2 Apr 2014 : Column 953

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House of Lords

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Leicester.

Press Regulation


3.07 pm

Asked by Baroness Hollins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in press regulation in the year since the cross-party Royal Charter for self-regulation of the press was agreed.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, the appointments process for the Recognition Panel is now under way. This is an independent process being followed by the Commissioner for Public Appointments and is not a matter for the Government. The panel will be formally established from the date when the chair and the initial board members are appointed. I understand that applications for the chair of the panel closed on 7 March, and I also understand that the industry is making progress with establishing a new self-regulator.

Baroness Hollins (CB): My Lords, can the Minister confirm whether it is still government policy that all press regulators should seek recognition from the independent Recognition Panel, as set up under the royal charter? If so, does he share my regret that the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the regulator set up to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission, insists that it will not seek recognition and is therefore unlikely to achieve public confidence?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, as I think is very much part of the principles of Lord Justice Leveson’s report, the issue of seeking recognition is a matter for the self-regulator and the industry. The Government hope very much that the industry and the self-regulator will look at recognition. Through the Crime and Courts Act 2013, Parliament has made clear the incentives there are in looking at recognition, and I hope that with the passage of time and the Recognition Panel being set up, an application would be made.

Lord Fowler (Con): My Lords, perhaps I may remind my noble friend that 12 months ago, on 18 March 2013, the Prime Minister announced that there was cross-party agreement for a new system. He said:

“My message to the press is now very clear: we have had the debate, now it is time to get on and make this system work”.—[Official Report, Commons, 18/3/13; col. 636.]

Will the Government now do all they can to bring this ridiculously long debate to an end? Most important, will they give an assurance that Parliament will have the opportunity to judge whether any arrangements that are agreed will be truly effective and will effectively guard the public interest?

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the whole purpose of what we have sought to achieve is that it will be in the public interest. That is because one of the things that is very clear from what has happened is that we want any new system to command the confidence of the public. My noble friend has said that the debate has gone on for too long. In fact, I think that we have gone beyond the debate because we now have a structure in place. As for Parliament considering these issues, part of the whole issue of why we think it is important that the Recognition Panel, through the royal charter, is the body that considers whether the self-regulator meets the criteria, is that this is very much a matter for the Recognition Panel which is independent of Government or Parliament.

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): My Lords, can the Minister confirm who runs Britain? The question is whether it is run by the rule of law and will of Parliament, both of which have determined that the PCC replacement must be audited by the royal charter’s independent Recognition Panel, or by the press barons themselves. They seem to think that, despite everything that the Leveson inquiry uncovered, they can ignore the recommendations of a public inquiry, which has been overwhelmingly endorsed by this House and the other place and which has the support of the general public.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I understand what the noble Baroness and your Lordships are implying, but one of the key facets of Leveson was precisely that there should be a voluntary self-regulatory system. However, Parliament has obviously put in place incentives whereby we very much hope that there will be recognition through the Recognition Panel for whatever self-regulator there is.

Lord Hunt of Wirral (Con): Does my noble friend agree with the conclusion of Sir Brian Leveson that the “ideal outcome” to this process would be,

“a satisfactory independent regulatory body, established by the industry”?

If he does, will he therefore welcome the progress that is being made by Sir Hayden Phillips and his appointment panel in selecting an independent chair and a new board for the Independent Press Standards Organisation?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, as I said before, I think we are all seeking an outcome to command public confidence that there is a means of proper redress and that we also ensure the freedom of the press. The principles of Lord Justice Leveson’s report are based on independent and effective press self-regulation. I therefore welcome the progress in setting up a self-regulator, as I do the formation of the Recognition Panel.

Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve (CB): Does the Minister consider that the Leveson recommendations will be adequately implemented if the only self-regulatory body declines to seek audit by the royal charter body?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I simply do not know at this stage whether—

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Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Your Lordships may be able to crystal-ball gaze but I certainly cannot. As I say, I very much hope that the self-regulatory body will apply for recognition. There is nothing to stop another self-regulator being formed, as the royal charter caters for a further self-regulatory body coming forward for recognition.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Dykes (LD): My Lords—

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): My Lords—

Lord Strasburger (LD): My Lords—

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): My Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Party.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, thank you. Has the Minister seen the Media Standards Trust report, published late last year, which assessed how the IPSO proposals measured up to the Leveson recommendations? It found that IPSO failed to meet 26 of the 38 recommendations. Has the Secretary of State pointed out to the IPSO representatives that their model is a very long way from complying with Leveson? At what stage is the Secretary of State going to intervene to put the Leveson proposals and the royal charter back centre stage going forward, which is where they ought to be?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I have, of course, studied the Media Standards Trust report. The whole basis of the design of Lord Justice Leveson’s report is precisely for the independent Recognition Panel to opine on whether the criteria in Schedule 3 of the royal charter have been adhered to. That is the key point of the independence: it is for the Recognition Panel to decide. The idea that the Secretary of State should intervene misses the point about the independent arrangements that we have put in place to ensure that we get a decision that is independent of Parliament and government.

Lord Dykes: Is it not appalling that the irresponsible tabloids have completely forgotten the victims, whom they promised they would help first of all, as did the Prime Minister at the outset of this long debate?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am very clear that the country and your Lordships have not forgotten the victims. If one takes oneself back as to why the Prime Minister asked Lord Justice Leveson to produce his report, it was precisely so that the things that had happened would not happen, but if they unfortunately did happen there were proper means of redress, and that is what we want to achieve.

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NHS: Mental Health Funding


3.15 pm

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure that NHS England funds mental health in line with the requirement for parity of esteem.

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 health interests.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, our aim is to ensure that mental health has equal priority with physical health. We have made this an objective of NHS England. The mandate of NHS England makes it clear that everyone who needs it should have timely access to the best available treatment, including in mental health services. We enshrined in law the equal status of mental and physical health in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, that is all well and good, but the noble Earl knows that NHS England has not carried out the instructions in the mandate, and in the tariff for this year it has discriminated in the funding of mental health services. In our most recent debate on this, the noble Earl said that we should not worry about it because clinical commissioning groups will be heavily monitored. But the Government have no power to instruct clinical commissioning groups to make up for this rather perverse decision by NHS England. So I ask the noble Earl: will he not intervene and tell NHS England to reverse this funding policy?

Earl Howe: My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, the tariff for mental health services is determined locally. Having said that, we are clear that it is important that these tariffs and the priority given to mental health are scrutinised very carefully indeed, which is why my honourable friend the Minister of State for Care and Support has said he will do just that in the case of every single clinical commissioning group. If he determines that the plans are unsatisfactory, we as Ministers will work with NHS England, which we do regularly, to ensure that there is indeed that progress to parity of esteem that we all want to see throughout the country.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, is my noble friend aware that there is significant evidence that two-thirds of local authorities have reduced their child and adolescent mental health service budgets since 2010, draining money from early intervention services, which, I think he will agree, is short-sighted and stores up problems for the future? Will he ensure that NHS commissioners and councils provide comprehensive services to address the deepening damage caused by further cuts to children and young people’s mental health services?

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Earl Howe: My Lords, I share my noble friend’s concern. I am aware that some local authorities are not giving the necessary priority to this very important area of service. It is an area that local health and well-being boards should focus on. Our aim must be to support children and young people with mental health problems, wherever possible, in the community where they live rather than seeing them go into acute settings. Admission to hospital should be a last resort. While we have no direct leverage over local authorities, we shall endeavour through NHS England and joint working with area teams to ensure that this message is not lost.

Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl): My Lords, on this seventh World Autism Awareness Day, will the Minister join me in paying tribute to the parents and campaigning organisations? I ask him, on behalf of the one in 100 autistic individuals in this country who are disproportionately affected by mental illness: given the actual reduction in cash investment in mental health services, do the Government agree that funding for mental health must encompass funding for the prevention of illnesses among those most at risk rather than responding to crises that can be prevented by early intervention?

Earl Howe: I agree with the point made by the noble Baroness. Prevention is much better than having to cure. I pay tribute to those organisations that champion the cause of those with autism. It is a tribute to the previous Government that they published the Autism Act, part of which involves collecting evidence at local level about the population affected by autism and, in that way, focusing minds at local level—principally the health and well-being boards—to direct services appropriately.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: Given the significant disparity in mental health diagnosis, treatment and outcomes between minority ethnic groups and the general population, what steps are being taken not only to uphold parity of esteem between mental and physical health but to reflect that in the provision of accessible and effective mental health services for all people?

Earl Howe: The right reverend Prelate raises an important dimension of this whole issue. We have been looking at ways to overcome inequalities in access to services, which includes better access for black and minority ethnic communities to mental health services. For example, we know that people from BME communities have been less likely to use psychological therapies. To tackle that, the department is working with the Race Equality Foundation and other stakeholders to understand why that is so and to understand inequalities around access to other mental health services and what can be done to improve that. NHS England is also working with BME community leaders to encourage more people to use psychological therapies.

Lord Patel (CB): Has the Minister any comment on the fact that Monitor and NHS England have recommended, pro rata, 20% greater cuts in funding for mental health services than for acute services?

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Earl Howe: I can only repeat what I already said to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. We have expressed our dismay at ministerial level about that decision and will therefore scrutinise local commissioning plans to ensure that, if cuts are implemented and there is freedom not to do so, outcomes and access to services are not damaged.

Baroness Pitkeathley (Lab): My Lords, there are three times as many deaths from suicide as from road accidents. The prescription of antidepressants went up by 10% last year and still only one-quarter of people with a mental illness are in treatment. Are the Government satisfied with the level of funding for preventive and psychological support services?

Earl Howe: This is the very reason that we have placed such emphasis on the IAPT programme, into which £400 million is going over the course of this Parliament. I am pleased to say that we are broadly on track to deliver a step change in access to those services.

Health: Folic Acid Fortification


3.23 pm

Asked by Lord Rooker

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to be able to make a decision in respect of folic acid fortification of white bread flour as part of a policy to reduce pregnancies affected by neural tube defects.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, we have previously stated that we were waiting for data on the folate status of the population from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey before making a decision with respect to fortification of flour with folic acid. The noble Lord is aware that delivery of these data has been significantly delayed. However, we will make a decision by Easter and will communicate it as soon as possible thereafter.

Lord Rooker (Lab): That is very good news because the congenital anomaly register, which the Minister will be aware of, currently shows that, on average, every week in England and Wales, 13 pregnancies are terminated due to neural defects and three babies are born with spina bifida and other conditions. Two-thirds of those tragedies could be avoided by fortification. Although the delay in the checking of samples is to be criticised in some ways, is it not ironic that British blood samples have been sent to America for checking and delaying, when America has fortified flour since 1998 based on the UK’s Medical Research Council’s work in the 1990s? When are we really going to get a decision so that we can use this for the benefit of our own people?

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Earl Howe: My Lords, we will announce a decision by Easter. I am aware, as the noble Lord is, of the impatience that many people have shown about this matter. However, it is right that the Government balance both the risks and the benefits of a policy that would see the mandatory fortification of a staple food. I think that that is a responsible course to take.

Lord Ribeiro (Con): My Lords, is my noble friend convinced that the evidence for introducing folic acid into white bread flour is irrefutable, given the fact that successive Governments have tried to introduce fluoride into water for all of us but have failed to do so?

Earl Howe: My Lords, there are risks associated with the fortification of flour with folic acid. That was pointed out by the scientific committee and was why its recommendation was conditional on certain things taking place. As it pointed out, there is a potential for significant numbers of the population to be pushed above the guideline upper limit for folic acid. We have to take those issues seriously in reaching a balanced decision.

Lord Walton of Detchant (CB): My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is time for this important public health development and this important contribution to preventive medicine to be enacted, as it has been in many other countries? I am aware that there are likely to be those who object to this addition to flour. Surely it would be possible to meet those objections of a minority if a limited amount of bread free of folic acid were to be marketed to meet that concern.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I note the noble Lord’s helpful suggestion but it is important that the Government take a decision on folic acid that is right for our own population, rather than anyone else’s. It is worth remembering that no other country in the European Union has taken the decision to fortify flour with folic acid. We need to do this by evaluating the risks and the benefits, as I said, based on the most up-to-date data we can get.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, we know that 50 countries have introduced folic acid. On the fluoridation question, the legislation is for local people and local authorities to decide, so there is a clear difference. It is clear that the Government have already briefed out that they will agree to this. We are going off on a very long Easter Recess. Joy would be unconfined if the noble Earl told us now what we know the Government have agreed to. Why does he not come clean on it?

Earl Howe: Because I have been told I cannot.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, pending that decision, and even with the fortification of flour, the fact is that not all women planning to get pregnant will have the right level of folic acid. Are the Government planning a media campaign to encourage mothers about this? I mean not just the information on NHS pages but radio and magazine advertisements for young women so that they start to think about it when they begin to consider having their families.

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Earl Howe: There is a range of routes whereby we ensure that, as far as possible, women are advised on folic acid intake, particularly those women of childbearing age who may be thinking of starting a family. That includes the Start4Life information service and other media routes. I am not aware of specific media campaigns in this area, but if I can be enlightened on that I will write to my noble friend.

Lord Patel (CB): The Minister commented that no other European country has adopted fortification. Does he agree that the reason for that is that no other European country has the same incidence of neural tube defects as we have here in the United Kingdom? The incidence is far greater in the United Kingdom.

Earl Howe: That is an issue that we will of course weigh up as we look at the risks and benefits and take a decision, as we will in the next few days.

Lord Swinfen (Con): My Lords, what are the risks of adding folic acid to flour?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the scientific committee pointed to several risks. One is that an overdose of folic acid may mask vitamin B12 deficiency, particularly in the over-65s—and this may be an issue in which a number of us wish to declare an interest. The committee also pointed out that although there was no specific evidence of a link to bowel cancer, there are nevertheless experts who believe that the evidence is equivocal in that area, and we need to take the balance of opinion very seriously.

Ukraine: Gas Supplies


3.30 pm

Asked by Lord Ezra

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to safeguard gas supplies in view of possible developments in Ukraine.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): My Lords, we currently do not have any disruption to gas supply through Ukraine. We have a range of different gas supply sources and high storage levels. The risk to our energy supply is low. We do not anticipate that a disruption to gas transiting Ukraine would have an impact on the UK’s physical gas supply, particularly as we currently source less than 1% of our gas from Russia, but we are monitoring the situation very closely.

Lord Ezra (LD): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her Answer, but even if, as we hope, the crisis in Ukraine blows over, should we not, as a matter of long-term policy, aim to reduce our dependence on imported gas and to regain energy self-sufficiency, which stood us in good stead over so many years?

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Baroness Verma: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right to raise this very important issue, and it is right that the Government are encouraging investment in domestic gas production to help to reduce our reliance on imports. We are also taking steps to support UK shale gas exploration by accepting the recommendations of Sir Ian Wood’s report following his recent review of how to maximise recovery of oil and gas in the UK continental shelf. However, the real answer must be to ensure diversity of supply so that we can ensure affordable and cleaner energy.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con): My Lords, I am delighted to hear my noble friend say that we need to get ahead with the exploitation of our shale gas resources—their exploration, appraisal and development —which, as the Geological Society pointed out, we have in abundance. However, is it not time to follow up words with deeds, to sort out our immensely cumbersome and unnecessarily complicated regulatory system and to stop the present Secretary of State for Energy dragging his feet, as, I regret to say, he is doing at present?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, I am, as always, grateful for my noble friend’s intervention, because it enables me to lay out exactly what the department is doing. We are trying to streamline the planning processes so that we do not have unnecessary hurdles in the way. The Government have established the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil to help to develop the shale gas industry in the UK. My noble friend will be aware of the new tax allowance recently announced by the Treasury, which will reduce the tax on a portion of a company’s production income from 62% to 30% at current rates. However, as with all projects, including shale, it must be subject to rigorous scrutiny through the planning system and the regulators and there must be proper engagement with local communities.

Baroness Worthington (Lab): My Lords, I am glad to hear that the Minister now appears to accept that linking gas demand with Ukraine is not far-fetched but a very important issue. In reality, we are more reliant on coal from Russia than we are on gas: 70% of our coal is now imported, 40% of that from Russia. Will the Minister confirm that we must maintain every effort to support home-grown energy, including wind power, to reduce our dependency on both expensive gas and imported coal—which, I might add, would improve our air quality substantially?

Baroness Verma: As the noble Baroness is aware, the Government are encouraging a diversity of supply. I am sure that she will join me in congratulating Siemens on investing in offshore wind in Hull, generating 1,000 jobs.

Lord Teverson (LD): My Lords, although Britain may not be reliant on Russian gas, that is not true for much of central and eastern Europe. There is a real issue here: since the problems we had between 2005 and 2009 over Ukraine, the EU and European states have been very unfocused on diversifying and getting

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alternative supplies of gas to that part of Europe. What is happening in terms of getting political will behind the Nabucco pipeline, or something else like it, which would bypass Russia and make the whole of Europe less dependent on a very unreliable state and partner?

Baroness Verma: My noble friend is absolutely right to raise that issue. The southern corridor project is a key pillar of EU and UK energy security and will bring gas from Azerbaijan directly to Europe. The choice of the most viable route is a commercial decision for those investing in the production and transport infrastructure. The UK Government support the southern corridor project but we cannot involve ourselves in the commercial decisions.

Lord Barnett (Lab): My Lords, if there is disagreement within the coalition, that is perfectly understandable. However, shale is very important internationally and nationally. In those circumstances, would it not be sensible to bring it to Parliament to decide?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, there is no division on shale. There was a decision taken by the coalition Government to support a diverse range of energy supply, so I reassure the noble Lord that there is no dissent in government on this issue.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Ind Lab): My Lords, we have been hearing a great deal about the massive coal supplies which are available off the north-east coast of this country, which would give this country energy independence for hundreds of years. Would it not be as well to find ways in which this resource could be used, on a green basis, by gasification or other means?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, the noble Lord is of course aware that the Government have invested £1 billion to ensure that CCS projects go forward. However, the Government have no plans to re-evaluate the role of coal in the UK’s energy mix.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, although the Minister makes a strong case for what the Government are doing, one feels that there is an element of complacency. The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, is absolutely right: to achieve this is not a Sisyphean struggle when we can do things regarding contingency. One never knows quite what will happen. Thirty-two years ago, the Argentinions invaded the Falklands with less than 24 hours’ notice. Things change, so we should have contingency plans in place. We seem to have made it very difficult to get our shop in order to provide power, when power is needed if things go wrong.

Baroness Verma: My Lords, I reassure the noble Lord that we have plenty of supply and I urge him not to err into thinking that this country is fast running out of it. We have only a tiny dependency on Russia—less than 1%—so the Government are doing a very good job of ensuring security.

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European Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (Council Tax Increases) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2014

Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) Order 2014

Representation of the People (Combination of Polls) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Motions to Approve

3.38 pm

Moved by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

That the draft Order and Regulations laid before the House on 24 February and 5 March be approved.

Relevant document: 22nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, considered in Grand Committee on 31 March.

Motions agreed.

Anonymous Registration (Northern Ireland) Order 2014

Motion to Approve

3.39 pm

Moved by Baroness Randerson

That the draft Order laid before the House on 24 February be approved.

Relevant document: 22nd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, considered in Grand Committee on 31 March.

Motion agreed.

Defence Reform Bill

Defence Reform Bill

Third Reading

3.39 pm

Clause 50: Short title


Moved by Lord Astor of Hever

Clause 50, page 33, line 6, at end insert—

“(3A) Before a draft is laid before Parliament in accordance with subsection (3), the Secretary of State must—

(a) prepare and lay before Parliament a report on the options for carrying out defence procurement, and

(b) publish the report.

(3B) A report on the options for carrying out defence procurement is a report about—

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(a) the arrangement of a kind mentioned in section 1 that the Secretary of State proposes to make following the coming into force of that section, and

(b) any other options for carrying out defence procurement that the Secretary of State has considered as an alternative to those proposed arrangements.

(3C) The report must include—

(a) an assessment of the impact of the proposed arrangements and the other options, and

(b) any other information the Secretary of State considers appropriate for the purpose of enabling a proper comparison to be made between the proposed arrangements and the other options.

(3D) The report must deal with at least one other option under subsection (3B)(b), namely the carrying out of defence procurement by the Secretary of State in the way it is carried out at the time of the report.

(3E) In subsection (3A) to (3D) “defence procurement” has the meaning given by section 1(8).”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): My Lords, this amendment fulfils a commitment I made on Report. During that debate I made it clear that the Government supported an amendment, tabled in the names of the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Craig and Lord Stirrup, the noble Lord, Lord Levene, and my noble friend Lord Roper, that would have required a future Government to publish a White Paper and an impact statement before laying a draft order commencing Part 1 of the Bill. I agreed to bring forward a suitable government amendment at Third Reading, and that is the amendment that is before us today.

I do not intend to repeat the debate that we had on this issue in Committee and on Report. In essence, the debate centred on the need for parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of a future decision to proceed with a GOCO and the provision of sufficient information to Parliament to enable it to have an informed debate prior to the commencement of Part 1. In the end, there was consensus that this should take the form of a statutory requirement on any future Government to publish a White Paper and an impact statement. The government amendment reflects that commitment, although the need for precision in legislative drafting requires us to describe the content rather than the form of these documents. Nevertheless, the information that would be provided under the amendment is effectively the information that would be included in a White Paper and impact assessment.

Amendment 1 therefore makes it a requirement to publish and lay before Parliament a report on the options for carrying out defence procurement that the Secretary of State has considered. This must be done before any draft order commencing Part 1 of the Bill is laid before Parliament. The report will need to cover not only the GOCO option but any other options that the MoD is considering at the time for the reform of DE&S and it must include an assessment of the impact of the options and any other information that is appropriate to enable a proper comparison to be made between them.

It should be noted that the report must deal, in particular, with the option of what is commonly called DE&S-plus-plus—that is, the new DE&S as it will be once the transformation, which began at yesterday’s

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vesting day, is in place. This requirement specifically to consider the reformed DE&S is covered by new subsection (3D) of the amendment. I know that this is something that noble Lords were particularly keen should be captured in the amendment.

I hope that the amendment will command widespread support. It reflects the detailed debates that we have had on this Bill about the need for Parliament to have oversight of a decision to proceed with a GOCO and shows that the Government have listened carefully to the concerns raised by noble Lords from all sides of the House. The amendment will ensure that Parliament is provided with sufficient information to enable it properly to scrutinise and consider a future decision to proceed with a GOCO. I beg to move.

Lord Craig of Radley (CB): My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of the amendment. As he has mentioned, the amendment reflects Amendment 9 on Report, which was tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Levene and Lord Roper, my noble and gallant friend Lord Stirrup and myself. The amendment that the Minister is now proposing is indeed fuller than the one that we put down but it carefully covers all the points that we had in mind. It may not mention the words “White Paper” but it spells out, in 25 lines compared with our five, the very thorough and comprehensive look at the proposals that is to be taken before Part 1 is passed into law. I thank the Minister and all those who have worked on the amendment. I shall certainly give it my support.

3.45 pm

Lord Roper (LD):My Lords, like the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, I want merely to express my gratitude to my noble friend the Minister for having brought forward an amendment which, as he explained, goes somewhat further than the amendment we considered on Report. Like others who have been involved in these discussions, I am very grateful that he has taken so much care to ensure that this matter is properly dealt with and that we have in the statute a very good basis so that if at some stage we come to consider the introduction of Part 1, we will have useful material for the parliamentary consideration. I have great pleasure in saying that I am keen to support the amendment.

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (LD): My Lords, all credit is due not only to the noble and gallant Lord and my noble friend Lord Roper but to the Labour Front Bench for starting this ball rolling and developing it into an affirmative or, perhaps I should say, slightly super-affirmative Motion, to which I hope the House will agree.

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, the Minister explained the background to this amendment which arose from an undertaking that he gave when we last discussed the Bill. I should like to take this opportunity to explain our position on the amendment and our views on it.

We welcome the amendment as it represents a move from the Government’s previous stance that the affirmative order without any associated requirements stated in the Bill would be sufficient, if passed by both Houses,

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for a future Government to change significantly defence procurement services by making arrangements for such services to be provided by a company to the Secretary of State under contract. The Government’s amendment does not go as far as we would wish, given that the Government were not prepared, as we sought, to withdraw Part 1 when it became known that they could no longer proceed before the general election with their preferred option to go down the road provided for in Part 1. We argued for a super-affirmative procedure involving an independent examination of a future Government’s case for bringing in an outside company to provide defence procurement services and for a report on that independent review by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee prior to Parliament being asked to make a decision on the affirmative order. That did not find favour with the Government either.

What we do have is the Government’s amendment providing for a report to Parliament on the options for carrying out defence procurement with a requirement, as the Minister said, that one option that must be covered in the report is the carrying out of defence procurement by the Secretary of State in the way it is carried out at the time the report is prepared. In other words, the effectiveness or otherwise of the new DE&S-plus-plus organisation that started to come into effect a couple of days ago, at the beginning of this month, will have to be compared with any other proposed arrangements that a future Government may wish to introduce. That is important because the Minister said in the debate on this issue in Committee that if it had been a matter for this Government rather than a future Government, they would have looked at the outside company option—the GOCO—only if the new DE&S-plus-plus organisation now being introduced did not transform the defence procurement operation.

If a future Government adopt the same approach, the report on the effectiveness of the new DE&S-plus-plus organisation will be crucial, as will be the objectivity of that future Government’s assessment of DE&S-plus-plus and their case for believing that the GOCO option would be more successful. Proper time will be needed to evaluate and consider the report to Parliament from that future Government, as provided for in this amendment, if that Government decide they want to go down the GOCO route and not to continue with the new DE&S-plus-plus organisation.

A big concern we have about the Government’s amendment is that it does not lay down any minimum timescale, either directly or indirectly, between the report on the options for carrying out defence procurement being laid before Parliament and the associated affirmative order being considered by Parliament. A future Government, having made up their mind that they wanted to go down the GOCO route, might be tempted to try to rush through the affirmative order. In that context, I cannot help but recall that this Government, in declining to withdraw Part 1, argued that there might in future be a need to bring in the GOCO option with a minimum of delay—an odd argument, bearing in mind that the Government themselves had just had to delay their intentions on the GOCO option by at least two or three years, but nevertheless an indication of a Government’s thinking that they might seek to make the change as quickly as possible at the

2 Apr 2014 : Column 967

possible expense of proper scrutiny. Hence my comments and concerns that the Government’s amendment does not provide any real check on such an intention by a future Government.

However, despite our reservations, we shall not oppose the Government’s amendment, as it clearly represents progress towards our position and a move away from the Government’s earlier stance. We are grateful for the support there has been from other noble Lords in pressing the Government to move from their initial stance that affirmative orders, without any associated requirements that would also have to be met, were sufficient.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I thank noble Lords and the noble and gallant Lord for their helpful contributions to our short debate. It is clear that this amendment attracts support, particularly from the Official Opposition, and that it would significantly improve the arrangements for parliamentary oversight should Part 1 ever be commenced. I accept the observation of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that our amendment does not go far enough but I think we can agree that this amendment makes a good Bill much better.

As we have, I hope, reached the final stage of the Bill in this House, I thank noble Lords for their work on the Bill. In particular, I am grateful for the contributions of the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Craig and Lord Stirrup, the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Tunnicliffe, and my noble friends Lord Palmer, Lord Roper and Lord Lee among many other noble Lords who have spoken during the course of the Bill and done so much to ensure that it leaves this place in good shape. We have covered a lot of ground including on some quite technical matters.

I am also grateful to my noble friend Lady Jolly for her assistance on the Bill and to my officials for their support and hard work. The Government have listened to the concerns that have been raised and have responded, where appropriate, by bringing forward amendments such as the one before the House today. I therefore ask noble Lords to support this amendment.

Amendment agreed.


Moved by Lord Astor of Hever

That the Bill do now pass.

Lord Rosser: Before we go through the final stage, I should like to thank the Minister for his usual patience and courtesy in taking the Bill through your Lordships’ House, and not least for the detailed responses he has given to the amendments that have been pursued and the questions that have been asked. I should also like to thank his ministerial colleague, Philip Dunne MP, for meeting us on more than one occasion, in particular my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe on Part 2 on single-source contracts. We extend our thanks in that regard to the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly. Having meetings with Ministers has also involved officials, and likewise we extend our thanks to them for their courtesy and helpfulness in responding to the many points that we raised.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

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Intellectual Property Bill [HL]

Commons Amendments

3.54 pm

Motion on Amendments 1 to 3

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 1 to 3.

1: Clause 3, page 2, line 33, leave out subsection (1)

2: Clause 3, page 2, leave out lines 42 to 44 and insert—

“(b) a body corporate or other body having legal personality which—

(i) is formed under the law of a part of the United Kingdom or another qualifying country, and

(ii) has in any qualifying country a place of business at which substantial business activity is carried on.”.”

3: Clause 3, page 3, leave out lines 7 and 8 and insert—

“(a) in subsection (1)(a), omit “who is exclusively authorised to put such articles on the market in the United Kingdom”,

(b) in subsection (2), for “requirements” substitute “requirement”,

(c) in subsection (3), for “those requirements” substitute “that requirement”, and

(d) omit subsection (4).”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): My Lords, these amendments were moved in the other place following discussions that I and my right honourable friend David Willetts had with industry representatives. They raised concerns about the possible unintended consequences of simplifying the eligibility requirements for UK unregistered design right. Their concerns focused on whether the qualification requirements had been extended too far and as a result included those countries which did not offer reciprocal protection to UK designers.

Following further helpful exchanges with industry groups such as the IP Federation, SIPA and the International Chamber of Commerce, the Government amended the Bill. Commons Amendments 1, 2 and 3 ensure that those who qualify for UK unregistered design right must fall within the definition of a “qualifying person”. Broadly, they must be either an individual who is habitually resident in a qualifying country, or a company that is formed under the law of a part of the UK or other qualifying country and which has in a qualifying country a place of business where substantial business activity is carried on. Further, where the unregistered design right arises by virtue of being the first to market the design, such marketing must be done by a qualifying person.

Representatives of both large and small players in the design industry have welcomed these changes, and noble Lords may also be aware that the changes received broad support in the Commons. I therefore hope that this House will agree to these Commons amendments, which represent a reasonable and realistic way of ensuring that the design framework continues to support UK businesses in an appropriate and fair way while also meeting the original aim of simplifying overly complex aspects of unregistered design protection. I beg to move.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for his introduction to this group of amendments and for his kind words about the role we played last year as part of the group that was involved with the Bill when it was in your Lordships’ House. As the Minister said, these amendments simplify the criteria under which individuals or businesses may be eligible for the UK unregistered design right under the CDPA—Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

I have no wish to claim all the credit for the Government’s change of heart, but it is fair to point out that my noble friend Lord Young of Norwood Green proposed a very similar amendment to the Bill when it was in Committee in your Lordships’ House. Our amendment focused on the meaning of “qualifying country”. In his speech, my noble friend quoted the comments of Lord Justice Jacob, who said in Dyson v Qualtex that the definition of the current UDR,

“has the merit of being short. It has no other … The problem is deeper: neither the language used nor the context of the legislation give any clear idea what was intended. Time and time again one struggles but fails to ascertain a precise meaning, a meaning which men of business can reasonably use to guide their conduct. The amount of textbook writing and conjecture as to the meaning is a testament to its obscurity”.

That is not very politically correct, but I think noble Lords will get the sense of frustration and the feeling that the present law is unsatisfactory, and that changes were required to ensure that designers in the UK could not unintentionally infringe a UK unregistered design right when they are building on ideas that they may have taken from elsewhere in the EU.

When he replied to the short debate in Committee, the Minister said that our proposed amendments,

“would create an anomaly in the Act and a level of complexity, which the Bill, on principle, is trying to remove”.—[

Official Report

, 11/6/13; col. GC 333.]

I am glad that in the event the Government have seen the wisdom of what we were proposing, and have decided to bring forward these amendments with the aim of establishing coherence and ensuring that this legislation does not disadvantage UK business. I confirm that we will support this group of amendments.

4 pm

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, I am grateful for the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, to whom I pay tribute. I also pay particular tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Young of Norwood Green, for highlighting the issue at an earlier stage of the Bill.

To summarise, these amendments ensure that appropriate reciprocity arrangements remain in place. They ensure that, to be considered a “qualifying person”, businesses must be formed under the law of a part of the UK or other qualifying country. They also ensure that only qualifying persons can benefit from being the first to market. Finally, they do not change the position in relation to individuals, who are not required to have citizenship in a qualifying country as long as they are habitually resident there.

Motion agreed.

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Motion on Amendments 4 to 12

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 4 to 12.

4: Clause 13, page 11, line 22, after “person” insert “intentionally”

5: Clause 13, page 11, line 23, leave out “exactly or substantially to that design” and insert “—

(i) exactly to that design, or

(ii) with features that differ only in immaterial details from that design”

6: Clause 13, page 11, line 31, after “been” insert “intentionally”

7: Clause 13, page 11, line 31, leave out from “product” to end of line 32 and insert “—

(a) exactly to the design, or

(b) with features that differ only in immaterial details from the design.”

8: Clause 13, page 11, line 40, after “been” insert “intentionally”

9: Clause 13, page 11, line 42, leave out “or substantially to the design” and insert “to the design or with features that differ only in immaterial details from the design”

10: Clause 13, page 13, line 1, leave out “or substantially to a registered design” and insert “to a registered design, or with features that differ only in immaterial details from a registered design,”

11: Clause 13, page 13, line 2, at end insert “intentionally”

12: Clause 13, page 13, line 4, at end insert “intentionally”

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, Clause 13 makes it a criminal offence intentionally to copy a UK or EU-registered design in the course of business without the consent of its owner. It will also be an offence to try to profit from the use of the copy in the course of business. This clause has attracted much debate, both here and in the other place. My right honourable friend David Willetts and I have also had extensive discussions with industry representatives, and I have listened carefully to the views of both large and small design businesses.

A number of industry representatives voiced serious concerns that the drafting of the clause left some uncertainty as to the scope of the sanction. They believed that the clause could be interpreted more widely than the Government intended—a view supported by members of the judiciary. As a result, the Government made two sets of amendments to this clause in the other place to clarify the scope of the sanction, and therefore strengthen its effectiveness. The Government recognise the importance of creating certainty for those businesses that may be affected by the criminal sanction.

Amendments 4, 6, 8, 11 and 12 insert the word “intentionally” into the clause to make it absolutely clear that unconscious and accidental copying should not be caught by the offence. These amendments are not intended to make the offence harder to prove, but simply to clarify that the offence should apply only to intentional copying. It has always been the Government’s aim to create an offence that deters specific, purposeful copying, as can be seen from previous debates in this House. I do not believe that inserting the word “intentionally” into the statute changes this underlying aim.

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I now turn to Commons Amendments 5, 7, 9 and 10. These amendments concern the scope of the offence, in the context of assessing whether one design has been copied from another. The amendments replace the word “substantially” in the clause with the phrase,

“with features that differ only in immaterial details”.

I will take just a moment to remind noble Lords that the intention of this criminal sanction has always been to cover exact copies, and copies where the design has been very slightly altered. In achieving this policy aim, the Government have been mindful not to capture the type of differences that can quite legitimately result in the creation of a new design. The amendments help achieve this, so that when making an assessment of whether a design has been copied, immaterial details may be disregarded. It is right that what amounts to “immaterial details” should be determined by the courts in the light of the details of the case in front of them.

The decision to replace the word “substantially” arose from detailed discussions with industry representatives. They expressed concern that the term was not clearly defined in registered design law and could therefore create uncertainty, which in turn could affect legitimate follow-on design. The revised form of wording—“immaterial details”—is more familiar to industry and reflects existing language in the Registered Designs Act 1949, in the context of deciding whether a design is new. By definition, a new design cannot be a copy. The wording provides users not only with a familiar term but gives the courts a more precise test than “substantially”.

These amendments will help remove uncertainty in the criminal sanction that could impact negatively on innovation, but the new wording also reinforces the important point that someone who intentionally copies another person’s registered design will not be excused simply because they have made some immaterial changes to that design.

To conclude, both sets of amendments made by the Government to Clause 13 will help clarify the scope of the offence and give industry the certainty it needs to allow follow-on innovation to continue without fear of crossing the line. I beg to move.

Lord Clement-Jones (LD): My Lords, I thank the Minister for his introduction to this group of amendments and, indeed, for his oral and written briefings while the Bill was going through the Commons. It was most helpful to have a blow-by-blow account of the amendments as they were put forward by the Government.

I do not want to appear churlish, and I will not be pressing the matter to a vote, but the amendments cause some considerable concern. The inclusion of the phrase,

“features that differ only in immaterial details from that design”,

as inserted by Amendments 5, 7 and others, give me particular cause for concern. I and organisations such as ACID, which represents smaller designers, are concerned that this change drastically narrows the offence to such an extent that it will apply only to the production of counterfeits. Given wider consultation, a much better form of words would have been achieved—something on the lines of “to make a product exactly

2 Apr 2014 : Column 972

to that design or to a design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression”. In the circumstances, that would have been far preferable.

The provision will put in place a deterrent to protect registered designs against absolutely slavish copying, but the new wording, as it stands, will allow someone to make sufficient small changes which are not “material” changes to avoid the offence. The intent to copy is still there whether they are immaterial or material changes, and I have grave doubts about whether the newly amended provision will be effective in protecting designers, particularly small designers.

At this point, I want to quote from the noble Viscount’s letter of 5 March, which was very heavily directed towards explaining why these amendments had been adopted in the way that he has described. However, it goes into rather greater detail. In his last paragraph dealing with Clause 13, he says:

“Some have inferred that because the term ‘substantial’ is used in copyright legislation, and therefore in the context of criminal sanctions for copyright offences, that this provides a suitable precedent for using it in registered design sanction”.

Truer words were never spake. That is exactly the case that many of us have been making. However, I do not believe that the remainder of that paragraph holds water in the context of copyright law and the ability to enforce it in relation to substantial copying in these circumstances. The term works for the criminal offence in copyright and I see no reason why it should not also work for registered design criminal liability.

I also regret that unregistered designs have not been given greater protection under the Bill. BIS figures, which were very recently welcomed by the Minister, demonstrate that UK investment in intangible assets now totals some £137.5 billion. Of that, some 46% is protected by copyright, 21% by unregistered design rights and 21% by trademarks. That demonstrates why throughout the passage of the Bill I have supported the case for extending criminal sanctions for registered design infringement to unregistered designs. Those are vital matters of national investment. If anything, the addition of the word “intentionally” by the Government in the Commons, as reflected in Amendments 4, 6 and others, has strengthened the case for that protection under the criminal law.

I believe that the amendments relating to intentionality introduce unnecessary additional mens rea to the offence. It is a belt-and-braces approach to what I believe was already there. However, I do not see how, given its inclusion, the Government can still refuse to extend criminal penalties to unregistered designs. If someone has “intentionally”—that is, deliberately—set out to copy someone else’s work for their own commercial gain, it should not matter whether that work is protected by a registered design right or an unregistered design right. It has still been deliberately stolen. I repeat that these rights are extremely important for our national investment. I still live in hope that sense will prevail at some stage in the future and that our designers will be properly protected by the criminal law, as are trademark and copyright owners.

The one bit of good news for designers is the European Court of Justice Advocate-General’s decision today on the Karen Millen v Dunnes case. As we know, the majority of the UK’s designers rely on

2 Apr 2014 : Column 973

unregistered rights, so this has provided clarity and will strengthen the unregistered design right in that it is the totality of the design one holds which the law protects, not by eliminating individual parts of a design. There is some good news coming out of the ECJ but not out of the House today.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, in Committee, we opposed the criminalisation of the unauthorised copying of a registered design and the dealing with unauthorised copies. We also opposed any possibility that that might be extended to unregistered designs. To that extent, I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, who has just spoken at length and with passion about these issues, as he has throughout the passage of the Bill. I understand where he is coming from but we simply do not agree on this point.

On Report, although we lost in Committee in terms of these discussions, we decided that the best thing to do was to come back with a series of amendments which would try to moderate where the Government were trying to get to. When I introduced the first of these, I quoted the noted British designer, Sir James Dyson, who had written to many noble Lords on that occasion. He said:

“In the law relating to copyright, acts of unintentional infringement are excluded from criminal sanctions. In the proposed clause of the Intellectual Property Bill relating to registered design … the same is not true. If this Bill is passed unamended, innocent designers will be threatened with criminal proceedings. It is wholly wrong that a designer should go to prison for unintentional infringement. The current wording of the Bill does not exclude that possibility”.

He continued:

“I have spent decades fighting to protect my ideas; taking on competitors who have flagrantly copied my patents and designs. I abhor intellectual property infringement. It is something I feel passionately about. But the Intellectual Property Bill’s inclusion of proposals to criminalise infringement of registered designs is a serious mistake”.

Our argument on this issue is, in essence, that the legislation would open a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences, potentially discouraging the very kind of legitimate, competitive risk-taking that policymakers have been very keen to encourage as a driver of growth. In particular, I said that this could be a deterrent to inward investment in UK design, which may not only result in an innovation drought but threaten the future employability of UK designers. I thought then, and I still believe, that the Government had failed to make their case.

However, notwithstanding the reservations, we also argued that if criminal sanctions were to be introduced we wanted to raise the bar to criminal proceedings by making it clear that they would be commenced only if it was clear beyond reasonable doubt that the action taken had been persistent, calculated and motivated by evidence of an intention to exploit the original registered design.

In that debate, the Minister said he would give serious consideration to the concerns that we expressed, and he brought forward an amendment at Third Reading which would introduce a defence of reasonable belief that the design in question was not infringed. While we were happy to sign up to that amendment, which raised the bar as we wished, we said that it did not go far enough.

2 Apr 2014 : Column 974

We are therefore very pleased that with these new Commons amendments the Government have returned to what is in effect the original IPO consultation document, which for example promised that the criminal offence would contain defences,

“against unintentional infringement of registered design rights”.

We are therefore pleased to agree with the new amendments to Clause 13, which specify intentionality—that the act of copying must be a considered act—and define how close to the original the copied design would need to be by reference to terms currently used in the relevant legislation. We continue to oppose the introduction of criminal sanctions for registered design infringement as a matter of principle. However, we will support the changes to the Bill.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, I am grateful for the contributions to this short debate on these government amendments by my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. I shall begin with a brief summary and then I fully intend to answer the questions, particularly those raised by my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones. These amendments make it absolutely clear that the criminal offence will apply to only those who intentionally copy a design in the full knowledge that it belongs to somebody else. They introduce more clarity for users in describing how two potentially conflicting designs are compared. They seek to ensure that legitimate follow-on innovation by business will not be caught under the offence, but also ensure that those who get too close to existing registered designs are rightly caught by the offence. I believe that we have got the balance right in setting the boundaries of protection for design rights.

4.15 pm

If the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, will excuse the pun, the Government have deliberately chosen the word “intentional”, as we believe that the concept of intention is more familiar to the courts in terms of framing the mental element of a criminal offence and less likely to provoke legal debate than the term “deliberately”. In making this amendment, the Government have acted merely to remove uncertainty, which can be detrimental to innovation. The amendment will help to ensure that we do not deter anyone who legitimately seeks to innovate around an existing design.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, for his overall contribution to the Bill and for his early desire to make this part of the Bill better. I am glad, if I read him correctly, that he is comfortable. I am always happy if the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, is happy.

I would like to address a number of questions that were raised by my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones. His first substantive point concerned the word “substantial”. He asked why that would not work. He argued that, because the term “substantial” is used in copyright legislation and therefore in the context of criminal sanctions for copyright offences, this provides a suitable precedent for using it in registered design sanction. However, in copyright law, it has been determined to have a “qualitative” as well as a quantitative meaning, such that, for example, a few bars of music

2 Apr 2014 : Column 975

from a song, or a single still from a film, could constitute a “substantial part” of the whole work. Such a potentially wide meaning from an unrelated IP right does not provide for a sensible read-across to design legislation.

My noble friend also suggested that the amendments make the offence narrower. But as the Government have previously stated, the policy is to target acts which are “considered”. The amendments do not alter this policy, or make it harder to prove in practice. They simply clarify and reinforce the nature of the act which is inherent in the word “copying”.

My noble friend also asked why there could not be an extension to unregistered design rights. This is a matter that my noble friend has raised before. It is because of a number of fundamental differences between registered and unregistered design rights, which have been examined in detail previously both here and in the other place. These differences mean that it is often not possible for a legitimate business, be it large or small, to find out whether unregistered design rights protect a design or a part of that design. This creates a high level of uncertainty. The Government are simply not protecting and supporting our small businesses if we subject them to this level of uncertainty, especially given the huge number of unregistered designs in existence. The Government have made this distinction between registered and unregistered design rights, we believe, for good reason, and for the benefit of the UK design industry.

My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones also asked about the alternative wording and suggested—although I am not sure that he actually used these words—that we might use the informed user test. The Government have considered alternative wording carefully including the wording based on the phrase, “producing on the informed user a different overall impression”. However, this was rejected because it relates to the test for civil infringement in registered design law. The scope of civil infringement is much wider than the intended scope of the criminal sanction, which is of course restricted to intentional copying. Application of this phrase to the criminal sanction could lead to confusion for businesses.

Because this infringement test is wide, it is also likely to affect the ability of innovators to produce valid follow-on designs. It would require expert testimony, for example, about who is “the informed user” in a particular industry; such testimony would complicate criminal prosecution and can be contradictory, leading to delays in the proceedings.

The test is also still subject to interpretation and development by the EU courts. The Government believe that any uncertainty around such a test for a criminal sanction, which could affect personal freedom, would be unacceptable. As with the sanction in general, this is a fine balance to strike. But the Government do not believe that their amendment, which refers to “immaterial details”, restricts the application of the sanction to exact copies.

My noble friend raised the issue of intention in the Bill, and I shall expand on this a bit more in terms of the link to unregistered designs. New offences are not introduced lightly and the Government must ensure that they have been drawn sufficiently tightly and are

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workable in practice. The Government believe that these would be difficult criteria to fulfil for unregistered design rights, as mentioned earlier, given the complexity of establishing basic facts such as whether the right exists, what parts of the design it relates to, and how long the protection would last.

However, in completing this analysis, the Government recognise that primary legislation is not the end of the process, and we are working with the relevant bodies, including ACID and its members, to explore ways in which we can improve the experience of designers in the UK. I hope that this will be of some comfort to my noble friend. For example, we are developing plans to introduce a more comprehensive IT system to facilitate the processing of registered design applications. In addition, we will be assessing our fee structure, having taken on board stakeholder concerns regarding the cost involved in registering numerous applications. We will also be evaluating the provision of information about protecting designs to make the system more accessible for businesses. I am confident that these measures will assist our design industry, and I look forward to working closely with members of ACID and other organisations as developments progress. This Bill and the excellent scrutiny given to it by noble Lords have been a catalyst for this further work with the UK design industry.

More widely, I am most grateful to noble Lords for the time and effort they have put into their scrutiny, and I am confident that as a result we are making a series of important and positive changes to the UK intellectual property system which will support our designers, inventors and creators in the years to come. I commend the amendments.

Motion agreed.

International Roma Day

Question for Short Debate

4.21 pm

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mark International Roma Day.

Baroness Whitaker (Lab): My Lords, why is there an International Roma Day on 8 April? It was declared in 1990 to acknowledge the first major international meeting of Romany representatives who had founded the International Romani Union in April 1971. The different groups who make up the Roma peoples were finally motivated to come together to form a united front against the prejudice, discrimination and violent persecution which had dogged them since they first arrived in Europe in the 14th to the 16th centuries. The IRU now has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Committee and institutional links with the Council of Europe, OSCE and other UN agencies. The excellent pack produced by the Library gives more information.

The motivation in the 1970s perhaps drew on the increasing capacity and political consciousness of a small number of educated Roma Europeans, but the declaration in 1990 had more to do with the persistent

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and indeed often growing hatred expressed by populist movements unleashed by the collapse of the Soviet hegemony, backed in many cases by the state itself. Let me briefly set the scene.

Because until recently there was no written history, the reasons why these people migrated west from northern India in the 11th century are not fully understood. However, the world was full of migration then, even more so than now, as readers of the fascinating Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies will know. Until Europe solidified into nation states, it was more or less normal to owe major allegiance to a much smaller group. Of course, many of them gained dominance through warring against others, but the Roma are distinctive in not going to war against their neighbours as well as travelling, and thus they did not found a state. They travelled via Persia, the Middle East—hence the British term “Gypsies”—and Turkey, adding words from those languages to their native Indian language as they went. It is only through linguistic analysis of the present-day European Romani languages that these steps can be traced. One theory for the discovery of their ancient roots has it that a Hungarian student at Leiden University in the 1760s recognised in the language of his fellow students from Malabar in India words used by Roma slaves on his father’s estate.

In contrast to ethnic groups who conquered and seized territories, the Roma have experienced only brief periods of acceptance. The story of the relegation of these peoples, who insisted on preserving their culture without fighting, to a demonised or sometimes exoticised limbo has many cruel twists and turns. In our time, the culmination was the genocide during the Nazi Holocaust, when perhaps a quarter of their number was annihilated.

However, even this did not give the nation states of Europe pause. It is important, I think, to recognise in the life-threatening persecution experienced by Roma in so many European countries an extreme tendency of a sadly common human trait. The treatment of the Roma is a European scandal, but racist persecution is hardly confined to Europe. I think we should admit that it is human and general, and work out more thoroughly why it is that worthwhile emotions of solidarity with one’s own can be transformed into murderous extinction of those who are different. We enjoy the more or less harmless rivalry of national and local football teams, but we have not learnt how to call a halt to extreme and violent separateness. In a time when the mysteries of the origin of the universe are increasingly within our grasp, could we not pay a bit more attention to the safety and security of its inhabitants? Could we mark International Roma Day in this way?

In the European domain, one forgotten area is the situation of the Roma in Kosovo. Tens of thousands of them fled the Balkan wars for refugee camps set up by the United Nations in 1999. These were, however, heavily contaminated by lead. Eventually, after several years of much pressure, the families were moved, although not to their original home, which the incoming Albanians appropriated. Their children suffered serious lead poisoning but were not afforded any treatment other than dietary supplements. Your Lordships will be aware of the brain damage and behavioural difficulties

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which follow a high level of lead poisoning. May I ask the Minister to find out what in the EU aid sent to address this problem was aimed at reversing the physical effects of the poison—to the extent that that could be done—and what more can be done?

Another issue for these unfortunate victims of a conflict for which they bore no responsibility is that they became effectively stateless, with therefore none of the rights to assistance which accrue to residents or to nationals. It is a long and complicated story, and I have only skimmed over what seem to me to be the essentials. Can the Minister tell noble Lords what knowledge she has now of the residence rights of the Roma in Kosovo and what pressure Her Majesty’s Government can bring to improve their position?

The American Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, marked last year’s International Roma Day by reaffirming the determination of the United States to achieve, together with European Governments, equality, opportunity and inclusion for all Roma. I commend those British faith leaders who signed a letter a few weeks ago to the mayor of Cluj-Napoca in Romania, urging him to stop the deportation of his Roma citizens to substandard accommodation on polluted industrial land, and I am delighted that the right reverend prelate the Bishop of St Albans will speak today.

What will our Government do now to signal the repugnance I hope we feel for the treatment meted out to Roma all over Europe, and to enable remedies? The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has had a good record so far, through both diplomatic efforts and exchange of good practice, as the noble Baroness has had the task of informing me many times through Parliamentary Questions, for which I am grateful. So I hope for more good news on the diplomatic side.

How is International Roma Day to be marked in the UK? We still have widespread expression of prejudice and many attacks. We have made it hard for children of Romany descent, whether recent immigrants or citizens of many centuries’ standing, to attend school and thus gain the credentials which will lever them out of poverty. I declare an interest as chair of the Department for Education’s stakeholder group for Gypsy, Traveller and Roma education. Health outcomes are worse than for any other minority ethnic group. Despite that, we have responsible Roma citizens who have formed constructive neighbourhood groups and who are anxious that the positive values of their culture should be properly acknowledged, as well as their extraordinary history. It would be good to hear of their heroes of our two world wars, of our writers of Romany descent and even of Members of your Lordships’ House who are descended from the Gypsy kings—and there are some.

Surely it is good to have among us groups which value family solidarity, which care for their children throughout the extended family, which respect old people and which have the culture of enterprise and skill, albeit one that needs easier entry into modern circumstances. Surely nothing can be gained by marginalising people, other than the risk of marginalised behaviour on the part of a few and much hardship for many.

The previous Government funded Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month. The present Government refuse to devise a strategy to comply with the European

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Union framework on Roma integration to which they signed up. The European Commission is holding a European Roma summit in two days’ time. Ministers from most member states will be going but so far none from the UK. Perhaps the noble Baroness can tell me who will attend on our behalf.

Finally, the Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat Foundation has commissioned a prominent British charity, the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups, to monitor the progress made in the UK on this framework. I hope it has a better story to tell when it reports in the summer than what we see now. I urge the noble Baroness to exert what pressure she can in her faith and communities role to target resources on the unfair plight of our oldest and most neglected minority ethnic group, and to mark International Roma Day by this commitment.

4.31 pm

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for securing this debate, and give my sincere apologies for arriving just after she had started her speech. I am sorry; I had been told that we were starting around 6 pm so I ran down the Corridors to get here.

I am very glad that we are thinking about how we mark International Roma Day next week. As the noble Baroness said, I was glad to be one of the signatories of the letter that was published on 17 February in the Telegraph, highlighting the forced eviction of Roma in Cluj-Napoca in Romania. I then tabled a Question to ask the Minister whether any representations had been made to the Government of Romania, and in particular if she would urge the Romanian Government to enforce the decision of the Cluj-Napoca county court that the evictions targeting the Roma community were illegal.

I am grateful for the noble Baroness’s reply and for the assurance that the British embassy there was monitoring these and other forced evictions of Roma, although I was concerned to learn that the decision of the Cluj-Napoca court was subject to appeal. Is the Minister able to give us any update on what has happened since then? Is she able to tell us about the response of the local government following the British embassy visit to Cluj on 11 February, when the issue of forced evictions was raised? Will she also tell us more about the progress being made by the partnership with the local NGO to develop projects aimed at preventing disadvantaged Roma children leaving school before the minimum age?

The situation in Romania is worrying but similar situations can be found in many other countries and they are equally worrying. The danger is that we spend quite a lot of time thinking about the problems elsewhere rather than focusing on some of the very evident problems that we have here. Britain is rightly proud of its long and honourable tradition of welcoming immigrants and fighting discrimination. If International Roma Day is to have any real significance, there needs to be some action behind it.

I know something of the background because in my own diocese we have a Roma congregation. When you meet people from that congregation, you will find

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that stories of discrimination are commonplace. The Roma church in Luton meets in a United Reformed Church building—it is one of those ecumenical initiatives that we are all involved in nowadays. The leadership is shared between one of my own clergy, the Reverend Martin Burrell, and some of the Roma men from the congregation. The church began meeting in May 2011; it has an average weekly congregation of around 70 people; and it has children’s programmes for different age groups. All the congregation are Romanian in their ethnic roots, although many did not come directly from Romania to the UK.

They are not a homogeneous group—they come from different parts of Romania and belong to different family groups—yet many share similar stories of rejection and racism. There is a certain unwillingness to talk about it, as they want to fit in and, not surprisingly, want to be viewed as normal—as just regular people in the community. There is no doubt that the Roma’s historic problems with integration have been compounded by some confusion, certainly in the popular mind, over Roma and Romania and some of the current issues around migration, especially at a time when the economy here has not been in such good health.

There have been a significant number of Roma economic migrants, especially since 2007. Interestingly enough, the majority would describe themselves as Christian. Therefore, the Church of England has a particular responsibility to engage with them, to minister to them, to provide them with a safe place to meet and worship, and to help and support them in all the practicalities of life towards integration into the wider community.

It is encouraging that some members of that congregation are making significant progress in integrating and building their lives here in the UK, although others are still struggling to break through. Local churches are seeking to provide holistic service to this community, in which multiple, complex needs are evident. Such needs include difficulties in accessing education, employment, social services and medical care. Part of the problem is a language barrier to being able to benefit from much needed help. For these, the provision of translation allows discussions with doctors, schoolteachers and so on that would otherwise be very difficult.

There is a great deal of work for those of us in the churches and the voluntary sector to do, and we are applying ourselves to it and engaging with it. However, there is a vital role to play for Her Majesty’s Government. Tackling the current paucity of employment opportunities for the Roma must be prioritised if long-term social cohesion is to be achieved. I believe that there is a large potential workforce of young, intelligent and willing people whose skills, if they can be linked to needs on the ground, could be a huge benefit to us all. Literacy and language barriers often form some of the difficulties, so we need to do more to make available to Roma people work opportunities that perhaps do not require the highest level of spoken English or literacy at the same time as focusing on education.

The report, They Go the Extra Mile, produced by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, pointed out that Roma pupils have the lowest attainment rate

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of any ethnic group at GCSE and that the highest rates of formal and legal exclusion were for children from Roma, Irish Traveller and Caribbean backgrounds. The level of fixed-term exclusion is worryingly high for these groups, compared with the 5% of children from the general population who have a fixed-term exclusion. The level for Roma Traveller children is 15%.

The first recommendation of the report, backed up by the Children’s Commissioner, concluded:

“We share Ministers’ conviction that a child’s background should not limit our shared expectations of their achievement. We believe that this holds as true for behaviour as for academic attainment. We therefore recommend that all parts of the education system that disproportionately and adversely affect the most vulnerable children remain priorities for action. This includes the large differences in rates of exclusion”.

I have no doubt that there are some complex cultural reasons why we are facing some of these difficulties. I am not naive; I know many teachers who are working with populations which come to this country. Therefore, the education, support and resourcing of heads and teachers is vital if we are to lower the level of exclusion and raise the level of academic achievement. Can the Minister tell us whether the Department for Education has any particular plans to help work and support in this specific area?

Of course, I am well aware that funding is, as always, tight but is there any opportunity for us to create posts for Roma community champions who can model good citizenship to their own people and help with integration? The creation of drop-in centres where there are significant Roma populations to provide advice and education could also have a dramatic impact in preventing current inefficient practices and reducing crime, thereby saving money.

I hope that we will have some assurance from Her Majesty’s Government about a more considered response on the European Roma integration strategy, which the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, mentioned a few moments ago. That is a really important way forward.

Finally, I was very heartened by what was news to me but will probably be familiar to all Members of your Lordships’ House: the foundation of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association. Through this new association, members of the police force—men and women of varying seniority—work together to encourage one another in their commitment to their own vocation as police officers and to help recruitment. This is an important aspect of how we can integrate Roma more into our communities. I know that the local branch has just been launched down in Kent. Can the Minister tell us if there are any other ways in which we could strengthen and encourage the formation of other branches of this police association throughout the country?

4.41 pm

Lord Giddens (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Whitaker on initiating this debate. What a shame it is that so few noble Lords have seen fit to contribute to it. It is perhaps sad testimony to the marginal nature of Roma in our society and in Europe more generally that that should be the case.

International Roma Day was set up for two purposes: to publicise the suffering and hardship that has marked the history of the Roma in Europe; and at the same

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time to celebrate Romany culture, the origins of which—as my noble friend said—seem to go back some 1,000 years. When one considers the enormous progress that has been made in overcoming persecution and discrimination against stigmatised groups in Europe, such as the Jews, the unhappy situation of the Roma almost everywhere is utterly scandalous.

There are 10 million to 12 million Roma living in Europe, plus several million more living in adjoining countries. For example, Turkey has a very substantial minority Roma population. According to most estimates, there are some 200,000 Roma living in the UK. Contrary to popular imagery, the majority of these are not recent immigrants but are long-standing citizens whose forebears have been resident here for several generations back or more. They have long been subject to the same scare stories as in other countries, but these have recently resurfaced, sometimes in virulent form here, as part of the climate of hostility to immigration fostered, if I may say so, in some sectors of the press.

A survey sponsored by the World Bank, UNDP and the European Commission carried out in 2011 gives statistical flesh to the reality of social exclusion affecting the Romany populations across Europe. It covered 11 EU member states and the findings are quite shocking. Levels of unemployment among the Romany people are on average three times those of the indigenous populations of the countries of which they are a part. Some 90% of the Roma across Europe live below national poverty lines. About a quarter of the Roma have no formal access to healthcare.

How can we stop International Roma Day being simply a nominal event, forgotten about the next day —Sunday’s speeches not followed up on Monday; or, in this case, Wednesday’s speeches not followed up on Thursday? I suggest three strategies, because we are dealing with deeply embedded problems and superficial policies will make no impact. I have three main points to make and I would be pleased if the noble Baroness would comment on whether she endorses them.

First, speaking as a sociologist, it seems important to have a comparative perspective. There is one very interesting comparison, although it is barely known in this country: the comparison that one could make between the Roma in Europe and the Burakumin in Japan. The Burakumin have faced ostracism and persecution, just like the Roma, lasting over many centuries. The Burakumin are physically indistinguishable from other Japanese. They are clustered in occupations which used to be considered impure or degrading. There have been many years of official denial of exploitation and exclusion within Japan, but that is now changing dramatically. There is a new generation of Buraku activists, such as the Buraku Liberation League. Interestingly, it has had close contacts recently with Roma activist groups in Europe.

The lesson, if you look sociologically at the Burakumin, is one that applies directly to the Roma in Europe and explains their long history. There is a causal spiral whereby forms of ostracism and prejudice help to create and reinforce the very traits which the wider public then condemn. The two cases are amazingly similar. For example, recklessness and criminality become

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real. They are produced by ostracism and then reinforce ostracism. That produces a deep historical cycle, which must be broken through.

Secondly, to see how we might do that in the case of the Roma in Europe and such other historical examples, we need more anthropological studies of how those mechanisms of exclusion work and how they are translated into those somewhat oppressive characteristics. In the case of the Roma, by and large, we simply do not have those studies. However, some are starting to appear. For example, there is a very interesting study sponsored by the World Bank, which has become involved in the Roma situation, which is concentrated on poverty, social exclusion and ethnicity in Serbia and Montenegro. That study is based on in-depth research, and it shows clearly how specific the cycle of exclusion is.

The implication which is correctly drawn by the World Bank is that we will never get anywhere in improving the situation of the Roma by concentrating on isolated policy interventions, no matter how attractive they might be on the surface. For example, there is a lot of material on trying to address the poverty of Roma children through education, but the research shows that that is subverted. We will not get very far simply by introducing well intentioned single-plank policies. We must address structural problems within the Roma communities.

Thirdly, in Europe, an investment-driven approach is the way forward, not one based simply on improved access to welfare. Modelling carried out by the World Bank indicates that full Roma integration in Europe, if set up as in its model, would produce a net economic gain of €0.5 billion a year to the EU economies. Breaking through the centuries of prejudice would therefore represent a major social investment, not just an additional cost to be foisted on an already overburdened system of welfare states. Interestingly, the World Bank has outlined how such an investment-driven strategy might be instituted. Its advantage is that it has electoral appeal as well as being directly relevant to the mechanisms of exclusion which have kept the Roma on the outside for so long. I hope the Minister will agree with these points and that she might build on them in her reply.

4.50 pm

Baroness Thornton (Lab): I congratulate my noble friend Lady Whitaker on initiating this debate and my noble friend Lord Giddens for, as usual, describing pretty much exactly what should happen next. I also congratulate the right reverend Prelate, whose newness we are aware of and who will learn that debates in your Lordships’ House are sometimes a moveable feast. I think we have all been there.

I will start with a short quote. I express my appreciation to the René Cassin charity for its campaign on the chronically excluded. Its short exposition of the issues surrounding the Roma starts with this quote from Ruth Barnett, the author and activist:

“I have no right to protest against anti-Semitism unless I also protest at other peoples being targeted through prejudice and hatred”.

Discrimination against Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers is often called the last bastion of acceptable racism in the UK and Europe. Although we all know,

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as this debate has shown, that such people go by a variety of names—Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma people—together they constitute Europe’s largest ethnic minority. They are also without doubt the most discriminated against. Whether that discrimination is direct, as in much of southern and eastern Europe, or indirect, which is more common in the UK, the results affect this group’s ability to find shelter and access social services, education and healthcare, and they ultimately result in severe consequences. For example, the average life expectancy of a Romany Gypsy or an Irish Traveller is 10 years less than the UK average.

The Roma share a history of persecution with the Jewish people. Both communities have experienced racist hostility for centuries and were targeted by the Nazis during World War II. Gypsies, Travellers and Roma continue to face racist stereotyping, discriminatory treatment and violence throughout Europe and we all need to be ashamed, in this day and age, that that is still the case. This manifests itself in: higher mortality rates and poorer health generally; higher rates of homelessness and poverty levels; lower employment rates; lower self-esteem; lower literacy rates; abusive media coverage; greater likelihood of experiencing hate crimes; greater likelihood of criminalisation at a young age and more rapid progress into custody; and, indeed, greater likelihood of exclusion from our democratic processes.

Although without doubt some progress has been made in the United Kingdom, does the Minister believe that the UK is fulfilling and complying fully with its international obligations to Roma? The European Court of Human Rights has held that the United Kingdom has a positive obligation by virtue of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to facilitate these groups’ traditional way of life. Is the Minister satisfied that this is indeed the case?

As my noble friend Lord Giddens said, there is no doubt that there is inadequate understanding of the Roma population in the UK. That cannot be right and his suggestions about how to progress that research are very welcome indeed. However, there are also practical considerations. There are no legal sites for the 25,000 who have to resort to unauthorised sites, either because the local authority will not build a site or because they will not give planning permission for a private one. Obviously, this affects Irish Travellers as well as Romany Gypsies. This constraint means that they are significantly prevented from educating their children and therefore suffer from prejudice and all the disadvantages that go with that.

Another question might be: what use will Her Majesty’s Government make of the new census category of Gypsy or Traveller, which has already yielded information on very low education attainment figures and subjective ill health? I am particularly concerned about the health outcomes for Romany people. What can the Government do to measure health outcomes? As far as I can see, this was last done in an ad hoc survey funded by the Department of Health in about 2004. That survey yielded information on very much higher rates of maternal and baby mortality as well as general ill health. Surely the time has come—I am seeking a commitment here—for a thorough survey of, and research into, health outcomes for Romany people,

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particularly their children. We know that there is a great deal to do on poor access to services generally, but I am particularly concerned with their access to our healthcare system.

I hope that, when we discuss the position of Romany people on this day next year, we will have a much more optimistic tale to tell. I look forward to the Minister’s remarks.

4.56 pm

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for proposing this debate to mark International Roma Day, which will happen on 8 April. I congratulate the noble Baroness on her longstanding support for the rights of Roma, including her vice-chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsy Roma Travellers and her commitment to the Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers, which looks specifically at the education of children.

The Government share the deep concern of the noble Baroness and other noble Lords about the situation of Roma in many parts of Europe. We deplore the fact that in many European states Roma live in deep poverty and are routinely subject to discrimination and racism. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that there is a difference between what we see in some countries on mainland Europe and here in the UK. Despite our positive record, though, I agree that we could do more.

Sadly, there is a historical precedent of Roma persecution. The Roma people have been subject to centuries of exclusion and persecution, and the Roma genocide at the hands of the Nazis is not as widely understood or acknowledged as it could and should be. I agree with the noble Baroness that the Roma genocide needs to be acknowledged and commemorated throughout Europe. The destruction—or the “Porajmos”, as it is referred to—is remembered in the UK on Holocaust Memorial Day; it is part of the commemoration on that day.

The Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission is looking into whether the UK should have a new permanent memorial to the Holocaust so that future generations can learn about and remember all victims, including the thousands of Roma lives that were tragically lost at that time. The commission is asking for written evidence. It is actively encouraging members of the Roma and Gypsy community to submit evidence, and is working with members of the community to hold a consultation event. We need the voices of both history’s witnesses and today’s Roma community to participate and ensure that their suffering is never forgotten. However, the sad fact remains that prejudice and discrimination continue to follow Roma communities throughout Europe.

With a significant number of Roma living in the UK, the better treatment of the Roma people must therefore start on our own doorstep. This Government have made it easier and fairer for local communities to channel funding and support to where the most need is. We have removed targets that dictated which

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communities should receive help and meant that many others sometimes lost out. My department’s projects treat everyone, whether a Roma or any other minority group, as equal citizens with a shared need of education, employment and heath.

The specific issue of language was raised by a number of noble Lords. If Roma communities need to access language courses or specific help for under-18s, the Department for Communities and Local Government has a nationwide spread of funding which can be used to benefit the Roma community. In Sheffield, two projects have won funding to improve the provision of English language skills. One of the organisations running English courses is in Page Hall, an area with a significant Roma population, and has strong links with the community and is maintained by Roma members of staff.

Where a local authority has concerns about the Roma population, I would encourage it to work with local voluntary organisations—and, indeed, faith groups, as mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans—to find local solutions. Local areas no longer need to wait to be told by Whitehall what they should be doing. Towns and cities with Roma populations have started to demonstrate the progress that can be made by engaging with these projects. This approach is underpinned by our strong anti-discrimination and hate crime laws which protect all individuals from racial and other forms of discrimination and racially motivated attacks.

We are equally aware that sometimes local areas need more assistance. In January, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government met two Sheffield MPs to discuss in detail the impact of Roma migration in that city. The local authority-led national Roma network makes information and best practice sharing possible, and this is something my department is also involved in.

The Government’s approach to integration was set out in Creating the Conditions for Integration in February 2012. In response to the inequalities being experienced by Gypsies and Travellers, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government set up a ministerial working group in 2010 to examine this issue. The group produced a report in April 2012 which set out 28 commitments from across government in the areas of education, health, employment, accommodation and criminal justice, which are areas that have been mentioned today. These 28 commitments are consistent with the priorities we agreed with our EU partners in response to the EU Council conclusions on the EU framework for Roma integration.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked about health outcomes. The ministerial working group included a number of commitments from the Department of Health on improving health outcomes for Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities. We are currently reviewing that and will report on progress later this year. Acting on these commitments is part of our broader social inclusion and integration policy, because we believe that is the best approach in a diverse country. We are reviewing our progress on these commitments and will publish a report in due course.

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The noble Baronesses, Lady Whitaker and Lady Thornton, asked about the Government’s compliance with EU commitments to draw up a strategy. We are taking Roma integration forward within the broader social inclusion policies. This is fully in line with our European commitment. The measures set out in the Council recommendation are optional, but many of them are in line with what we are already doing in the UK to encourage equality and social mobility.

There were a number of questions about our international role. The UK plays an active and leading role in EU-wide schemes. British embassies are spreading our reputation for integration and tackling discrimination. British teachers of Roma students have shared their experience and knowledge with Czech practitioners. Dolj county near Bucharest is taking part in an exchange with students from Rotherham to encourage inclusion through education, and our embassy in Romania has managed to increase the number of Roma children attending nursery.

The UK is making a real difference to Roma communities across the EU. My department plays an active part in the EU’s network of Roma contact points and currently chairs the Council of Europe’s committee of experts on the Roma community. The Council of Europe working group has heard from a number of British participants, particularly on tackling anti-Roma hate crime in Hungary and promoting inclusive education for Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We are keen to encourage countries with large and disadvantaged Roma populations to integrate their Roma citizens effectively.

Specific issues were raised in relation to Kosovo. I can inform the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, that the UK funded a study to establish the extent of lead poisoning in 2010 and found incredibly concerning levels of poisoning, which the EU instrument for pre-accession funding is addressing though relocating the affected families and providing supplements to reverse some of the effects of poisoning. The UK contributed to the European Union project, which cost around €6.5 million, to support the relocation and integration of Kosovo’s Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities from camps polluted by this lead. The House will be pleased to note that the last camp was closed down last year, and now the UK is focusing on education and economic development needs. This year, the embassy is planning to fund projects focusing on school support and increasing secondary school attendance. With just 14% of eligible Roma enrolling at secondary school, there is a long way to go to improving education.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans asked about specific support on education. Almost one in two children from Roma or Gypsy families, including those from EU accession countries, benefit from the pupil premium, since this community has a high proportion of families eligible for free school meals. Families may also be helped through the receipt of particular benefits. Children from Roma families will also have other needs including English as an additional language. Local authorities can allocate a proportion of their funding to schools on the basis of the number of pupils in each school who have English

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as an additional language. I have already mentioned the Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers, on which the noble Baroness sits.

I shall take back the comments in relation to the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association and see whether we can learn from that best practice. Unfortunately, I cannot give the right reverend Prelate an update about the evictions in Cluj. I do not know whether the appeal has been heard or what the outcome has been, but I shall write to him if there has been any progress.

The noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, also asked about the Roma summit. As with Roma summits in 2008 and 2010, the UK will be represented by government officials. The DCLG official who chairs the Council of Europe’s committee of experts on Roma and who represents the UK on the EU network of Roma contact points will attend this particular meeting on, I think, Friday.

Ultimately, this comes down to how we integrate all communities. There is no doubt, from what we have heard and from my own reading, of the level of discrimination that appears to follow the Roma community. I have referred to a number of interventions in individual areas. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, was suggesting that that is probably not the solution overall; there has to be a much broader approach to how we integrate communities into broader communities and make the case for the benefits that brings. A phrase which I coined in relation to the persecution of minorities in the Middle East was that, ultimately, “persecution is bad for business”—it is bad for progress overall. It is important first, to make the case that persecution per se is something that we must stand against, and to make the economic case for why integration is essential for everybody else’s development.

I hope that noble Lords will be left today with the clear impression that, at home and abroad, we are working to improve the lives of Roma. I reassure all noble Lords that the persecution of minority communities is not, and will not be, tolerated by this Government. That includes the continued marginalisation and exclusion of Roma people. We want to see Roma families enjoy the same education and healthcare opportunities that are afforded to all European citizens, particularly those within our own British communities.

As International Roma Day approaches, I reiterate our commitment to working closely with our partners in Europe and though our embassies to improve the situation of Roma. In this country, we shall continue with our policies to create the conditions for integration for all communities, including Roma, and we shall ensure that the suffering of the Roma community is never forgotten.

Culture: Cinema

Question for Short Debate

5.09 pm

Asked by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage a cinema culture within the United Kingdom.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have signed up to speak in this debate, and I very much look forward to hearing their comments.

In introducing the topic this afternoon I will draw on my experience as a former head of the British Film Institute, and in particular my worry that in the 20 years since I left the BFI the issues that affect cinema policy have not changed significantly. I am struck, for instance, by the continuing split between those who view film as industry and those who see it as an art form, or culture, and there is the parallel question of whether cinema is truly an art form on a par with other performing arts such as music and theatre. A colleague at the BFI used to say that you could tell how the British ranked cinema as an art form by looking at the buildings on the South Bank. There are the glass palaces for the orchestras of the Southbank Centre, the new brutalism of the National Theatre—and the National Film Theatre, as it used to be called, hidden under Waterloo Bridge.

I will argue that cinema is both art and business. The price you pay for getting to make a piece of popular culture in the form of a feature film is that you have to do it within a huge industrial process with staff, equipment, marketing and the whole damn thing. When you visit American studios it is no surprise to discover that they are largely staffed not by creatives or even accountants—although there are plenty of those—but by lawyers, who mainly specialise in intellectual property. That is what is being created, and why in many ways the case of cinema is paradigmatically also the case of the creative industries more generally.

How do we set out to achieve a vibrant cinema culture in the country? My starting position is that the Government must provide political leadership at the highest level and that they must sponsor and fund properly an effective and trusted arm’s-length body that must have sufficient resources to achieve what it feels are the necessary actions to achieve its cultural, creative and economic remits, either directly or in partnership with others. Therefore the key question for the Government to answer today is whether what we find on the ground is capable of delivering a cinema culture for the UK, and if not, what needs to be done to remedy that situation?

On the question of political leadership, responsibility for cinema comes under the DCMS. But is that the right place for a key sector of the creative industries, and one which, as I have said, is both art and industry? The film industry creates intellectual property, and many of the policy issues it faces relate to IP. For example, we are shortly due to debate a number of copyright statutory instruments, at least one of which, it is argued, materially affects this industry, although they come from BIS, not the DCMS. Higher education, apprenticeships and training report to different Ministers in BIS, the school curriculum is in the DfE, and export and other support services for the creative industries are funded and operate from BIS. The Treasury delivers over £1 billion of funding each year for the film industry through tax breaks, and it could do more if we could persuade it to look at reworking some of its

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enterprise allowances so as to work better for the risk-based industries, of which film is but one example. It is, therefore, a complex picture.

A good case could be made for responsibilities for film to be located in the Department for Education, in BIS, or even back to the Cabinet Office, where it originally started as the Office of Arts and Libraries. But at the last reshuffle there was no change. In truth, there is no “right place”. However, unless and until the DCMS gets more powers and responsibilities, I fear that these questions will continue to be raised. I ask the Minister to comment on this, although he may well respond that it is not a matter for him and that it is well above his pay grade. However, this is a question that we need some answers on at some point.

Given that we have leadership at the political level, our system of organising the various art forms has until recently been common ground between the parties, and is usually referred to as the arm’s-length principle. Under that, the department does not take the cultural decisions, which are delegated to the various sectoral bodies. My question is: does the arm’s-length body speak for and enjoy the confidence of those interested in the art form it champions, as well as those who work in every part of the industry?

We have some external guidance on this in the form of a report from former DCMS Secretary of State my noble friend Lord Smith—who unfortunately cannot be here today—who recently published a second report. I know that other noble Lords intend to refer to that, so I will not go through all the details. However, the sense that comes through on reading the report is, on the one hand, approval of the progress that has been made since the merger of the BFI with the UK Film Council, albeit on the other hand it is made clear that there is rather a lot more to do. As the report notes, a triennial review of the BFI will take place in 2014. When he comes to respond, can the Minister therefore give us some more detail about what will happen when that report takes place, at what point in the year it will happen, and what the main objectives will be?

As I left the BFI in 1997 I was arguing with the DCMS that there ought to be one lead organisation for film in the UK and that it should have a cultural, creative and economic remit. Like many people I disagreed with the way the present Government shut down the UK Film Council within weeks of taking office. However, I feel that having one body, independent of the Government, is the right way forward. I am therefore delighted that the BFI now occupies that role, with a mission to ensure that film is central to our cultural life, as it says,

“by supporting and nurturing the next generation of filmmakers and audiences”.

Surely, it is axiomatic that a successful film industry depends on a flourishing audience culture, and vice versa. Indeed, in this digital era, with the problems of physical distribution that bedevilled cinema in its first century all but evaporated, the two are more interdependent than ever before. Out of that combination ought to flow a vibrant cinema culture. So will the BFI be able to do what is required to achieve a cinema

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culture in the UK? I suppose that depends on its plans, the partnerships it can build and the willingness of the Government to support them financially.

In very broad terms, what we want is a chance for everyone to access a wide range of cinemas and types of film from all round the world, including films from different periods of film history. We want to be able to see these films in comfortable surroundings as part of a mix of contemporary popular films, and we want similar access to DVDs and downloads. We want a successful British film industry, making films that appeal to a wide range of tastes and audiences, an education system that prepares our young people for jobs in that industry, and a properly organised and funded archive to retain this material for scholarship and study—dead easy.

The BFI has a five-year strategy for supporting UK film—Film Forever—which includes as core priorities expanding education and learning opportunities and boosting audience choice across the UK, supporting the future success of British film and unlocking our film heritage for everyone in the UK to enjoy. This seems to me to fit the aspirations I have sketched out, so the question is: is the money there to deliver it? There is the rub. Does the BFI have the funding? The strategy will work only if it is supported financially by the Government.

First there is the question of the current budget cuts. At a time when most other arts institutions have been asked to find cuts of 5%, which is in all honesty bad enough, the BFI has been asked to find a cut of 10% in 2015-16. This, of course, comes on top of funding reductions of 18% over the past two years. Although the BFI is a lottery distributor, it cannot spend funds on itself, so the lottery funds the BFI gives to the film industry for making films are not threatened. These budget cuts actually threaten not only the cultural work of the BFI, the very activity from which film-making artistic talents emerge, but also the capacity to preserve the nation’s film culture for the future.

In a recent editorial in the BFI’s excellent magazine, Sight and Sound, the editor, Nick James, explains that,

“it is the cultural side of the BFI—the National Film Archive, the South Bank film and events programme, the London Film Festival, the BFI Reuben Library, film education, film distribution, publishing which has effectively had its funding squeezed year by year for the whole of this century”.

He concludes:

“What these cuts threaten is not only the cultural basis from which filmmaking artistic talents emerge, but also the preservation of the nation’s cultural memory on film … What sticks in our craw at Sight & Sound is the feeling that, for the British media, film never quite makes the grade as an art form and therefore it’s an easy mark for the government to target”.

So, once again, the feeling grows that we do not yet have the governance, the capacity, the funding or the commitment to create a cinema culture for the UK. Is this because film never quite makes the grade as an art form? Is it because we think of film, at heart, as an industrial process? Perhaps it is the combination which makes it too easy for the Government to pick on it as a soft option.

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Does the Minister agree with my analysis and, if so, can he suggest ways forward for the Government, the BFI and the country which will remedy that situation? I look forward to the contributions from others more expert than I am in these matters.

5.18 pm

Baroness Kidron (CB): My Lords, I am a working film-maker, a former trustee of both the BFI and the UK Film Council, and a trustee of multiple arts organisations recorded on the register.

I want to address just three points. Last year, the arts community greeted with howls of outrage Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s assertion that we must focus on culture’s “economic impact”. She said that,

“there is no doubt as to the real social and educational case for public investment. But that is never going to be the argument that wins the day”.

She has continued to insist on privileging an economic measure. This value-driven approach misunderstands both the multiple values of art and how the sector operates. The creative economy is a complex ecosystem where the most valuable flowerings may gestate in long and very unpredictable ways.

No number of focus groups or spreadsheets could predict the mainstream success of strip-teasing steelworkers in “The Full Monty”, women’s football in “Bend it Like Beckham” or, indeed, the plasticine chickens in “Chicken Run”. Art seeks not to replicate that which has sold well in the past but to break new ground. Even the most commercial films rely on having actors, directors and technicians who have learnt their craft and rejuvenate their creativity by making subsidised art movies or working in other artistic mediums.

Misunderstanding cultural values, which are crucial to any development of the economic strength of the cultural or entertainment industries, risks undermining the very thing that the Culture Secretary is hoping to promote. The current crop of successes that saw the UK film industry dominate this year’s awards circuit were, of course, commissioned before the coalition was in power. Films take a long time to conceive, to write, to fund, to make and to get to the public. We will have to wait another decade before we can truly say whether the current policy has made the sector risk-averse or has undermined the original and non-commercial sparks that brought the likes of Steve McQueen, Danny Boyle, Alfonso Cuarón and Clio Barnard to prominence.

Last year in this Chamber my noble friend Lord Clancarty questioned the Competition Commission ruling on the Cineworld/Picturehouse merger. Again, by failing to recognise the distinction between an art cinema and a mainstream multiplex, the Competition Commission jeopardised art cinemas in Aberdeen, Bury and Cambridge, despite audience-building and supporting British and specialist cinema being key tenets of the review of the noble Lord, Lord Smith. It was an absurd decision in which there were no winners. Will the Minister now undertake to sit down with the Competition Commission to seek a way that allows the commission to attach a cultural measure when deciding on competition issues in the cultural industries? I am asking not for the Cineworld decision to be overturned, or for an inappropriate representation to

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an independent body to be made, but for Her Majesty’s Government’s convening power to be used to engage all stakeholders in a process that would deliver cultural breadth and depth of provision of British and specialist cinema right across the UK.

The Cultural Learning Alliance is just one of dozens of organisations to express dismay that for the first time in more than 20 years no mention of film has been made in the new national curriculum. It states:

“This is a real blow, and one that will make it extremely difficult to ensure that young people have the literacy skills to succeed in a world dominated by these forms of communication and expression”.

I am the founder of a charity that pioneered the educational use of film for school-age children, and I am now a founding trustee of Into Film, a new organisation charged with delivering the BFI’s 5 to 19 education offer in schools. We have a community of 8,000 clubs and the 300,000 weekly members are shown to have better communication skills, improved literacy, both verbal and written, and better educational outcomes overall.

We are a nation whose identity is inextricably bound up with the commercial films we produce, from James Bond and “Gregory’s Girl” to “Kes” and “Oliver Twist”. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, does not demand that we consider the value of the commercial industry, which of course contributes £4.6 billion to GDP and provides more than 100,000 jobs; he presents us with a more difficult question about how we might support cinema culture. Implicit in the Question is that culture is different from commerce and that we must support it.

Film is a meeting place of drama, music, literature, technical skills and art. It provides a gateway to other cultural experiences. It is a route for young people to discuss almost any subject. It comes in multiple languages from all corners of the earth, offering a window into our ever-more globalised world. In short, it delivers cultural and knowledge capital, which is desperately needed by the young. Ninety-two per cent of teachers running clubs say that they see the educational benefits, 99% of teachers say that it improves communication skills and 78% of teachers say that it positively impacts on reading and writing. Film is an explosive tool in educating the young. Head teachers need the imprimatur and explicit support of the Department for Education confidently to put film at the centre of the curriculum. Teachers need to be taught to use it effectively and creatively as part of their training. The educational success of using film as a key component of education, with its ability to improve literacy, behaviour and critical thinking, needs formal recognition and protection into the future. Young people are the citizens, audience and film-makers of the future. Her Majesty’s Government handsomely support the creative economy. They need both in voice and in deed now to support the cultural economy. They are not separate but synonymous.

Lord Bates (Con): When the clock hits six minutes, time is up.

5.25 pm

The Earl of Glasgow (LD): My Lords, it seems strange that a country such as Great Britain, which lays so much emphasis on the performing arts, has such a

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weak film culture, at least in comparison with America, France, Italy or even Russia. We have a rich tradition in theatre. I doubt whether there are many other countries that can boast an active repertory company in nearly every large town, so many outstanding actors and so many prominent live playwrights as well as the classic ones. Until recently, we were recognised as having the best television in the world. Of course, we have the Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and half a dozen major opera companies. I am a personal supporter of Scottish Opera, which survived a major financial crisis recently but rose phoenix-like from the ashes to take its place as one of Britain’s most admired opera companies.

Foreigners from all over the world flock to Britain—not just to London—to experience our theatre, concerts, ballet and opera but they are unimpressed by our cinema. It seems that we, too, as a nation do not take cinema seriously enough. That is particularly distressing because historically we can boast a long list of very distinguished films. With Grierson and Jennings, we almost invented the modern documentary. We have the Ealing comedies from “Kind Hearts and Coronets” and “The Lavender Hill Mob” to “The Ladykillers”; the epics of Alexander Korda; and the classics of Powell and Pressburger, particularly “The Red Shoes” and “A Matter of Life and Death”. The works of Carol Reed and David Lean, including “The Third Man” and “Brief Encounter”, are regarded as masterpieces even in France. We have Laurence Olivier’s Shakespeare adaptations and Oscar winners such as “Tom Jones”, “Chariots of Fire”, “Gandhi” and, most recently, “The King’s Speech”. Today we have our auteur directors, such as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows and Terence Davies, who are greatly admired at film festivals on the continent.

At this year’s BAFTA and Oscar ceremonies, two films dominated, namely, “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity”. The first was made by the British black director, Steve McQueen. The other was made at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios, and was handled entirely by British film technicians and recognised by Hollywood producers as the best in the world. After the success of the Harry Potter films, Warner Bros built studios at Leavesden to take advantage of all this great British talent.

However, in spite of such an outstanding record, Britain still seems to be a country without any serious cinema culture and it is difficult to understand why. One of cinema’s characteristics, which has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, is that it is a hybrid medium. It is an art form, entertainment and an industry. Some of the best and most famous films score highly in all three categories at once but different groups and countries put more emphasis on one of these categories over the other two and therefore value them differently. For example, the French see cinema primarily as an art form. They call it “le septième art”. To the Americans, it is primarily an industry, dominated by Hollywood. However, to the average member of the public, it is regarded as entertainment and I believe that the majority of British people, including politicians and civil servants, see cinema as no more than that. If that is true, perhaps it is not so surprising that we have such a weak cinema culture in Britain.

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Another reason why British cinema seems to have made so little impression on us as well as the rest of the world is that so many of our high-profile films are closely associated with America. “Tom Jones”, for instance, was made by United Artists with American money. “The Third Man”, as just one example, had two American stars, Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, and many people did not appreciate that it was a totally British film.

In the same way, much of the world does not regard this year’s top movies, “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” as British. Even the most talked-about film of the moment, “Under the Skin”, showing now at a cinema near you, which tells the story of an alien woman preying on the people of Glasgow, has an American star, Scarlett Johansson, in the lead. Perhaps we are too dependent on the American market to be able to establish a truly British identity in all but the most modest film productions. Also, the difficulty with so many of these so-called modest films is that they can afford only limited publicity and consequently only limited distribution. An example of this is “The Selfish Giant” which I, as a member of BAFTA, voted the best British film of the year.

However, several government-supported bodies are trying and have been trying for several years, to improve British attitudes towards our nation’s cinema. The British Film Institute, in particular, is committed to encouraging,

“the public to enjoy and appreciate the full range of our film heritage and to use it for creative inspiration and learning”.

Some £6.5 million a year is spent on trying to achieve this aim and £2 million a year on promoting film festivals such as Bradford Film Festival. The city has been voted the first City of Film by UNESCO. This money is also spent on helping local film societies all over Britain. In particular, the BFI wishes to engage children, because it believes that if young people can be enthused by the art of cinema, they are most likely to be the serious cinemagoers of the future. It must also be remembered that the BFI houses arguably the largest and most comprehensive film archive in the world. Last year, approximately £28 million of lottery money went to financing new British films.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts also does much to encourage British film-making talent and includes a number of special categories in its annual cinema awards for British films and workers in the British film industry, as well as laying on several film screenings a year and talks and master classes given by prominent film-makers. However, the BFI in particular needs considerably more financial government help if it is to make a real impact on a complacent British public. The French spend nearly 10 times as much as we do on promoting their national cinema.

The irony of all this is that British cinema has been doing particularly well over the past few years, both artistically and financially, yet so many of us do not seem to be aware of that fact. I suggest that the BBC or Channel 4 be persuaded to reserve a slot in prime time once a week specifically to show a classic or

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outstanding modern British film. Maybe that would help us to appreciate our heritage and raise the profile of British film culture.

5.32 pm

Baroness Bakewell (Lab): My Lords, next year the Royal Opera House expects more people to see performances of its work in the cinema than in the opera house, exceeding the 670,000 a year who visit the opera house. By cinema standards, that is small stuff; it is nothing like the audiences for blockbusters with their budgets of millions for promotion. However, it is telling because it eliminates the gulf between art and cinema that my noble friend Lord Stevenson, who introduced this debate, mentioned. Is cinema art? We do not need to ask any more because the art is in the cinemas. People are now using cinemas for a great many different kinds of programme.

The abolition of the UK Film Council in 2010 and its closure in 2011 came as a terrific shock. Why did it happen? It was done with no consultation and no understanding of why it was created in the first place. The idea was for the BFI to deal with the culture of film and for the Film Council to promote the industry. Of course, the intentions would overlap, but I know that because I served on both, as a board member of the BFI from 1992 and its chair from 1999, and then on the UK Film Council until 2002.

The UK Film Council’s tasks were commercial. Why did this Government abolish it? The council took seriously the matter of distribution—getting more people to see films and breaking the grip of the big franchises on the cinema chains. John Woodward invited distributors and cinema managers on to the council. They pioneered unusual ways of showing films. We plumbed the archives held in towns such as Manchester, Mansfield and Bradford to show archive films on giant screens in the football grounds. We negotiated schemes with multi-screen cinemas to take over those screens that were not doing good business and earmarked them for showing old movies from the BFI archive. We showed classics such as “Brief Encounter” and the Ealing comedies. All these were projects to promote film. What was the UK Film Council doing wrong?

Since then everything has moved to digital and there are loads of new ideas for showing film. The Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre are now on show in cinemas. There are also little local enterprises. An unnamed donor recently provided for the installation of the latest screen facilities in Primrose Hill library, which we had just rescued from Camden neglect. Numerous television channels run and rerun movies because the appetite for storytelling and brilliant images is insatiable. But the structure of the industry is not meeting the need. Funding for small-scale films by ambitious but unproven talent is the hardest of all to provide, while the unavailability of films in rural areas and most of our small towns is deplorable. Also, while benefiting hugely from the existence of films for their screens, the broadcasters are making a less than commensurate investment in them.

The cancellation of the UK Film Council and the 10% cut in grant in aid to the BFI has positively hindered the future progress of British film, but none

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the less it persists. Our creative record is outstanding and our skills are recognised worldwide. But as the January 2012 report by the noble Lord, Lord Smith, says, there is much to be done. I believe that the BFI has been loaded with too many diverse responsibilities, and although it is doing a fine job of making steady progress with its five-year plan, the burden of what it is now responsible for requires support from all sides of the industry.

I would ask the Government to back in more positive ways the many small businesses that make up the film industry in this country. Small businesses are supposed to be the sector that the Government favour most. Well, here they are. We need small cinemas in every town. I can give an example of the Aldeburgh Cinema, which I know well. It is supported by volunteers and makes a steady contribution to the year-round Aldeburgh Festival. It has its own documentary festival. It is not just small cinemas that need support, but all the small industries involved: cutting rooms, editing channels, costumiers, make-up conglomerates, set designers, script consultancies, independent producers, agents and publicity companies. All of these come together in miraculous synergy to forward our chances of winning Oscars, BAFTAs and universal recognition. Will the Government please do more to recognise success and help to uphold and further the interests of those who make it possible?

5.38 pm

Viscount Falkland (CB): My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, for having arrived a few moments late. I will look at Hansard to see what I missed. The business of culture is a difficult subject which is far too involved to be dealt with in this evening’s debate, an issue which a number of noble Lords have already addressed. My own view was implied by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, in that the showing of opera productions in cinemas shows that we are actually taking a step towards creating a film culture. To me, a film culture exists when film rates on a par with all the other activities in our cultural life. That is what happens in France, as mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow. It is called the seventh art in France because the French taxpayer will stand the subsidy that goes to French cinema. People value the heritage of film and it ranks with equal importance to all the other cultural activities of music, literature and so on. Unfortunately, that is not the case here.

I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron—I apologise if it was not—who, in an excellent speech, talked about the Government’s attitude. I rather hesitate to tell noble Lords when I made my first speech on film in this House, but it was when we were debating the Films Act in the 1980s. The attitude of the then Government was absolutely extraordinary but, of course, films came under the Department of Trade and Industry at that time, and anything that was not consistent with the criteria of trade and industry did not really make much impression on them. In fact, the Government were what one might call indifferent, sometimes bordering on the hostile, to any suggestion that cinema should have special treatment of any kind, even though at no time were we begging for special treatment apart from

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a few tax breaks. That has all changed. I have recently been quite encouraged, certainly by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Treasury governs everything in terms of subsidy and all the rest, and the Chancellor has made some quite intelligent adjustments to the tax regime for film, although that does not solve all our problems.

The noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, mentioned American cinema, in whose shadow we have always been. The Americans have always made it quite clear that they want it to continue that way—they see us as a threat. In any case, with a British film, it is very difficult to get the kind of returns you expect if you do not get American distribution, so they have a lot of power.

We have to thank the television companies for keeping our film industry alive, as it is the BBC and Channel 4 that have held this country’s film-making activity together. Audience numbers were down until the multiplexes came in and extended their range of cinemas, after which numbers increased from 84 million per year to what we have today, somewhere in the high hundreds of millions. There is a lot of activity going on and the hybrid productions made as a result of the work done by television and film companies have provided a great deal of employment for actors, technicians and all the others who work in the film industry. Raising money is the main problem. When Stephen Frears came to talk to us he told us that film producers mostly scrabble round for money. The situation is unlikely to change so far as creating a film culture is concerned, but the number of interesting and excellent speeches tonight shows that there is some hope.

I do have one concern. Although no one seems aware of it, the cultural impact of the new education policy for dealing with recalcitrant children who do not conform is absolutely deplorable. Both in the new academies and in the existing state sector people are urging that there be a great increase in discipline and so on, and large numbers of children are being excluded. I have three close relatives—my wife and two children—who work in the industry. One of my daughters, a video editor, teaches excluded children when she is not working on an editing project. She asks the children who she teaches to think up a story and to film it. She then edits it, and teaches them how to edit. I can say without exaggeration that the results have been astonishing. The children become fascinated by and involved in the activity. The exclusion of such children is idiotic because they are the kind of people who go into the film industry.

I shall finish with a short anecdote to illustrate the point. My son was working on a television series in America with a very well known British actor. I shall not name the actor because, should he ever pick up the Hansard report and read it, which he probably will not, he would recognise himself. This actor appeared one day to talk to my son about the work that they were doing and my son said by way of conversation, “What drama school did you go to?”. He said, with probably a rather affected London thing, “I didn’t go to no drama school. Hang on a minute, I broke into one once”. He said that the drama school had high skylight windows and he came in with a friend, and it so happened that Alan Bennett was giving a tutorial

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on writing. Alan Bennett said, “Oh, where did you come from?”. They said, “We was interested in what was going on”. He said, “Well, you had better come in and sit down then”. They did, and that was the start of his career.

I reckon that among those excluded children there is talent. There is always talent with children. They are difficult for all kinds of reasons. Not everybody wants to be a solicitor or a diplomat. There are a lot of people who have talents that need to be exposed, and that is the additional point that I would like to add to this most interesting debate.

5.45 pm

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston (Lab): My Lords, I declare my interest as a former governor of the British Film Institute. I thank its former distinguished director, my noble friend Lord Stevenson, for initiating this debate, and congratulate him on his opening contribution, which framed the issues so well.

After leaving the BFI, my noble friend Lord Stevenson worked closely with successive Labour Governments to attract more investment into the UK film production sector. In collaboration with Gordon Brown, a long-time supporter of cinema culture, he helped devise the increasingly successful film tax relief scheme. In recent Budgets, George Osborne has made this scheme even more accessible to potential investors, as the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, also acknowledged.