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Lord Roper: My Lords, I mistook the tone of the Minister's remarks. Others, of course, have been rather less friendly. However, one must remember that after Twelfth Night Christmas trees begin to look rather sad. After it completes its passage through the House, I hope that at least this particular Bill will look rather more like a Christmas tree on Christmas Day rather than one of those sad orphans which one sees on January 7th or 8th.
Baroness Flather: My Lords, I am sorry to say to the Minister that I, too, shall mention a Christmas tree, but I believe that it may be one that has no presents beneath it. There may have been an opportunity to put some presents underneath this over-decorated Christmas tree, and I believe that the opportunity could have been taken to consider some of the areas which are in much need of examination.
The whole issue of the appointments system requires careful consideration. A huge number of appointments--I am told approximately 36,000--are made to various bodies. Only one-third of those come within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. I am sure that a good and logical reason exists as to how the system works and that everything is done as well as it can be.
However, I have been on both sides. I have applied for jobs and I have also interviewed several people for posts within a body which I chair. I do not believe that there is a great deal of consistency in the way that interviews are conducted. If we are to follow the Nolan
One of my interviews--I shall not give the details--was conducted entirely by the board and the chairman. No independent person or anyone from a department was present. I do not believe that that would come under the title of "good practice". In an interview situation, at least one person should be independent of the body in question.
The matter of appointments is important from another point of view--that is, in relation to ethnic minorities. I once submitted a Question for Written Answer to the Minister. So far as I am able to find out, no figures exist as yet to show how matters are progressing in that area.
It is difficult for many people from ethnic minorities to take the first step towards answering an advertisement. Very often they do not have a relevant CV or they do not believe that the job is for them. In the bad old days, we used to employ people through word of mouth. Then, if they were good enough, they went on to other appointments. If they were not good enough, that was it. I do not want noble Lords to consider that I am advocating a return to that system because that would not be correct. However, I believe that procedures should be put in place to encourage people to apply for jobs and to make them feel that a job is as much open to them as it is to anyone else. To a great extent, that applies also to women and to those with disabilities. Often people do not consider that they are suitable for certain jobs.
Many high profile jobs still come under the patronage of Ministers. They are not advertised and do not receive full exposure in the public domain. Although that situation may continue to exist, I believe that it should be made clear which jobs will remain under ministerial patronage so that we all know how things stand. It is a matter of openness. This Government have always stated that they want to be transparent and open. I believe that that is extremely important as regards the appointments procedure. As we all know, Dame Rennie has found that there is still a large bias in the health service in favour of what she calls "Labour cronies". She may not have used the word "cronies" and I do not want to put words into her mouth. However, there certainly seems to be a bias in that direction.
I turn to the Millennium Commission, which, I know, no longer exists--it ended its life at the end of 2000. As someone who has applied for a grant from the Millennium Commission, I want to point out some of the problems that have arisen. I also stress that very little money went to ethnic minorities. I did a quick calculation and put together all the ethnic minority grants. About £15 million was given to ethnic minority projects. Ethnic minorities probably form only about 6 or 6.5 per cent of the total population. Obviously,
The Memorial Gates Trust will provide a memorial--a long-overdue memorial--to the people from undivided India, Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to fight for Britain in two world wars. We have gone through every imaginable scrutiny procedure at every imaginable stage. It has cost a great deal of money to satisfy the Millennium Commission at each stage. We completed a feasibility study at a stage when it was difficult to obtain details. We could have done a broad feasibility study, but we had to complete a detailed one. We also had to complete a detailed fundraising strategy and have a design competition. We had to do so many things that cost us money. We were also promised money in tranches, but we have still to receive any, although it is now three years since we applied and our grant has been confirmed.
Did the Millennium Commission apply any of those rules to the Dome? I asked that question and the simple answer is, no. At no stage were accounts asked for and at no stage did it ask for anybody to satisfy it that the project was proceeding according to plan. That is absolutely criminal. All right, money has been spent on the Dome; that is not my point. Why are there very onerous and difficult rules for small charities, but no rules for a major project? Perhaps because the project was supported by the Government. Surely, the rules that apply to every other project that the Millennium Commission funded should also have applied to the Dome.
I am pleased about the arts line, but should the Government be taking such action? I always feel that private enterprise does such projects better than do governments. We should consider whether another body should provide the arts line. The second point that I want to make at this stage is that if there is to be an arts line, I hope that it will include a sufficient amount of minority arts. Minority arts are not just for minorities. They have revitalised the culture and general feeling in this country--its colour--and they are in serious need of support.
I have left my last words for English Heritage. I am sorry that, once again, my experience with English Heritage has not been very edifying. I mentioned the memorial on which we have been working. Staff from English Heritage worked with us from the beginning. They knew what the design would be and everything about our project. Just before we were going to launch the design, the chairman of English Heritage told us that he would not be able to support our project. We said that it was too late for us to withdraw the design. The next day the newspapers carried a story in which the chairman said that the design was a world-class
English Heritage decided that we should have no gates at all. That was the position from which we started. It wanted to refurbish Wellington Arch, which it did not want to be obscured by our gate. We now have a new design, which cost us money and an additional six months, but everybody is happy. However, English Heritage could have told us more. We like the design; we do not complain about that. However, we complain about the fact that English Heritage did not see fit to inform us in good time. That is a gross misuse of its powers. When its remit is extended, I hope that its structures will be examined, so that it does not behave in that high-handed manner to other organisations.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, this is a wide-ranging Bill that covers many aspects of life as seen through the eyes of the DCMS. I am tempted by Parts II to VI, but today I shall speak only about Part I, which will reconstitute the Football Licensing Authority as the sports ground safety authority.
In my previous life, before I joined your Lordships' House, I spent nearly 25 years involved in the areas of activity that relate directly to this part of the Bill. For 19 of those years, I had the great good fortune and pleasure of working with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in the Football Trust, latterly as his deputy chairman.
The trust came into being as a response to a series of tragic events at football matches in the 1970s and 1980s, which in turn led to the passage of various pieces of legislation through Parliament, and from which this Bill is a direct descendent.
The first of those tragedies occurred 30 years ago, almost to the day, when 66 football fans lost their lives at the new year fixture between Rangers and Celtic on 2nd January 1971. The Ibrox disaster was the subject of an inquiry by Lord Justice Wheatley and led to the passage of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. That provided for a system of safety certification by local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland at grounds where designated football matches were played.
There were three further awful tragedies in the 1980s: two in this country and one abroad. The first was the fire at Bradford City on the last day of the season in 1985, which killed 56 people. That led to the passage of the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987, which extended safety certification to stands accommodating 500 or more people at grounds that were not designated under the 1975 Act.
The next disaster took place at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels at the European cup final in May 1985, when 39 Juventus fans were killed after incidents of crowd disorder, largely involving Liverpool fans. That was followed by, and coincided with, one of the worst periods of football violence in the domestic game, and
The principal measure in the Football Spectators Bill was a new system of licensing, which involved the introduction of a compulsory membership card system for all fans attending designated matches. That was seen by Ministers as the only way in which crowd disorder could be tackled, as they hoped that it would drive hooligans away from the game altogether. A new body would be created and given the responsibility of overseeing the introduction of the membership scheme and for issuing licences to clubs--the Football Licensing Authority. The licences would be in addition to the safety certificates issued by local authorities under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975.
The membership scheme would almost certainly have come about in the teeth of fierce opposition from the game itself had it not been for the third disaster of the 1980s, that of Hillsborough on 15th April 1989--a day which those of us who were there (I was) and saw the bodies of the 96 victims laid out on the pitch will never forget.
That tragedy was investigated by Lord Justice Taylor, as he then was. He issued an interim report on the causes and concluded that, had the membership scheme been in place, the scale of the disaster would have been compounded. Very sensibly, Ministers dropped their plans for that scheme and the powers contained in the Football Spectators Act to insist on it have never been used. Instead, they charged the Football Licensing Authority with responsibility for overseeing, again by way of a licence, the main recommendations in Taylor's final report, which included a requirement that standing accommodation be replaced by seating at all grounds of clubs in the Football League. That was modified later to exclude clubs in the two lower divisions, which had to ensure that their standing accommodation complied with the most stringent safety standards.
Section 11 of the Football Spectators Act gives the Secretary of State the power to direct the FLA to include in its licence, granted under Section 10, a requirement that at designated matches grounds should admit spectators to seated accommodation only. A 10-year timescale was applied for the whole Taylor report recommendations to be implemented, and extra funding was given to the Football Trust through a reduction in pool betting duty to help pay for it.
The consequence has been that virtually all league grounds in Great Britain have been improved out of all recognition, as my noble friend Lady Billingham said in her speech earlier. The Football Licensing Authority has played an important part in driving up those standards which in turn have led to the general improvement in football crowd behaviour inside
The behaviour of English fans abroad is a different matter and will, I suspect, be the subject of a separate debate when the Home Office working party, chaired by my noble friend Lord Bassam--and on which I serve--reports later in the spring.
There has also been a general, but not so dramatic, improvement in spectator facilities in sports other than professional football. Some of that has been due to the general raising of standards which has taken place in other parts of the entertainment industry or as a consequence of tighter fire and other safety regulations. Those other non-football sports have tried hard not to have what they see as unreasonable football-type burdens imposed on them for, as they rightly point out, they do not, in the main, suffer from the same problems of crowd violence as football. But they must not be complacent. Crowd trouble can occur almost anywhere, especially in situations where lots of alcohol is available.
Would those sports benefit from the services of a body such as the Football Licensing Authority? The Government clearly decided that they would, but do not want to impose unnecessary new licensing burdens on those sports. So the reconstitution of the FLA as the Sports Ground Safety Authority with a remit to help with guidance on good practice seems to me an entirely sensible step. Whether the SGSA should have a statutory responsibility for overseeing the safety certification regime of local authorities as it applies to other sports, is perhaps something we could consider in Committee.
It is essential that the FLA and, in its new guise, the SGSA retain an interventionist role with league football, overseeing the certification system but no longer issuing licences. Lord Justice Taylor rightly drew attention to how short-lived the impact of earlier disaster reports had been and how tragedy can all too easily follow complacency.
In conclusion, I shall mention two other issues briefly. I shall not involve myself--though I am tempted--in the standing versus sitting controversy and the interesting comments of the Minister for Sport on that issue, and those of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, in his remarkable maiden speech earlier this afternoon. I suspect we will return to that subject later.
First, I am concerned about whether the definition of a sports ground needs to be changed, as that contained in Section 17(1) of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act does not appear to cover indoor arenas. As a consequence, local authorities cannot use that Act to certify them and it seems that under this Bill the SGSA will not be able to provide an input to them. Can my noble friend say whether or not that is so and whether he will consider amending the Bill in Committee to cover indoor arenas to which large numbers of people go to watch events such as ice hockey, basketball and swimming?
Secondly, there seems to be some confusion about the safety regime which will cover temporary stands. Again, perhaps my noble friend will look at the definition of a stand contained in Section 26(11) of the Act. Perhaps we should add something which better defines a temporary stand, and no doubt we can do that in Committee.
Baroness Noakes: My Lords, as number 22 in the batting order I wondered whether I would have anything new to say this afternoon. But I should like to cover three topics which perhaps say something about the unsatisfactory nature of the Bill with which we will have to grapple as it progresses through your Lordships' House. I see this as a rag-bag of a Bill rather than as the Minister saw it--as a portfolio Bill.
There is no doubt that the tax reliefs available for British films are crucial to the viability of our film industry. Without those tax reliefs the film industry would find it extremely difficult to obtain finance. The procedure involves the completion of a 20-page form, complete with an accountant's report and a statutory declaration by the applicant. That is submitted to the DCMS, which certifies the film and triggers the essential eligibility for 100 per cent tax relief.
I can understand why DCMS officials want to use this Bill to get rid of the certification process, though I believe it is not particularly onerous. I understand also why the Explanatory Notes tell us that the Government consider the Film Council to be the right body to do the job. What I find difficult to understand is why the Government are reluctant to come out and say firmly in the Bill that the Film Council will definitely be designated. That would give certainty to the film industry and, importantly, to the financiers.
This may not appear to be an important issue, but let me say how I arrived at it. I asked a former colleague of mine, who is an expert on film finance and film tax, to look at the Bill. I omitted to give him the Explanatory Notes. His immediate reaction was that the Bill was creating a power for the DCMS to transfer the certification responsibility to the Inland Revenue. It might be asked why that is a problem. It would make the Inland Revenue both judge and jury of whether a film is eligible for the tax reliefs which are crucial to the film industry in this country.
As a former non-executive member of the Inland Revenue's Management Board, I have the highest regard for the Inland Revenue and wish nothing that I say to be taken as a slur on that organisation. But there is a crucial difference between a body which facilitates and supports an industry, like the Film Council, and a body which administers and collects the Government's taxes, like the Inland Revenue.
Like several other noble Lords who have spoken, my second area of concern is culture online. Like my noble friend Lord Renton, I have almost no idea what it is meant to be. I have heard several Lords say what they would like it to be but I still have no clear idea of what it is about or, indeed, why it needs a new government body to carry it out.
Paragraph 148 of the Explanatory Notes states that significant--it is unquantified--public investment will be involved. However, it goes on to state that that will be subject to a full business case. I believe that your Lordships' House should have a business case as the case for culture online. What evidence is there of a demand for whatever it is that culture online is intended to do? What resources, at least in ball-park terms, will we be invited, in effect, to approve in setting up that body? What alternative courses of action to achieve the aims of culture online have been considered, and, if rejected, why so rejected?
The powers being set up for that body are considerable: to acquire assets, to set up companies, to borrow and to charge its assets. We are told that somehow that is to be controlled by a financial memorandum between the Secretary of State and the new body. There is not even a requirement for the Secretary of State to lay the financial memorandum before Parliament. There is not even a borrowing limit set for culture online in the Bill.
I have an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu. As my noble friend Lord Baker stated, the Dome comes to mind. That was another grand idea with relatively few constraints other than the ad hoc judgments of Ministers. It will be hard for your Lordships to approve the provisions to create culture online without very much better information about the plans for it, why it is needed and the controls which will be in place to oversee its existence.
My third area of concern is accountability, which is a rather dry area in a Bill full of exciting and interesting topics relating to culture and recreation. I shall start with the three companies set out in Clause 33 which can by order be converted into statutory corporations. I have no problem with their being so converted because I believe that in most instances the use of a statutory corporation rather than a Companies Act company aids the accountability of such bodies when they are set up to carry out purposes on behalf of the Government.
Schedule 3 sets out the items which the Secretary of State may--not must--include in one of those orders. At paragraph 10, that includes the provision of reports to the Secretary of State. My concern is that those bodies should be accountable to Parliament and that their reports should be available to both Houses. The usual formulation is for an annual report to be submitted to the Secretary of State and, in turn, there is an obligation on the Secretary of State to lay those reports before both Houses of Parliament.
An example of that appears in the Bill. Schedule 2, in relation to culture online, has just such a provision. However, we do not find that for the three bodies that are covered by Clause 33. Indeed, I could not find a single reference in Part I or Schedule 1 to that being dealt with by the new safety authority, either to produce a report to the Secretary of State or for a report to be laid before the Houses of Parliament. I believe that the Bill should make it clear that all such bodies should make annual reports both to the Secretary of State and to both Houses of Parliament. I hope that the Government will look again at those parts of the Bill to ensure that accountability is dealt with clearly, unambiguously and, I hesitate to suggest, consistently between the various bodies in the Bill.
My final point also relates to the new safety authority and, more particularly, to the audit arrangements. There are basically two models of audit for public corporations, quangos. Either the audit is carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General or by commercial auditors, with inspection rights for the Comptroller and Auditor General. Most of the Bill follows the first option but for the safety authority it follows the second. I do not want to pursue the differences between the two options here. If I did I should have to declare several sorts of interest to your Lordships' House. I am keen to ensure that a high quality audit is prescribed by the Bill.
Under paragraph 26 of Schedule 1 the auditor to be appointed must be qualified to do Companies Act audits--I paraphrase--or (the word "or" is important) be a member of a body of accountants in the UK or elsewhere in the EC. As drafted, I could be appointed as the auditor to the safety authority, notwithstanding that I am not personally able to be appointed as a Companies Act auditor. That might not be so bad because I have done the odd audit in the past and, indeed, for many years was a partner in a firm which was authorised to carry out audits. But a very large number of people qualify as accountants in this country who have no audit knowledge or experience and who under the terms of the Bill as I read it, would be eligible for appointment. Indeed, if we look to the EC there are large numbers of bodies of accountants which are quite unlike the bodies of accountants to be found in this country, certainly in relation to their ability to carry out audits.
I hope that the Government will look again at the clause to ensure that it achieves what I hope is their aim; that is, the highest quality of audit coverage to ensure that the accountability of this body is reinforced. I look forward to seeing the Bill go through its Committee stage. I am sure that there are many aspects at which we need to look in detail.
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly on the Bill, which tidies up in many areas and will soon give legitimacy to the body I chair, the Council for Museums, Libraries and Archives.
Perhaps I may say a few words about the controversy surrounding the appointment of museum chairs and trustees. That has been widely written about in the newspapers and was the subject of a positive meeting on Monday between the Secretary of State, the Minister and the museum chairs. As your Lordships will know, the meeting resulted in a large number of changes to the Bill.
There is a matter of principle that should be firmly put on the record; that is, if an organisation receives large sums of taxpayers' money, the Minister--any Minister--has the right and duty to have some influence over senior board appointments to that organisation. But there should be no dispute about the museum's ultimate power and right to make trustee appointments. I believe that it is a question of co-operation, consultation and harmony. What is important is the process used to exert that legitimate influence as the appointments are made. Here, I wish to draw attention to the way in which this Government have embraced Nolan principles and good practice in making appointments to public bodies.
Perhaps I may give an example from my own experience. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, I have been both an interviewee and an interviewer. A number of years ago I received a letter from somebody who was briefly Secretary of State at the Department of National Heritage, as it then was, under a previous administration. He asked me if I wished to be chairman of the Library and Information Commission. I had a 20 minute talk with him in his office. I asked him four questions, two of which he could not answer, and the following day I received a letter from him offering me the job.
Compare and contrast that with the selection process for my present job as chair of resource. I answered an advertisement in the newspaper. I was sent a five-page form to complete which asked me, among other things, about my political activity. I attended an interview with a panel comprising two independent assessors and with the permanent secretary in the chair. Obviously, I got the job.
Furthermore, I was a member of the selection panel for the chair of one of our large museums. The post was advertised and 14 candidates were shortlisted. We interviewed them over two days. Again, the permanent secretary chaired the selection panel which comprised three independent assessors, the head of an Oxford college, a distinguished, now retired, civil servant from the Cabinet Office and myself. We chose the person we thought was the best candidate and the Secretary of State made the appointment. Last week, one newspaper described the appointment as "political". That is utter nonsense!
It is to be hoped that in future all appointments will be handled in the way I have described--many of the issues about which we have been worried today will then disappear--and that we shall never see a return to the pre-1997 method of parachuting people into major positions.
Before sitting down, perhaps I may address a few words to my old friend, the noble Lord, Lord Baker of Dorking. I am afraid that his fine political judgment has been seriously damaged by the fact that he, too, has become a "luvvie". He is now an author, not a political figure, and at this time of night I have no intention of spending your Lordships' time refuting all the allegations he made about the Government's arts policy. I shall leave that to my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey. However, I plan to take the noble Lord to his club--which these days is almost certain to be the Groucho Club--buy him a couple of beers and put him right.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I, too, welcome the Bill and I do not intend to add any decorations to my noble friend's Christmas tree. I shall spend a few minutes discussing Parts II and V. I welcome the proposed changes in respect of the Royal Parks, which are places for quiet enjoyment. They leave one free, it is hoped, from the risk of being run over by cars, cycles or whatever and one can partake in appropriate sports, games and other activities.
Although there are still too many roads for cars, some parks have improved. I am pleased to see that the Government have got rid of the "deathburger" sellers outside Buckingham Palace. That is a major environmental improvement. I also welcome the fixed penalty notice for dropping litter, animal fouling and cycling on footpaths. However, I wonder whether anything else can be added to the list. I believe, for instance, that it is illegal to take a photograph in the park if one's camera is on a tripod; one must then obtain a licence. Perhaps the deregulation unit might like to examine that.
I am a regular user of the parks, cycling with lights. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, that cyclists should stay in cycle lanes, but it is nice to have a few lights in the lanes so that one can not only see in the dark but be seen, if only by those who are cycling without lights. It would also be nice if the gates were not locked before midnight. After leaving your Lordships' House I try to get to Paddington Station and it is not always easy.
The worst aspect of the parks is the animal fouling. Horses use cycle tracks but no one clears up the mess afterwards. This morning in the park I saw a troop of horses being followed by a mechanical sweeper. It was on the road and so were the horses but the cycle tracks are never cleaned. I assure your Lordships that horse droppings mixed with rain is a nasty mess which does no one's shoes and trousers any good.
I question whether the regulations mean that the services and the police forces will receive fixed penalties of they make messes on the footpaths and the roads. How will they be stopped from doing so? Will the parks be cleaned up more or less?
I hope that enforcement of the regulations is done with fairness and discretion and in an appropriate manner. Could not the police occasionally use cycles or foot patrols? I have seen a park patrol driving in a smelly police van down a footpath chasing a cyclist who was cycling on it. A cyclist is dangerous on a footpath but not half as dangerous as a smelly police van. I suggest that the patrols stick to the roads but if they want to chase people on the footpaths they should do so on foot or on cycles. Finally, I welcome the regulations and hope that the fixed penalty for those offences will be retained and used for improving the facilities in the parks.
I had intended to speak at length about Schedule 5 because for a number of years I have been involved with the Science Museum and the Railway Museum. I have a high regard for their scholarship, management and the accessibility of their displays. The experience of their boards' members, some of whom have spoken tonight, is legendary. Therefore, I read Schedule 5 with dismay and thought that it was a good Henry VIII clause--more government meddling for no particular benefit. But since reading it and hearing my noble friend's explanation and the interesting comments from my noble friend Lord Evans, I have confidence that things will be taken forward in the correct manner. I shall read with great interest the Government's amendments and the report of today's proceedings.
Lord Brougham and Vaux: My Lords, other noble Lords have declared an interest but I have none to declare, apart from being a user and lover of our London parks. They are what I shall talk about. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, and I could have a long debate on the subject but the terms of the Bill and the time of night do not permit it.
As the Minister said, the Bill enables the Royal Parks Police to issue fixed-penalty notices to a person who has committed an offence as defined in Part III of the Royal Parks and other Open Spaces Regulations 1997. This is a measure the RPC and the agency have been wanting for some time.
Until last year there had been no real procedure to deal with this. A police constable in one of the Royal Parks would warn the offender that he was committing an offence but until last year such a warning was never recorded centrally--except perhaps in the PC's notebook or in a file.
It was only last year that all such effective warnings were kept centrally, thereby enabling the officer in charge to see how many warnings an individual had received. On a first offence the force would send a letter of warning to that person. The courts and the Crown Prosecution Service have not been receptive to
When this part of the Bill becomes an Act an officer will have power, after a warning, to issue a fixed penalty notice there and then, saving time and money. As my noble friend on the Front Bench said, we hope that that will be done fairly. I am a little concerned as to whether a person who is riding a bicycle and dropping litter is able to be identified.
This is all well and good but to do it you need manpower. Here the RPC has a problem. In a review in 1996 Commander Sally Hubbard recommended that there should be 143 PCs with four part-timers in the summer months and the recommended equivalent number of sergeants and inspectors. The latter level has been maintained but not the number of PCs. When I visited the RPC in September to see how it would cope with the Royal Parks Trading Act, which came into operation in November--your Lordships will be glad to hear that it has been a total success--there were 117 PCs. As of 12th January of this year there were only 107, with more likely to leave the force.
Taking into account shift work, holidays and sick leave, out of a total of 107 the manpower available at any one time would be less than 50 PCs to oversee all the royal parks. In the summer there is the daily changing of the guard which occurs every other day in the winter. That is a considerable drain on manpower. That is in addition to all the other duties that they must perform, such as putting up warning signs if there is ice on the lakes, as has happened recently, and other duties.
The reason for the exodus is the level of pay. A PC in the RPC gets 15 to 20 per cent less than an equivalent officer in the Metropolitan Police or even the Transport Police. I am told that the latter gives officers free travel. All these officers have been trained to the same standard yet receive different pay. I think of another problem of which we are all aware. Most, if not all, have to live outside London and travel to work, which costs them money. Therefore, they leave the RPC and join their local forces. Not only PCs but other ranks are paid less. I know of one inspector who receives £10,000 less than an officer of the same rank in the Metropolitan Police. All this leads to low morale.
Since November, if not before, a review has been taking place involving the parks agency and the DCMS. That is causing low morale in the force. It was told that an announcement was due before Christmas but still no agreement has been reached. Unless an agreement can be reached soon I fear that police numbers will continue to decline. We must stop this haemorrhageing very soon.
Part II of the Bill does not specify to which offences fixed penalties will apply. I know that they are listed in paragraph 57 of the Explanatory Notes, but should they not be included on the face of the Bill? Paragraph 57 makes no mention of roller skates, roller blades and so on, as defined in Regulation 3(4)(b) of the Royal Parks and other Open Spaces Regulations 1997. Those can be just as dangerous as bicycles. Likewise, I see no reference to loud radios or other musical items. Perhaps they are covered elsewhere.
In conclusion, I should like to ask: who is to pocket the money when the fines are paid? No mention is made of this in the Bill. I strongly believe that the money should go to the police force to offset its costs. Failing that, the money should go to the agency, not the Treasury. I urge the Government to finalise the review submitted by the Royal Parks Agency which I hope will give peace of mind to the police and put a stop to the haemorrhageing of its manpower.
Viscount Falkland: My Lords, this is not an easy debate in which to make a Second Reading speech because I cannot identify any underlying philosophy or theme. I accept the Minister's description of this measure as a "portfolio Bill"; others have described it in less complimentary terms. The House will forgive me if I leave out a number of areas in respect of which excellent speeches have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, dealt with archaeology and my noble friends Lord Redesdale and Lord Roper dealt with underwater archaeology. The changes in the name of the body concerned with tourism and English Heritage are fairly innocuous and reasonable.
I should like to address one or two points of interest to me where perhaps some amplification may be provided by the Minister in his summing up. The Minister spoke earlier about the parks. We had an amusing speech by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, which conjured up visions of the Keystone Cops, with police chasing other police in the parks and people with wheelbarrows or whatever. I shall read the noble Lord's speech.
All noble Lords who have spoken are great admirers of the parks and much value the ability to go into a beautifully kept area where there is comparative calm. If people riding bicycles without lights, which is viewed as a serious crime, are to be stopped and measures taken to make it impossible for traders in evil-smelling sausages to ply their wares illegally, that is to the good. As to photography, I should have thought that it depended on what was being photographed with a tripod.
As a cyclist in London, one matter that strikes me is the large number of people who ride bicycles without lights, particularly outside your Lordships' House. From time to time perhaps one might expect people to ride bicycles without lights in the parks. I would rather meet a cyclist without lights in a park than outside your Lordships' House where before long someone will be killed. It will be interesting to see how the matter develops. By and large, these provisions are sensible.
I very much enjoyed the ebullient and attractive speech of the noble Lord, Lord Baker, in a number of respects. Not being a professional politician, I do not endeavour to make a swingeing criticism of the Government's proposed legislation. However, the noble Lord made some interesting points which touched on his particular expertise in culture online. I take his point. I share his view that there is a great deal in the collection of the museums which is below stairs and not available to be seen. It will be an enormous advance to give people the opportunity of knowing what is there. I look forward to that happening.
I am not clever with new technology, although all members of my family, of all ages, appear to be. Therefore, I am able to sit back and be provided with endless printouts about anything that I mention at any time of day or night. That is extremely useful. But I have become lazy about it myself. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that, if one wants to look at old bones, it is better to look at real old bones than old bones in a picture on the Internet. The same applies to anything else. My wife describes the joys of using the Internet as much like that of being addicted to encyclopaedias; one opens these books and starts to look things up at random and it becomes a kind of obsession. I should not like to think that those going down the cultural road would stop at the Internet. I hope that it encourages people to go beyond the images they see on their screens and into libraries and galleries.
I move on to another area of particular interest to me dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Baker, which is film. I shall not criticise the Government on their actions over film. We know that not all of them have been successful. Most people do not realise that it is extremely difficult to get a successful film; that is, a film which a great many people pay money to see. It has always been a problem in this country.
I make this next remark diffidently. I notice that the noble Lord, Puttnam, is in his place, so I shall be careful what I say. The Government in their keenness to do something about film and with the arrival of lottery funds, sought to create a fair disbursement which would not be seen as embarrassing to film producers, who could not do it themselves. They put the Arts Council in charge. That was not a successful exercise. One could have foreseen that from the start.
It has to be said that the Government have tried. The Film Council is the right body to carry on the functions which have now been passed over to it. The defining of British films is a complicated business. We have discussed this matter in the House before. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, made the point that the reason for transferring the functions to the Film Council is that it is perceived as having the expertise to do things quickly. One of the problems in trying to get packages together which result in films being made is producing them as quickly as one possibly can. Obviously the Film Council is better qualified to do that than the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The same applies to keeping the registers and so on.
I do not share noble Lords' criticisms of the Government. They have done their best. That seems faint praise indeed. Little was done before the Government came into power. We were always badgering the Conservative administration to do more for film. Another difficulty about film is that in this country it is viewed as entertainment. It is not viewed as culture. Entertainment films are expensive to make. Therefore, we tend to try to make cultural films. Cultural films have done very well on television and the big screen. The film industry has been kept alive over the lean years by the BBC and Channel 4 who created interesting hybrid films which can be seen on television and big screens. We cannot compete with the United States because of economies of scale and their expertise. We are a niche industry. The Government have the matter about right with the Film Council.
However, I was dismayed--I was surprised that this was not mentioned--to see that two film consortia have been the subject of takeovers. That matter was kept quiet by the press. They were given public moneys but were taken over by other operations. One was Pathe, which is a French company; the other was a company which is based on butchery, if I remember correctly. The other one has not yet produced a film. It is run by that well-known producer, Mr Duncan Kenworthy, who was responsible for Four Weddings and a Funeral. We look forward to seeing what comes out of that company.
I should like to ask the Minister a question on museums. It concerns a matter that has worried us all and is perhaps the aspect of the Bill which has received the most attention. It seems that the Government, for whatever reason, are seeking to have more control. We have heard a good deal about shooting foxes. In his remarks he said that the Government would be introducing amendments which would make their proposals clearer. It does not appear that there has been any change from the discussions which took
There is nothing in the Bill which tells us about the cultural state of the nation. Nor should there be. That is not its purpose. There is splendid provision, plenty of innovation and plenty of talent in the country for the arts. There are wonderful museums and galleries, some more wonderful than others. The Government rightly are taking this issue forward with energy and enthusiasm in seeking to improve this promising situation. Therefore, one has the necessary provision. But there is a large section of the British public who do not take advantage of it. That is against a background of appalling child poverty, depravation in urban areas and exclusion, particularly of ethnic minorities who see culture and the arts as the domain of the educated and successful and steer away from it if they possibly can. That is not a situation which pertains in many other countries in Europe. I hope that the Government will address that matter. So many young people born in deprived circumstances do not easily see the arts and culture as a way of giving them new perspectives and quality to their lives. It is the job of government, together with other departments of state, the voluntary agencies and local government, to see that the situation is improved.
I commend the Government for creating so much which is available. But it is rather like going into the National Gallery, which I have several times over the past few weeks. One hardly ever hears English spoken there. Visitors love it. Foreign visitors go there in droves. I should like to have from the Government--the Minister shakes his head. He is frowning. I have been there many times and can assure him that that is so. Many visitors are Japanese. They walk in large crocodile formation between me and the pictures which is rather irritating. Our museums and galleries in the centre of London are an enormous attraction to visitors. However, one wonders whether more of our own people could be encouraged to visit them, especially as we hope that they will be free. I hope that this ridiculous £1 fee will be sorted out. I look forward to the Minister's reply.
Lord Luke: My Lords, this has been a most interesting debate. We have ranged from old bones to IT, from Royal Parks to Queen Victoria, and the Bill has been described as a rag-bag, a hotchpotch, an omnium gatherum, a portfolio and to an extent, as my noble friend Lady Anelay said, a Pandora's box; but then so is the department and so also, inevitably, my speech. I apologise in advance to noble Lords if that is the case.
There are good things in the Bill and there are others about which people have had doubts, as many noble Lords have made clear. I think that this debate has been an example of the House of Lords at its best. Experts from many fields have spoken with relish on their individual subjects, and the Government would do well to listen most carefully.
I must first mention the maiden speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott of Foscote. I have known him on and off for very many years and it is no surprise to me that his speech was so good. We look forward to hearing him on many future occasions.
In a typically robust and eloquent speech my noble friend Lord Baker queried the need for culture online. I am one of those ignoramuses who is not at all good on such matters. We will be exploring this proposal in Committee. My noble friend Lord Renfrew was worried about VAT on historic buildings and the statutory basis for regional museums. He was disappointed--I hope that the Government will take due note of his point--that the proposals in the Green Paper, Protecting Our Heritage, hardly figure in the Bill. He was disappointed by the Government's lack of vision. I think that all noble Lords on this side of the House would agree with that. It is a rather boring Bill.
My noble friend Lady Trumpington queried among other things the boundaries of underwater archaeology. My noble friend Lady Blatch queried the need to reorganise museum trusteeships and criticised the time now taken to appoint trustees. She also referred to a problem with regard to a home for ex-service personnel with Alzheimer's Disease and the difficulty of raising money. She said that, having raised a considerable amount of money and fulfilled the criteria set by the lottery fund distributors, the fund-raisers found that the offer of lottery money was suddenly withdrawn. The same thing happened in Bedfordshire to a rowing group. It fulfilled all the criteria of finding land, getting the approval of local authorities and the Amateur Rowing Association, and so on. It was told that everything it had done was right but then the plug was suddenly pulled. I shall perhaps come back to that matter at a later date, but it is extraordinary that what I have just outlined mirrors exactly the experience of my noble friend Lady Blatch.
My noble friend Lady Noakes made a most interesting speech on the taxation aspects of the film industry. I was pleased to hear my noble friend Lord Renton say that he wants more teaching of history in our schools. Some noble Lords may remember that around six months ago I initiated a short debate on precisely that subject. My noble friend Lady Hooper referred to national museums situated outside London and in particular to those on Merseyside. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has taken that point on board. My noble friend Lady Flather wanted more openness in appointment procedures and my noble friend Lord Brougham made a most interesting speech about Royal Parks and said how important it is that appropriate manpower is available to enforce the new regulations and arrangements.
Many noble Lords referred to the setting up of the Film Council on 3rd May last year and to the fact that it is now responsible for all public funding of film. There was reference to the rather unfortunate experience over the past three years of funding organised by the Arts Council. Let us hope that the Film Council's promise to take a more commercially minded approach to investing in British film is borne out by results. The noble Viscount, Lord Falkland,
English Heritage hopes to trade under the new arrangements and exploit its tangible and intangible assets both in England and abroad. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, was concerned about the drafting of the Bill. He thought that it might be possible for English Heritage to exploit privately owned intellectual property rights. No doubt the Minister will answer that question.
It is stated that English Heritage will be encouraged to consult with equivalent heritage bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Is it the Government's intention to persuade Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to enact similar legislation; and if not, why not? It is essential that any profits made by English Heritage from this trading should be seen as an extra income to English Heritage and not as a convenient way of replacing grants. My noble friend Lord Montagu made that point.
The ability to trade abroad--in particular, selling its expertise to countries where there is no expertise--will be welcomed by English Heritage. But does English Heritage mean to say, as it seems to say in its brief to me, that it has no intention of competing with the private sector? Surely, to trade profitably--we wish it to trade profitably--it must be in the appropriate market. Even if it finds a new market, the private sector will rapidly move in and compete.
The part of the Bill dealing with statues seems to be a measure designed to give the Mayor of London the green light to erect "red" statues. If noble Lords think that I am joking, I suggest that they read reports of the mayor's comments on the statues in Trafalgar Square and his plans. Planning authorities may be able to draw the line, but surely there is a strong case in this instance for retaining the Secretary of State's right to supervise new statues, particularly in London. We on these Benches do not like this part of the Bill. Unless the Government produce really compelling reasons to retain it, we shall endeavour to remove Clause 42. My noble friend Lady Trumpington expressed her views on the matter most effectively.
The provisions on Osborne are for me the most interesting part of the Bill. I first visited Osborne House, which is sometimes described as Queen Victoria's seaside villa, in 1953, soon after the private apartments had been opened by direction of the Queen, having not been touched except for dusting--I believe that this is right--since 1901. I listened with
Recently we have seen articles, television programmes, the re-showing of the "Mrs Brown" film (although that is hardly history) and a general reawakening of public interest in the life and times of one of our most revered and successful monarchs, who, as my noble friend Lord Montagu reminded noble Lords, died exactly 100 years ago next Monday. So what do our Government do to mark the occasion? They have illegally shut down part of Osborne House, which since 1904 has been a convalescent home helping to restore to health thousands of military and Civil Service personnel. Have the Government no shame? Is it not somewhat contemptible to ignore the wish of King Edward to provide, as described in the Osborne Estate Act 1902, as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria, for part of Osborne House to be used for the benefit of His Majesty's,
If the Government will not pay any attention to history, are they aware that, last winter, the Osborne House convalescent home provided invaluable back-up to the sorely tried NHS hospitals in the area? Where will that back-up come from this winter, in particular if there is an epidemic of 'flu? Surely there should be increased provision for convalescent patients rather than less. The Government make great play of their desire to do all they can to relieve the burdens on the NHS. Is not this action rather strange in those circumstances?
I have said already that I am most grateful to English Heritage for its briefing material, which includes its intentions for that part of Osborne House which is given over to the convalescent home. I have to say that the plans appear imprecise, especially as I understand that English Heritage was asked for its suggestions some months ago. I hope that we shall learn much more about those plans later. I should say that I was personally impressed with the idea put forward by my noble friend Lord Montagu; namely, that part of the premises could be used as a workshop for the Victorian Society. I am sure that other bodies could also be provided for.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this wide-ranging debate. I do not apologise any more than any other noble Lord for the fact that we have covered a wide range of subjects. I have a special page attached to the back of my briefing entitled "Omissions" which addresses the attempts of noble Lords to turn the Bill into a Christmas tree by adding new provisions to it.
I shall start with sports grounds. I think that I detected general support for these provisions in the Bill. Noble Lords appeared to support the notion that, although the work of the Football Licensing Authority in the past was very much to be appreciated, it should continue under a different name and its provisions made available to other sports. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, appeared to think that the order-making power in Clause 7(2) was extremely general. I remind the noble Baroness that the subsection is limited to the power to review the discharge of local authority functions. It is a limited power and not one which will cause a great deal of difficulty.
As regards the coverage of this part of the Bill, it is not our intention that the coverage should be universal, embracing all sports grounds. We have set a limit, as did the FLA, of sports grounds with a capacity for more than 10,000 spectators in total and/or a capacity for more than 500 spectators under cover. That should severely restrict the safety provisions of the new sports ground safety authority to those grounds for which it is really necessary.
I can confirm to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that temporary structures such as those erected for the Ryder Cup would not be covered. Furthermore, I can confirm to my noble friend Lord Faulkner--although I think that he will be less pleased with this response--that indoor arenas are not covered by the Bill as drafted.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott, in an excellent maiden speech, raised the issue of standing accommodation and the problem--which I fully recognise--that standing positions provide the cheapest admittance and that some people will be priced out of the market if standing accommodation is removed altogether. We reviewed this issue in 1997. At the time we came to the conclusion that we should continue with the implementation of the Taylor recommendation that premier league and first division clubs should have all-seated accommodation. That is still our view. Evidence presented to Taylor stressed that this is the safest form of accommodation. However, we recognise that other views are held on this point. The Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey, is currently holding talks with the FLA as regards whether any possible amendments would be appropriate. They are discussing in particular the experience in Germany where I understand that they are able to combine standing accommodation with a good accident record. The issue is not entirely closed and, of course, it will not be closed by the formulation in this Bill. On the whole, I am grateful for the support of all noble Lords who have spoken on this subject, in particular my noble friend Lord Faulkner, who has such a distinguished record in support of football.
The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, asked why the sports ground safety authority should be the only one in the Bill which will have a private audit rather than audit by the National Audit Office. The answer is that the sports ground safety authority is simply the continuing authority to the Football Licensing Authority. No changes to its procedures will be adopted. As the noble Baroness knows, since this Government were formed, we have taken the view that new public bodies should be audited by the National Audit Office.
I turn now to the question of parks. Again, I believe that I can detect a general agreement with the provisions of the Bill, although some legitimate questions about the detail have been put. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, asked how the fixed penalty notices are to work. The answer is set out in some detail on page 14 of the Explanatory Notes, but my further answer is that fixed penalty notices do work. Local authorities apply them. I do not think that we need to be afraid of any undue novelty in introducing such a scheme.
The noble Baroness also asked whether the Royal Parks Agency would be able to retain the proceeds of the fines. The noble Lord, Lord Brougham, asked the same question. The present position is that income from the fines will go into the Consolidated Fund, but we are seeking agreement to keep back at least sufficient to cover the costs of collecting the fixed penalties. If it is appropriate and possible I shall seek to report back to the House on this matter at a later date.
The noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, asked me how we would be able to ensure that bona fide addresses are given. Again, this problem is encountered far more generally than in the royal parks. The constable will be able to ask for a form of identification. As in all other cases, he will be able to give a warning that giving a false name and address is an offence under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
I was grateful for the support of a number of Peers-- including the noble Lords, Lord Berkeley, Lord Brougham and Lord Renton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper--for the recognition in the Bill that particular problems in Royal Parks, notably litter, unauthorised cycling and fouling by dogs, are offences on which we ought to crack down. I understand the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Brougham, about the Royal Parks Constabulary. We have been in discussions on this matter and as soon as they come to a conclusion I shall seek an opportunity to make a Statement to Parliament, possibly in the form of a Written Answer.
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