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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish 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—
(a) a person is a disabled person if he is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and
(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—
(a) a person is a disabled person if he is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and
(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 be 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:
(a) the definition of disabled person to be used for recording purposes;
(b) what particulars shall be recorded;
(c) the manner in which such particulars shall be collected and published.

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(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—
(a) The National Advisory Council on the Employment of People with Disabilities; and
(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.

27 Jun 1995 : Column 693

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 back. 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 be 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.

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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 see a major problem.


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