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Lord Ashley of Stoke: I thank all Members of the Committee who have taken part in the debate. I thank the Minister for her response, although I do not agree with it. She said some interesting things. She mentioned the educational remedies. I said that we all agree with the need for an educational remedy. When a child has suffered discrimination, the permanent need is for the educational remedy. But I want a payment of compensation in addition. When talking of the educational remedy, my noble friend said that that is what we are about. It is not what we are about. We have agreed on the educational remedy. This amendment is about the payment of compensation. That is specified in the words of the amendment.

My noble friend said she wants a user-friendly tribunal in the interests of the children. I cannot imagine any child becoming unfriendly when compensation is paid to him. This will make it more friendly. If some people who have discriminated get cross because they have to pay compensation, that is just too bad. They deserve that. They have asked for it. They have to pay compensation instead of being let off with a smile. Discrimination damages disabled people. It is a very serious thing to do. It can undermine their self-respect and self-esteem. I am very sorry that my noble friend cannot accept the amendment.

She says that, if my amendment were accepted, at tribunals we shall have paid advocates. I am not condemning the role of solicitors and barristers but some of them receive very good salaries. I cannot see many solicitors and barristers going to tribunals for the small amounts of money I have in mind. They go for the top jobs and not the little jobs. So I do not think that my noble friend need worry about these well-paid advocates spending weeks arguing about disabled children. If her arguments are valid that we should not pay compensation for discrimination, she should go to the race and sex commissions and say "It's all nonsense. Don't do it." It makes nonsense to pay compensation for such things if her arguments are valid. I recognise that we can discuss this matter later on Report. I am sure that the Chief Whip wants at all costs to avoid Divisions when we reach that stage. We

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shall try to reach an amicable agreement if we can. I thank my noble friend for her response and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Wilkins moved Amendment No. 139:


    Page 16, line 40, after ("relates") insert--


("( ) may in particular take account of--
(i) any personal hurt experienced by the person concerned;
(ii) any experience denied the person concerned because of the unlawful discrimination; and
(iii) any necessary changes to accessibility strategies and plans to ensure that the unlawful discrimination does not happen again;").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 139 is a probing amendment that has the support of the Special Educational Consortium. It seeks to test out the limits of the Government's interpretation of remedies and whether the redress will effectively deter those authorities that fail to respond to the Bill's goals. However, I should point out that the SEC recognises that this would stop short of financial compensation.

As the Minister said on Second Reading, the Bill seeks to establish certain rights and a means of redress and sets a framework which encourages a change of attitude. In order for the Bill to achieve its purpose, therefore, it is important to ensure that the means of remedy is effective. As presently drafted, it is unclear whether Clause 17 will achieve this. My concerns are in relation to the limits of discriminatory practice on which the Bill offers redress and whether the redress offered effectively compensates those discriminated against or deters offending authorities from continuing to discriminate.

For instance, would the tribunal be able to offer an effective remedy for the personal hurt to a child for the discrimination he or she has suffered? Let us take the case of a disabled girl who was prevented from inviting her classmates home in the holidays because the school's SENCO thought that the other children were not ready to be friends with her. That deeply upset the child, who never had the confidence to take the initiative again. When asked, she said that she had no friends in the school, because they had been taught that she could not think. If it was found that that was unlawful discrimination, how could the deep hurt of the child be put right?

Would the tribunal be able to offer remedy to a disabled pupil who had been denied an experience such as taking part in the school trip or end-of-year play because of discrimination? For example, one wheelchair user was told that he could not go on the geography field trip with his classmates. He therefore not only missed the trip, but he missed also the opportunity to do the field work needed for his GCSE. A child was excluded from taking part in the school play "Hello Dolly" because, being a wheelchair user, she could not join in the dance scene. If it was found that that was unlawful discrimination, could the school be ordered to include a child left out of a school

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trip or activity? Could that be done in time? If it could not be done in time, what could be done to put right the hurt afterwards?

Lucy Mason, a disabled teenager, says that she has often been excluded from activities. The two things that she most wants are for someone to say "Sorry.", and that she can be confident that it will not happen again. If it was found that there had been unlawful discrimination against her, could the tribunal order someone to say "Sorry.", and could it order a school to draw up a plan to ensure that the discrimination did not happen again?

Could the tribunal order the school to amend an existing accessibility plan to achieve the same end? The Bill's notes helpfully suggest that the tribunal might be able to make an order regarding staff training or offer additional tuition. Those seem inadequate to the many circumstances and different forms of discrimination that may arise.

Those children not only need this legislation to offer them rights in education, but also to give them effective redress. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us how these concerns might be met, especially if the right financial compensation is denied. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: Having listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, I believe that my Amendments Nos. 140A, 142, 144 and 145 deal with a completely different subject. Therefore, in fairness, the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, should have her amendment considered on its own.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I am quite happy to reply to my noble friend Lady Wilkins. I very much appreciated the way in which she moved the amendment. The Bill already provides that on a successful claim of disability discrimination, the tribunal can make any order which it considers reasonable. The Bill also provides that, in deciding on the type of order it will make, the tribunal may, in particular, grant a remedy which will negate or reduce the adverse effects of the discrimination.

The first two factors which the amendment of my noble friend Lady Wilkins seeks to insert are already provided for in the Bill. A remedy taking account of personal hurt might be a written apology to the child. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, identified a case which seemed to be quite straightforward. The tribunal might say that an apology to the child was what was necessary, because the young person in that case was being discriminated against. A remedy might take account of the experiences denied to the child by offering additional tuition to help the child catch up on lessons missed due to discrimination. We believe that the Bill provides for several of the instances which the noble Baroness identified to us today.

The difficulty we have with the amendment is in the third part of it which asks the tribunal to do something which it does not have the power to do. It is suggested that it should have the power to order LEAs or schools to make changes to their "strategies and plans".

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Enforcement of the duty to plan, as we discussed earlier this afternoon, lies with the Secretary of State in relation to England, and the National Assembly for Wales in relation to Wales.

It is right that that should be the case because the duty to plan is strategic, and it would be an enormous task for the tribunal to review the full range of evidence in the detail required to make findings and orders in relation to breaches of the duty in these respects. If the tribunal had to do this as part of a disability discrimination appeal, it would make it impossible to maintain the speed of disposal which is so important in these individual cases, and certainly would be important in the three cases which were used as an illustration this afternoon. It would add greatly to the length, formality and complexity of the hearings when the whole concept behind the tribunal is that it should be composed and be arranged in such a way that it can give effective remedy as rapidly and sympathetically as possible.

I hope, therefore, that the noble Baroness will be able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Wilkins: I thank the Minister for his response which I shall read carefully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 140 not moved.]

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Procedure]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Gardner of Parkes): I should warn the Committee that if Amendment No. 140A is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 141 to 145 inclusive because of pre-emption.


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