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The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, perhaps the Minister can clarify one matter for me. My understanding is that strychnine for poisoning foxes is, at the moment, illegal. Is the Minister saying that the power to make it legal or illegal is now being transferred to the Scottish Minister?
Can the Minister confirm that in future, whenever reserved powers are under consideration because of the evolving situation, they will be kept closely under review and, should any conflicts arise, that further tidying up measures will be brought forward to deal with them?
The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, like the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for making arrangements for the executive notes to be available to us. They have been very helpful and have certainly made it easier for us to understand these orders.
I have one question and one observation. My question is this. At Article 4(3)(a) of the transfer of functions order, the phrase "preventing disorder" is used in defining the scope of the Wireless Telegraphy
As to my observation, your Lordships will be aware that there are serious concerns about the legality of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which is currently under investigation by the European Commission as being in breach not only of directives but of treaties. I merely observe that, in the event that it is ruled illegal, the process of unpicking it will now reach to Scotland as a result of that order. I trust that the Government are comfortable with that prospect.
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I thank noble Lords opposite for welcoming the distribution of the executive notes. If this practice is as helpful as I had hoped it would be--and, from the reactions of noble Lords, it seems that it is--we shall try to continue it and make sure that notes are available to noble Lords on the Front Benches; it is to be hoped that they will then make them available to Back-Benchers who have an interest in the subjects under discussion.
I thank the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, for welcoming the orders. He asked me one or two specific questions. As to whether the renewables obligation will include biodiesel, the content of the renewables obligation is a matter for Scottish Ministers. It concerns electricity production and the issue of biodiesel may be less relevant. The noble Earl was good enough to say that his question about biodiesel was far outside the subject of renewables. The order is about renewables and does not include biodiesel, but, of course, if Scottish Ministers wish to consider it, they will no doubt do so.
I was happy for the noble Earl--and, indeed, for the people of Alloa--to hear what sounds like good news about their future transport arrangements. In general, I am happy that he welcomed the three orders. Like him, I share a positive approach towards devolution. The whole point about devolution is that, wherever possible, power should go to the devolved structures. That is what subsidiarity, efficiency and so on are all about.
The noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, asked about strychnine. This order will executively devolve the authorisation to purchase strychnine. If authorised, of course, it would not be illegal. However, as I hope I made clear, so far as it concerns foxes, strychnine is very much a question of rabies control. That is a matter for the Scottish Executive and the necessary means of control must be available to Scottish Ministers. That is why the ability to authorise the sale of strychnine for moles and foxes is being devolved to Scottish Ministers. I hope that that answers the point.
The noble Lord, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, spoke about reserved powers. I am grateful to him for what he said about these orders. We all appreciate--no one more so than the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk, and one or two other noble Lords who are Members of this House and very much part of the process of the Scottish Parliament--that, as both Parliaments progress, we are very much in a learning process of how to deal most efficiently with adjusting the interface. I hope that the noble Lord will agree that it seems to be going along remarkably well from both points of view.
I appreciate the spirit in which the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, accepted our assurance that these are amendments and adjustments which have proved necessary through experience as we go along the path of learning. As to his specific question of whether the orders are consistent with all the points he made, the answer is yes, they are completely consistent.
I think and hope that I have dealt with all the points raised. I shall, of course, be happy to write to any noble Lord who feels that I have not. On the assumption that your Lordships are now content with the orders, I commend them to the House.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if we also debate the second Motion standing in my name. I shall therefore speak to that second Motion during the course of this speech.
Perhaps I may remind the House of the context of the jobseeker's allowance regulations. Provisions for joint claims for jobseeker's allowance are contained in the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999. Joint claims for jobseeker's allowance will apply to couples without dependent children where at least one member of the couple was born after 19th March 1976. Both members of the couple will be required to meet jobseeker's allowance conditions and to be available for and actively seeking work. Each will receive help to obtain work and will be directed to training programmes or New Deal assistance as appropriate.
Joint claims for jobseeker's allowance will involve both partners directly in the labour market, preventing them adjusting to benefit dependency at an early age when they are in a position to find and take work. The House had an opportunity to debate these provisions during the passage of the Bill last year and that went through unopposed.
Our aim is to ensure that joint claimants of jobseeker's allowance will be treated, as far as possible, in the same way as single claimants are treated currently. The changes introduced by the regulations will give joint claimants the same favourable rights as single claimants regarding the labour market conditions for receiving jobseeker's allowance. They provide that joint claimants are treated as available for and actively seeking employment for the short periods of temporary absence from Great Britain as described. If the regulations were not approved, we should penalise joint claimants. If approved, the regulations will come into force on 19th March 2001, when joint claims for jobseeker's allowance will be introduced.
I turn now to the Social Security (New Deal Pilot) Regulations 2000. These relate to the New Deal 25 plus pilots. These pilots are part of our efforts to tackle long-term unemployment. They have been operating in 28 areas of Great Britain since November 1998, and are testing a variety of innovative ways of helping unemployed people into work. The majority are aimed at those who have been unemployed for 18 months or more; the rest are aimed at those who have been unemployed for 12 months or more. The participants in these pilots face a variety of barriers to work, including lack of recent work experience, lack of relevant skills and lack of confidence. The pilots provide individually-tailored help which identifies and then addresses these barriers.
I am pleased to be able to report that the pilots are proving to be a success. They have confirmed that the New Deal model of a "gateway", and a period of intensive full-time help works--over 16,000 people have already been helped into work. Independent research on the New Deal for young people has shown that, as a direct result of the programme, unemployment is lower and employment is higher. The research also suggests that the programme substantially pays for itself.
The results from the pilot schemes are also encouraging. Independent research has found early pilot effects of higher movement into jobs and out of unemployment. This confirms our own analysis, which suggests that the proportion of people leaving for work is 50 per cent higher in the pilots targeted at people unemployed for 18 months or more than in the control areas outside the pilots.
On the basis of this evidence, we have already announced that an enhanced scheme, New Deal 25 plus, will be introduced across the country in April 2001. The new programme is being designed to reflect the lessons from the pilots--we are retaining flexibility; ensuring that a range of help is always available; and investing more in advisers to enable them to provide continued effective support.
The pilots continue to be a useful source of evidence about how such a programme should operate; we therefore want them to continue until the new programme is introduced. The regulations before the House renew the pilot powers which already exist and which, under the provisions of the Jobseekers Act, can
The regulations prescribe the categories of people who will be required to participate in the New Deal pilots and the impact on their benefit of not participating, and they ensure that payments that they may receive as part of the pilot, including self-employed earnings, will not affect their benefit. The only substantive change is that the regulations now define the date on which the last participant will join. Technical changes reflect the introduction of joint claims, and the fact that some people will be entering the pilots for a second time.
In summary, the pilots have proved successful. They have provided us with valuable evidence to inform the development of a new national programme aimed at helping long-term unemployed adults into work. The regulations ensure that the pilots can continue until the national programme is introduced.
I hope that my explanation of the contents and import of the two sets of regulations has helped the House. They underpin important elements of the Government's ambitious and innovative welfare-to-work strategy. I commend them to the House. I beg to move.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I understand that this is the first occasion on which the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, has played a substantive role on the Front Bench. I should like to congratulate him on his appointment and give him all good wishes for his future on the Front Bench.
We are entirely happy with the first set of regulations--with one exception; namely, footnote (e), where the reference to the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996 is given as "S.I. 1998/207", which caused me considerable difficulty when attempting to call up the regulations on my computer!
We are somewhat less happy with some aspects of the second set of regulations, relating to the New Deal pilot schemes. Last year, when the equivalent provisions were moved, which will expire on 28th November, my noble friend Lord Russell moved an amendment to the Motion for their approval. It called for an undertaking from Her Majesty's Government to include a study of the outcomes for those deprived of benefit under Regulation 6, which imposes deprivation of benefit on those who fail to complete their programmes under the pilots. My noble friend asked for the study to include information as to the means of support relied on by such people and the proportion of those who, six months later, were employed, unemployed, in hospital or in prison, and how those outcomes compared with those whose rights were not taken away from them under
I refer the Minister to Hansard of 22nd May on the debate on the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill. That legislation raised a similar issue concerning those people who had been deprived of benefit for failing to comply with a community order. My noble friend explained why that information was useless as regards answering the questions that he had asked.
This is vital information. In some cases, no doubt, a jobseeker's failure to participate in an employment programme will have been due to the fact that he was already employed in the black economy and was making a fraudulent claim for jobseeker's allowance. But in other cases the failure will be due to the fact that the jobseeker is an inadequate or badly-organised individual who cannot help himself or someone who drops out of the programme because of bullying, racism or stress. We need to know how many of these cases were fraudulent, how many were unfortunate and what the effect is on the latter. I hope that the Minister can assure us that more and better research will be carried out on the issue. We have not tabled an amendment to the Motion on this occasion but we are still looking for the answers.
There are some other questions that need to be raised. The Minister said that the pilot schemes had proved to be a success, but we should like to know when we shall actually get a full statistical report on the impact of the schemes so that we can form our own views on whether or not they have been a success. In the first year of the pilot schemes there was an enormous underspend. I should like to know whether there has been an underspend for this year; and, if so, what it has been.
There are other wider issues of concern relating to the New Deal programme which I should like to mention briefly. In particular, there is the question of how many under-25s go into full-time education and training and how many leave before completion of such courses. The figures for 1999 were horrifying. Can the Minister tell us whether the figures for 2000 are any better? I do not expect him to answer that question on his feet because I recognise that it is outside the direct impact of the regulations. However, we should very much welcome an indication of the actual figures in so far as they are provisional, and perhaps the Minister can tell us when we can expect to
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