|Disability Discrimination Bill [HL] - continued||House of Commons|
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237. Sub-paragraph (2) inserts a new paragraph 2(3)(d) into Schedule 3A 9 (validity of contracts) enabling the Secretary of State to prescribe an additional description of persons to be treated as a "relevant independent adviser" for the purposes of making a compromise contract to settle a complaint to which sections 17A(1) or 25(8) apply (that is, complaints about employment or related matters, group insurance and employment services). This reinstates without change a power which existed in the DDA prior to 1 October 2004 that for technical reasons could not be included in the Amendment Regulations.
9 Schedule 3A was inserted into the DDA by the Amendment Regulations with effect from 1st October 2004.
238. Sub-paragraph (3) replaces paragraph 11 of Schedule 3A with new paragraphs 11 and 12. The new provisions ensure that Schedule 3A (which renders void certain terms of contracts, for example those which require the commission of unlawful acts of discrimination) will cover terms of contracts or other agreements relating to employment services or group insurance.
239. Sub-paragraphs (2), (5) and (6) amend Schedule 4 (failure to obtain consent to an alteration to leased premises) so as to ensure that employment tribunals hear cases under section 25(8) to which section 27 applies (claims of discrimination involving alterations to leased premises occupied by a provider of employment services or group insurance). In particular, new paragraph 7A inserted into Schedule 4 by sub-paragraph (6) enables the tribunal to cause lessors to be joined as parties in certain circumstances.
240. Sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) extend the application of the provisions of Schedule 4 to premises leased by public authorities and associations (see clauses 2 and 12 respectively).
Amendments related to disabled persons' badges
241. This amends section 21(4) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 ("CSDPA 1970") which currently refers to bodies which care for disabled people, and to which "blue badges" can be issued, as "institutions". This is considered to be an out-dated and rather offensive term, so it is replaced by a reference to "organisation".
Paragraphs 42 to 44
242. These changes follow from the recognition of non-GB disabled persons' badges "recognised badges" under clause 9 of the Bill. The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 ("RTRA 1984") provides that vehicles displaying British blue badges should not be immobilised (section 105 of RTRA 1984), but that wrongful use of a blue badge or any consequential avoidance of clamping constitutes an offence (sections 105(5) and 117 of RTRA 1984 respectively). These paragraphs insert into RTRA 1984 corresponding provisions in respect of recognised badges.
243. This paragraph makes amendments that determine the penalties for the new offences relating to the wrongful use of recognised badges discussed above.
Paragraphs 46 to 48
244. These paragraphs are consequential to the new sections inserted into CSDPA 1970 by clause 9. The amendments to the Road Traffic Act 1991 and to the Traffic Management Act 2004 are analogous to the amendments to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 discussed above. They provide exemptions from clamping in favour of vehicles displaying recognised badges, and for offences relating to the misuse of a recognised badge.
245. This inserts a new subsection (3A) into section 18 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 to ensure that when regulations are made by the National Assembly for Wales under that Act they are not subject to the scrutiny of the Westminster Parliament in pursuance of subsection (3) of that section.
246. This paragraph makes various amendments to the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 in consequence of the amendments to the DDA made by clause 15 of the Bill (general qualification bodies) and clause 16 (improvements to let dwelling houses). It also provides for the repeal of section 11 of that Act, which amended a provision that has since been repealed.
247. Schedule 2 provides for the repeal of certain provisions in the DDA and in other enactments in consequence of amendments made by this Bill.
FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL
248. A revised Regulatory Impact Assessment will be published shortly. However, the RIA which was published to accompany the Bill when it was introduced into the House of Lords on 25th November 2004 estimated the quantifiable costs for business.
249. The RIA argued that for transport, the costs would arise when: (i) the transport exemption is lifted; and (ii) an "end date" is set by which all rail vehicles must be regulated.
250. On the first element, the main part of the cost is likely to be in training transport staff. For the rail industry, for example, the annual cost is estimated to be around £6.75million, and for the taxi and private hire trade, where there is an associated loss of earnings for self-employed drivers, £4.6 million per annum. In addition, if staffing levels were increased as a result of lifting the transport exemption for rail services, the recurring costs would be in the region of £45 million to £135 million per annum, but operators would only be required to do what was reasonable.
251. On setting an "end date", the costs would range from £353 million to £169.7 million depending on the date chosen.
252. According to the RIA which accompanied the Bill when it was introduced into the House of Lords, the impact of other provisions in the Bill will be in respect of: (i) extension of the DDA to cover more people with HIV, cancer and MS which will result in £186,000 recurring costs; and (ii) extending the duty to make reasonable adjustments to landlords which will result in £562,000 recurring and £88,000 one-off costs. Extending the DDA to cover larger private clubs (i.e. those with 25 or more members) is difficult to quantify as there are no firm data on the number or membership levels of private clubs. However, such clubs will only be required to do what is reasonable.
253. In general, amendments made to the Bill during its passage through the House of Lords are not considered to have added any significant costs or caused any changes in underlying assumptions.
PUBLIC SECTOR MANPOWER EFFECTS OF THE BILL
254. Measures in the Bill which directly affect public authorities will have an impact on costs. However, the RIA concludes that it is not possible to identify a typical public authority, and therefore costs, because of: the wide diversity of such authorities; the extent to which disabled people may or may not make use of different functions of different authorities; the fact that costs will depend upon the extent to which authorities may have to make adjustments; and the extent to which authorities are already following best practice in "mainstreaming" their policies. However, it should be borne in mind that public authorities will only be required to do what is reasonable and will already be required to apply the DDA's duties in respect of their services.
255. The Department for Work and Pensions would also expect the majority of authorities to have in place good practice systems and mechanisms in respect of their equal opportunities policies. There will be costs (£570,000 recurring) falling to the Government and local authorities from the new premises duty to make reasonable adjustments as a result of costs being passed on through rent increases and the impact on Housing Benefit payments. Extending the DDA to cover discrimination against local councillors is expected to result in one-off costs to local authorities of around £400,000, with £100,000 recurring annual costs.
256. There will be quantifiable costs to Government as an employer and the body responsible for the Employment Tribunal Service as a result of the extension of the DDA to cover more people with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis. These are estimated at £50,000 recurring.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY APPRAISAL
257. A revised Regulatory Impact Assessment will be published shortly to accompany the Bill as brought to the House of Commons. Full costings will be provided in that. The RIA will undergo further development as a result of further consultation the Department for Work and Pensions is carrying out on proposals for using regulation-making powers under certain duties in the Bill.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (ECHR)
258. The Bill extends the rights of disabled people and in certain circumstances this has some impact on the rights of others. Where there are possible interferences with rights protected by the ECHR, such interferences are considered to be proportionate and to meet legitimate aims (amongst those the public interest in protecting disabled people from discrimination).
259. Clause 7 of the Bill introduces a regime of rail vehicle compliance certificates (including a power to set up a dispute resolution procedure) and clause 8 a civil penalties regime to replace the existing criminal offence of using rail vehicles that do not conform with accessibility regulations. Both regimes are considered to be compliant with Article 6 ECHR. Clause 9 provides for recognition of disabled persons' badges issued outside Great Britain and creates with this a number of criminal offences relating to using a badge purporting to be a recognised badge. The offences created mirror existing offences for domestic parking badges and are considered compatible with Convention rights.
260. Clause 16(1) makes procedural and evidential provision concerning a landlord's consent to a tenant making disability-related improvements to a let dwelling house. In particular, consent which is unreasonably withheld is to be treated as given. These provisions are modelled on existing rights for certain types of tenant contained in the Housing Acts 1980 and 1985. It is the Department's view that any interference with the landlord's right to the enjoyment of his property is justified in the wider public interest and proportionate to the aim pursued.
261. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention Rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has made the following statement:
In my view the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.
262. Clause 20 of the Bill provides for the Bill's provisions, with the exception of clause 20 itself and the blue badge provisions, to come into force on such day or days as the Secretary of State may by order appoint. Clause 20 itself will come into force on Royal Assent. The blue badge provisions (i.e. clause 9 and the related consequential amendments and repeals) will be brought into force in England by order made by the Secretary of State and in Wales by order made by the National Assembly for Wales.
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