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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, at this late hour I will of course accept the Minister's comments. I am not in a position to counter some of his arguments other than to say that the situation is not quite as rosy as he suggested. There is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence about some very messy attempts to prove injury to feelings. If the matter is offensive personally to the person, it is more measurable. Of course, we are back to the old argument that it has been done since the year dot, and therefore there is no question that the language can be changed. But there comes a time when there has to be a break with old language because times do change. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 137 and 138 not moved.]

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 139:

("( ) The fact that a person who brings proceedings under this Part against a responsible body may also be entitled to bring proceedings against that body under Part II is not to affect the proceedings under this Part.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this amendment, and to speak to Amendments Nos. 141, 143 and 145. Amendments Nos. 139 and 141 are in direct response to concerns raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, at Committee stage, with particular regard to research students. As I said at the time, these were helpful amendments, and prompted us to look again at the definition of a student.

Amendment No. 141 amends the definition of "student" to make it clear that all students undertaking a course of study at an educational institution will be covered, even if they are also employed part-time by the institution, for example, to do some teaching or some research.

Linked to this is Amendment No. 139. Where a disabled person studies at an institution part of the time and works for it part of the time they will now have rights both under the employment provisions of the DDA and under the provisions of this Bill. Duties under Part II of the DDA, the employment provisions, are enforced through an employment tribunal and the new provisions under this Bill will be enforced at the county courts.

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It is very clear that we do not want any disabled person who has been discriminated against to be unsure of where they should bring their case. Neither would we want an institution to be able to defend or delay a case by saying that it had been brought under the wrong part and therefore to the wrong forum. For example, if a person is made to sit at an unobtrusive table in the canteen because he has a severe disfigurement and other people claim to be made to feel uncomfortable by his presence, we do not want him to have to waste time and money considering whether he is eating his lunch as a student or as an employee. The amendment would allow this person to bring a case to the county court under the new Part IV without the risk of being frustrated by the defence that they should have brought the case under Part II.

Whilst on the subject of definition, I will take the opportunity to make a commitment to the House in response to concerns raised by a number of noble Lords in Committee regarding work experience placements. We intend to use the regulation-making power under Clause 25 to make clear that an institution's role as regards work experience placements is a student service. Where an institution provides support to all students in terms of work experience placements, it will be under a duty not to treat a disabled student any less favourably than a non-disabled student for a reason relating to a student's disability unless it can show that that treatment is justified.

It will also be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to its work experience arrangements to ensure that disabled students are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to students without disabilities in relation to the support that they receive. However, I recognise that there is much to do to improve the experience of disabled students on work experience placements. We should not rely on this Bill as the only means of improving matters. We have held discussions with the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy, today and with SKILL on this point. We have agreed that officials within my department will work in partnership with SKILL and the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities on a statement of good practice in terms of the practical steps we think institutions should take to help disabled students gain access to suitable places and to gain successful experience in these places.

We will also make it available to the Quality Assurance Agency for HE, to inform the further development of their existing guidance for HE institutions on these matters. There is no similar guidance available for FE institutions, and that is a gap which we intend to fill. We will therefore work together with the AOC, the Learning and Skills Development Agency and the Learning and Skills Council to develop good practice guidance to FE institutions on work experience placements, which we aim to see published in the late spring, in time to influence action to arrange placements for students who are this autumn starting their college courses.

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Amendments Nos. 143 and 145 are technical amendments to correct a drafting error and to ensure that the Disability Rights Commission has the same powers to prepare codes of practice in relation to the new schools duties as it has in relation to other parts of the DDA. I hope that noble Lords will welcome these amendments.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his statement in relation to work placements. As he said, we had discussions with Jacqui Smith which were very useful. I feel that this is very much half a loaf and I know that SKILL would have liked the obligation to be placed on the provider of the work experience and not on the institution. However, I welcome the fact that the regulations will define what the educational providers do in relation to work experience and what he says in relation to working with SKILL to produce a statement of good practice, but I believe that still relates to the institutions and not to the providers of the work placement. I hope that he will continue to hold discussions on how one can ensure that the provider of the work placement behaves well.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful for those remarks. I emphasise that the education institution takes prime responsibility for the successful placement of the student in the work experience. I respect the point that she makes and no doubt the discussions will continue.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 30 [Occupation of premises by educational institutions]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 140:

    Page 30, line 10, leave out Clause 30.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in Committee the noble Baroness and I had a series of exchanges on the rights and wrongs of Clause 30 from which I emerged even more opposed to the clause than I was before. The essence of Clause 30 is that if some or all of an institution's buildings are rented or leased, the college may make alterations to those buildings to comply with the provisions under the Bill, even though the college does not own them and even though the owner may object.

Provision is made for consultation with the owner and for negotiations, but if after all that the college still wishes to make alterations to the buildings that are opposed by the owners, Clause 30 gives the go-ahead for the college to do so, even though the normal laws governing leasehold and ownership do not allow the tenant to ride roughshod over the owner.

If we were talking about some small alteration such as putting in ramps instead of steps, such a minor alteration could be reversed. In any case, that is probably obligatory because the premises may be regarded as "in public use". Putting in ramps, handrails and the like is not the issue. Clause 30 will come into play when something major is proposed. In some cities, including London, institutions of further

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and higher education use a multitude of buildings, some freehold, some leasehold. Some of those leasehold properties are likely to be of historic and/or architectural importance.

Supposing a series of lift shafts were proposed to improve access, suppose the construction of such lift shafts in a Victorian building required major strengthening of the floors and the removal of architectural features, and suppose that also required the erection of the top wheelhouse where a beautiful decorated cupola now stands, under Clause 30 the owner could object. But the college could get planning permission on the grounds that the lift shafts complied with the demands under the Bill. Under Clause 30, as the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, pointed out in Committee, the owner could impose conditions. However, what possible conditions could the owner impose that would not destroy the Victorian architectural features inside the building, and possibly on the roof as well? There is none. The clause would still override the owner and the work would go ahead.

What is the alternative if, as I request, Clause 30 is deleted? What can the college do? The answer is still initially that it can attempt to negotiate with the owner, but if at the end of such discussions the proposed alterations or additions are wholly unacceptable to the owner, the owner should have the right to say no, as the work is outside the terms of the lease into which the college has freely entered.

The college could then do one of two things. It could attempt to renegotiate the lease by tempting the owner to accept the changes in return for a much higher rent; in effect, providing compensation for the damage done. If that proved unacceptable to the owner, the college would pull out of the lease altogether and of the building and go elsewhere. Already many of the departments of many of the London colleges are to be found dotted around a maze of streets, and from time to time they change buildings. The college would have to give up the building and find another one.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, suggested on the previous occasion that if it could be shown that the proposed alterations would destroy the character of the building, that might be sufficient defence to sustain the owner's objection. At the moment Clause 30 does not provide for that matter. But in any case any such provision would only be a crumb of comfort. It does not meet the real objection to the clause.

It should not be for the Government--for any government, and I include the previous one--or for this Parliament to ride roughshod over an owner's legitimate rights over his own property. This is not wartime when emergency powers were taken. There is no case for taking such draconian powers today.

In defence of the measure, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said that the provision was taken from the earlier Disability Discrimination Act. In other words, if it was done once before, it can be done again whether or not it is right. Too often in our debates in

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Committee--we have certainly had a great deal of it today--the Government's defence has been to quote earlier legislation in justification. Such legislation is no defence at all. Even if the circumstances of the two pieces of legislation are exactly the same, that does not justify making the same wrong provision twice.

The provisions in the DDA covered only minor alterations--ramps and so on. As I said earlier, that would not be the problem. That is probably why the noble Baroness said on the previous occasion that no serious difficulties have yet arisen from it. Even so, I am uncomfortable about overriding an owner's legitimate rights where he has a legitimate objection. There might even be a case for revisiting that earlier legislation. I beg to move.

3.15 a.m.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I appreciate that the noble Baroness has concerns that Clause 30 might result in forcing a landlord to allow alterations to be made that could destroy the character of a building. I therefore sought to allay those concerns in my letter to her in which I made it clear that this was neither the intention behind the clause nor its effect. But I clearly failed.

Clause 30 and the associated schedule are needed to ensure that a provider of post-16 education cannot use the fact that a building is leased as an excuse not to make reasonable adjustments to the premises. Without the clause, the physical adjustment duty would be weakened because disabled people would, in the case of leased premises, be left without a way to challenge the provider or the landlord. There would be one law for disabled people attending courses held at premises owned by the provider and another for those attending courses at leasehold properties.

As I explained before, the provision is not new. I believe that the noble Baroness understands that. It mirrors provisions set out in the DDA which apply to employers and other organisations. The code of practice under Part II gives examples of when it might be unreasonable for a landlord to withhold his consent and when it might be reasonable. For example, it would probably be unreasonable for consent to be withheld where a particular adjustment helps to make a public building more accessible generally and is therefore likely to benefit the landlord. On the other hand, where a particular adjustment is likely to result in a substantial permanent reduction in the value of the landlord's interest in the premises--the noble Baroness expressed concern about that in Committee--the landlord would almost certainly be acting reasonably in withholding consent.

Regulations under Part II also include reasonable conditions for the landlord to set when giving consent. These are obtaining planning permission and other statutory consents; submitting any plans to the landlord for approval; allowing the landlord a reasonable opportunity to inspect the work when completed; reimbursing the landlord's reasonable costs in connection with the consent that he has given; and reinstating the altered part of the premises to its

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former state when the lease expires, but only if it would have been reasonable for the landlord to have refused consent in the first place. We would expect to make regulations under Part IV that broadly reflect those under Part II. We would also expect the DRC to want to follow the provisions of the earlier codes in the codes prepared under Part IV, building on the experience of the operation of the DDA to date.

I hope that the information that I have provided here and that contained in my letter will enable the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

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