Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, we welcome these amendments. They are a very useful clarification of the law. The Government are quite rightly looking at the situation where an employer or a user of premises has behind him a landlord, and therefore where the duty, obligation and responsibility of making an adjustment might fall when there is a clash of contractual loyalties and responsibilities.

Does this not put into context the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Carter at the start of our debates today? Is this not the mirror opposite of the situation that he outlined; namely, a disability organisation might wish to rent or lease a property on behalf of disabled people and there was that third party, exactly as in the amendments outlined by the Minister a few minutes ago? The Government nonetheless rejected that amendment while proposing this. Will the Minister comment on that inconsistency?

Lord Henley: My Lords, I find the logic of the noble Baroness extraordinarily tortuous. I do not believe that there is any connection whatsoever. However, if she wishes to make sophist-like points of that kind that is entirely open to her, although this is Third Reading. I am glad that in general she welcomes these amendments. I apologise for their length. As those of us who once studied law will know, land law is necessarily complicated. The noble Baroness will understand that the purpose behind the amendments is relatively simple.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I was about to make the same point as my noble friend. It is not sophistry but an interesting example of the Government facing both ways. These amendments, which we welcome, raise an interesting point that I should like to have clarified. In Committee I mentioned a situation in which I was involved. We have an office which employs disabled people. At the time we took the lease one of the conditions was that the landlord, the owner of the building, should provide an access ramp, which he was willing to do. However, the local highways authority created certain difficulties. The point which arose in the debate, which was answered by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, was that in that case, broadly speaking, the planning Acts would take precedence over the requirements of this Bill. If I have it right, it now appears that in view of these clauses the Bill will take precedence over the normal law of property. It would be helpful if the Minister could confirm my understanding of the situation.

My final question is whether, if the building is listed, that is a sufficient or reasonable ground to refuse consent.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, yes.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I should like to ask a question for clarification which is related to paragraph 3 of Amendment No. 78. That deals with regulations that may make provision as to circumstances in which a landlord is deemed to have withheld his consent, withheld his consent unreasonably or acted reasonably in withholding his consent. Can the Minister say what is likely to be in those regulations?

24 Oct 1995 : Column 1018

Lord Henley: My Lords, to deal with the latter point last, I prefer to write to the noble Earl in detail on those regulations. However, I can assure him that we intend to consult all of the relevant people in due course because we want to ensure that they are right.

I go back to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carter. Obviously, if the building was listed and there were concerns about making alterations, it would be perfectly reasonable to refuse consent on those grounds. As to the planning point, I believe that that goes very wide of the amendments that we are discussing. The planning controls will still apply. I believe that in the example which the noble Lord put to me at an earlier stage, or perhaps outside the Chamber, the landlord, tenant and employees were at one in what they could do but there were problems caused by the local authority as both owner of the pavement and planning authority. Obviously, the planning regulations would have to apply. In a case of that kind one would have to continue to put pressure on the local planning authority to deal with these matters in planning terms. I hear the noble Baroness say that I am exactly right. It is gratifying to be told by the noble Baroness that I am correct. I thought that there were others who advised me on these matters, but I take no point.

I believe that I have taken enough interventions on this amendment. We are considering this matter at Third Reading. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 20:

After Clause 15, insert the following new clause—

Occupational pension schemes

(".—(1) Every occupational pension scheme shall be taken to include a provision ("a non-discrimination rule")—
(a) relating to the terms on which—
(i) persons become members of the scheme; and
(ii) members of the scheme are treated; and
(b) requiring the trustees or managers of the scheme to refrain from any act or omission which, if done in relation to a person by an employer, would amount to unlawful discrimination against that person for the purposes of this Part.
(2) The other provisions of the scheme are to have effect subject to the non-discrimination rule.
(3) Without prejudice to section 59, regulations under this Part may—
(a) with respect to trustees or managers of occupational pension schemes make different provision from that made with respect to employers; or
(b) make provision modifying the application to such trustees or managers of any regulations made under this Part, or of any provisions of this Part so far as they apply to employers.
(4) In determining, for the purposes of this section, whether an act or omission would amount to unlawful discrimination if done by an employer, any provision made under subsection (3) shall be applied as if it applied in relation to the notional employer.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to Amendment No. 20 and also Amendment No. 21 with Amendment No. 4. I would wish to move Amendments Nos. 20 and 21.

24 Oct 1995 : Column 1019

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, perhaps the Minister would care to move Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 separately given the difficulties of handling such amendments at Third Reading.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am content to do what the noble Baroness suggests. I beg to move Amendment No. 20.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 21:

After Clause 15, insert the following new clause—

Insurance benefits

(".—(1) This section applies where a provider of insurance services ("the insurer") enters into arrangements with an employer under which the employer's employees, or a class of his employees—
(a) receive insurance services provided by the insurer; or
(b) are given an opportunity to receive such services.
(2) The insurer is to be taken, for the purposes of this Part, to discriminate unlawfully against a disabled person who is a relevant employee if he acts in relation to that employee in a way which would be unlawful discrimination for the purposes of Part III if—
(a) he were providing the service in question to members of the public; and
(b) the employee was provided with, or was trying to secure the provision of, that service as a member of the public.
(3) In this section—
"insurance services" means services of a prescribed description for the provision of benefits in respect of—
(a) termination of service;
(b) retirement, old age or death;
(c) accident, injury, sickness or invalidity; or
(d) any other prescribed matter; and
"relevant employee" means—
(a) in the case of an arrangement which applies to employees of the employer in question, an employee of his;
(b) in the case of an arrangement which applies to a class of employees of the employer, an employee who is in that class.
(4) For the purposes of the definition of "relevant employee" in subsection (3), "employee", in relation to an employer, includes a person who has applied for, or is contemplating applying for, employment by that employer or (as the case may be) employment by him in the class in question.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 4. I beg to move.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for breaking down that grouping. With the leave of the House, I should like to ask some questions on Amendment No. 21. I realise that we had a more general discussion on the first of these amendments, but we warned the House that we would need some indulgence to deal with quite technical amendments.

I should like to ask a general question followed by two specific ones. Under group permanent health insurance schemes where employers arrange long-term sickness payments with insurance companies, many insurers will not quote for blue-collar workers or exclude certain types of employee, such as part-time or temporary workers. Insurance companies can also load an employer's premium depending on the type of workforce. For example, an employer with a high

24 Oct 1995 : Column 1020

proportion of manual workers, women or older people may have to pay a higher premium. Most companies exclude cover for HIV or Aids. Already some schemes require evidence of good health before an individual is covered, and cover may only be available for those who have a certain length of service, say five years. Can the Minister confirm that those practices will be lawful under the amendments? For example, will insurance companies be able to refuse to quote for a perceived high risk employer and screen employees before cover is offered?

The specific question refers to subsection (3)(a) to (e) within Amendment No. 21. Can the Minister tell us what "termination of service" means in (a)? Does it mean that employers or insurers can reduce redundancy payments to disabled people? If so, what is the actuarial basis? What would be included under (3)(d)? What is the Government's intent behind "any other prescribed matter"?

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page