Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Ackner: My Lords, during the course of the debate on Report the noble Baroness stated that the Home Secretary takes very seriously the views expressed by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice, supported by his predecessor and by the former Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, has said that he cannot currently contribute anything of great significance when it comes to expressing his view because he does not have the material.

If the Home Secretary takes very seriously the views of the Lord Chief Justice, why on earth does not he want those views to be wiser and better informed so that when

18 Jul 1995 : Column 203

he receives them he has better material on which to make his decision? That would the result of an appellate provision. As I have indicated, the Lord Chief Justice will have heard the reasons of the trial judge; he will have heard mitigation advanced before the Court of Appeal; and he will have had the advantage of discussing the matter with his two brothers on the Court of Appeal.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice confirms that that will be a far more efficient process. Why is it being rejected? There seems to be no sensible reason. The Minister says that it is all working very well but the stimulus for coming to your Lordships was a case that did not work well. It was the case of Leaney where there was an over-recommendation which the court could do nothing about. In future, it will be apparent that there will be no question of being able to get an over-estimate or an under-estimate dealt with because there is no right of appeal and therefore no leave will be given.

The anxiety about the Court of Appeal is worrying because the noble Baroness says, "Of course, the trial judge can do it. We don't mind if he does it regularly. We have no objection to that". But, if it is to be done regularly, why the resistance to improving the nature of his decision by adding to its quality by process of a potential review on appeal? No answer has been given to that question.

Perhaps I may comment on the remark made in answer to my reference to the strong judicial support which was particularly emphasised by my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham. I am not concerned with the weight and the status of the Law Lords. I am concerned with the subject matter of the debate. The subject matter of the debate was justice. When that number of judges from your Lordships' House comes here and says what is the just and proper procedure they are addressing your Lordships as experts. That is the significance; the unanimity of experts and an unusual turnout of experts.

I have noticed among my brother Law Lords no great enthusiasm to take part in the activities in this Chamber. It involves a great deal of extra work out of, so to speak, office hours. In fact, I intervened some years back only because my noble and learned friend Lord Brightman chided me because there were constant debates on sentencing and no judge ever turned up to give the view of the judiciary, to answer some of the criticism and to provide the explanations. Therefore, it is not a question of weight and status.

As regards the tactics of bringing this matter back, I have clearly been out-manoeuvered. I did not understand the coded message in the forthcoming business for Tuesday—that is, today. It reads:

    "Criminal Appeal Bill: Consideration of any message which may be brought from the Commons".

That is why I telephoned the Whips' Office to discover what was going on. I was told that there would be an application or an amendment would be moved in the Commons. I asked what it was and I was told that the Whips' Office then did not know. I asked whether it

18 Jul 1995 : Column 204

was a secret and I was told that they did not think so. I said, "Well, perhaps I could be informed". Thus I learnt what might be involved.

On Friday came the letter. It gave me no opportunity to inform Cross-Benchers at our Cross-Benchers meeting on Thursday of this subject in which they were interested. I understand that it gave the Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Party no opportunity to put out a whip to discuss the matter. Which day is chosen? Tuesday, which is scheduled for a train strike. That is a happy situation in which to expect people to be here at 8.30 p.m. And when? It is during the dinner hour. Right from the outset I appreciated that the possibility of getting sufficient steam behind the Motion was doubtful, but at least I thought it right for the House to hear criticisms of what has been done and the meritlessness of what has occurred in another place.

I do not propose to drag people away from the terraces, where they are enjoying themselves, or from the dining rooms, where they are happy enough to be eating, in order to establish that the score of your Lordships who are present in the Chamber will be swamped by those who come in anxiously inquiring what it is all about and which way they should go. In those circumstances, I ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 1 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 1A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 1 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 1A.—(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

46Schedule 2, page 24, line 25, at end insert:
("( ) In section 18 (initiating procedure), in subsection (2), at the end insert "or, in the case of a recommendation, from the date of the declaration of the recommendation".
( ) In section 22 (right of appellant to be present), in subsection (3), after "on a person" insert ", or declare a period which they recommend as the minimum period which should elapse before the Secretary of State orders a person's release on licence,".")
The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason:
46ABecause it is an amendment consequential on the Lords amendment proposed after Clause 2, to which the Commons have disagreed.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 46 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 46A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 46 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 46A.—(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

18 Jul 1995 : Column 205

Disability Discrimination Bill

8.50 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 7.

Baroness Masham of Ilton moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 5, line 6, at end insert:
("( ) providing dedicated parking facilities;
( ) providing assistance for him to move from his parked vehicle to his place of work.").
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I moved this amendment in Committee and it received much welcome support from all sides of the House. We are now discussing together Amendments Nos. 36 and 37. I should be happy if the Government would accept either of these amendments or bring forward a government amendment at the next stage if they could accept the spirit of what the amendment seeks to achieve.
Many people throughout the country cannot use public transport but can drive cars and do valuable work. I have known three university lecturers, a spinal injuries welfare officer and someone who directed Birmingham's airport who all used wheelchairs. Those injuries came mainly from motoring and sporting accidents, but there are many other reasons for severe disability. Many of those people are young.
These amendments would remind employers that there may be a need to provide a parking space and some assistance. Surely it is better to have as many taxpayers as possible. In Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, said that it might not be possible for someone working in Oxford Street to park a car. Unless there was a car park, the disabled person might well have to travel by taxi. One must be practical about such matters. But I think that the noble Baroness gave a good example of how disabled people can be limited in their choice of employment because they face so many problems.
RADAR (the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation), which supports the amendments, has sent me an example of an inner London local authority which has no parking facilities for disabled people, members of the public or employees at any of its public service points. Miss P. used a wheelchair. She waited 12 months to be allocated a parking space, which she says was awarded out of the good will of her manager as the local authority had no corporate policy on parking for disabled people. The officers responsible for accommodation strategy had no guidance regarding the provision of such facilities. Therefore, the car parking needs of disabled employees are not taken into account when office accommodation is sought or existing office facilities are refurbished.
Miss P. was pleased to secure accessible parking facilities. However, many of her colleagues have not been so fortunate and continue to fight for their rights to have full access to their workplace. Miss P. stated that most disabled employees have to compete with their non-disabled colleagues for a parking space and often have to park a considerable distance from their office. For them just getting to work from their car may be

18 Jul 1995 : Column 206

exhausting and may result in their being late for work. Such disruption could be avoided if the local authority adopted a policy of providing parking spaces for disabled people.
If you live in London or a town which has taxis which accommodate disabled people, it may be possible to get to work without a car. But that is not possible if you live, for example, in North Yorkshire and have to drive many miles to a town for a job. It may be that you have to drive to York or Northallerton from the Yorkshire Dales. People living in rural Norfolk, Cumbria or Caithness will have the same difficulties.
As president of the Spinal Injuries Association, I meet hundreds of people who have broken their backs and necks. Many of them have years of useful work to give. This proposed measure may just help some of them. It will not cost the Government anything, but it might help to alert employers to some of the needs of severely disabled people. It might give encouragement to people who are looking for a job if they think that that one need has not been forgotten.
The amendments add parking facilities and assistance to a long list. I hope that your Lordships will accept one of the amendments; it does not really matter which one. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): My Lords, I warmly support this amendment and also Amendment No. 37 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, and the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. In some ways, I prefer the words of Amendment No. 37 except for the words, "within existing car parks". There may be steps between an existing car park and the place of work or there may be no existing car park. We need to encourage employers to consider whether it may be possible to create a suitable parking space near a building.

As my noble friend said, parking and assistance in reaching the place of work are often the only help required by people with spinal injuries. We are only seeking to add to a list of matters to put in the minds of employers so they do not feel that, having been asked to consider quite a long list, they are then asked to do even more.

In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, spoke of an ever-increasing list of examples. The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, says the more examples one includes, the more people will think, "Oh my goodness", and will ask themselves whether it is worth being an employer. That is more likely to happen if employers are asked to provide parking and help when those facilities are not on the original list of matters for consideration.

If this amendment is accepted, it may be logical for the paragraphs to become paragraphs (b) and (c) because paragraph (a) deals with adjustment to premises, (b) and (c) would deal with arrival at and getting into the premises, and then we should deal with possible adjustments within the workplace. I hope that the Minister will accept this entirely acceptable and practical amendment.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page