Schedule 1

Part of Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 16 Mehefin 2009.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 11:00, 16 Mehefin 2009

I want to probe the Minister on one point about medical evidence. If someone has a condition and there is a fair amount of consensus among medical practitioners regarding diagnosis and the likelihood of recurrence—this returns us to the point made by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon—what she says is perfectly fair and straightforward and will capture all the cases at hand. However, the case put forward by the DCC shows that there is a lack of consensus about the diagnosis of depression in the medical community, and there is a debate about whether it is an underlying condition or whether there are separate episodes. That is why the amendment focuses specifically on depression. There is an argument about the likelihood of recurrence, with no particular agreement reached, and it could end up with cases going to court and experts arguing with each other. That might be inevitable, and the court would then have to take a view.

What information does the Minister have, and what research has the Department done, on depression or any other long-term conditions? To what extent are there differences in medical opinion? Is the diagnosis and the likelihood of recurrence in any way controversial, likely to be challenged or at variance? Some people have an underlying condition and suffer recurrent bouts of depression and its disabling effects. It is not in anyone’s interest to force such people into a courtroom or a situation in which they have to weigh up different medical experts against each other. As far as they are concerned, they have a disabling condition that periodically recurs. Will the Minister give more information about the state of medical opinion on that condition?