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Lord Henley: My Lords, I remind the noble Baroness that we are at Third Reading. If we are to be criticised for bringing forward amendments later, I should say that to bring an amendment forward of this sort that was not discussed at an earlier stage makes life extremely difficult.

As regards the first point made by the noble Baroness, I remind her of a point which does not seem to have caught on with those opposite. Resources are by their nature finite and there is no point in trying to spread them willy-nilly over everything. We must use them as best we can. In relation to the second point, children of whatever age are far better dealt with under the Education Act. To bring them within this legislation would cause added confusion. It is not necessary so to do and that is why I made it clear that I do not believe the amendments to be necessary.

As regards the third point made by the noble Baroness in relation to vouchers, we shall have ample opportunity in the coming months to discuss this matter and I look forward to discussing it with the noble Baroness and others.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am disappointed with the reply given by the Minister. I do not feel that the points raised were answered adequately. It is because we are at such an early stage of becoming aware of the details of the Government's scheme and the trawling by the Government of local education authorities in order to provide a pilot scheme, that it was necessary to table this amendment at such a late stage. However, it is with regret that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 23 not moved.]

Clause 17 [Meaning of "discrimination"]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 24:


Page 16, line 10, leave out from ("which") to end of line 13 and insert ("—
(a) it is reasonable for a provider of services to hold the opinion mentioned in subsection (3)(a);
(b) it is not reasonable for a provider of services to hold that opinion.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 24, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 25.

Amendment No. 24 is a clarifying amendment which restructures subsection (6) of Clause 17. The key element of a justifiable refusal to serve is not simply that one of the conditions set out in subsection (4) is met, but that it is reasonable for the service provider to hold that opinion. An example of this could be if a swimming instructor, taking an adult beginners class, has to focus most of his attention on a disabled person and cannot cover the programme for each class. Other members of the class might be put at risk. This amendment makes the clause consistent and coherent regarding the concept of reasonableness, and the part that that plays in any justifiable refusal to serve.

I mentioned Amendment No. 25 earlier. It allows regulations to be made to provide that, where a disabled person is incapable of entering into an enforceable

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agreement, but there is someone acting on their behalf—for example under an enduring power of attorney—the service provider may not justifiably refuse to serve them. This amendment recognises the value of a power of attorney for people with mental incapacity and also fits in with other legislation on enduring powers of attorney. I am aware that anxiety has been expressed concerning this part of the Bill and that there has been some confusion. This amendment clarifies the intention of this provision. I commend it to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 25 and 26:


Page 16, line 13, at end insert—
("(6A) Regulations may make provision for subsection (4)(b) not to apply in prescribed circumstances where—
(a) a person is acting for a disabled person under a power of attorney;
(b) functions conferred by or under Part VII of the Mental Health Act 1983 are exercisable in relation to a disabled person's property or affairs; or
(c) powers are exercisable in Scotland in relation to a disabled person's property or affairs in consequence of the appointment of a curator bonis, tutor or judicial factor.").
Page 16, line 17, leave out subsection (8).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these amendments have already been spoken to. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 23 [Validity and revision of certain agreements]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 27:


Page 21, line 16, leave out from ("for") to end of line 17 and insert ("modifying the agreement to take account of the effect of subsection (1).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 28:


After Clause 23, insert the following new clause—

Alterations to premises occupied under leases

(".—(1) This section applies where—
(a) a provider of services ("the occupier") occupies premises under a lease;
(b) but for this section, he would not be entitled to make a particular alteration to the premises; and
(c) the alteration is one which the occupier proposes to make in order to comply with a section 18 duty.
(2) Except to the extent to which it expressly so provides, the lease shall have effect by virtue of this subsection as if it provided—
(a) for the occupier to be entitled to make the alteration with the written consent of the lessor;
(b) for the occupier to have to make a written application to the lessor for consent if he wishes to make the alteration;
(c) if such an application is made, for the lessor not to withhold his consent unreasonably; and
(d) for the lessor to be entitled to make his consent subject to reasonable conditions.
(3) In this section—
"lease" includes a tenancy, sub-lease or sub-tenancy and an agreement for a lease, tenancy, sub-lease or sub-tenancy; and
"sub-lease" and "sub-tenancy" have such meaning as may be prescribed.

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(4) If the terms and conditions of a lease—
(a) impose conditions which are to apply if the occupier alters the premises, or
(b) entitle the lessor to impose conditions when consenting to the occupier's altering the premises,
the occupier is to be treated for the purposes of subsection (1) as not being entitled to make the alteration.
(5) Part II of Schedule (Premises occupied under leases) supplements the provisions of this section.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 24 [Advice and assistance]:

Baroness O'Cathain moved Amendment No. 29:


Page 21, line 25, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 29, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 30, 31 and 74. Before I do so, I apologise to the House for my absence during the debate on Amendments Nos. 2 and 49, when I believe my noble friend made reference to the advice and assistance and dispute resolution detailed in the amendments to Clause 24.

On Report I moved similar amendments which I withdrew for further consideration "with a warning". I return to this issue with an amendment to Clause 24 and its supporting Schedule 3 to elicit the Minister's full response and clarification of the Government's intention and proposals regarding the provision of advice and assistance. I am aware that in July the proposals were very much in genesis but I believe that since then some life has been breathed into the soul, so to speak, of Clause 24.

First, I should like to be fully assured by the Minister that the interpretation of Clause 24 affords and effects equality of opportunity for disabled people and is not misinterpreted as a paternalistic measure. Secondly, my amendments seek also to clarify the law and gain a firm commitment that the Secretary of State will make arrangements for the provision of an equitable expert advice service and that such a service will be accessible to all affected parties and will promote and facilitate the settlement of disputes. Mechanisms which obviate a recourse to the courts are clearly in the best interests of disabled people, the business community and government expenditure. I beg to move.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, my name is attached to the amendment and I should like to support it. However, I wonder whether my noble friend can confirm and clarify that the advice and assistance provided will be open to all parties to a dispute—service providers as well as disabled people—and that persons as referred to on the face of the Bill include bodies corporate as well as individuals. Can my noble friend explain the different levels of advice and assistance that will be available under the access provisions? What is the structure envisaged for a mediation service? Can my noble friend clarify the procedures proposed for the settlement of disputes for smaller firms and larger organisations? Can he confirm when consultation on the mechanisms for settlement of disputes is likely to start? Can he also say something about the development of the Government's proposals for the helpline facility that was mentioned at the Report stage? Will the helpline be operational prior to implementation of the Bill? My noble friend has

24 Oct 1995 : Column 1028

already said that he will be consulting with all parties prior to the start, but do the Government concur that the helpline will be the key to ensuring smooth implementation?

My noble friend has been given advance notice of these questions. I hope that the answers will make it easier for the implementation of the Bill once it becomes an Act.


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