Clause 29

Part of Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:15 pm ar 18 Mehefin 2009.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Shadow Science Minister 2:15, 18 Mehefin 2009

I know we should not have this debate now. However, it may help the Minister know my concern: what if a prison service was being run by a religious organisation? There is no injunction, and there is a big exception in schedule 23 for a religious organisation to  harass through unwanted proselytisation. I accept that it is not their intention to harass; I do not want to be misunderstood—I am using the term in its legal sense. A religious organisation might want to provide that welfare service only to people of its own religion so, because of the entitlement to discriminate, the issue does bite.

I do not expect the hon. and learned Lady to deal with such matters now because we can deal with them under schedule 23. However, I want her to acknowledge that without the distinction carried through to schedule 23 about what is a service in the exercise of a public function—about which we are in agreement—there will be the worry that vulnerable people, captive people or those who rely on a service may suffer because of the nature of the organisation that is delivering it. We must bear it in mind that that is not in the control of Parliament at any given stage. It is a point for later, but I wanted to flag it up now.