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Lord Carter: My Lords, I am sorry to intervene. Will the Minister deal, if necessary in writing, with the point on the apparent anomaly between the figure quoted in the Budget Red Book of £2.5 billion a year; in the up-rating the figure was £2.5 billion over three years for successful anti-fraud measures.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I think I shall have to write to the noble Lord. If I gave the figures I have, which are over different periods, it would cause even more confusion. My figures are over a two-year period when we shall spend something like £300 million extra, and in return for that we expect to achieve something like £2 billion in fraud savings. I will certainly write to the noble Lord to clarify the position and make sure that we are both discussing the same time period.

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I discussed the question of self-assessment. The noble Earl is always keen to ask me if I have "netted off" costs. I can assure him in this case that the running costs of the department do indeed include redundancy costs. Our objective, as I mentioned earlier, will be to reduce those costs to an absolute minimum; and, if we can possibly do so, to avoid them altogether.

I believe I answered the question about benefit cards being stolen once we change to the card system. I hope also that I have assured the noble Earl in regard to benefit offices in rural areas.

I should have guessed that the noble Earl would ask me about the DSS research budget. We make our decisions about research every year on the basis of what we need as research. That position will continue.

I believe that the change programme marks a significant step forward for the delivery of benefits and the collection of contributions and child support. Indeed, the proposals bought forward by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Security, Mr. Lilley, have had some unlikely backers. I cannot end the evening--the noble Lord, Lord Carter, would not expect me to do so--without making some brief reference to a leaked letter from Mr. Andrew Smith, who is the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, to Mr. Chris Smith who is my right honourable friend's shadow in the party opposite down the corridor. Mr. Andrew Smith says that he has been making some informal inquiries about the feasibility of the plans. He says that the advice that he is getting, which is necessarily incomplete, nevertheless suggests that savings in running costs of that magnitude are perfectly feasible, given the opportunities for efficiency gains and the scale of investment already undertaken. But the timetable for introducing them is, to say the least, challenging. I read out the last sentence because that is the slight caveat and I did not want the noble Lord to rise and ask me to read out the text.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I thought the noble Lord could not resist doing that. Why do the Government always refuse to comment when a government letter is leaked but are always anxious to comment when an opposition letter is leaked?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: For the same reason, my Lords, as the Opposition are not very keen to comment on their letters which are leaked. The point that I intend to make, in addition to the slightly teasing one that the shadow chief secretary of the party opposite feels that those things are possible, is that he also says that they are challenging. With that I totally and absolutely agree. So I comment on his leaked letter by agreeing with it in that regard. They are challenging but we believe they are possible.

The change programme, which I have tried to outline this evening, will mix the best elements of the public and private sectors. It will share responsibilities more efficiently between the state and the claimant or contributor. We have not in fact dealt with the other side of the department's business, which is the collection of the national insurance contributions. We believe that by those means we can deliver a service of higher quality,

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designed to use the modern management techniques and also the information technology techniques which are now available, and do so at a lower cost. By using those modern techniques, we can improve hugely on the efficiency of our current system which, as I said at the beginning, is very heavily paper based, has been built up over half a century and has never been scrutinised right across the board in the way in which we intend to examine it over the next three years.

I hope that I have answered all the points. I promise to write to the noble Lord, Lord Carter, about one point that he made which I feel it would be better for me to study and check the figures. I hope that your Lordships are assured that this is a programme that we believe can be delivered, save money for the taxpayer and at the same time improve the service that we give to the people who depend on us.

Earl Russell: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I hope that he will allow me to thank him for a very forthcoming and thoughtful answer. Perhaps I may ask whether, when he comes to the review of conditions of entitlement that he mentioned, he can say whether there will be any possibility of informal all-party consultation before they are set in stone.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his kind words about my contribution this evening. It is possible--but I would not go further than that--that we may want to make some changes which will require consultation: consultation with SSAC, for example, and consultation in the wider world. I should not rule out consultation, if we are dealing with issues on which one normally consults. If we are bringing together the different benefit rules and trying to harmonise them, we may require secondary legislation to bring them all into the same line. I do not think I can go further than that in reply to the noble Earl this evening.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until five minutes past eight o'clock.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.54 to 8.5 p.m.]

Broadcasting Bill [H.L.]

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 72 [Power to publish guidance relating to avoidance of unjust or unfair treatment or interference with privacy]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 181:


Page 61, line 14, leave out ("The BSC may draw up") and insert ("It shall be the duty of the BSC to draw up, and from time to time review,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 181, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 183, 186, 187, 191, 193, 194, 197, 205 and 206. In the interests of saving time, and with your Lordships'

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consent, I should like to speak to all of the government amendments now. I shall, of course, move them as we come to them. Your Lordships will recall that in Committee I undertook to consider further a number of amendments to this part of the Bill. Most of the Government's amendments are a result of that consideration.

Amendments Nos. 181, 183, 186 and 191 seek to address the anxieties expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner; namely, whether the drawing up and review of the guidance should be mandatory. On further reflection the Government have come to the view that such guidance should indeed be mandatory. Similarly, the Government studied further the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, that the BSC, in drawing up its guidance on fairness, be required to consult broadcasting and regulatory bodies and any others it considered appropriate. Amendment No. 187 seeks to create such a requirement.

I turn now to Amendments Nos. 193 and 194. A short time ago the Secretary of State met the chairmen of the existing BSC and BCC. One point that emerged from the meeting was the question of whether the ring-fencing of the work of the fairness committee might be excessive. As I indicated in Committee, it was felt that the Bill as drafted might unnecessarily fetter the discretion of the commission in determining the allocation of responsibilities. These amendments, which remove subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 77 and amend subsection (1), are intended to create flexibility in the area.

Amendment No. 197 follows a proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Ashley. It is intended to allow the BSC, at its discretion, to consider complaints submitted in a form other than written thereby facilitating the submission of complaints from the sensory or otherwise impaired.

The noble Baroness, Lady Dean, introduced an amendment in Committee to prevent broadcasters making comment alongside any summary of a BSC finding which they were required to publish or broadcast. The noble Baroness, your Lordships will recall, offered the example of a finding by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission against the programme "The Cook Report" where the broadcaster, in broadcasting a summary of the finding, accompanied it with negative comment by the programme's presenter, Roger Cook. I understand that the ITC subsequently required that the summary be broadcast again, this time without additional comment, and that was done. Nevertheless, the point is a good one. Amendment No. 205 is intended to ensure that broadcasters may not comment alongside any published or broadcast summary of a BSC finding which they are required to make. That would not, of course, restrict the broadcasters' freedom to comment elsewhere on such a finding.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and my noble friend Lord Caldecote proposed an amendment requiring the BSC to publish reports monthly. As I said at the time, the Government believe that such a requirement would

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fetter the discretion of the BSC to publish its reports more or less often where appropriate. However, the Government accept that reports should, in general, be published monthly. Amendment No. 206 makes the Government's intention clear while allowing the BSC the discretion to deviate from it where appropriate. I beg to move.


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