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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, yes; absolutely. It will include the DRC and all the relevant organisations that wish to partake in the discussions. If they have evidence we should and will respond. If there is evidence, why would we not move? If there is no evidence, why should we move?
My noble friend pressed me on this, but, of course, we shall have a further chance to be held to account should we be moved to exercise those powers. They would have to be done by regulation, and I am perfectly willing to consider further whether such regulations should be affirmative, thus allowing further consultation based on evidence. I shall consider the matter in good faith and come back to your Lordships' House with something that I hope will be helpful so that it can be perfectly properly scrutinised.
I hope that your Lordships will accept that the Government are pursuing the matter appropriately and that it is a wise and proper approach. If the evidence exists the exemptions will not be applied. But if the evidence does not exist, there can be no reason not to apply the exemptions. If evidence that we do not now have because of the current state of medical knowledge subsequently becomes available five or eight years down the road, we can revisit the regulations, remove the exemptions and bring them within the framework.
I ask your Lordships to accept that our approach must be based on evidence and information to maintain the integrity of the Bill. I hope that your Lordships will agree that I have done my best to respond to the concerns expressed. I accept that peopleespecially older peoplefear the word "cancer", but I have no evidence that there is discrimination on the minor skin conditions requiring one-off treatment, as listed in the report. We are following the path laid out for us by the disability task force, but beyond that we shall go to further consultation and discussion with the organisations. Given that a change in the regulations to establish an exemption would have to come by resolution, I am perfectly willing to consider whether such resolution should be affirmative.
Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I may raise a point on the definition she quoted from the disability task force. Benign tumours are by definition not cancer.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I am happy for him to
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intervene and correct any misunderstanding or misleading information that I may inadvertently have given to the House.
With those assurances, I hope that I have addressed the concerns of my noble friend and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth. As I said, if the evidence is there following consultation, the Government would not wish to exempt. In any case, even if the Government were to argue that there was no evidence, exemption would have to come by regulation to your Lordships' House. I am perfectly willing to consider whether such regulations should be affirmative. If even at that stage evidence comes up, the issue can be revisited. I am concerned to maintain the integrity of the Bill.
Despite the numerous cancer charities that exist in this country, I have had no evidence that there is an issue. The charity Macmillan is concerned. I was grateful to receive the help and support of Macmillan in my family when we had serious cancer. There is no doubt that such organisations speak from experience of cancer patients. But so far we have had no support from any other organisation, including cancer organisations. We can revisit the matter as we need to. We are seeking to address the situations suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant.
I hope that your Lordships feel that the Government have moved some way from their original position at Second Reading. We are seeking to address your Lordships' concerns, but those concerns, if we are to respond, must be evidence based. If they are we would move; if they are not we should not move. Therefore, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, to withdraw his amendment today.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I am sure her commitment to consultation the first time round is widely accepted. Will she put such a provision in the Bill, so that we can be sure that in future consultation takes place when, as is inevitable, there is a need to alter the list from time to time?
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I have taken advice on this. Whether it is over the next weeks before Third Reading, the consultation will take place fairly shortly. Apart from that, I have taken advice and my remarks in today's discussion will carry the weight the noble Lord wishes.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have supported me on this amendment. It has been a long-running saga and, yes, I do accept that the Government have moved a long way in my direction. I am very pleased that consultation is going on and will continue to go on until the Government produce the list and lay the orders.
Given the interest around the House, that is a very good extra reason why such orders should be affirmative rather than, as they are at the moment, negative. I was very pleased to hear the Minister's remarks on that.
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The most telling point came in the intervention at the end of the Minister's speech by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, when he said that, by definition, rodent ulcers and so on are not cancer. That is the problem with the Bill.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I stand corrected. Benign tumours are not cancer. That is exactly the problem because the clause talks about cancer. One does not know what is covered and what is not. But all this will be explored during the consultation.
On future consultations, I am not convinced by the noble Baroness's answer. As we all know, no governmentunless by an intervention in an Act of Parliamentcan bind their successor. I was told originally that such a commitment as the Minister has just given on consultation would be covered by Pepper v Hart. So I naturally took legal advice and was told that Pepper v Hart comes into play only when there is a lack of clarity in the Act of Parliament. It is quite clear that there is no lack of clarity in this particular Act of Parliament and therefore it will not. Perhaps the Minister can think about that in the next two or three weeks between now and Third Reading.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, before the noble Lords sits down and decides what to do about his amendment perhaps I may make two points. First, he says he does not know what is in and what is out. I do him the courtesy of assuming that he has a copy of the Disability Discrimination Bill consultation document, which lists these things in paragraph 4.10. So there should not be any discussion or dispute about that. Secondly, I have said that before any regulations can be introduced we would have consultation. We expect that consultation to be fairly soon. I have also said that those regulations are available. It is a question for the House whether they should be affirmative. So I cannot see what more the noble Lord could reasonably want in terms of checks on the good faith of government on this: it is built in.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I hope I was in the process of explaining that I do not doubt the good faith of the Government in this area, but I have quite natural suspicions of some future government. That is not unusual, especially when one is speaking from the Official Opposition Front Bench. I have no doubt that the noble Baroness in her turn did so some years ago.
The noble Baroness in her last intervention almost caused me to change my mind. But I am not going to change my mind; I shall await the outcome of the deliberations between now and Third Reading and if it is necessary to change my mind, I believe that that will be the time to change it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I can be very brief. The amendment implements the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that the affirmative resolution procedure should apply to all regulation-making provisions for remedies in relation to discrimination by general qualification bodies and not just those made the first time the power is used. We accept that. We are able to accept the recommendation. I beg to move.
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