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Lord Rix: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his assurances. I regret that they have fallen on slightly deaf ears because, in spite of his assurances, I know that this "NIMBYism" goes on in a number of places throughout the country. For instance, recently a group of people clubbed together to buy a house, but people with learning disabilities were not allowed to move in. It may be said that those were market forces. They were not; they were motivated purely by the total dislike of having people with learning disabilities move in next door.

I recognise that it may be tactful to consult neighbours, but it is demeaning for those moving in to be labelled and have to apologise for moving into the neighbourhood. Only two weeks ago it was said,


That is not exceptional; that is commonplace. I cannot accept the Minister's assurance that that is not happening. Obviously I shall not divide the House at this hour of the night, but I shall to continue this discussion, perhaps with his department during the Recess, and hope that we can come to some accommodation, if only in codes of practice or something of that nature. I feel that we must continue this discussion into the Third Reading of the Bill, but in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 19 [Meaning of "discrimination"]:

Lord Henley moved Amendments Nos. 75 to 78:


Page 16, line 14, after ("person") insert ("("A")").

18 Jul 1995 : Column 275


Page 16, line 18, leave out ("who do not have the disability") and insert ("to whom that reason does not or would not apply").
Page 16, line 19, leave out ("under section 20").
Page 16, line 20, at end insert:
("(2) For the purposes of this section, treatment is justified only if—
(a) in A's opinion, one or more of the conditions mentioned in subsection (3) are satisfied; and
(b) it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to hold that opinion.
(3) The conditions are that—
(a) in any case, the treatment is necessary in order not to endanger the health or safety of any person (which may include that of the disabled person);
(b) in any case, the disabled person is incapable of entering into an enforceable agreement, or of giving an informed consent, and for that reason the treatment is reasonable in that case;
(c) in a case falling within section 17(3) (a), the treatment is necessary in order for the disabled person or the occupiers of other premises forming part of the building to make use of the benefit or facility;
(d) in a case falling within section 17(3) (b), the treatment is necessary in order for the occupiers of other premises forming part of the building to make use of the benefit or facility.
(4) Regulations may make provision, for purposes of this section, as to circumstances in which the condition mentioned in subsection (2) (a), or that mentioned in subsection (2) (b)—
(a) is to be taken to be satisfied;
(b) is to be taken not to be satisfied.
(5) Regulations may make provision, for purposes of this section, as to circumstances (other than those mentioned in subsection (3)) in which treatment is to be taken to be justified.").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 10. With the leave of the House, I shall move them en bloc. I beg to move.
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Clause 20 [Circumstances in which less favourable treatment is justified]:
[Amendment No. 79 not moved.]

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 80:


Leave out Clause 20.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 10. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 23 [Advice and assistance]:

Baroness O'Cathain moved Amendment No. 81:


Page 17, line 39, leave out subsection (1) and insert:
("( ) The Secretary of State shall make arrangements for the provision of independent advice and conciliation services to parties to disputes arising under this Part with a view to promoting the settlement of such disputes otherwise than by recourse to the courts.").
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to make provision for an independent advice and conciliation service to be even-handed. In the explanatory memorandum to the original Bill which was brought to the House before Committee stage, it was stated:
"Clause 22 provides for the establishment of a conciliation service to provide advice and support to individuals alleging discrimination under Part III, in order to promote the settlement of disputes".
There is no mention of a conciliation service on the face of the Bill under goods and services. Surely it is equally important for an independent conciliation

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service, akin to that provided by ACAS on employment issues, to be available for all parties on access issues to help weak claims and encourage settlements without recourse to the courts. I beg to move.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, my noble friend's amendment provides that the Secretary of State shall make arrangements for independent advice and conciliation. As she explained, she has her own views on how advice may best be provided and clearly she is looking to the service to provide not just advice, but also conciliation.

I am concerned that my noble friend's amendment might make the operation of the service we have in mind more difficult. As it is presently drafted, Clause 23 provides that the Secretary of State shall make arrangements for advice and assistance, rather than conciliation. We are concerned that the strict neutrality implied by the term "conciliation" might be an unrealistic and unacceptable imposition on the type of service we intend to set in place.

We will ensure that disabled people have access to information about their rights under this legislation and can obtain advice and assistance if they feel that they have been discriminated against. However, we recognise that a disabled person may often be the more vulnerable party in a dispute arising under the right of access and we are committed to ensuring that disabled people can secure their rights. That is why we provided, in Clause 23, for advice and assistance, rather than strictly neutral conciliation, to be available. We hope that the provision of advice and support will help to empower disabled people to gain the benefits of their new rights. We intend to ensure that advice and support are provided in the most practical and sensible way and we are keen to learn from the experience of existing networks so that we may be better able to plan the way forward.

My noble friend is looking to this service to do something a little different from that which we are looking to it to do. As I have said, we do not see it as necessarily having as its main role conciliation, because that involves neutrality. Of course we hope that in many cases its assistance will amount to conciliation between the disabled person and the provider of goods and services in order to find a way forward to resolve the dispute. But I do not think that we want to give it the flavour, which conciliation would give to it, of being neutral when it comes to looking at the problem. We want the body to feel that it is there to assist the disabled person and, therefore, without reading too much into my words, that it is batting slightly more in favour of the disabled person, is trying to find a way round the problem, is trying to find an accommodation and is assisting in the search for that accommodation. With that explanation of why we have gone down the road that we have gone down, and why I am reluctant to take on board the use of the word "conciliation", I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for giving that explanation. The word "conciliation" was included in the explanatory memorandum but now the Minister has changed his

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mind. However, in view of the fact that it is five minutes to one in the morning and in view of the fact that he said quite a lot and I was not really concentrating on it too hard, I shall withdraw the amendment. I shall read what he said. I want to ensure that the provision of the services which he envisages will be evenhanded. There is a feeling that perhaps different types of conciliation or advice could be given which would mean that it was not. With that warning, so to speak, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. [Amendment No. 82 not moved.]

Clause 25 [Further and higher education of disabled persons]:

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 83:


Page 20, line 3, after ("of") insert ("physical or other support").
The noble Earl said: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his welcome and I should like to extend a welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, who I am very glad to see joining us on this Bill. In moving Amendment No. 83 I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 86, which is the Scottish version and is otherwise identical. In any matter involving higher education, I must declare an interest.
We discussed this matter in Committee. I was entirely satisfied with what the Minister said then. In fact, I was so satisfied that I threw away all the papers. I thought the business was finished. So I can claim to have added a new meaning to the phrase "Pride goeth before a fall". But after that I received a letter from the Minister written, I think, on advice from within the Department for Education on 5th July. I am not sure whether it was the Department for Education or whether it had already become the Department for Education and Employment. Having given me an assurance in Committee that the facilities referred to in the Government's Bill related only to physical facilities, he told me in that letter:
"For the avoidance of doubt, in referring to physical facilities, it was not my intention to imply that the statements would deal only with physical facilities".
That may have been done for the avoidance of doubt, but it has in fact led to the creation of doubt.
I should explain that what we are dealing with here are disability statements which universities are to be required to supply under the Bill. Clause 26(6) says that such statements should contain,
"information of a specified description about the provision of facilities for education and research made by the institution in respect of persons who are disabled persons".
There is one aspect that has always concerned the universities in this respect. We are perfectly happy to provide any information about physical facilities, support services and so on. However, what we are not as happy with is the detailed investigation into curriculum matters, possibly leading to pressure to change course content.
I understand the point made in the Minister's letter of 5th July, but support services may not necessarily be physical. For example, if someone reads to a blind man, is that a physical facility? I can understand that a court might amuse itself on that point. Therefore, I propose the insertion of the words, "physical or other" support

18 Jul 1995 : Column 278

facilities. I hope that that will be satisfactory. However, if it is not satisfactory for any reason, I would be very glad indeed to know what else it is that the Department for Education and Employment desires from such statements. Once we know exactly what is wanted, we might then be able to achieve a form of words which could express the purpose in the Bill. I beg to move.

1 a.m.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): My Lords, I have one question for the noble Earl. Perhaps he could include his answer to me in his response to the Minister. I absolutely accept that universities want to keep their academic freedom. Indeed, the noble Earl has said again tonight very much what he said in Committee on l5th June (at col. l983 of Hansard); namely, that what tends to cause us concern is any intervention by an outside authority in matters of specific curriculum and academic content.

However, we are now talking about something quite different—the provision of support so that students can gain access to the curriculum. But the wording of the noble Earl's amendment of "physical and other support" seems wide enough not to cause me concern, especially if he can give me a positive answer to my question. Does the noble Earl agree that universities should take it upon themselves to consider in relation to an individual student whether there is leeway for flexibility if a particular part of the curriculum prevents that student reaching his educational goal? Any subsequent decision on that would, of course, be entirely a matter for the university concerned, but I would be happier if the noble Earl said that they should at least ask themselves the question.


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