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Lord Dubs moved Amendments No. 186 to 188:

Page 67, line 34, leave out ("the equality of opportunity mentioned in section 71(1)") and insert ("equality of opportunity").
Page 67, line 35, at end insert--
("(bb) for monitoring any adverse impact of policies adopted by the authority on the promotion of equality of opportunity;").
Page 67, line 36, leave out ("assessments") and insert ("such assessments as are mentioned in paragraph (b) and such monitoring as is mentioned in paragraph (bb)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, before calling Amendment No. 188A, I must inform the House that if that amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 189 which stands in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 188A:

Page 67, leave out lines 37 and 38.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, I am placed in a difficulty. I confess that I had not noticed Amendment No. 188A. Perhaps I may indicate briefly the problem that was in my mind which impelled me to table Amendment No. 189. In Committee, I ventured to point out that human rights are largely about empowerment. They are about giving people a voice in their own destiny. They are not tablets of stone handed down from Heaven to Mount Sinai. They are about meeting the practical anxieties and aspirations of ordinary people living their daily lives. So consultation is at the heart of the problem. The Government have already provided for that in paragraph 4(2)(d).

My concern is really a very narrow one; that the authority is required to state whom it proposes to consult. I should simply like to be assured that among those whom the authority will consult are those directly affected by the policies in question. By all means consult the experts, lawyers and the NGOs--they might have a real and useful input to make into the process--but can we be assured that there will be consultation with the people who will actually be affected? That is my anxiety. If my noble friend can allay that anxiety, I do not propose to pursue the matter further.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I think I can. Amendment No. 188A is a tidying-up measure. The point at issue is contained in Amendment No. 183 which deals substantially with the concern of my noble and learned friend.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 189 not moved.]

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 190:

Page 68, line 1, after ("paragraph") insert--
(""equality of opportunity" means such equality of opportunity as is mentioned in section 71(1);").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 191:

Page 68, line 28, at end insert--
("( ) A public authority shall, before the end of the period of five years beginning with the submission of its current scheme, or the latest review of that scheme under this sub-paragraph, whichever is the later, review that scheme and inform the Commission of the outcome of the review.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am pleased to move government Amendment No. 191, which, again, has been tabled in response to helpful suggestions on how the provisions on equality schemes could be improved. My noble and learned friend Lord Archer has also tabled Amendment No. 192.

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These amendments would have a very similar effect. Both require reviews by a public authority, after five years' experience of implementing an equality scheme. In some ways, the government amendment is more rigorous as it requires the public authority to notify the equality commission of the outcome of its review.

In the light of government Amendment No. 191, I hope that my noble and learned friend will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right in relation to both propositions. His amendment is very similar to my Amendment No. 192, and his amendment is better than mine. It therefore remains only to thank him for having an open ear and for responding to points that we made in earlier debates. I give notice that I shall not be moving my amendment. On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 192 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

Lord Archer of Sandwell had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 193:

Page 68, line 28, at end insert--
("( ) A public authority shall consider--
(a) measures to mitigate any adverse impact of its policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity; and
(b) alternative policies which might better achieve the promotion of equality of opportunity.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this amendment, too, is in terms very similar to Amendment No. 195 standing in the name of my noble friend. Once again, he has generously responded to our earlier representations. Accordingly, I do not propose to move the amendment and am content to leave the matter to my noble friend when he moves Amendment No. 195.

[Amendment No. 193 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 194 not moved.]

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 195:

Page 68, line 28, at end insert--

("Duties arising out of equality schemes

.--(1) In publishing the results of such an assessment as is mentioned in paragraph 4(2)(b), a public authority shall state the aims of the policy to which the assessment relates and give details of any consideration given by the authority to--
(a) measures which might mitigate any adverse impact of that policy on the promotion of equality of opportunity; and
(b) alternative policies which might better achieve the promotion of equality of opportunity.
(2) In making any decision with respect to a policy adopted or proposed to be adopted by it, a public authority shall take into account any such assessment and consultation as is mentioned in paragraph 4(2)(b) carried out in relation to the policy.
(3) In this paragraph "equality of opportunity" has the same meaning as in paragraph 4.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Dubs moved Amendments Nos. 196 and 197:

Page 69, line 12, leave out ("(2)(c)") and insert ("(3)(a)").
Page 69, line 16, at end insert--

("Government departments

.--(1) Paragraphs 6, 7 and 10(2)(b) and (3) do not apply to a government department which is such a public authority as is mentioned in section 71(3)(a).
(2) On receipt of a scheme submitted by such a government department under paragraph 2 or 3 the Commission shall--
(a) approve it; or
(b) request the department to make a revised scheme.
(3) A request under sub-paragraph (2)(b) shall be treated in the same way as a request under paragraph 3(1)(b).
(4) Where a request is made under sub-paragraph (2)(b), the government department shall, if it does not submit a revised scheme to the Commission before the end of the period of six months beginning with the date of the request, send to the Commission a written statement of the reasons for not doing so.
(5) The Commission may lay before Parliament and the Assembly a report of any investigation such as is mentioned in paragraph 10(1) relating to a government department such as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (1).").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 11 [Devolution issues]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 198:

Page 69, line 21, leave out ("a question").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 198 to 220 in Schedule 11 are essentially of a technical nature. They relate to the devolution issues schedule in the Bill, which provides a mechanism by which certain critical types of legal issues that may arise under the Bill can achieve a hearing by a court appropriate to matters of this seriousness, in proceedings in which, besides the parties, the relevant authorities can also appear. The group also includes a transitional amendment in Schedule 14. Some of our amendments here reflect amendments approved by the House yesterday to Clause 76.

The earlier amendments in this group relate to the issues that may be examined under the schedule. The first three are simply a matter of drafting, but Amendment No. 201 includes several new issues. One is a question about a failure by a Minister or Northern Ireland department to comply with the convention rights or obligations under Community law, including a quota obligation under Clause 25. The Bill envisages that the devolved institutions should implement directly obligations of these kinds that fall into their field of responsibility; and it is a ground of invalidity of legislation by the Assembly or the Northern Ireland executive authorities that they have legislated incompatibly with obligations under Community law or the convention. The first element of the amendment permits the devolution issues mechanism to be used to assess whether the devolved institutions have fulfilled their responsibilities in this context.

The second element of Amendment No. 201 permits the consideration under this procedure of other issues that may arise in connection with excepted or reserved matters under the Act. The drafting is deliberately broad, because it is not possible to define precisely all the questions relating to the policing of the constitutional

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boundaries set up by the Bill. The Scotland Bill now contains, in Schedule 6, paragraph 1(f), a similarly broadly-cast question.

The amendments following Amendment No. 201 are chiefly concerned with ensuring that the appropriate parties are before the court. Our main concern here has been to give the devolved institutions a proper role in such proceedings, a question we have already touched on in connection with amendments to Clause 76 of the Bill. Whereas Clause 76 relates to a court's judgment about the consequences that should flow from a finding of invalidity, the devolution issues procedure relates to the consideration of the question of invalidity itself.

The devolution issues provisions in all three devolution Bills have conferred a right to institute proceedings only on Law Officers, and we believe that that is right. But we also think it right that the devolved institutions should have an opportunity to express their views when their legislation is in question.

Accordingly, Amendment No. 204 gives them the right to defend such proceedings and other amendments give them a right to have notice when a devolution issue arises in proceedings in Northern Ireland and to take part in the proceedings so far as they relate to the devolution issue. They are given similar rights in the later parts of the schedule, which relate to the contingency, which we expect will be rare, of Northern Ireland devolution issues arising in proceedings in England and Wales or Scotland.

As we explained previously in relation to Clause 76, we gave a good deal of consideration to the identity of the appropriate party to represent the devolved institutions in such proceedings. It seemed to us inevitable that it must be the First Minister and Deputy First Minister: there was no other single point to which these responsibilities could attach, in the absence of a Law Officer in the devolved arrangements. But it may be unnecessary for them to be involved directly in particular kinds of case which concern only one Northern Ireland department, and under Amendment No. 218 the First Minister and Deputy First Minister may arrange for a Minister or Northern Ireland department to exercise their functions on their behalf in proceedings that they specify.

Amendment No. 220 resembles amendments already made to the Scotland Bill to take account of the contingency, which again is likely to be infrequent, of devolution issues arising in criminal proceedings. The existing law on bail and legal aid is supplemented to ensure that adequate powers are available in all situations where they may be necessary.

Finally, Amendment No. 235 takes account of the fact that there will not immediately be an Advocate-General for Scotland, since his position as the UK Law Officer for Scotland arises in the context of devolution there. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

11 Nov 1998 : Column 819

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