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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, at Third Reading it was accepted on all sides that my noble friend Lord Gladwin had demonstrated a loophole in the provision of taxis. He demonstrated that, without such an amendment, where there was a monopoly provision of services—for example, at an airport or railway station—a disabled person who was highly dependent on public transport might not be able to find a taxi which was suitable or available to meet his needs.

At Third Reading the Minister vigorously argued that such an amendment was not only unnecessary but highly undesirable. I believe that he will now admit that his reply did not convince the House—and possibly not himself. However, given the votes to which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, referred earlier, the amendment was passed.

We are delighted that as a result of that debate the Minister and his right honourable friend the Minister of Transport have, even at this late stage, been able to close a loophole. A former Member of another place once said that when he realised that he was wrong he changed his mind. That was Aneurin Bevan. I believe that it is in order to congratulate the Minister on following that precedent and to congratulate my noble friend Lord Gladwin. We warmly congratulate the Government on seeing the wisdom of my noble friend's amendment, even at this late stage, and we welcome their climbdown.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend the Minister will be good enough to make just one thing clear. The amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, which has been accepted, referred to taxis when used for disabled people whether or not they are in wheelchairs. However, the new clause which has just been introduced refers to "a franchise agreement" and "a designated transport facility". Can my noble friend simply confirm that those facilities may or may not refer to the carriage of disabled people? They may in fact be just for the transport of the public generally.

Lord Gladwin of Clee: My Lords, perhaps I may join in the general welcome for the amendment. Noble Lords who were present when we divided the House on Third Reading will recall that the Minister said that he did not accept that there was an argument at all. I believe that that was the night that we got into "high windage" as regards problems of delay of airliners. It was interesting that during the whole of the debate the Minister for Transport (the Minister's noble friend Lord Goschen) was sitting alongside him. Six days later we received an amendment which seemed to do everything that I had been seeking to achieve from 15th June. Mr. Norris in another place was kind enough to say that as

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soon as the matter was drawn to their attention they immediately thought that it had merit. But 15th June to 30th October is not my idea of immediacy, even in this relaxed atmosphere.

However, one must not be churlish. I welcome the amendment. But there is a problem; namely that the way the matter has been handled has meant that there has been no consideration of the amendment that the Government tabled in another place. Questions asked by my honourable friend Tom Clarke from the Opposition Front Bench and indeed by Mr. Vivian Bendall, the Member for Ilford, North, were not answered by the Minister because he did not have time to do so. Therefore, I wonder whether our Minister could respond to some of them.

First, for example, the new clause refers to "taxi provision" with "modifications", but what kind of modifications? The key taxi provision in the Bill states that all taxis are to be wheelchair accessible. Is there to be a movement away from that principle? Secondly, the new clause will apply only to transport facilities that are "designated" by the Secretary of State. Which transport facilities are likely to be so designated and on what basis will the choice be made? Thirdly, why does not the new clause give us a definition of "hire car"? It says that a hire car shall have,

    "such meaning as may be prescribed".

But what definition is likely to be prescribed? As I said, I welcome the new clause. I believe that it solves the problem that the Government belatedly recognised. But that late recognition has denied both Houses the opportunity properly to discuss the amendment.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): My Lords, I should like briefly to express my thanks for the amendment which will, I hope, remove the hitch in what will eventually prove to be a trouble-free journey on wheelchair-accessible transport. It is indeed most welcome.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords for their welcome of the amendment. Those noble Lords who were present the other day will be happy to hear that my plane was, as I predicted and as usual, on time this morning. That topic formed part of the discussion that we had when we turned to the subject of airports.

I should like to help my noble friend Lord Renton and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin, by saying that, of course, the requirements on vehicles will be equivalent to those in the main part of the taxi legislation. There will also be similar requirements on drivers, because it would not be sensible to require vehicles to be wheelchair accessible, or disabled person accessible, and yet not require the drivers to carry disabled people. Noble Lords who have taken an interest in the matter will know that I am merely paralleling here what is in the main body of the taxi part of the legislation.

None of that will happen until the taxi regulations come into force. Those who have listened to the debates on the subject will know that we have not yet reached the position where the kind of vehicles that we think we can reasonably expect taxi operators around the country

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to purchase and use are available. However, with the regulations on design, and so on, coming in and with the new methods being used by the builders of cars and taxis to deal with the problems associated with disabled people as regards their ability to get in and out of motor vehicles, we hope that vehicles will come on the market in the foreseeable future which will in fact meet the standards that we all wish to see.

I trust that what I have said has gone some way towards meeting the points raised. I was asked what services would be designated. I am afraid that I must give a fairly vague answer in that respect because that will become obvious when we come to designate them. Clearly it will depend on the circumstances. There may be many transport facilities which have a contract with a local transport firm, but the latter may already be in the taxi business and all its vehicles may well be accessible at that time in the future. It is difficult to give a straightforward answer as to what facilities will be designated. It will rather depend on the circumstances at the time and where such problems arise. I hope that that response is helpful.

I believe that I have now answered most of the questions, except that regarding hire cars. I am not sure that I can give an answer in that respect. However, I guess—and I shall certainly write to the noble Lord if I am wrong—that the definitions will be the same as those currently used in the main part of the Bill (which will ultimately become the Act). We are talking about the "plying for hire" part of what I suppose could be described as the taxi business, but it is wider than that. We are not talking about private hire where you phone for a car and it comes to collect you; we are talking about people who ply for hire whether in the street or in the town square or, indeed, transport facilities.

On Question, Motion agreed to.



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.").

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The Commons agreed to this amendment with the following amendment— 89A

Line 8, leave out '188 of the Employment Rights Act 1995' and insert '139 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978'.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 89A as an amendment to Lords Amendment No. 89. The amendment ensures that the correct reference to existing legislation covering House of Commons staff is made. Without the amendment the effectiveness of the provisions applying the Disability Discrimination Bill to Parliament would be weakened, and that should clearly be corrected.

I am sure that everyone on all sides of the House would wish to join me in congratulating the House authorities on their decision and also in welcoming the amendments which apply the Bill to this House. They give the clearest signal that we recognise how important it is to provide the fullest possible access to the political process for disabled people. I commend the amendment to your Lordships.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 89A as an amendment to Lords Amendment No. 89.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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