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After Clause 17, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations for the purpose of prohibiting, in relation to any employment matter, discrimination by an employer against another person on grounds of that person's sexual orientation.
(2) In subsection (1) "employment matter" includes--
(a) the offer or refusal of employment;
(b) the termination of employment;
(c) terms and conditions of employment;
(d) the provision of training or skills development opportunities;
(e) promotion and career progression.

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(3) Regulations under subsection (1) may--
(a) specify the types of action, or failure to take action, which are to be taken to constitute discrimination for the purpose of this section;
(b) confer jurisdiction (including exclusive jurisdiction) on employment tribunals and on the Employment Appeal Tribunal in relation to cases brought under this section;
(c) provide for penalties to be imposed or, as the case may be, compensation to be awarded in respect of offences committed under paragraph (a) above.
(4) No regulations shall be made under this section unless a draft has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall try not to detain your Lordships too long on this amendment. Those of us who have been present during the various stages of the Bill will realise that it is the same as the amendment my colleagues in another place produced when the Bill was considered there. We have taken it through for debate and discussion in Committee and on Report. I do not want to rehearse at Third Reading the evils of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, which have been widely canvassed and are generally accepted on the government side and by certain members of the Conservative Opposition.

This new clause embodies the principle that was set out in the Labour Party manifesto for the 1997 general election, which says that Labour intends to seek to end unjustifiable discrimination wherever it exists. The matter was considered again in your Lordships' House in June 1998 when, following the collapse of the Bill on sexual orientation and discrimination, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, promised that the Government were committed to giving serious consideration to the issues raised by the Bill. A year later, we are still waiting for the Government to bring forward proposals to deal with this important issue.

We are persisting with this amendment to the Bill because, as we said at Report stage, we are only two years or so away from the next general election. We have been waiting since Labour's election for this important matter to be dealt with and the Government have stated consistently that they will address it. However, my colleagues and I are beginning to suspect that the Government are adopting what I call the St Augustine position: "I have every intention of becoming pure, but not yet. In any event, it is not my departmental responsibility".

As the Government are not prepared and have not indicated any preparedness to deal with this important issue, I believe that this amendment should be made to the Bill. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Earl Russell: My Lords, the shouting and the battle die and the captains and the kings depart. The Chamber is very empty compared with only a few minutes ago. Yet the people affected by this new clause may number more than the entire population of Northern Ireland.

This is an amendment of considerable importance. My noble friend has argued from a narrow base that it is in line with government policy, but I will address the issue from a wider base. It is the central thrust of the

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Government's approach to welfare and work to remove barriers to people's entry into employment. Apart from the human suffering involved, the cost to the Exchequer of doing otherwise is likely to be considerable.

A very large number of people, who are normally willing and eager to work, are often prevented from doing so. Alternatively, having succeeded in gaining employment, many others are pushed out by the hostility--sometimes indulged rather too freely--of their colleagues. We are talking about not only the direct refusal of employment but, as is often the case with women making their way in hitherto all-male professions, a good deal of harassment designed to push people out. That creates not only considerable hardship but also a cost to the Exchequer. Under the actively-seeking-work rules, voluntary unemployment may carry a penalty of 26 weeks' loss of benefit.

It is often quite difficult to prove that one has been pushed out of a job--even when that is patently obvious. Therefore, people are either left dependent upon benefit or left destitute through no fault of their own. That is contrary to the general thrust of government policy. Action is needed quite urgently in the interests both of those concerned and of wider society. We must learn to live at peace with the sorts of people we meet daily. It is also in the interests of the Exchequer. I do not know what more one needs to say in support of an amendment.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I said in Committee and on Report, we are very sympathetic to the problems faced by people who have been, and will be, discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation. Having said that, I must repeat that, regretfully, we cannot support this new clause. I have outlined our reasons in Committee and on Report, so I shall not repeat them here.

As the issue needs to be handled with great sensitivity, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that, whatever action is taken, the results will not be counter-productive for gay men and lesbians. On the question of whether a legislative measure would be the appropriate way to proceed, the Government have always been aware that it is not good practice to take regulation-making powers without knowing how we wish to use them. As noble Lords will be aware, the Government have responded to the recommendations and suggestions put forward by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Better Regulation Task Force. Copies of those responses have been placed in the Library of the House.

We agreed yesterday that a non-statutory code outlining good practice would be a sensible approach to combating discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation. This would help to produce a clarity that would assist employers and individuals. In due course, the Government would evaluate the effectiveness of the code and gain better information about the levels and types of sexual orientation discrimination experienced by gay men and lesbians.

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We propose that such a code be produced in conjunction with the Equal Opportunities Commission and in full consultation with informed relevant organisations, such as the TUC, industry, Stonewall, the Church and the forces. I am sure that the House will agree that that is the best way to deal with this important and sensitive issue. As the House will appreciate, I cannot give any further details. The code is a matter for my ministerial colleagues at the Department for Education and Employment who, I understand, will make a statement in due course about the details of the code.

Throughout the passage of the Bill in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, has moved his amendments with great sincerity and determination. I hope that I have convinced him of the Government's sincerity and commitment to act, as appropriate, against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. I hope that I have assured him that we are embracing purity, if not quite as fully as he would like at this stage. I invite him to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Razzall: My Lords, as the Minister will be aware, we on these Benches have supported the Government in all the amendments that they have made to this Bill. As to our major concern about age discrimination, we have accepted the Minister's undertakings at Committee and Report stages that it was inappropriate to seek a legislative provision. However, having listened to the Minister's comments in Committee, on Report and again this afternoon, I would like to test the temperature of the House.

4.38 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 126.

Division No. 1


Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Clement-Jones, L.
Dholakia, L.
Falkland, V.
Geraint, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Newby, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Razzall, L. [Teller.]
Redesdale, L.
Rochester, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E. [Teller.]
Sandberg, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thurso, V.
Tope, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Barnett, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blyth, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dubs, L.
Dunleath, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fitt, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Glentoran, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Knutsford, V.
Leigh, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Marsh, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Monson, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Newall, L.
Nunburnholme, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Paul, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peston, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stallard, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Tenby, V.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L
Warner, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

15 Jul 1999 : Column 565

4.48 p.m.

Clause 32 [Employment rights: employment outside Great Britain]:

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