HL Deb 11 October 2002 vol 639 c551

11.5 a.m.

Read a third time.

Lord Morris of Manchester

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Of all the parliamentary virtues, brevity runs even cleanliness a close second as next only to Godliness. So I shall be brief.

The unfailing care and concern shown by noble Lords of all persuasions in facilitating the Bill's swift passage into law exemplifies this House at its best: making good law to combat injustice with absolute unanimity of purpose.

I pay warm tribute to my honourable friend Rachel Squire on having piloted this humane and long overdue measure through the House of Commons with such exemplary skill and success. Her wide fellowship of supporters both there and outside Parliament worked as one in promoting a Bill which is at once clear, workable and consensual.

Speaking as a serial legislator in this policy area—both as a Private Member and a Minister—I hold Rachel's achievement in the highest admiration.

The Bill opens up to visually impaired people a world of information and culture from which today they are mostly and quite wrongly excluded. Indeed in the last year for which we have figures—because of the shortcomings of the copyright law as it now stands—95 per cent of the 100,000-plus titles published in the UK were unavailable in formats accessible to them.

My good friend Professor Ian Bruce, Director General of the RNIB, hails this Bill as perhaps: The most significant legislative advance for blind and partially sighted people in the last 20 to 30 years". And this has been achieved entirely without party animus or in any way compromising the legitimate interests of writers and publishers.

The Bill will help over 2 million blind and partially sighted people in this country and hopefully, by example and impact, millions more across the world. It is thus also one of considerable international significance and again I commend it to your Lordships' House.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Morris of Manchester.)

On Question, Bill passed.

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