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Lord Renton: My Lords, if it is the Government's intention that more than legal advice shall be given,

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surely these two amendments should be made. I hope that it is the Government's policy that they will go so far as to enable such people not only to receive advice, but to have help in representation.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am pleased to be able to speak now to Amendment No. 20, which gives effect to an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rix, in Committee. I accepted the amendment but it was subsequently inadvertently withdrawn. I shall speak first to Amendment No. 20 and then to Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 which relate to the same clause and also concern the extent of the assistance the DRC can offer to disabled applicants in relation to proceedings.

Clause 6 of the Bill gives the commission the power to provide assistance to individuals in relation to legal proceedings. Subsection (3) sets out the range of assistance the commission may provide and includes a general provision for it to provide any other assistance which it thinks appropriate.

The purpose of the noble Lord, Lord Rix, in tabling the amendment in Committee, and the purpose of this amendment now, is to make clear on the face of the Bill that the DRC will be able to arrange for somebody else to provide assistance which it deems appropriate but which it is not in a position to or may not wish to provide itself. I ask noble Lords to accept the amendment.

Turning to Amendments Nos. 18 and 19, Clause 6(3) sets out the range of assistance the DRC may provide to individuals in relation to proceedings. It expressly covers legal advice, legal or other representation and dispute settlement. It then goes on to provide for any other assistance which the DRC considers appropriate.

The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, tabled two amendments. The first seeks to add the words "and assistance" after the provision in Clause 6(3)(a) which specifies that the DRC may provide or arrange for the provision of legal advice.

Noble Lords may find it helpful if I explain that, taken with the amendment we have tabled in relation to Clause 6(3)(d), I believe that we have now a fully inclusive clause in terms of the types of assistance that the DRC could offer. I do not believe that this amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, does extend in any way the commission's powers and it is therefore unnecessary. I hope the noble Lord will be content that the government amendment has picked up on any shortfalls he saw in the wording of the clause and therefore he will withdraw that amendment.

I turn now to the other amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, which seeks to specify on the face of the Bill that Clause 6(3)(b) gives the DRC the power to arrange for legal representation before any court or tribunal but not before other bodies or hearings.

I can confirm that the clause as drafted allows the commission to arrange for legal or other representation in any court or tribunal. However, representation may go wider than a court or tribunal. For example, there is express mention in the clause of seeking to procure a settlement of the dispute, which may involve arbitration

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or some other form of alternative dispute resolution. Indeed, the new reforms to court procedure that come into force in late April will require litigants to consider other forms of settlement. We would want to be sure that the commission could still support the disabled person in these sorts of proceedings. They would still be proceedings for the purposes of subsection (1) of the clause but would not be before a court or tribunal.

While I appreciate that the noble Lord has concerns about spreading the DRC's funding too thinly, I think it would be wrong to limit the DRC's powers to arrange representation in such circumstances. I suspect that he agrees with and accepts that. The DRC should be free to set its own priorities and make decisions about the appropriateness of providing assistance in such cases, taking into account the circumstances of the case. I hope that in the light of my explanation the noble Lord will withdraw that amendment too.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, that sounded most encouraging, but the noble Baroness will appreciate that I should like to read what she has said and study it at my leisure and also with the Law Society of Scotland. I have the feeling that I may not be coming back at Third Reading, but one never knows. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 18.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 5, line 4, after ("provide") insert ("or arrange for the provision of").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 21 and 22 not moved.]

7.15 p.m.

Clause 8 [Codes of Practice]:

Lord Swinfen moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 6, line 40, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is another amendment that I am moving on behalf of the Law Society of Scotland. The amendment will ensure that any provision of a code of practice must be taken into account by a court or tribunal when determining a case under Part II or Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The reason for this is that the terms of Clause 8(8) provide that any provision of the code of practice for which it appears to be relevant in proceedings under Part II or Part III of the 1995 Act may be taken into account by a court or tribunal in determining the question. However, the Scottish Law Society believes that relevant codes of practice must be taken into account in these circumstances and that discretion in such matters is inappropriate. I should have thought that if there was a code of practice it was extremely unwise at any time to ignore it. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my Amendment No. 24 is grouped with this amendment. I should like to support my noble friend in moving Amendment No. 23. The

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revocation of a code of practice would be a very serious issue indeed. It may be a wholly acceptable reason but it would certainly be somewhat disruptive and there would have to be good reason for doing it. I accept one of the points that the Minister made when responding to this amendment at Committee stage, that it would be a very rare occasion. However, I think that that is all the more reason and strengthens the case for accepting Amendment No. 24, and that is that it should be a matter considered by both Houses of Parliament.

I also accept that the scrutiny committee has seen this Bill and it is not one of its recommendations. But that does not constrain us from making other recommendations. I rise merely to appeal once more to the Minister to re-think the response to this suggestion and to say that on the very rare occasions when subsection (6)(c) is invoked--in other words, where the Secretary of State revokes by an order a code of practice--he will think again that it is a matter that should by right come before both Houses of Parliament.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I shall deal first with Amendment No. 23 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, who returns us to the issue of "may" versus "shall". Clause 8 allows the disability rights commission to prepare and issue statutory codes of practice giving practical guidance on how to comply with the provisions of Part II and Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act. It may include in such codes if it thinks appropriate advice on matters of good practice.

New subsection 53A(8) gives courts and tribunals the discretion to take into account any provision in the code of practice which appears to them to be relevant in any legal proceedings. Although it seems unlikely that courts and tribunals would not give due consideration to any relevant provision of a code of practice, I agree that the wording suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, would make clearer the expectation for courts and tribunals to do so. I am therefore happy to accept the amendment.

Turning now to Amendment No. 24 from the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, subsection (6)(c) allows the Secretary of State to revoke a code of practice by order at the request of the commission. Such orders would be subject to the negative resolution procedure. The purpose of the noble Baroness's amendment is to make these orders subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, as she said. As the noble Baroness said when we discussed it at Committee, it seems that it would be unusual for a code of practice to be revoked rather than simply being revised and reissued. An example of where it might be revoked is where a code is so substantially changed that in fact it would be a new code. In this case the power to revoke the old code would be no more than a tidying up exercise. One might, however, have a situation (perhaps again quite unlikely) where a European directive might make such a major difference to the law that an existing code needs to be withdrawn without being replaced or before a new one is begun or completed. In such cases Parliament may well have views and clearly it is right to have a procedure for

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Parliament to consider that. But we believe that the negative resolution procedure provides ample scope for Members of another place and Members of this House to request a debate if they feel it appropriate in the circumstances.

As I mentioned in Committee, all the regulation- making powers in the Bill have been considered in detail by the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee--indeed, the noble Baroness referred to that--and its response suggests that it too considers the negative resolution procedure to be right and appropriate in the circumstances.

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