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On a personal note, I welcome Lords amendments 93 to 95, and in particular amendment 95, the subject of which has been debated at length in Committee and on
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the Floor of the House. The wider religious public felt that the Bill represented a tightening of the previous legislation, whatever the Government might have said, and it would have incorporated positions that the Government had not intended to include. Youth workers were originally mentioned in the explanatory notes, and some did not realise that such workers are in many ways junior ministers, or junior priests, who lead young people spiritually in just the same way as ministers, priests and pastors.

Within church and religious organisations, belief and practice are seen as important and tied together, and to say, "Such and such behaviour has nothing to do with the job," shows a lack of understanding about what religious people think. It was disappointing that the Government did not give ground on those issues before, but I welcome their acceptance of the idea now.

That leaves in the air the relationship between the Church and the state, but that question is somewhat wider than our debate about the Bill. However, the state must be wary of becoming too involved in religious groups and how religious organisations operate. The danger is that many law-abiding citizens may be unnecessarily antagonised, and we do not want to go there. However, I welcome the Bill as a whole, and the amendments.

Jeremy Corbyn: I shall be brief, because there is not much time and others might wish to say something. First I thank all those who helped to support the agreement on the amendment about discrimination by caste and descent, otherwise known as discrimination against Dalit peoples. There has been a long campaign by many people, and my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) has played a big part in that, as have others. I was pleased that the Lords finally inserted that measure, because it at least recognises that in this country there is a problem of discrimination by caste and descent. It is a tiny part of the massive amount of discrimination that exists throughout the world, whereby 200 million lower-caste individuals are systematically discriminated against. In parts of the sub-continent they are killed, they live awful lives, do awful jobs, end up fundamentally underachieving, and their children are unable to receive a proper education.

I say that because India has, on the face of it, a constitution that absolutely outlaws such discrimination, yet it goes on because of the lack of representation, the authorities' lack of will to investigate and a lack of any ability to prosecute those who perpetrate it. Discrimination in this country is nothing like as bad as that, but there is evidence of systematic discrimination, and I am pleased that the Minister has ordered an investigation. I am extremely disappointed that the Equality and Human Rights Commission refused to undertake it, because its function is to investigate discrimination, particularly when there is prima facie evidence that it should be investigated. I hope that the commission will mend its ways on that matter.

If and when we reach the point at which regulations must be introduced, I hope that the House will support them. Above all, I hope that any cases that are brought to the attention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, or any other competent authorities at that point, will be investigated, and where necessary prosecuted, so that we are quite clear that in this country we are not
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prepared to accept such discrimination, and that in the councils of the world, British Government representatives will act accordingly to ensure that it is outlawed worldwide. Such discrimination is monstrous, and it is practised against a large number of people. I am pleased that we have made this progress today, and I thank the Minister for it.

Mr. Cash: I would like to draw the Minister's attention to the explanatory notes and the fact that, in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon has said she believes that the Bill's provisions are compatible with convention rights. In respect of that, I should like to comment briefly on and quote from the recent important and seminal speech by the Lord Chief Justice himself about these matters. He said:

I too make those points, and many others are contained in that very important speech made by the Lord Chief Justice on 17 March. Mr. Geoffrey Robertson QC has made similar remarks with regard to the European convention. Such concerns lie at the heart of a lot of this legislation. Many of us are very keen on the idea of fairness and equality, but should that stem exclusively from abstract principles adjudicated in Strasbourg? As the Lord Chief Justice also points out, there is now an overlap with the European Court of Justice; I have been warning about that in the House for several years.

We are moving in a direction that has been referred to by the Lord Chief Justice, Geoffrey Robertson QC and Lord Hoffmann in a speech that he made some months ago. Many distinguished Members and former Members of the House of Lords are demonstrating that we Conservatives are right in questioning the extent to which the human rights culture, as expressed most recently by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, is going way off track.

The Solicitor-General: With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, I shall reply to the debate. As ever, the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) has over-argued his case. I hope that he sometimes has pause for thought about how conjuring up surreal incidents of harassment-putting forward examples that have never existed and suggesting that people behave as outrageously as he wants to suggest-can be divisive.

The Liberal Democrats have broadly supported the Bill, and we are glad of that; I am just sorry that the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon cannot understand how extreme his views are. The Tories say that they are in favour of the Bill, but they have ended as they began, wanting only to codify and streamline, showing no interest in mobilising the public authorities to tackle further socio-economic inequality and no interest in positive action, and coming out against anything likely to be effective in improving equal pay.

Although at the Dispatch Box the hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper) no doubt believes that his party is pro-equality, when its Members are off camera
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they are different, and the mask slips. His colleagues show him up. Contrary to what has just been asserted, the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) undoubtedly said that a bed-and-breakfast trader should be allowed to turn a gay couple away.

The Bill will work only if it is driven and pressed through society. I have listened to all that is said by the hon. Gentleman's colleagues when the mask slips, although he is strong and fair on equality. Older people, women, victims of caste discrimination and the many other people whose lives will be improved by the Bill know perfectly well that the only Government who will drive it forward are the next Labour Government.

Lords amendment 1 agreed to.

Lords amendment 2 agreed to.

11 pm

One hour having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Speaker put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83F).

Lords amendments 3 to 114 agreed to .

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


Financial Services and Markets

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


Constitutional Law

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


Companies

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


Criminal Law

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


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Legal Services

Question agreed to.

Petitions

Equitable Life (Hornsey and Wood Green)

11.1 pm

Lynne Featherstone (Hornsey and Wood Green) (LD): The petition states:

[P000736]


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Cosmetics Testing on Animals

Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): It is my great pleasure to present my petitions after a very good Member, the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), and that they have been provided for by the very effective campaigning of the vivacious students of Coloma convent high school.

The first petition states:

[P000818]

Size Zero Models

Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): The second petition states:

[P000817]


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Gladys Taulo

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. -(Lyn Brown.)

11.5 pm

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald) (Con): I think that I should apologise to the House on two counts. The first is because I said only a couple of days ago that I was making my last speech in this House, but that was before I realised that I was going to be lucky in the lottery at the last moment. The second reason why I should apologise, if not to the House, certainly to the Minister, is because this is the second time within seven days that I have caused him to be detained late at night to answer a constituency case.

This serious case demonstrates a malaise that is only too prevalent in official life-I hope that I may put it that way-in this country. I do not even say that that is solely the fault of this Government, because this malaise has been creeping up on us for a long while. However, this Government's obsession with targets and driving everything by numbers has meant that the malaise has intensified under them. The case of Mrs. Gladys Taulo is a very good illustration of that, because when officials are told that they have to work to targets and they have to secure a certain number of removals or a certain percentage of enforcements, it means that they are not going to spend a great deal of time on one very difficult case if they can push the score up by dealing with 20 easy cases in the same period. So, instead of pursuing immigration cases involving those people who have deliberately defied our law, who have come to this country unlawfully and who have disappeared and are very hard to trace, officials find it much easier to go for the people whose whereabouts are known and who are operating and functioning in society according to the law but who have committed, sometimes inadvertently, some technical breach of the law. They may not even have committed that, and such is the case of Mrs. Gladys Taulo.

Let me say at the outset that when I raised the other case, that of my constituents Mr. and Mrs. Acott, in this place last week the Minister was extremely encouraging towards me and I am very hopeful that that encouragement will result in positive action. I hope that he will be equally encouraging tonight in respect of the case of Mrs. Taulo. She is a senior care worker who came to this country perfectly lawfully on a work permit in November 2004. She came with a national vocational qualification level 3 qualification and she came to work as a senior carer at Winterwood UK Ltd, trading as Barty nursing home. She did that work in a most satisfactory fashion and she extended her work permit with the same employer-I stress that-in November 2006, when her leave was extended by the Home Office up to November 2009. By November 2009, my constituent had been in this country lawfully on a work permit and had been doing a vital job.

Mrs. Taulo is accompanied by her husband and three children, two of whom are at sensitive stages of schooling. One is 19, but one is 17 and doing A-levels and one is 14 and embarking upon a GCSE course. Therefore, the uncertainty to which the family have become subject, which I shall explain in a moment, is having a disturbing and unsettling effect on them all.


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