Clause 3 - Consequential amendment

Sex Discrimination (Clubs and Other Private Associations) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 14th June 2004.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David Wright David Wright Labour, Telford

After two long and fairly complex clauses, I am happy to turn to clause 3, which is short and simple. I am sure that you will be delighted with that, Mr. Gale.

The clause is a consequential amendment to schedule 7 of the Licensing Act 1964, which relates to requirements for the issue or renewal of registration certificates under that Act. If club rules conform to the model rules set out in that schedule, there is a presumption that certain requirements for registration are satisfied. One of the rules is that members must have equal voting rights at a general meeting, subject to some exceptions, one of which permits such rights to be restricted to men if the club is primarily a men's club or to women if it is primarily a women's club. Such rules would be prohibited under new section 29A of the Sex Discrimination Act. The exception is therefore no longer appropriate, and clause 3 removes it.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

This is a welcome consequential amendment. It may be worth saying in passing, if I can do it in one sentence, that golf clubs were hit by the unintended consequence of changes to the alcohol licensing regime, and non-members and others found themselves in trouble; I do not anticipate it, but I hope that no such problem will be tied to this consequential amendment. When the hon. Gentleman next meets the golf club representatives, he might ask how their conversation is going with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport over that problem.

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State (Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women), Department of Trade and Industry

The hon. Member for Worthing, West raised that point also on Second Reading, and I understand that the difficulty outlined in the letter he mentioned, a copy of which he was kind enough to pass me, is linked to misunderstandings about how the Licensing Act 2003 will affect clubs. I understand that that has now been cleared up. Following a meeting between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the English Golf Union, golf clubs will still be able to treat visitors as guests and allow them use of the bar and other facilities. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is reassured that those issues are being taken up. However, Mr. Gale—I thank you for your forbearance—it is not a matter for the Bill, which is concerned only with the equal treatment of men and women as members or guests of clubs.

I would make one further but important point on the question of voting. I believe that only one speaker, the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst, opposed the Bill—at least, he seemed very sceptical about it—on Second Reading. His argument was that those who did not like the rules of a club could vote to change them. The point is that in private clubs, woman

are often restricted from voting. It is that sort of unfortunate discrimination that the Bill aims to overcome, which, of course, links to clause 3.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.