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Lord Lyell: My Lords, I should like to take one minute of your Lordships' time to add my earnest and strong support for the order so ably presented by the noble Baroness. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Glentoran virtually made my speech. My noble friend and the noble Lords, Lord Smith and Lord Rogan, pointed out that agriculture is at the heart of the life of Northern Ireland.
I was lucky enough to spend five years as the Minister in charge of DANI, as it was then calledthe Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland. The new name is indeed covered by some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, in that the department is putting new life into what I call the rural life of Northern Ireland.
I was fascinated when the noble Baroness in her introduction gave us the indication of the European order, which I think she said was EC 1257/99. I was astonished that it has taken five years for the normally ever vigilant department to pounce on this. But I enjoyed my noble friend paying me an unintended compliment perhaps. The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said, "For the last 15 years". It is exactly 15 years since I ceased purportedly to be in charge of the department with responsibility for agriculture.
That is beautifully defined. I am just a bit curious about the age of 40, but I am sure that there will be flexibility in that. There might be some youngish man or even young lady who is just a little older than that when fitting the circumstances, as spelt out by the noble Lord, Lord Rogan.
I was a bit curious about the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, in respect of the timescale. I would have thought that five years was adequate. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me for recalling that in 1988 I was under very severe restriction and, indeed, reprimanded for quoting what had been repeated on downtown radio"Act fast while grants last". The department was jammed with everything on wheels and without wheels.
I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to reassure me in due course, or during the course of her reply, that there might be some new money and that some of the old schemes that perhaps are falling into disuse will be replaced.
Certainly from my recollections of 1984 to 1989, this order will be greatly welcomed and be of enormous benefit to Northern Ireland. I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for bringing it forward today.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken and for the welcome that they have given to the order. Indeed, I sat on the Front Bench wishing that all our debates on Northern Ireland achieved the same degree of consensus. But perhaps then I would become too complacent.
The noble Lord, Lord Rogan, asked about the time-frame for the repayment of loans. The period of five years is the limit over which public money is committed. The Government believe that it will provide a much needed stimulus to investment. Scheme participants will be free to negotiate loans over a longer period of time, but they will then be responsible for the payment of all interest beyond five years. So it is possible to negotiate a longer loan.
Scheme beneficiaries must become either the sole owner or a partner in the farm business, but to conform to the EU regulations they must be setting up the business for the first time. As to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, about those who are already engaged in business, this order would not apply to them.
As regards widening the scope of the assistance, the scheme is essentially for agricultural purposes as defined under UK legislation. Diversification of schemes not related to agriculture would not be eligible. However, schemes which are innovative and firmly related to on-farm activities will be judged on their individual merits. So there is a degree of flexibility there.
The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, asked about flexibility in terms of being aged 40 and being described as a young farmer. I realise that "young" is a relative term in your Lordships' House, but 40 is required by the EU regulation.
I think I have addressed all the points that have been made. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, will allow me to get back to him on the point that he made about replacing old schemes. I do not have the answer at present.
"DISCRIMINATION IN RELATION TO ASSOCIATED PREMISES
(1) The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (c. 50) is amended as follows.
(2) After section 24 there is inserted
"24A Discrimination in relation to associated premises
(1) It is unlawful for a controller of associated premises to discriminate against a disabled person
(a) who is a person to whom premises associated with the associated premises are let; or
(b) who, although not a person to whom such premises are let, is lawfully under the letting an occupier of such premises.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a controller of associated premises discriminates against a disabled person if
(a) a duty under section 24C is imposed on him by reference to the disabled person; and
(b) he cannot show that failure to comply with the duty is justified (see section 24F).
(3) For the purposes of this section and sections 24B to 24D, a person is a controller of associated premises if he is
(a) a person with a legal or equitable interest in the associated premises; or
(b) a person who manages the associated premises.
(4) For the purposes of this section and sections 24B to 24D
(a) "let" includes sub-let; and
(b) premises shall be treated as let by a person to another where a person has granted another a contractual or other licence to occupy them.
(5) This section applies only in relation to associated premises in the United Kingdom.
24B ASSOCIATED PREMISES: EXCEPTIONS TO SECTION 24A(1)
(1) Section 24A(1) does not apply if
(a) the associated premises are, or have at any time been, part of the only or principal home of an individual who is a person by whom they are controlled; and
(b) since entering into the letting to the disabled person
(i) the individual has not, and
(ii) where he is not the sole person by whom the premises are let, no other person by whom they are let has,
used for the purpose of managing the associated premises the services of a person who, by profession or trade, manages such premises.
(2) Section 24A(1) does not apply if the associated premises are of a prescribed description.
(3) Section 24A(1) does not make unlawful any discrimination which
(a) is made unlawful by section 19 or any provision of Part 2; or
(b) would be so made but for any provision made by or under this Act.
(4) Where the conditions mentioned in section 23(2) are satisfied, section 24A(1) does not apply.
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(5) For the purposes of section 23, the "relevant occupier", means, in a case falling within section 24A(1), a controller of the associated premises, or a near relative of his; and "near relative" has here the same meaning as in section 23.
24C ASSOCIATED PREMISES: DUTIES FOR PURPOSES OF SECTION 24A(2)
(1) Subsection (2) applies where
(a) a controller of associated premises receives a request made by or on behalf of a person to whom premises associated with the associated premises are let;
(b) it is reasonable to regard the request as a request that the controller give or secure consent for the disabled person to install or affix an adaptation or improvement in or to the associated premises;
(c) the adaptation or improvement would
(i) enable a relevant disabled person to enjoy the premises let or the associated premises, (or both)
(ii) enable a relevant disabled person to make use of any benefit, or facility, which by reason of the letting is one of which he is entitled to make use, or
(iii) facilitate a relevant disabled person's enjoyment of the let premises or the associated premises or his making use of any such benefit or facility;
but would be of little or no practical use to the relevant disabled person concerned if he were neither a person to whom the premises associated with the associated premises are let nor an occupier of them; and
(d) the adaptation or improvement is to be undertaken by or on behalf of the disabled person at his own expense and subject to such reasonable conditions as the controller may require.
(2) It is the duty of the controller to take such steps as it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to take in order to secure consent to the making of the adaptation or improvement or, where he is the person from whom consent must be obtained, it is his duty not to unreasonably refuse such consent (but see subsection (6)).
(3) Subsection (5) applies where
(a) a controller of associated premises has a practice, policy or procedure which has the effect of making it impossible, or unreasonably difficult, for a relevant disabled person
(i) to enjoy the let premises or the associated premises, or
(ii) to make use of any benefit, or facility, which by reason of the letting is one of which he is entitled to make use, or
(b) a term of the letting has that effect,
and (in either case) the conditions specified in subsection (4) are satisfied.
(4) Those conditions are
(a) that the practice, policy, procedure or term would not have that effect if the relevant disabled person concerned did not have a disability;
(b) that the controller receives a request made by or on behalf of a person to whom the premises associated with the associated premises are let; and
(c) that it is reasonable to regard the request as a request that the controller take steps in order to change the practice, policy, procedure or term so as to stop it having that effect.
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(5) It is the duty of the controller to take such steps as it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to have to take in order to change the practice, policy, procedure or term so as to stop it having that effect (but see subsection (6)).
(6) For the purposes of this section, it is never reasonable for a controller of associated premises to have to give, or to take steps to secure, consent to an adaptation or improvement which would involve the removal or alteration of a physical feature which could not subsequently be replaced or re-altered.
(7) In this section, relevant disabled person, in relation to associated premises, means a particular disabled person
(a) who is a person to whom the premises associated with the associated premises are let; or.
(b) who, although not a person to whom such premises are let, is lawfully under the letting an occupier of such premises.
(8) For the purposes of this section, the terms of a letting of premises include the terms of any agreement which relates to the letting of the premises.
(9) This section imposes duties only for the purpose of determining whether a person has, for the purposes of section 24A, discriminated against another; and accordingly a breach of any such duty is not actionable as such.
24D ASSOCIATED PREMISES: VICTIMISATION OF PERSONS TO WHOM PREMISES ASSOCIATED WITH ASSOCIATED PREMISES ARE LET
(1) Where a duty under section 24C is imposed on a controller of associated premises by reference to a person who, although not a person to whom premises associated with the associated premises are let, is lawfully under such letting an occupier of those premises, it is unlawful for a controller of the associated premises to discriminate against a person to whom the premises associated with the associated premises are let.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a controller of associated premises discriminates against a person to whom premises associated with the associated premises are let if
(a) the controller treats that person ("T") less favourably than he treats or would treat other persons whose circumstances are the same as T's; and
(b) he does so because of costs involved in connection with taking steps to avoid liability under section 24A(1) for failure to comply with the duty.
(3) In comparing T's circumstances with those of any other person for the purposes of subsection (2)(a), the following (as well as the costs mentioned in subsection (2)(b) above) shall be disregarded
(a) the making of the request that gave rise to the imposition of the duty; and
(b) the disability of each person who
(i) is a disabled person or a person who has had a disability, and
(ii) is a person to whom the premises associated with the associated premises are let or, although not a person to whom such premises are let, is lawfully under the letting an occupier of such premises.
24E DEFINITION OF "ASSOCIATED PREMISES" AND "PREMISES ASSOCIATED WITH ASSOCIATED PREMISES"
(1) For the purposes of sections 24A to 24D above, "associated premises" and "associated with associated premises" have the meanings given in the following paragraphs of this section.
(2) Where a dwelling house is let to, or occupied by, a disabled person and that dwelling house forms part only of a building, "associated premises" constitute all remaining parts of that building, other than those parts specifically demised to the tenants of other dwelling houses, and in respect of which
20 Oct 2004 : Column 866
(a) the disabled person has the right to pass in order to secure entry to or egress from his dwelling house (including lifts, stairs, corridors, balconies, reception areas and passageways);
(b) the disabled person shares in common with others the right to use that part or parts for a particular purpose (including leisure amenities, laundry rooms, and underground car parks); or
(c) the disabled person has some other reasonable need to enter or enjoy access to;
and shall further include any other land, beyond the confines of the building, which the disabled occupier is entitled to use (including paths and steps, communal gardens, courtyards and car parking areas) and which adjoin the building or are designed or intended to be used by residents of the building.
(3) Where a dwelling house is let to or occupied by a disabled person and that dwelling house forms part of a single scheme or development of such dwelling houses, "associated premises" constitute all other land comprised within the scheme or development other than that in the sole ownership or control of another resident of the scheme.
(4) "Associated premises" shall not include any highway.
(5) A dwelling-house is "associated with associated premises" if use of any "associated premises" is required for access to, or for the reasonable use and enjoyment of, that dwelling house or for the reasonable use and enjoyment of facilities which the occupier is entitled to use and enjoy with the dwelling house.
24F Associated premises: justification
(1) For the purposes of sections 24A(2) a person's failure to comply with a duty is justified only if
(a) in his opinion, a condition mentioned in subsection (2) is satisfied; and
(b) it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to hold that opinion.
(2) The conditions are
(a) that it is necessary to refrain from complying with the duty in order not to endanger the health or safety of any person (which may include that of the disabled person concerned);
(b) that the disabled person concerned is incapable of entering into an enforceable agreement, or of giving informed consent, and for that reason the failure is reasonable.
(3) Regulations may
(a) make provision, for purposes of this section, as to circumstances in which it is, or as to circumstances in which it is not, reasonable for a person to hold the opinion mentioned in subsection (1)(a);
(b) amend or omit a condition specified in subsection (2) or make provision for it not to apply in prescribed circumstances;
(c) make provision, for purposes of this section, as to circumstances (other than any for the time being mentioned in subsection (2)) in which a failure is to be taken to be justified.""
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this horrendously long amendment, I aim to be as brief as possible. It returns to the very important issue of enabling disabled people to make reasonable adaptations so they can get into their own home. I stress that this is a prodding amendment for the new disability Bill, not this Bill.
I moved a much shorter amendment in Committee, as recorded at col. 1416 on 16 September, which dealt solely with the disabled person's home, not the communal ground. I am glad that, following the agreement of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, to my
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suggestion on this amendment, officers of the Disability Rights Commission are pursuing a meeting with ODPM and DWP officials.
I touched on the problem of the communal area in Committee at cols. 1417 to 1418, but the amendment did not address it. It is a complex issue to resolveindeed, the DWP has said that it is too complex, although the issue itself is simple. At present, disabled people are totally without rights in respect of adaptations to communal areas. A key recommendation of the Joint Committee on the draft disability Bill was to create a specific provision preventing property managers unreasonably refusing consent for necessary adaptations to common parts. I believe that 80 per cent of calls to the DRC about problems of accessibility to dwellings are concerned with the communal areas. It can be as small as a handrail up some steps. There is no legal hook on which to hang a complaint.
I acknowledge that Amendment No. 184 represents a radical break with current land law, albeit limited to the area of disability access. It has been prepared by a leading QC and demonstrates that it is possible to devise a fair and workable way of addressing the legitimate rights of disabled people to get into their house while safeguarding the legitimate interests of property managers and others with an interest in the property. For instance, they could impose conditions such as all necessary work being at the disabled person's expense. Furthermore, all necessary work to reinstate the premises to its original form when the disabled person leaves could be at his or her expense as well. I stress that I am not asking the Government to accept the amendment; I am simply showing that this is one way of resolving the problem that is equitable.
The Minister in the other place whom we met yesterday was certainly understanding and sympathetic, while seeing this as a difficult area. I hope that the Minister here will be able to give an encouraging answer that the Government will seriously seek to resolve the problem. I beg to move.
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