The Department's response to our report
- No significant amendments have been made to the draft order since the proposal was laid on 7 May 2002. Incomplete legislative cross-references have been corrected by way of a minor amendment to footnote (a) and the insertion of new footnote (e).
- In the explanatory statement, the Department has commented further on its intended changes to disability discrimination law. It states that the Government is committed to bringing partnerships into coverage of the 1995 Act in October 2004, two years ahead of the deadline set by the European Community Employment Directive. The Department considers that it is not practicable for the changes to be introduced prior to October 2004 for the following reasons:
- the changes are being made to a timetable announced in January 2002; those affected are therefore expecting changes to occur in accordance with that timetable
- the changes tie in with the implementation, in 2004, of other significant provisions of the 1995 Act on access to goods, facilities and services
- business needs time to prepare for the changes
- the independent Disability Rights Commission needs time to prepare a code of practice which will explain new duties and responsibilities to existing employers and others being brought within the coverage of the 1995 Act for the first time.
- The Department also comments more specifically on Mr Justice Lindsay's concern that the removal of the 20 member limit could enable an organisation to avoid the application of the 1995 Act. The Department reports that the Department of Work and Pensions, the department responsible for administering the 1995 Act, is aware that there are several mechanisms that employers could use to avoid the 15 employee threshold. The mechanism suggested by Mr Justice Lindsay is one such mechanism. However, the Department of Work and Pensions is not aware of any evidence that such mechanisms have been used in attempts to circumvent the provisions of the 1995 Act.
- On the basis of the explanatory statement, we are satisfied that the responsible Minister has had due regard to our previous report on the proposal for the draft order.
- Three representations were received during the period for parliamentary consideration, aside from the reports of this Committee and of the Lords Committee. One representation was made to the Lords Committee prior to that Committee reporting on the proposal for the draft order; that Committee has since reported on the representation. Two other representations were made to the Department, both by respondents who had previously commented during the consultation process carried out by the Department. The Department's assessment of each of these three representations is set out in the explanatory statement.
- On the basis of the explanatory statement, we are satisfied that the responsible Minister has had due regard to all other representations made during the period for Parliamentary consideration.
- In accordance with Standing Order No. 141(15), we recommend unanimously that the draft order be approved.
2 Twenty-third report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, session 2000-01, laid 19 June 2002. Back