by vehicles;
  3. (c) the design of equipment to be fitted to, or carried by. vehicles;
  4. (d) the fitting and use of restraining devices designed to ensure the stability of wheelchairs while vehicles are moving;
  5. (e) the position in which wheelchairs are to be secured while vehicles are moving.

(3) Any person who—

  1. (a) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of the PSV accessibility regulations,
  2. (b) uses on a road a regulated public service vehicle which does not conform with any provision of the regulations with which it is required to conform, or
  3. (c) causes or permits to be used on a road such a regulated public service vehicle,
is guilty of an offence.

(4) A person who is guilty of such an offence is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

(5) In this section— public service vehicle" means a vehicle which is—

  1. (a) adapted to carry more than eight passengers; and
  2. (b) a public service vehicle for the purposes of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981;
"regulated public service vehicle" means any public service vehicle to which the PSV accessibility regulations are expressed to apply.

(6) Different provision may be made in regulations under this section—

  1. (a) as respects different classes or descriptions of vehicle.
  2. (b) as respects the same class or description of vehicle in different circumstances:
  3. (c) as respects different localities.

(7) Nothing in subsection (6) affects the powers conferred by section 37.

(8) Before making any regulations or order under this section or section (Accessibility certificates) or (Special authorisations) the Secretary of State shall consult the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and such other representative organisations as he thinks fit.").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 139B to 139K and Amendments Nos. 142A. 146A. 1468 and 147A. I shall not read out the new clauses which I intend to insert in the Bill but I shall obviously have to explain in a little detail exactly what these clauses add up to. They add up to a very significant change in the field of transport.

We have already had an opportunity to discuss the Government's proposals to ensure that in future, taxis are accessible to disabled people. I was grateful for the support from all sides of the Committee on that subject, although that was at an even later hour than we are now. This evening, I wish to present to the Committee our proposals for dealing with access to buses, coaches and rail services. Those proposals complete the package of measures covering all forms of domestic land-based transport which my honourable friend the Minister for Disabled People undertook to bring forward at an early stage in the passage of this Bill.

Many Members of the Committee will already be aware of the excellent progress in improving access to public transport which has been made over the past decade. The Department of Transport has for many years worked closely with the transport industries to promote and encourage the introduction of better designs and operating practices to meet the needs of disabled people. I could give the Committee examples but I am sure that all Members of the Committee interested in this sphere know about the examples and the progress which has been made. Therefore, I shall move on to look at the new proposals.

In no sense are the legislative proposals that we are bringing forward intended to force co-operation on an unreceptive and recalcitrant industry but rather to indicate that we see the introduction of legislation in this area as continuing the process of shaping a transport network that is fully accessible. It has long been—and will continue to be—a collaborative and co-operative venture between the Department of Transport, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and all sides of the industry.

Perhaps I may also make clear from the outset that any regulations made under these provisions will apply only to new vehicles. I want to make that point very clearly to industry. There is simply no question of them being applied retrospectively. Such an approach at the very least would be technically very difficult and costly and at worst could render some transport services commercially unviable. Working on the basis of new vehicles, we can achieve access solutions which are effective and sustainable and which serve the interests of all parties involved.

I make no apology for the rather technical nature of the clauses before us on this subject. Our intention has been to ensure that we provide a legislative framework that will be compatible with existing transport requirements and that will allow the Secretary of State for Transport the flexibility which is vital if we are to ensure that we do not introduce requirements that are unworkable technically or that are simply not viable in an operational or economic sense. It is absolutely essential that we do not place burdens on either the manufacturing or operating industries that could jeopardise their future. We have learnt from the experience of the United States that a blanket requirement for accessible transport without regard for technical and economic realities, can lead all too quickly to loss of services altogether. If services are withdrawn, that is not a victory for disabled people. It is simply a loss to the travelling public as a whole.

The first set of transport clauses before the Committee deal with access to PSVs—bus and coach vehicles adapted to carry more than eight passengers and used on public service.

The new clause proposed by way of Amendment No. 139A gives the Secretary of State powers to make regulations covering access to PSVs for disabled people, including those who use wheelchairs. The purpose of the regulations will be to enable disabled people to get on and off buses and coaches in safety, without unreasonable difficulty and to be able to be carried in such vehicles in safety and in reasonable comfort.

We have provided in subsection (2) a list of requirements which might be included in any regulations. That list is not exhaustive but simply highlights some of the key issues which would need to be covered. Before making any regulations under the clause, the Secretary of State will be required to consult the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and any other organisation that he considers appropriate.

I should also say at this point that a full compliance cost assessment will be produced for any regulations we make under those provisions, as well as those covering access to taxis and rail services.

To ensure that we have the flexibility to deal with the widest range of circumstances, subsection (6) provides for different provisions to be made for different classes or descriptions of vehicle, for the same class operating in different circumstances, and for different locations. That flexibility is essential to allow different access solutions, which in the case of full-size single deck buses might be low floors and in the case of coaches might be lifts, to permit different time-scales, and to allow regional and local variation. That will enable us to make regulations making different requirements for different types of vehicle over different time-scales which will ensure a smooth transition towards accessibility.

The Department of Transport has already embarked on a detailed and extensive process of consultation with trade associations and with individual companies. We are well aware that viable access solutions are not yet available for all vehicle types and we recognise that there may be a role for some research input from the Department of Transport to develop and evaluate possible options before regulations can be made.

Finally, as with the taxi provisions, and those relating to rail vehicles which I will come on to later, the new clause creates new offences to deal with non-compliance with the accessibility regulations.

Amendment No. 139B provides for "accessibility certificates" to be issued by vehicle examiners as a parallel to the existing initial roadworthiness certification procedure for public service vehicles. Regulations will deal with the detail of the application procedure for both types of certificate, the inspection system for vehicle examiners to follow and for the issue of duplicate certificates.

In the absence of such a certificate, or of the alternative "approval certificate" which would be issued for vehicles produced in large numbers, a PSV to which the regulations apply will not be permitted to be used on a road. Failure to comply will give rise to an offence with a penalty set at level 4.

Amendment No. 139C introduces a new clause which provides for a type of approval approach to the certification of PSVs built in larger volumes, allowing an initial "type vehicle" to be approved, with subsequent vehicles of the same type being issued with approval certificates. That avoids the need for each vehicle of the same type to be individually inspected.

Amendment No. 139D allows special operating authorisation for vehicles which do not conform to accessibility regulations or for which a certificate has not been granted. It provides flexibility to cater for circumstances in which an individual vehicle or class of vehicle cannot reasonably be expected to meet the full requirements of the accessibility regulations.

Amendment No. 139E creates offences and sets penalties for forgery or misuse of accessibility certificates.

Amendment No. 139F provides for an appeals system against refusal to issue an accessibility certificate or an approval certificate. It also makes provision for a review system for cases where the type approval is refused.

Amendment No. 139G gives the Secretary of State power to require fees to be paid on applications for certificates, type approvals and appeals. There is precedent here in relation to existing procedures for vehicle certification arrangements.

I now turn to the rail services which provide a key link in the transport chain. We believe that disabled people should also have that transport option available to them. We have, of course, already made provision in the Railways Act to ensure that operators have a duty to have regard to the needs of disabled passengers. We believe that the legislative framework could be further strengthened. I wish, therefore, to speak to the new clauses in Amendments Nos. 139H, 139J, 139K, and Amendment No. 146B, which deal with the access to rail services, including light rapid transit and tram systems.

The Government propose to use these regulation-making powers only in respect of new railway rolling stock. There is no intention to require modifications to any existing rolling stock. The clause on this issue tabled by the Opposition in another place would have made that limitation clear on the face of the Bill. On reflection, we believe that that would be sensible and I shall be bringing forward a further amendment at Report stage which will limit the use of these regulations to new rail vehicles.

Amendment No. 139H is proposed so that the Secretary of State can make regulations defining standards of access for rail vehicles to enable disabled people, including those in wheelchairs, to be able to get on and off them in safety and without unreasonable difficulty. The regulations would also be able to ensure that disabled people are carried in such vehicles in safety and reasonable comfort. Before making any regulations under this provision, the Secretary of State will be required to consult the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and any other organisation he considers appropriate.

We have to recognise that the design and use of rail vehicles will vary according to a range of factors, including the systems on which they operate and the use to which the vehicles are put. We have proposed that this clause should allow for different provisions to be made in the regulations for different classes or descriptions of rail vehicles, for the same vehicles used in different circumstances and for different localities or on different networks.

That flexibility is essential for a number of reasons. For example, we will want to ensure that accessibility regulations do not undermine the historic character of heritage railways, and that could be achieved through this provision. Equally, it will allow us to look at different parts of, and different vehicles on, the London Underground to ensure that the access requirements are reasonable and practicable for such an old and largely inaccessible system. We need to be able to look at the circumstances of each system to tailor the requirements to the needs of both the industry and disabled consumers.

This clause also provides for the creation of an offence should an operator use a vehicle on public service which does not comply with requirements.

Amendment No. 139J provides powers for the Secretary of State to make exemption orders for vehicles which would otherwise have to comply with any accessibility regulations. I can assure the Committee that this is not a let out. Its purpose is simply to allow for flexibility in the legislation to provide powers to make exemptions where particular circumstances might warrant it. Again, we see a role for the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee in advising the Secretary of State on any applications, and we have provided for him to be able to make an exemption order, refuse to make one, or to make it with such conditions as he considers appropriate. We do not envisage that this power will be widely used.

Amendment No. 139K relates to both the "PSV accessibility regulations" and the "rail vehicle accessibility regulations", making provision for cases where offences are committed by corporate bodies, or in Scotland by partnerships or unincorporated bodies.

Amendment No. 142A relates hack to the provisions for PSVs and has the effect of disapplying the general requirement under the Bill that orders be made by statutory instrument in the case of special authorisations which apply only to a specified vehicle or to vehicles operated by a specified person.

We believe that these amendments will deliver improved standards of accessibility for disabled people to future public transport vehicles. It will not be achieved overnight, but these clauses will provide the necessary framework for effective and sustainable transport services which meet the needs of disabled people without creating unreasonable burdens on transport providers.

Amendments Nos. 146A, 146B and 147A simply cover the definitions of the new terms which have been introduced in the previous clauses. They are self explanatory.

I apologise if I have gone on a little. I have tried to go over the amendments as fast as I can, but I believe that it is important that what we aim to do in these important new clauses that I have brought to the Committee is clearly on the record. Equally, I believe that, despite the lateness of the hour, these changes to public transport on roads and rail are of great significance to disabled people. Over the years, as new vehicles come on the roads and the railways, the accessibility for disabled people will increase and one of the great problems facing disabled people—that of getting around—will largely be overcome. Even though I have detained the Committee for a little while, I believe that, to achieve that, it was worth it. I beg to move.

Lord Carter

The Committee will be extremely grateful to the Minister for the way in which he explained the group of amendments. I have some general points to raise, and a number of specific points on the new clause.

The noble Lord referred to buses, coaches and rail. I believe that he touched on trams. We have been advised to ask whether trolley buses and ferries are included or excluded. I believe that ferries are public service vehicles.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I can certainly assist the noble Lord on ferries. They are not included. The provision refers to land-based transport. Ferries are not included for a number of reasons, one of which is the international obligations on ferries, and the fact that they sail between different countries. Many ferries cater for disabled people, especially the new ferries which have lifts from, say, the car decks up to the passenger accommodation.

To be honest I had not realised that we had many trolley buses left. However, on the assumption that people will be manufacturing new trolley buses, I imagine that those will come within the scope of the provisions.

Lord Carter

My other point was whether Northern Ireland is covered.

On Amendment No. 139H, subsection (5) (c) and (d) refers to different networks. The Minister said that that would refer to heritage railways. Perhaps that is the term that we shall have to apply to British Rail eventually! However, will he make it absolutely clear whether the provision applies also to the different franchises? Could the Government use their powers under Amendment No. 139J to bring in exemptions? Subsection (2) (a) specifics the persons by whom applications for exemption orders may he made. Will the Government be able to vary the requirements between the franchisees of the privatised networks for providing access for disabled people?

I was puzzled why subsection (1) of Amendment No. 139K is needed. Those of us who are directors of bodies corporate spend a large amount of money on directors' liability insurance. Why do the Government believe it necessary to spell out that provision? I believe that all the people referred to in that subsection are guilty if they connive at such an offence. I have referred already to ferries. The awful cases of the "Herald of Free Enterprise" and the "Marchioness" involved the crime of corporate manslaughter. In this specific case, why do the Government believe it necessary to spell out the provision?

In subsection (2) of Amendment No. 139K, I am puzzled by the definition of, a body corporate whose affairs are managed by its members". I can think only of a workers' co-operative or a kibbutz. I am not sure what is meant by a "body corporate". In a private company the members are shareholders; they do not manage the company. And they do not do so in a public company. What is "a body corporate whose affairs are managed by its members"?

I understand why a partnership is spelt out in subsection (3), because under Scottish law it is a body corporate. In Scotland there is considerable use of the limited partnership where the liability of one of the members is limited, rather like a limited company. But that is only one member of the partnership. The device has been used a great deal in Scottish farming to create tenancy agreements. In drafting, has the draftsman caught the limited partnership as well as the partnerships defined in the amendment?

We shall be grateful if the Minister will reply to those points. Perhaps he will write to me if that is easier and quicker.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

With regard to Amendment No. 139K and the rather legalistic issues raised, if the noble Lord is content perhaps I may write to him.

As to the different franchises, clearly, as with the case which I mentioned earlier of heritage railways, these might be operated by a different company from the rest of the rail network. That is how it already happens. So different franchises may have different conditions imposed on them. Some may serve different areas and provide different services. For example, already the trains on the inter-city lines are pretty accessible. That would be one franchise which might go ahead more quickly than a franchisee with more local lines, with more old-fashioned stations and more difficult rolling stock to deal with.

It is possible that conditions may vary from one franchisee to another; it is equally possible that conditions may vary inside a franchisee's area because of the differences in the kind of service being run, the availability of stock and how quickly we can see the development of the kind of trains which will be accessible. I hope that is helpful. I shall write to the noble Lord about the other points.

Lord Carter

The concern would he that if the Government found it difficult to unload a number of the franchises—as I am sure they will—would it not he easier to relax the requirements for access for disabled people'?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

The noble Lord has far too suspicious a mind!

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 139B to 139K:

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Accessibility certificates

(".—(1) A regulated public service vehicle shall not be used on a road unless—

  1. (a) a vehicle examiner has issued a certificate (an "accessibility certificate") that such provisions of the PSV accessibility regulations as may be prescribed arc satisfied in respect of the vehicle; or
  2. (b) an approval certificate has been issued under section (Approval certificates) in respect of the vehicle.

(2) The Secretary of State may make regulations—

  1. (a) with respect to applications for, and the issue of, accessibility certificates;
  2. (b) providing for the examination of vehicles in respect of which applications have been made;
  3. (c) with respect to the issue of copies of accessibility certificates in place of certificates which have been lost or destroyed.

(3) If a regulated public service vehicle is used in contravention of this section, the operator of the vehicle is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

(4) In this section "operator" has the same meaning as in the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Approval certificates

(".—(1) Where the Secretary of State is satisfied that such provisions of the PSV accessibility regulations as may be prescribed for the purposes of section (Accessibility certificates) are satisfied in respect of a particular vehicle he may approve the vehicle for the purposes of this section.

(2) A vehicle which has been so approved is referred to in this section as a "type vehicle".

(3) Subsection (4) applies where a declaration in the prescribed form has been made by an authorised person that a particular vehicle conforms in design, construction and equipment with a type vehicle.

(4) A vehicle examiner may, after examining the vehicle to which the declaration applies if he thinks fit, issue a certificate in the prescribed form ("an approval certificate") that it conforms to the type vehicle.

(5) The Secretary of State may make regulations—

  1. (a) with respect to applications for, and grants of, approval under subsection (1);
  2. (b) with respect to applications for, and the issue of, approval certificates;
  3. (c) providing for the examination of vehicles in respect of which applications have been made;
  4. (d) with respect to the issue of copies of approval certificates in place of certificates which have been lost or destroyed.

(6) The Secretary of State may at any time withdraw his approval of a type vehicle.

(7) Where an approval is withdrawn—

  1. (a) no further approval certificates shall he issued by reference to the type vehicle: but
  2. (b) any approval certificate issued by reference to the type vehicle before the withdrawal shall continue to have effect for the purposes of section (Accessibility certificates).

(8) In subsection (3) "authorised person" means a person authorised by the Secretary of State for the purposes of that subsection.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Special authorizations

(".—(1) The Secretary of State may by order authorise the use on roads of—

  1. (a) any regulated public service vehicle of a class or description specified by the order, or
  2. 722
  3. (b) any regulated public service vehicle which is so specified, and nothing in section (PSV accessibility regulations), (Accessibility certificates) or (Approval certificates) prevents the use of any vehicle in accordance with the order.

(2) Any such authorisation may be given subject to such restrictions and conditions as may be specified by or under the order.

(3) The Secretary of State may by order make provision for the purpose of securing that, subject to such restrictions and conditions as may be specified by or under the order, provisions of the PSV accessibility regulations apply to regulated public service vehicles of a description specified by the order subject to such modifications or exceptions as may be specified by the order.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Forgery of certificates and false statements

(".—(1) This section applies to accessibility certificates and approval certificates.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to deceive, he—

  1. (a) forges, alters or uses a certificate to which this section applies;
  2. (b) lends such a certificate to any other person;
  3. (c) allows such a certificate to be used by any other person; or
  4. (d) makes or has in his possession any document which closely resembles such a certificate.

(3) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (2) is liable—

  1. (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum;
  2. (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine or to both.

(4) A person who knowingly makes a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a certificate to which this section applies is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Reviews and appeals

(".—(1) Subsection (2) applies where—

  1. (a) the Secretary of State refuses an application for the approval of a vehicle under section (Approval certificates) (1): and
  2. (b) before the end of the prescribed period, the applicant asks the Secretary of State to review the decision and pays any fee fixed under section (Fees).

(2) The Secretary of State shall—

  1. (a) review the decision; and
  2. (b) in doing so, consider any representations made to him in writing, before the end of the prescribed period, by the applicant.

(3) A person applying for an accessibility certificate or an approval certificate may appeal to the Secretary of State against the refusal of a vehicle examiner to issue such a certificate.

(4) An appeal must he made within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner.

(5) Regulations may make provision as to the procedure to be followed in connection with appeals.

(6) On the determination of an appeal, the Secretary of State may—

  1. (a) confirm, vary or reverse the decision appealed against:
  2. (b) give such directions as he thinks fit to the vehicle examiner for giving effect to his decision.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:


(".—(1) Such fees, payable at such times, as may be prescribed may he charged by the Secretary of State in respect of—

  1. (a) applications for. and grants of. approval under section (Approval certificates) (1);
  2. (b) applications for, and the issue of, accessibility certificates and approval certificates;
  3. (c) copies of such certificates:
  4. (d) reviews and appeals under section (Reviews and appeals).

(2) Any such fees received by the Secretary of State shall be paid by him into the Consolidated Fund.

(3) Regulations under subsection (1) may make provision for the repayment of fees, in whole or in part, in such circumstances as may be prescribed.")

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Rail vehicles

Rail vehicle accessibility regulations

(".—(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations ("rail vehicle accessibility regulations") for the purpose of securing that it is possible—

  1. (a) for disabled persons—
    1. (i) to get on to and off regulated rail vehicles in safety and without unreasonable difficulty;
    2. (ii) to he carried in such vehicles in safety and in reasonable comfort; and
  2. (b) for disabled persons in wheelchairs—
    1. (i) to get on to and off such vehicles in safety and without unreasonable difficulty while remaining in their wheelchairs, and
    2. (ii) to be carried in such vehicles in safety and in reasonable comfort while remaining in their wheelchairs.

(2) Rail vehicle accessibility regulations may make provision as to the construction, use and maintenance of regulated rail vehicles including, in particular, provision as to—

  1. (a) the fitting of equipment to vehicles;
  2. (b) equipment to be carried by vehicles;
  3. (c) the design of equipment to be fitted to, or carried by, vehicles;
  4. (d) the use of equipment fitted to, or carried by, vehicles;
  5. (e) the toilet facilities to he provided in vehicles;
  6. (f) the location and floor area of the wheelchair accommodation to he provided in vehicles;
  7. (g) assistance to be given to disabled persons.

(3) If a regulated rail vehicle which does not conform with any provision of the rail vehicle accessibility regulations with which it is required to conform is used for carriage, the operator of the vehicle is guilty of an offence.

(4) A person who is guilty of such an offence is liable. on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

(5) Different provision may he made in rail vehicle accessibility regulations—

  1. (a) as respects different classes or descriptions of rail vehicle:
  2. (b) as respects the same class or description of rail vehicle in different circumstances;
  3. (c) as respects different localities:
  4. (d) as respects different networks.

(6) In this section—

(7) In subsection (6)—

(8) For the purposes of this section and section (Exemption from mil vehicle accessibility regulations), a person uses a Vehicle for carriage if he uses it for the carriage of members of the public for hire or reward at separate fares.

(9) Before making any regulations under this section or section (Exemption from rail vehicle accessibility regulations) the Secretary of State shall consult the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and such other representative organisations as he thinks fit.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

Exemption from rail vehicle accessibility regulations

(".—(1) The Secretary of State may by order (an "exemption order") authorise the use for carriage of any regulated rail vehicle of a specified description. or in specified circumstances, even though that vehicle does not conform with the provisions of the rail vehicle accessibility regulations with which it is required to conform.

(2) Regulations may make provision with respect to exemption orders including, in particular, provision as to—

  1. (a) the persons by whom applications for exemption orders may be made;
  2. (b) the form in which such applications are to he made;
  3. (c) information to be supplied in connection with such applications;
  4. (d) the period for which exemption orders are to continue in force;
  5. (e) the revocation of exemption orders.

(3) After considering any application for an exemption order and consulting the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and such other persons as he considers appropriate. the Secretary of State may—

  1. (a) make an exemption order in the terms of the application;
  2. (b) make an exemption order in such other terms as he considers appropriate;
  3. (c) refuse to make an exemption order.

(4) An exemption order may he made subject to such restrictions and conditions as may he specified.

(5) In this section "specified" means specified in an exemption order.").

After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:


Offences by bodies corporate etc

(".—(1) Where an offence under section (PSV accessibility regulations) or (Rail vehicle accessibility regulations) committed by a body corporate is committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body, or a person purporting to act in such a capacity. he as well as the body corporate is guilty of the offence.

(2) In subsection (1) "director'', in relation to a body corporate whose affairs are managed by its members, means a member of the body corporate.

(3) Where, in Scotland, an offence under section (PSV accessibility regulations) or (Rail vehicle accessibility regulations) committed by a partnership or by an unincorporated association other than a partnership is committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, a partner in the partnership or (as the case may he) a person concerned in the management or control of the association, he, as well as the partnership or association, is guilty of the offence.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 140 not moved.]

Clause 35 agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 140A:

After Clause 35, insert the following new clause:

Application to Parliament

(".—(1) This Act applies to an act done by or for purposes of the House of Lords or the House of Commons as it applies to an act done by a private person.

(2) For the purposes of the application of Part II in relation to the House of Commons, the Corporate Officer of that House shall be treated as the employer of a person who is (or would be) a relevant member of the House of Commons staff for the purposes of section 188 of the Employment Rights Act 1995.

(3) Except as provided in subsection (4), for the purposes of the application of sections 12 to 15, the provider of services is—

  1. (a) as respects the House of Lords, the Corporate Officer of that House; and
  2. (b) as respects the House of Commons, the Corporate Officer of that House.

(4) Where the service in question is access to and use of any place in the Palace of Westminster which members of the public are permitted to enter, the Corporate Officers of both Houses jointly are the provider of that service.

(5) Nothing in any rule of law or the law or practice of Parliament prevents proceedings being instituted before an industrial tribunal under Part II or before any court under Part III.").

The noble Lord said: The Committee will he happy to hear that this is a much shorter speech. I beg to move Amendment No. 140A, to which someone referred earlier this evening. I am pleased to do so as it extends the coverage of the Bill to the Houses of Parliament. As the Committee is aware, parliamentary privilege dictates that, as it stands, the Bill would not apply to Parliament. It is, of course, always open to each House to comply with the spirit of new laws, but in this case the House authorities have decided that Parliament should he brought formally within the scope of the Bill.

In the field of employment, the decision is in line with previous provisions which have been made so that staff of both Houses benefit from the employment provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976. In the field of service provision, the two Houses provide a number of services to the public: for example, refreshment facilities, information services and. most importantly of all, access to the Palace. Their coverage recognises how important it is to provide the fullest possible access to the political process for disabled people. The amendment clarifies a point which I know has been of concern to many people and I believe the Committee will warmly welcome it.

Lord Carter

The Committee will obviously he delighted that the Government put down the amendment. It enables me to raise again the point made earlier in the Committee about the situation which has happened in the Chamber, with the arrangements that have been made for this Bill. I pointed out at an earlier stage that it is a classic example of the stereotyping and defining of people by their disability. Special arrangements were made with this Bill for noble Lords who use wheelchairs, but with no other. I pointed out that noble Lords who use wheelchairs are not interested only in matters of disability. I ant delighted that with this new clause it is clear that the House intends to implement the relevant clauses of the Act and that the arrangements which were made on a purely temporary basis for this Bill will become permanent for all Bills.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I warmly welcome this amendment.

Earl Russell

I, too, warmly welcome this amendment, and in the process of doing so say how much I admire what the House has done and will continue to do for its disabled Members, who make such an enormous contribution.

It is perhaps also worth noting in passing that this is an example of the fact that Parliament, being a sovereign body, may, if and when it so chooses, by force of statute override its own privileges. That is an important power and I am glad to see it used.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 36 agreed to.

Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 141:

After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:


.—(1) Each appropriate authority shall provide, in relation to the courts for which he is the appropriate authority—

  1. (a) for proceedings before them in which a person might he identified as disabled for the purposes of this Act to he held in private,
  2. (b) for securing that the registration or other publication of documents or decisions relating to those proceedings shall be so effected as to prevent any such identification, or
  3. (c) for the court in question to make a restricted reporting order having effect (if not revoked earlier) until the promulgation of the court's decision,
if, for the purpose of preventing such identification, any party so requests or the court thinks fit.

(2) If any identifying matter is published or included in a relevant programme in contravention of a restricted reporting order made by virtue of subsection (1) (c), the following persons shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale—

  1. (a) in the case of publication in a newspaper or periodical, any proprietor and editor and any publisher of the newspaper or periodical,
  2. (b) in the case of publication in any other form, the person publishing the matter, and
  3. (c) in the case of matter included in a relevant programme—
    1. (i) any body corporate engaged in providing the service in which the programme is included. and
    2. (ii) any person having functions in relation to the programme corresponding to those of an editor of a newspaper.

(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under subsection (2) it shall he a defence to prove that at the time of the alleged offence he was not aware, and neither suspected nor had reason to suspect, that the publication or programme in question was of. or (as the case may be) included, the matter in question.

(4) Where an offence under subsection (2) committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent connivance of, or to he attributable to any neglect on the part of—

  1. (a) a director, manager, secretary or similar officer of the body corporate, or
  2. (b) a person purporting to act in any such capacity,
he as well as the body corporate shall he guilty of the offence and liable to he proceeded against and punished accordingly.

In relation to a body corporate whose aft airs are managed by its members. "director- in this subsection means a member oh the body corporate.

(5) In this section—

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 141 stands in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, who is not able to he present this evening, and my name is also attached. The noble Baroness asked me to move the amendment for her, and I am very happy to do so.

The amendment makes specific provision for any proceedings under this legislation to be able to be held in private, and for parties to the proceedings not to be identified in any way if that is appropriate. At the outset, I stress the phrase "if that is appropriate". Clearly it is desirable in principle that proceedings before a court or tribunal should be public whenever possible on the ancient principle that justice should be not only done but seen to he done.

To explain how the new clause works, subsection (1) gives a power to the appropriate authorities in any court or tribunal to make provision for proceedings to be held in private to prevent identification of any party; to ensure that documents and so forth are not published in a form which allows identification; and for a reporting restriction. This power may he exercised either on the application of any party, or if the court thinks fit. The rest of the clause provides, as is necessary, for any contravention of an order made under subsection (1) to he an offence and for the necessary definitions under the clause. Members of the Committee with experience of such matters will recognise that all this is in recognisable form. The amendment does not seek to introduce a new principle, but to extend well-tried procedures to the circumstances of this Bill.

The rules at present allow private hearings only in those instances covered under Section 8(2) (3) of the Industrial Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) 1993, which I have in my hand. So far as I can see, such instances are restricted to those relating to national security. or involving confidential information or information that would cause substantial injury to any undertaking in which a witness works. There is also a further provision in Rule 14 to make a restricted reporting order in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct.

None of this appears to offer any comfort or protection to an individual desirous of maintaining confidentiality while pursuing a legal remedy under this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament—hence the new clause, which simply makes explicit that private hearings relating to discrimination within the terms of the Bill, would he not mandatory but permissive. It seems to me highly that there will he circumstances in which the identification of one or other, or indeed both, parties would he most undesirable.

The new clause covers all persons eligible for protection under the Bill; and one can think of various conditions that employees might not wish to have disclosed. One is certainly HIV disease—in which, as many Members of the Committee will know, I take an interest—which is widely known to generate discrimination and which, if revealed in court, might well prejudice the employee concerned not only in a current dispute but also in future employment. That is to say nothing of the disincentive effect of an unrestricted hearing to bringing the case in the first place.

The employer's interests might also he involved. For instance, let us consider the case of someone with a disability arising from a viral infection who wanted to take action under the Act (as the Bill will become) against an employer in the catering industry. Even if there were no question of any danger of infection to the public, neither the disabled person concerned nor his employer would necessarily want the fact of that particular disability to be made public, or for neighbours or competitors to know about it.

The interest of the employee is obvious. It could equally be in the interest of the employer for it not to he reported that he had employed staff with a particular condition which, although constituting no threat to public health, might he perceived as such and thus he detrimental to his business.

If there is not an explicit provision in the Bill for such cases, when appropriate, to he taken in private, in my submission the machinery of the Bill will he severely impaired. It will be defective. I stress that the new clause involves only a permissive power so that the ultimate decision is left in the hands of the court or tribunal concerned. I beg to move.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

I wish very briefly to support the amendment, so clearly explained to the Committee. The amendment would provide a permissive power to restrict reporting to ensure the confidentiality of the parties concerned.

As the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, made clear, the problem could involve people with AIDS or possibly those having a history of mental illness who would he very reluctant to pursue their claims through tribunals and the courts if that resulted in widespread publicity for them. Equally, other disabled people might have a medical history of a highly intimate nature involving incontinence or concealed but substantial physical disfigurement that they would not wish publicly to he revealed.

With that proviso, none of the restrictions proposed in the amendment would prevent the appropriate reporting of the decision after the event. In child care cases involving abuse, restricted reporting would prevent the identification of the complainant and of the employer. I believe that there are similar protections whereby mental health review tribunal hearings take place in private as usually, I understand, do hearings of claims under the criminal injuries compensation scheme. I understand also that, for the most part, industrial tribunals can sit in private where national security or information of a highly commercial and sensitive nature is involved, but it is not a widespread practice.

As a former member of the Press Council—we were often concerned about issues of identification or inappropriate identifications and sometimes there was a jigsaw effect—I can assure the Minister that there need he no problem about requiring such restricted reporting, provided only, I suspect, that the press can claim a public interest defence in the very special circumstances that might be generated. I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I have some sympathy with the intention behind the amendment, but I wish to underline a point made by the noble Lord; namely, that it has always been the principle that legal proceedings should he held in open court, capable of being fully reported, as summed up in the saying "that justice is not only done but is seen to be done".

The principle is reflected in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that, in the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing". That principle is closely adhered to by the Council on Tribunals in its Model Rules of Procedure for Tribunals.

The onus has always been on those seeking an exception to the principle of an open and public hearing of a case to demonstrate that it is in the interests of justice for a case to he heard in private on the grounds, for example, of national security, public order, decency, safety or the protection of minors. It is then for the discretion of the relevant judicial authority to decide upon the facts presented to them.

The effect of the wide-ranging amendment before us is to provide for a blanket privacy provision, requiring the hearings of all cases under this legislation in courts and tribunals to take place in private; for the litigant or appellant not to he identified in associated documents; and for there to be restrictions on reporting cases. That is a very wide provision which would apply to all those people involved in actions under the Bill. The amendment would also enable any party to the proceedings to request privacy and reporting restrictions, and would thereby fetter the discretion of the courts and tribunals in these matters. I fail to see any reason why there should he a need for a provision such as this to he introduced under this legislation when it has not been necessary to introduce similar measures under other similar legislation. I fail to see why it should he necessary or even desirable to provide for a blanket privacy exemption for any disabled person involved in action under this legislation.

Perhaps I may point out that parties taking claims under the right of access to goods and services provisions will have the option of having their claims dealt with under the small claims arbitration procedure where, because of the arbitral nature of this procedure, hearings are held in private.

10.45 p.m.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

When the Minister said that he did not understand the need for the provision given that it did not apply in other legislation, was he thinking about the other commissions, the CRE and EOC'? Was that what the Minister had in mind when referring to other similar bodies? If so, I should like to come back on that point.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I was thinking about the tribunals. I mentioned the legislation under which tribunals work and the models of procedure of tribunals which, as I indicated, adhere closely to the principles outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

I suspect that the motive behind the amendment was directed more towards people with AIDS or HIV who may require the protection of the amendment. If the amendment is designed entirely to protect such people, it is drawn rather too widely because it currently applies to all disabled people under the Bill. I would argue also that there is no similar blanket right of privacy under existing employment rights legislation and I am not aware that that causes any particular problems for people with AIDS or HIV. I would therefore stand firmly on the fundamental point of justice that I mentioned earlier.

The Bill attempts to deal clearly and effectively with issues of discrimination against disabled people. It would be a mistake for us to take a step such as that proposed in the amendment which, while of some benefit to a small group of people covered by the Bill, such as those with AIDS, would be of no benefit to the majority and might allow those who have discriminated to hide from exposure in the media.

One of the principles of justice in this country is that it is public. One of the reasons for that is that the public, through reporting and so forth, learn what is and what is not legal. I should have thought that Members of the Committee would he keen for the messages of tribunals and courts—though one hopes that there will not he too many of them—to he widely reported and learnt by other people who may he tempted to practise the same discrimination policies.

I believe therefore that it would not he right to make an exception in the case of this Bill and decide that cases should he heard in private. The overriding principles are too important to remove them too quickly and too readily. For that reason I hope that the noble Lord can withdraw his amendment, though I suspect he will not he entirely satisfied with my answer.

Lord Kilmarnock

The Minister is certainly correct in his last supposition. He adduced the Council on Tribunals models of procedure but did not explain why there had been extensive derogations from that in the exempted areas which already appear in the rules—the ones we have mentioned of national security and commercial confidentiality. So there are already some quite big holes in the basic principle which presumably the Council on Tribunals approved.

The noble Lord refers to a blanket provision. but it remains ultimately in the power of the courts to decide the issue. The situation at the moment, as far as I can read it, is that the court does not have a power to decide on a private hearing in these cases. It seems to me that at least it ought to have that permissive power.

The Minister referred to AIDS and HIV, and I do not conceal that that is certainly one of the motives behind the new clause, but that is not the only group of people involved. People with disfigurements and other kinds of disabilities may well also be affected. The noble Lord's remarks rather surprised me in the context of this Bill, which is supposed to make it possible for people to come forward without fear or favour and bring cases for unfair dismissal which in certain circumstances they might find it very difficult to do.

I have to agree with the noble Lord's last remark. But I am not satisfied with what he said. I shall read it carefully tomorrow morning and together with the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, I shall look carefully at the text of the amendment to see whether we can modify it in a way that would meet his objections. I do not think we want to let the matter drop entirely but I shall withdraw the amendment at the present time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 [Regulations and orders]:

[Amendment No. 142 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 142A:

Page 26, line 27, at end insert: ("(6) Subsection (I) does not require an order under section (Special authorizations) which applies only to a specified vehicle, or to vehicles of a specified person, to be made by statutory instrument but such an order shall be as capable of being amended of revoked as an order which is made by statutory instrument.").

The noble Lord said: We have already discussed this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 37, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 38 [Interpretation]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 143 and 144:

Page 26, line 28, at end insert:

(""accessibility regulations" means regulations made under section (Accessibility regulations);").

Page 26, line 40, at end insert:

(""licensing authority" means—
  1. (a) in relation to the area to which the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 applies, the Secretary of State or the holder of any office for the time being designated by the Secretary of State; or
  2. (b) in relation to any other area in England and Wales, the authority responsible for licensing taxis in that area;").

The noble Lord said: We have already discussed these amendments. Perhaps I may move them en bloc. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I welcome the amendments which the noble Lord introduced earlier. I missed the metaphorical bus because I was waiting for my noble friend Lady Stedman, who is much more expert in this field, to speak. I very much look forward to the day when I can use public transport and use it without major forward planning and forethought. I pay tribute to the Department of Transport for its record in working towards making transport more accessible for people with disabilities.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for those remarks. I shall certainly pass them on to my colleagues in the Department of Transport.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 145:

Page 26, line 42, after ("1983") insert ("or the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 145 I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 146. Lines 41 to 45 of Clause 38 make it clear that the term "mental impairment" as used in the Disability Discrimination Bill does not have the same meaning as in the Mental Health Act 1983. They also make it clear that the fact that an impairment would be a mental impairment for the purposes of the 1983 Act does not prevent it from being a mental impairment for the purposes of this Bill. The effect of Amendments Nos. 145 and 146 is to make the same classification for the equivalent legislation in Scotland, the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 146:

Page 26, line 43, leave out ("that Act") and insert ("either of those Acts").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 146A to 147A:

Page 27, line 3, at end insert: (""public service vehicle" and "regulated public service vehicle" have the meaning given in section (PSV accessibility regulations);").

Page 27, line 3, at end insert: (""rail vehicle" and "regulated rail vehicle" have the meaning given in section (Rail vehicle accessibility regulations).").

Page 27, line 6, at end insert: (""taxi" means a vehicle licensed under—

  1. (a) section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, or
  2. (b) section 6 of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869.").

Page 27, line 6, at end insert: (—vehicle examiner" means an examiner appointed under section 66A of the Road Traffic Act 1988.").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed.

Clause 38, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 39 and 40 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Enforcement and Procedure]:

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde moved Amendment No. 148:

Page 32, leave out lines 17 to 19.

The noble Baroness said: The effect of this amendment is to remove from the Bill a limit, as yet unknown because the level of the limit has not yet been declared by the Government, on any damages which may he awarded for injury to feelings in any action brought under Clause 20 of the Bill.

This provision to prescribe in regulations a limit on damages which a court can award was not debated in the other place so we have no idea of the thinking behind this measure or the level at which the Government intend to set the limit. I suggest that whatever rationale the Government may have, it cannot be equity-based and, if in fact it is, against which standard are the Government applying it?

A ceiling on damages is also suggested, bearing in mind that they will be awarded only when the discriminated person has established injury to feelings in a court of law. That flies in the face of experience and treatment in this Bill in comparison with other legislation that we have on the statute book. For instance, when the sex discrimination legislation was introduced, a limit was included for damages. Subsequently, that was removed. When the racial equality legislation was introduced, again originally there was a limit on damages, but it has subsequently been removed.

Yet in this Bill we have the Government trying, despite the experience in both those Acts, each dealing with discrimination in one form or another, to introduce a limit. Why? Is the reason to try to keep down the level of damages? Cannot the courts be allowed to be the best arbiters in these cases? After all, they will be dealing with them. How do the Government answer the quite legitimate allegation of people with disabilities that here again in this measure, as in a number of others in the Bill, they are trying to foist on the disabled inferior treatment to the rest of the community?

This provision deals with compensation for injury to feelings where such injury has been established in a court of law. The Bill does not define what constitutes an injury to feelings. One judge expressed it, fairly in my view, as pain caused by discrimination; as being held up to hatred, ridicule or contempt. They arc descriptions of attitude which, I suggest, all too many disabled people have experienced in the course of their lives.

Are the Government concerned that the judges will have particular sympathy for disabled applicants and make high awards? If that is the case, where is the evidence? If one looks at awards for injury to feelings caused by discrimination under other legislation as a comparison, the average is about £3,000 damages in each case. Disabled persons will have to take their cases to court when they feel that their feelings have been injured, and that comes under the remit of this Bill. Let us just try to assess the trauma that an individual will go through, having to re-live the experience again in court. It will be quite enormous.

As we know, legal aid is not available for claims under £1,000 so it is crucial, if the Government are not going to move on this issue, to know what is the level that the Government intend to set under regulations. Will it be at a level below that provided for which legal aid would be available?

Of course, damages are not just for the individual. That person receives the compensation, but they also send out a strong message as to how such personal damage is viewed by the rest of society and parliamentarians in making the law. An award kept deliberately low by a limit set in statute is a telling message that any injury to feelings is regarded as not really an issue of importance.

This is an issue where the courts have recognised that damages for injury to feelings, humiliation and insult due to discrimination should not be minimal, as that would trivialise or diminish respect for public policy. Those are statements made by judges in courts of law.

The Bill would be better for the elimination of those two lines. There would be no additional cost to the Government. We are talking about court awards of compensation. Accepting the amendment would leave decisions on claims for injury to feelings to the courts to decide. They would have to decide whether a claim is established and, if so, the appropriate level of compensation. We should leave that decision to the judges of the courts which decide the cases. I beg to move.

11 p.m.

Lord Monson

It is true that under the Bill as drafted compensation for injury to feelings is likely in practice to be lower than that generally awarded under race relations and sex discrimination legislation, but the conclusion to be drawn is not that the provisions of the Bill are defective, but that the potential compensation payable under the 1975 and 1976 Acts is much too high—much higher, I submit, than anyone envisaged at the time, and I was present during most of the debates when the two Bills in question were going through this House. Women who joined the Armed Services, for example, knowing perfectly well what the rules of the game were when they enlisted and who were later discharged on becoming pregnant have been awarded not only extremely high damages for loss of earnings, for which some sort of case could perhaps be made, but also preposterously high damages for injury to feelings, for which I submit no case can be made at all. In fact, in many cases such damages are higher than those awarded to people by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for quite severe physical injuries. I believe that the Government arc on the right lines in this matter.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

Amendment No. 148 would delete paragraph 7 from Schedule 2 and thus remove the provision allowing for a limit to he set on the amount of damages payable in compensation for injury to feelings. I cannot agree that the power to set such a limit should he removed.

The Government have made clear their belief that there should he a limit on the amount of compensation payable for injured feelings when a disabled person has been discriminated against in access to goods and services. The provisions in paragraph 7 do not mean that we do not place a high value on the feelings of disabled people. We believe the Bill offers practical solutions to the discrimination faced by disabled people.

The Government are committed to ensuring that disabled people can avail themselves of their new rights. That is why, for example, we will he establishing an advice and support service to help disabled people to obtain advice on their right of access. We intend the service to promote the resolution of disputes arising under the right of access, without the need for legal intervention.

Where litigation becomes necessary, however, we will ensure that disabled people can obtain redress quickly and effectively. The limit on the amount payable for injured feelings will help to ensure that the vast majority of cases can be dealt with under the small claims procedure, which is informal, cheap and does not usually require legal representation. There will, of course, be no limit set on the amount of damages payable for financial loss incurred in a case of discrimination. As in other anti-discrimination legislation, there will be no limit in such cases.

I believe that it is in everyone's interests for the procedures for redress to be effective and, wherever possible, informal, so as to avoid expensive and lengthy litigation. It is for those reasons that I resist Amendment No. 148 and want to keep in the Bill the powers to impose a limit.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

I thank the Minister for that reply, which has given me some more questions to ask the Minister. The noble Lord did not respond to my point about the limit that the Government envisage for the regulations. Perhaps the Minister could clarify that in the light of his comment about hoping to ensure that the majority of claims are dealt with under the procedures of the small claims court.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I am happy to respond. The noble Baroness rightly deduces that we intend to set the limit close to or at the level which applies at any time to claims which fall to be considered by the small claims court. That is currently £1,000, although my right honourable and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has plans for a higher small claims limit which could affect the eventual limit to be set under the Bill. I hope that that answers the question.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

I thank the Minister for that explanation, which helps but increases my astonishment at this paragraph. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, compared this amendment with claims by service personnel under the sex discrimination legislation. We are not here dealing with the same issue. We are dealing with injury to feelings, not lack of promotion or service opportunity, or being misled about opportunities which exist to return to work after maternity leave.

The Minister said that the Government do not intend to remove this provision from the Bill because it is their intention to promote the resolution of conflict. We would all agree with that, but even removing this paragraph from the Bill and so providing no limit on compensation would not of itself exclude conciliation to resolve the problem.

With regard to the small claims court, we are clearly talking about a limit of £1,000. That is to misunderstand the hurt feelings and discrimination suffered by many disabled people. Why should people covered by the Bill be treated worse than those covered by the sex discrimination and racial equality legislation? It is not equity. In this area the Bill is not treating people fairly. It discriminates against them. Clearly we shall not divide at this time of night, and so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Consequential Amendments]:

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 149:

Page 35, line 16, at end insert:

("Further and Higher Education Act 1992

. In Schedule 2 to the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (Courses of Further Education), in paragraph (j) for the words "which prepares them for entry to another course falling within paragraphs (d) to (h) above" there shall be substituted the words "as defined under section 4(6) (b) of this Act"

Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992

. In section 6 of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 (further education to which section 1 applies), in subsection (1), after paragraph (f) there shall be inserted—

The noble Baroness said: In view of the hour I shall try not to be too long, but I shall not he very brief because this is a matter which is important and about which I feel passionately.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the responsibilities of the further education councils in England and Wales and the Secretary of State for Scotland include the provision of essential courses of benefit to young people with severe disabilities, even when they may not lead directly to a more academic or vocational course.

The amendment is necessary because at present it is unclear whether such people are covered by the further education sector or local authority provision. In practice, some students end up with no provision. Skill (the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities) can give many examples of students with severe learning difficulties who are in that predicament.

Another group encountering problems with gaining the skills they need are those people, often elderly, who have become deaf and are in need of lipreading skills. Those courses are sometimes available within the provision made by education authorities, but it is not always so, and many people do not have the opportunity of learning new ways to communicate. Skill feels that that duty is best placed in the further education sector.

LEAs have a responsibility to provide what arc usually called leisure courses. But for students with severe learning difficulties life skills are not an optional extra. They are essential to enable them to operate as effectively as possible as independent adults. They do very much what a more academic course would do for a more academic student. The same is true for someone needing lipreading skills to survive successfully in society. We are talking, as it were, of A-levels in living. It is important that they should be able to learn such skills in a college environment surrounded by other students.

That is one of the reasons why the noble Baroness, Lady David, and I cajoled and argued at length to get life skills included in Schedule 2. We succeeded on Third Reading thanks to the most welcome co-operation of the then Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish of Furness. I remember how pleased we were to have achieved that. I thought also that I had understood, but I cannot find it in writing anywhere, that the wording was to be interpreted fairly loosely, so that even if a student was unlikely to go on to a more academic course, he could still go to college to learn life skills.

We should remember that there are spin-off benefits. A more independent student is more likely to contribute to society and to need less from benefits and social services. The further education sector has no duty to provide this kind of course because of the tight structure of Schedule 2 to the Further and Higher Education Act and Section 6 of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act. The general duty which LEAs have to make provision available seems insufficient to ensure that those students are adequately catered for. This limbo for students with severe disability needs to be eradicated by placing a clear duty on either the LEAs or the FE sector to provide for them. Does existing legislation cover the point but the bodies involved are unclear about their role? If so it would be helpful if the Government could clarify exactly who has this duty and ensure that provision is delivered in the way most appropriate for these students.

If, however, the existing legislation does not place a duty to provide independent living and communication skills for students with severe or newly acquired disabilities, we need to amend the law to ensure that such students can gain the essential skills in the way that is most suited to them. I very much hope that the Minister will provide not only enlightenment but also encouragement. I beg to move.

Baroness David

I strongly support the amendment. During the passage of many education Bills through this Chamber various issues have caused anxiety. One was the provision of adequate education and skills for those with learning disabilities who are over the age of 19. They are not properly provided for. A second was that while the 1992 Act was going through this Chamber we were most anxious about there being flexibility so that students could take courses in further education colleges or adult colleges. There could easily be difficulties for some of those students in finding the right course at any college. It is most important that they should be able to obtain it somewhere near their homes.

I hope that the amendment, which will cover many cases, will be accepted by the Government. I also hope that the Minister will recognise the existing difficulties for people over the age of 19 who have learning disabilities. They very much need these life skills and they should he able to obtain them in a variety of places; either a further education college or an adult college. I hope that the Minister can understand the problems which exist and can accept the amendment.

Lord Rix

During our discussions on Clause 12. the Minister was kind enough to redirect me to Schedule 4. Owing to the lateness of the hour, I say merely that I totally support the amendment. It would help colleges to do without unnecessary fuss and negotiations what colleges are becoming increasingly good at doing; namely, continuing the excellent work with young people with severe learning disabilities. That is begun in schools and it should continue in further education.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

We on these Benches fully support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth). The existing scope for FEFC provision includes in Schedule 2 basic literacy and numeracy. It is logical to argue that skills such as lip reading are part of basic communication and survival skills.

Secondly, it is necessary to ensure that this is a duty not a power in order to give equality of treatment to those people, in particular those over the age of 19, for whom this is not adult education in the normally accepted use of the term, valuable and important though that is. We should not restrict life skills and treat them as being separate because in certain cases of severity of learning difficulty they may not lead on to a recognised course. In one particular case that I came across, taking a course at post-19 led to the difference between that person being able to feed and dress himself and not being able to do so. That is equally a right in developing human potential and the potential of people who may take much longer to learn. We fully support the amendment.

11.15 p.m.

Lord Addington

Once again the noble Baroness has dealt with a very important aspect of helping people with severe disabilities. They are being taught life skills which enable them to become part of the community. I can see no reason why the Government should wish to resist the amendment.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

The noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), is well known for her commitment to securing education for students with disabilities. Indeed, she was responsible for the amendment to the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 which brought into being the current arrangements. I am not sure whether she is now suggesting that those arrangements should he changed.

The amendment would destroy the clear division of responsibilities between the funding councils and local education authorities and the associated apportionment of funds set out in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

The councils are under a duty to secure adequate facilities for education for all part-time students over compulsory school age and full-time students over the age of 19 years where the education falls within the ambit of Schedule 2 to the Act. The schedule includes courses, to teach independent living and communication skills to persons having learning difficulties", where those courses prepare students for entry to other courses listed in the schedule, including basic literacy and numeracy, English as a second language and courses offering a preparation for vocational or academic provision or access to higher education. The guidance issued by the Further Education Funding Council indicates that eligible courses in independent living and communication skills must have as their primary objective progression to another course in Schedule 2. That means the objective must he to prepare students to move on to a course of basic skills, English as a second language, academic, vocational or access provision or preparatory courses. The council looks for evidence that that objective is to be achieved.

That has a two-fold aim: to ensure that all who can benefit are offered the opportunity to progress to academic, vocational or access courses; and, where that is the case, to secure that the precursor courses could also take place in further education sector colleges. In the debates on this clause during the passage of the 1992 Act, the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, pointed out that many young people with learning difficulties begin to learn when they reach their late teens. The current provisions take cognisance of that.

However, there is an equally important duty on local education authorities to secure adequate facilities for further education. That duty is set out in Section 11 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, amending the 1944 Education Act. It encompasses full-time and part-time education for people over compulsory school age, including vocational, social, physical and recreational training and associated leisure-time occupation. Each of those courses is self-standing rather than necessarily leading on to something else. LEAs also have a power to supplement the provision made by the funding councils. The respective duties of the councils and of the local education authorities were recognised in the financial arrangements flowing from the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

I have set out the existing provisions and the thinking underlying them because I share the view as to the importance of securing adequate and appropriate education for disabled people and of ensuring that there is a clear understanding of existing provisions.

I hope that I have reassured the noble Baroness that existing provisions are robust and clear. The distinction between the responsibilities of the Further Education Funding Council and the LEAs is clear. To go down the road of the noble Baroness's amendment would confuse rather than improve the position. I hope that in the light of my explanation of how we see the system, put in place largely thanks to her efforts, working, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness David

Is the Minister listening?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish


Baroness David

Is the Minister satisfied that no one can fall between these stools? I think that there may he a few characters who may not lit into any of those categories and. therefore, not get exactly what they need.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I was, indeed, listening. I was turning to listen to the clever little amplifier in the seating because I do not hear on both cylinders. I find that it is easier to listen through the machine. However, as far as concerns particular cases, I am not aware of any. But, quite clearly, in response to both the noble Baroness, Lady David, and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), if there are any cases we will of course look at them to see whether something can he done to help.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

I am sorry but I feel that the Minister's answer fails to grasp the point. It should he a duty for FEFCs to make provision for the full ability range as of right in the same way and in the same college as such students' peers. The narrow interpretation set out in Schedule 2 precludes that area of activity.

It is true that LEAs are empowered to make provision within what is generally termed "adult education''. That sometimes is the voluntary area and the vocation area may be involved. After listening to the Minister's response tonight, it is my belief that, had the legislation been framed in the way that many Members of the Committee wished, such a division would never have occurred in the first place. I say that because in itself that division is discriminatory. Therefore, I regret that the Minister has taken that view. It denies young people the right to equality of treatment with their peers.

It is certainly the case that basic literacy and numeracy do not have to lead rigidly to a specific course on which a student has been enrolled. As we are pioneering new ground for those with severe learning difficulties, in many cases the courses will have to follow the students being given access to them rather than the other way round.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

Perhaps I may first thank all Members of the Committee who gave me such strong support at this late hour; indeed, a large proportion of those in the Chamber. I should point out that that support comes from all sides of the Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, attached his name to the amendment and, had he been here, he would have supported me most strongly. All those who have spoken know exactly what they are talking about.

We arc discussing a very important matter upon which people feel strongly. Clearly, it needs clarification. The Minister said that he was not sure whether I was suggesting that I now wanted to change what I had brought into being. I certainly do not want to do so; indeed. I do not want to change what I hoped I had brought into being. However, it clearly is not working quite as the noble Baroness, Lady David, and I envisaged. The problem is that one can only go to an FE college and take such a course if one is going on to join other courses.

I thank the Minister for clarifying the guidance as regards FEFCs in that "eligible courses" must have as their primary objective "progression to another course''. That is now very clear. The Minister said that there was an equally important duty on the LEAs and that they also had powers to supplement FEFC courses. But, as the noble Baronesses, Lady David and Lady Farrington.

said, it clearly is not working; indeed, we would not have tabled the amendment if it had been. Skill has evidence of many incidents in that respect. There was one in my briefing but I did not read it out to the Committee and I have now lost it. I can assure the Minister that Skill can produce many instances of people who fall between the two stools. They try to go to an FE college, but the college turns them down because they are not going on to a vocational course and tells them they must go to the LEA, and the LEA says that they must go to the college.

It is clear now that both have their separate duties. However, the system is not working. Will the Minister say that he might issue encouragement to LEAs to pursue their duties? Or will he at least agree to discuss the matter further and see whether we cannot at least issue guidance to ensure that what is meant to be happening does happen?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I am more than happy to have a discussion with the noble Baroness to see whether something needs to be done to make clear what I thought was a pretty clear definition of where duties fall between the Further Education Funding Council and local education authorities. Having listened to the noble Baroness, I believe that the point that she makes is not necessarily that the boundary is wrong but that one of the parties on one side of the boundary does not seem to recognise how the Act works, as I have explained it. Of course I am happy to talk to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

In order to clarify the position, can the Minister make clear whether there is a duty on both the FEFC and local authorities or whether this is a power'?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I do not have the original Act to hand, so I am afraid that I cannot answer that question. One could go to the Library and look up Statutes in Force, but of course I shall write to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

The Minister has the advantage of the support of hordes of civil servants which we, poor things, do not.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I thank the Minister for that reply. He summed up the position rather well. I shall he delighted to talk to him. Skill would probably like to give him some examples of where people have fallen between the two stools. Perhaps we shall he able to go forward and produce some guidance or get some encouragement.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

Advice has come to hand immediately on Statutes in Force, and I can tell the Committee that there arc duties on both sides.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

; I thank the Minister once again. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave. withdrawn.

Schedule 4 agreed to

Schedule 5 [Repeals]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 150:

Page 35, line 38, at end Insert:

("1993 c. 62. The Education Act 1993 In section 161(5), the words from "and in this subsection" to the end.").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to the amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Modifications of this Act in its Application to Northern Ireland]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 150A:

Page 36, line 12, at end insert: ("(2) In section 7(4) to (10) for "Secretary of State" wherever it occurs substitute "Department of Economic Development", for "he" and "him" wherever they occur substitute "it" and for "his" wherever it occurs substitute "its". (3) In section 7(9) for "Parliament" substitute "the Assembly".").

The noble Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 150A I wish to speak also to all the other amendments which arc grouped with it.

The inclusion of Schedule 6 in the Bill ensures that the provisions of the Bill may have effect in Northern Ireland at the same time as the rest of the UK. Schedule 6 modifies the provisions of the Bill so that they fit within the context of Northern Ireland's existing legislation and structures while at the same time retaining their substance and effect.

Bearing in mind the lateness of the hour, it may he appropriate to speak in that way to all the amendments, and if any Member of the Committee has any particular point he or she would like to raise I shall he pleased to answer it.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

Perhaps I may intervene briefly. I believe that one of the amendments deals with education in Northern Ireland, but I cannot put my finger on it. If there is, does it give Northern Ireland the same powers as are given to the rest of Great Britain in respect of further and higher education?

Lord Inglewood

I can reassure the Committee that the Department of Education in Northern Ireland has undertaken to take appropriate steps to ensure that the education provisions will he effected in Northern Ireland as in England and Wales. For example, the forthcoming Northern Ireland Education Order will be amended to take account of the Bill's provisions on the publication of information in school governors' annual reports. The further education provisions will he taken fully into account in the development of proposals for the incorporation of further education colleges. In the area of higher education existing powers will he used to follow the arrangements proposed for England and Wales.

In addition, the opportunity will be taken with the publication of the charters on further and higher education due to he published later this year to reinforce those requirements. I hope that that assists the noble Baroness. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I am most grateful.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Inglewood moved Amendments Nos. 151 to 154:

Page 36, line 13, at beginning insert ("—(1) In section 8(3) omit "or (in Scotland) in reparation". (2)").

Page 37, line 9, at end insert:

("12A. Omit sections (Education of disabled persons), (Further and higher education of disabled persons) and (Further and higher education of disabled persons: Scotland).

12B.—(1) In section (Accessibility regulations) (1) for "Secretary of State" substitute "Department of the Environment".

(2) In section (Accessibility regulations) (5) omit the definition of "taxi".

12C. For section (New licences conditional on compliance with accessibility regulations) substitute—

''New licences conditional on compliance with accessibility


.—(1) The Department of the Environment shall not grant a public service vehicle licence under Article 61 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 for a taxi unless the vehicle conforms with those provisions of the accessibility regulations with which it will he required to conform if licensed.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to the grant of a public service vehicle licence in respect of a taxi if the Department is renewing a public service vehicle licence which is in force in respect of that taxi immediately before the grant of that licence.

(3) The Department of the Environment may by order provide for subsection (2) to cease to have effect on such date as may he specified in the order.".

12D. Omit section (Exemption from accessibility regulations).

12E. In section (Carrying of passengers in wheelchairs) (7) for "licensing authority" substitute "Department of the Environment".

12F.—(1) In section (Carrying of guide dogs and hearing dogs) (5) and (6) for "licensing authority" substitute "Department of the Environment".

(2) In section (Carrying of guide dogs and hearing dogs) (9) for "Secretary of State" substitute "Department of the Environment".

12G. Omit section (Taxis: requirements as to disabled passengers in Scotland).").

Page 38, leave out lines 44 to 48.

Page 40, line 2, at end insert:

("(4) In section 33(7) omit "paragraph (b) of", for "1944" substitute "1945" and omit "in each case".

(5) In section 33. Omit subsection (8).").

Page 41, line 16, after ("Kingdom;" ") insert: ("() in the definition of "fire brigade" for the words from "means" to the end substitute "has the same meaning as in the Fire Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1984": () in the definition of "prison officer" for the words from "means" to the end substitute "means any individual who holds any post. otherwise than as a medical officer. to which he has been appointed under section 2(2) of the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953: and").

Page 41, line 49. at end insert: (—accessibility regulations" means regulations made under section (Accessibility regulations);").

Page 42. line 4, at end insert: (""the Department of the Environment' means the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.").

Page 42, line 26, at end insert: ("(aa) in Part (TAXIS) of this Act, regulations made by the Department of the Environment;").

Page 42, line 28, at end insert: (""taxi" means a vehicle which—

  1. (a) is licensed under Article 61 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 to stand or ply for hire; and
  2. (b) scats not more than 8 passengers in addition to the driver.").

Page 43, leave out lines 6 and 7.

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to Amendment No. 151. At the same time I beg to move also Amendments Nos. 151A to 154.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 6, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.