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Lord Swinfen: My Lords, in Committee I was not in favour of the amendment because it is impractical. I am glad that the Government have reversed it in another place. If the amendment remained it would not do the Bill any favour. This is the first piece of legislation in this country relating to disability discrimination and we have a great deal to learn about it. I believe that the question of perceived disability is extremely difficult to deal with at this stage and I prefer it to be left out of the Bill.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate. I am grateful in particular to my noble friend Lord Swinfen who takes a great interest in these matters. He clearly underlined the distinction that I tried to make on a number of occasions during the various stages of the Bill. It was that the Bill is not a general discrimination Bill, as the noble Lords, Lord Addington and Lord Ashley, would prefer, but it is a disability discrimination Bill. With the backing of many of your Lordships, I and the Government are intent on trying to prevent discrimination against disabled people. We believe that the amendment before us would widen the Bill to such an extent that it would be almost impossible for the ordinary person, the ordinary service provider, to apply the definition. As I said, this is not a general discrimination Bill but a Bill about discriminating against disabled people. For that reason, I hope that your Lordships will not insist on your amendment.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

43

Clause 18, page 15, line 5, 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 16(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 16(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.

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(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 Commons agreed to this amendment with the following amendment— 43A

Line 22, leave out from 'which' to end of line 25 and insert '—


(a) it is reasonable for a person to hold the opinion mentioned in subsection (2)(a);
(b) it is not reasonable for a person to hold that opinion.'.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 43A to Lords Amendment No. 43.

This amendment restructures subsection (3) of Clause 18, one of the provisions relating to premises in Part III of the Bill. The key element of a justifiable refusal to sell or let property to a disabled person is not simply that one of the conditions set out in subsection (3) is met but that it is reasonable for the landlord to hold the opinion that one of the conditions is satisfied. An example of this could be if a landlord thought that a prospective tenant with a mental disability was not capable of understanding the terms of the lease. This amendment makes the clause consistent and coherent regarding the concept of reasonableness and the part that this plays in any justifiable refusal to sell or let premises. It makes this section of Part III consistent with the right of access to goods and services. I commend the amendment to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 43A as an amendment to Lords Amendment No. 43.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

3.45 p.m.

LORDS AMENDMENT

50

After Clause 22, insert the following new clause—

("Part IIIB
Public Transport
Taxis
Taxi accessibility regulations

.—(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations ("taxi accessibility regulations") for the purpose of securing that it is possible—
(a) for disabled persons—
(i) to get into and out of taxis in safety;
(ii) to be carried in taxis in safety and in reasonable comfort; and
(b) for disabled persons in wheelchairs—
(i) to be conveyed in safety into and out of taxis while remaining in their wheelchairs; and
(ii) to be carried in taxis in safety and in reasonable comfort while remaining in their wheelchairs.
(2) Taxi accessibility regulations may, in particular—

6 Nov 1995 : Column 1589


(a) require any regulated taxi to conform with provisions of the regulations as to—
(i) the size of any door opening which is for the use of passengers;
(ii) the floor area of the passenger compartment;
(iii) the amount of headroom in the passenger compartment;
(iv) the fitting of restraining devices designed to ensure the stability of a wheelchair while the taxi is moving;
(b) require the driver of any regulated taxi which is plying for hire, or which has been hired, to comply with provisions of the regulations as to the carrying of ramps or other devices designed to facilitate the loading and unloading of wheelchairs;
(c) require the driver of any regulated taxi in which a disabled person who is in a wheelchair is being carried (while remaining in his wheelchair) to comply with provisions of the regulations as to the position in which the wheelchair is to be secured.
(3) The driver of a regulated taxi which is plying for hire, or which has been hired, is guilty of an offence if—
(a) he fails to comply with any requirement imposed on him by the regulations; or
(b) the taxi fails to conform with any provision of the regulations with which it is required to conform.
(4) A person who is guilty of such an offence is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(5) In this section—
"passenger compartment" has such meaning as may be prescribed;
"regulated taxi" means any taxi to which the regulations are expressed to apply;
"taxi" means a vehicle licensed under—
(a) section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, or
(b) section 6 of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869,
but does not include a taxi which is drawn by a horse or other animal.")
The Commons agreed to this amendment with the following amendment— 50A

Line 49, at end insert the following clause—


'Designated transport facilities.
.—(1) In this section "a franchise agreement" means a contract entered into by the operator of a designated transport facility for the provision by the other party to the contract of hire car services—
(a) for members of the public using any part of the transport facility; and
(b) which involve vehicles entering any part of that facility.
(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for the application of any taxi provision in relation to—
(a) vehicles used for the provision of services under a franchise agreement; or
(b) the drivers of such vehicles.
(3) Any regulations under subsection (2) may apply any taxi provision with such modifications as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
(4) In this section—
"designated" means designated for the purposes of this section by an order made by the Secretary of State;
"hire car" has such meaning as may be prescribed;

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"operator", in relation to a transport facility, means any person who is concerned with the management or operation of the facility;
"taxi provision" means any provision of—
(a) this Act, or
(b) regulations made in pursuance of section 20(2A) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982,
which applies in relation to taxis or the drivers of taxis; and
"transport facility" means any premises which form part of any port, airport, railway station or bus station.'.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 50A to Lords Amendment No. 50.

The strength of feeling voiced by some of your Lordships when we debated the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin of Clee, at Third Reading did not go unheeded. I am pleased to see the noble Lord in his place.

As I have explained to the House, that amendment then before us was seriously flawed. I am pleased to recall that enough of your Lordships agreed with me to carry my position in the Division Lobby. It would have undermined the ability of airport operators in particular to protect the interests of their passengers by regulating fares. The purpose behind the amendment—to enable disabled people the same freedom of access to onward transport as other travellers enjoy—was, however, one that we could endorse and the intervening time has allowed us to bring forward amendments which achieve that purpose without the unacceptable difficulties which would have been created by the earlier proposal.

Our amendments do not call into question the principle of a contract between the operator of a transport facility and a taxi or private hire vehicle firm. We believe that there is considerable merit in these contracts. They enable a menu of fixed fares to be agreed for the benefit of all passengers. If we had agreed to let taxis ply for hire at all transport facilities there was a danger that people could be over-charged by unscrupulous drivers once the taxi had left the area in which it was licensed.

To avoid this happening, the amendments before us look primarily at the vehicles used. The effect is that the Secretary of State can, where appropriate, apply the taxi provisions, modified if necessary, to the vehicles used under these contracts.

For this purpose, the Secretary of State is given a regulation-making power. That power could be used to ensure that when accessibility requirements are in force for taxis generally, equivalent requirements can be imposed on vehicles used under a contract to provide hire car services at say, an airport. It is a flexible power—sensibly I suggest—so that the Secretary of State is well able to solve problems as and when they arise.

But the principle is that it will enable the Secretary of State to ensure that the standards of accessibility for vehicles used under contracts can be kept in step with those for taxis generally. It can also ensure that the drivers can be placed under the same obligations as the drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis. I hope your

6 Nov 1995 : Column 1591

Lordships will agree that this is both a sensible and a proper response to the concern which has understandably been voiced on this issue in previous debates. I commend the amendment to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 50A as an amendment to Lords Amendment No. 50.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)


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