Equality Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 9th November 2005.

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Photo of Lord Smith of Finsbury Lord Smith of Finsbury Labour 3:15 pm, 9th November 2005

My Lords, first, I support my noble friend Lord Alli in proposing his amendments. In the 21st century it cannot be right for people to be discriminated against in going about their lives, in buying or making use of goods and services, simply on the ground of their sexual orientation. Worse than facing that discrimination is the existence of discrimination in the law which gives a green light to those who seek to act out their discrimination in rather more violent ways, as sadly we have witnessed in the past few weeks. Therefore, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that the law does not discriminate and that practice is not allowed to discriminate. These amendments will secure that objective and I strongly endorse and support them.

Secondly, as I do not have my noble friend's ability to speak after the Minister, I want to thank, in anticipation, my noble friends on the Front Bench and their right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the very constructive way in which they have sought to accommodate the principles and the feeling on these Benches and across the House.

Thirdly, in drawing up the regulations that we hope will arise if these amendments are passed, I ask that Ministers will be expeditious, that they will ensure that the consultation takes place, as is only right and proper, and that as soon as that consultation has taken place they will seize an early opportunity to put the regulations in place. Those ambitions have too long been unfulfilled. I look forward to the day when, with the help of my noble friends on the Front Bench, they will indeed be fulfilled.