Schedule 13

Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:00 pm on 23rd June 2009.

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Education: reasonable adjustments

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone Shadow Minister (Children, Schools and Families)

I beg to move amendment 202, in schedule 13, page 203, line 19, at end insert—

‘(2A) For the purposes of this paragraph, the reference in section 19(3), (4) and (5) to a disabled person is to disabled persons generally.’.

An amendment to ensure that the anticipatory nature of the duty to make reasonable adjustments is retained in education as in the Disability Discrimination Act by providing that the duty applies to ‘disabled persons’ not only to an individual disabled person.

The amendment is on the matter of reasonable adjustments. It is a departure from the original language on reasonable adjustments in the services and functions, private clubs and education provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. My understanding is that the phrase “disabled persons” must direct attention to features which impede persons with one or more kind of disability. We are aiming not simply for an education establishment to anticipate the needs of an individual who would have impairments requiring specific reasonable adjustments. The wording of the Bill needs to include the fact that it is about a class of disabilities—for example, being mobility-impaired or visually impaired—and about making reasonable anticipatory adjustments so that someone who has that disability and belongs to that group, will not need to arrive at the school and then ask for that adjustment to be made; it will already be there. The EHRC says:

“This is a critical underlying aspect of the reasonable adjustment duties and failing to address this in education would be regressive.”

Therefore, I am seeking the Minister’s response to see if there is any room to oblige on that matter.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office

Let me confirm that schedule 13 provides for the anticipatory provisions that the hon. Lady seeks, but they are drafted differently from the DDA and differently from hon. Members’ proposals.

I agree with the hon. Lady’s desire—she was taking the provisions in the DDA that make the adjustment requirements anticipatory. They need to be made for disabled persons and not just for a specific disabled person. In short, I hope she will take it from me that we are confident that the provision she seeks is already present in schedule 13.

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone Shadow Minister (Children, Schools and Families)

I thank the Minister. If that is covered in schedule 13 and there is no question about it, as the Minister has said and put on the record, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 13 agreed to.

Clause 94 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 14 agreed to.