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Meg Munn: I am happy to confirm that that is precisely our intention. We wish to ensure that the consultation is completed very quickly, and we will publish a Green Paper that deals with this and other issues very soon. We will then be in a position to introduce an appropriate legislative framework. We are therefore committed to deal with the issue. EU regulations, too, have been introduced, so I can give my right hon. Friend that assurance.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: I am not questioning in any way the good faith of my hon. Friend or the Government. It is a fact of parliamentary life, however, that whatever the Government's conclusions, and even if the Green Paper that they promise to introduce includes precisely what is wanted, the constrictions of the legislative timetable mean that it is not possible to know when or, indeed, if legislation can be introduced in this Parliament to enact what my hon. Friend has promised in good faith. By contrast, the new clause gives the Government time and scope to deal with the issue, given its inclusion of the word "may", which I have cited twice. Acceptance would therefore not bind the Government or lead them into a cul-de-sac.

Perhaps you could advise me, Mr. Speaker, on a procedural, not a policy, matter. If the Bill is amended today, I understand that it must return to the House of Lords because it is a Lords Bill. If that is so, I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will be satisfied by an assurance that the Government will reconsider the matter before the Bill's return to the House of Lords. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister responds positively, because nobody wants division in the House on this issue.

4.30 pm

Lynne Jones: The Minister has given certain assurances. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the minimum requirement for the withdrawal of the new clause is an assurance that new legislation will be enacted within this Parliament? The problem with leaving the matter to the House of Lords is that if the Bill is not amended, it will not return to the House of Lords.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: My hon. Friend is right, but I am trying to find a new way. It is possible, but far from certain, that the Bill will be amended today, and if it is amended the House of Lords will be able to reconsider the matter. The House of Lords can do anything when it reconsiders a Bill—it is not bound by the rules of procedure of this House—so it could bring the Bill back. Alternatively, the Government could provide an assurance in response to my hon. Friend's request, which is generous on her part, for a guarantee on the introduction of legislation within this Parliament. If that happens, I would support my hon. Friend in withdrawing her new clause, because nobody wants to divide on the issue—we want to unite.

Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab): As ever, my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) said much of what
 
16 Jan 2006 : Column 581
 
I   wanted to say, but I shall briefly repeat some points. I agree about the permissive word "may", which appears twice in the new clause.

On whether the Government can reconsider the Bill in the House of Lords if it is amended in the House of Commons, my hon. Friend the Minister referred to two other avenues by which such legislative protection could be introduced within the lifetime of this Parliament. It would help if she were to repeat her assurance that the issue will be addressed within the lifetime of this Parliament and that there will be legislative provisions rather than simply a Green Paper.

The Minister discussed the simplification and codification of anti-discrimination legislation and I share her objective, because the complicated layers of anti-discrimination measures that have built up over the past 40 years bedevil people in enforcing their rights. However, the wording of clause 81, which contains the   power to make regulations on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and which I support, is, with one or two key changes, almost exactly the same as   that of new clause 9. If it is too complicated to accept new clause 9 and introduce another layer of anti-discrimination legislation, then that argument can also be used in relation to the provisions on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in clause 81.

Meg Munn: Does my hon. Friend agree that new clause 9 does not mean that action will be taken, because it only says "may"? I have made the precise commitment asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones). The discrimination law review will lead to a single equality Bill that will be passed in the lifetime of this Parliament. That is a manifesto commitment on which all Government Members stood before the election. As much as it is within my power to do so, I will ensure that that manifesto commitment is advanced, which meets the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak.

Rob Marris: I believe that there is a contradiction between what the Minister said about the new clause and clause 80, which I fully support. However, I am satisfied by her reassurance and hope that other hon. Members will be satisfied. I am grateful to her for that helpful reassurance.

Lynne Jones: I am not at all convinced by the Government's reasons for not accepting the new clause, but, in view of the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman)—

Mrs. Laing: Does the hon. Lady agree that although the whole House trusts this particular Minister, who has given us her assurance from the Dispatch Box, Conservative Members do not trust the rest of her Government to follow through what she has said? She cannot necessarily bring about what she says that she wants to bring about, so the time for action on the issue is not in the future but now.

Lynne Jones: I do not entirely agree that the Government are not trustworthy in this matter. I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurance—

David Lepper (Brighton, Pavilion) (Lab/Co-op): On the point made by the hon. Member for Epping Forest
 
16 Jan 2006 : Column 582
 
(Mrs. Laing), in 2001 I went with two of my constituents to meet the Minister's predecessor in the Home Office, who then dealt with these matters and who gave us an assurance that the Government would introduce a gender Act. From that day forward, we saw the Government take action, irrespective of who the Minister might be. With that precedent in mind, we can accept with confidence the assurance that she has given, even though she may not be in the post—I hope that she is—when the Bill is enacted.

Lynne Jones: I agree. The Minister's words will be recorded in the written record of these proceedings. The Government are fully aware of the cross-party support for this measure and of Labour Members' widespread support for my new clause.

Dr. Evan Harris: Of course, everyone welcomes the Minister's assurances as far as they go, but they do not go further than the assurances that she gave in Committee that there would be a single Equality Bill, which, presumably, if there is not an early election, will lead to a single Equality Act. The point of the new clause is to say that transgender rights in respect of non-discrimination in goods and services should be put through at the same time as those given to people discriminated against on the grounds of religion or sexual orientation. This excellent new clause gives the House that opportunity. That is why the Minister's promise of tomorrow is not good enough for many of us.

Lynne Jones: As I said, I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurances, although I ask her to look at the clause again. If the Government intend to legislate in this area and to introduce the EU directive, I still argue that a sensible way forward would be to accept the new clause. I accept that it is not possible for the Minister to agree to it today, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton suggested an alternative way forward, and either would be acceptable to me.

I would prefer the matter to be dealt with in this Bill, because that is the most sensible way forward. However, in view of the assurance that legislation will be introduced in this Parliament, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Hon. Members: No.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 138, Noes 254.

Division No. 124
[4.39 pm


AYES

Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clark, Greg
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Mr. Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Main, Anne
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Mr. Michael
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Sir Robert
Spink, Bob
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Stephen
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Andrew Stunell and
Lorely Burt


NOES

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benton, Mr. Joe
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Philip
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Gardiner, Barry
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Mr. David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Snelgrove, Anne
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Ian Cawsey and
Mr. Dave Watts


Question accordingly negatived.


 
16 Jan 2006 : Column 585
 

New Clause 10


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