Equality Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 9th November 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 5:30 pm, 9th November 2005

My Lords, the noble Lord is quite wrong. I always listen to him because I have to answer the points that he makes. However, it is true that I rarely have the joy of agreeing with him—but there was one occasion that stands for ever in my mind, when the two of us were at one, and I shall never forget it.

We are faced with a very interesting position. I first thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, because she makes it plain that she supports the purpose behind Clause 45 but has trouble with two words—"or effect". The noble Lord, Lord Lester, says this is unripe time—that the debate we need to have should more accurately and properly be carried out in the much-anticipated discrimination law review. The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, says that this part of the Bill should not be there at all. So there are three different stances, and other noble Lords and the right reverend Prelate have made variations on those themes.

For the purposes of clarity, I make it plain that what we are dealing with in this part of the Bill is how harassment will impinge on the way public services are provided. That is the context in which we speak. I shall start, although I appreciate it may take a little time, by dealing with the proper concerns raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. I accept her passion about the improprieties of "or effect", which she maintains should be removed, not just from the provisions that relate to Clause 45, but also from all other parts of legislation where they appear.