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Disabled People: Employment Code of Practice and Regulations

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Henley: Over 670 replies were received from organisations and individuals by the close of the consultation period at the end of March. This was a welcome and helpful response.

Most respondents considered that the draft code could be improved in the way it gave guidance on the employment provisions in the Act and helped employers avoid discrimination in all areas of employment. There was also a great deal of support for the code to contain more illustrative examples. Although most respondents considered that the length of the draft was about right, the constructive comments they, and others, made could not be taken into account without substantial revision.

We have therefore arranged to lay before Parliament today a redrafted Code of Practice relating to the elimination of discrimination in the field of employment against disabled people and people who have had a disability. The code includes many illustrative examples and significant additional guidance about the employment provisions of the Act, as well as information about how complaints might be made and how to seek further information, and a comprehensive index. It should now meet the needs of organisations of all sizes covered by the Act's employment provisions.

The proposals for employment regulations were supported by a majority of those who expressed a view and only minor changes have been needed to deal with some issues which were identified during the consultation process. As a result, we have also laid before Parliament today the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996.

The consultation exercise also sought views on two issues for which we made no proposals for regulations but were interested in opinions about the merit of possible change. One issue was the setting of a financial cap for making a reasonable adjustment. A clear majority of those who expressed a view were not in favour of a cap, and the department is not proposing to introduce one when the employment provisions are commenced.

The other issue was whether the duty of reasonable adjustment should apply to aspects of physical features of buildings or extensions which meet the British Standard 5810. A clear majority of those who expressed a view considered it should apply and we do not propose to introduce regulations on this issue. Therefore no aspect of a building will be exempted from the duty of reasonable adjustment simply because it meets BS5810.

We have decided that the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 will commence on 2nd December 1996. The draft Code of Practice and the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996 will also commence on that date, subject to completion of the Parliamentary procedure. The code will be published as soon as possible, to give employers and others affected by the employment provisions time to take account of its guidance.

A statistical analysis of the responses to the consultation is being placed in the Library.

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Breathalysers: Manufacturers

The Earl of Kimberley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Where the general public can buy the same type of breathalyser as used by the police.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Roadside breathalysers used by the police are manufactured by Lion Laboratories PLC of Barry, South Glamorgan and Drager Limited of Blyth, Northumberland. Equipment of identical technology to that used by the police may be purchased by members of the public from these companies although it should be noted that the accuracy and reliability of devices depends to some degree on their proper use and maintenance.

Prosecution Procedures:Scott Recommendations

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reached any conclusions in respect of Sir Richard Scott's recommendations on prosecution procedures.

Baroness Blatch: Sir Richard made eight recommendations concerning prosecution procedures. In essence the recommendations are intended to ensure that in future the prosecution ascertains whether there are any documents held by other government departments and agencies which may not only be relevant to the way it proposes to put its case, but which may also be relevant to the way in which the defence proposes to put the case for the accused, so far as it is known or can be inferred. They also seek to ensure that satisfactory arrangements are in place for recording what is done by the prosecution in this regard (and the responses to their requests of other departments and agencies) and reporting all of this to the defence.

The recommendations are based on the existing law on disclosure but, as Sir Richard recognised, they need to be considered against the provisions in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Bill (which is awaiting Report stage). The Government believe that the more focused and clearer duties established by the provisions in the Bill and the code of practice (to be promulgated under Part II of the Bill) will address Sir Richard's concerns. To the extent that Sir Richard's recommendations are not already met by the provisions in the Bill, the Government have sought to identify what further action may be necessary.

Part II of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Bill provides that the Secretary of State shall prepare a code of practice for the police designed to secure that information obtained in the course of a criminal investigation and which may be relevant to it is recorded, retained and revealed to the prosecutor for a decision on disclosure. Investigators other than the police will have to comply with any provisions of the code that are relevant to them. The Government have

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concluded that the draft code of practice should be amended to emphasise the duty on the investigator to explore all reasonable lines of inquiry, including those which might point away from the suspect.

The Government are preparing guidance booklets on disclosure for Government Departments and Crown Servants. The purpose of these booklets is to give guidance on the procedures that should be followed concerning information which may be relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence, and advice on the proper response to requests from investigators, prosecutors or the defence. This guidance will, of course, take account of Sir Richard's recommendations, as well as the provisions in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Bill.

Finally, the Director of Public Prosecutions is reviewing the guidance that she gives to the Crown Prosecution Service on the proper application of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, to ensure that the guidance emphasises the importance of the prosecutor considering whether there are any further reasonable lines of inquiry which in his view should be pursued. Similarly, other departmental prosecuting authorities will review and, where necessary, prepare equivalent guidance for other government prosecutors.

We have placed a paper in the Library, giving a more detailed account of the Government's response to Sir Richard Scott's recommendations on prosecution procedures.

Intelligence Services:Commissioner's Report

Lord Cuckney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 will be laid before the House.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): A copy of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith's first annual report, for 1995, has been laid before the House today in accordance with Section 8(6) of the Intelligence Services Act 1994. The confidential annex to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with Section 8(7) of the 1994 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his work in reviewing the issue of warrants and authorisations, and in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided for in the Act. I note that he is satisfied that the Secretary of State has properly exercised his powers under the two sections of the 1994 Act.

Security Service: Commissioner's Report

Lord Cuckney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Security Service Act 1989 will be laid before the House.

Viscount Cranborne: A copy of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith's sixth annual report, for 1995, has been

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laid before the House today in accordance with Section 4(6) of the Security Service Act 1989. The confidential annex to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with Section 4(7) of the 1989 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his work in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided in that Act and for reviewing the issue of warrants under the Intelligence Services Act 1994. I note that he is satisfied that the Secretaries of State have exercised their powers in accordance with the provisions of the 1994 Act.

Interception of Communications Act 1985: Commissioner's Report

Lord Cuckney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the annual report of the commissioner appointed under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 will be laid before the House.

Viscount Cranborne: A copy of Lord Nolan's annual report for 1995 has been laid before the House today in accordance with Section 8(7) of the Interception of Communications Act 1985. The confidential annex to the report has been excluded from that copy in accordance with section 8(8) of the 1985 Act. I am grateful to the commissioner for his work in reviewing the issue of warrants and in providing assistance to the tribunal as provided for in the Act. I note in particular the commissioner's view that the interception of both postal and telecommunications remains both an effective and an essential operation in the interests of national security and the economic well-being of the United Kingdom, and the prevention and detection of serious crime.


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