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Lord Monkswell: I wonder whether the Minister has considered the two different aspects of the codes of guidance about which we have spoken today. He has referred to Clause 26. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, also referred to Clause 24. My understanding of those clauses is that they relate to codes of practice that are issued to the general public—that is, employers and those involved in the day-to-day business. The difference between that and the guidance referred to in Clause 2 is that the latter is guidance to the industrial tribunal, not the general public. I suggest that that guidance has greater force in legal terms because it is guidance to what is effectively a court rather than the general public. It may be pertinent for Parliament to consider guidance issued to a court that has an effect similar to legislation, and guidance issued to the general public, which is slightly different. We may wish to have the affirmative procedure for the guidance issued to a court and possibly the negative procedure for guidance issued to the general public. Perhaps the Minister can take those points on board.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The guidance in Clause 2 will be guidance that everybody will take into account as well—both the disabled and employers—when looking at what they should do. As subsection (3) says, it will also be taken into account by a tribunal or court. Under Clause 24(4) a code is admissible in evidence in any proceedings under the Bill before an industrial tribunal, county court or sheriff court. The codes of practice under Clause 24 will also come into play in a court. Indeed, in Clause 26(5) one sees exactly the same words. While the noble Lord makes a nice point, I do not believe that it is a distinction that carries a great deal of weight when Clause 22 is compared with Clauses 24 and 25.

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Lord Renton: I agree with what my noble friend has just said. However, I believe that we should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, for raising a subtle point, which had not occurred to me. As my noble friend has said, all guidance given to all courts, tribunals or other public bodies is something of which the public from time to time in different ways needs to take note. I do not believe that there is here a real distinction of principle.

I owe an apology to my noble friend. Although Clause 24 comes into the picture, he is right to refer first and foremost to Clause 26 and Clause 27 that goes with it. That is the alternative he recommends to the suggestion that I have made that the affirmative procedure should be followed under Clause 37. I am very much influenced by what my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy has said in advocating a negative procedure. He speaks with the experience of membership of the Scrutiny Committee, which does such valuable work.

I had hoped that the reasonable compromise that I had put forward would have had general appeal. But one must be realistic and sometimes accept the advice of the Government. I believe that on this occasion it is appropriate for me to do so. Therefore, it is with hope that I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 15 to 17 not moved.]

Baroness O'Cathain moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 2, line 9, at end insert ("including appropriate organisations representative of employers and appropriate organisations representative of disabled persons").

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that employers and providers of business services have confidence in complete acceptance of the fact that consultation on an ongoing basis is necessary. Disability is a very complex subject. New forms of disability arise. Advances in medicine will help, but there are other matters around the corner. New conditions also emerge. For example, there are advances in computer technology. People who perhaps 10 years ago would not have been employable have available to them a whole raft of new opportunities because of advances in technology. I do not believe it is easy to draw fine distinctions. I should like to see this consultation on the face of the Bill. This legislation may last for 100 years. Who knows how a future Conservative administration will behave? I believe that employers, providers of business services and organisations for the disabled need the comfort that when changes take place, they have the right to be consulted on an ongoing basis. I feel that very strongly as does the CBI and everybody to whom I have spoken.

I should like to point out that, following a comment made earlier in the discussion on a previous amendment, when it seemed that we were dealing only with employers, I realised that the amendment was probably incorrectly drafted. It should include organisations representative of employers and businesses which provide services, because the Bill covers employment and services. However, I understand that this part of the Bill—this particular section—does not deal with employers; it deals with disability. If that is so, the amendment ought to include business providers as well. I can look again at this

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matter. I want to make sure that on the face of the Bill there is a commitment that the Government will consult. I beg to move

6.30 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy: I should like to support the principle in this amendment described by my noble friend. I mentioned earlier that all the organisations concerned with this Bill hope for continuing consultations after the Bill is enacted.

With regard to my noble friend's other point, her amendment would need to be amended because this very important part of the Bill deals with the provision of goods and services and, as I read it, Clause 2 of the Bill covers this part as well. As I said at Second Reading, there are many more disabled people who will be involved in goods and services—for instance, all the people over retirement age, who represent a very large proportion of the disabled people in this country. Only people of employment age, who represent quite a small proportion of the total of disabled people, will be involved in the employment part of the Bill, though it is a very important part of it.

I agree that the provision would be improved if it could cover goods and services rather than remain with its present wording.

Baroness Seear: My name is also to this amendment. Certainly I support the general principle that, when any changes or developments are being made, there should be full consultation. However, on reflection, there is something defective about this amendment. There should be something in the nature of:

    "employers, organisations of disabled people and trade unions".

They surely have a very considerable interest in how people with disabilities are employed in places of employment. On the general principle, I want most certainly to continue my support.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest: Perhaps I may take up the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. I hope that the spirit and purpose of the amendment will be accepted, not only for what it explicitly states but for what is implied, which could with benefit be explicated.

The aim is to get the guidance right and to take account of the practicalities of the situation. The reason for including the concept of consultation with employees and their organisations is that discrimination by an employer often stems not only from the employer's negative attitude but also from what he thinks may be the reaction of some or all of his employees. On occasion, the employer may put forward that argument as camouflage for his own negative attitude. In either event, it makes a great deal of sense to involve employees through their organisations, so that it is made clear that employees favour non-discrimination and (or possibly or) to ensure that the organisations of employees put pressure on the employees themselves not to evince the negative attitudes which would make it more difficult for an employer to take a more positive attitude.

I hope that the noble Baroness will agree with the thrust of that argument. In accepting the general purport and drive of the amendment, the Minister will, I hope,

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recognise the importance of keeping employees firmly in the frame in the common purpose to which we are now addressing our minds.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We on these Benches very much support the amendment. Perhaps we could use the opportunity to ask the Minister, when he replies to the amendment, to comment on three matters. The first is the degree to which such consultation will be continuous and ongoing—not just an original set piece. Secondly, following the contributions made by many Members of the Committee, that consultation will indeed involve a breadth of organisation. As the noble Baroness said, this provision refers to goods and services and not just employment, as well as to trade unions.

The third point is one that has not been raised so far and this may be the opportunity for the Minister to address it. As originally conceived there is in the Bill one set of negotiating machinery—the employment section of the Bill—hich will go through the National Council for the Employment of Disabled People set up in 1944, and the response from that is to go on to the industrial tribunal. There is also a second set of responses under the Bill associated with goods and services, which go through the route of local advice and guidance machinery and then through to the courts. So there are two parallel jurisdictions. That is one of the problems about which we are most concerned. There is one for the employment section and one for goods and services; one ending up in industrial tribunals and the other ending up in courts.

Clearly, we need a framework and a network of guidance for both sections of the Bill. As the Government originally conceived the Bill in the other place, they led Members to believe that they were hoping that NACAB (the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux) would offer that guidance, advice and all the rest of it for the goods and services section en route to the courts. Since then, NACAB has made it very clear that it will not fulfil such a role. Nonetheless, the Government are pledged to introduce a local advice and guidance service in conjunction with national bodies. Could the Minister tell us how that is now to be achieved, given that NACAB will not do it and so far there has been no suggestion that anybody else will do it? Otherwise, we shall have an initial consultation but we will not have the ongoing consultation that we all wish to see.

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