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Baroness Masham of Ilton: I thank the Minister for his reply which will be looked at carefully. We shall see what happens at the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 35 to 37 not moved.]

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Duty of employer to make adjustments]:

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Baroness Masham of Ilton moved Amendment No. 38:


Page 4, line 31, at end insert:
("( ) providing dedicated parking facilities;
( ) providing assistance for him to move from his parked vehicle to his place of work.").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is straightforward and uncomplicated. The amendment adds two very important aspects to enable severely disabled people to be able to work. Having a dedicated parking place, should it be necessary, and assistance for the disabled person to get from his vehicle to his place of work may be the only assistance that he needs.

Being the founder and president of the Spinal Injuries Association, I know that our members are people who have broken their necks and backs through accident or who have suffered injury to the spinal cord through illness and are paralysed and use wheelchairs. Many of our members are young and may cover a very wide span of professions; for example, teachers, university lecturers, doctors, computer operators, accountants, administrators and so on. Once in the building, such people could carry on with their work. It would be the best thing for them and by far the most economical for the country. We should remember that they are taxpayers.

Many employers are fearful of severe disability, but once they realise what a person can achieve, their attitudes change. To include the amendment in the list of examples is very important, otherwise the need will not be highlighted, which is vital to some disabled employees if they are to be able to take up employment. If a disabled person, using a wheelchair, cannot get into a building, that is an excuse for him to be rejected for employment. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): As we are talking about access and facilities, perhaps I may just say how much I appreciate the extra space in the Chamber today. Surely it is an excellent example of reasonable accommodation, at reasonable cost, when we are dealing with a Bill which is entirely to do with disability. Indeed—

Lord Carter: I apologise for interrupting, but would the noble Baroness also expect that such "reasonable" space will remain available for other Bills, or only those concerning disability?

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): That would depend on the proportion of disabled Peers to non-disabled Peers. I also think that if, perhaps, there were a bunch of amendments regarding the disabled, one would have to do what is reasonable. I shall not commit myself further than that, as I did not have notice of the question. It certainly takes me back 25 years to the "mobile bench of four" when all four of us sat together for the proceedings on the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

I support the amendment. As I believe my noble friend said, it is not mandatory; it would only put the options of such provisions in the minds of employers as regards doing something which may be needed. I believe that it is important to include such examples because, otherwise, having seen the other list of things,

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employers may say, "These people are asking for yet more provision", whereas, as my noble friend said, it may be the only help that such people need.

Lord Addington: I should like to support the amendment for the simple reason that it is probably the best and clearest amendment that has been tabled today. We know exactly why it has been put forward and exactly what it would achieve. A person who is confined to a wheelchair is, effectively, only disabled while he has to travel somewhere that is not designed for wheelchair use. The provision would remove the problem of disability. If only all the problems which arise under the Bill could be solved so easily!

Lord Ashley of Stoke: I support the amendment very strongly. Not only is it the clearest that we have seen, but we have also had the best speeches so far in tonight's debates. If the amendment is accepted, it would mean that severely disabled people would be able to use their talents and fulfil their potentialities. That is the great raison d'être of the amendment. I very warmly support it.

Baroness O'Cathain: I should point out that not every place of employment actually has parking facilities. I am just wondering whether the noble Baroness would like to take the matter away and have another look at it. For example, there could be opportunities for disabled people to work with computers in, say, a fashion boutique in the middle of Regent Street, or somewhere, where there would be no parking facilities.

Perhaps there is some way of dealing with the situation whereby there would be the ability to transfer someone from a car which has transported him to a place, without necessarily providing parking facilities. To narrow the provision down in the way suggested might actually cause something of a problem. I am just trying to help.

Lord Swinfen: My noble friend Lady O'Cathain is quite right but at the same time this is purely a list of examples and therefore it would not necessarily be able to be applied to every premises. However, I support the general idea. While I am on my feet and as the mobile Bench has been mentioned, I should just point out, if I may, that Members of the mobile Bench do not just speak on Bills dealing specifically with disability; they speak on many other subjects. There are many other Bills which look as though they have nothing to do with disability but which have a great effect on disabled people. If some alteration to the Chamber could be made for better accommodation of our mobile Members, that would be a good idea.

Lord Inglewood: Let me say right at the beginning that I have considerable sympathy with the intention behind this amendment, as indeed I think everyone who has spoken on this amendment in the Chamber this evening has. However, the amendment, as drafted, can be interpreted as being wide-ranging. For example, where an employer has existing car parking facilities for his employees it might well be reasonable, depending on the circumstances, that he should, under the duty in Clause 6, have to allocate a dedicated car parking place

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to a disabled employee who finds it very difficult or impossible to use public transport. However, I do not think—this is the point that my noble friend Lady O'Cathain raised—that an employer who does not have any car parking places should be required to consider having to provide a dedicated car parking place for a disabled employee.

Although I can see that there would be circumstances when it might be a reasonable adjustment to help a disabled person from a parked vehicle, I am much less clear about the scope of the second example. What sort of steps is it intended the employer may have to take in providing assistance for a disabled employee to move from his parked vehicle to his place of work? Does this mean that an employer has to make arrangements to meet a disabled employee who parks his car two miles away and then provide assistance for him? More fundamentally, I suspect that a person who needs this kind of assistance may have very serious mobility problems which could also require other forms of assistance, making this a minor aspect and therefore not a good example to single out.

I am not persuaded that this amendment should be accepted. Subsection (3) after all only sets out examples of illustrative steps. We must resist the temptation to add an ever-increasing list of examples. That would distort the Bill and could be seriously counter-productive if it seemed to imply the list was intended to be largely exhaustive. We believe these matters are better addressed in the code of practice and I can assure the noble Baronesses that we have taken note of their concerns.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Before the noble Baroness tells the Committee what she wishes to do with this amendment, I wish to make two points to the Minister. First, I think he has failed to give due weight to the argument that was made by both noble Baronesses that what they were doing by adding these two additional examples to a list was introducing into, if you like, the mental framework of the employer yet another way in which, at reasonable cost and at reasonable expense, he could overcome what would otherwise be insuperable barriers to employing disabled people. In so far as it adds a different dimension to what may or may not be a hurdle to their employment, that surely should be welcomed.

Secondly, when the Minister gave what I would call his destructive analysis of why this amendment might not be right and said that the parking might be two miles away and how unreasonable that could be, I have to say that every example here is subject to the same sort of criticism, if one wished to make it. That applies to the adaptation of premises, to modifying equipment, how expensive that equipment will be, or how many rooms, floors or buildings away it will be situated. We do not mention that; we do not need to. We are talking about a sensible response to the framework of the Bill. I would have thought that the substantive point being made—I think the Minister ought to take this on board—is that I suspect if the Government had thought of these two examples themselves they would have included them in the Bill in the first place. But because they have not

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been suggested by the Government Benches but rather by the Cross-Benches, and the Government did not think of them, they are resisting them at this point. I think at this stage the Government could say this is a helpful further illustration of a way in which an employer can overcome what would otherwise be an insuperable barrier for disabled people.


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