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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am enormously grateful to the noble Baroness for the care with which these amendments have been explained. Indeed, one thing occurred to me during the course of the introduction of the amendments to the House; namely, the characteristic influence that this place has had on yet another piece of legislation. I think the quality of the attention and care taken by Members of this House really bears considerable fruit when such issues arrive in another place. It is worth recording that fact.

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I am delighted to see that the definition is now clear on the face of the Bill by way of the earlier amendments. The refusal to receive oral representations, and to have reasons why that should be, is also very important. However, I must stress just a little disappointment about the removal of names from the register. I can think of a number of examples where that action would be fairly straightforward. I could take the example used by the noble Baroness, but there are others. I have in mind putting in a lift or some means of getting from one floor to another, or indeed installing toilet facilities. All those examples seem to me straightforward. Where an employer very quickly understands that deficit and very readily puts it right, it seems a great pity that the name cannot be removed from the register. After all, some people in this country commit quite serious crime but, after a certain period when the penalty has been paid, that is removed from the records. It is most unfortunate that such names will not be removed from the register.

Nevertheless, I do not wish to sound churlish at this stage of the proceedings. I believe that the Government have gone some way to recognise that where a company is readily compliant and where that compliance is sustained, there is at least a record to that effect; and that record will remain. It is just a pity that there cannot be complete removal from the register. I support these amendments.

Lord Addington: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rix, said that he would like to support these amendments en bloc. Generally speaking, I support virtually everything that appears on the Marshalled List. I may have one or two small disagreements about how things might have been done better or sooner but, on the whole, we have achieved much of what we aimed for throughout the proceedings on the Bill. I am very glad to be able to welcome these amendments. In future, when a Bill starts in this House, I hope that we will not have to wait for the matter to go the House of Commons before we receive such welcome news.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, I, too, should like to welcome the amendments which have been brought forward tonight. They will make the Bill much more practical and a very much better and workable piece of legislation. People out in the wide world will be able to understand it much more easily than was the case when the Bill left this House.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and to the noble Lords, Lord Swinfen, Lord Addington, and Lord Rix, for what they have said. In particular, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, emphasised the fact that this House has always shown a tremendous commitment to issues surrounding disability. I think that the work that was done in this House on the Bill is just a symbol of that commitment. When these issues were discussed initially in this House, I said that we would look at them again. We have been able to do so, and I am very glad to hear the welcome that has been given to the changes we have made.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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COMMONS AMENDMENT

3

Clause 4, page 3, line 25, leave out from ("to") to ("has") in line 26 and insert ("non-discrimination notices and action plans)").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3, to which I spoke when moving Amendment No. 2.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

4

Clause 5, page 3, line 28, leave out from beginning of line to the end of line 46 and insert--


("(1) If the Commission has reason to believe that a person has committed or is committing an unlawful act, it may (subject to section 3(3)) enter into an agreement in writing under this section with that person on the assumption that that belief is well founded (whether or not that person admits that he committed or is committing the act in question).
(2) An agreement under this section is one by which--
(a) the Commission undertakes not to take any relevant enforcement action in relation to the unlawful act in question; and
(b) the person concerned undertakes--
(i) not to commit any further unlawful acts of the same kind (and, where appropriate, to cease committing the unlawful act in question);
(ii) to take such action (which may include ceasing an activity or taking continuing action over any period) as may be specified in the agreement.").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4. In speaking to this amendment, I shall speak also to Commons Amendments Nos. 5 and 7. This group of amendments concerns written agreements. Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, taken together, allow the DRC and the organisation to enter into a written agreement at an earlier stage than originally provided for and make clear what terms may go in written agreements. They also define more fully on the face of the Bill the scope of written agreements. Amendment No. 7 is a technical amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

5

Clause 5, page 4, leave out lines 4 to 11 and insert--


("(4) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a), "relevant enforcement action" means--
(a) beginning a formal investigation into the commission by the person concerned of the unlawful act in question;
(b) if such an investigation has begun (whether or not the investigation is confined to that matter), taking any further steps in the investigation of that matter; and
(c) taking any steps, or further steps, with a view to the issue of a non-discrimination notice based on the commission of the unlawful act in question.
(5) The action specified in an undertaking under subsection (2)(b)(ii) must be action intended to change anything in the

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practices, policies, procedures or other arrangements of the person concerned which--
(a) caused or contributed to the commission of the unlawful act in question; or
(b) is liable to cause or contribute to a failure to comply with his undertaking under subsection (2)(b)(i).
(5A) An agreement under this section--
(a) may include terms providing for incidental or supplementary matters (including the termination of the agreement, or the right of either party to terminate it, in certain circumstances); and
(b) may be varied or revoked by agreement of the parties.
(5B) An agreement under this section may not include any provisions other than terms mentioned in subsection (2) and (5A)(a) unless their inclusion is authorised by regulations made by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this section; but any provisions so authorised are not enforceable by the Commission under subsection (6).").
6

Page 4, line 21, leave out subsection (8).


7

Page 4, line 28, at end insert--


("( ) Schedule 3 (so far as relating to agreements under this section) has effect.").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 5 to 7.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 5 to 7.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

8

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause--

PERSISTENT DISCRIMINATION

(" .--(1) This section applies during the period of five years beginning on the date on which--
(a) a non-discrimination notice served on a person,
(b) a finding by a court or tribunal in proceedings under section 8 or 25 of the 1995 Act that a person has committed an act which is unlawful discrimination for the purposes of any provision of Part II or III of that Act; or
(c) a finding by a court or tribunal in any other proceedings that a person has committed an act of a description prescribed under subsection (4)(b),
has become final.
(2) If during that period it appears to the Commission that unless restrained the person concerned is likely to do one or more unlawful acts, the Commission may apply to a county court for an injunction, or to the sheriff for interdict, restraining him from doing so.
(3) The court, if satisfied that the application is well-founded, may grant the injunction or interdict in the terms applied for or in more limited terms.
(4) In this section "unlawful act" means--
(a) an act which is unlawful discrimination for the purposes of any provision of Part II or III of the 1995 Act; or
(b) any other unlawful act of a description prescribed for the purposes of this section.
(5) A finding of a court or tribunal becomes final for the purposes of this section when an appeal against it is dismissed, withdrawn or abandoned or when the time for appealing expires without an appeal having been brought.").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their

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Amendment No. 8. This new clause is intended to give the commission the power to take direct action where an organisation persistently discriminates. This would apply where an organisation had had served on it a non-discrimination notice or had had a tribunal court judgment against it. Where that was the case, the commission could seek an injunction against the organisation if it believed that, without such an injunction, the organisation could commit further unlawful acts.

The court or tribunal judgments that I refer to are in respect of unlawful acts under Part II and Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act. The clause includes a regulation-making power to extend the scope of unlawful acts beyond this. That is consistent with other provisions in the Bill, which provide for the range of unlawful acts to be extended.

Such provisions already exist for the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality. Although these powers have been used rarely, I understand that those commissions have found it helpful to have such powers. I am confident that the disability rights commission will also find such a provision helpful.

For the avoidance of any doubt, I should make it clear that this provision is aimed at persistent discriminators; that is to say, those who have already been through a fair and thorough legal process and have already been judged to be in default of the law. That is why the power to seek an injunction to prevent further unlawful acts--in effect, a speedy way to bring the matter to the attention of the court--is deemed appropriate in this particular set of circumstances. I commend the amendment to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8.--(Baroness Blackstone.)


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