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Lord Addington: Further education is often seen as practical training. Surely that is very similar to professional qualifications.

Baroness Blackstone: Further education provides a whole range of vocational qualifications, and in making that educational provision, further education providers will not be able to discriminate under this legislation. In dealing specifically with professional bodies, we need to legislate in a different context.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I am grateful to the Minister for her reply to this, and I am heartened by what she said. We had some difficulty placing this particular amendment, and came up with this format which indirectly sought to put pressure on the qualifying bodies by trying to make it an act of discrimination if the colleges and the universities themselves did not take action to facilitate it. I am heartened by the fact that already within the legislation both the colleges and the universities will be acting discriminatorily if they pursue the sort of action that Ali experienced here. It is important that this will be in Hansard and people will recognise that this is implicit in the actions that they have to take. I am also heartened by the fact that the Government propose to come back with legislation in response to the Disability Rights Task Force proposals. I know that at the moment the whole issue is something of a grey area

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and that there are great difficulties in bringing cases under these sorts of provisions. That is partly the reason that we tried to introduce this under the Bill. We look forward to seeing what is proposed by the Government and for the moment, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Rix moved Amendment No. 168:

    Page 26, line 43, at end insert--

("( ) Regulations may make provision, for the purposes of this section--
(a) as to circumstances in which it is reasonable for a responsible body to have to take steps of a prescribed description;
(b) as to steps which it is always reasonable for a responsible body to have to take;
(c) as to circumstances in which it is not reasonable for a responsible body to have to take steps of a prescribed description;
(d) as to steps which it is never reasonable for a responsible body to have to take.
( ) In order to comply with its duty under subsection (1), a responsible body may in particular take steps to--
(a) adjust premises;
(b) adjust course content, including work placements;
(c) adjust teaching arrangements;
(d) provide or arrange transport to and from a further education institution;
(e) provide or arrange additional teaching;
(f) provide or arrange communication support or services;
(g) provide or arrange materials and information in alternative formats;
(h) provide or arrange staff training;
(i) employ support workers;
(j) change policies, practices and procedures.").

The noble Lord said: I wish to move Amendment No. 168 tabled by me and my noble friend Lady Darcy de Knayth.

Clause 27 brings disabled students within the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act and naturally we welcome that inclusion unreservedly. The clause is part of a cluster of clauses that explain what discrimination against a student or prospective student means. However, this part of the Bill is rather thin on the detail of how inclusion of these students can be made to work. Indeed, it seems at times a little more forthcoming on the considerations which might tell against catering appropriately for the disabled student.

Lest the imagination of the responsible authorities should fail, we have sought in this amendment to remind them of what might be appropriate. Clearly, not everything can go into the Bill, so we have paved the way for regulations and provided some broad indications of what may be useful. Even though we are in the Moses Room and have recently suffered a storm of biblical proportions, I cannot claim that the list is the list of Solomon, but it may help to reassure any authority disposed to imagine all sorts of adverse consequences for other students in meeting the needs of disabled students.

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It is wrong that disabled students should have to face not only the normal strains of college life, but the hazards of their disability and, in addition, a battle to get the support that they need. RNIB experience suggests that students all too often have to find out what is available or what could be available if greater effort were made and then to fight a battle to get what they need. The amendments are designed to help to move the responsible agencies towards taking the initiative and sparing the student unnecessary hassle and the need to keep asking--especially when, as sometimes happens, grudging responses give the impression that charity is being sought.

I am sure that we all want to extend the rights agenda for disabled students. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: I warmly support my noble friend. I hope that the Minister will agree to put a reference to regulations in the Bill and in particular that transport and support workers should be included. Transport is a major problem for disabled students in further education. Lack of transport can prevent a disabled student from pursuing his chosen and otherwise accessible course.

In higher education, a big problem is the employment of support workers such as interpreters, note-takers and personal assistants. The legal and financial responsibilities of an employer and having to train personal assistants are a lot for a student to take on. This all takes time and energy, both of which might be in short supply. It would be relatively easy for the institution, which is already an employer, to set up an employment agency. I am told that some do, but it is not very common. There would then be the added benefit of a pool of workers in its employ who could provide useful back-up when a support worker is ill. I hope therefore that the Minister will respond positively.

Baroness Blackstone: I understand that in proposing that the Government should take regulation-making powers of this type, the noble Lord's intention is to promote clarity for both providers and learners. We are proposing similar powers in respect of corresponding provisions for schools.

However, it is important to look at all proposals to take regulation-making powers on their merits. We are not persuaded that the arguments are as strong for similar powers for further and higher education, which has a more diverse group of providers, catering for a predominantly adult population, many of whom attend quite short courses.

In that context, it is less apparent that the Government can sensibly determine sets of circumstances that are or are not reasonable, or which adjustments are always or never reasonable. That is more properly a matter for guidance, through the DRC's code, and for sensible interpretation of such guidance by institutions and, if cases are brought--which I hope they will not be--by the courts.

The amendment lists the steps that responsible bodies may take to comply with their duties under the clause. It is a helpful and uncontroversial list, but the

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most appropriate place for such lists and the examples to illustrate them is in the code that will support this provision. The list of steps that an employer might have to take to comply with his duty to make reasonable adjustments was included in Part II of the DDA. However, circumstances have changed. In 1995, the concept of reasonable adjustments was new and the government of the day felt it right to put an illustrative list on the face of the Bill.

We consulted on the basis that the provisions in respect of further and higher education would be accompanied by a code. That approach has been widely supported. We take the view that we should not try to put provisions that are clearly suitable for such a code on the face of the Bill unless there are compelling reasons to do so. There do not seem to be such reasons in this case. The list is helpful and reasonable--indeed, it is one of which Solomon would have been proud. It accords with the wide duty we have put in the Bill in respect of further and higher education, which does not limit the reasonable steps that an institution might have to take to avoid substantial disadvantage. We will pass on our understanding of that to the DRC, which will develop the code.

Perhaps I may say a few words to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth on the subject of transport. The Bill will place a duty on education providers to make reasonable adjustments to policies, practice and procedures or to any arrangements for services that place the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to non-disabled persons. They will have to make sure that in operating their transport policies they do not treat disabled students less favourably than the non-disabled. They will also have to consider reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students are not put at a disadvantage relative to non-disabled students. That will apply to transport. I hope that provides some reassurance to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: Before my noble friend decides what to do, I thank the Minister very much for her comments. Does she also agree that the question of support workers is vital for those in HE? Perhaps institutions might be willing to take on--

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