§ Failure to obtain consent to alteration
§ 5. If any question arises as to whether the occupier has failed to comply with the section 18 duty, by failing to make a particular alteration to premises, any constraint attributable to the fact that he occupies the premises under a lease is to be ignored unless he has applied to the lessor in writing for consent to the making of the alteration.
§ Reference to court
- 6.—(1) If the occupier has applied in writing to the lessor for consent to the alteration and—
- (a) that consent has been refused, or
- (b) the lessor has made his consent subject to one or more conditions,
§ the occupier or a disabled person who has an interest in the proposed alteration to the premises being made, may refer the matter to a county court or, in Scotland, to the sheriff.
§ (2) In the following provisions of this Schedule "court" includes "sheriff".
§ (3) On such a reference the court shall determine whether the lessor's refusal was unreasonable or (as the case may be) whether the condition is, or any of the conditions are, unreasonable.
§ (4) If the court determines that the lessor's refusal was unreasonable it may make a declaration to the effect that if the lessor were to give his consent subject to such condition or conditions as may be specified in the declaration he would be acting reasonably.
§ Joining lessors in proceedings under section 22
§ 7.—(1) In any proceedings on a claim under section 22, in a case to which this Part of this Schedule applies, the plaintiff, the pursuer or the occupier concerned may ask the court to direct that the lessor be joined or sisted as a party to the proceedings.
§ (2) The request shall be granted if it is made before the hearing of the claim begins.
§ (3) The court may refuse the request if it is made after the hearing of the claim begins.
§ (4) The request may not be granted if it is made after the court has determined the claim.
§ (5) Where a lessor has been so joined or sisted as a party to the proceedings and the court finds that—
- (a) the lessor has—
- (i) refused consent to the alteration, or
- (ii) has consented subject to one or more conditions, and
- (b) the refusal or any of the conditions was unreasonable,
§ it may make such declaration as it considers appropriate or order the lessor to pay compensation to the complainant.1068
§ (6) If the court orders the lessor to pay compensation it may not order the occupier to do so.
§ 8. Regulations may make provision as to circumstances in which—
- (a) a lessor is to be taken, for the purposes of section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) and this Part of this Schedule to have—
- (i) withheld his consent;
- (ii) withheld his consent unreasonably;
- (iii) acted reasonably in withholding his consent;
- (b) a condition subject to which a lessor has given his consent is to be taken to be reasonable;
- (c) a condition subject to which a lessor has given his consent is to be taken to be unreasonable.
§ Sub-leases etc.
§ 9. The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision supplementing, or modifying, the provision made by section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) or any provision made by or under this Part of this Schedule in relation to cases where the occupier occupies premises under a sub-lease or sub-tenancy.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 5 [Consequential Amendments]:
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 79 and 80:
§ Page 56, line 38, leave out ("section 5") and insert ("sections 5 and 6").
§ Page 56, line 38, leave out from ("1995") to end of line 41 and insert ("(duty to make adjustments and circumstances in which less favourable treatment or failure to comply with the duty is justified).").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Schedule 7 [Modifications of this Act in its Application to Northern Ireland]:
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 81 to 103:
Page 57, leave out lines 35 to 39 and insert—
("2.—(1) In section 3(1) for "Secretary of State" substitute "Department".
- (2) In section 3 for subsections (4) to (12) substitute—
- "(4) In preparing a draft of any guidance, the Department shall consult such persons as it considers appropriate.
- (5) Where the Department proposes to issue any guidance, the Department shall publish a draft of it, consider any representations that are made to the Department about the draft and, if the Department thinks it appropriate, modify its proposals in the light of any of those representations.
- (6) If the Department decides to proceed with any proposed guidance, the Department shall lay a draft of it before the Assembly.
- (7) If, within the statutory period, the Assembly resolves not to approve the draft, the Department shall take no further steps in relation to the proposed guidance.
- (8) If no such resolution is made within the statutory period, the Department shall issue the guidance in the form of its draft.
- (9) The guidance shall come into force on such date as the Department may by order appoint.
- (10) Subsection (7) does not prevent a new draft of the proposed guidance being laid before the Assembly.
- (11) The Department may—
- (a) from time to time revise the whole or any part of any guidance and re-issue it;
- (b) by order revoke any guidance.
§ (12) In this section—
- "the Department" means the Department of Economic Development;
- "guidance" means guidance issued by the Department under this section and includes guidance which has been revised and re-issued;
- "statutory period" has the meaning assigned to it by section 41(2) of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954."").
§ Page 58, line 17, after ("10(3)") insert ("in the definition of "charity" for "1993" substitute "(Northern Ireland) 1964",").
Page 58, line 22, at end insert—
(". In section 12(5) for "Great Britain" where it twice occurs substitute "Northern Ireland".").
Page 59, line 19, leave out from ("if") to end of line 21 and insert ("such a licence was in force with respect to the vehicle at any time during the period of 28 days immediately before the day on which the licence is granted.").
Page 59, line 31, at end insert—
(".—(1) In section (Appeal against refusal of exemption certificate)(1) for "a licensing authority" substitute "the Department of the Environment".
- (2) In section (Appeal against refusal of exemption certificate)(2) for "licensing authority concerned" substitute "Department of the Environment".
- (3) In section (Appeal against refusal of exemption certificate)(3) for the words from "the magistrates' court" to the end substitute "a court of summary jurisdiction acting for the petty sessions district in which the aggrieved person resides.").
Page 60, line 17, at end insert—
("(3) In section 39(4) for "he" substitute "it".").
Page 64, line 22, at end insert—
(".—(1) In section (Restriction of publicity: industrial tribunals)(2) for "Secretary of State" substitute "Department of Economic Development".
§ (2) In section (Restriction of publicity: industrial tribunals)(7) for "Great Britain" where it twice occurs substitute "Northern Ireland".
§ . Omit section (Restriction of publicity: Employment Appeal Tribunal).").
§ Page 65, line 3, at end insert ("or localities").
§ Page 65, line 15, after ("section") insert ("3(9),").
Page 65, line 37, at end insert—
(""benefits", in Part II, has the meaning given in section 4(4);").
Page 66, line 6, at end insert—
(""profession" includes any vocation or occupation;").
§ Page 66, line 17, leave out ("Part II") and insert ("Parts I and II").
Page 66, line 24, at end insert—
(""section 6 duty" means any duty imposed by or under section 6;
section 15 duty" means any duty imposed by or under section 15;
section 18 duty" means any duty imposed by or under section 18;").
Page 66, line 27, at end insert—
(""trade" includes any business;
trade organisation" has the meaning given in section 13;").
§ Page 66, leave out line 33.
§ Page 66, line 50, leave out ("arrangement or conditions") and insert ("conditions or requirements").1070
§ Page 66, line 50, leave out ("made, approved, or").
§ Page 67, line 14, leave out ("arrangement or conditions") and insert ("conditions or requirements").
§ Page 67, line 14, leave out ("made, approved, or").
Page 67, line 21, at end insert—
(".—(1) In Schedule 3A in paragraphs 2(1) and (5) and 7(1) and (5) omit "or sisted".
§ (2) In Schedule 3A in paragraph 4 for "Secretary of State" substitute "Department of Economic Development".
§ (3) In Schedule 3A in paragraph 6(1) omit "or, in Scotland, to the sheriff'.
§ (4) In Schedule 3A omit paragraph 6(2).
§ (5) In Schedule 3A in paragraph 9 for "Secretary of State" substitute "Department of Health and Social Services".").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will be aware that Northern Ireland has its own separate body of legislation and administrative structures. Modifications to the provisions of the Bill in order that they fit in with the existing Northern Ireland legislation and structures are set out in Schedule 7. Further modifications to Schedule 7 are contained in these amendments to ensure that the provisions of the Bill are implemented in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the United Kingdom. I am certain that my final series of amendments will be widely welcomed in your Lordships' House.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. Before I let that last event of the Bill happen perhaps I may say a few words. It has taken us moderately into the evening to conclude our deliberations on the Bill. Overall, the Bill has tested our stamina, but I should like to think that the effort has been well worth while. The debates have been constructive and there has been a great deal of knowledge of the various aspects of the subject matter in your Lordships' contributions, as, of course, I have come to expect. Those have reflected the immense concern which the House reserves for the question of disability discrimination and the knowledge and experience which so many of your Lordships have.
I believe that we can be proud of our efforts. I am sure your Lordships will agree with me that we will be sending a greatly improved Bill back to the other place. The noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, was kind enough on a number of occasions to describe it as a good Bill, although this afternoon I noticed that she said "so nearly a good Bill". However, I feel that this evening I am justified in being a little more effusive.
As I have said before, we in government set ourselves a very tough task when we announced that we intended to eliminate discrimination against disabled people. The Disability Discrimination Bill represents a huge step forward towards this goal. It has been said elsewhere that it is the most visible landmark yet on the road to a more accessible society and a Bill which marks the United Kingdom out as a world leader in the crusade against discrimination. Those of your Lordships who have worked particularly assiduously over many years on behalf of disabled people realise more than the rest 1071 of us how hard disabled people and their representatives have worked for this moment and how the Bill stands as much as an achievement of theirs as anyone's.
It would be wrong for me not to note the debt of gratitude that they and we owe to those of your Lordships who have worked so hard for disabled people and who, despite the reservations some might feel about the detail of the legislation, must be particularly proud this evening. I shall not read out a long list, although I think I shall proceed to do that, for fear of missing someone off it. However, perhaps I may in particular—I am sure other noble Lords will appreciate why I select them—pay tribute to the noble Lords, Lord Ashley and Lord Rix, the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, who I sometimes find a little troublesome, if I may say so, my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy and many other noble Lords on both sides of the House. I should like also to pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and their colleagues on the Front Benches for the helpful and perspicacious way in which they have addressed our proposals.
Our deliberations have been almost entirely convivial and the fact that the legislation has been so thoroughly considered and reconsidered bears witness to the constructive spirit in which we have all entered into these debates. I should also like to thank the officials who have helped me through this Bill. It has been a wide-ranging Bill. I am grateful to them. Indeed, I am sure that everyone is grateful, perhaps especially the Opposition parties, to those outside organisations which have given a good deal of briefing to your Lordships and to Ministers. I am grateful to those outside organisations which have come to meet me and have had many discussions with my officials.
Perhaps I may make one other point slightly away from the subject. This represents the end point of the fourth social security Bill of this Session. I understand that there is to be a painting of your Lordships' House. I indicated to someone that if it was for this year it should certainly have me standing at the Dispatch Box; but it should also probably have the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, standing at the Opposition Dispatch Box, although, as we cannot stand up at the same time, I suppose that there might be some problems. The noble Baroness has dealt, as I have, with four Bills. She has orchestrated her team, but basically, as would be said in the electricity industry, she has carried the base load. I should like to pay tribute to her for all the work that she has put in. I am sure that her colleagues will feel the same. Indeed, they are probably relieved that the noble Baroness has been available to put in all that work and thus to save the finger being pointed at them.
Returning to the Bill, before the measure leaves us I should like to place on the record the scale of its achievements. Taken together, the provisions in the Bill amount to the most radical set of measures taken by any government to tackle discrimination against disabled people. It will be unlawful for employers to treat a disabled person less fairly. Disabled people will have a right not to be denied access to goods and services solely on the grounds of their disability. The Government will have the power to set minimum 1072 standards of accessibility for public transport vehicles. The Bill will ensure that students, pupils and their parents will be better informed about the facilities available when choosing schools, colleges and universities. The National Disability Council will be established to keep the issue of discrimination under review and to advise the Government. The very extent of the endeavour is a little breathtaking and not a little daunting.
This is a Bill with which I am proud to have been associated. I know that it will be welcomed by all those who care about the creation of a fairer society and that it will be of immense significance for present and future generations of disabled people. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)
§ Baroness Hollis of Heigham
My Lords, at this stage of a Bill's passage noble Lords usually say two things: that the Bill is better than when it started and they then thank each other generously for making it so. As the Minister said, this is now a better Bill. That is largely, although not entirely, due to the Government. We suspect that their original intention was to thwart civil rights legislation by a pale pastel version of their own, but the Government then found that they had opened a Pandora's box. The inherent logic and good sense of the arguments pressed by the disability organisations and the all-party parliamentary group—I refer to organisations such as RADAR, the Disability Alliance, Scope, MENCAP, MIND, the RNIB and the Deaf Alliance—as well as other voluntary organisations made the case so compellingly to the Government, Ministers and their advisers that I suspect that the Bill went far further than the Government originally intended. We all appreciate that very much.
We on these Benches are delighted that the Government either brought forward or accepted amendments on transport and taxis. We should congratulate the Department of Transport on its initiatives on that score which will transform accessibility to public transport—and not before time. Amendments were also accepted on education and on the nature of disability, especially HIV infection. That amendment was ably moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes. The Government accepted amendments on the past history of disability and showed a willingness to institute a review of small employers after five years. We also won an amendment against the Government on the perception of disability with regard to goods and services. We very much hope that in the Commons the Government will not seek to overturn that amendment. That would be churlish as well as deeply undesirable. It would be sad if the Government's final act on such a landmark Bill was pettily to seek to overturn a verdict or judgment of your Lordships' House.
The Bill started as a fairly good Bill. It became much better. However, from these Benches we have to say—the Minister suspected that we would say this—that this is not a good enough Bill. I say that for one very simple reason which we visited earlier this afternoon. We do not believe that at the core of the Bill there is a 1073 sufficiently effective mechanism to make it work. The Bill lacks a single authoritative central body which could give advice and assistance, and which could review, conciliate and act to ensure that the intentions behind the Bill are delivered. The Government's National Disability Council remains an inward-looking body, responsible to and advising only the Secretary of State when it should look outwards to the people to whom the Bill belongs. All the history of social legislation shows that good intentions are not enough—and never more so than when dealing with a Bill which seeks to give rights and opportunities to disabled people who are not always very strong, not always very confident, not always particularly affluent and not always particularly assertive on their own behalf. Disabled people are entitled to have a disability commission, as are employers who need to know what the law is and that it will be imposed on the recalcitrant if all else fails.
Twenty-five years after the landmark 1970 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, disabled people deserve more—and they are entitled to more than we have so far achieved in this Bill, good though it is in many ways. I think that the Government and their advisers will come to regret their obstructiveness on this issue. We shall certainly do our best to make them regret it. The Bill as it stands fortunately lends itself to further development. Re-reading the Bill at the weekend I was almost persuaded of the virtue of statutory instruments which would allow the next government to build on this Bill and to take it further forward to deliver the rights and opportunities that every disabled person should enjoy.
The Bill is a good Bill. It has become a better Bill, but it is still not good enough because it lacks a central authoritative body to make it effective. I fear—I shall not be happy if I am proved right—that we shall see that as the next two years unfold.
Having said that, however, like the Minister I should like to offer my thanks. I thank first my noble friends Lord McCarthy and Lady Dean who dealt with employment issues. I thank also my noble friend Lady Lockwood who dealt with issues relating to the commission; my noble friend Lady Farrington who dealt with education; my noble friend Lord Gladwyn who dealt with taxis; and my noble friend Lady Jay who covered HIV and medical issues.
It will not surprise noble Lords that I should like to express special thanks to two of my noble friends. I refer first to my noble friend and colleague Lord Carter who is always industrious, stalwart, loyal, hardworking and expert in ways that the House will understand and appreciate. Finally, I should like to say a special "thank you" to someone on our side of the House whose name has been so identified with disability issues over the years. I refer to my noble friend Lord Ashley of Stoke. I am grateful to the Minister for singling him out. My noble friend has always been the most stalwart of campaigners. If the Bill is not good enough, it is through no fault of my noble friend. Disabled people and your Lordships' House are very much in his debt.
1074 It also gives me very great pleasure to thank the spokespeople from the Liberal Democrat Benches, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Addington, who has fought so assiduously for the Bill on behalf of disabled people, often aided by the expertise of his noble friend Lady Seear. Together they have the gift of penetrating to the core of an issue, delivering it with speed and effectiveness.
On an issue such as disability, we are all greatly indebted to the Cross Benches in particular. Their Members were led by the noble Baronesses, Lady Darcy (de Knayth) and Lady Masham, aided by the noble Lord, Lord Rix. They have the expertise that few of us on our Benches can match. They contributed and worked in such a way that we would expect nothing less.
The Bishops' Bench has done its best, despite its crowded diary, always to take part and to show that issues of disability are issues of moral citizenship, raising issues of ethics as well as expediency at each and every step of the way. That is something of which we well need to be reminded. We ought also to thank the other opposition—the opposition behind the Treasury Bench—led by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, with tenacity and courage, aided, sometimes, although not as much as we should have liked, by his noble friends. Of that we are very appreciative.
Finally, we should like to give our especial thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, and his ministerial colleagues. He is always a pleasure to oppose. He is an even greater pleasure—very occasionally—to defeat. He is always generous in victory, graceful in retreat, but, alas, we have not seen enough of him in defeat to know how he will take it. He has always been amiable, courteous, well-informed and up to speed. Like him, having come through a gruelling four Bills, the robustness and resilience with which he has handled this afternoon's proceedings is a tribute to the Government Benches.
I have one very last thank you. It is to the disability organisations and disabled people themselves. At the end of the day, it is disabled people and their organisations that have put disability issues so insistently on the map, so that whether the Government wished to or not, they had to address those issues. We should congratulate them.
The Minister said—I am not sure whether he realised the full import of his remarks, although I hope and believe that he did—that he did not believe this Bill would be the final word on this issue. He has said many true things today, but that is perhaps the truest. I can assure him that the next government will take the greatest of pleasure in using the statutory instruments in the first place, and then going on to build on the Bill, to ensure that disabled people enjoy the rights and can exercise the opportunities that they as disabled people are entitled to have.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, it falls to me from these Benches to wish the Bill well, and we do wish the Bill well. It is not the Bill we wanted. We wanted a general anti-discrimination Bill for the disabled. However, the present Bill is better than the one with which we started. 1075 It has the capacity to achieve good. We may not have chosen the most direct route. It winds around the foothills rather than go straight up the mountain, but at least it is there.
I thank the Minister for the way that he has handled the Bill. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, has just said, he has at all time remained as even-tempered as one could possibly expect, as has his team. I should like to thank also the noble Baroness and her team on the Benches to my left. We have been able to co-operate to try to achieve a common goal. It is a pity we cannot do that with everything, but on this Bill I am glad we have been able to do so.
Other noble Lords have been mentioned. The noble Baronesses sitting beside the Hansard Table have weighed in heavily throughout the Bill's proceedings. The noble Lord, Lord Rix, has made himself felt throughout the debate, as indeed have the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, and the noble Baroness, Lady O' Caithain.
As I said, the Bill is not the one that many of us wanted. We wanted a general anti-discrimination Bill. The Bill, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, said, does not have what we regard as the driving force—a mission which is outstanding and campaigning. The Bill's long title is not designed to take on all disability issues. That is the main problem that we on these Benches have with it. I believe that is true in other parts of the House. If we can look at it as a first step, it may well be useful. Indeed one hopes that it will be. One can but wish the legislation well and hope that it is the start of many other pieces of legislation which will attack and dispense with the type of discrimination from which disabled people have suffered from time immemorial.
§ 9.15 p.m.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, my noble friend generously referred to some of us who for many years have been involved in Parliament on this subject. As we near the end of this Bill's passage through Parliament, I must express particular pleasure that it has been introduced by a government. It is the first time that a government have introduced a Bill of this kind.
I was one of the first to introduce a Private Member's Bill in Parliament in 1968. I have always said since then that it would be best if a government did the legislating. I wish to thank and congratulate my noble friend Lord Mackay on his explanations and stamina. I would also like to congratulate Members of the Opposition Front Bench on their assiduity throughout the Bill. The Bill does not go as far as some would wish but it does make great strides in several areas of life. It is needed and it will, I hope, transform attitudes widely. It can be built on in the future by governments of both persuasions.
In my case, another reason for pleasure is that I was an active Member in the Parliament of 1959 to 1964, before later parliamentary stalwarts became MPs. I go back a long time. Because I was a member of the government for three of those five years, my activities could not be translated into Motions, debates or Private Member's Bills. That came later. But in the early 1960s 1076 MPs took notice. I hope that noble Lords will therefore understand the satisfaction that I naturally feel at this stage.
It is appropriate to refer to the 1970 Act almost 25 years after it became law, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis. In 1969 the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Alf Morris, came first in the annual ballot in another place. As a result, he was able to get that Bill through Parliament. I must record that he received wide support, about which I was delighted. In May 1970 an early election was suddenly called before the Bill had been completed. I am glad to say that the Conservative Opposition made special agreement that it should not fall, as did most of the other legislation, with the dissolution of Parliament. The result was that Royal Assent was received early in the new Parliament of 1970, which was 25 years ago last week.
That was a landmark. My main contribution in the other place was to arrange the amendments which extended the Bill to Scotland. The right honourable gentleman, Mr. Alf Morris, with the little time available to him, could secure drafting only for England and Wales. At the time we thought that he was receiving drafting help from the government of the day in 1969 and 1970. However, he has since recorded that the late Richard Grossman, then Secretary of State, was strongly opposed to his Bill and tried to get him to drop it. Full credit should go to Mr. Alf Morris for persevering and succeeding and using such help as he could find.
As the Bill leaves us, I wish to draw attention to the wide variety of disabilities which exists. We must spread knowledge among the public. The figure of 6.5 million disabled people in the United Kingdom is much used at present. That figure came from the 1991 census, which was very valuable in giving us the latest information. It overlaps with the number of elderly people, because more than 5 million are people over working age, most of whom were not disabled before old age. There is, therefore, the possibility of the figure giving the wrong impressions. The constituent parts of the census explain the various categories and that a large proportion of the more than 1 million disabled people who are of working age are employed and economically active.
About 0.5 million people of all ages are dependent upon wheelchairs; that is less than one-twelfth of the total. The symbol of a wheelchair has been most effective as a logo. However, I hope that the general public will not unconsciously treat it as a stereotype. The blind, the deaf, the mentally ill and those in the many other categories of disability, as well as those with combinations of disabilities must be kept fully in mind. When the Bill is enacted I hope that we will help to spread awareness of the wide range of disabilities and the considerations affecting them.
§ Lord Rix
My Lords, the word "troika" has been bandied around your Lordships' House this afternoon. I apologise: I see we are now a coach-and-four occupying the Cross Benches—from which I should like to say a few words.
The Minister must, like Mark Antony, feel an urge to murmur, "Unarm me. The long day's task is done and we must rest". I marginally misquote, for the original 1077 referred to "sleep" rather than "rest", but I vulgarise the text in case at this hour your Lordships' House might take amiss the reference to sleep.
I have had cause to be grateful to the Minister and his hard-working team of officials for listening courteously even when not able to do quite what I wanted to be done. I also thank those who have argued along with me and who have allowed me to argue along with them.
The Bill leaves your Lordships' House in moderately good heart. I hope that it will soon take its place alongside the Children Act, the 1970 Act, of which we have just heard, the 1970 Education (Handicapped Children) Act, which had such a dramatic effect on the lives of children with a learning disability, and the parts of the 1986 Act which made it to reality, as generally a good thing and in some respects, a very good thing. I use the 1066 And All That classification system.
We lost on small employers. At this late stage I cannot resist expressing the hope that small employers being sent the code of good employment practice will at least be urged to make reasonable accommodation where they can and that they are pushed fairly vigorously towards not practising or advertising the practice of unfair discrimination where there are no costs at stake. If small employers are not to be subject to compulsory virtue, the least we can do is to say something fairly forthright about any of them who are minded to be bloody-minded for no reason. I am sure that the great majority will, as now, practise voluntary virtue.
At one stage I had hoped for some mention in the Bill of what I might call incitement to Nimbyism as a form of unfair discrimination. I refer to the requirement to "consult" the neighbours about community care developments, even when there is no legal requirement so to do. I have had an opportunity to discuss that with the Minister and he has written to me. I accept the need for the change of use regulations. However, I hope that in line with the Minister's letter there will be firm guidance against the type of non-regulated consultation that we have seen, where personal details of prospective occupants are made available to neighbours, with the implication of a veto on people having a home of their own.
Finally, I wish the Bill and the work that will now flow from it a fair wind and Godspeed.
§ The Lord Bishop of Birmingham
My Lords, from this Bench I salute the prospect of the passage of this Bill. I shall not repeat all the thanks and congratulations which have been offered by people better informed than myself. But it is clear that many people have worked extremely hard to bring matters so far and the passage of the Bill will be a notable achievement.
It seems to me that there are two moral principles at issue. The first, plainly grounded in the Scriptures, is the duty of public authority to defend those who find themselves on unequal terms in defending themselves. In the Scriptures one reads about the duty of public authority—kings or whoever—to defend the widow, the orphan and, someone we rather forget these days, the stranger. It is good that that moral principle is being 1078 embodied in legislation today with respect to the disabled. So thank God for a piece of legislation with such an evident moral base to it.
The second moral principle is that of the need to put aspirations into action, because at the end of the day we shall be judged not by our intentions but by our deeds; not by what we say we would like to have done but by the effects; if you like, not by policies but by operations.
There has been a worry all through the discussions on this Bill—it has been evident even today—about whether aspirations will in fact be put into effect. Only today we heard the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, speak about his concern for effectiveness. That is precisely the concern which has motivated those who have expressed anxiety at various points. Members on this Bench, with others, remain concerned that adequate instruments for putting aspirations into effect may not yet be in place; that is, that disabled people have not received the support that they might have been given in securing the rights which are being in principle acknowledged. We hope that we are wrong. But if we are not, this is surely a matter to which Parliament will later have to return.
We can certainly say that, with the passage of the Bill, something irreversible will have been done: it will never be possible to turn the clock back again. As many have said from all sides of the House, it is already clear that the passage of the Bill will turn out to be the beginning and not the end of a process.
§ Lord Ashley of Stoke
My Lords, it is very rare to hear a speech as gracious, as dignified and as realistic as that given by my noble friend Lady Hollis. She spoke for all of us when she summarised our appreciation of the situation with which we have been faced during our debates. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to work with my noble friend, with the rest of our Front Bench and, indeed, with our Back-Benchers. It has also been a particular pleasure to oppose the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, and his colleagues. I believe that between us we have managed to show that vigorous debating can still be civilised debating. We can enjoy the clash of opinions while all seeking the same ends; namely, to protect disabled people from discrimination.
I should like to thank my noble friend and her colleagues and the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, and his colleagues. I should also like to thank the many researchers on our side who helped us by drafting speeches and notes and providing facts. I refer to Caroline Gooding and all her colleagues. I am indebted to them, as indeed are all my colleagues, for the marvellous work that they did. We sometimes just become spokesmen and women for the people who do the devilling and the hard work. There are one or two people that I cannot mention, but I am indeed indebted to many people.
Perhaps I may describe the Bill as a limited advance. After the Minister's very kind words, it is hard to be realistic. However, we fail disabled people if we are not realistic. The fact is that the Bill has basic flaws; indeed, it has two basic flaws. First, it fails to cover a large number of severely disabled people—for example, workers in small firms. When the Bill is enacted it will still be perfectly legal to discriminate against them. So how can 1079 we say that it is a marvellous Bill? We cannot. Moreover, as has been said, the Bill has no commission for enforcement, so how can we call it a marvellous Bill? We cannot. As I said, the Bill is flawed.
I have two messages. The first is for the Minister and his colleagues. I believe that there will be yet another Bill coming forward from us, possibly in another place after the ballot in a few weeks' time, or indeed from this side of the House, seeking what we have been seeking all along during all these years. The second message is, I hope, from this House. It is for disabled people and it is a stark message: we still require hard pounding and vigorous campaigning to get comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in Britain. I thank the noble Lord and my noble friends.
§ Lord Swinfen
My Lords, I should like to congratulate my noble friend and his colleagues in the Government on bringing forward the Bill. As originally drafted, it was in my view a very much more practical Bill than the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, although that was devised on the right principles to end discrimination. No law will end discrimination.
The Bill is really an encouragement to the education of the population and the people as a whole. If the country is not educated not to discriminate against people because of disabilities, or for any other reason, the legislation will fail. It is from that point of view that I have considered the Bill and have endeavoured in a small way to improve it. It is but a first step but, as Confucius said, a journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step. We are moving in the right direction.
I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis of Heigham, for her kind remarks about me. My noble friend on the Front Bench said that he sometimes found me a little troublesome. I take that as an accolade because it means that I have made him, and I trust other Members of your Lordships' House, think and have helped to produce the improved version of the Bill that we now have. I hope that it will benefit not only people with disabilities but the population as a whole. I wish the Bill well.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, your Lordships will appreciate that I have to have the last word. Perhaps I may thank all noble Lords for their kind remarks about those of us who have sat on the Government Front Bench throughout the Bill and those outside who have worked on the Bill. I have no intention of revisiting some of the arguments of earlier stages. We should now look forward to the next stage, which is the implementation of the Bill and the work on the statutory instruments that go with it.
I am particularly grateful to the right reverend Prelate for suggesting that I have been on a moral crusade. I have to say to your Lordships that occasionally when I was confronted with a mound of paper late into the night that was the furthest thing from my thoughts. However, I hope that the Bill will do what we all hope it will do and make a great change to the lives of disabled people.
My last words are to thank my colleagues who have helped me with the Bill, my noble friends Lord Henley, Lord Inglewood and Lord Lucas. With those remarks, I trust that your Lordships will pass the Bill.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.