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Amendment No. 39 would delete the inclusion of legal services from the Bill's provisions. I am worried about that
Column 1011inclusion, because, in many cases, the legal profession is organised on the basis of small, often one-man, firms. It strikes me that those firms would have great difficulty in complying with the provisions of the Bill, even on a time-delayed basis.
Amendments Nos. 40, 41 and 62 would delete other services from the terms of clauses 6 and 17. The provisions of those clauses go too far without adequate consideration for the providers of those services, because they outlaw what might, in certain circumstances, appear to be discrimination even if it was not.
Amendments Nos. 61, 63 and 70 are technical and are designed to improve the wording of the Bill.
Mr. Alfred Morris : I have said to the House that we are prepared to accept amendment No. 1. In Committee, the Minister accepted that, on the question of definition, the sponsors of the Bill could not have been more helpful. We were concerned to rectify problems over section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948, which has been used by successive Ministers and Governments since then. I could not be more reasonable ; I again ask the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) to proceed on the basis of our acceptance of the amendment.
Disabled people do not form a homogeneous group and there is no viable statistical base from which one could determine whether direct or indirect discrimination was taking place.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : May I tell the hon. Gentleman that an organisation called FAR in his constituency is very worried about what he is doing now, because in the next few minutes he intends to talk out a Bill which will affect 6.5 million people and he, the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, will be responsible, against the wishes of those very disablement organisations in his constituency which are worried.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister commented earlier, there is a distinct difference between the case of minority and racial groups, for which anti-discrimination legislation can be implemented and is easier to tackle, and, for example, women. Therefore, I think that it will be unwise to proceed with that part of the clause.
Clause 2(c) deals essentially with the burdens on small business. During the recession, many small businesses were under considerable pressure. A small and perhaps struggling company with three or four employees may be unable to make the arrangements for the accommodation of disabled people that are suggested in the Bill. Although in principle I think that it is correct, in practice I believe that that would be unduly burdensome for the small business community.
Mr. Jenkin : It gives me very little pleasure to rise so late in the debate. [Interruption.] It is unfortunate that so much time has been taken up by bogus interventions and bogus points of order, raised by the Opposition. I have one amendment in my name, amendment No. 81, and that is what I wish to discuss.
Column 1012It is incumbent on people who feel strongly in favour of the Bill that they recognise that those people who oppose the Bill, such as myself, are behaving in as public spirited a way as they are, because the Bill, as currently drafted, without amendment No. 81, is contrary to the interests of the people of the country and contrary to the interests of disabled people. It is sad that the hopes of disabled people have been so falsely led by expectations that the Bill might become law as currently drafted.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland), who intervened earlier and put up with an enormous amount of bitterness and barracking with great courage and fortitude. The Bill seeks to apply all its measures to air transport, and I wish to comment on that briefly, as there is little time.
Aircraft are not like trains. They have little spare room and a requirement to accommodate disabled people would require a large number of charter airlines to remove large numbers of seats. That may well be desirable and most airlines do their best to accommodate disabled people, but there are important practical safety measures that cannot be incorporated and, if incorporated, would not be adequate. Many civil airline companies might well lose their right to operate if they were subject to that legislation.
The problem is the broad definition of disability and the way in which that is likely to be subject to endless litigation. I also believe that the measure is incompatible with European Community law because, if it were sought to apply the legislation to all airlines, it would apply to airlines operating into the United Kingdom and that would represent a restraint on trade.
Question put, That the amendment be made :
The House proceeded to a Division
Mr. Campbell-Savours : All right--I shall wear the hat. Wearing such nonsense makes us the laughing stock of the western world. Will Hansard record that the hon. Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) was the Member of Parliament who talked out the Bill this year ? He was on his feet when the Division was called. Will that be recorded ?
Mr. Alan Howarth (seated and covered) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I believe that there is a proposal that this Parliament should give procedural advice to the new South African Parliament on how it should be run. Some further careful reflection is needed on our procedures for private Members' Bills ; we are not yet in a position to provide any model.
Mr. Dicks ( seated and covered ) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I thought that we were discussing private Members' business today, not Government business. Could the message be passed back to the appropriate quarter that hon. Members, especially Back-Bench Members, expect private Members' days to be private Members' days ?
The House having divided : Ayes 1, Noes 54.
Division No. 230] [2.30 pm Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Tellers for the Ayes :
Lady Olga Maitland and
Mr. Michael Stern.
Adams, Mrs Irene
Browning, Mrs. Angela
Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Eagle, Ms Angela
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Hannam, Sir John
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Lynne, Ms Liz
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Harry Barnes and
Mr. John Cummings.
Question accordingly negatived.
It being after half-past Two o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.
Bill to be further considered on Friday 20 May.