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Lord Swinfen: I support the ideas behind the amendment. However, I am sure that when my noble friend answers the debate, he will say that everything can be covered by paragraph 4(2) in Schedule 1. It is very important that this amendment should be considered seriously by the Minister. I am not sure whether the list given in the amendment is the best list or the right list but serious consideration should be given by the Government to the points that have been raised already before the matter comes before us again on Report. I support the tenor of the amendment.
Baroness Macleod of Borve: I have been listening to all the Committee's deliberations with much thankfulness that the able-bodied Members of the House of Lords have taken the time, trouble and thought to bring the Bill before the Chamber and to discuss it so fully.
I do not believe that I have to declare an interest because it is rather obvious. Therefore, I shall not formally declare an interest. But I am particularly interested in the Bill. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Carter, for what he said about the Hansard people vacating the two places here. That is very welcome to us all. Many times I have sat on the Steps of the Throne unable to utter a single word in this Chamber, and that has gone on for many years.
However, when I read Amendment No. 7, I wonder who is normal. I am worried that I shall go away thinking whether I should be included in the list. If one is, what does one do about that? I believe that the original list is quite long enough. If one goes into the problems of sleeping, stability of mood and so on, that is almost putting it into the category of a laughing stock and I do not want that message to go out from this Chamber. Therefore, I am in favour of the original list.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: First, I am pleased to see my noble friend Lady Macleod in what we Scots would call the body of the kirk rather than sitting on the Steps of the Throne. Whether or not that view will prevail for very long when some of her colleagues come and sit there remains to be seen. I may well be campaigning to get the Hansard writers back there so that my noble friend and her friends must watch from the Steps of the Throne. But I am sure that that will not be the case.
I appreciate the points behind the amendment and we have had an interesting debate about it. I fear that my noble friend Lord Swinfen has listened to me rather too often because he predicts that I shall say that it is not necessary. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, too says that he has listened to me too often.
I suggest that the amendment is not necessary and that the points are covered and covered clearly in paragraph 4(1). Perhaps I may recap on what the list of normal day-to-day activities in Schedule 1 is for and the basis on which it was drawn up.
As the Committee well knows, disability is defined in the Bill as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on normal day-to-day activities. The list, which is exhaustive, sets out the categories of activity which are to be treated as normal day-to-day activities for the purpose of the definition. The list is exhaustive because in our view it is important to make that key element of the legislation as clear and certain as possible. We wish to keep to a minimum the amount of time that courts and tribunals have to spend deciding whether an activity is or is not a normal day-to-day activity.
The list in the Bill is based on fairly broad categories of activity. That avoids the need for too much detail and also reduces the risk of omitting inadvertently a particular activity relating to a less common disability. Perhaps I should point out to the Committee that the Bill provides the power to add to that list if necessary. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, was asking
Although we have that power, we do not wish to use it more than we have to. Obviously, repeated use would not be helpful to the clarity and certainty which, as I have already mentioned, is so important to the effective working of the Bill.
Perhaps I may now turn to the amendment itself and the little list which the noble Lord wishes to add to my little list. There are a number of elements in it which all relate to mobility which is the first matter dealt with on my list. Paragraph 4(1) (a) refers specifically to mobility. In our view, that would be subsumed within the term and my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy has clearly supported that position.
The ability to stand, to sit, to rise from sitting, to breath, to move confidently outside the home and to cope with unfamiliar environments as listed in the amendment are all essential to normal mobility. "Mobility" is the first item in my list in Schedule 1 and it is a broad category of activity which, I believe, includes all the matters in the noble Lord's list. The ability to reach is also referred to in the amendment. That is clearly related to "physical co-ordination" and to the,
both of which are actually listed in the Bill. The ability to remain conscious, which also appears in the amendment, will affect all normal day-to-day activitieseven including attending this placewhile the ability to breath will affect "mobility", "ability to lift" and "speech", as set out in the schedule.
Turning to the categories already in the Bill, that is covered in large part by "speech, hearing or eyesight". However, it also introduces the concept of language as a barrier which may be an important factor in some cases. But I believe that that would be irrelevant to the purposes of the Bill. I recognise that some people will have difficulty in communicating because of severe learning disabilities, but they are covered by the phrase,
"Stability of mood" is also suggested by the noble Lord in his amendment. I believe that that is a very difficult concept; indeed, we have already discussed it once or twice this afternoon. I believe that the normal boundaries would be almost impossible to set. Where someone has a clinically diagnosed depression, that will affect memory, ability to learn, concentrate or understand. The Bill, rightly, does not encompass the concepts of unhappiness, lack of self-confidence or lack of self-worth as disabilities in their own right.
The first category is very difficult to define because there are people who sleep very little but who perform all their day-to-day activities prodigiously well. Each of us seems to have quite different sleep needs. If someone has severe insomnia in connection with another conditionsuch as, for example, manic depressionand is unable to concentrate as a result, that will clearly have an effect on his normal day-to-day activities. The difficulty with the phrase,
is that it does not explain the nature of the problem. People who need help in caring for themselves do so because of a physical or mental disability which effects areas of activity already within the list; for example, mobility, co-ordination, or the ability to concentrate, learn or understand, or, indeed, continence. Therefore, I believe that that is covered in the schedule.
I hope that I have been able to give the desired reassurances. Although it is not included in his list, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, mentioned the question of cerebral palsy, as regards hand movements and the like. That would be covered by "physical co-ordination" in subparagraph (c) of the schedule.
I understand why the noble Lord tabled the amendment. Indeed, I thank him for doing so because it has given me the opportunity actually to show what we mean by the list that we have provided. I hope that I have been able to reassure the noble Lord and other Members of the Committee who took part in the debate that the list of "normal day-to-day activities" in Schedule 1 is sufficiently comprehensive and is appropriate to the purposes of the Bill. If we were to accept the noble Lord's amendment, there would, perhaps, be some danger of an overlap. However, I am sure that the noble Lord tabled it as a probing exercise. I trust he finds that his probe has been successful and that he will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Carter: I am most grateful to the Minister. Indeed, he is exactly right; the intention of tabling such an amendment was to get on record the way that the Government are interpreting the list contained in the Bill. Obviously, I shall have to read the Minister's remarks with some care and take advice. However, it seems to me that all the categories of activity that we listed areit is to be hopedcaught by the definitions in the Bill.
In fact, I was also going to rely, for once, on regulations in respect of paragraph 4(2) (a) of Schedule 1, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen. It is now clear that we can add to the list if we need to do so through regulations. Therefore, unusually from the Opposition Benches, we welcome the fact that we can make regulations to deal with a problem. As I said, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his most helpful reply. I beg leave to withdrawn the amendment.