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Lord McCarthy: My Lords, we are pleased to support the amendments. The noble Baroness put them down either very late last night or early this morning. By the time I got round to them it was too late to amend them. That is why I want to say what I shall say in a moment, because although we support the amendments we would want to add to them. How will the noble Baroness feel if her amendment is successful? How do the Government feel about the amendment? Amendment No. 33 states:


    "In preparing a draft of any regulations under this section, the Secretary of State shall consult such organisations representing the interests of employers and of disabled persons and such other persons as he considers appropriate".

Why should not the amendment include "employers and employees"? I request an answer to the question. The point was made in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. That seems to me reasonable, useful and balanced. Amendment No. 16 inserts such a provision on the face of the Bill. However, if noble Lords can remember that far back this afternoon, that amendment was swept away by the success of the Government's previous amendment. We did not move Amendment No. 16, so we are bringing that discussion in now.

If one is to specify on the face of the Bill who should be entitled to consultation so that they know—that right would be on the face of the Bill—surely it is reasonable that we should not only include employers but representatives, and organisations of employees—trade unions, professional associations or other such bodies. After all, this Bill is half an employment Bill. Those people know what workers are likely to feel about the legislation and whether they are likely to resist some of the provisions. Those persons should be able to help and should be in favour of the intentions and aims of the Bill. That is why we should like such a provision in the Bill. We wish to know what noble Lords think about it.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, on a point of procedure, in moving Amendment No. 33 and speaking to the other amendments my noble friend has had the opportunity to put forward ideas and principles which she considers should be in the Bill. However, I assume that she will accept the proposal by the Government to leave out Clause 6. We discussed that in previous amendments. Therefore, the provisions of Amendment No. 33 would not remain. Is my noble friend proposing that something along the lines that she has put forward should be inserted in the replacements that the Government will put forward? Will such a provision be moved again at Third Reading? Alternatively, is she happy with what the Government propose to insert instead of Clause 6?

7.15 p.m.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, I too should like to support the group of amendments. They are extremely sensible. It is quite obvious that there will be considerable variety in the kind of disability that people have who seek employment with regard to the equipment which has to be used, premises, the working practices, and so on. Therefore, very considerable consultation needs to take place. I am very glad that my noble friend has brought the provisions forward.

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I should have thought that the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, was not necessary, and that employees would be covered by the words,


    "and such other persons as he considers appropriate".

However, I was rather concerned by the noble Lord's comment towards the end of his remarks. He intimated that some workers might be liable to resist the employment of disabled people. Yes, there will be some workers who would wish to resist the employment of disabled people, possibly through fear or prejudice. However, I should not have thought that in a Bill of this kind he would wish to put in any provision that would endanger disabled people and might possibly lead to discrimination against them. I am sure that the noble Lord did not mean that he was advocating any form of discrimination. However, I was rather worried by the words he used.

Lord McCarthy: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to explain. We know from the race, sex and disability aspect—the noble Lord knows better than I do—that there is resistance. I am saying that trade unions help to overcome that resistance. That is why they should be referred to on the face of the Bill.

Lord Addington: My Lords, I had noted the deletion of Clause 6 regarding the amendment moved by the noble Baroness. The basic principle of co-operation and exchange of information is one of the most important factors regarding removing discrimination. Such a provision will help.

I suggest that employer and employee organisations have an equally strong part to play. The simple fact is that they often bring forward individual concerns. I shall not waste time discussing the correct form of words. It is simply that those groups or bodies must find some input into the process.

I shall be interested to hear what the Minister says about the noble Baroness's amendment. The general thrust of her amendment is essential. If such a provision is not in the Bill we shall court more trouble and very soon find ourselves with another Bill.

Lord Henley: My Lords, perhaps I may briefly deal with the Clause 6 point. Until we reach Amendment No. 35, Clause 6 will still be in the Bill. Therefore, it is quite right and proper for my noble friend to move her amendment. Of course, I am hoping that the House will agree to Amendment No. 34 as it has already been discussed with Amendment No. 10, which has been accepted by the House. As to my noble friend's attitude after Clause 6 is removed, that is a matter for her, as is the matter as to whether the wording of a specific amendment ought to be changed to include the word "employees" as well as "employers".

I wish to speak briefly as to why we do not think these amendments are necessary, and to reassure the House that we have a genuine commitment to consult as widely as possible. I can assure her that we shall do so. It does not mean that it is right to place an obligation to consult on the face of the Bill. The same people and organisations do not always have similar interests in all of the powers. Indeed, one use of a power might be of

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particular interest to some organisations and another use of the same power of interest to entirely different organisations.

This might be the case, for example, where reasonable adjustments are concerned as some may be quite narrowly focused and be of concern to particular types of employer or particular sectors of industry or owners of particular types of buildings. We cannot cover everyone in this way. The use of the words,


    "organisations representing the interests of employers and of disabled persons"

seek to identify the key interests. However, this may not involve the right interests when the powers—

Baroness Seear: My Lords, the noble really cannot get away with saying that those words obviously identify the main interests. Employees are a very real interest. If we wish the provision to work we have to get the employees on our side. It is quite untrue to think that there are not prejudiced people among employees. Employees have exactly the same proportion of saints and sinners as every other group in the community. They include people who are extremely prejudiced. If people are involved in introducing disabled people, they will accept them. If disabled people are imposed on them, they will not—and I speak from experience.

Lord Henley: My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness slightly over-reacts. I have given the assurance that all appropriate people would be consulted. What I sought to say was that I do not believe that it is necessary to identify such a list on the face of the Bill. I believe that it identifies the key interests; one could add employees as well. However, I seek to argue that it is not necessary to have the provision on the face of the Bill. Does the noble Lord wish to intervene?

Lord McCarthy: My Lords, the noble Lord keeps saying that it should not be on the face of the Bill. He never gives any reason why it should not be on the face of the Bill.

Lord Henley: My Lords, has the noble Lord not been listening to me? I was going to explain why it was not appropriate to list all those who should be consulted when on certain occasions there might be one group of interest which is relevant to consult, on other occasions it might be the whole gamut set out on the face of the Bill, and on other occasions it might be a much smaller group. It would not be right to impose a duty under the Bill to consult every body, every group or every interest on every occasion.

I have given a commitment and I have been trying to make it clear that it is entirely right and sensible to make that commitment to a practical, wide-ranging, timely consultation exercise before we use the powers. But the regulations—

Lord McCarthy: My Lords, can the noble Lord not see the difference? It is a difference between rights and privileges. If the name of a group is on the Bill, it is consulted, it knows it is consulted and it prepares itself for that consultation. No one says that because there are names in the Bill the Government cannot consult other people whose names are not in it. But if we wish to put

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the names of groups in the Bill, at least those people will know that they will be consulted. Otherwise it is entirely at the discretion of Ministers.


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