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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my only concern about this amendment is the test for persistency. I do not invite the noble Baroness to elaborate any further this evening; indeed, I accept in good faith that it will be a fairly stringent test and that there will have to be very real, persistent non-compliance. However, it would be helpful to employers to know that it will be an objective judgment as opposed to a subjective one, and that there will not be too much variance between one person's judgment and that of another. Having said that, I have no objection in principle to the amendment.

Lord Addington: My Lords, I believe that this amendment is quite important because it has some teeth--a little bit of bite to back up the bark. As to the last comment of the noble Baroness, I, too, think that that is a very reasonable fear. Nevertheless, I had assumed that it would be taken into account.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

19 Jul 1999 : Column 738

8 p.m.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

9

Clause 12, page 8, line 28, at end insert--


(""final", in relation to a non-discrimination notice, has the meaning given by paragraph 11 of Schedule 3;").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 9.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 9.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

10

Clause 15, page 9, leave out lines 16 to 19.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do concur with the Commons in their Amendment No. 10.

This subsection was introduced as a privilege amendment when the Bill was previously before this House. It reflected the fact that it was beyond the scope of noble Lords' powers to impose or vary charges on people or on public funds. The Government's amendment in another place to remove the clause was in recognition that no such constraint applied there. The amendment was purely a matter of form.

Moved, That the House do concur with the Commons in their Amendment No. 10.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

11

Schedule 1, page 12, line 28, at end insert--

("List of consultees

17.--(1) The Commission shall maintain a list of the organisations it has consulted generally for the purposes of any of its functions.
(2) An organisation may be removed from the list if it has not been consulted generally in the 12 months preceding its removal.
(3) For the purposes of sub-paragraphs (1) and (2), consultation is general unless it relates only--
(a) to an investigation to which paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 applies,
(b) to assistance under section 6, or
(c) otherwise to a particular individual or individuals.
(4) The Commission shall make the list available to the public in whatever way it considers appropriate (subject to any charge it may impose).").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 11. It requires the commission to produce a list of organisations it has consulted and make it publicly available.

This amendment was tabled by the Government in response to concerns raised by Opposition Members in another place. In framing it, we considered carefully the administrative burden it would place on the commission

19 Jul 1999 : Column 739

and sought to minimise this where it was practical to do so. We have, after all, said that the commission will not tie itself up in red tape; nor will it waste resources.

The list should be useful as a point of reference and provide transparency about whom the commission consults. It is intended to cover organisations only and should not therefore include contacts with particular individuals--such as general practitioners--in response to a particular case.

The key features of this amendment are that the list would be publicly available on demand. The commission would decide the best way to make it available which could, for example, include posting it on the Internet. The list will need updating to get rid of "dead wood", for example organisations which no longer exist. The amendment allows the commission to take organisations off the list if they have not been consulted in the previous 12 months, but does not require it to do so. That would mean that the commission was neither obliged to start from scratch every year nor to keep the list under continuous review, both of which might be rather administratively burdensome. Organisations would not be included in the list if they had been consulted only for the purposes of a formal investigation or in relation to the DRC giving an individual assistance in relation to the proceedings. I do not believe that would be desirable given the confidential nature of such contact.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 11.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am slightly puzzled. I understand the arguments for removing "dead wood" from the list. The amendment states that the commission,


    "shall maintain a list of the organisations".

The list will in the first instance comprise organisations that the commission believes that it should consult generally. Presumably, given that there is provision for removing organisations from the list, there ought to be provision to add organisations to the list. Just as organisations cease to exist new ones come into existence. I assume that although the Government have seen fit to include a specific power to remove organisations from the list, there is no specific requirement continually to add to the list and keep it current and relevant as regards those who should be consulted on an issue. I imagine, too, that some organisations should be consulted on a particular issue and others should be consulted on other issues. I seek some assurance that it is as important to add to the list as to delete organisations from it.

Lord Addington: My Lords, once again the noble Baroness has made a valuable point. Generally speaking it will be helpful to have a list and to encourage the flow of information. Parliament is in a self-congratulatory mood as this is a good piece of legislation, but the next struggle will involve enforcement. Organisations need to have access to the full information available. Without the co-operation of those organisations it will be much

19 Jul 1999 : Column 740

more difficult to make this legislation work. I welcome the provision although, as I say, I believe that the noble Baroness has made a relevant point.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, for their welcome of the measure. I confirm that we shall expect the commission to update the list from time to time. The noble Baroness is absolutely right that new organisations are formed, and that old ones sometimes die off.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

12

Schedule 3, page 14, leave out lines 5 to 8 and insert ("whether--


(a) a person has committed or is committing any unlawful act;
(b) any requirement imposed by a non-discrimination notice served on a person (including a requirement to take action specified in an action plan) has been or is being complied with;
(c) any undertaking given by a person in an agreement made with the Commission under section 5 is being or has been complied with.").
13

Page 14, line 17, leave out ("requirements mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(b)") and insert ("requirement or undertaking mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(b) or (c)").


14

Page 14, line 23, leave out ("requirements mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(b)") and insert ("requirement or undertaking mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(b) or (c)").


15

Page 14, line 26, leave out from ("he") to ("committing") and insert ("may have committed or may be").


16

Page 14, line 32, at end insert--


("( ) If the Commission refuses to receive oral representations from a person under sub-paragraph (7), it shall give reasons in writing for its objection.").
17

Page 15, line 11, leave out sub-paragraph (3).


18

Page 16, line 7, at end insert--


("( ) If the Commission refuses to receive oral representations from a person under sub-paragraph (4), it shall give reasons in writing for its objection.").
19

Page 16, line 12, leave out ("with the day after") and insert ("on the day after the day on which").


20

Page 16, line 13, at end insert ("under section 4(1)(b) or (3)").


21

Page 16, leave out lines 19 to 26 and insert--


("(3) The court or tribunal may quash or, in Scotland, recall any requirement appealed against--
(a) if it considers the requirement to be unreasonable; or
(b) in the case of a requirement imposed under section 4(1)(b), if it considers that the Commission's finding that the person concerned had committed or is committing the unlawful act in question was based on an incorrect finding of fact.
(4) On quashing or recalling a requirement, the court or tribunal may direct that the non-discrimination notice shall have effect with such modifications as it considers appropriate.

19 Jul 1999 : Column 741


(5) The modifications which may be included in such a direction include--
(a) the substitution of a requirement in different terms; and
(b) in the case of a requirement imposed under section 4(1)(b), modifications to the details given under section 4(1)(a) so far as necessary to describe any unlawful act on which the requirement could properly have been based.
(6) Sub-paragraph (1) does not apply to any modifications contained in a direction under sub-paragraph (4).
(7) If the court or tribunal allows an appeal under this paragraph without quashing or recalling the whole of the non-discrimination notice, the Commission may by notice to the person concerned vary the non-discrimination notice--
(a) by revoking or altering any recommendation included in pursuance of the Commission's power under section 4(2); or
(b) by making new recommendations in pursuance of that power.").
22

Page 16, line 27, leave out paragraph 11 and insert--


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