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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, similarly, we are happy to endorse the passage of the order. In particular it seems that the consultation process was fruitful, in that the Government recognise the limits on sensible directions and instructions in an area of this kind.

However, the corollary to that is the question of accountability. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is, as I understand it, the successor to the marvellously named Centre for Encouragement of Music and the Arts which was a company limited by guarantee and therefore was liable to have annual general meetings. I would welcome an assurance from the Minster that general accountability will be fully borne in mind in the operation of the new body. Other than that, I have nothing to add or to question.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness for her presentation of the order. It is one that we broadly support, not least because it has been welcomed by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and other arts bodies. From these Benches we support the order because it pursues the policy that arts councils should be devolved in structure. It is worth while to pay a tribute to the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, which has responded to the needs of a divided society in a most admirable way by placing valuable emphasis on community arts, on traditional dance and on crafts, as well as supporting the justly renowned Ulster Orchestra, the Belfast Festival, the Grand Opera House and the Lyric Theatre. Anyone who follows the very lively arts

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scene in Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole knows what good work the Arts Council for Northern Ireland does.

From these Benches we welcome in particular the provisions which require that the Arts Council for Northern Ireland consults with district councils. However, the noble Baroness will recognise that district council sponsorship varies greatly. I hope that the Government will keep under review the variable levels of assistance for the arts by district councils so that we can create a more comprehensive arts policy for Northern Ireland.

I should like to take up one issue with the noble Baroness. There is little, if any, reference in the order to the National Lottery. If the Northern Ireland Arts Council receives the anticipated £21 million to £22 million from the lottery for 1995—and, who knows? with the success of the National Lottery the figure may be higher—how will it be implemented? Do the Government intend to maintain the commitment that they have made for the remainder of the UK: that lottery monies will not by used in substitution for existing revenue commitments?

Although the Northern Ireland Arts Council does wonderful work, the noble Baroness will be aware that support for the arts in Northern Ireland has always been lower on a per capita basis than for the remainder of the UK. On a per capita basis, last year's figures were £4.12 for Northern Ireland, £4.73 for Scotland and £4.75 for Wales. Given the vital role that the arts play in rebuilding a civic society in Northern Ireland, and the economic circumstances and geographical isolation of Northern Ireland, should the Northern Ireland Office be looking to achieve at least the same per capita funding for Northern Ireland as is the case in Scotland and Wales? In reply, perhaps the noble Baroness will briefly address that point. Otherwise I have pleasure in supporting the order.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield: My Lords, again I thank noble Lords for their support. The order is important because there is such a wealth of culture and art in all its forms in Northern Ireland. Sharing that wealth of culture has to be part of the task in the years ahead. It can bring unity where there has not been unity before, and that is exactly what we need.

There is much to do, but the growth has been substantial. I hear the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, that the grant per capita is higher in Scotland and Wales than in Northern Ireland. I am pleased to be able to reassure him that, in terms of percentage uplift, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has fared better in the current financial year than any of its counterparts in Great Britain. I hope that that will indicate to him that we regard such funding as an area which requires attention, against difficult pressure from other areas. We shall continue to regard it as a key area.

With regard to lottery money I am delighted to assure him that the Government do not intend that money provided to the Province by the lottery—as he rightly says, it could be substantial—should substitute for that provided from public expenditure. It has been

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a clear statement that projects should not emanate from government departments but should emerge from the community. We shall be delighted to watch that occur to the benefit of the arts.

The Government fully recognise the importance of the contribution of district councils to the arts. They believe that it is the duty of the Arts Council to seek to galvanise them into further investment. The Government expect the council to enter where possible into partnership agreements with local authorities with a view to increasing their involvement in the support of local events and arts organisations, and to ensure maximum collaboration and complementarity in the use of public funds.

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One of the most pleasing aspects over the past few months has been the determination of the local councils to take responsibility for what is happening in their own communities. That extends from the economic areas to the arts and social areas. What we see occurring in Northern Ireland benefits all sections, all sectors and all communities. It is a great privilege to see that occurring.

I thank noble Lords for their support. I commend the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty-one minutes before nine o'clock.

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6 Jun 1995 : Column CWH1

Official Report of the Committee on the

Children (Scotland) Bill

First Sitting

Tuesday, 6 June, 1995

The Committee met at half past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: Before I put the question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage since it is the first Committee of the Whole House to be taken off the Floor. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. But the House has agreed on the recommendation of the Procedure Committee that there shall be no Divisions in this Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should also explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. This Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division bells are rung and will then resume after 10 minutes.

Baroness Faithfull: Do we have to turn the microphones on?

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: No.

Baroness Faithfull: They are not necessary. Thank you.

Lord Henderson of Brompton: I asked if it was possible for Members of the Committee to speak sitting instead of standing if they find difficulty in standing. That is accorded in the Committee of the Whole House for those who are in a wheelchair and I ask that it should be extended to this Committee.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I am sure the Committee would like to give the same facility to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I think though that if we can adhere throughout to the procedures in every other respect as they are in the Chamber, we will find that that is the best way forward.

On Question, Title postponed.

Clause 1 [Parental responsibilities]:

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 1:


Page 1, line 18, at end insert:
("( ) if the child is living with him, to promote the maintenance of personal relations and direct contact on a regular basis between the child and the parent with whom he does not live; and").

6 Jun 1995 : Column CWH2

The noble Earl said: The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that both parents understand that they have a duty to their child to act co-operatively at all times. The amendment requires the residential parent to enable and facilitate contact by the non-residential parent. The philosophical basis of this amendment is that it is better for the child to know both his parents than to lose contact with one of them. Continuing contact allows the developing child to identify and understand his inherited nature.

While I accept that there will be some parents who cannot bring themselves to separate the bitterness of their own failed relationship from their continuing task of parenting their children, I believe that it would be very useful to have this positive guidance in the Bill.

Regrettably, studies have shown that 50 per cent of non-residential parents lose contact with their children within two years of separation. In the context of shared parenting this statistic shows how much there is a need for clearly stated principles in the Bill.

I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 2 and 10. I believe that it follows that if a residential parent has the responsibility and duty to promote contact with the non-residential parent, there must also be a right to expect that the other parent will take up his responsibility and opportunity of contact. Furthermore, the intention of Amendment No. 10 is to plug the gap created by changes made to residence orders during the Report stage in another place.

The Bill is not clear about the position of a parent who has his child living with him periodically. The Bill allows such a parent to acquire a residence order which covers his responsibilities when the child is living with him. The Bill leaves unanswered the question of whether such a parent with periodic residential contact needs also to apply for a contact order to enable contact with the child while he is living with the other parent. The condition relating to contact orders—that is, that that parent does not have the child living with him—seems to prevent a parent with periodic residential contact from applying for a contact order. As we are trying to encourage continuing relationships between estranged parents and their children, I believe these amendments will resolve the problem. I beg to move.


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