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Further Exceptions From Ss 29(1) And 30

Volume 897: debated on Saturday 16 August 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Lords amendment: No. 18, in page 22, line 27, leave out "prison" and insert

"reception centre provided by the Supplementary Benefits Commission"

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This is a technical amendment to correct an oversight in the drafting of the Bill.

The difficulty about the use of "prison" as an example in this clause is that that which is provided in prison cannot properly be said to constitute goods, services or facilities to the public or a section of the public, except in so far as the facilities are those which are afforded to visitors. In other words, prison is a bad example for the purposes of Clause 34(1)(a) because that which is provided in prison is not caught by Clause 29(1) of the Bill. Therefore, there is no point in providing an exception for it in Clause 34.

The words which this amendment would substitute,
"reception centre provided by the the Supplementary Benefits Commission ",
give a different example, which does not suffer from the same defect as "prison", of a single sex establishment for people requiring special care, attention or supervision.

I am not sure that I have followed the hon. Lady's argument entirely clearly. I am not certain why the reception centre should be that of the Supplementary Benefits Commission. I cannot understand why it should not cover, and why there should not be specified in the drafting, reception centres provided by other voluntary organisations like the Salvation Army, the Church Army, and so on. Are we to understand that they fall into the category of

"other establishments for persons requiring special care"
and are, therefore, covered already, or is it an omission that voluntary organisations providing reception centres are net mentioned?

The words,

"reception centre provided by the Supplementary Benefits Commission",
are chosen as a good example of a place which makes provision whereby persons without a settled way of life may be influenced to lead a more settled life. This example was chosen because most people are acquainted with it. I think that the hon. Gentleman's example would be equally reasonable.

So the hon. Lady can, therefore, categorically say that "reception centre", although the Bill specifies the Supplementary Benefits Commission, will also include voluntary reception centres provided by the Church Army, the Salvation Army, and so on?

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 20, in page 23, line 17, column 2, leave out "paragraph" and insert "paragraphs 1 and 1A".

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this amendment it will be convenient to take the following Lords amendments: No. 79, in Schedule 4, page 66, line 11, at end insert—

"1A. Until 1st January 1978, section 12(2) does not apply to any organisation of members of the teaching profession where at the passing of this Act—
  • (a) the organisation is an incorporated company with articles of association, and
  • (b) the articles of association restrict membership to persons of one sex (disregarding any minor exceptions), and
  • (c) there exists another organisation within paragraphs (a) and (b) which is for persons of the opposite sex and has objects, as set out in the memorandum of association, which are substantially the same as those of the first mentioned organisation, subject only to differences consequential on the difference of sex.
  • 1B.—(1) Until a date specified by order made by the Secretary of State the courses of training to be undergone by men as a condition of the issue of certificates to them under the Midwives Act 1951 (1951 c. 53) or the Midwives (Scotland) Act 1951 (1951 c. 54) (as amended by section 20) must be courses approved in writing by or on behalf of the Secretary of State for the purposes of this paragraph.
    (2) Until the date specified under sub-paragraph (1), section 9 of the Midwives Act 1951 and section 10 of the Midwives (Scotland) Act 1951 (regulation of persons other than certified midwives attending women in childbirth) shall have effect as if for the words from the beginning to (but not including) "attends a woman in childbirth" where they first occur there were substituted the words—
    "If a person other than—
  • (a) a woman who is a certified midwife, or
  • (b) in a place approved in writing by or on behalf of the Secretary of State, a man who is a certified midwife".
  • The amendment made by this sub-paragraph shall be read without regard to the sections 35A and 37A inserted in the said Acts of 1951 by section 20(4) and (5)
    (3) On and after the said date the words to be substituted for those, in the said sections 9 and 10, mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) are—
    "If a person who is not a certified midwife".
    (4) An order under this paragraph shall be laid in draft before each House of Parliament, and section 6(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 (Parliamentary control by negative resolution of draft instruments) shall apply accordingly."
    No. 83, in Schedule 6, page 67, column 3, leave out from beginning of line 7 to end of line 8.

    No. 84, in page 67, leave out from beginning of line 11 to end of line 12.

    This group of amendments deals with two somewhat controversial matters—single sex unions in the teaching profession and male midwives. Both were the subject of reversals between Committee and the Bill coming back on to the Floor of the House.

    On the single sex unions, we have given consideration to anxieties which have been expressed and have come to the conclusion that it would be right to give the Joint Four teaching unions, which appear to be the only ones involved, a period of two years' exemption from the provisions of the Bill. That is the same concession as is made in respect of arrangements for multi-sex trade unions. I hope that these provisions will be welcomed.

    I turn now to male midwives. The Government are aware of the strong feelings in some quarters that men may not be acceptable to some women as mid-wives, even though there has been general acceptance of the principle of eliminating discrimination here. One problem is that there is no real evidence—there cannot be any evidence without experience—about the difficulties which may arise from admitting men to midwifery training and practice. It has always been the Government's intention to proceed carefully in this sphere and, as hon. Members will be aware from previous debates, the Bill contains wide safeguards.

    The Government's amendments made during the passage of the Bill in another place have the aim of making further safeguards and at the same time paving the way for obtaining evidence on the practical problems. The amendments introduce a transitional provision for a limited entry of men into midwifery under carefully controlled conditions before any general relaxation of the barriers is made.

    The effect of the second half of Amendment No. 79 and Amendments Nos. 83 and 84 is to allow the present legal barriers to male midwives to be removed on the coming into force of the statute, but at the same time to impose fresh transitional restrictions which could only be removed by a statutory instrument which would be laid before Parliament in draft.

    The effect of the transitional restrictions is to confine the training of men to become midwives to courses approved for the purpose by the Secretary of State and, similarly, to restrict the employment of men who qualify as midwives to particular places. Our intention is to approve courses initially at only two midwifery training schools, selected in consultation with the Central Midwives Board and the health authorities. Employment would be only at hospitals associated with the training schools. Progress would be carefully monitored and firm evidence on which to base discussions on a general relaxation of barriers should emerge.

    These have been matters of controversy. I hope that, although the amendments will not entirely remove the controversies, at any rate they will take some of the edge off them.

    The Under-Secretary of State said that it had always been the Government's intention to proceed with care in these matters. That was not the impression that we gained at the outset of the discussions, but I am glad to learn that that is the intention.

    These amendments are welcome. I still think that the teaching unions and the midwives should have been left out of the Bill. A certain amount of time and trouble would have been saved. The situation now would have been better for both of them. However, the Government have come some way to meeting us and we, therefore, accept that improvement.

    The fact that only two midwifery training schools will be used is encouraging news. I already had that information from the midwives, but it is good to have it confirmed by the Minister. I suggest that to use more would seem to be an unnecessary waste of money at this time when the National Health Service is in a more critical condition than when we discussed these matters in the summer. Are these courses ready, or will they be affected by the inquiry to which the Leader of the House referred during business questions this afternoon? If the Minister can give any information about that I shall be grateful, but the amendments are welcome in that they are an improvement on what was there before.

    Question put and agreed to.