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Janet Anderson accordingly presented a Bill to make it an offence to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a motor vehicle; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 12 April, and to be printed [Bill 50].
Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 107 (Welsh Grand Committee (matters relating exclusively to Wales)) and Standing Order No. 108 (Welsh Grand Committee (sittings)),
1. The matter of the Pre-Budget Statement and its implications for Wales be referred to the Welsh Grand Committee for its consideration;
2. The Committee shall meet on Wednesday 28th November at half-past Ten o'clock and between Four o'clock and Six o'clock at Westminster to take questions under Standing Order No. 103 (Welsh Grand Committee (questions for oral answer)) and to consider the matter of the Pre-Budget Statement and its implications for Wales under Standing Order No. 107 (Welsh Grand Committee (matters relating exclusively to Wales))[Mr. Kemp.]
'(2A) This section applies to arrangements made by a registered political party which, in respect of elections for a single representative for a geographical area, confer preference on a female candidate who possesses equivalent or substantially equivalent merits to a male candidate but only if such candidatures are the subject of an assessment that takes account of the specific personal situations of the candidates, including their relationship with that specific geographical area.'.
'(2A) This Article applies to arrangements made by a registered political party which, in respect of elections for a single representative for a geographical area, confer preference on a female candidate who possesses equivalent or substantially equivalent merits to a male candidate but only if such candidatures are the subject of an assessment that takes account of the specific personal situations of the candidates, including their relationship with that specific geographical area.'.
Mr. Lansley: On Second Reading, the Bill received a welcome across the House. It was rightly said that the Bill was short and relatively simple, but important. I support it, and the amendments are not intended to reduce that support.
On Second Reading and in Committee many Members applauded the fact that the Bill is permissive in intent, but by switching off the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 it allows the discretion given to political parties to be used to do various things. It became increasingly clear to me in Committee, and I hope that it will become clear to other right hon. and hon. Members, that the Bill runs the risk of reintroducing to this area of law and practice by political parties many of the uncertainties that arose from the Jepson case in 1996, and we would do well to remove them.
Amendment No. 4 is designed to apply to Great Britain and amendment No. 3 to the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976. Amendment No. 4 would set a limit on the circumstances in which positive discrimination may be exercised in favour of women. It would ensure that when a single member was being elected for a specific geographical areathat would generally mean individual Members of Parliament elected for a specific Westminster constituency or, in local government, single members elected for a wardwhile a woman could be given preference in the selection over a man who had equivalent merits, all the candidates for the post, including men, should be subject to an assessment. Account should be taken of the candidates' personal circumstances, including their relationship with the
On Second Reading, when I was, frankly, less informed than I have become, I argued that although the Bill switched off the provisions of the 1975 Act that apply to the selection of candidates by political parties, it might none the less become subject to intervention by the courts on the strength of the adoption of the new equal treatment directive, or even the old one. The Minister confidently assured me that as the measure applied to elections and not to appointments, that would not be the case. However, in Committee, the right hon. Gentleman said:
The Government maintain that the judgment applies to a post, but not to the selection of a candidate. I am still not persuaded by their argument. If the Jepson case demonstrated anything, it was that the selection of
The purpose of the amendments is pre-emptively to apply a test of proportionality to the positive action that the Bill will enable political parties to take, thus removing the uncertainty about the extent to which they can take action. They will then no longer need to undertake expensive legal inquiries and test cases, with all that they entail, to establish the law on positive action of this sort.
It is not only the equal treatment directive that might impact on positive action measures. If I have read the notes to the Human Rights Act 1998 correctly, protocol 12 to the conventionI do not know whether the Government intend to sign itwhich creates a free- standing right to equality looks to a right of member states to take