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House of Lords

Monday, 27 January 2014.

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Leicester.

Mental Health: Spending


2.37 pm

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they have discontinued the annual survey of mental health spending.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper, and refer noble Lords to my entry in the register of interests.

Baroness Jolly (LD): We stopped commissioning the national surveys of investment in mental health services in 2012 to reduce bureaucracy in NHS organisations and local authorities. NHS England will publish data on mental health spending in 2012-13 this year. We are currently working with NHS England, NHS stakeholders and partner organisations to review how mental health data are collected and presented to make them more useful and meaningful for commissioners, including in how to identify priority areas such as IAPT and dementia specifically.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, first, I welcome the noble Baroness to her first Oral Question on health. Is it not a fact, however, that the annual survey showed that, far from parity of esteem, the proportion of money going to mental health services has reduced in the past two financial years? Is that not why the survey has been discontinued? Will she give orders to NHS England to start producing the survey again to ensure that there is, in fact, parity of esteem for mental health services?

Baroness Jolly: The noble Lord is absolutely right: parity of esteem is critical. The Government are very intent on holding NHS England completely to account on parity, which is woven into the NHS outcomes framework and the mandate. As I said in my Answer, the Department of Health is working very carefully and closely with NHS England to determine what the most appropriate data are to ensure that patient care is maximised.

Lord Alderdice (LD): My Lords, I, too, welcome my noble friend to her first Question Time. I welcome what she says about the department working with NHS England in order to have the most useful way of bringing figures together. It is not a question of having figures for the sake of them. Can I seek her reassurance

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that those discussions will include finding a way not just of measuring psychological treatments against other treatments in mental health, but of ensuring that the range of psychological therapies is measured and available, so that we can indeed see whether there is an improvement in the situation?

Baroness Jolly: My noble friend has much experience and expertise in this matter. He will know that NICE has recommended in its guidelines a whole range of psychological therapeutic interventions. Available therapies include interpersonal therapy, brief dynamic interpersonal therapy, couple therapy for depression, counselling for depression and behavioural family therapy, as well as cognitive behavioural family interventions. These therapies are all delivered by IAPT services and are included in IAPT training. Since 2010, more than 1,000 therapists have been trained or are currently in training. With regard to new therapies, I assure my noble friend that the IAPT programme will consider evidence-based therapies recommended by NICE for anxiety and depression as they arise.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister agree that the first step in developing and delivering effective mental healthcare services is the collection, analysis and dissemination of high-quality data that managers, practitioners and service users can understand, and that, without these, service development will be severely hampered? A case in point is the Count Me In census, which for five years collected high-quality, focused and detailed information on services for minority ethnic mental health patients. The Government did what they are doing again now—that is, incorporating that data collection system into a wider system. An invaluable tool has effectively been lost and that has severely hampered service development in this area. Can the Minister assure me that this data collection system will be brought back into this area of work?

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, is another expert in this field. It is important to keep information about types of mental health conditions and about the ages involved. Currently, data on age are not collected; there is only information on what category people fall into. There is some merit in looking at ethnic background. I have no briefing on that but it may be sensible if I talk to my honourable friend Norman Lamb and ask whether he can have a conversation with the noble Lord about that.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): I also welcome the noble Baroness to the Front Bench for Questions. Can she confirm that the data collected will cover child and adolescent mental health services and the outcomes from the different interventions in that age group? Those in that group are particularly vulnerable and there are many influences on them, from both education and their social background.

Baroness Jolly: Child and adolescent services are certainly critical. The Government have put £54 million into child and adolescent IAPT services, and IAPT

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waiting times are being looked at slightly differently. Those services will be provided in two stages. The first stage will involve not just the first appointment but an agreed programme of care. The second stage is that a second appointment has to be in the book within 28 days of the first appointment. We have looked at trying to make the waiting times slightly more rigid and non-virtual. I emphasise the Government’s concern about child and adolescent services.

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, between 2011 and 2012 home support services saw a decrease of some 5.5% in expenditure. Can the noble Baroness tell us what impact this is likely to have on the mental well-being of people living with dementia and their carers? How can this impact be monitored if detailed spending figures are not yet available?

Baroness Jolly: Dementia services are delivered jointly with social care. The Government will be working with NHS England through clinical commissioning groups to make sure that the joint strategic needs assessments that are set out in local plans include provision for people living with dementia. My honourable friend in the other place has set up pioneering groups that are looking at integration of services. All that is very high on the agenda.

Lord Mawhinney (Con): My Lords, I return to the original Question, asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. Is my noble friend telling your Lordships’ House that the figures for the past two years do not exist in the keeping of any health organisation? Or is she telling us that they do exist but the Government will not instruct that organisation to publish them?

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, the last figures kept by the Government were the Department of Health ones for 2011-12. The figures for 2012-13 and 2013-14 are being kept by NHS England.



2.45 pm

Asked by Lord Harries of Pentregarth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the current situation in Georgia.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, we are encouraged by continuing progress in Georgia in building democracy and embedding reform, including the well conducted presidential election that took place on 27 October 2013 and the initialling of Georgia’s association agreement with the EU at the Vilnius summit.

Following a period of cohabitation, Georgia now has a new President and Prime Minister, both from the same political coalition. The current political situation is calm but it will be important that parties work across the political divide in 2014 to ensure stability and that the rule of law is upheld.

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Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB): My Lords, I thank the Minister. As he knows well, under the previous President, President Saakashvili, Georgia was a strongly pro-Europe country with a flourishing economy. The present Government seem a great enigma. Can the Minister enlighten the House with more detail about their political and economic policies? In particular, can he say something about their treatment of associates of the previous Government?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the new Government are becoming a little less of an enigma as we get to know them better. There have been a number of exchanges. Their new Interior Minister was in London last week and a number of British Ministers have visited Tbilisi, including myself last year. We are coming to terms with the new Government, which sustain the European and Atlantic orientation of their predecessors. There are a number of worries about the treatment of former Ministers and officials of the previous Government. We are actively concerned with these and make representations to the new Government about them.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, there are still issues of division and conflict inside Georgia, as there are in Moldova and the Caucasus nearby. These have never been resolved and remain, in many ways, frozen. Do the Government believe that there is any benefit in the UK’s example of peaceful devolution being used to help move along some of the issues that have frozen these conflicts for so long?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, if it were possible to move towards peaceful devolution with Abkhazia and South Ossetia we would be very happy. The problem is that it is very difficult to get a dialogue going at all, although talks continue now between a new government representative in Georgia and the Russians. As he will know, the approach of the Sochi Olympics and the problems of the north Caucasus also affect Russian policy towards the south Caucasus.

Lord Soley (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister tell us a little more about the relationship between Georgia and Russia and between us in the European Union and Russia? Russia has a crucial role to play but we hardly ever mention it. It is very hard to work out what Russian policy is in some of these areas.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, some years ago I said to one of my friends in Moscow that the Russian attitude to the Georgians reminds me very strongly of the English attitude to the Irish in about 1850. There is a certain refusal to accept that Georgia is an independent country, capable of governing itself. The new Government have tried to open a dialogue with the Russians. So far, the Kremlin has not been very open to responding to that dialogue.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I begin by declaring an interest as the Church of England’s lead bishop on Georgian affairs. Last year, I had the good fortune to meet the outgoing President Saakashvili

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and, independently, some of his associates. I then met a number of members of the present Government. The antagonism could be felt in both directions and was seriously affecting stability and development. The previous Government had done some good work on corruption, tax collection and so on. If the economy is to prosper, the next thing that needs to happen is a building up of the infrastructure. Can Her Majesty’s Government assure noble Lords that the new Government will do that?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, on my last visit to Tbilisi I had lunch with MPs from both the governing party and the opposition party. That would not have been possible in Armenia or Azerbaijan. One has to put these things in perspective. Yes, of course we are assisting with developing the infrastructure in Georgia. The European neighbourhood partnership is putting a lot of money into Georgia and, of course, BP and other foreign investors are also assisting with the development of the country.

Employment: New Jobs


2.50 pm

Asked by The Earl of Courtown

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many new jobs have been created in the private sector for each job lost in the public sector since 2010.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My Lords, figures released last week show that since 2010 the number of people in work has increased by 1.3 million, bringing total employment to a new record high of 30.15 million. The latest private and public sector employment figures, which were released last month, show that since 2010 the rise in private sector employment is more than three times the fall in public sector employment: the number of public sector jobs has fallen by 451,000, while nearly 1.7 million jobs were created in the private sector.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that good news. Is he aware how noble Lords on all sides of the House consider the importance of youth unemployment? Will my noble friend explain to the House what further actions Her Majesty’s Government are taking to reduce those figures further?

Lord Freud: Youth unemployment is clearly a critical part of our strategy. I am pleased to be able to say that the number of youth claimants for JSA went down this year—by 105,000—to 315,000, which is an enormous percentage change but it has been going down now for 19 consecutive months. Long-term youth unemployment has also been going down at a very sharp rate, and the number of young NEETs is the lowest for a decade. We have been pumping up the number of apprenticeships, with 1.5 million places created; work experience is vital—there are 113,000 places. The

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sector-based work academies are all pushing youngsters into the employment market. As noble Lords know, the key measure I always use is that we manage to make a turnaround in the number of youngsters out of work and out of education, which rose through the boom years of the previous Government. We have now turned that round.

Lord Lea of Crondall (Lab): Will the Minister repeat the figures he gave in terms of full-time equivalents?

Lord Freud: The figures I have are the actual figures: the number of youth claimants is down, by 105,000 in the year, to 315,000.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con): My Lords, the figures on unemployment, especially what the Minister has said about young people, are very good. Will my noble friend comment on the regional spread of the new jobs and on which industries and sectors are benefiting from this good news?

Lord Freud: I am pleased to say that the regional position is pretty balanced. During this quarter, employment rose in virtually every UK region, with one exception. The north of England and the Midlands are doing particularly well. If one looks at the balance between the north and the south, since the election there have been 360,000 extra private sector jobs in the north—to take those four regions together—and 420,000 in London and the south-east.

Baroness Sherlock (Lab): If that information is right, can the Minister explain the report from the Centre for Cities, which shows that four out of five private sector jobs are now created in London? For example, private sector employment grew by 2.8% in London year on year, but it fell in Sunderland and in Bradford it fell by more than 5%. Do the Government have a strategy for jobs north of, say, Witney?

Lord Freud: I hope that I made it very clear to noble Lords that this is a very widely spread recovery, that the north is doing very well and that the noble Baroness is misrepresenting the actual figures.

Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, with regard to some of the information that has already been cited, is it not exciting news that the Edinburgh economy is doing particularly well and employment levels in Scotland are also successful? Would my noble friend agree that this shows that, for Scotland, Liberal Democrat economic policies, of course made in partnership with friends on the Conservative Benches, are successful and are making a positive impact on the lives of people who are now in jobs?

Lord Freud: My Lords, we have a widely spread recovery, which is touching all the regions, as I said. To pick up a point that I may not have dealt with adequately, these are full-time jobs. More full-time jobs have been created over the past year than total jobs; in other words, we are reducing very slightly the number of

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part-time jobs, if that is the full-time equivalent. This is a widely spread recovery of jobs—long-term jobs, female jobs, regional jobs, young jobs. This is good news.

The Countess of Mar (CB): My Lords, would the Minister care to comment on the report in today’s press that British apprenticeships are being advertised in Romania?

Lord Freud: My Lords, I cannot control where people advertise anything.

Lord Hughes of Woodside (Lab): While it is understandable that the Minister takes great pleasure from the increase in private sector employment, does he not accept that there is something Orwellian about his response—namely, private sector jobs good, public sector jobs bad? Has he no conception of the damage done to people’s lives by the vast decrease in public sector work?

Lord Freud: My Lords, the point that I have been making is that those jobs lost in the public sector have been more than replaced—by a factor of three—in the private sector right the way round the country. That includes the regions as much as the south. Let me make a point about efficiency in the public service. The size of the workforce has decreased by 15% since 2010, so the Civil Service is now the smallest since the Second World War, but output has not decreased. Productivity in DWP, for example, has been steadily improving, and improved by 12% in 2011-12.

Lord Eatwell (Lab): The Minister has referred continuously to “good news”. He has just referred to issues of efficiency in the public sector. Will he refer to the collapse in productivity in the private sector, which is the counterpart of the high level of employment, as also good news?

Lord Freud: Well, my Lords, I have very good news for the noble Lord. We are currently restructuring the benefits system to help with that productivity issue. One of the things that universal credit does is to make sure that we have as flexible a labour force as possible. That is something that employers around the country welcome.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): As we welcome those throughout the European Community who come to work in the hospitality industries—I come from a seaside resort—what is the Minister doing to encourage UK youngsters to take up jobs in the hospitality industry?

Lord Freud: My Lords, one of the most enthusiastic sectors to adopt the sector-based work academies was the hospitality industry. The industry has a programme to make sure that people have training, work experience and then a chance of a job, and that has been going very well in that particular sector.

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Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister reconsider his views about all of the regions? I come from the north-east and I go back to the north-east every week. I have invited him to the north-east to see what is actually happening. The north-east has lost a significant number of public sector jobs. Yes, it has seen the creation of part-time and full-time private sector jobs, but it still has double-figure unemployment rates.

Lord Freud: Clearly, my Lords, there has been the most enormous recession, and that was built under the previous Government. To remind noble Lords, the latest ONS figures for the 2008 recession show that GDP fell from top to bottom by 7.2%. That compares with the 1930s, for which the NIESR show a fall of only 6.9%—it was worse than the 1930s, a terrible smash. We are pulling it back and the figures in the north and round the rest of the country are showing an improvement. In all of those regions the private sector improvement well outweighs the necessary reduction in public sector jobs.



3 pm

Asked by Baroness Falkner of Margravine

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they have given to the people of Gaza over the last three months.

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is precarious. There is a significant danger that food, water and fuel will run out later this year. The UK is a leading provider of humanitarian support, which includes supporting the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, to provide basic services, providing food vouchers to vulnerable households, supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide humanitarian assistance and supporting the UN Access Coordination Unit to assist the passage of personnel and humanitarian aid.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD): My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that response. The humanitarian aid is terribly important, particularly when the 1.7 million people in Gaza are now living life at breaking point, with 11,000 people displaced by last month’s floods. Fuel shortages are such that donkey carts have replaced cars as a means of transport, the streets are overflowing with raw sewage and, with nearly 50% unemployment, the situation is like a tinderbox. The United Nations has said that Gaza will be unliveable by 2020, so what are Her Majesty’s Government doing to facilitate Hamas and Fatah talks, and more importantly talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, so that a final settlement can be reached for people to live in civilised form next door to each other?

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Baroness Northover: My noble friend is right. The UN has described Gaza as being currently in a state of de-development. It does indeed predict that by 2020 the place may be unliveable. The recent blockades and closures of the tunnels have seen the further loss of 20,000 jobs in a dire situation. We strongly support the peace process. Meanwhile we are of course asking Israel to ease the blockade immediately, but in supporting the peace process we hope to see a two-state solution. The aim is to achieve a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state, with all issues—borders, Jerusalem, refugees, all of them—addressed.

Lord Warner (Lab): Is the Minister aware that the situation in Gaza has not become intolerable just in the last year or so? It has been intolerable ever since Operation Cast Lead. In the past six months, how many meetings have this Government had with the Israeli Government about lifting this blockade, which is a cause of great humanitarian suffering to the Gaza population, 50% of whom are children?

Baroness Northover: I shall write to the noble Lord with the number, but I know from all the Written Answers that I sign off the pressure that we have been seeking to put on the Israeli Government to lift this blockade, recognising that an improved economy in Gaza is essential for the people of Gaza, but also for the security of Israel.

Baroness Deech (CB): My Lords, the Minister will be aware that today is Holocaust Memorial Day, and the Prime Minister has just announced the setting up of a Holocaust commission, but under Hamas in Gaza, teaching about the Holocaust is a crime and its official policy is to deny the Holocaust. What steps would the Minister advise in the interests of bringing peace, to ensure rationality and peace education for the children of Gaza, alongside accountability for funds, which is another matter?

Baroness Northover: I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for the work she has done on ensuring that the Holocaust is never forgotten. I was pleased that my daughter asked me this year to take her to Auschwitz, which I did. I mark Holocaust Memorial Day—it must never be forgotten. The UK Government keep a very close watching brief over what is taught in schools both in Israel and the Occupied Territories to see what is put into textbooks. There have been improvements there, and in lessons, but there is still a long way to go. The noble Baroness is clearly right that trying to ensure that children in all communities respect each other and other communities is vital.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, following Egypt’s closure of the tunnels, which has already been referred to, will the Minister give an assurance that the Department for International Development will adjust its aid package accordingly, to try to address some of the terrible suffering to which we have already heard reference?

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Baroness Northover: The United Kingdom and the EU are putting in a massive amount of assistance, which is much needed in Gaza for the reasons the right reverend Prelate has given. Gaza has suffered a lot from the closure of the tunnels. However, the tunnels themselves help to fund Hamas and this is an opportunity to encourage Israel to open the borders there and to support the moderate elements in Gaza. Certainly, at the moment, the international organisations are saying that the underlying causes of the problems need to be addressed. The immediate shortages are being dealt with adequately.

Baroness Morris of Bolton (Con): My Lords, I declare my interest as president of Medical Aid for Palestinians and the trade envoy to the Palestinian territories. On a more practical note, some industrial fuel went into Gaza between 14 and 20 January. However, it is not enough and much below consumption levels. Hospitals have regular power cuts and some families have only 12 hours of power a day. The most vulnerable families are suffering terrible burns from using inadequate heating and cooking utensils. What are we doing to ensure that more fuel is going in now? It will take a long time to solve the peace process but we can do something to alleviate the hardship now.

Baroness Northover: As I mentioned, those shortages are being addressed. Qatar and Turkey recently brought fuel into Gaza. However, the most important issue here is to address the underlying root causes of these problems.

Defence Reform Bill

Order of Consideration Motion

3.07 pm

Moved by Lord Astor of Hever

That the instruction of 21 January be revoked and that it be an instruction to the Grand Committee to which the Defence Reform Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 4, Schedule 1, Clauses 5 to 7, Schedule 2, Clauses 8 to 10, Schedule 3, Clauses 11 and 12, Clauses 44 and 45, Schedule 6, Clause 46, Schedule 7, Clause 47, Clause 13, Schedule 4, Clauses 14 to 38, Schedule 5, Clauses 39 to 43, Clauses 48 to 50.

Motion agreed.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

Third Reading

3.08 pm

Clause 1: Power to grant injunctions

Amendment 1

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 10, leave out subsection (3)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, the House will recall that, on the first day of Report,

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your Lordships agreed, by some margin, an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dear, which modified the test for the grant of an injunction under Part 1. That amendment, and the outcome of the debate, reflected an anxiety that the test provided for in the Bill on its introduction into your Lordships’ House was too vague and too broad and may, as a result, have led to inappropriate use by the police, local authorities and others.

I made it clear in that debate that the Government believed that such fears were unfounded. As I indicated, it was never the intention of the Government to introduce a power that would curtail freedom of expression or normal, everyday activities of the law-abiding majority. I do not believe that front-line professionals would have used the power in this way or that any court would have entertained an application for an injunction in those circumstances.

However, I am a pragmatic man. I fully recognise the strength of feeling in your Lordships’ House on the issue. Having reflected on the debate on Report, the Government are content to retain the two-tiered approach provided for in the amendment agreed by the House at that stage. In particular, in the case of anti-social conduct committed away from a residential setting, we are content that the test for the grant of an injunction should be based on conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, “harassment, alarm or distress”.

Since Report, I have been able to discuss with the noble Lord, Lord Dear, whom I am delighted to see in his place today, our concerns that under his amendment the “nuisance or annoyance” test would apply to conduct only in a social housing context. Throughout the debates on the anti-social behaviour provisions in this Bill, the Opposition Front Bench have chided us on the grounds that certain provisions were not tenure-neutral. I think that that charge was at times a little unfair, but it had some validity and I do not want this Bill to return to the House of Commons with a provision, in its very first clause, which applies a different test to the victims of anti-social behaviour who live in social housing from that applied to the victims of such behaviour who own their own home or live in private rented accommodation.

The noble Lord, Lord Dear, and the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, acknowledged in our previous debate on this matter that anti-social behaviour in the housing context was of a different order. Victims cannot be expected to have the same degree of tolerance to anti-social behaviour where it takes place on their doorstep or in the immediate vicinity of their own home. It is simply not reasonable to expect the victims to move home in such circumstances in the same way as they could walk away from anti-social behaviour in a shopping centre or public park. The amendment passed on Report accepted this by retaining the “nuisance or annoyance” test for residents in social housing. Following discussions with the noble Lord, these government amendments extend that principle and protection to those who live in other housing settings.

I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Dear, my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, have put their names to these

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amendments—I know that my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern also sought to do so, but he was crowded out. It is an important feature of Amendment 2 that the power to apply for an injunction where the “nuisance or annoyance” test applies is restricted to social landlords, local authorities and the police. There was, and is, no question of rogue private landlords being able to exercise these powers.

As with the existing powers, the amendment will mean that social landlords can still apply for an injunction to address problems that directly or indirectly relate to their housing management functions. This will allow social landlords to protect their employees and neighbourhoods from anti-social behaviour as part of their housing management function. As I have said, the “harassment, alarm or distress” test will apply outside the housing context.

These amendments will provide for an injunction that puts victims first and gives front-line professionals a powerful tool to protect the public from anti-social behaviour while ensuring that there are proper safeguards to protect freedom of speech and assembly. I hope that the whole House will agree that this is an equitable outcome. I beg to move.

3.15 pm

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, as the Minister said, I have put my name to the amendment, but the whole House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dear, for causing the Government, in the words of the Minister in his letter to a number of us, to “reflect carefully” and conclude that pragmatism was the right way.

I am pleased that the Government have decided to propose this change. I did not agree and I still do not believe that the original wording was the threat to freedom of expression which was argued, but it clearly troubled many people a great deal, and whatever the technicalities, I do not think that it is good law to have provisions which trouble people as to precisely what they mean.

I am pleased, too, that the Government have dealt with the tenure point, which was one that I and others picked up at the previous stage. What matters is that it now looks as if we will be able to shift away from the criminalisation of anti-social behaviour implicit in the current legislation and move to a new way to tackle the problem.

Lord Dear (CB): My Lords, I of course welcome the amendment. It is, as the Minister said, substantially the same as the amendment in my name on which we voted on Report. I readily agree the inclusion of private housing in the same context as social housing, which has been on the statute book for a while.

I extend a vote of thanks at this juncture, first, to those who voted in support of my amendment on Report. I am very grateful to them for helping to preserve and protect fundamental rights under the law. I thank the Public Bill Office staff, who were, as they always are, unfailingly helpful to me in the progress of the amendment through to Report. I thank the staff of the Christian Institute, who gave me invaluable

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administrative help in the run-up to the vote on Report. Finally, I thank the Minister for his unfailing courtesy and help in what were not always the easiest of discussions to make progress on in this part of the Bill. Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with him before will know that that is his default mode, and I am very grateful to him.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, sweetness and light is clearly breaking out after a slightly more difficult passage of the Bill at earlier stages. We should all be pleased that the outcome of this has been to strike a compromise between the very real concerns that the noble Lord, Lord Dear, my noble friend Lady Mallalieu and others expressed about the original provision. That had to be balanced, as it was in debate, by the real concern about problems faced by many tenants in both the public and the private sector, and I think that the Government have sought to strike an acceptable balance. To strike the slightest of sour notes, I think it was clear that that balance had to be struck from our debate in Committee, a very full and detailed debate. Perhaps, had the Government come forward with precisely this formulation at an earlier stage, they would have avoided a defeat. I also wish that a similar attempt to try to meet the genuine concerns of noble Lords in respect of other provisions in the Bill might have borne fruit before we got to this stage.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the amendment he has moved today, for his letter and for the helpful way in which he approached taking on board the will of your Lordships’ House. His amendment still allows for nuisance and annoyance to be taken into the housing setting and residential areas. I am grateful for his acknowledgement that it was the Opposition who raised time and again during the passage of the Bill the fact that so much of it is not tenure-neutral. We felt that those who rented their accommodation rather than owned it were getting a bit of a raw deal. In the amendment, the Government have sought to address that problem, so that those suffering from anti-social behaviour in the form of nuisance and annoyance, whether the people who are causing the problem live in public rented accommodation, private rented accommodation or are owner-occupiers, can ensure that that problem is tackled. I am grateful for the Minister’s acknowledgement of that because we have raised it several times during consideration of the Bill. I also welcome the conversion of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, to this as I know that she was not happy with the amendment and voted against it on Report. The Minister can take great pride and credit in having such widespread support around the House.

I have just one question, which is on the title of the provision still being an IPNA, or an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance, under Part 1 of the Bill. I wonder whether, if I can pronounce this correctly, that should now be an IPASB rather than an IPNA. On the content, that aside, we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dear, and my noble friend Lady Mallalieu for tabling that amendment in the first place.

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Lord Cormack (Con): Would it not be a good idea if we got rid of all these ridiculous acronyms, which no one understands?

Baroness Smith of Basildon: It may well be. I sometimes think that when we use acronyms, people have not got a clue what we are talking about. However, should it not be an injunction to prevent anti-social behaviour rather than an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I have an answer to the noble Baroness’s question, which I know about because I asked the same question at one stage. The title of Part 1 of the Bill—a title covering the whole of Part 1—will be revised in advance of the Act being published, following Royal Assent. Apparently, this is quite customary. It is worth making it clear that the title of Part 1 does not represent the formal name for the injunction and that whatever name is chosen will not affect the meat and substance of what it seeks to do.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

2: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Meaning of “anti-social behaviour”

(1) In this Part “anti-social behaviour” means—

(a) conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person,

(b) conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises, or

(c) conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person.

(2) Subsection (1)(b) applies only where the injunction under section 1 is applied for by—

(a) a housing provider,

(b) a local authority, or

(c) a chief officer of police.

(3) In subsection (1)(c) “housing-related” means directly or indirectly relating to the housing management functions of—

(a) a housing provider, or

(b) a local authority.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (3) the housing management functions of a housing provider or a local authority include—

(a) functions conferred by or under an enactment;

(b) the powers and duties of the housing provider or local authority as the holder of an estate or interest in housing accommodation.”

Amendment 2 agreed.

Clause 19: Interpretation etc

Amendment 3

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

3: Clause 19, page 9, line 38, leave out “1(2)” and insert “(Meaning of “anti-social behaviour”)”

Amendment 3 agreed.

27 Jan 2014 : Column 985

Clause 20: Saving and transitional provision

Amendment 4

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

4: Clause 20, page 11, line 16, leave out “section 13(5)” and insert “subsection (5A)”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): My Lords, I will be brief. These are purely technical amendments, consequential upon previous amendments made to the Bill, and I therefore beg to move.

Amendment 4 agreed.

Amendment 5

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

5: Clause 20, page 11, line 19, at end insert—

“(5A) The provisions referred to in subsection (5)(b) are—

(a) section 1(7);

(b) sections 3(2) and 8 (if a power of arrest is attached);

(c) sections 5 to 7;

(d) section 9;

(e) section 10 and Schedule 1;

(f) section 11 and Schedule 2;

(g) section 17(1).”

Amendment 5 agreed.

Clause 100: The community remedy document

Amendment 6

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

6: Clause 100, page 68, line 16, leave out from “behaviour”” to end of line 17 and insert “has the meaning given by section (Meaning of “anti-social behaviour”) (ignoring subsection (2) of that section);”

Amendment 6 agreed.

Clause 101: Anti-social behaviour etc: out-of-court disposals

Amendment 7

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

7: Clause 101, page 69, line 19, leave out from “behaviour”” to end of line 20 and insert “has the meaning given by section (Meaning of “anti-social behaviour”) (ignoring subsection (2) of that section);”

Amendment 7 agreed.

Amendment 8

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

8: After Clause 113, insert the following new Clause—

“Use of premises for child sex offences

27 Jan 2014 : Column 986

(1) Schedule (Amendments of Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) (amendments of Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) has effect.

(2) For the purposes of sections 136BA and 136D(7A) of the Sexual Offences Act (inserted by that Schedule), it does not matter whether the offence or offences in question were committed before, or on or after, the date on which this section comes into force.”

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime and we are determined to tackle it in whatever form it takes. Grooming and child sexual exploitation happen in all areas of the country and can take many different forms. They are never acceptable, and we all need to work together to ensure that these sickening crimes no longer remain hidden. On day two of Report, I undertook to give sympathetic consideration to an amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, which sought to strengthen the powers available to the police to close premises used for child sexual exploitation. As I set out then, given the serious nature of these crimes, we believe that the Sexual Offences Act 2003 rather than the closure powers in this Bill, which relate to anti-social behaviour, is the most appropriate place to address this issue—a point that my noble friend Lady Hamwee made very well on Report.

We have now reviewed the existing powers in Part 2A of that Act in light of the debate on Report. The existing closure powers relate only to prostitution and child pornography offences. This means that the police cannot at present close premises where other sex offences against children have been or are likely to be committed. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that this is not right.

Amendments 8 and 18 will ensure that the police are able to close premises associated with a much wider range of child sex offences. These include not just the specific child sex offences in Sections 5 to 13 of the 2003 Act and offences relating to indecent images of children under the Protection of Children Act 1978, but other offences where the victim is under 18, including rape and sexual assault. Given that these offences relate to some of the most vulnerable members of our society, the amendments would also modify the conditions relating to the use of the closure power to enable the police to close premises quickly in cases of urgency. The police will be able to issue a closure notice when they have reasonable grounds for believing that in the past three months the premises have been used for activities related to a specified child sex offence and, importantly, when the premises are likely to be used for such activities.

Clearly there should be safeguards to ensure that these powers are used in the right circumstances. That is why we will retain the existing safeguards in Part 2A of the 2003 Act, which are similar to the safeguards on the power to close premises due to anti-social behaviour in Part 4 of the Bill. Although an initial closure notice can be issued by the police, a court must decide whether to make a closure order within 48 hours of it taking effect. The police must also have regard to any guidance issued in relation to these powers. Furthermore,

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a closure notice cannot prevent a person who regularly resides on or owns the premises entering or remaining on them.

Lastly, the occupier of the premises, and any other person who has an interest in the premises, may contest a subsequent application to the court to make an order. This would mean, for example, that if the police received evidence on a Friday night that premises were to be used as a venue for abusing children that weekend, they could, in addition to their existing safeguarding powers and actions, temporarily close the premises. This could provide the police with a powerful tool to disrupt and tackle child sexual exploitation. These amendments will enhance the ability of the police to protect the public from sexual harm and will complement the steps that we have taken elsewhere in the Bill to strengthen the system of civil orders used to manage the risk of sexual offences, and to give the police additional powers to tackle child sexual exploitation taking place in hotels and similar establishments.

As I have made clear, this issue is an absolute priority for the Government, and I am grateful for the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, on this issue. We are both determined to do all that we can to protect vulnerable members of our society from exploitation and abuse, and it is important that we provide the police with the powers and tools to tackle this issue. I therefore commend these amendments to the House.

Lord Cormack: My Lords, I am sure that the whole House has cause to be grateful to my noble friend, and I am glad that the Government are taking powers to deal with this evil—and it is an evil. However, I express the hope—without anticipating tomorrow’s debate in any detail, because that would be wrong—that there is real consultation between government departments. If it is going to be more difficult, as it should be, for these evil people to do these terrible things in reality, as it were, some will be tempted into the virtual world where so many children, as the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, has pointed out, are at ever-increasing risk. We will be debating that tomorrow, but could the Minister give me an assurance that there will be conversations between him and Ministers in other departments to make sure that we have real co-ordination to attack the evil people who do these terrible things?

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, yet again I have reason to be grateful to the Minister for the way in which he took away the amendment I tabled and brought it back in a way that can really make a difference. When I first tabled the amendment, I knew that it was stretching it a bit to table it to this Bill, but it had to be said that here was an opportunity to do something about a very serious problem. I am grateful to the Minister because he did not say that it could not be dealt with under this Bill. He took it away and found a way of ensuring we could give these young people the protection they need.

I am grateful to Tony Lloyd, the police and crime commissioner in Manchester, who first raised this with me, and to Colin Lambert, the leader of Rochdale Council and Jeanette Stanley of Rochdale Council.

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Their message is the same as mine. This is an important tool, although it will not solve the problem. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has already indicated other areas where people with evil intent will try to find a way around legislation. The existing legislation was inadequate. The way these young people are groomed is so callous, calculating and cruel that the children do not even realise they are being groomed and are the victim of an offence. This is now an important tool in the armoury of those at the sharp end trying to protect young people and children and to deal with such horrific crimes. I am very grateful to the Minister for the way he has handled this, and we are very pleased to support this amendment.

3.30 pm

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, I welcome this amendment very strongly. The Minister will remember that I introduced a debate to which he responded which covered a range of issues around child sexual abuse. Therefore, I know he is well aware of the range of attempts that these people will go through. “Evil” is an odd word to use because there are all sorts of corruptions to do with what has happened to those people. We have to remember that young people themselves sometimes are sexually abusing because of what is happening to them. The Minister saw that whole spectrum, and this is just one other step that can be taken to block those who intend to abuse children. I reinforce what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, about the use of the internet and virtual abuse. It will be on the increase if other avenues are closed down because we know this is an addiction—but not necessarily—with an evil outcome that we need to deal with in many ways. I thank the Minister for all his efforts.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: In response to the contributions by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth of Breckland, and my noble friend Lord Cormack, I realise that this is not the whole story. It is not the end of the story, but it is a step along the way. It is a building block that was not previously in place; I hope that it will now be put in place. I reassure both speakers that my colleagues in government are linked up on this. When this amendment was drafted, it was subject to the usual write-around in government, which is the procedure that now applies to more or less all government decision-making. If it reassures noble Lords, I will make sure that this debate is drawn to the attention of my colleagues with particular responsibility in this area. I hope noble Lords will understand that what is particularly helpful about this amendment is that it arose from a police and crime commissioner writing to the shadow Minister here, the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, who raised it with me. It shows that the Government and Opposition facing difficult issues—not controversial issues, but issues that are difficult to handle—can work together to achieve something. I am grateful for the initiative that the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, showed and for the support of the House in moving this amendment.

Amendment 8 agreed.

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Clause 119: Offence of forced marriage: England and Wales

Amendment 9

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

9: Clause 119, page 85, line 35, at end insert—

“( ) In relation to a victim who lacks capacity to consent to marriage, the offence under subsection (1) is capable of being committed by any conduct carried out for the purpose of causing the victim to enter into a marriage (whether or not the conduct amounts to violence, threats or any other form coercion).”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for tabling her amendment at Report, which focused the House’s attention on forced marriage in cases where the victim lacks the capacity to consent. The noble Baroness, as well as my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, raised concerns that in order for a criminal offence to take place, the Bill as drafted required an element of coercion on the part of the perpetrator.

Coercion may not always be present in forced marriage cases involving victims who lack the capacity to consent. Therefore, having considered the arguments made on Report, the Government have tabled Amendments 9, 10 and 11 to ensure that the new offence is capable of being committed without the need for violence, threats or other form of coercion if the victim lacks the capacity to consent. With the agreement of the Scottish Government, Amendments 12 to 14 make similar provision for Scotland.

We have tabled these amendments because we accept the point made by noble Lords on Report—that a victim who lacks the capacity to consent may be forced into a marriage without the perpetrator’s behaviour amounting to coercion. These individuals may not have been subject to coercion and they may believe or say that the marriage is what they want, but if they lack the capacity to consent, they do not fully understand the implications of that decision.

We know that in certain instances families force their children to marry for benign motivations—such as to provide their child with a carer, for example. However, in other instances there are more sinister motives; for example, financial gain in the form of a dowry payment or, in some cases, immigration-related advantages. Yet whatever the motives, the consequences of that forced marriage can include rape, domestic violence from their partner or extended family members, or being forced into domestic servitude.

These amendments are framed so that Clause 119(1)(b) would still apply. In other words, an offence is committed only if the defendant believes, or ought reasonably to believe, that their conduct may cause the other person to enter into a marriage without their free and full consent. Therefore the defendant would need to be cognisant of the victim’s lack of capacity to consent to marriage.

I trust that noble Lords will agree that the Government have listened and tabled an amendment that extends the protection of the law to some of the most vulnerable victims. By criminalising forced marriage, including in

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such cases, we are sending a very strong message that this abuse will not be tolerated. However, we also accept that legislating alone is not enough.

The Government are aware that in order for the legislation to be an effective deterrent, we need to roll out a significant implementation programme. This will be multi-pronged and involve updating training for professionals, such as the police and prosecutors, and revising the existing multi-agency guidance on forced marriage to reflect the changes in the law. It will also involve working closely with voluntary sector groups, which we know are key to conveying messages to the communities we want to target.

Last week, I visited the Forced Marriage Unit which, as I saw myself, already works very closely with the voluntary and community sectors on specific cases and convenes a quarterly partnership meeting with stakeholders. I assure noble Lords that the Forced Marriage Unit will continue its engagement with affected communities and develop a programme to convey information about the new offence and support for victims. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Lab): My Lords, I commend the noble Lord and the Government on their efforts on forced marriage—particularly the Minister for having taken the trouble to go and see the Forced Marriage Unit, with which I am sure he was impressed. I also thank the Government for listening so carefully to what has been said on this side of the House about this offence, which all of us understand can be of the most heinous nature, particularly when it involves those who lack capacity.

What guidance on implementation, which the Minister spoke about, will prosecutors receive on how to prosecute the offence of forced marriage? The noble Lord will remember that in Committee I raised a number of issues regarding how the prosecutions would take place. I regret that I was not here on Report to continue those questions, but perhaps the Minister could answer some of my questions today—not least because I have now had the advantage of receiving a note on prosecutions which was kindly sent to me. The note simply outlines how any prosecution may be undertaken. It would first go to the police; the police would then refer it to the prosecutor who would apply the two prosecutorial tests, et cetera. I absolutely understand the generality of prosecution, but perhaps the noble Lord will allow us a greater degree of specificity about how this offence will be prosecuted. I know that that is very much awaited among many of the NGOs and others, which are still worried and perplexed. They are concerned not only that the prosecution of these offences will entail the proof of the substantive offence—which would amount to coercion, violence or threats—but that there would be the additional barrier of forced marriage with a lesser offence. I know that the Government take that very seriously.

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): My Lords, as chairman of a forced marriage commission I thank the Government very much and congratulate them on adding this provision. We have been very concerned, from some of the evidence we have received, about the position of

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vulnerable people, adults as well as children. This is a good step forward. I also add my congratulations to the Forced Marriage Unit, which has over the years done some extremely good work, some of which I happen to know about. I hope that it will continue to get a great deal of support for the work it is doing.

Lord Hope of Craighead (CB): My Lords, I add my appreciation of the work that the Minister has done with the Scottish Government to provide an amendment which is compatible with Scots law. Having read it carefully, I think that it is a very valuable addition to the armoury in Scots law to deal with this very difficult and obnoxious problem.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I, too, add my thanks. This issue exercises noble Lords around the House, as well, of course, as many people outside the House. It is not a party-political matter; there may be a range of views as to the nuances of how to deal with the issue. I say to the Minister that this is a great and very important step, but he will not have heard the last of the issue of forced marriage.

Baroness Thornton (Lab): My Lords, I welcome this amendment, to which I was very pleased to add my name. Many months ago, when we started down the route of discussing the Bill, I had a meeting with some of the brilliant organisations that work to prevent forced marriages and to support those who are escaping from them. Almost in passing they mentioned to me that they were concerned about the capacity issue. I looked at the record of the Commons debates and the discussions that took place in Committee there and I noticed that my honourable friend Gloria De Piero had raised the matter there and that she received the sort of response from the Minister there that I received in Committee here. It is a very good example of the way that Ministers in this House conduct themselves. I thank noble Lords, particularly my noble friend Lord Harris, for supporting me in pressing this matter on Report when we persuaded the Minister, as it were, to look at the matter again. I am very grateful that he did so. We have reached a very happy conclusion.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who spoke in the debate and echo the words of my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach: this debate and provision have again demonstrated the qualities and nature of your Lordships’ House. When we say that it is not just lip service—we genuinely listen from this Dispatch Box—and as my noble friend Lady Hamwee said, the issue of forced marriage certainly concerns us all. Anyone who has come across this particular coercive practice in any shape or form is disgusted by it and it is important that we unite to address it. I remember going to the Forced Marriage Unit and talking to some of the practitioners there, and exactly this issue of mental capacity arose. There was a live case which concerned immigration and it was tragic to see the consequences of how it was playing out.

I pay tribute to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, as I have done throughout all stages of the Bill. I genuinely mean it when I say that she has made an incredible effort in addressing this issue. Her

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setting up of the Forced Marriage Unit was supported across all parties, and it will continue to be a unit in which we specifically focus our activities. Perhaps I may pick up on a question that she raised about guidelines. The CPS will revise its existing legal guidance on forced marriage and honour-based violence and will develop an e-training element for its prosecutors ahead of the introduction of the new legislation. This amendment will be captured and reflected in the revised legal guidance. As she and many other noble Lords are aware, the CPS also has a number of specialist prosecutors. Their specialist skills and knowledge will ensure the understanding of this new legislation.

3.45 pm

As we come to the conclusion of this particular element of the Bill, I reiterate that ultimately we are seeking to mitigate risk. I am sure that the greatest statistic we would call upon is that there have been zero prosecutions, not because people are not aware of the law but because people have been deterred from the practice. I have taken on board the comments both of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, and of the groups which still express concern—although I am pleased to say that these groups also work with the Forced Marriage Unit to ensure that the steps we are taking are shared by the communities and put into practice. I assure the noble and learned Baroness that, as she knows, the Government have fully taken into account the points that she has raised as we have developed the Bill, and we will continue to take them into account in our work as we move towards implementing the provisions.

In conclusion, I again thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris—who is not in his place at the moment—and also the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, for her support and, indeed, for bringing this issue to our attention. Again, it demonstrates the best of how this House works.

Amendment 9 agreed.

Amendments 10 and 11

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

10: Clause 119, page 85, line 44, at end insert—

“( ) “Lacks capacity” means lacks capacity within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.”

11: Clause 119, page 86, line 5, leave out “coercion” and insert “conduct”

Amendments 10 and 11 agreed.

Clause 120: Offence of forced marriage: Scotland

Amendments 12 to 14

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

12: Clause 120, page 86, line 30, at end insert—

“( ) In relation to a victim who is incapable of consenting to marriage by reason of mental disorder, the offence under subsection (1) is capable of being committed by any conduct carried out for the purpose of causing the victim to enter into a marriage (whether or not the conduct amounts to violence, threats or any other form coercion).”

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13: Clause 120, page 86, line 38, at end insert—

“( ) “Mental disorder” has the meaning given by section 328 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.”

14: Clause 120, page 86, line 43, leave out “coercion” and insert “conduct”

Amendments 12 to 14 agreed.

Amendment 15

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

15: After Clause 151, insert the following new Clause—

“Littering from vehicles

(1) The Environmental Protection Act 1990 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 88 (fixed penalty notices for leaving litter) there is inserted—

“88A Littering from vehicles: civil penalty regime

(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations under which the keeper of a vehicle may be required to pay a fixed penalty to a litter authority where there is reason to believe that a littering offence in England has been committed in respect of the vehicle.

(2) A littering offence is committed in respect of a vehicle if an offence under section 87(1) occurs as a result of litter being thrown, dropped or otherwise deposited from the vehicle (whether or not by the vehicle’s keeper).

(3) Regulations under this section must make provision—

(a) setting the amount of fixed penalties or specifying how the amount is to be determined;

(b) about the period within which fixed penalties must be paid;

(c) for payment within that period of a fixed penalty imposed for a littering offence committed in respect of a vehicle to discharge any liability for conviction for the offence (whether on the part of the keeper or anybody else);

(d) for a fixed penalty to be payable by the keeper of a vehicle only if a written notice is given to the keeper (“a penalty notice”);

(e) about the persons authorised to give penalty notices;

(f) about the procedure to be followed in giving penalty notices;

(g) about the form and content of penalty notices;

(h) conferring rights to make representations about, and to bring appeals against, penalty notices.

(4) Provision under subsection (3)(e) may authorise a person to give a penalty notice for a littering offence committed in respect of a vehicle only if—

(a) the person is under a duty under section 89(1) in respect of the land where the offence is committed (and that person is a “litter authority” in relation to a fixed penalty payable under the regulations), or

(b) the person is an authorised officer of a litter authority,

and regulations under this section may include provision about the meaning of “authorised officer”.

(5) Regulations under this section may include provision—

(a) for the enforcement of penalty notices (and such provision may in particular authorise an unpaid fixed penalty to be recovered summarily as a civil debt or as if payable under an order of a court if the court so orders);

(b) about the application of sums paid under penalty notices (and such provision may in particular authorise sums paid to a litter authority to be applied for the purposes of such functions of the authority as the regulations may specify);

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(c) about the application of the regulations to keepers of vehicles in the public service of the Crown.

(6) Regulations under this section may, in consequence of any provision contained in the regulations, amend—

(a) this Part, or

(b) Part 2 of the London Local Authorities Act 2007.

(7) Regulations under this section may—

(a) make provision corresponding or similar to any provision made by or under section 88;

(b) make provision subject to exceptions;

(c) include saving, transitional, transitory, supplementary or consequential provision.

(8) Provision of the kind mentioned in subsection (7)(a) may include provision—

(a) conferring a discretion on a litter authority, subject to such constraints or limitations as the regulations may specify (whether or not of a corresponding or similar kind to those mentioned in section 97A(2));

(b) creating an offence of the kind mentioned in section 88(8B) and (8C),

but may not include provision conferring power on a person to make orders or regulations.

(9) In this section—

“keeper”, in relation to a vehicle, means the person by whom the vehicle is kept at the time when the littering offence in question occurs, which in the case of a registered vehicle is to be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to be the registered keeper;

“litter authority” has the meaning given in subsection (4)(a);

“registered keeper”, in relation to a registered vehicle, means the person in whose name the vehicle is registered;

“registered vehicle” means a vehicle which is for the time being registered under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994;

“vehicle” means a mechanically-propelled vehicle or a vehicle designed or adapted for towing by a mechanically-propelled vehicle.”

(3) In section 161 (regulations, orders and directions), after subsection (2ZA) there is inserted—

“(2ZB) Subsection (2) does not apply to a statutory instrument containing regulations under section 88A if the regulations—

(a) are the first set of regulations to be made under that section, or

(b) include provision falling within subsection (3)(a) or (6) of that section.

(2ZC) A statutory instrument to which subsection (2) does not apply by virtue of subsection (2ZB) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.””

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, with Amendments 15 and 16 we turn again to the subject of littering from vehicles. This is a matter which this House has discussed several times in recent months, and it is clear from those debates that the House is united in its displeasure at seeing litter along our roadsides, and at the thoughtless and uncaring behaviour of those inconsiderate individuals who left it there. By far the majority of those who have spoken on this issue have supported the proposal by my noble friend Lord Marlesford for councils to have the power to fine the registered keeper of a vehicle from which litter is seen to be thrown. Therefore, on Report I undertook to bring forward a government amendment to provide the Secretary of State with an order-making power to enable councils to do just that.

We know, of course, that it will not always have been the registered keeper—himself or herself—who threw the litter. For that reason, the power enables

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provision to be made for litter authorities to issue fixed penalties for littering from vehicles but does not impose any criminal liability on registered keepers. Provision could be made for an unpaid fixed penalty to be recovered as a civil debt. However, a registered keeper could not be prosecuted under Section 87 unless he or she were the actual offender, as is the case now.

As I said on Report, these powers are intended to make life easier for local authorities. It will therefore be important to ensure that we get the details of this scheme right, to be confident that they will work as intended and will meet local authorities’ needs in a way that the current regime of criminal sanctions for littering may not. For that reason, rather than rushing into detailed primary legislation in haste, Amendment 15 will place a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that regulations address important matters such as the size of the fine, the form and content of the penalty notice, exceptions to the keeper’s liability—for example, if the vehicle has been stolen—and matters relating to representations and appeals. These are all matters on which we will want to seek local authorities’ and others’ views before bringing forward draft regulations for approval by both Houses.

The power to issue these civil penalties will be conferred on the “litter authority” for the land where the offence is committed. In most cases, this will be the local authority, but on certain major roads the responsibility lies with the Highways Agency. This approach ensures that the Secretary of State will be able to confer these powers on those who need them most.

I should also like to draw your Lordships’ attention to subsection (6) of proposed new Section 88A, which provides the Secretary of State with a power to amend certain parts of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or the London Local Authorities Act 2007 in consequence of any provision made under these regulations. This is to ensure that the interaction between the new regime of civil penalties and the existing regime is clear, and that there is no question of duplication or double jeopardy. My noble friend is to be commended for his persistence on this issue. All of us in this House share his views about the scourge of litter defacing our roads, towns and countryside. This new measure will enable us to give local authorities in England an additional power to tackle this anti-social behaviour. I beg to move.

Lord Skelmersdale (Con): My Lords—

Lord Marlesford (Con): My Lords, this is a productive moment. I hope that Members on all sides of the House, particularly the opposition Front Bench, who have been enormously supportive throughout, agree with me in that. I thank CPRE and Keep Britain Tidy for their encouragement throughout and express my personal appreciation of the massive and, for me, unexpected media interest and public support which have emerged when this issue has been discussed. I particularly wish to mention the advice I have received from the Public Bill Office on how to use this Bill on anti-social behaviour as a vehicle for my Private Member’s Bill, given that the Private Member’s Bill route is not always the easiest way to the statute book. I thank the

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Minister for his strong support throughout and for his sympathy and ingenuity in solving any difficulties that arose. I also thank two members of the Cabinet—my right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Environment Secretary—for their strong political support in agreeing to the course that I have taken.

This amendment must be regarded as a real step to enabling us to improve the cleanliness of our streets and roads as a much needed and benevolent element of the national pride we all feel in the England we love. It does, of course, imply rapid follow-up—as rapid as possible, in the light of what my noble friend has just said—in making the order to bring it into effect. All this should be part of a wider clean-up operation in which we change public behaviour through a mixture of education, exhortation and, when necessary, deterrence.

We should also consider other methods of tackling this issue. I have in mind particularly the practice in a number of states in the USA, led originally by Oregon, whereby packaging is returnable through traders who pay a few cents to people who pick it up. That very simple system is carried out in a number of other places.

This measure is merely a step and a part of what should be a major change in public behaviour so that we can once again see this country be as clean as the cleanest of our European neighbours. I once again thank the Minister very much.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend for not recognising that he was in his place; he was shielded from my line of sight by my noble friend sitting next to him.

We have learnt from experience that to legislate in haste, even on a matter as serious as this, is a bad thing. I am therefore delighted that the Government in their wisdom have decided to use the route of secondary legislation to put the force behind my noble friend’s remarks into law. My noble friend on the Front Bench referred to “littering authorities”, which is a rather good expression.

The Highways Agency has vehicles, and it may well be that someone in one of those vehicles can observe litter being thrown from a car window—it might be an apple core, a plastic cup or anything. However, local authorities are not normally in that position and I therefore counsel my noble friend and the department concerned, when drawing up these regulations, to think about the route to prosecution by individual walkers or other car drivers who could complain to either the Highways Agency or local authorities. Clearly, there is still work to be done but I, like my noble friend, hope it will have a very satisfactory outcome.

Amendment 15 agreed.

Clause 181: Extent

Amendments 16 and 17

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

16: Clause 181, page 141, line 4, leave out “section 151” and insert “sections 151 and (Littering from vehicles)”

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17: Clause 181, page 141, line 15, at end insert—

“( ) section (Use of premises for child sex offences) and Schedule (Amendments of Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003);”

Amendments 16 and 17 agreed.

Amendment 18

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

18: After Schedule 5, insert the following new Schedule—

ScheduleAmendments of Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

1 Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (closure orders) is amended as follows.

2 (1) Section 136A (meaning of specified prostitution offence etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2)—

(a) in paragraph (a) the words “section 47 of this Act or” are omitted;

(b) in paragraph (b) the words “section 48 of this Act, or” are omitted;

(c) in paragraph (c) the words “section 49 of this Act, or” are omitted;

(d) in paragraph (d) the words “section 50 of this Act, or” are omitted.

(3) In subsection (3)—

(a) in paragraph (a) the words “section 48 of this Act, or” are omitted;

(b) in paragraph (b) the words “section 49 of this Act, or” are omitted;

(c) in paragraph (c) the words “section 50 of this Act, or” are omitted.

(4) After that subsection there is inserted—

“(3A) The specified child sex offences are—

(a) an offence under any of the following sections of this Act—

sections 5 to 13;

sections 16 to 19;

sections 25 and 26;

sections 47 to 50;

(b) an offence under section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (indecent photographs of children);

(c) an offence under any of the following sections of this Act committed against a person under 18—

sections 1 to 4;

sections 30 to 41;

section 59A;

section 61;

sections 66 and 67.”

(5) In subsection (4)(a)—

(a) the words “section 47 of this Act or” are omitted;

(b) the words “subsection (1)(a) of that section or, as the case may be,” are omitted.

(6) After subsection (5) there is inserted—

“(5A) Premises are being used for activities related to a specified child sex offence at any time when the premises are used—

(a) to commit the offence, or

(b) for activities intended to arrange or facilitate the commission of the offence.”

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3 In section 136B (power to authorise issue of closure notice), in the heading, for “notice” there is substituted “notice: prostitution or pornography offences”.

4 After that section there is inserted—

“136BA  Power to authorise issue of closure notice: child sex offences in England and Wales

(1) A member of a police force not below the rank of superintendent (“the authorising officer”) may authorise the issue of a closure notice in respect of any premises in England and Wales if three conditions are met.

(2) The first condition is that the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that—

(a) during the relevant period, the premises were used for activities related to one or more specified child sex offences, or

(b) the premises are likely to be used (unless a closure order is made) for activities related to one or more specified child sex offences.

(3) In subsection (2)(a), “the relevant period” means the period of 3 months ending with the day on which the officer is considering whether to authorise the issue of the notice.

(4) The second condition is that the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the making of a closure order under section 136D is necessary to prevent the premises being used for activities related to one or more specified child sex offences.

(5) For the purposes of the second condition, it does not matter whether the officer believes that the offence or offences in question have been committed or that they will be committed (or will be committed unless a closure order is made).

(6) The third condition is that the officer is satisfied that reasonable efforts have been made—

(a) to consult the local authority for the area in which the premises are situated, and

(b) to establish the identity of any person who resides on the premises or who has control of or responsibility for or an interest in the premises.

(7) If the local authority has not been consulted when the notice is issued, it must be consulted as soon as possible afterwards.

(8) An authorisation under subsection (1) may be given orally or in writing, but if it is given orally the authorising officer must confirm it in writing as soon as it is practicable.

(9) The issue of a closure notice may be authorised whether or not a person has been convicted of any specified child sex offence that the authorising officer believes has been committed.

(10) The Secretary of State may by regulations specify premises or descriptions of premises to which this section does not apply.”

5 (1) Section 136C (contents and service of closure notice) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)(c), after “section 136B” there is inserted “or 136BA”.

(3) In subsection (3)(d), after “section 136B(7)(b)” there is inserted “or 136BA(6)(b)”.

6 (1) Section 136D (power to make a closure order) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (5), for “either subsection (6) or subsection (7) (or both)” there is substituted “at least one of subsections (6), (7) and (7A)”.

(3) After subsection (7) there is inserted—

“(7A) This subsection applies if—

(a) during the relevant period, the premises were used for activities related to one or more specified child sex offences, or

(b) the premises are likely to be used (unless a closure order is made) for activities related to one or more specified child sex offences.”

(4) In subsection (8), for “subsections (6) and (7)” there is substituted “subsections (6), (7) and (7A)(a)”.

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(5) In subsection (9), for “prostitution or pornography offences” there is substituted “prostitution, pornography or child sex offences”.

(6) In subsection (10)(a), after “section 136B(7)(b)” there is inserted “or 136BA(6)(b)”.

(7) In subsection (12), for “prostitution or pornography offences” there is substituted “prostitution, pornography or child sex offences”.

7 In section 136H (applications for extension of closure order), in subsection (4), for “prostitution or pornography offences” there is substituted “prostitution, pornography or child sex offences”.

8 In section 136I (orders extending closure orders), in subsection (2), for “prostitution or pornography offences” there is substituted “prostitution, pornography or child sex offences”.

9 In section 136J (discharge of closure order), in subsection (3), for “prostitution or pornography offences” there is substituted “prostitution, pornography or child sex offences”.

10 In section 136O (compensation), in subsection (5)(a), after “section 136B” there is inserted “or 136BA”.

11 (1) Section 136R (interpretation) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2), after “section 136B” there is inserted “or 136BA”.

(3) After subsection (14) there is inserted—

“(15) In the application of this Part to England and Wales, references to specified pornography offences are to be ignored.

“(16) “Specified child sex offence” means an offence listed in section 136A(3A).

(17) In the application of this Part to Northern Ireland, references to specified child sex offences and to section 136BA are to be ignored.””

Amendment 18 agreed.

Schedule 10: Minor and consequential amendments

Amendment 19

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

19: Schedule 10, page 205, line 23, leave out paragraph 31 and insert—

“31 (1) Section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002 (power of constable to require person acting in an anti-social manner to give name and address) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1) the words “(within the meaning of section 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c. 37) (anti-social behaviour orders)” are omitted.

(3) After that subsection there is inserted—

“(1A) In subsection (1) “anti-social behaviour” has the meaning given by section (Meaning of “anti-social behaviour”) of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ignoring subsection (2) of that section).””

Amendment 19 agreed.

In the Title

Amendments 20 to 22

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

20:In the Title, line 3, after “1991,” insert “the Police Act 1997,”

21:In the Title, line 4, leave out “and the Extradition Act 2003” and insert “, the Extradition Act 2003 and Part 3 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011”

22:In the Title, line 7, after “Office;” insert “to make provision about invalid travel documents;”

Amendments 20 to 22 agreed.

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Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That the Bill do now pass

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, perhaps I may at this juncture say a few words because not only is it customary but I wish to add something and hope that I am doing so at the right moment. It is an opportunity for us to place on record our thanks to noble Lords who have assisted in the passage of the Bill and to those who stand behind us and make it happen to our advantage.

The Bill has had a remarkably long journey and our debates have been liberally sprinkled with amendments. I am mindful of those early days in Committee when my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Greaves tabled a large number of amendments to the first part of the Bill, and I have to say that they were very much for the erudition of the House and the improvement of the Bill. I am grateful to them and my noble friend Lord Paddick, who also participated from those Benches.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, who is not in his place at present, and all Peers who participated from the Labour Benches. I see the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, is in his place. His contributions, particularly as a magistrate, were valuable. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, was, as always, a vigorous debater. I know that some of the measures were taken from the Opposition Front Bench by the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, and I am grateful to him, as I am to the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for the debates that she took. Today, we heard from the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, and we have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws.

4 pm

Turning to the Cross Benches, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dear, who made perhaps the most striking contributions to the Bill. However, there have been others: earlier, I noticed the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, who is not in her place today; the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, who impresses on any Bill to which he contributes, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss.

Perhaps I should now turn to my own Benches and thank my colleagues on the Front Bench here. Noble Lords will remember that I was absent on the first day in Committee. I had a private engagement—I confess that it was a significant birthday—and my noble friends Lord Ahmad and Lord McNally undertook the amendments on that occasion. My noble friend Lord Ahmad has remained by my side throughout and has done a lot of the heavy lifting on the Bill. I shall be eternally grateful for his support and have really enjoyed working with him.

My noble friend Lord McNally has gone on to do something totally different and I am now supported at the Ministry of Justice by the new Minister, my noble friend Lord Faulks. He played an important role in debates the other evening and I welcome him to the

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Front Bench. Previously he had contributed from behind, where the most significant contributions to debates often come from. I thank him for his involvement from very early on in the Bill, when he had no idea that he would be sitting here representing the Government at this stage.

I thank my noble friends Lady Berridge and Lady Newlove. I also thank those Peers whose amendments changed the face of the Bill. We have heard from my noble friends Lord Marlesford and Lord Deben. They both proposed amendments which are now part of the Bill that we are sending back to the Commons.

As noble Lords will recognise, none of this would happen if it were not for the team in the Box. For most of the time, the team is not in the Box but in the Home Office and other government departments working on the Bill. The relationship between Ministers and civil servants on the Bill was been one of mutual trust and respect. Those civil servants have served the House and this Bill, during its passage through this House, well. Although the Bill has Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing as its title, which one might think is all good, solid Home Office and Ministry of Justice stuff, it has extended across government to a large number of other departments, including Defra on the subject of dogs and the Department for Communities and Local Government on housing matters.

I should like to record the thanks of the Government Front Bench to participants and to the Civil Service team for its support.

Lord Pannick (CB): I add my thanks to the Minister, the whole ministerial team and the Bill team for the remarkably constructive way in which they have addressed all the many issues that have arisen under this complex Bill. I ask the Minister one question. Will the welcome sense of harmony that has been displayed today extend to the amendment that the House carried last week on the definition of when compensation will be paid for a miscarriage of justice? Is the Minister able to tell the House whether the Government will commend that amendment to the other place?

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, this gives me an unexpected opportunity to come to the Dispatch Box. On behalf of the Ministry of Justice, I would welcome a conversation with the noble Lord, but I can go no further than that.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, as we get to the end of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill we have, given the amendments today, a sense of achievement. However, if I am honest—and I think the Minister would agree—there is a sense of some relief. I entirely concur with his comments about the support from around the House and his civil servants in the Box. The Bill has had a long and sometimes tortuous journey. There were times when I thought perhaps we needed injunctions for nuisance and annoyance and for these to be employed in your Lordships’ House. There were a number of scheduling changes which, fortunately, did not interrupt the Minister’s birthday party. However, they did cause some anxiety

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in ensuring that we were properly prepared for each stage of the Bill. We coped with all those and I am grateful to him and to his Front Bench colleagues, the noble Lords, Lord Ahmad and Lord Faulks, for their support.

When the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, was speaking from the Back Benches he was very much in favour of an amendment relating to an eviction power in England for those found guilty of rioting offences. Unfortunately, when he moved to the Front Bench we lost the powerful and persuasive speech he would have made on Report. We look forward to hearing other contributions.

We are grateful for the constructive way in which the Minister approached our amendments, particularly the two tabled today and that tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dear, which significantly improve the Bill. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench, my noble friends Lord Beecham and Lord Rosser, my noble friend Lady Thornton, and our Whip, my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe, who did an excellent job. I am also grateful for the expertise of our Back-Benchers. I am thinking, in particular, of my noble friend Lord Ponsonby, my noble friend Lady Henig, and my noble friend Lord Harris—although he was described as mischievous by the Minister—whose expertise was useful and wise.

I concur with the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, on the one outstanding issue on miscarriage of justice. All other issues have been resolved today, so I hope we can reach agreement on that, as your Lordships’ House made its view very plain. I hope we can proceed with the next Bill, on immigration, with the same constructive dialogue as the Minister has been willing to undertake on this one.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Water Bill

Second Reading

4.07 pm

Moved by Lord De Mauley

That the Bill be read a second time.

Thes Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): My Lords, the Government have prioritised growing the economy and improving the environment. This Water Bill contributes to both of these priorities. There are two important parts to the Bill; first, to reform the water industry to ensure it is fit for the long term, and, secondly, to provide a solution to deal with the availability and affordability of flood insurance for households at high risk of flooding.

Recent events have reminded us all just how devastating flooding is for those affected. They also remind us how important it is to help manage the financial impacts of flooding. Perhaps at this point I should declare some interests. A tributary of the River Thames runs through my farm. I have an abstraction licence, a

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bore hole and a recently flooded house, as well as a share in a lake. These are clearly issues close to my heart.

The Water Bill has three aims: to build the resilience of our water supplies without damaging the environment; to encourage and contribute to economic growth; and to give customers greater choice. These are important issues for noble Lords across the House and I look forward to discussing them in the coming weeks. I am very grateful to noble Lords who have already taken the time to talk to me about these aims. Their views have given me real food for thought and I will continue to work with them to try to address their concerns and answer their questions. I look forward to a similar, strong level of engagement during the Bill’s passage through your Lordships’ House. I value enormously the debate and scrutiny that this Bill will receive in this House.

First, I shall set out why this Bill is before us today, the issues we are addressing and why it is important. Water is essential to life. We need clean and plentiful water resources to supply our homes and to support a growing population and economy. Water is also critical for a healthy and flourishing natural environment. That natural environment is the essential foundation for sustaining our economy, for prospering communities and for our individual well-being.

The 2011 water White Paper, Water for Life, set out the Government’s ambitions for a sustainable, resilient and customer-focused water sector. It outlined the plans for delivering substantial improvements in the health of our rivers through improving water quality and tackling unsustainable abstraction. Let us be frank: we must acknowledge that a growing population and the impacts of climate change pose risks to our water resources and the ecosystems they support. We need to take these challenges seriously to avoid causing irreparable damage to our environment.

The White Paper set out the challenges for the water sector through to 2050. This Bill is one part of our policy response, which is designed to drive long-term changes to ensure a secure and sustainable water system. Delivering this long-term change requires action by government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency, the water sector and users of water across the economy. We have put this challenge at the centre of the policy framework we have set for Ofwat through the strategic policy statement. We are reinforcing that through the new resilience duty in this Bill.

We are driving change in water companies through our guidance on water resource management planning. This Bill includes a new power for the Secretary of State to direct in advance the level of resilience a water company must plan for. We are using the Bill to extend competition to drive innovation, bringing new players with new ideas into the sector. Competition will keep a downward pressure on the costs customers pay. This is about safeguarding our water supplies for the long-term future. Ensuring a resilient supply system will require action to develop new water resources and use them in a different way, and to manage demand.

The Bill will change behaviour and change the focus of the water sector. It will hardwire future resilience into its regulatory framework. This is resilience in a broad sense. It encompasses water networks and water

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resources. It includes the environment from which companies draw their supplies. Resilience was a central theme of our White Paper and is a key theme of the Water Bill. We will return to it time and again in our consideration of the Bill.

We must ensure that our infrastructure can deal with more extreme weather. The floods and indeed droughts we have experienced in recent years illustrate the risks we face. In 2012, one in every five days saw flooding but on one in every four days we were in drought, putting our water supplies under great pressure. The water White Paper recognised these challenges and set out the Government’s strategy for a sustainable and resilient water sector. This Bill is part of our plan.

Let me give your Lordships an example of action we are taking outside the Bill. Resolving the issue of unsustainable abstraction from our water resources is a priority. That is why we are taking action now, including in this Bill, and developing detailed plans for reform. We have intensified our work to tackle the overabstraction currently damaging our rivers by varying and removing licences. We will be bringing previously exempt groups into the system in the near future.

The Environment Agency has reviewed thousands of abstraction licences and has changed about 80 of them, returning 75 billion litres of water per year to the environment in England. That is equivalent to the annual average water use of a city larger than Birmingham. Over the longer term, we are reforming the abstraction regime to make it more flexible and resilient to future challenges. We published our consultation on future options in December.

The Government are absolutely committed to early legislation to deliver abstraction reform, but we have to get it right. The Government are acting in a wide range of ways as part of a strategy to secure the future of our water sector. With this wider context in mind, I should like to talk about the things that the Bill before us seeks to achieve. It will make a vital contribution to addressing the challenges that I have highlighted.

I turn, first, to reform of the water industry. The Bill will remove the regulatory barriers that discourage or prevent new firms competing in the water industry. This is not competition for competition’s sake. It will provide real choice for non-household customers and bring new entrants into the market. Competition between companies will drive improved customer service as companies will need to work harder to attract and maintain customers. As we go forward, this competition will exert a downward pressure on bills for all customers.

In the two decades since privatisation, the sector has attracted more than £116 billion in low cost investment. Privatisation of the water industry has been successful in attracting investment that has improved infrastructure and produced cleaner water supplies. The importance of the stability of this investment—the stability of the market—cannot be overstated. We must maintain the attractiveness of the water sector. We are talking about evolutionary change. We have been careful not to risk stability by forcing through sudden and dramatic changes.

The Bill seeks to build on the strengths of the current regime, using enhanced competition to drive improvements for the benefit of all customers. For

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example, the Bill will make it easier for water companies to trade water with each other, offering alternative sources of water to companies, which could be crucial, for example, in the case of drought.

We are making it easier for new businesses to enter the water market to provide new sources of water or sewage treatment services. We are making developing new sources of water, and selling it to water companies, easier and more attractive for landowners by creating a regulated market. We are also making it easier for innovative businesses to find different ways to treat and dispose of wastewater and sewage. This could include recycling and reusing wastewater as a new water resource, or using sewage sludge for anaerobic digestion rather than landfill.

There are some exciting and innovative things happening in our water sector. We are already seeing the first signs of a competitive market. In September last year, First Milk became the first multisite customer to switch to Severn Trent Costain. The two companies are working together to improve First Milk’s water efficiency and lower its environmental impact. These opportunities are limited at the moment because they are open only to the largest water users. The Bill is designed to encourage precisely such innovation by developing the market further.

The Bill will allow all businesses, charities and public sector customers to switch their water and sewerage supplier. This is a significant reform that will bring significant gains for multisite customers—such as hospitals and supermarkets—which could save thousands of pounds in administration costs by dealing with only one water company across their estate.

Competition in Scotland is delivering real benefits to customers and to the environment. The public sector in Scotland is forecast to save £36 million over four years, thanks to better water efficiency and discounts.

Competition will benefit the environment more widely. Water companies will offer better water efficiency advice and other services to attract customers, such as smart metering and improved customer service. This is where we expect to see knock-on benefits for householders. Water companies offering improved customer service and better awareness of water efficiency measures will also be serving household customers. All customers will benefit as the sector becomes more innovative and efficient at what it does. Householders will not subsidise the costs of increased competition. Ofwat has confirmed it has the tools it needs to ensure this. The Government’s charging principles also make it clear that the protection of householders is fundamental.

I should like to talk about affordability for households. We are all conscious of the impact of water bills across the country. It is not possible for us to discuss a Water Bill without mentioning water bills. Let us be clear. Water is a price-controlled sector. Ofwat sets an overall cap on the total amount that each water company can recover from their customers. It is Ofwat’s responsibility to ensure both that charges are fair and that the companies are able to finance their operations.

Ofwat estimates that the current price review could reduce pressure on bills by between £120 million and £750 million a year from 2015. Water companies

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themselves are taking action. A number of companies have already committed to keeping bills below the price cap for 2014-15. Water companies already help households struggling to pay their bills and most are planning social tariffs for 2015 that are designed to reflect local circumstances. It is important to recognise that the independent regulator is doing its job.

Water companies have reacted well, and that is the way the sector should work. Too much interference from Government would undermine the principle and advantages of independent regulation. The Government’s approach on this issue is a responsible one. A stable, independent regulatory system is critical to keeping bills affordable. Small changes to the industry’s financing costs can have a significant impact. A 1% increase in the cost of capital can add £20 to customer bills.

The Government are tackling affordability over the longer term. Our market reforms will exert a sustained downward pressure on water bills. Through this Bill, we are also taking important steps to address the affordability of flood insurance for households in areas at high risk of flooding. I know that future arrangements for flood insurance are of great interest to noble Lords. The recent extreme weather has served to highlight the important role that the insurance industry plays in helping people to get back on their feet after flooding. The measures in this Bill bring forward powers to provide affordable insurance for those at high risk of flooding. Both Government and the insurance industry recognised that there was a need to bring forward new measures following the expiry of the statement of principles agreement between Government and the insurance industry, which came to an end in June 2013.

Our preferred approach, a reinsurance scheme which is known as Flood Re, will limit the amount that high-risk households have to pay on the flood insurance element of their premiums and excesses. The effective limit on the premium would vary according to council tax band, rising for more expensive properties, which means that benefits will be targeted towards lower-income households, providing more support for those who need it the most. To fund this, an industry-backed levy would be introduced. It is initially expected to be £10.50 per policy. The Association of British Insurers has assured us that this will be achieved without increasing bills for those people at low or no risk of flooding.

The Flood Re scheme is designed to be industry run and led. Our ambition is that it will be up and running in 2015 and the insurance industry together with Government is working hard to achieve this. Insurers have agreed to continue to meet their commitments under the 2008 statement of principles until the Bill has passed through Parliament and Flood Re has been set up.

Although Flood Re is our preferred approach, we are seeking reserve powers to provide affordable cover if Flood Re should prove unworkable or prices in an open market prove unacceptable. Having a fallback means that customers can have confidence that the issue is being addressed. I also take this opportunity to draw noble Lords’ attention to the fact that arrangements for flood insurance are designed to be transitional

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measures. Over time, there should be a gradual transition towards more risk-reflective prices, based on robust evidence of local risk, to increase the incentives for flood risk to be managed over the longer term.

The Water Bill will prepare our water sector to face the challenges of the future. There will be greater choice for customers, leading to improved efficiency, more innovation and better levels of service. The Water Bill will put in place measures to ensure a future with resilient water resources and an improved environment, as well as ensuring that householders at high risk of flooding can access affordable flood insurance into the future. With these principles in mind, I beg to move.

4.26 pm

Lord Whitty (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for a very clear, not to say dry, exposition of the terms of the Bill. I particularly thank him and his officials from Defra and Ofwat for making themselves available to so many of us in the run-up to the Bill and trying to explain some of its more obscure aspects.

I do not have the same interests as the Minister, in that I have taken the precaution of living on top of a hill. However, I have form. One or two noble Lords were around when I took the Bill that became the Water Act 2003 through this House. Since then, I am probably the only Member of your Lordships’ House who has served on the boards of both Ofwat and the Environment Agency, albeit rather briefly in the case of Ofwat, so I have some experience of this interesting industry. I am afraid that that experience leads me to conclude that the Bill is not really up to the job of sorting out a strategic future for the sector. However, I can tell the Minister that the Opposition will not fundamentally oppose the main elements of the Bill. We will be vigorously querying them, and will make some propositions, but the real problem I have with the Bill is what it omits.

In one sense, that is slightly surprising. As the Minister said, two years ago, admittedly under a different Secretary of State—one who actually believed that climate change was occurring—the Government produced a very good White Paper, Water for Life. That White Paper dealt holistically with water as a resource, as an environmental force—for good or evil—as an amenity and as an economic and infrastructure system. The White Paper was positively received by the industry, environmental groups, consumer groups, the regulator and politicians of all parties. It was therefore assumed that the Government would produce a Bill which implemented all elements of that strategy. Instead, the Government produced a much thinner Bill—thin in content rather than in volume, I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell. The initial Bill was even thinner and was roundly criticised by the Select Committee in another place under the leadership of the redoubtable Anne McIntosh MP. The Government then produced a slightly better Bill, which is what we now have. It went through the House of Commons fairly quickly and, just before Report, the Government introduced the key element, to which the Minister has referred, on flood insurance. We will be taking quite a rushed job on the Bill, but a number of issues need some pretty thorough examination.

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The water system is one massive system, natural and engineered; the water industry is one massive industry, dominated by very large companies. The system has to be managed and regulated in a holistic way, but I am afraid the Bill only tinkers at the edges, important though some of those interventions are. So there are huge gaps in this Bill.

In terms of what is in the Bill, there are three main objectives. First, on flood insurance, as the Minister said, foremost in our mind must be the distress and suffering caused by the recent floods, and their impact on families, farms and businesses. Part 4 of the Bill sets up the Flood Re system, which the Minister described. I congratulate the Government, particularly the Minister’s former colleague, Richard Benyon, on reaching a conclusion with the insurance industry, which I know is not the easiest of negotiators. We will support the overall concept of Flood Re and the contingency provisions under the flood insurance scheme—my noble friend Lord Grantchester will expand on our position on that later on. Noble Lords will be aware that a number of representations are being made by groups that feel excluded from the scheme, and no doubt we will have an interesting time in Committee, but I strongly support the concept.

The second main element of the Bill is retail competition for non-domestic consumers, which is the flagship policy here. We support that objective—indeed, attempts were made to introduce competition in the 2003 Act and in the 2010 Act, but they never really materialised under that regime and only four instances ever occurred. However, in Scotland, where there is a different structure and a state-owned wholesale company, we have seen rapid development of a retail non-domestic market, which is working for the public sector, for businesses and for charities, particularly those which operate on multiple sites. They have seen benefits in terms of bills, water efficiency and customer service. Although only about 5% of non-domestic consumers have switched in Scotland, the very fact of competition has had a beneficial effect on the rest of the market.

However, we must also recognise the limitations involved. Theoretically, 1.2 million customers will now be able to choose alternative retailers, but, in practice, the option is likely to be most attractive to entities such as supermarkets which operate on multiple sites or to public sector bodies such as local authorities and universities which have a lot of bills that they would wish to consolidate. It is unlikely that there will be anything like 1.2 million people taking advantage of the market; the majority of small businesses, for example, are even less likely to switch—as we have seen from the energy market—than are domestic consumers. Although competition is important and puts an edge into the industry, we should not exaggerate the degree to which it is transformational.

Moreover, we have to consider carefully the effect on household consumers. Twenty million household consumers will continue to rely on regulation rather than competition to get them a better deal. We will have to strengthen protections in the Bill to ensure that domestic consumers are not disadvantaged by the fact that part of the non-domestic market is getting a better deal. The Minister gave an assurance to that

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effect in that Ofwat has the tools, which I think is how he put it, but those need to be strengthened and made clearer in the Bill.

Even where there is effective competition and some choice, the provisions do not fully deliver an effective, functioning market. I shall take just two or three issues. Entry into the market appears to be largely by negotiation with the incumbent company rather than by open and transparent price competition, as would be the case in most markets. Even more surprisingly, there is no provision for exit from the market. Surely provision for exit from the retail market by poorly performing competitors or incumbents is essential for a properly functioning market. Most stakeholders seem to favour providing for it, with safeguards to protect the consumer, so we will be looking at whether we should provide in the Bill for exit from the market. We also need tighter provisions on non-discrimination by incumbent companies to make this work at all. Therefore, we support the direction of travel, but there are a lot of details that we will wish to go into.

Thirdly, there is a resilience duty in the Bill. This caused a little bit of manoeuvring in the Commons and I am not entirely clear that the resilience duty that the Government have come up with goes as far as we would wish. Historically, there has been a dual system of regulation in water, with Ofwat being the economic regulator—sometimes very narrowly defining what that meant—and the Environment Agency being the environment regulator.

Synergy and cohesion have got better in recent years. Since 2003, Ofwat has had a secondary sustainability duty. Nevertheless, the record shows that Ofwat has in its price review tended to give greater priority to things that related solely to the economic side and less to what was needed for the environmental or resource-conservation side. We need to look again at that. That is why I think that green NGOs and many of our colleagues in the Commons were pressing for sustainable development, which is currently a secondary duty, to be elevated to a primary duty.

The resilience duty is, in a sense, the Government’s response to that. Resilience is undoubtedly important, and the Minister said that it will be interpreted in a broad sense, but it is a bit vague. Resilience certainly does not cover the range of subjects that sustainable development does, and it is still criticised by some NGOs. The Government have strengthened the position since they first introduced it into the Bill, and we need to take account of that, but we will still want to probe whether resilience is really the better expression or whether, as I suspect, it could exclude key aspects that are covered by sustainable development—especially, to take an obvious example, social sustainability, which is an important aspect of how the water market works. We intend to probe those issues in Committee.

That covers what is in the Bill, but there are some massive things which are not—two very large elephants in the room. First, there is the bizarre financial structure of the industry, which has been commented on in the press in a timely way in the past few days. Secondly, there is the management and regulation of the physical water system, the movement of water from precipitation

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right the way through our streams, rivers, culverts and pipes to our taps or to the ocean. We know that it is a huge and risky system—the past few weeks have told us that, and only a few months earlier we were talking about the scarcity of water in certain parts of the country. The existence of scarcity or excess crucially affects our ecology, our agriculture, our way of life and our communities. Those are huge issues; they were addressed in the White Paper, but not really reflected in the Bill.

I shall take the economic structure of the industry first. The Minister says that privatisation has been a success and, in the limited sense that we have had substantial investment, it has—and we do not want to jeopardise that—but this is an odd industry. It is dominated by regional monopolies which are themselves vertically integrated. Some of them have been subject to takeover and they are now mostly owned by overseas-based investment funds. I do not decry that, but it means that their structure for raising finance is odd for a public utility. They are also highly profitable. On some calculations, there has been a return of 17.5% on asset value since privatisation. They are, as the newspapers have pointed out in the past couple of days, very high payers of dividends, with nearly 90% of profits returned as dividends last year.

The sector is very highly geared, for the most part. On average, well over 70% of capital comes from the markets, not from equity sources, as was assumed when we first privatised the industry. The industry also has a fairly poor record on innovation, as some of your Lordships’ Select Committees have pointed out over the past few years. At the far end, over the past 10 years there has been a 55% increase in prices to the consumer. The industry has also been relatively poor, although improving, on customer service. That does not describe either a modern, dynamic, innovative market or an effective delivery mechanism for a general social good. Although delivery of investment has been important, those other aspects need addressing.

The system of regulation needs a pretty fundamental rethink. In the past few months, Ofwat itself has recognised the need to change. The regulator is proposing significant changes in the coming price review and has already implemented a significant improvement in consumer engagement. I welcome that, and the role of the Consumer Council for Water in that. In the price review, however, Ofwat is going to put less emphasis on capital expenditure and have more flexibility between different forms of expenditure, which I welcome. It is taking a longer-term view on investment and more emphasis is likely on interconnection, water efficiency and demand management and on environmental measures. I welcome pretty much all those Ofwat initiatives, but they are within a framework which does not necessarily push them in that way. The initiatives need to be embedded because they will be seriously challenged by some of the operators and undertakers within this industry. The system of regulation needs review and the Government need to be a bit more radical. They need to look at whether there are stronger measures which can ensure that the companies actually deliver, including perhaps addressing fundamental issues such as the proper and full separation of the wholesale from the retail market.

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We also have a pretty odd way in which we pay for water, with most domestic consumers still operating on a rateable value which is several years or decades old. The result is that its affordability to our citizens and businesses is very much in question. In the household sector, more than 12% have very serious problems with affordability. The previous Government’s 2010 Act provided for social tariffs to make water more affordable to vulnerable families, but I am afraid that first the regulator and then the industry have been slow in taking them up. The Minister said that they will have them the next year or the year after, but the fact of the matter is that the record at the moment is not very good. If we add all the schemes together, including the WaterSure scheme which the Government promoted for large families or those with serious medical conditions, there are only 70,000 or 80,000 people covered in total. Yet from the figures which I just quoted, we know that there are about 2 million having problems with affordability. Since the companies appear to be so recalcitrant in coming forward, we will be pressing for a stronger move towards social tariffs and for some form of national affordability scheme to be introduced, to set targets for minimum standards and for the way in which companies treat their less well-off consumers.

There are also big problems with the water system itself. There is a huge loss and misdirection of water both in its supposedly natural movement, which is often in practice the result of human land management, and in the engineered part of the system. Inappropriate land management, deforestation at the top of water courses, the changing and dredging of natural watercourses and the loss of natural water meadows and flood soaks all have the effect of pushing more water downstream, just at the time when it should not be. Excessive man-made abstractions of water, currently and historically, threaten the system itself and some of our key geological features. For example, we are destroying our chalk streams from Yorkshire down to Dorset—a landscape and geological feature which is almost unique to England. In economic terms, excessive abstraction means not only not enough storage in the winter to provide for the needs of agriculture and society in the hotter months but that the whole management of the system becomes difficult. Meanwhile in the engineered part of the system, increased floodwater leads to sewage leaks, with their attendant risks, and increased leakage from the clean water system.

All those issues were covered in the White Paper, but they are not in the Bill. However, there is one thing in the Bill which threatens effective achievement of a better system of water management as a whole. That concerns upstream competition being provided for in the Bill before we have properly regulated and introduced a new system of abstraction reform. The present system of abstraction licensing is 50 years old and even then has grandfathered ancient rights. I have been arguing for radical abstraction reform for well over a decade. The Bill rightly ends compensation to water companies for the modification of abstraction licences, which is an issue that the Environment Agency has been trying to modify within the current structure over recent years.

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The Bill provides for upstream competition to be introduced. The Government have said that this will not happen before 2020, but nevertheless to introduce upstream competition before we have actually reformed the extraction system is highly dangerous. Abstraction licences are not used to their full; only about 42% of water allowable under such licences is actually abstracted. That means that there is a lot of potential water to be abstracted under the present system. If we introduce competition and the ability to source that water differently, the effect may well be that we create scarcity in those areas where there is not already scarcity. It is already a problem that a majority of our water catchment areas are overextracted. Upstream competition and trading could work if there were a limit on abstractions, but until we get to a proper system I think that the Government are wrong to provide for upstream competition even in the way that it is provided for on a contingency basis in the Bill. It must be clear by the time the Bill leaves this House and goes on to the statute book that upstream competition is dependent on there first being a proper regime for abstraction; otherwise, we will have the worst of both worlds.

I hope that we return to many of these features in Committee and at subsequent stages, and I hope that the Government take note particularly of our concerns over abstraction reform at the top end of the system and affordability at the point where it reaches our homes.

4.46 pm

Baroness Parminter (LD): My Lords, I have neither the interests that the Minister had to declare nor the form of the Opposition Front Bench. Indeed, this is the first Bill that I will be taking through this House on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group. I may not have the interests or the form but I certainly have the passion to ensure that the Bill delivers to meet the challenges that our water resources currently face.

Only one in four of our rivers and lakes is a fully functioning ecosystem. Equally troubling, many of our water supplies are under pressure from unsustainable levels of abstraction and the combined effect of climate change and a growing population. Liberal Democrats accept that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet so it is no surprise that we want to protect natural resources, on which future generations and economic prosperity depend. We therefore support the Bill, which sets the framework to improve the health of our precious lakes and rivers while keeping water available and affordable.

We are members of a coalition Government so of course there are areas where we would like to see the Bill go further. Opening up the upstream water market should go hand in hand with the reform of the abstraction licensing regime, rising demand for water should be tackled by greater metering and affordable flood insurance should equally help to build up our resilience to future flooding. These are areas that I will be seeking to strengthen in the Bill through clarification and amendment.

I credit Ministers who have gone a long way to meet the widely held aspirations for a stronger commitment to sustainable resource management in the remit of

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the water regulator, Ofwat. The introduction of a primary duty to secure the long-term resilience of water supply and sewerage systems is significant, and made all the stronger by the new Minister, Dan Rogerson, during the Bill’s passage in the Commons. To make crystal clear the Government’s intention to protect our natural resources, I would hope that Clause 24 could be amended to oblige rather than invite future Governments to take into account social and environmental matters when drawing up future strategic priorities and objectives for Ofwat. I invite Ministers to reflect further on that.

It is a disappointment that the Government are not legislating now to reform the water abstraction regime. The current system, in place for more than 40 years, has left ecosystems damaged. As the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee D’s 2012 report into EU freshwater policy said, and I must declare an interest as a member of that committee,

“delaying this reform for at least 15 years fails to respond to the urgency of the situation”.

Like the Opposition, we on these Benches think that without the proposals for abstraction reform running in parallel with those that create a market for trading water, there is significant risk to our scarce water resources. The Government’s consultation document on abstraction reform confirms as much, saying:

“Significant volumes of water are licensed but unused. If this water is used, for example, as a result of increased trading in a reformed system, this could cause environmental deterioration”.

Equally, the Environment Agency has identified a large number of catchments where increased trading could leave less water in river or groundwater than is needed to maintain required environmental standards.

The Government so far have committed that the timetables for both reforms are “likely to be broadly similar”. We need assurances that proposals for upstream reform, which are in the Bill and which could come into force by 2019, will be fully aligned with reform of the abstraction regime, which is not legislated for. In the absence of the Minister being able to give such assurances, there must be further environmental safeguards put in place prior to the introduction of upstream competition.

Liberal Democrats support the proposals to open up retail competition in the business market which has worked so well in Scotland, saving money for businesses, charities and public authorities with multiple sites and enhancing water resource management. However, in Committee we will seek clarification over the proposals to open up the upstream wholesale market to competition. While this may make trading between water companies easier, this theoretical market model seems to include the potential for the de-averaging of prices and currently lacks parliamentary scrutiny of central elements, such as the setting up of the market operator.

Managing water resources for the long term has to take account of affordability for consumers now, with more than 2 million households currently spending more than 4% of their income on water bills. This coalition Government are to be applauded in getting more families on low incomes out of paying tax to boost the money they have to meet household expenses.

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The water companies could do far more to bring those household expenses down by more firmly tackling bad debt which adds £14 to all our water bills. Recognising that finding non-payees is critical and that 80% of them are in rented households, a voluntary database for landlords to register tenant details will soon be introduced. In Committee in the other place, Water UK expressed the view that a voluntary approach simply does not work, a view echoed by the EFRA Select Committee. The evidence of Northumbrian Water which has had such a website for two and half years shows that only 7% of landlords have registered, and they were the landlords who were already committed to tackling the issue.

Why are the Government, unlike the Welsh Government, not implementing the bad debt provisions in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which would make compliance with the database mandatory when such a move could help company debt recovery and bring household bills down? Do the Government support the fixing of the date for implementation of those proposals, should the voluntary database fail to work?

The Bill rightly seeks to build up our national water resources, but unlike the water White Paper, there is insufficient focus on the equally important issue of demand management. The Government argue that this can be pursued outside legislation, and of course it can. Indeed, it is good to see the recent changes Ofwat has made to its calculation of a total expenditure approach which should incentivise water companies to use demand management and green solutions such as water catchment management as opposed to capital investment, but we need leadership on metering to help tackle the demand for water, and such leadership should be reflected in this Bill.

In the UK, every person uses about 150 litres of water a day, which is one of the highest levels in Europe. Anglian Water confirms that households which are metered use 10% to 15% less water, yet less than half of the country is presently on a water meter, and current water company plans aim to reduce water usage by just 5 litres a day per person by 2020. Metering gives consumers greater control over their water consumption and the chance of improved affordability. It also helps water companies target households using large amounts of water, provide water efficiency support and tackle leaks. The case for smart water metering, combined with advice on how to reduce water usage and social tariffs which minimise affordability issues for disadvantaged heavy-use households, is strong. The independent Walker review in 2009 recommended a widespread switchover to metered charging. This conclusion was supported by the EFRA committee and more recently, at Second Reading in the other place by the former Defra Minister, the honourable Member for Newbury, who called for a possible legislative stimulus for metering, adding,

“knowledge is power for households”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 23/11/13; col. 79.]

The Government’s response in the other place was that companies might invest a lot of money in meters that,

“could be spent on other infrastructure”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, Water Bill Committee 10/12/13; col. 164.]

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Surely this Government believe it is for companies to decide their own business priorities within the framework set by government and the regulator. At present, if a company wants to consult its customers about introducing compulsory meters, it cannot unless the Secretary of State determines that either the whole or part of the area of that company is one of serious water stress. Location should not be a bar to action, and so I will table an amendment to the Bill to remove this restriction on business and send a strong signal to water companies about moving towards universal metering.

Like many in the House, I feel deep sympathy for those who, as a result of recent flooding, face the worry, upheaval and stress of rebuilding their lives. I am sure that we will hear more about the impact of flooding in Somerset from my noble friend Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville later. The fact that the Bill guarantees affordable flood risk insurance to all householders is therefore extremely welcome and Ministers are to be congratulated on negotiations with the insurance industry which could deliver this.

Flood Re will be a private sector body handling public money and, as such, its aims should clearly reflect the need to act in the public interest and to incentivise householders to reduce their flood risk over time. By amending Clause 51 in this way, we can transition to a stronger place at the end of the scheme’s 25 years. By doing so, it will reflect the Liberal Democrat view that to successfully manage flood risk we need a greater people and community focus, not just a focus on institutional responses, with their infrastructure plans for flood defences and installing huge pipes. Moreover, given that a number of new clauses were added in Committee in the Commons and therefore lacked pre-legislative scrutiny, I and my noble friend Lord Shipley, who sadly cannot be here today, look forward in Committee to teasing out a number of questions about Flood Re’s operation and the ability of key agencies and local communities to respond to the flooding challenges which the adaptation sub-committee of the Committee on Climate Change recently set out so clearly.

In conclusion, Liberal Democrats strongly welcome the Bill. It will help to meet the Government’s stated goal of securing the most efficient use of scarce water resources. I have, however, highlighted a number of areas which I hope will be addressed in Committee, and look forward to participating enthusiastically as the Bill passes through this House.

4.57 pm

The Earl of Lytton (CB): My Lords, I rise with some trepidation because, although I can bring something to the discussion here on matters to do with the broad spectrum of water, I feel that I am a minnow in the presence of giants. I first thank the Minister for agreeing to meet me at very short notice today; I appreciate that very much.

I remind noble Lords of my interests as a landowner and member of the Country Land and Business Association, and president of the National Association of Local Councils and of one of its county associations. I am also a vice-president of the Local Government Association. More specifically, however, I am a practising

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chartered surveyor and a valuer, with a professional involvement in and some experience of risk and the effects of flooding; although in this particular instance I certainly defer to the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hartington Mandeville, and my noble friend Lord Cameron—who I see is not in his place—when it comes to matters to do with the appalling flooding we have seen on our television screens, particularly in association with the Somerset Levels. I add my sympathy to them, and to all others who have been appallingly affected by the flooding.

My first observation is that much of the Bill is left to regulation. So much, in fact, that the shape and dynamic of what we might ultimately be facilitating seems unclear. I can understand the desire to get paving legislation in place and discuss the detail later, but I am bound to say that it leaves me uncomfortable, particularly on matters to do with the flood reinsurance scheme. I would like to see some of those regulations brought forward.