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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, it is a bit like listening to your own obituary but, none the less, I am grateful to noble Lords for what they have said. I wish to thank my noble friend Lord Astor and my noble friend Lord Northesk, who acted as Whip and kept me on the right lines. I also wish to thank my noble friend Lord Cope, who stood in for me on a day when I had to go to Scotland on a sad mission. I shall almost bundle in that I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, for not taking a vow of silence and for giving us many words of wisdom on what the Neill committee thought.

The Bill contains major issues which were by and large agreed. But it has taken a long time to get to the stage of Bill do now pass. The reason for that has been the detail in the Bill and the fact that a lot of the devil was in the detail. Like the noble Lord, Lord McNally, my regret is that I think we have imposed too many regulations on the constituency parties which are the very bedrock of our democracy and which consist largely of volunteers. I hope that I am wrong about that, but I fear that I am not. I appreciate that the Government have accepted a great many amendments or have taken on board several points that were made and then returned with government amendments. We are all grateful for that.

Noble Lords will see the amount of work that has been done on the Bill when they see the Commons consideration of amendments. I believe that that consideration will form about as large a document as the Bill is today. That is a tribute to the efforts of Members of your Lordships' House in struggling with the Bill, as well as a tribute to the Ministers who, after a little--it has to be said--initial teasing, have listened to the arguments and have addressed themselves to the reality of political activity on the ground.

I shall not embarrass anyone on the Benches opposite by enrolling them into the general acknowledgements, but I believe that when the Labour Party machine came to read the Bill in detail, my arguments suddenly began to hit home.

In conclusion, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have been kind in their thanks. I suspect that I shall miss this kind of debate and deliberation. However, I hope that, at least, this Bill will not prove to be so difficult for constituency parties that they decide to check up on who led the debates on it and allowed it to pass, so that I then join a rogue's gallery.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Race Relations (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

8 p.m.

Lord Bassam Of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

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Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


[The page and line numbers refer to Bill 60 as first printed for the Commons.]


1Clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out from ("a") to end of line 21 on page 2 and insert ("public authority in carrying out any functions of the authority to do any act which constitutes discrimination.
(2) In this section "public authority"--
(a) includes any person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature; but
(b) does not include any person mentioned in subsection (3).
(3) The persons mentioned in this subsection are--
(a) either House of Parliament;
(b) a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament;
(c) the Security Service;
(d) the Secret Intelligence Service;
(e) the Government Communications Headquarters; and
(f) any unit or part of a unit of any of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown which is for the time being required by the Secretary of State to assist the Government Communications Headquarters in carrying out its functions.
(4) In relation to a particular act, a person is not a public authority by virtue only of subsection (2)(a) if the nature of the act is private.
(5) This section is subject to sections 19BA to 19D.
(6) Nothing in this section makes unlawful any act of discrimination which--
(a) is made unlawful by virtue of any other provision of this Act; or
(b) would be so made but for any provision made by or under this Act.
Exceptions or further exceptions from section 19B for judicial and legislative acts etc.
19BA.--(1) Section 19B does not apply to--
(a) any judicial act (whether done by a court, tribunal or other person); or
(b) any act done on the instructions, or on behalf, of a person acting in a judicial capacity.
(2) Section 19B does not apply to any act of, or relating to, making, confirming or approving any enactment or Order in Council or any instrument made by a Minister of the Crown under an enactment.
(3) Section 19B does not apply to any act of, or relating to, making or approving arrangements, or imposing requirements or conditions, of a kind falling within section 41.
(4) Section 19B does not apply to any act of, or relating to, imposing a requirement, or giving an express authorisation, of a kind mentioned in section 19C(3) in relation to the carrying out of immigration and nationality functions.
(5) In this section--
"immigration and nationality functions" has the meaning given in section 19C; and
"Minister of the Crown" includes the National Assembly for Wales and a member of the Scottish Executive.").

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in

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their Amendment No. 1. These amendments are consequential on discussions and deliberations held many months ago in your Lordships' House. I do not intend to take noble Lords through the meaning and significance of each individual amendment, except to say that on this occasion I am delighted with the amendments that have been considered by the Commons in their deliberations. They give effect to the agreements that were struck in your Lordships' House and they take forward considerably this important piece of legislation. They improve its quality and widen its remit. Furthermore, they give effect to many of the aspirations that have been expressed across the political divide for a modern, well-structured and well-organised body of legislation which will outlaw discrimination and tackle racism at its core.

We could spend a long time going over the detail, but I do not think that our time would be well spent in that regard. However, I should like to pay tribute to all those noble Lords who have played their part in our earlier discussions on the Bill. I thank in particular my noble friend Lady Howells of St Davids and the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for his sterling work. In all fairness I should compliment the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, on his role in helping us to improve the quality of the legislation. We achieved a high degree of unanimity on the moves that were necessary to improve the Bill. After all, it is the first piece of legislation in this area for well over 20 years and thus is long overdue.

We all welcome the Bill and look forward to the practical implementation of its provisions. They should make a dramatic change to the way in which good race relations are practised in our country and they will help to tackle evils such as racist xenophobia and the violent and occasionally vicious racism that we see on our streets and in our communities.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I welcome all the government amendments to the Bill, not only those in this grouping, but also the amendments in the later groupings. As the Minister has rightly pointed out, they follow substantially arguments deliberated during our debates at earlier stages of the Bill.

Since we last saw the legislation, it has been completely rewritten. Some 21 pages of government amendments have been added to a Bill which is itself only 14 pages long. That indicates the scope of the rewrite. The Government have come to believe, I suggest substantially as a result of the debates held in your Lordships' House, that the instructions given to the draftsmen at the beginning of the Bill were mistaken. They have now been improved immensely.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, first, perhaps I may thank the Minister from this side of the House for his comments on the Bill. I should like to thank also the Official Opposition for their help in trying to get the

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Bill to this stage. As the Minister rightly pointed out, this is the first major piece of race relations legislation since 1976 and is thus greatly welcome.

If we cast our minds back a little, we shall recall that a major recommendation of the Macpherson report was to look again at the provisions of the Bill which gave immunity to certain agencies in this country. With the co-operation of all sides in this House, I am delighted to say that we have been able to introduce the clause on indirect discrimination, which is to apply literally to all those bodies that had earlier been excluded. We wish the Bill every success and hope that it will foster confidence in the minorities for whom this legislation is so important.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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