Schedule 1

Part of Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 16 June 2009.

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Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Shadow Science Minister 11:00, 16 June 2009

That illustrates the problem with the definition of “long-term” in schedule 1 that I probed in amendment 180. I support the idea behind the amendment, although the problem is that it is disease-specific. There are plenty of mental health conditions for which the chance of recurrence might not be as high as the 70 per cent. figure that the hon. Gentleman quoted or about which there is less certainty, less data and less research information on the likelihood of the condition’s recurrence or of the recurrence of the effects. Therefore, the amendment should be seen as illustrative.

All the hon. Gentleman’s points, however, urge the Minister to reconsider her reliance on the wording that the

“effect is likely to recur”, because in many cases in which protection is needed, physicians will find it difficult to say that they believe that the condition is likely to recur. It is far better to have a definition that does not require independent medical reports to stretch to cover what is required by the law, but to have common sense apply. Therefore, the amendment illustrates again that we need to find alternative wording that does not depend on a likelihood that covers a balance of probabilities, which would be the wrong threshold for many disabling and debilitating diseases that can and do recur but are not necessarily likely to recur. The amendment covers just one example of those.