Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

31 After Clause 80, insert the following new Clause—
"Regulations for Northern Ireland
(1) The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister may by regulations make provision about discrimination or harassment on grounds of sexual orientation.
(2) In subsection (1) "sexual orientation" has the same meaning as in the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (SR 2003 No. 497).
(3) The regulations may, in particular—
(a) make provision of a kind similar to Part 3 of the Race Relations Order (discrimination on grounds of race, etc. other than in employment field) and Part 4 of that Order so far as it applies for the purposes of Part 3;
(b) define discrimination;
(c) define harassment;
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1009

(d) make provision for enforcement (which may, in particular, include provision—
(i) creating a criminal offence of a kind similar to, and with the same maximum penalties as, an offence created by the Race Relations Order;
(ii) about validity and revision of contracts;
(iii) about discriminatory advertisements;
(iv) about instructing or causing discrimination or harassment);
(e) provide for exceptions (whether or not of a kind similar to those provided for by Part 6 of the Race Relations Order or any other enactment relating to discrimination);
(f) confer powers or impose duties or restrictions on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland of a kind similar to those conferred or imposed on the Commission by Part 7 of the Race Relations Order;
(g) make provision which applies generally or only in specified cases or circumstances;
(h) make different provision for different cases or circumstances;
(i) include incidental or consequential provision (which may include provision amending an enactment);
(j) include transitional provision.
(4) The power to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory rule for the purposes of the Statutory Rules (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 (S.I. 1979/1573 (N.I. 12)).
(5) Regulations may not be made under this section unless a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
(6) In this section—
"the Race Relations Order" means the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/869 (N.I. 6);
"enactment" includes an enactment contained in or made under Northern Ireland legislation."
32 Clause 92, page 56, line 6, after "But" insert—
"(a) section (Regulations for Northern Ireland) extends only to Northern Ireland, and
(b) "

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 31 and 32.

Clause 81 enables the Secretary of State to legislate to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in Great Britain. The Government have already stated their intention to introduce regulations provided for in that clause next October. Clause 81 does not apply in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has its own long-established and detailed anti-discrimination framework, which is separate from the framework that applies to Great Britain. However, there is no reason to believe that discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation is any less invidious in Northern Ireland than in any other part of the United Kingdom.

The Government consider that the people of Northern Ireland should not lack the protection from discrimination that is available throughout Great Britain. We also believe that such protection must be consistent with the broader framework of mechanisms
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1010
that already exist in relation to anti-discrimination and equality law in Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 31 will ensure that protection from discrimination in Northern Ireland need be no less than it is elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Amendment No. 32 is a consequential amendment that extends the effect of the new clause inserted by Amendment No. 31 to Northern Ireland.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 31 and 32.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

3.30 pm

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, we welcome these amendments. It is very important that the citizens of the United Kingdom should enjoy the same basic rights and freedoms irrespective of the part of the territory in which they happen to live. When we debated the Civil Partnership Bill, we considered whether it should apply to Northern Ireland. At the time, there was a great deal of resistance. But it applies to Northern Ireland; indeed, the first civil partnerships were registered in Belfast before any were registered in Scotland, England and Wales.

Underlying legislation in Northern Ireland dealing with discrimination matches legislation in this country. Of course, sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful south of the border in the Republic. Under the Good Friday agreement, it is contemplated that the same basic rights and freedoms will be enjoyed north and south of the border in Ireland and east and west of the Irish Sea. This ensures a level playing field. It is right that these amendments should be made.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

33 Clause 93, page 56, line 14, leave out subsection (2)

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 33, which is the privilege amendment. As noble Lords know, its purpose is to complete a formal parliamentary procedure. The amendment seeks to remove the privilege amendment inserted by your Lordships' House in Clause 93(2). The Bill involves a charge on public funds—for example, the costs of the commission, which fall to the Commons to control. There is no further purpose in maintaining the privilege amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 33.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

34 Schedule 1, page 61, line 4, leave out "2(2)(b)" and insert "2(3)(b)"
35 page 62, line 7, leave out "2(2)(c)" and insert "2(3)(c)"
36 page 67, line 41, leave out "and"
37 page 67, line 42, at end insert ", and
(c) matters addressed in sections 14(3) and (3A), 27(2) and (2A) and 28(2) and (2A)."

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 34 to 37, to which I have spoken with Amendments Nos. 6 and 11.
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1011

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

38 Schedule 2, page 73, line 5, at end insert—
"Intelligence services
20 (1) An inquiry may not consider—
(a) whether an intelligence service has acted (or is acting) in a way which is incompatible with a person's human rights, or
(b) other matters concerning human rights in relation to an intelligence service.
(2) In this paragraph "intelligence service" has the same meaning as in paragraph 14."

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 38. The amendment would limit the scope of an inquiry that the commission may undertake under Clause 16, which under the Bill as it left your Lordships' House could relate to any of the commission's duties under Clauses 8, 9 and 10. Under this amendment, the commission would not be able to consider in the course of an inquiry any human rights matters relating to the intelligence services. These are defined in paragraph 14 of Schedule 2 as the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters.

We propose this amendment to ensure that the commission's inquiries power does not jeopardise the important work of the intelligence services. This is a reflection of the broad scope of human rights considerations. Of course, there already exists a mechanism by which judicial reviews may be brought against the intelligence services before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which is properly equipped to handle matters and evidence that may be sensitive to national security. The convention rights under the Human Rights Act may be relied upon by claimants in such cases.

This exclusion does not affect the ability of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to conduct inquiries into equality matters in pursuance of its duties under Clauses 8 and 10, so long as it expressly excludes human rights matters from consideration. This is a small but important change to ensure that the work of the intelligence services is not compromised.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 38.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page