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Lord McCarthy: My Lords, will the Minister tell the House whether her reply means that the Government have moved away from the general position adopted by the Labour Party when in Opposition; namely, that they supported in general the report of the all-party Employment Committee in another place on the work of TECs, which suggested a number of not necessarily fundamental, but significant, changes in the structure and functions of TECs? Are we going back on that position?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, we are introducing a number of changes of the kind that I just described. At the same time, however, we recognise the valuable work that is done by TECs. There are over 1,000 people round the country who voluntarily give up time to support the work of TECs. They deliver an important part of our employment training. That does not mean that there is not room for improvement in a variety of different respects. I believe that the TEC National Council recognises that it needs to do more to make sure that the performance of less high-performing TECs is raised to that of the very best.

Baroness Young: My Lords, would the noble Baroness be good enough to set out slightly more clearly what exactly are the Government's proposals? I listened with interest to her original Answer, which I welcomed; however, her reply to the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, seemed to suggest something very different. The track record of TECs has, on the whole, been a good one. Perhaps the Minister might comment on the number of people they have trained who have subsequently found employment.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the Government are well aware of the very large numbers of people who have been trained through TECs and the partnerships that they have with local deliverers of training, including FE colleges, in their own areas. That does not, however, mean that there are not matters that need to be examined. For example, some TECs have very large reserves. The Government believe that it would make sense if better use were made of those reserves. We are encouraging TECs to look afresh at how they might use their resources to make sure that they are focused effectively on the Government's priorities. Just one example is that we expect the TECs to make a significant contribution to kick-starting individual learning accounts. We also believe that in the area of equal opportunities the TECs might improve on their current performance. We need, for example, to improve

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greatly on the numbers of girls who are being trained through TEC schemes through different kinds of employment training.

Lord Rochester: My Lords, because the funding of TECs is largely related to output in terms of job placements and qualifications, does the noble Baroness think there is a danger of training providers taking on too many applicants who are well placed to achieve those outcomes, at the expense of those who are most in need of help?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, if one has output measures for organisations such as TECs, it is very important to ensure that they do not distort the operation of the TECs, so that they become more concerned about meeting particular output targets at the expense of quality. Again, the Government are examining the matter with regard to the kind of performance measures that we ought to be using in trying to monitor the ways in which TECs operate.

Lord Wade of Chorlton: My Lords, will the Minister explain what the Government expect to be the relationship between the TECs and the new regional development agencies that are now proposed, and how they will work together to stimulate the economies of the various regions?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the original development agencies will play a very important role in relation to regional economic development. The TECs on the other hand, of which there are 73--far more than there will be regional development agencies--will continue to play a very important role locally in trying to secure and deliver good quality training. Obviously the TECs will need to have a relationship with the regional development agencies. We shall expect them to work together to examine difficult problems such as skill shortages and how they should be addressed.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that all the questions have been on training? Is she entirely happy that enterprise is not being neglected for training; and do the two really fit together as well as they should?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, enterprise and training do fit very closely together. We shall not achieve the kind of enterprise that our nation and our economy need unless we have well trained people. It is through the training not merely of young people but also adults, including training in entrepreneurial skills, that we shall achieve the sort of enterprise that I am sure the noble Lord wants to see.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, is my noble friend satisfied with the eligibility criteria of TEC board members? Is she aware that, over the seven years during which the TECs have been in existence, there has been quite a lot of criticism about some of the appointments that have been made?

Baroness Blackstone: Yes, my Lords, I am aware that there has been criticism of some appointments to

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TEC boards. Again, it is extremely important that the TEC National Council ensures that people of the highest quality, drawn from a wide range of different backgrounds, serve on TEC boards, so that we can deliver the quality of training that we need.


Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on the mis-selling of personal pensions.

Human Rights Bill [H.L.]

3.17 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The Question is, That the Title be postponed?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: It is almost always convenient to postpone the Title to fit in with any amendments that are made in Committee, and I do not oppose that on this occasion. However, I have an amendment down to the Title, Amendment No. 116, which may be conveniently discussed with the first two amendments relating to purpose clauses to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon.

The Chairman of Committees: The amendment tabled by the noble and learned Lord will be called in the usual way, in order. However, it is open to any noble Lord to intervene on any debate on any previous amendment and to seek to speak as he chooses.

On Question, Title postponed.

Clause 1 [The Convention and the First Protocol]:

Lord Lester of Herne Hill moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 6, at beginning insert--
("( ) The main purposes of this Act are to secure in law the Convention rights to everyone within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom and to provide effective remedies for violation of the Convention rights within that jurisdiction.").

The noble Lord said: It is very important that the courts should be able to have regard to all relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human

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Rights and the First Protocol in performing the tasks put upon them by this Bill. First, I wish to explain what my amendment seeks to do.

Article 1 of the European convention imposes an obligation on the contracting states to secure the convention rights to everyone within the jurisdiction of, in this case, the United Kingdom. Article 13 imposes an obligation to ensure that there are effective domestic remedies for claims of breach of the convention. The Committee will have noticed from the Human Rights Bill as it stands that neither Article 1 nor Article 13 is to be directly incorporated into domestic law.

It is correct not to seek to incorporate Article 1 of the convention in the Bill since that is an interstate obligation to secure the rights guarantees. Amendment No. 1 seeks to include a purposes clause so that courts and tribunals are able to have regard to the main purposes of the Bill when they come to interpret and apply the substantive provisions of the convention. In that way the purposes clause seeks to incorporate into the purposes both the obligation to secure the rights in domestic law and the obligation to secure effective domestic remedies.

The committee of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, on the preparation of legislation--it reported as long ago as 1975--while being sceptical in relation to the value of purposes clauses in most cases, made one important exception. The committee said that, where a Bill seeks to give domestic effect to a Community or international treaty obligation, there should be a purposes clause so that the courts are in no doubt that the purposes of the legislation are to give domestic effect to the treaty obligation. I paraphrase. I shall not weary the Committee with the full paragraph of the report where all that is explained.

Why does it matter in practice? It matters because, if Article 13 is not to be incorporated into our legal system, from time to time the courts will come across problems where they need nevertheless to have regard to the article. Perhaps I may give a controversial example to serve for all. The courts already have regard to Article 13 of the convention when developing the common law or deciding the scope of discretionary powers, including their own powers. For example, in Esther Rantzen's libel case the Court of Appeal had regard to Article 13 of the convention in explaining how in future it would interpret Section 8 of the Courts and Legal Services Act--the provision that gives it the power to intervene and overrule excessive damages awards by juries in libel cases. It made it clear that, looking at Article 13 as well as the free speech guarantee in Article 10 of the convention, it was right in future for the courts, as public authorities bound by Article 13, to exercise their discretion so as to avoid unnecessary jury awards for damages in libel cases.

That is one example. Another was in a case a year ago in the House of Lords--ex parte Khan--where several noble and learned Lords in their speeches referred to Article 13 in the context of the protection of the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 8 of the convention. Other amendments will later seek to incorporate Article 13 directly into our law. But if we

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include a purposes clause, either of the kind that I drafted that includes Article 1 or of the kind drafted by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, which incorporates Article 13 as part of a purposes clause, then my difficulty about the Bill as it stands would be met without the need to incorporate Article 13 directly.

Perhaps I may make one or two other points before I sit down. I am troubled, in what is otherwise an admirable Bill, brilliantly drafted and conceived, by the fact that, as drafted, it places some blinkers on the judges in their not being able to have regard to all the relevant provisions of the convention which are not necessarily substantive. One is Article 13. To give two more examples, the convention is equally authentic in English and French and there are rare cases where the judges have to look at both texts. The Bill does not say so. Another example is Article 60, which says that the convention should not be interpreted so as to whittle away existing human rights safeguards. Again, on the Bill as it stands, judges cannot have regard to that.

I do not feel that that problem can be properly dealt with by a Pepper v. Hart statement; in other words, a statement on behalf of the Government as to what the underlying purpose of the Bill is. I plead guilty, as the successful counsel in Pepper v. Hart, to persuading the House of Lords that judges can have regard to parliamentary debates to construe ambiguities in legislation. But I suggest that it is not satisfactory for the citizen to have to read Hansard and a Minister's statement in order to know something as fundamental as the object and purpose of the Bill.

The rule of law depends upon the accessibility of the law on its face in the statute book. That is why it is right that there should be a purposes clause on the lines recommended by the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, so that it is clear that the judges can have regard to the need to provide effective remedies. In saying that, as I made clear at Second Reading, I am not suggesting that the courts should be somehow creative in going beyond the scope of the Bill to fashion some new-fangled remedy not previously thought about. That is not the purpose of the amendment. It is to ensure that, where Article 13 is genuinely in play, the judges and tribunals are able to have proper regard to it. I beg to move.

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