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Lord Addington: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, is absolutely right in his approach. We are talking about goods and services employers. Let us hit those who are offending where it really hurts; that is, in the pocket. If we make sure that people will pay literally in cash, it will concentrate the mind wonderfully.

I am sorry to inform the noble Lord that as a small, fat, dyslexic schoolboy I suffered rather heavily from bullying and one does not always have shoulders when one is only five years old.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, the noble Lord used the word "preposterous" and was quite right to do so; but he hit the wrong target. What is preposterous is the provision in the Bill which places a cap on the damages which can be awarded.

No one is suggesting, and certainly not my noble friend, that there should be outrageous damages. They would not be awarded in any case because people's attitude to disability is far too conservative. However, disabled people are insulted if their damages can be capped whereas for sexual and racial discrimination there is no limit. Why should there be a difference of that kind? Does it not matter if the reputation of a disabled person is damaged? Of course it matters. If people who suffer from racial or sexual discrimination can be awarded damages with no cap, the same should apply to disabled people. In logic and in reason the amendment should be accepted and I hope the Minister will have better excuses than he had on the previous amendment.

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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I might point out to the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, that the previous amendment was accepted by your Lordships with your Lordships' equivalent of applause. Clearly I will not have the same success here.

Amendment No. 72 will delete paragraph 7 from the schedule and thus remove the provision allowing for a limit to be set on the amount of damages payable in compensation for injury to feelings. A similar amendment was moved during Committee stage by the noble Baroness, Lady Dean, and I explained the reasons then why I did not agree that the power to set such a limit should be removed. I have not heard anything this evening to persuade me to change my mind.

Perhaps I may refer back to a debate we had earlier when I responded to amendments from my noble friend Lady O'Cathain. We want to ensure that as many cases as possible can be resolved without recourse to the court system. However, where that becomes inevitable, we want the system for redress to be as informal and easy to use as possible. We have made it clear that we believe that there should be a financial limit on the amount of compensation payable for injured feelings when a disabled person has been discriminated against in access to goods and services. I explained before that we wish to set the limit on the amount payable for injured feelings so as to help ensure that the vast majority of cases can be dealt with under the small claims procedure, with its advantages of cheap and informal resolution. There will, of course, be no limit set on the amount of damages payable for financial loss incurred in a case of discrimination.

I believe that it is in everyone's interest for the procedures for redress to be effective and, wherever possible, to be informal so as to avoid expensive and lengthy litigation. The inclusion of this provision does not mean that we do not place as high value on the feelings of disabled people as we do on other groups. What the provision does mean is that we want to see a chance for practical solutions to be available to disabled people when they have been discriminated against.

I should stress, as I said before, that there is no bar on a disabled person going to the county court if there is more at issue than injured feelings. If he has lost money because a service provider has discriminated, a disabled person would be able to complain to the county court and there would, of course, be no ceiling on the level of damages which the court could award. The advice and support service will also help disabled people to obtain advice and promote the resolution of disputes arising under the right of access without the need for legal proceedings. Where litigation does become necessary, the provision in the Bill currently will help to ensure that disabled people can obtain redress quickly and effectively and there is not the additional factor of the possibility of large amounts of money changing hands.

I think it is in the interests of those of us who want to see the Bill work with as little trouble as possible, and certainly with as little recourse to the law as possible, to have this provision in the Bill. I therefore hope that, having listened to my explanation, the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

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Lord Carter: My Lords, I shall not detain the House for very long. The Minister said that he wants the system of redress to be informal. But relying on the small claims court for injuries to feelings is insulting to disabled people and builds discrimination into the Bill. The Minister did not deal with the deterrent effect which I mentioned. However, it is clear that the Government cannot be persuaded. I feel that disabled people and their organisations will feel insulted by the Government's answer. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 76:


Page 54, line 7, leave out ("arrangements or conditions") and insert ("conditions or requirements").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to Amendments Nos. 76 to 80. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 77:


Page 54, line 8, leave out ("made, approved or").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 78:


After Schedule 3, insert the following new schedule—

("Schedule 3A
Premises Occupied Under Leases
Part I
Occupation by Employer or Trade Organisation
Failure to obtain consent to alteration

1. If any question arises as to whether the occupier has failed to comply with the section 6 or section 15 duty, by failing to make a particular alteration to the premises, any constraint attributable to the fact that he occupies the premises under a lease is to be ignored unless he has applied to the lessor in writing for consent to the making of the alteration.
Joining lessors in proceedings under section 8

2.—(1) In any proceedings under section 8, in a case to which section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) applies, the complainant or the occupier may ask the tribunal hearing the complaint to direct that the lessor be joined or sisted as a party to the proceedings.
(2) The request shall be granted if it is made before the hearing of the complaint begins.
(3) The tribunal may refuse the request if it is made after the hearing of the complaint begins.
(4) The request may not be granted if it is made after the tribunal has determined the complaint.
(5) Where a lessor has been so joined or sisted as a party to the proceedings and the tribunal finds that—
(a) the lessor has—
(i) refused consent to the alteration, or
(ii) has consented subject to one or more conditions, and
(b) the refusal or any of the conditions was unreasonable,
it may make such declaration as it considers appropriate or order the lessor to pay compensation to the complainant.
(6) A declaration or order under sub-paragraph (5) may be made in substitution for, or in addition to, any steps taken by the tribunal under section 8(2).
(7) If the tribunal orders the lessor to pay compensation it may not make an order under section 8(2) ordering the occupier to do so.

24 Oct 1995 : Column 1067

Regulations

3. Regulations may make provision as to circumstances in which—
(a) a lessor is to be taken, for the purposes of section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) and this Part of this Schedule to have—
(i) withheld his consent;
(ii) withheld his consent unreasonably;
(iii) acted reasonably in withholding his consent;
(b) a condition subject to which a lessor has given his consent is to be taken to be reasonable;
(c) a condition subject to which a lessor has given his consent is to be taken to be unreasonable.
Sub-leases etc.

4. The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision supplementing, or modifying, the provision made by section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) or any provision made by or under this Part of this Schedule in relation to cases where the occupier occupies premises under a sub-lease or sub-tenancy.
Part II
Occupation by Providers of Services
Failure to obtain consent to alteration

5. If any question arises as to whether the occupier has failed to comply with the section 18 duty, by failing to make a particular alteration to premises, any constraint attributable to the fact that he occupies the premises under a lease is to be ignored unless he has applied to the lessor in writing for consent to the making of the alteration.
Reference to court

6.—(1) If the occupier has applied in writing to the lessor for consent to the alteration and—
(a) that consent has been refused, or
(b) the lessor has made his consent subject to one or more conditions,
the occupier or a disabled person who has an interest in the proposed alteration to the premises being made, may refer the matter to a county court or, in Scotland, to the sheriff.
(2) In the following provisions of this Schedule "court" includes "sheriff".
(3) On such a reference the court shall determine whether the lessor's refusal was unreasonable or (as the case may be) whether the condition is, or any of the conditions are, unreasonable.
(4) If the court determines that the lessor's refusal was unreasonable it may make a declaration to the effect that if the lessor were to give his consent subject to such condition or conditions as may be specified in the declaration he would be acting reasonably.
Joining lessors in proceedings under section 22

7.—(1) In any proceedings on a claim under section 22, in a case to which this Part of this Schedule applies, the plaintiff, the pursuer or the occupier concerned may ask the court to direct that the lessor be joined or sisted as a party to the proceedings.
(2) The request shall be granted if it is made before the hearing of the claim begins.
(3) The court may refuse the request if it is made after the hearing of the claim begins.
(4) The request may not be granted if it is made after the court has determined the claim.
(5) Where a lessor has been so joined or sisted as a party to the proceedings and the court finds that—
(a) the lessor has—
(i) refused consent to the alteration, or
(ii) has consented subject to one or more conditions, and
(b) the refusal or any of the conditions was unreasonable,
it may make such declaration as it considers appropriate or order the lessor to pay compensation to the complainant.

24 Oct 1995 : Column 1068


(6) If the court orders the lessor to pay compensation it may not order the occupier to do so.
Regulations

8. Regulations may make provision as to circumstances in
which—
(a) a lessor is to be taken, for the purposes of section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) and this Part of this Schedule to have—
(i) withheld his consent;
(ii) withheld his consent unreasonably;
(iii) acted reasonably in withholding his consent;
(b) a condition subject to which a lessor has given his consent is to be taken to be reasonable;
(c) a condition subject to which a lessor has given his consent is to be taken to be unreasonable.
Sub-leases etc.

9. The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision supplementing, or modifying, the provision made by section (Alterations to premises occupied under leases) or any provision made by or under this Part of this Schedule in relation to cases where the occupier occupies premises under a sub-lease or sub-tenancy.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Consequential Amendments]:


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