Equality Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 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 6:30 pm, 9th November 2005

My Lords, since the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, is not a free woman but is sitting on the Woolsack, I hope that she will not mind my speaking in her name and saying that, if she were free, she would say what I am about to say. We are grateful to the Government for having tabled and moved Amendment No. 42. As the Minister said, it ensures that the very broad exception in the table must be read subject to Community law relating to discrimination. It is put very neatly in that way. It means that, for example, the proportionality test in the gender directive will have to apply.

As the EOC has indicated, there are other, wider structural problems with dovetailing between this Bill and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. However, it would be beyond the scope of this Bill, as the Minister has said, to seek to deal with those sophisticated and complicated matters now. They will be dealt with, as I understand it, by the discrimination law review, which is entirely sensible.

Finally, since this is probably my last opportunity to say this, I want to pay tribute to the Minister, without whom it would have been impossible to make the Bill into what it now is, that is, a Bill of which we should all be proud when we send it to the other place. I know that she has had a difficult time because she has had to deal with so many different departments and issues. It has been an enormous pleasure to me to work with her, and what she has done is quite remarkable.