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 Lester of Herne Hill Lord Lester of Herne Hill Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities 3:15 pm, 9th November 2005

My Lords, I am very privileged to find myself supporting the noble Lords, Lord Alli and Lord Smith of Finsbury, on these amendments. With the benefit of foresight, rather than hindsight, it was clearly a mistake for the Government to introduce religious discrimination without introducing sexual orientation discrimination at the same time. That is water under the bridge. The great virtue of these amendments is that both kinds of unfair discriminatory treatment will be covered in legislation. I hope that the Minister will be able not only to accept the amendments but also to tell the House about the Government's timetable and the consultation so that we can have some idea whether this will happen sooner or later, without committing the Government to any particular dates.

Finally, I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Alli, in the best tradition of this House, spreading flattery and adulation across the House. I remind him and the House of what happened in the 19th century. There were two great constitutional historians; one called Freeman, and the other called Stubbs. They kept writing reviews of a flattering kind about each other's books. One day a wag wrote:

"Ladling butter from alternate tubs, Stubbs butters Freeman, Freeman butters Stubbs".

We all do it; and so much the better.