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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 140A:

After Clause 35, insert the following new clause:

Application to Parliament

(".—(1) This Act applies to an act done by or for purposes of the House of Lords or the House of Commons as it applies to an act done by a private person.
(2) For the purposes of the application of Part II in relation to the House of Commons, the Corporate Officer of that House shall be treated as the employer of a person who is (or would be) a relevant member of the House of Commons staff for the purposes of section 188 of the Employment Rights Act 1995.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (4), for the purposes of the application of sections 12 to 15, the provider of services is—
(a) as respects the House of Lords, the Corporate Officer of that House; and
(b) as respects the House of Commons, the Corporate Officer of that House.
(4) Where the service in question is access to and use of any place in the Palace of Westminster which members of the public are permitted to enter, the Corporate Officers of both Houses jointly are the provider of that service.
(5) Nothing in any rule of law or the law or practice of Parliament prevents proceedings being instituted before an industrial tribunal under Part II or before any court under Part III.").

The noble Lord said: The Committee will be happy to hear that this is a much shorter speech. I beg to move Amendment No. 140A, to which someone referred earlier this evening. I am pleased to do so as it extends the coverage of the Bill to the Houses of Parliament. As the Committee is aware, parliamentary privilege dictates that, as it stands, the Bill would not apply to Parliament. It is, of course, always open to each House to comply with the spirit of new laws, but in this case the House authorities have decided that Parliament should be brought formally within the scope of the Bill.

In the field of employment, the decision is in line with previous provisions which have been made so that staff of both Houses benefit from the employment provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976. In the field of service provision, the two Houses provide a number of services to the public: for example, refreshment facilities, information services and, most importantly of all, access to the Palace. Their coverage recognises how important it is to provide the fullest possible access to the political process for disabled people. The amendment clarifies a point which I know has been of concern to many people and I believe the Committee will warmly welcome it.

Lord Carter: The Committee will obviously be delighted that the Government put down the amendment. It enables me to raise again the point made earlier in the Committee about the situation which has happened in the Chamber, with the arrangements that have been made for this Bill. I pointed out at an earlier stage that it is a classic example of the stereotyping and defining of people by their disability. Special arrangements were made with this Bill for noble Lords who use wheelchairs, but with no other. I pointed out that noble Lords who use wheelchairs are not interested only in matters of disability. I am delighted that with this new clause it is clear that the House intends to implement the relevant clauses of the Act and that the arrangements which were made on a purely temporary basis for this Bill will become permanent for all Bills.

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Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): I warmly welcome this amendment.

Earl Russell: I, too, warmly welcome this amendment, and in the process of doing so say how much I admire what the House has done and will continue to do for its disabled Members, who make such an enormous contribution.

It is perhaps also worth noting in passing that this is an example of the fact that Parliament, being a sovereign body, may, if and when it so chooses, by force of statute override its own privileges. That is an important power and I am glad to see it used.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 36 agreed to.

Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 141:

After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:


.—(1) Each appropriate authority shall provide, in relation to the courts for which he is the appropriate authority—
(a) for proceedings before them in which a person might be identified as disabled for the purposes of this Act to be held in private,
(b) for securing that the registration or other publication of documents or decisions relating to those proceedings shall be so effected as to prevent any such identification, or
(c) for the court in question to make a restricted reporting order having effect (if not revoked earlier) until the promulgation of the court's decision,
if, for the purpose of preventing such identification, any party so requests or the court thinks fit.
(2) If any identifying matter is published or included in a relevant programme in contravention of a restricted reporting order made by virtue of subsection (1) (c), the following persons shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale—
(a) in the case of publication in a newspaper or periodical, any proprietor and editor and any publisher of the newspaper or periodical,
(b) in the case of publication in any other form, the person publishing the matter, and
(c) in the case of matter included in a relevant programme—
(i) any body corporate engaged in providing the service in which the programme is included, and
(ii) any person having functions in relation to the programme corresponding to those of an editor of a newspaper.
(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under subsection (2) it shall be a defence to prove that at the time of the alleged offence he was not aware, and neither suspected nor had reason to suspect, that the publication or programme in question was of, or (as the case may be) included, the matter in question.
(4) Where an offence under subsection (2) committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of—
(a) a director, manager, secretary or similar officer of the body corporate, or
(b) a person purporting to act in any such capacity,
he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
In relation to a body corporate whose affairs are managed by its members, "director" in this subsection means a member of the body corporate.
(5) In this section—
"appropriate authority" means the person who has authority to make provision, whether by rules or otherwise, governing the proceedings of a court referred to in subsection (1),

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"court" includes tribunal,
"relevant programme" means a programme included in a programme service, within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990,
"restricted reporting order" means an order prohibiting the publication in the United Kingdom of identifying matter in a written publication available to the public or its inclusion in a relevant programme for reception in the United Kingdom, and
"written publication" includes a film, a sound track and any other record in permanent form, but does not include an indictment or other document prepared for use in particular legal proceedings.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 141 stands in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, who is not able to be present this evening, and my name is also attached. The noble Baroness asked me to move the amendment for her, and I am very happy to do so.

The amendment makes specific provision for any proceedings under this legislation to be able to be held in private, and for parties to the proceedings not to be identified in any way if that is appropriate. At the outset, I stress the phrase "if that is appropriate". Clearly it is desirable in principle that proceedings before a court or tribunal should be public whenever possible on the ancient principle that justice should be not only done but seen to be done.

To explain how the new clause works, subsection (1) gives a power to the appropriate authorities in any court or tribunal to make provision for proceedings to be held in private to prevent identification of any party; to ensure that documents and so forth are not published in a form which allows identification; and for a reporting restriction. This power may be exercised either on the application of any party, or if the court thinks fit. The rest of the clause provides, as is necessary, for any contravention of an order made under subsection (1) to be an offence and for the necessary definitions under the clause. Members of the Committee with experience of such matters will recognise that all this is in recognisable form. The amendment does not seek to introduce a new principle, but to extend well-tried procedures to the circumstances of this Bill.

The rules at present allow private hearings only in those instances covered under Section 8(2) (3) of the Industrial Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) 1993, which I have in my hand. So far as I can see, such instances are restricted to those relating to national security, or involving confidential information or information that would cause substantial injury to any undertaking in which a witness works. There is also a further provision in Rule 14 to make a restricted reporting order in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct.

None of this appears to offer any comfort or protection to an individual desirous of maintaining confidentiality while pursuing a legal remedy under this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament—hence the new clause, which simply makes explicit that private hearings relating to discrimination within the terms of the Bill, would be not mandatory but permissive. It seems to me highly likely that there will be circumstances in which the identification of one or other, or indeed both, parties would be most undesirable.

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The new clause covers all persons eligible for protection under the Bill; and one can think of various conditions that employees might not wish to have disclosed. One is certainly HIV disease—in which, as many Members of the Committee will know, I take an interest—which is widely known to generate discrimination and which, if revealed in court, might well prejudice the employee concerned not only in a current dispute but also in future employment. That is to say nothing of the disincentive effect of an unrestricted hearing to bringing the case in the first place.

The employer's interests might also be involved. For instance, let us consider the case of someone with a disability arising from a viral infection who wanted to take action under the Act (as the Bill will become) against an employer in the catering industry. Even if there were no question of any danger of infection to the public, neither the disabled person concerned nor his employer would necessarily want the fact of that particular disability to be made public, or for neighbours or competitors to know about it.

The interest of the employee is obvious. It could equally be in the interest of the employer for it not to be reported that he had employed staff with a particular condition which, although constituting no threat to public health, might be perceived as such and thus be detrimental to his business.

If there is not an explicit provision in the Bill for such cases, when appropriate, to be taken in private, in my submission the machinery of the Bill will be severely impaired. It will be defective. I stress that the new clause involves only a permissive power so that the ultimate decision is left in the hands of the court or tribunal concerned. I beg to move.

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