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House of Lords

Monday, 7 April 2014.

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Bristol.

Youth Unemployment


2.37 pm

Asked by Baroness McDonagh

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken to tackle youth unemployment.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Government provide support to young people through Jobcentre Plus as well as through the youth contract and the Work Programme. Our approach continues to work. The youth claimant count has fallen for the 21st consecutive month.

Baroness McDonagh (Lab): Why then has long-term youth unemployment doubled since 2010 and why, according to a recent Local Government Association study, were 40% of young people underemployed? Does the Minister agree that the Conservative Party has form on this? It is what it did in the 1980s, causing long-term generational unemployment with catastrophic social and economic consequences, only now it is being aided and abetted by the Lib Dems.

Lord Freud: There is a great deal of confusion about long-term youth unemployment. The actual figures, rather than the fantasy figures made up on the opposite Benches, show that before the coalition came to power long-term youth unemployment had doubled. Since then, that increase has slowed and the figure has now started to fall—it was down 38,000 this quarter and 59,000 this past year—and the long-term count has fallen for the 12th consecutive month. Those are the unemployment figures. One of the sources of the confusion is the JSA claimant count for long-term youth unemployment. The reason for that confusion is that the previous Government hid long-term unemployment by introducing training allowances, which took people off. So those figures are distorted. The right figures, which show the underlying position, are the ILO unemployment figures which I have just given.

Baroness Wheatcroft (Con): My Lords, I recently visited the Hammersmith Jobcentre Plus. I recommend it to all noble Lords, and not only if they are looking for jobs. It was a delight to see that under one roof one could get help with housing, drug and education problems as well as with jobs—and, of course, the first three are important in finding jobs. Does the Minister agree that this holistic approach is paying dividends?

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Lord Freud: The key element of universal credit, clearly, is that it is an incentive for everyone to go to work and to work more. That is particularly attractive to younger people who are excluded from tax credits. Around universal credit, we are putting in place a series of local partnerships so that we can provide holistic help for people who have barriers to going into work. That is the issue. One needs to address the structural problems of getting youngsters and, indeed, others into work and not fiddle around with figures.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): My Lords, first, I am not clear about what the Minister said in his earlier reply on the numbers. Is it not true that the underlying trend for the number of long-term unemployed is still increasing, even though there have been some decreases latterly? Also, the figure is still higher than it was under the previous Government. Secondly, can he state whether he meant to say, when he attacked Labour’s policy of putting people into training, that he would rather have them unemployed than in training?

Lord Freud: My Lords, the figures show that the long-term unemployment figure is still 6% higher than it was in 2010, on top of the doubling that was seen under the previous Government. I am absolutely behind training because it is the way to help people, particularly youngsters, get into the labour market. The trouble is that when things such as training allowances are used as a way of distorting the underlying problem, it misleads people. Indeed, I think it has misled a lot of Members on the other side of the House.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): My Lords, first, is the Minister satisfied with the quality of the interviews being conducted by Jobcentre Plus and with careers advice in schools? Secondly, does he agree that we need to look very much at the core unemployment rate, which is a major problem that the Government are not succeeding in solving, whichever party is in power?

Lord Freud: We are looking to improve careers advice in schools and Ofsted has confirmed that it will give this guidance a higher priority. Reducing unemployment is clearly a central objective for this Government, and I thought it was interesting that a couple of weeks ago the Financial Times reported that we have now overtaken the United States in our participation rate, a rate that normally falls during a recession. We have also been pushing employment up in the key 25 to 35 year-old group between 2007 and 2013.

Baroness Prosser (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister explain why this Question is being answered by the Department for Work and Pensions and why we do not have a Minister from either BIS or the Department for Education? Is it because the Government see youth unemployment as merely a welfare problem and not as an issue of training and getting young people into work? Is he further aware that the Department for Education spends 0.04% of its budget on careers advice, the lowest percentage in the developed world?

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Lord Freud: My Lords, the reason I am answering this Question is that I represent the Department for Work and Pensions, so it is fairly self-evident that I should be responsible for it.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that neither the Opposition nor the Government can create jobs for young people, and that the fantastic work being done by the Government in encouraging apprenticeships, and the Budget measures that have reduced national insurance contributions by £2,000 for those who take on young people, will do far more than the kind of comments we have heard from some parties about offering youth job guarantees that are undeliverable?

Lord Freud: My Lords, the party opposite has a policy of guaranteeing jobs that cost more than its own costings. It thinks that the policy will cost £1.9 billion in the first year and £0.9 billion in subsequent years. The Treasury has looked at the Opposition costings and puts them at £2.6 billion a year. That money is anyway to be taken from a tax on bonuses that has already been spent. Apparently it has been spent 10 times over, but it is now to be devoted to this policy. Most disturbing of all is that to the extent that this is built on the Future Jobs Fund, the figures show us that we can get the same result for youngsters through the Work Programme, which delivers real jobs with mainly private sector employers. We are achieving the same outcomes at one-20th of the cost. You know what you get with Labour: tax and spend.

Homelessness: Young People


2.46 pm

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to tackle homelessness among young people.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, this Government have invested £470 million to tackle and prevent homelessness overall, and we continue to seek improvements in services for vulnerable young people. We place heavy emphasis on preventive measures such as family mediation and on a more joined-up approach by local services so that young people receive support before reaching crisis point. The percentage of statutory homeless people aged 16 to 24 continues to fall and is at an all-time low.

Lord Ahmed (Non-Afl): I thank the Minister for her reply. Is she aware that rough sleeping has increased by more than 37% since 2010? No Second Night Out estimates that as many as 20% of rough sleepers are under the age of 25. Research conducted by Centrepoint found that councils have not spent £65 million assigned for emergency support for vulnerable young people, for fear that the Government will cut more of their funding. Will the Minister encourage local councils to

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spend that money on vulnerable young people and provide them with the housing that is desperately needed?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, as I said in my opening reply, the Government have invested £470 million in homelessness, and this investment has been maintained and continues to provide services for those who are in need. Our emphasis is very much on preventive measures, particularly around mediation. On helping those who, sadly, do find themselves homeless, the noble Lord mentions the No Second Night Out project, which has done tremendous work in ensuring that those on the streets spend only one night out, and we are also doing a huge amount to ensure that the money that is available for local authorities to support homeless people is being targeted effectively on prevention and root causes.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister agree that the most vulnerable group of young people—those who have come from prisons and young offender institutions—struggle, particularly because they come from all over the country? Would it not make sense for each local authority area to have one point of contact in the local authority who would liaise with the prison and the young people and ensure that, once they leave prison or the young offender institution, they are rehoused back into their local areas in safe housing?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The noble Lord makes a specific suggestion to do with those coming out of young offender institutions. Clearly, we are improving our services so that they are very much targeted at those in need. One of the arrangements that we have put in place is the youth accommodation pathway, which focuses on helping families stay together and, where they cannot, makes sure that the support offered is tailored. I will consider the point that the noble Lord has made.

Baroness Suttie (LD): My Lords, does my noble friend agree that young homeless people are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as TB, and that early diagnosis and safe accommodation for the duration of the lengthy treatment of TB are essential in preventing the spread of the disease to the wider community?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Clearly, as I have already said, one of our biggest priorities is making sure that, if somebody ends up on the street, they are helped off it as soon as possible. The No Second Night Out programme in London has seen about three-quarters of rough sleepers spend only a single night out. On TB specifically, NHS London has been funding a mobile X-ray unit to screen for TB in hard-to-reach groups and a “find and treat” service to help ensure that people identified with suspected active TB are supported in accessing appropriate services.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, I remind the House of my interests as chair of Changing Lives. Is the Minister really content that enough is being done to help these most vulnerable people? Is she aware that many homeless organisations are now

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getting increasingly concerned at the number of younger people who are coming on to the streets and into services with severe mental health problems and for whom it is then very difficult to get help and support?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I certainly agree with the noble Baroness that any homelessness is a cause for concern. I always want to make sure that we can do more than we are already doing. This year, we are introducing a couple of new projects very much focused on the cause of homelessness and we are doing a lot to support those who are in a great deal of need but may not qualify under the formal criteria that would usually lead them to be statutorily homeless and receive that kind of help. We are constantly looking for new ways to assist people in their times of need.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, 48% of homelessness agencies report that they are turning away young, single homeless people because their resources are fully stretched. More worryingly, one in five local authorities feel that they are not meeting their legal requirements for homeless young people aged 16 and 17. Could my noble friend say what more local authorities could and should be doing, given that they have a statutory responsibility for young people of that age?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: As my noble friend knows, all local authorities have a specific legal duty to house any 16 or 17 year-old who is found sleeping rough or who is not able to be with their family. On whether local authorities more generally are meeting those needs, we are doing quite a lot of work with local authorities to make sure that they are improving their services as far as possible to co-ordinate better and to address causes. We will continue to apply as much pressure as we can in this area.

Voting: Young People


2.54 pm

Tabled by Lord Tomlinson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to increase the number of young people registered to vote.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Tomlinson, and at his request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the Government have announced that five national organisations and every local authority in Great Britain are sharing £4.2 million in funding to promote voter registration, including among young people. The Cabinet Office has written to electoral registration officers encouraging them to use this funding to support the delivery of Rock Enrol, a learning resource which provides an opportunity for young people to register to vote and enables them to discuss the importance of doing so in schools or colleges.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark: My Lords, only 44% of young people aged 18 to 24 actually voted in the

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2010 general election, citizen training is virtually non-existent in our schools and we have the threat of IER, which risks wiping thousands of young people off the register. When are the Government finally going to do something to engage young people and get them on to the register?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we are conscious that this is a long-term problem. The number of young people voting in elections has been going down for the past 25 years. When I was drafting my party’s manifesto for the 1997 election, I remember being told by a number of people in my party that we had to recognise that fewer young people voted than older people. That problem has been growing and it is still growing. With schools, students forums, funding a number of organisations, and working with Bite the Ballot and others, we are doing our utmost to mitigate that. From June this year we are also introducing online registration, which we hope will help young people find it easier to register.

Lord Naseby (Con): Bearing in mind the Electoral Commission’s recent report on voter registration fraud, what safeguards are there to ensure that only those students at university who are eligible to vote in our national elections are the ones who register? In particular, what care is being taken to ensure that postgraduates on a one-year course, who may be eligible to register, do so but are taken off the register when they leave?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I suspect that a number of us in this Chamber are registered in two different places and have been for many years. Many students are registered in two different places, at their home and at their university. In all matters of electoral registration we have a balance to consider between keeping fraud to a minimum and doing everything that we can to encourage all British citizens to register.

Lord Wills (Lab): My Lords, while I welcome everything that the Government are doing to encourage increases in registration among young people, does the Minister accept that these efforts are very limited and that there is a lot more that they could be doing at relatively little cost? This could include, for example, sending out registration forms to young people when they get their national insurance numbers, when they get their driving licences or when they are applying for student loans. What consideration are the Government giving to those sorts of measures?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, in the most recent visit by representatives of Bite the Ballot to the Cabinet Office they presented it with a draft voter mobilisation Bill that would indeed mean that when young people interacted with the state they would be reminded on each occasion to register. There are a number of quite tricky questions about government and the citizen, and how many things that you pull together in each interaction between government and the citizen, and we may be producing a Green Paper on this next year. We are conscious that the ICT

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revolution makes all this much easier, but the privacy lobby is not entirely keen on us making it as easy as we would like.

Lord Storey (LD): My noble friend will be aware that the schools initiative in Northern Ireland saw a 50% increase of the entire young people’s population. Why are we not running such a scheme in the rest of the UK?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we are looking at the Northern Ireland Schools initiative that took electoral registration officers and others into schools, with forms, and that is one of the things that we will need to consider. We are also talking with teachers from the Association for Citizenship Teaching and others about how to energise students in schools and in further education colleges, to make sure that they are reminded that they have the opportunity and the duty to register to vote.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, is not underregistration among young people only a symptom of the disconnect between the politicians and the people? Does not the sight of a Cabinet Minister hanging on when she should go only aggravate that condition and that disconnect?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. We all know that there is a broader and long-term problem, which did not arise simply with this Government, of popular alienation from politics, and a sense that national politics and Westminster have little to do with the lives of young people in particular. All of us here and in the other place have a shared interest in combating that, rebuilding trust in politics, and regaining a sense of shared citizenship and political values. The Government cannot do that on their own.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, bearing in mind that these are all citizens and subjects of this country, have the Government considered compulsory registration?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government have considered it, and have not accepted it.

Lord Grocott (Lab): Does the Minister agree that one of the factors that may lead to young people not registering—or, if they do register, not voting—would be if, prior to an election, a major political party were to promise to fight to reduce tuition fees but immediately after the election join with others to treble them?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The noble Lord thinks he makes a very fair point. I might also point out that one of the reasons for people not being interested in elections is that so many seats are safe seats and they know who is going to be elected anyway so there is no point in voting. The noble Lord will remember that he actively opposed the alternative vote.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): My Lords, have we applauded the work of Bite the Ballot on its National Voter Registration Day—5 February—when

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it enrolled 40,000 new voters at a cost of 15p a head, which is far less than the government cost? Will we give our support next year to a countrywide National Voter Registration Day?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Government are actively interested in working with as many voluntary organisations as we can in maximising registration. We congratulate Bite the Ballot on its success this year and we very much hope that it has greater success next year.

Mental Health: Young People


3 pm

Tabled by Baroness Goudie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to reduce mental illness among young people.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Goudie, and at her request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in her name on the Order Paper.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, through our action plan Closing the Gap we are supporting schools to ensure that mental health problems are identified early, improving outcomes. Children’s mental health is a priority, and we have invested £54 million over the four-year period 2011-15 in the children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies programme, known as CYP IAPT, to transform child and adolescent mental health services—CAMHS—improving young people’s access to the best evidence-based care.

Lord Patel of Bradford: I thank the noble Earl for that reply. Is he aware that the Royal Society for Public Health, together with the Prince’s Trust, published a report in this year’s annual Youth Index that showed an extremely high correlation between unemployment and mental illness among young people? In fact, a startling 40% of young people who were unemployed had signs of mental illness and were developing self-harm issues and even suicidal thoughts. Can the Minister say what the Government are doing about that report? Following on from the earlier Question, I suppose that the simple answer would be more jobs for unemployed people, but can the Minister say more about what the Department for Education is doing? Schools have a responsibility to introduce mental health and well-being classes formally within education but they are very reluctant to work with health services, particularly mental health services, to deliver that. Can the Minister say what is being done at a national level between the Department of Health and the Department for Education, as well as in encouraging local mental health services to work with schools?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am aware of the study to which the noble Lord refers. It ties in quite closely with the findings of the Marmot report of a few years ago, which correlated quite closely the link between

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socioeconomic deprivation and children and young persons’ mental ill-health. Helping people, especially young people, get back into employment is a key priority for the Government. We know that young adults with mental health issues are underrepresented in the labour market. We aim to enable more young people with mental health needs to find and keep a job. There is an ongoing government programme to drive whole-system and cultural change, led by the Department for Work and Pensions. We are working with health and social care services to support young people to become economically active, not least through the CYP IAPT programme.

As regards schools, very briefly, schools can raise awareness of mental health through PSHE. Mental health is not a compulsory part of the curriculum. However, I note that the new national curriculum will see children aged five to 16 taught about internet safety in a sensible, age-appropriate way, which is a really important step to help children and young people understand some of the issues facing them.

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords, I very much welcome the announcement of the increased investment in improved access to psychological therapies for children and young people. Can the Minister tell the House what percentage of children diagnosed with depression and anxiety and displaying serious conduct disorders will receive treatment as a result of the Government’s increased investment?

Earl Howe: Children with the conditions mentioned by the noble Baroness are most certainly eligible for CYP IAPT, not least cognitive behavioural therapy for emotional disorders, which include anxiety and depressive disorders. The programme covers services available to 54% of England’s population aged nought to 19—our target is 60%—and that is successfully giving children and young people improved access to the best evidenced care. NHS England is planning for a countrywide extension of the programme and the Government’s aim is that all of England should be involved by 2018.

Lord Mawhinney (Con): My Lords, regarding my noble friend’s statement that £54 million has been made available over four years, although there will be plenty in the department and some in the NHS who know of this project, can he tell your Lordships’ House how information around the services paid for by this project are brought to the attention of young people themselves and their parents?

Earl Howe: My noble friend clearly has a close insight into this area because he is spot on in asking that question. CYP IAPT is rather different from the adult IAPT programme. It is a programme that aims to ensure that those working with CAMHS work much more closely with children and young people and with their parents and their families. The services have to enable children and their parents to have a say in designing the service that they receive, and they must also introduce and use regular outcome measures that help the child or young person and their parents and therapist to understand how well the child is doing. Therefore, involving the parents is absolutely integral.

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Baroness Wheeler (Lab): My Lords, a recent survey found that more than half of young carers reported having a mental health problem, including feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, eating and sleeping problems and risk of self-harm. What are the Government doing to support these dedicated young people? What guidance will be given in the Children and Families Act and the Care Bill on how local authorities should work with mental health services to ensure that young carers get the support they so clearly need and deserve?

Earl Howe: The noble Baroness is absolutely right and the pressures and strains on young carers have been well recorded. It is fair to say that compared with a few years ago, not least thanks to the efforts of the previous Government but also the work that we have continued, GPs and others working with families are much more alert now to the needs of young carers and can signpost them to appropriate support. The CYP IAPT programme is designed no less for young carers than it is for others.

Immigration Bill

Immigration BillDelegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

Report (3rd Day)

3.08 pm

Relevant documents: 22nd, 23rd and 24th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee and 6th Report from the Constitution Committee.

Amendment 55A

Moved by Baroness Butler-Sloss

55A: Before Clause 64, insert the following new Clause—

“Child trafficking guardians for all potential child victims of trafficking in human beings

(1) If a relevant child has arrived in the United Kingdom and is a potential victim of trafficking in human beings, an independent child trafficking guardian shall be appointed to represent the best interests of that child.

(2) The child trafficking guardian shall have the following responsibilities to—

(a) advocate that all decisions relating to the child are made in the child’s best interest;

(b) ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings in relation to those decisions;

(c) advocate for the child to receive appropriate care, safe accommodation, medical treatment, including psychological assistance, education, translation and interpretation services as required;

(d) assist the child to access legal and other representation where necessary, including, where appropriate, to appoint and instruct legal representatives on all matters relevant to the interests of the child;

(e) consult with, advise and keep the child informed of legal rights;

(f) keep the child informed of all relevant immigration, criminal, compensation, community care, public law or other proceedings;

(g) contribute to identification of a plan to safeguard and promote a durable solution for the child based on an individual assessment of that child’s best interests;

(h) provide a link between the child and various statutory and other bodies who may provide services to the child, accompanying the child to any relevant meetings;

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(i) assist in establishing contact with the child’s family, where the child so wishes and it is in the child’s best interests;

(j) where appropriate liaise with an immigration officer handling the child’s case in conjunction with the child’s legal representative;

(k) accompany the child to all interviews with the police, the immigration authorities and care proceedings;

(l) accompany the child to any court proceedings; and

(m) accompany the child whenever the child moves to new accommodation.

(3) A child trafficking guardian must have completed the training required in subsection (7) and may be—

(a) an employee of a statutory body except for an employee of a local authority;

(b) an employee of a recognised charitable organisation; or

(c) a volunteer for a recognised charitable organisation.

(4) A person discharging duties as a child trafficking guardian shall not discharge any other statutory duties in relation to a child for whom they are providing assistance under this section.

(5) Where a child trafficking guardian is appointed under subsection (1), the authority of the child trafficking guardian in relation to the child shall be recognised by any relevant body.

(6) In subsection (5), a “relevant body” means a person or organisation—

(a) which provides services to the child; or

(b) to which a child makes an application for services; or

(c) to which the child needs access in relation to being a victim of human trafficking; or

(d) any court or tribunal that a child engages with.

(7) The Secretary of State shall by order—

(a) set out the arrangements for the appointment of a child trafficking guardian immediately after a child is identified as a potential victim of trafficking in human beings;

(b) set out requirements for the training courses to be completed before a person may exercise functions as a child trafficking guardian;

(c) set out the arrangements for the supervision of persons discharging duties as a child trafficking guardian;

(d) set out the arrangements for the provision of support services for persons discharging duties as a child trafficking guardian; and

(e) designate organisations as a “recognised charitable organisation” for the purpose of this section.

(8) A person’s appointment as a child trafficking guardian for a particular child under this section shall come to an end if—

(a) the child reaches the age of 21; or

(b) the child leaves the United Kingdom.

(9) In this section, a child is considered to be a “potential victim of trafficking in human beings” when a referral has been made to a competent authority for a determination under the identification process required by Article 10 of the Trafficking Convention (Identification of Victims) and there has not been a conclusive determination that the individual is not such a victim.

(10) For the purposes of subsection (9), an individual will not be considered to have received a conclusive determination that the individual is not a victim of trafficking in human beings if—

(a) an individual is appealing or seeking judicial review of the conclusive determination; and

(b) the appeal or judicial review is not completed.

(11) In this section—

“competent authority” means a person who is a competent authority of the United Kingdom for the purposes of the Trafficking Convention;

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“relevant child” means a person who is under the age of 18 and who—

(a) requires leave to remain in the United Kingdom whether or not such leave has been granted; or

(b) is a national of an EEA state other than the United Kingdom;

“the Trafficking Convention” means the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (done at Warsaw on 16 May 2005);

“trafficking in human beings” has the same meaning as in the Trafficking Convention.”

Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB): My Lords, as your Lordships will see, I have formidable names supporting me on this amendment. I should declare that I am a trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation and the co-chairman of the parliamentary group on slavery and human trafficking.

We all know that slavery and trafficking of victims are wicked crimes. When the victims are children and young people under 18, the horror of those crimes reaches a new dimension. Amendments 55A and 62A are designed to alleviate to some extent, but never entirely eliminate, the consequences of the effect of being trafficked into this country or through the United Kingdom. Children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, are brought into this country by traffickers, who use them or pass them on to other traffickers. Kent Police, for instance, prevented several foreign children being exported to France. Girls and boys are exploited in the sex trade—as I say, it is boys as well as girls. There are children working a seven-day week as domestic servants or begging on the streets and the Tube, having been trained, Fagin-style, to thieve. Some of the boys who I saw running up and down the Edgware Road were, I was told by the Metropolitan Police, called mobile surfers. Your Lordships might tell your children and grandchildren, “Don’t leave your mobile on the table because a child will run in and pick it up, come out and throw it to someone else”. They are the ones called mobile surfers. There are Vietnamese boys cultivating cannabis farms, of which there are 7,000 to 8,000 in the United Kingdom, and there are other forms of forced labour.

The United Kingdom has signed up to the Council of Europe convention and the European Union directive against the trafficking of human beings. The previous Government, and the present Government, have put in place strategies for helping victims and the proposed modern slavery Bill will, I hope, make a breakthrough in the conviction of traffickers and the support of victims. It is, however, a sad reflection on successive Governments that the help for foreign children brought to the United Kingdom and identified as victims is less appropriate and less effective than it is for adults. They are treated as unaccompanied children and looked after under the provisions of the children legislation. A few are subject to care orders, which would involve a CAFCASS guardian for the period of the court hearings only. Most are accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and the local authority with which the child is placed does not have parental responsibility for the child. Moreover, a teenager over 16—many of them are brought into this country—is above the age for a care order.

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These children and young people under 18 have been removed from their own country, family and home to a foreign country where most of them do not speak English. Some do not even know which country they are in. If they are lucky, they will be picked up by UK Visas and Immigration at the airport or port. However, others who are found later, particularly the Vietnamese boys who look after the cannabis farms, are treated by the police and the CPS as criminals and not as victims. Trafficked children are vulnerable to being retrafficked and a distressing number go missing before the social workers have even identified them as trafficked victims, so most local authorities do not even know which of their missing children are victims. These children have presumably been removed by the traffickers and many do not get found again.

Many children will have been subjected to the worst kinds of abuse imaginable. They may be traumatised, confused, disorientated and facing a bewildering variety of people who do not speak their language. Yet they are expected to cope with immigration officers, the police, social workers and other agencies, including the law. Some of them are groomed by their traffickers to give a false story. There are also cultural as well as linguistic barriers, a suspicion of public authorities and an unawareness of their rights. They need support, sympathy, continuity of care and, almost certainly, counselling or therapy or other medical and psychological care. Most need schooling. They are pushed from pillar to post, telling their story again and again in order to access welfare, medical and legal assistance. No one person—no identifiable friendly face—is there to whom they can turn throughout this period of their ordeal.

The purpose of these amendments is to give these children that one person who can be mentor, friend and support and a stable person in the lives of these unhappy, traumatised and ill treated young people. The first amendment sets out the duties of a child trafficking guardian. There are certain basic requirements. The guardian must be appointed as soon as the child is identified as a potential victim of trafficking and not 24 or 48 hours later, when the child may already have gone missing. The same person must be there until the conclusion of all the inquiries and the child is settled. The guardian must be the link for the child with all the agencies and make the arrangements in the best interests of the child. Perhaps most important of all is the requirement that the guardian has statutory authority in order to have the right to information about the trafficked child from, for instance, the police, social services and the NHS. It is also important to bear in mind that the role defined by Amendment 55A is not that of a social worker. Quite apart from anything else, the international best practice that defines the role of a guardian makes it clear that this role must be discharged by someone who is not involved in providing statutory services to them beyond the child trafficking guardian advocacy services. This makes the role quite different from that of a social worker.

The number of children involved is quite small compared with the 66,000 who go into care. There were 372 such children in 2012, according to the national referral mechanism. It would therefore not need a large number of guardians or a great financial

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outlay. However, the cost may not now be a major consideration in the light of the current government proposal for child specialist advocates, to which I now turn.

3.15 pm

This is the fourth time, I think, that the noble Lord, Lord McColl, and I have brought before the House an amendment in these or similar terms. On the three previous occasions, the approach of the Minister has been to say that a child trafficking guardian was unnecessary as the safeguarding team of social workers gave to the child all that was needed to be done, together with independent reviewing officers and advocates. None of these functions begins to meet the role of the child trafficking guardian. Significantly, before our present amendment was put down, the Government at last recognised that the present arrangements for these children are inadequate and do not begin to meet the requirements for children set out in the convention and the directive. The Home Office news release of 28 January stated:

“Child slavery victims are to be given individual support through a new network of specialist independent advocates … the specialist advocate will act as a single point of contact throughout the care and immigration process”.

I was naturally delighted by this change of heart but somewhat concerned about the paucity of information about how these specialist advocates will work. There will, it appears, be two types of pilot scheme. According to the evidence of the Minister, Karen Bradley MP, to the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill, of which I was a member, 22 local authorities have signed up and a service provider is about to be appointed.

However, I have a number of concerns. If this is to be done by local authorities, where is the additional money to be found? Are the personnel to be social workers? They are already overburdened by their existing duties. According to Karen Bradley, the purpose of these advocates is to steer the children through the complexities of the local authority care system and the immigration system. But most trafficked children do not go through the care system and those aged 16 and over cannot go through it. However, all those children outside the care system need advocates/guardians more than those inside the care system. Under these proposals, advocates will cater for only a minority of trafficked children.

Perhaps the most important point is that if the advocates are to be truly independent there is no suggestion that their role should be statutory, and consequently their ability to access relevant information from agencies will be limited and probably ineffective. I wonder, although perhaps I should not, whether these Home Office proposals are more designed to counter the very convincing evidence about the need for a guardian for trafficked children in the Frank Field review of slavery, of which I was a member, and the additional, equally strong evidence given to the Joint Committee, as well as our guardian amendments. I am truly concerned that the Government’s proposal, which is lacking in detail, is a poor substitute for the real thing and may not even get off the ground as effective support for these children who so desperately need help.

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A large number of children’s charities and immigration organisations support these amendments, notably CARE, Barnardo’s, Coram, the Children’s Society, ECPAT and, particularly importantly, the British Association of Social Workers. They are also supported by the Refugee Children’s Consortium, which includes some 40 NGOs. UNICEF UK sent me its paper in which it strongly supports these amendments. In it UNICEF UK reminds us of the importance of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UNICEF 2006 guidelines on the protection of child victims of trafficking stated:

“As soon as a child victim is identified, a guardian shall be appointed by a competent authority to accompany the child throughout the entire process until a durable solution that is in his or her best interests has been identified and implemented”.

Now is the time for the United Kingdom Government to follow the UNICEF guidance and the views of the leading child charities and accept the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord McColl of Dulwich (Con): My Lords, it was during a health debate seven years ago that I first drew attention to this appalling tragedy of human trafficking and the shocking number of children involved. It pains me to say that nothing has changed. It is still as bad as ever. There are more slaves today than in the time of Wilberforce.

When trafficked children are rescued, not surprisingly they have many needs. They need safe and secure accommodation, education, asylum and immigration support, legal advice and representation, medical care and counselling, assistance with tracing their family, help in engaging with police investigations and so on. These varying needs result in these children having to engage with a wide range of different state agencies. Having to deal with all these different agencies is traumatic for two reasons: first, trafficked children are required to repeat their traumatic story again and again to each of the different people dealing with the various aspects of their care and, secondly, the number of different agencies concerned is bewildering for vulnerable children in a foreign country.

In this context, children who have been rescued from trafficking can feel overwhelmed and they become vulnerable to retrafficking by their traffickers, who are always eager to reclaim them. Knowing this, the number of trafficked children who go missing from local authority care after being identified is of great concern: 301 of the 942 trafficked children rescued between 2005 and 2010 subsequently went missing, according to figures from CEOP. Some charities estimate the figure to be much higher, with more like 60% of trafficked children going missing. What a trafficked child needs is someone who can both stand beside them in all their engagement with the multiple state agencies and advocate for their best interests. These children need a real human face to provide this continuity not just protocols or systems for multi-agency working.

This is a problem not just in the United Kingdom but across the world. It is in this context that the idea of a child trafficking guardian has been developed by UNICEF and others to provide these two missing functions: first, relational continuity and, secondly,

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advocacy. The truth is that some charities already try to play this role, but because it is not recognised in law some state agencies refuse to recognise and engage with them.

Barnardo’s told the Joint Committee on the Modern Slavery Bill the story of Afina. Afina was a 17 year-old girl who had been trafficked. She was being supported by a Barnardo’s specialist project and accommodated by the local authority while waiting for a decision about her case under the national referral mechanism. Afina had a history of frequently going missing for periods of around a week or two, and it was known that she would travel to the east of the city. The local authority decided to move her to a residential unit in the east of the city in order to keep an eye on her. The Barnardo’s worker who was supporting Afina at the time raised the alarm with the local authority when she heard about this proposed move, as she was concerned that Afina’s traffickers may have been based in the east of the city, thereby explaining why she travelled there. The local authority did not listen. Shortly after the move, Afina went missing and has now been missing for many months. Barnardo’s are worried that she may never return to care. Afina’s MRN decision has recently confirmed her trafficked status but, with no way to contact her, she is unaware of this and is not receiving the care and support that she needs. Had Afina been appointed a child trafficking guardian, under this amendment, from the moment she had come to the attention of those in authority, her story could have been very different. She is just one example; there are many more.

As well as the importance of this statutory authority and legal recognition for child trafficking guardians, the other key defining factor is that they are independent of all the other statutory agencies that provide services to the child. Whether the guardian is a state employee or provided by a charity—the amendment allows for either—this independence is vital to ensure that no other policies or interests get in the way of putting the child’s best interests first. Picking up on the point about volunteers, I must say, as a Conservative and a Scot, that Amendment 55A would provide excellent value for money. It makes provision for the service to be provided by volunteers along the lines of the hugely successful, and very cheap, court-appointed special advocates in the United States. The only cost to the Exchequer would be the provision of appropriate training, which is of course hugely important. As my colleague on the Conservative Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Wei, explained in his important ConservativeHome article on the subject, trafficking guardians would provide an excellent opportunity for highly trained volunteers, like magistrates.

As the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, has said, today is the fourth occasion the Government have had to respond, in this House, to a proposal for child trafficking guardians. It was first proposed in November 2011 by my human trafficking Private Member’s Bill. The Government have had lots of time to respond and their response has been very disappointing. Initially, they argued that the Children Act 1989 already provided the necessary child trafficking guardian services through Section 26A advocates, independent visitors and independent reviewing

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officers. Even if one views these three roles together, they do not constitute a child trafficking guardian function.

Section 26A independent advocates are only appointed at the request of the child, not from the moment a child is recognised as a potential victim of trafficking, which is of pivotal importance if we are to protect children from being retrafficked. The relevant European directive and the amendment both make it plain that the appointment must be made at this first moment. Of equal importance, Section 26A advocates only relate to the services a child accesses from a local authority. The remit of a child trafficking guardian must extend further, including, for example, immigration services and the law courts. Independent visitors are a complete red herring because they do not go with the child anywhere and are not empowered to speak on their behalf. Independent reviewing officers are similarly a red herring because they do not accompany the child to meetings with the multiple state agencies but simply deal with their care plan.

In this context, another government argument is that the role of a child trafficking guardian would add an additional layer of bureaucracy. This is simply not credible. The implication is that a child trafficking guardian places yet another burden on the child; that it is an additional state agency with whom they must engage. The opposite is the truth. The child trafficking guardian provides no new agency that they have to visit. They are simply, and very importantly, someone who accompanies the child in their interactions with all the statutory agencies with which they must engage to help them process this existing burden. They lighten that burden, not only by providing moral support and relational continuity, but because they can speak on the child’s behalf. This role in ensuring that trafficked children have access to all the services that they need and helping to link the different agencies providing them is in fact a similar role to that of the family key workers in the Government’s very successful family intervention projects for troubled families. Trafficked children also need someone to provide that co-ordinating role.

3.30 pm

The suggestion is also made that child trafficking guardians take on other people’s roles, but that is not the case. The role set out in our amendment is not being done by anybody. At the end of last year, the Government added another dimension to their argument when they published draft regulations and statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and trafficked children. I want to make it clear that I welcome those regulations and guidance, but they do not go far enough. The idea of having inadequate substitute for provision of child trafficking guardians suggests that those deploying such arguments have not understood what a child trafficking guardian really is—or the gaps in the existing roles, as I have explained.

The truth is that, rather than doing what is needed, the Government have sought to placate us with a series of half-measures in the hope that we will go away. I have to say that we will not go away. In February 2012, the Government asked me not to

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divide on our child trafficking guardian amendment, contending that the arguments that I set before the House were misplaced. In the end, I agreed not to divide, insisting that a report be commissioned to assess the situation for trafficked children in care. The Government agreed and commissioned the Children’s Society and Refugee Council to conduct the research, which was published in September—and it completely supports what I had said and backs the idea of a child trafficking guardian.

During the next debate on the child trafficking guardian amendment in December 2013, the Government claimed that our concerns would be addressed by the new regulations and statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children, which, for the reasons I have explained, they certainly do not. In this context, I have to say that I rather expect that the Minister will again today deploy a similar strategy, rejecting the amendment on the basis of their latest half-measure, the announcement of the introduction of the use of trial advocates. Of course, I welcome this announcement as far as it goes, but let me be absolutely clear that, without a statutory basis, the trials do not provide nearly enough protection.

For whatever reason, the Government have sought to frustrate us at every step of the way with half-measures. The time for half-measures is over. We must seize this opportunity to introduce child trafficking guardians today.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, I am proud and pleased to be a signatory to Amendments 55A and 62A, and I am grateful for the excellent briefing that we received from the many organisations working with children and young people that understand the need for child trafficking guardians. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord McColl, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, who have powerfully and graphically outlined the case for our amendments. They have done a huge amount of work on this and related issues, especially the noble Lord, Lord McColl, who has been absolutely dogged in his determination to get justice for trafficked children. More than 450 children were identified as possible victims of trafficking in the past year alone. In February 2012, I said that I was,

“certain that the noble Lord, Lord McColl, will pursue these issues doggedly until he is satisfied”.—[

Official Report

, 15/2/12; col. 849.]

My certainty continues.

As has been said, this is the fourth time that we have made the case in different Bills for child trafficking guardians, and our determination is undimmed. From all that we have read and heard, including in this House, the need for a systematic child trafficking guardian system is real and urgent; it is evidence-based and recommended by national and international experts. Indeed, the report commissioned by the Government when we first raised this issue during the passage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill in February 2012, entitled Still at Risk, identified that the care provided to trafficked children remains inconsistent and does not give adequate support or advocacy assistance. It recommended provision of an independent trusted adult who would ensure that,

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“potential victims of trafficking are able to understand their rights, ensure that their voice is heard in decisions that affect them, and are supported effectively through the different legal processes that they are engaged in”.

The current, inadequate level of protection for trafficked children being offered by professionals and agencies, which are meant to be supporting them, leads to untold suffering and to some of them simply disappearing from the system. Some charities estimate that a shocking two-thirds of children who are rescued from traffickers then go missing again because the system to protect them simply is not strong enough. Most of these children come from countries outside the EU; they do not understand the language and they do not know where they are. Even when people try to assist them, the processes and web of contacts with which they are confronted are complex and confusing, and the fear must be intolerable.

Sometimes the decisions that are taken do more harm than good, compounding the situation. The Children’s Society brought to our attention the case of Charlotte. An orphan, Charlotte worked as a house girl in her country of origin before being brought to England, at the age of 13, by a relative of the family. She was made to work for the family and their children nearly 20 hours a day, seven days a week. She was extremely physically abused by the woman for whom she worked, and was eventually thrown out of the house. After sleeping rough, she was spotted by a member of the public who took her to the local social services. The social services took Charlotte to the police station, but she was terrified. The family who had exploited her had told her that, if she told anyone, particularly the police, that she was a child, she would get into trouble. She therefore gave the police the name and age that had been given to her by the traffickers. Her fear was compounded when the Home Office and her solicitor said that they did not believe her age, and she remained frightened that she would be sent back to her country of origin.

Charlotte needed a child trafficking guardian and the system failed her. Frankly, I do not understand why when, armed with the evidence of Still at Risk, the Government did not accept a similar amendment to the Children and Families Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, the Minister for that Bill, said then:

“We remain concerned that the introduction of guardians for trafficked children, alongside those persons who should already be working in the interests of the child, is not the most effective way to tackle the local problems”.—[Official Report, 9/12/13; col. 655.]

She said, as the noble Lord has said, that there would be new regulations accompanied by new guidance. Of course these are welcome, but they do not respond to the real, absolute need. That was not enough then and it is still not enough now, despite the fact that the Home Office issued a news release on 28 January which stated that child victims of slavery were to be given personal support by a network of specialist, independent advocates, acting as a single point of contact throughout the care and immigration process. However, as the noble and learned Baroness has said, there is very little detailed meat on the bones of the press release. There are clear anomalies, as she has pointed out.

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Barnardo’s has welcomed the announcement of a pilot of specialist child trafficking advocates for trafficked children as a step in the right direction, but it believes that these advocates fall short of a legal guardian who would make decisions in the best interests of the child. Guardians would also have the legal power to hold agencies to account if they failed to support child victims of trafficking.

As an aside, I wonder why these proposed advocates—which are not enough—were not included in the draft modern slavery Bill which is now receiving its pre-legislative scrutiny. Most importantly, following our many debates and the research and evidence we have had, why were guardians not included in that Bill? Why water down the proposals that have been presented to the Government on numerous occasions? The poor substitutes that the Government keep giving us are simply not acceptable. I strongly urge the noble Lord to accept the excellent, well drafted amendment before us today, which meets the concerns of all those involved. Frankly, anything less than legal guardians will not be enough.

I freely admit that I am political, but this subject has nothing to do with politics. It is about humanity; it is about justice for some of our most vulnerable children, who, by foul means, have been trafficked into the country. They are suffering in ways in which no individual, let alone a child, should have to suffer. These defenceless young children have been subjected to horrific abuse, including domestic slavery and sexual exploitation. The current system is failing these children. They need someone to speak up for them to make sure that their best interests are at the heart of the decisions being made about them. We have a duty to act and to act now.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, I had not intended to speak on this amendment and I find myself in a curious position in so doing. Having worked in this field for many years, I am absolutely clear that you have to approach the needs of these children with your heart. Any noble Lords who have children or grandchildren can imagine what it would feel like to discover that they had disappeared from home—had been whipped away—and been forced into prostitution or other forms of slavery such as working as unpaid cleaners.

However, having reacted to the issue with one’s heart, one has to deal with it using one’s head. I say that because, having listened to the arguments, I am still not clear what a child trafficking guardian would do. I spoke against this concept during the passage of the then Children and Families Bill, and therefore feel that I should at least explain my position and establish where we go from here. At that point, I shared the view expressed by the Minister on behalf of the Government: namely, that we should make absolutely sure that staff in existing services had the necessary training to enable them to help these young people, particularly those who end up in children’s homes and subsequently disappear. Far too many young children go in and out of children’s homes, and I shall speak briefly on that.

As I say, I spoke against this concept at that point in the hope that we would be able to develop satisfactory services. Since then I have had conversations with

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people involved in social services. As many noble Lords will be aware, the stress on services at local level is at its highest at present. My own local authority has to find several millions of pounds more from its budget in the next few years. That money will come out of children’s services and care services as well as other areas and will reduce the services that we all strongly believe have to be provided. That makes me wonder how social workers, who are so incredibly hard pressed, will be able to develop the skills needed to help these young people.

Some local authorities are doing very well in this regard. I work with Children and Families Across Borders, and have met some of its workers. This organisation works with young people whose immigration, trafficked and care statuses are all in total confusion. Sometimes it takes four social workers and two local authorities working across local authority borders to track down and help these children. I am somewhat distressed in that two of the proposers of the amendment are two of my closest friends, whom I admire enormously, but, does the noble Lord, Lord McColl, really think that volunteers can work with these children?

Recently, I have undertaken work in the areas of safeguarding and witchcraft. Many noble Lords may know that trafficked young people are often told that a spirit will attack their families back home if they break the cycle in which they are trapped with their traffickers. They believe that this will happen and consequently they continually leave safe places to go back to the traffickers, not through perversity but because they believe that in so doing they are protecting their families. That is a complex concept for a social worker or, indeed, anyone to understand.

At this moment, I must say to my two colleagues that I am undecided about how I should vote. This is partly because I do not understand where the guardian would stand in the structure. Here I look to the Minister and to those proposing the amendment. Having worked for eight years in the children and family court service, as chair and vice-chair, I know all about guardians in that service. Where would these guardians stand? All workers need some sort of management. How would they relate to the local authority? What would the local authority’s role be? How do they differ from advocates? I have heard some examples, but still do not clearly understand the difference.

What I do know is that these young people desperately need someone who will understand them emotionally and who is hard-headed enough to understand the dangers. As we hear from many organisations working with these young people, the traffickers are dangerous not only to the children but to the workers, who must understand the danger of their work. The other issue is that without some sort of supervision for advocates or guardians, they cannot do the work. Everyone working with this sort of emotional stress needs a supervisor—I would never do it without a mentor. I leave these questions in the air before I shall decide where I stand on this issue this time around.

3.45 pm

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, I too applaud the determination of those who have brought this matter before the House again. Having seen that the

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Government were trialling an advocacy support arrangement across a number of different—and, in some cases, clearly obvious—authorities, I tried to find details on the Home Office website. I could not. Nor could I find anything on any of the local authority websites that I tried. However, if I am right in thinking that the trial follows on from the recently concluded draft regulations on care for unaccompanied and trafficked children, and that the provisions to be trialled reflect what is said in that consultation, I must say that I was disappointed in the lack of robustness in what I read there.

There is comparatively greater robustness in the amendment. The consultation said that the local authority should facilitate access to independent advocacy support where required. I note that the amendment requires the appointment of a guardian with defined responsibilities. The noble and learned Baroness has talked about the powers that go with those responsibilities. I am not sure that they are as explicit in the amendment as I would like, but they are implied. She clearly distinguishes between the social worker support and guardianship. I am aware that the pre-legislative scrutiny committee took evidence on this.

I ask the Minister to describe what is to be trialled—starting, I believe, in July—and also whether he can point noble Lords to where we can read more about this. I am concerned about the timing and how this will fit in with the proposed modern slavery Bill. I understand that the trials will run for a period of six months from July. There will then, quite rightly, be an evaluation. Perhaps the Minister can tell us who will do the evaluation. This is not intended to be an attack on the Minister in any way, but I do not think that the Home Office is necessarily the best department to evaluate this; it is really a cross-departmental matter. The evaluation must be considered and discussed with local authorities and a wide range of agencies. How long will that take? If the evaluation comes to the conclusion that there should be guardianship, will the modern slavery Bill include enabling provisions that will allow this to be fleshed out in regulations? How will this provision actually be achieved, given that the exercises that I have talked about must take us very close to May of next year and the end of the next Session?

The Minister has been extremely generous of his time in discussing the Bill. If this amendment is not accepted—it seems a little impertinent of me to seek to usurp the position of those whose names are attached to it, and I am not doing that—it would be very helpful if, following today, we could unpack the detail of it so that the Government can give a clear indication of where they have concerns, rather than just awaiting the result, as they will evaluate it, of the proposed trial starting in July.

Lord Quirk (CB): My Lords, although I share some of the misgivings already expressed, including that of the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, particularly in relation to the role of volunteers in this important matter, I find myself at present very much in support of the amendment. However, I wonder whether I could be given clarification in respect of proposed new subsection (8)(b). Clearly—or at least it seems clear to

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me—the intention is that the child trafficking guardian ceases to occupy that role if the child ceases to be domiciled in the United Kingdom. The subsection says something much fuzzier and possibly open to mischievous interpretation with its wording,

“if … the child leaves the United Kingdom”.

Perhaps in responding to others who will be asking questions for clarification, the proposers could take that small point on board.

Lord Northbourne (CB): My Lords, I am not an expert in this field but I have encountered this situation in the context of the enormous number of unaccompanied children who arrive at the port of Dover. As a citizen of Dover and Kent, I declare an interest as a taxpayer there.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, raised the very important issue of the enormous overload of work and pressures under which social workers operate in most, if not all, areas. I want to ask a question of someone, although I do not know whether it should be the Government. Who is going to pay for all this? My question is not so much, “Who is going to pay the guardians?”, because they might do it as volunteers, but if a child is moved from one local authority to another, the cost of caring for that child will move from one local authority to another, and, not unnaturally, local authorities whose services are already under huge pressure are not going to encourage that. How is it all going to work?

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, I support the amendment with great enthusiasm and want to comment briefly on an interesting point made by the noble Lord, Lord McColl, and possibly by others as well. I serve on a committee of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and towards the end of last autumn we produced a report on people trafficking. We covered all the jurisdictions—that is, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and indeed the Republic of Ireland—and one thing that came through very clearly was that children who are taken into care because they appear to have been trafficked too often disappear from their local authority care home. Nothing seems to be done about that. It may be that the numbers are small, and I very much hope that they are, but surely it is extremely serious if a child in such a vulnerable position is taken into what seems to be a safe environment and then disappears, presumably—we can only suspect this—because the traffickers have discovered where the child is and have persuaded, induced or compelled him or her to abscond. There appears to be no system—I may be wrong but my committee could not discover one—whereby local authorities are diligent enough to try to find out what is happening to these children. They may have done so from time to time but there seems to be a gap in what is going on. Therefore I look to the amendment in the realistic hope that a child trafficking guardian would use influence to lessen the likelihood of children disappearing from local authority care homes.

On the noble Lord’s point about the cost implication if a child is moved from one local authority to another, I do not understand why a child in the care of a local

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authority, with no obvious parents to care for him or her, would be moved from one local authority care home to another, although it might happen. Nor can I see a good reason why a child should leave the country, as has also been suggested. If a child is vulnerable and in care, surely everything must be done to ensure that the child’s well-being is looked after totally and that the child would be enabled to leave the country only if there were a proper basis for him or her to be looked after elsewhere; otherwise we are simply saying, “We are washing our hands of this child and never mind what happens to it”. Surely we would never dream of doing that.

I look at the amendment to see to what extent it will meet the need that I have just described. I think that, by and large, it would. It does not quite spell it out as clearly as I would like, but if we had a child trafficking guardian and the child was in a local authority care home, the guardian would know that the child was there and keep an eye on him. If the child were to disappear, the guardian would surely be among the first to ask, “What has happened? All steps must be taken to find the child”. Above all, it would help the local authority care home and the social workers to develop a better system so that children could not easily be induced or compelled away, or whatever happens to them. Even if the numbers are small, we are dealing with a serious problem. We always thought that once a child was in a care home the child was safe. I hope that this amendment, if passed, will make such children a little safer.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con): I had not intended to speak but I was concerned to hear about some of the disturbing individual cases of bad practice described by noble Lords.

Surely the prime public policy need is better enforcement by the police, supported by social services, of anti-child-trafficking laws and penalties to prevent these awful things happening. Does an adequate framework for such enforcement exist? This issue is highly relevant to Amendment 55A.

The issues would be better discussed and tackled separately in legislation that can look at both issues—perhaps in the draft modern slavery Bill. We should also take time to properly review the proposed provisions. I noted the well informed comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, about the role of volunteers and the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, about costs. For these reasons we should not burden the Immigration Bill with this complex new issue but seek to find a way forward to consider it.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, we have clearly got to find a way forward. As my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe has just briefly and succinctly said, the question is whether it fits better into this Bill or into the anti-slavery Bill.

There is no more despicable thing than to exploit a child. One’s mind goes back to when I had the great good fortune in 1982 to be commissioned to write a short life of William Wilberforce to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his death and the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery throughout the British dominions in 1983. In researching that book I became

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totally convinced that William Wilberforce was indeed the greatest Back-Bencher in our history. He was a man who never held office of any sort and yet campaigned brilliantly and persistently over decades, first, to achieve the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and then, over a quarter of a century later, the abolition of slavery itself. He heard the news of the passing of that Bill as he lay dying in his home.

That of course did not end the sort of social evils against which he had campaigned, and we all remember Fagin, the fictional character of Dickens, and how Mr Brownlow came to the rescue of Oliver Twist. We also remember the writings of Henry Mayhew in the articles under the heading, “London Labour and the London Poor”. I often think that we could do with a Mayhew and a Dickens today to point the moral and adorn the tale, as it were, by graphically describing the sort of evils to which my noble friend Lord McColl, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and the noble Baroness, Lady Royall of Blaisdon, have referred during the debate.

4 pm

The question for me is one of practicality. That guardians of some sort are needed is, I think, beyond dispute. It is about whether they should form part of this Bill or the anti-slavery Bill, precisely how they should be recruited and precisely how they should operate. I look forward to what the Minister has to say on these. We have in this country an army of foster parents from whom, surely, the sort of guardians to which my noble friend Lord McColl referred could possibly be recruited. We also have a lay magistracy that sets a wonderful example of voluntary service of the highest order to the community. Perhaps guardians could be recruited from its ranks. I have to say that I find the amendment immensely long and somewhat complex and complicated, but I salute and admire those who have tabled it for the care and thought that has clearly gone into it.

What I hope will come out of this debate is a response from my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach that will convince us beyond any peradventure that the Government are indeed determined to tackle the evil practice of child trafficking. It is evil and no other word can be used for it. We have had graphic examples not only from Rochdale in this country, but also from Austria and the United States, of those who have imprisoned people and used and abused them as slaves in the worst possible manner. We have got to tackle such foul abuse. My noble friend has already shown himself in a number of amendments to the Bill to be a listening and responsive Minister, so I hope that he can give us a reassurance today. Perhaps the answer is for the Minister to say that, having consulted the proposers of this amendment, he will introduce an amendment at Third Reading which can command the support of the Government and the House. If he goes down that road, I for one would be content. But if he is not able to give the sort of reassuring answer for which I am looking, like many of your Lordships, I will be placed in a difficult position. That the evil is there we all know, and that it must be rooted out we all agree. It is a question of the manner and the method, not of the matter, which we all conndem.

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Baroness Howe of Idlicote (CB): My Lords, I support the amendment. Those who have listened to my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord McColl, who has such a history on the background to this issue, will have been strongly persuaded that now is the time to act. We have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, that plenty of able people could be recruited into this area. What is particularly important is that these guardians should be the sort of people who can gain the confidence of a young trafficked person soon enough to be able to intervene and see that whatever devils have been identified are in fact dispelled. The reality of the child’s situation should be appreciated and a way found for them to lead a normal life in the future, however horrendous their treatment has been. All of us will have been utterly appalled by what we have heard of that treatment. I shall not take more time because I hope there will be a vote, the sooner the better, to put this to the test. I merely emphasise how strongly I support the amendment.

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): My Lords, on a final historical note, the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, probably remembers the late Lord Wilberforce sitting on these Benches. How horrified he would be to hear the statistic of the noble Lord, Lord McColl, that there is a greater number of slaves here today than in William Wilberforce’s time. I have followed this issue as a council member of Anti-Slavery International for nine years. I pay tribute to its staff for what they have done behind the scenes to educate the public and the Government.

I am impressed by the distance that the Government have travelled on this road already, not only on the conventions but in the detail that we are looking at today. It is as a result of non-governmental pressure. But there is more to be done today, so I strongly support the amendment although I anticipate that it will not be easy for the Government to accept. The Minister should accept it because of the feeling across the House this afternoon which was inspired by the moving descriptions of my noble friend and others. He should accept it because it is humane, and because it is a belt-and-braces protection for the trafficked child who will not have adequate protection from the social services or from CAFCASS despite what my noble friend has said: they are not in the position yet to cope with this. He may not want to accept it because of the constraints of his ministerial responsibility and the departmental budget, which has many calls upon it.

We are grateful for the offer of a trial for personal advocates. However, it does not go far enough because, as he has already heard, the Children’s Consortium and many others argue that there is no proper protection under the Children Act for trafficked children without a legal guardian. That argument must be correct. Perhaps the Minister will take up the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, to make a small promise and bring something out of a hat, maybe in the draft Modern Slavery Bill or a promise for Third Reading. I look forward to that event.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, I shall add a few words to this important debate. There cannot be many of us in your Lordships’ Chamber who have not

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1155

been moved by the plight of these very vulnerable young people and children who have been treated so badly. We know the numbers are not huge; nevertheless they are significant. I welcome what the Government said earlier about introducing a pilot system of advocates. However, I do have a problem with how far this would go, having been a local authority councillor and a cabinet member with responsibility for child protection and for unaccompanied children who have often been trafficked. We know that this problem has been going on for many years—the status quo is simply not acceptable. We must act to protect these vulnerable young people.

As I understand it, an advocate is somebody who speaks on behalf of someone else, in this case the child. However, my worry is whether the advocate would have any legal responsibility in the way that a parent would, or, under the amendment, a guardian. The amendment gives the guardian some parental responsibility to act and take decisions in the best interests of the trafficked child, and to work across agencies. We know, as has already been said, how local authorities are stretched. Often a child will have three, four or five social workers in a year. That is not unusual. Very often, they simply get lost trying to navigate a very complex system.

The attraction of a guardian, which is so compelling in the amendment, is that this person would be required by the Secretary of State to take a far more official and statutory responsibility for individual young people and to act in their best interests. I hope that my noble friend will perhaps address this when he comes to respond. Would he be satisfied? Does he think that we should be satisfied that this six-month pilot scheme with advocates will go far enough to protect these very vulnerable children and young people? Otherwise, we would have to consider this very carefully in evaluation, and it may well be too late. What worries me is that we will have a six-month pilot period, followed by the evaluation, but all the time young people are falling between the cracks, going missing, not being picked up and not being protected. At the end of the day, that is what we want—for these children and young people to be protected as long as they are here in our care in this country.

Lord Avebury (LD): My Lords, I will just pick up a point that my noble friend made about the difference in powers between the advocate on one side and the guardian on the other. The point was raised in the memorandum sent to us by the Refugee Children’s Consortium whether or not, without “legal powers”, there will be anyone,

“to instruct solicitors on a child’s behalf and ensure that decisions are made in their best interests”.

Would the advocate have those powers to instruct a solicitor on the child’s behalf? I take it that a guardian certainly would have those powers, which is an important difference between the two proposals that we now have before us.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, this has been interesting. This is not the first time that the House has discussed the issue, but I am pleased that it has been raised again for noble Lords to

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consider. I am also pleased that the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, feels that we have travelled a long way. It certainly seems as if we have done so. I accept the feeling that lies behind the amendments and, if I urge the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, to withdraw her amendment, it will be on the grounds of things that I will tell her that the Government are doing, not because I think that her feeling on the issue is wrong.

The Government remain absolutely committed to stamping out all forms of modern slavery, and the work on this issue continues apace. I think my noble friend Lord McColl probably knows this already, but there are no half-measures in what we are going to propose. Last December, the Home Secretary published a draft Bill on modern slavery—the first of its kind in Europe—which will ensure the harshest penalties are available for offenders. It consolidates and simplifies existing offences, making the law easier to apply. At the heart of everything we do is the desire to support and protect the victims and to ensure that they receive the help they need to recover from their traumatic ordeal. I met with Frank Field last week, who noble Lords will know is working closely with the Home Office on this very issue, as indeed are a number of noble Lords.

We have listened to the concerns raised in this House and we agree that these children must be afforded the best support and protection from the state. Since this House took a view on this matter during the passage of the Children and Families Bill in December, the Government have announced a trial of specialist independent advocates for trafficked children. The trial will test the specialist independent advocates against the existing system, which will be supported by new, strengthened statutory guidance and regulation in this area. The noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, showed how important it was that this new system should be able to work reconciled with our existing system, so that we get the best from it. I say to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, that these specialist, dedicated advocates will be experts in trafficking, and completely independent of the local authority and social services department. Their role will be to steer the child through the complexity of the multiple government agencies—not just local-authority care, immigration and criminal justice but all government departments. This is to ensure that the child’s voice is heard.

4.15 pm

I hope that I can reassure my noble friend Lord McColl that these advocates will have the capacity and the expertise to address the additional needs of the child. They will attend meetings, speak for them and act as advocates for them. This is exactly what the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, was seeking: someone who can speak for the child, and keep central to everything the child’s needs and interests. The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, asked how this would help those who leave the care of local authorities. By getting alongside children and supporting them in this way, the advocates will have a role in ensuring that the risk of children going missing and disappearing will be reduced.

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On the request of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, that my noble friend Lord Attlee write to interested Peers to explain which elements of these amendments would be covered by the specialist independent child trafficking advocates, on 26 March he wrote a letter, which a number of noble Lords will have received, setting out the roles and responsibilities of the specialist advocates.

Baroness Butler-Sloss: I did not get it.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am sorry if that was the case. I was hoping that all noble Lords here would have seen it. A copy of the letter was placed in the Library.

I can say that these roles are almost all entirely aligned. The specialist advocates that we are trialling from July will be a consistent point of contact for the child. They will accompany the child to meetings and support the local authority to assess the child’s needs, and promote the child’s safety and well-being. They will support the child in relation to children’s social care, immigration and criminal justice systems and, importantly, they will play a role in key decisions relating to the child trafficking victim.

There are, however, two important suggestions. First, our proposals go further. Child trafficking is child abuse. It is vital that we ensure that all victims, who deserve to be helped to recover from the trauma of this hateful crime, receive the support that they need. The Rochdale and Oxford cases have shown that the trafficking of children extends its vile reach much further than purely those being trafficked across borders. I hope that noble Lords will appreciate that. I assure my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe on this. That is why the trial of specialist independent advocates goes wider than the proposed amendment. The support in the amendment will be given only to those trafficked across borders; under our proposals, the support will be not only for those children but for those trafficked internally in the UK as well. Secondly, our advocates will support children, as I have said. Under the amendments before us, these guardians will support adults up to the age of 21 and would not therefore be focused on the needs of the child as our advocates will be.

I assure noble Lords that progress on setting up the trial has been swift. We will be in a position later this week—it is a pity it is not today; I am having to argue with the knowledge that the situation will be made clearer during the course of this week—to announce which organisation, which I am sure will be well known to noble Lords, will be delivering the child trafficking advocacy service, which will commence on 1 July 2014 across 23 different local authorities.

There are differing views on and evidence about the best way to support these incredibly vulnerable children, and we have heard some of those discussed this afternoon. To ensure that we take the right action to deliver the best outcomes for these children, we consider it essential that we are given the opportunity to assess whether the introduction of the specialist child trafficking advocates will make the difference we hope and believe it will, but we need evidence in order to discuss how to roll the project out. That is why we are commissioning an

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independent evaluation of the trial. An evaluator will be in place by June and will report six months after the trial commences, and again when the trial concludes.

As my noble friend Lord Attlee made clear on 19 March, this will enable us to consider the impact of the specialist independent child trafficking advocates, as well as how the scheme worked, during the passage of the modern slavery Bill, which should be before one or other of our two Houses of Parliament. The modern slavery Bill is a much better place to make these changes. I think most noble Lords understand that that is a Bill that is specifically about this issue. The trafficking of children is not just a migration issue. By making amendments to this Bill, we risk conflating the whole business of immigration with the issue of trafficking and creating a gap for children who are trafficked within the UK.

Lord McColl of Dulwich: Will the noble Lord make clear why the advocates that he is proposing do not have a legal status?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: That is a question that the modern slavery Bill will indeed be able to consider. The whole point of having the trial is that we need to know the degree to which a legal status for the advocates is essential for their success. I say to my noble friend: let us give the trial a chance. This area has not been dealt with by successive Governments over time, and it is a problem that has grown worse over time. Surely the sensible way to do it is by having a trial; we will know before we legislate in the modern slavery Bill. I reassure the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that we will be considering this matter within the context of that Bill. I am sure he will understand that.

Lord Cormack: Can my noble friend give the House a guarantee that there will be something on that on the face of the anti-slavery Bill?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Bill that is presented to Parliament is hardly likely to contain details of this measure because, as I understand it, the intention is to introduce sections on the trafficking advocates during the passage of the Bill, when we will have the information available.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, pilots are often very good places to start. But the noble Lord, Lord McColl, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and others first raised this in 2011. We have what I believe to be a very good Bill, the modern slavery Bill, going through pre-legislative scrutiny at the moment, but I do not understand why this is not an integral part of that Bill. The Government have known for a long time that that Bill was coming forward. The pilots could have taken place an awfully long time ago. I am intrigued as to why all the bits of the puzzle were not put together, as would be logical.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The noble Baroness is perhaps right to chide me, but we are seeking to get this matter right. It is in the interests of the children to make sure that the public authorities that have to deal

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with this problem have a proper ground on which to do so. This is not an easy area. We are dealing with children whose situation is very different from that which we ourselves experienced as children or, indeed, our own children have experienced. These are very different terms and to get that right is important.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: I apologise for interrupting the Minister, but I happen to agree with him that the most important thing is to get this right. Having heard the arguments so far, I do not think any of these options have been properly thought through to their conclusion to ensure that we get this right. Looking at what is happening on the ground at the moment, we could actually have another difficult, disastrous situation. Therefore, I ask the Minister: did I mishear, or did he say that the advocates would be set up under some sort of statutory regulation? I think the thing that concerns the House is the authority by which the advocates would be able to operate.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: They would advocate in exactly the same way as they do currently in Scotland. There is no statutory scheme in Scotland but they are respected by the authorities there. What I am saying to the noble Baroness and, indeed, the House, is that setting them up under a statutory scheme is one of the matters that we will find out as a result of having these trials in place. This, to my mind, makes sense. Given what the noble Baroness is advocating, I sense that she is on my side because she can see the complexity of the issue.

I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, is on my side. She is perhaps right to chide me for not acting more promptly, but none the less there are limitations to these amendments, which do not provide, for example, for the involvement of UK-trafficked children. We want the trial to deal with children whose trafficking origin may be from crossing borders but may well be within the UK—they are equally vulnerable and can equally benefit from having an advocate operating on their behalf.

Let me perhaps deal with some questions, as I have talked a lot about how I feel and noble Lords will know that I feel quite strongly about this particular issue. I was asked by my noble friend Lord McColl whether the independent advocate would operate in the same way as the guardian. Our advocates will be allocated to children in the trial as soon as they can be identified, with no delay. Any provided for the purpose of this trial will provide 24-hour access to their service to ensure this. As I have said, the role of the advocate is almost entirely identical to the role that the noble Lord outlined. Under existing arrangements, the victim must be informed of their right to an independent advocate. The advocate will be available to all potential child trafficking victims participating in the trial whether or not they are in receipt of support from the local authority—that is, in the care system. Therefore, one does not have to be in the care system to be entitled to receive this support. Children will be allocated to the advocate automatically as soon as they are identified as potential victims.

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Lord Higgins (Con): I am extremely grateful to my noble friend. Coming to this rather from scratch, can I ask him to spell out precisely what the difference is between the amendment and what the Government are proposing?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: First of all, the amendment is to an Immigration Bill and is therefore confined to immigration, and it only deals with such children who have been trafficked—I am sorry, I have received advice on this—so it is limited in that respect. We believe that it is wrong to legislate by the terms of this amendment when a trial is in place that seeks to make sure that the legislative framework adopted for this development is sound and in place on a proper footing. We have a modern slavery Bill which, as I hope my noble friend will understand, is much more aligned to addressing this issue than the particular type of trafficking which depends upon immigration for its origin.

4.30 pm

Lord Lester of Herne Hill (LD): I am very sorry to be adding to the questions, but can the Minister explain how the trial is going to help the Government to decide whether the scheme should be statutory? What is the problem about deciding that question now and telling the House that it will be made statutory in the other Bill?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I think I gave an answer to that, did I not? It may not be necessary. It is not in Scotland, where it works well enough, so why should the Bill make it statutory in England if it does not need to be? These are the sorts of considerations that Parliament is there to decide. Now, if the noble Lord feels that we should decide it today and include a statutory provision within the Bill, so be it. I am just asking: why do that when you cannot be certain of the terms of the statutory obligations that you want to have in place? I am explaining to noble Lords that the whole purpose of the trial is to examine those. I was asked by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, about that. If the evaluation of the trial gives the evidence that we are looking for, we will indeed bring forward an amendment to the modern slavery Bill to deal with it.

The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, quite rightly asked who is going to pay for this. For the purposes of the trial, the Home Office is funding the provision of advocates and, were this to be rolled out nationally, the Government would need to consider where the budget would be drawn from. That is why we need the opportunity to evaluate the role. If we want this to be worth while, where is the money, how are we going to pay for it and what elements do we have to consider as a priority? As part of this Government’s work to eradicate modern-day slavery, the Home Office has funded this trial of independent specialist advocates. The amendments before us do not make clear on whom the duty to appoint and therefore fund the child trafficking obligations will fall. Is it children’s social care or the Secretary of State? That is not clear within these amendments.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee asked about the statutory guidance. She is quite right that statutory guidance will be important. She asked whether the

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independent child trafficking advocate is the same as the independent advocate referred to in the draft DfE statutory guidance. No, the advocates that we are trialling will be specialist, dedicated advocates working only with victims of child trafficking. They will have a broader role to support them in relation to children’s social care, immigration and the criminal courts. They will be a constant point of contact, so it is a broader remit than would be provided for under this Immigration Bill.

It is critical to ensure that we have the best arrangements in place to protect and support these vulnerable children. Before we make any changes to our existing safeguarding arrangements, for there are safeguarding arrangements already in place, Parliament must be confident of the outcome of these changes. That is why I am at this point asking my noble friends to be patient and await the robust, independent evaluation of this important trial. It will be independent.

I say to my noble friend Lady Hamwee that I will write later this week to noble Lords to explain the updates which are consistent with this week’s announcement. I will include the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, in my correspondence—I promise her that. I will then keep noble Lords posted throughout the passage of the modern slavery Bill, and indeed the process of the trial, so that when that Bill comes before Parliament they are in a position to consider the amendments that this Government will make. I urge the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, to withdraw her amendment on the grounds that I have assured her in this way.

Lord Wright of Richmond (CB): My Lords, before the Minister sits down, may I raise an entirely separate administrative problem? The Minister referred to a letter which was clearly highly relevant to many Peers, but which they had not seen. It had been placed in the Library. The Minister himself very kindly wrote to me about a month ago on an entirely different subject, and I went to the Library to see where the copy lay. It is on the web. Nobody had been told that the Minister had written to me; it might have been up to me to do so. Perhaps I may suggest that somebody—clearly, not the Minister—ought to look into this problem, because when a letter is placed in the Library the writer probably assumes that many of us have seen it. There clearly needs to be some sort of action to draw it to the attention of relevant Peers.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I assure noble Lords who have spoken in this debate that I will write to them personally about developments this week. I am very grateful for the noble Lord’s notion. We met, and I did indeed say that the letter was in the Library, and I am sorry if it was only on the web. I will try to ascertain how that is. I think that noble Lords will agree that on this Bill I have been pretty assiduous in trying to keep noble Lords abreast of what is going on, and I will continue to do so on this particular topic.

Lord Cormack: Before my noble friend sits down, he said that we will have details in a few days. Does this not make a powerful argument for his coming back on Third Reading?

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: No, we will not have information on the trials within a few days. We will have information about how the trials are being set up and the evaluation of the trials. That is what we will have available within the next few days. It is important that we wait until then before we make a decision on this matter, but I assure noble Lords that they will be informed when an announcement is made. It cannot be made at the moment because of the ways in which the Government actually organise these affairs, but it will be made very shortly. It will be this week, and within the next few days.

Baroness Butler-Sloss: My Lords, I do not doubt the good intentions of the Government. I should like to have seen that letter before I prepared what I was going to say to your Lordships’ House. I did not know that the letter existed, so I did not go to the Library to ask about it. I suspect that there are others in the same situation. That really does put us in grave difficulties when we are putting forward amendments.

However, perhaps much more importantly, I am a member of the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill, and three different government Ministers came to speak to us, together with endless government officials at different times, but nobody told us about this. The first I knew of it was the press release. The Joint Committee was sitting until the end of last week and yet, oddly enough, we were not even told about it last week. We knew through the press release. You might have thought that it was relevant for the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill to be told about it, but we were not told. I read the press release that dealt with care proceedings in immigration. It did not deal with any of the other matters that the Minister told us about. I do not doubt his good intentions, but it is interesting that we have it on Monday this week, rather than last week.

If I may respectfully say so, it looks as though the Government are scrabbling a bit to meet this amendment. If this really matters to the Government, it is odd that there is nothing in the modern slavery Bill, not even enabling powers, to allow for the production of statutory guidance, if that was the appropriate thing. The statement that there will be a statutory guardian does not have to be in the Bill, but the words that the Secretary of State could provide for such a guardian could be included. That did not come to us last week. I ask noble Lords to reflect on what is going on here when today is the first day I have heard about it, the Select Committee has never heard about it and even the press release had only part of what we are told today, although it was quite a long press release.

What is the real difference between what the Government are offering and what the amendment is saying? The difference is the statutory power. We were told again and again in our Select Committee about the absence of a statutory power for an advocate or a guardian. The word is unimportant and the title does not matter; it is the job that matters. The job is being offered by the Minister, but the Select Committee was told that if you have no statutory power, there is no obligation on any agency—social services, the police, the CPS for the Vietnamese boys who are being prosecuted or the NHS—to deliver to that advocate the information

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the advocate needs. The advocate will not have any powers in going to advise in immigration procedures or to talk to the UK Human Trafficking Centre, and so on and so forth.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I do not wish to interrupt the noble and learned Baroness, but I made it quite clear that advocates would have those powers. For these trials, they do not require a statute. They will have the right to represent that child at any meeting—immigration, criminal or of any description. I have tried to make that quite clear.

Baroness Butler-Sloss: My Lords, I hesitate to disagree with the Minister, but where do the powers come from if there is no statutory basis? He referred to Scotland. The Select Committee heard very interesting evidence from a number of people from Scotland. They told us that in Scotland all the trafficked children are in Glasgow. There is one police force which works very closely with the local authorities. They can make it work in Glasgow. They told us very clearly, particularly one of the MSPs, that they did not think it would work in England because England is not one place. England is a lot of rural communities, urban communities and big cities where the police may not have heard of this, so when the advocate who has no statutory power goes to the police somewhere in the north-east of England they will say, “Get lost”. I can very well see it. In the absence of statutory powers, I do not see what good intentions will do. If the Government would accept in principle what we are asking for, there is no reason why the other place cannot improve it on such matters as the Secretary of State, who is not in the amendment, but we need to have the House with us to get the very basics.

I remind noble Lords that children are worse off than adults at the moment. We are not talking about English children from Rotherham, Rochdale, Luton and Oxford. We are talking about foreign children who are trafficked into this country without the language and not even knowing which country they are in. Many, if not most, of the children do not go through the care system. If they are only accommodated, the degree of social work help is limited. A CAFCASS guardian is not appointed. They do not go through the court system. Consequently, these children are outside the system. These children need the help that those who go through the care system get.

I recognise the points that the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, whom I treat as one of my closest friends, is making. I would prefer to see one of the major charities take this on, rather than independent volunteers, because that would have a basis of efficiency that would make me feel a lot happier. She is right about a mentoring or supervisory system for guardians: I should like to see that. Those things are important but they are details that one could put together once it is on the statute book.

The noble Lord, Lord Quirk, pointed out the interesting issue of domicile, which I had almost forgotten about. It arises in divorce, where it hardly ever matters, but to my recollection—and that of the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan—it does not arise in the Children

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Act 1989 or any other child legislation where there is an issue of residence. Consequently, the answer is that if a child leaves the country they are no longer resident.

I see no difficulty in a legal guardian or advocate—I do not mind about the word—working with social workers. CAFCASS, which is an independent, nationwide organisation run by the state, works perfectly well with social workers. Why can an independent child trafficking guardian system not do the same, so long as it has the statutory basis that the social workers have to treat it seriously?

I could make a great many other points but we are, as the noble Lord, Lord McColl, will remember, being asked for the fourth time not to pursue this. Why is this? It is because of half measures. I would prefer it in the modern slavery Bill but the Government are not offering it there. Let us, consequently, get it into some legislation. If the Government accept it, they can put it into the modern slavery Bill and we do not have to have it in the Immigration Bill. We need the view of the House that this is what should happen. I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

4.47 pm

Division on Amendment 55A

Contents 282; Not-Contents 184.

Amendment 55A agreed.

Division No.  1


Aberdare, L.

Adams of Craigielea, B.

Adonis, L.

Ahmed, L.

Allenby of Megiddo, V.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Hill Top, B.

Avebury, L.

Bach, L.

Bassam of Brighton, L.

Beecham, L.

Berkeley of Knighton, L.

Best, L.

Bhatia, L.

Bhattacharyya, L.

Bichard, L.

Billingham, B.

Birt, L.

Blackstone, B.

Blair of Boughton, L.

Blood, B.

Boateng, L.

Borrie, L.

Bradley, L.

Bragg, L.

Bristol, Bp.

Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.

Brookeborough, V.

Brookman, L.

Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L.

Browne of Belmont, L.

Butler of Brockwell, L.

Butler-Sloss, B. [Teller]

Campbell of Surbiton, B.

Campbell-Savours, L.

Carswell, L.

Chandos, V.

Chester, Bp.

Christopher, L.

Clancarty, E.

Clark of Windermere, L.

Clarke of Hampstead, L.

Clinton-Davis, L.

Cohen of Pimlico, B.

Collins of Highbury, L.

Collins of Mapesbury, L.

Condon, L.

Corston, B.

Coussins, B.

Cox, B.

Craigavon, V.

Cunningham of Felling, L.

Dannatt, L.

Davies of Oldham, L.

Davies of Stamford, L.

Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.

Deech, B.

Denham, L.

Desai, L.

Donaghy, B.

Donoughue, L.

Doocey, B.

Drake, B.

Drayson, L.

Dubs, L.

Eames, L.

Elder, L.

Elystan-Morgan, L.

Erroll, E.

Evans of Temple Guiting, L.

Evans of Watford, L.

Falconer of Thoroton, L.

Falkland, V.

Farrington of Ribbleton, B.

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1165

Fellowes, L.

Flather, B.

Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.

Gale, B.

Gavron, L.

Gibson of Market Rasen, B.

Giddens, L.

Glasman, L.

Golding, B.

Goodhart, L.

Gould of Potternewton, B.

Graham of Edmonton, L.

Grantchester, L.

Greengross, B.

Greenway, L.

Grey-Thompson, B.

Griffiths of Burry Port, L.

Grocott, L.

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5.02 pm

Clause 64: Deprivation if conduct seriously prejudicial to vital interests of the UK

Amendment 56

Moved by Lord Pannick

56: Clause 64, page 51, line 29, leave out subsections (1) and (2) and insert—

“(1) A committee of members of both Houses of Parliament shall be established to consider and report on whether section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 (deprivation of citizenship) should be amended to enable the Secretary of State to deprive a person of their citizenship status if—

(a) the citizenship status results from the person’s naturalisation, and

(b) the Secretary of State is satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good because the person, while having that citizenship status, has conducted him or herself in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom, any of the Islands, or any British overseas territory,

even if to do so would have the effect of making a person stateless.

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1168

(2) The committee shall consist of six members of the House of Lords nominated by the Chairman of Committees, and six members of the House of Commons nominated by the Speaker of the House of Commons, to be appointed on the passing of this Act to serve for the duration of the present Parliament.

(3) Any casual vacancy occurring by reason of the death, resignation or incapacity of a member of the committee shall be filled by the nomination of a member by the Chairman of Committees or the Speaker of the House of Commons, as the case may be.

(4) The quorum of the committee shall be two members of each House and the committee shall be entitled to sit and to transact business whether Parliament be sitting or not, and notwithstanding a vacancy in the membership of the committee.

(5) Subject to the above provisions, the committee may regulate its own procedure.”

Lord Pannick (CB): My Lords, this amendment stands in my name and in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, has asked me to express his apologies to the House for his absence abroad today.

Clause 64 would give the Home Secretary power to decide that British citizenship obtained by naturalisation should be removed for reasons of the public good, even if the result would be to render the person stateless. Amendment 56 would establish a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament to consider all aspects of the Government’s proposal and report back. Parliament could then take an informed view on whether the benefits, if any, of the Government’s proposal outweighed any detriments. A Joint Committee is required because Clause 64 was added to the Bill very late in the passage of the Bill through the other place—that is, 24 hours before Report and Third Reading on 30 January, so there was no pre-legislative scrutiny of this proposal, no consultation and no opportunity for consideration by the Public Bill Committee of the other place. The absence of pre-legislative scrutiny and proper consultation is especially unfortunate in a context such as this. The Home Secretary said, in introducing this clause in the Commons on 30 January:

“Depriving people of their citizenship is a serious matter. It is one of the most serious sanctions a state can take against a person and it is therefore not an issue that I take lightly”.—[Official Report, Commons, 30/1/14; col. 1038.]

The need for proper scrutiny by a Joint Committee is not an abstract matter. The implications of Clause 64 raise matters of real concern on which there is very limited information, as the debates in Committee in your Lordships’ House demonstrated. Many questions were posed in Committee as to how this proposed power would work and what its consequences would be. A Joint Committee will need to consider the practical implications and the international implications of implementing this power. As discussed in Committee, there are real concerns that the proposed measure would do little to protect the national interest and may be counterproductive. It is difficult to understand what would be achieved by taking away the citizenship of a person resident here. It may be more difficult to remove them from this country as other countries would be less willing to accept them without a passport.

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In his letter dated 4 April—which I and other Peers received and for which I thank the noble Lord—the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, emphasised, rightly, that we are concerned in this clause with dangerous individuals, individuals who pose, as he said, a serious national security risk to the United Kingdom. There is no dispute about that. The question is how the exercise of a right to remove British citizenship would assist in protecting us against such individuals. The noble Lord said in his letter that the Home Secretary is concerned to prevent such people from travelling abroad using a British passport to participate in terrorist training activities. However, the Secretary of State already has power to withdraw a British passport from dangerous individuals for precisely such a reason without stripping them of their nationality and making them stateless. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, made a Written Ministerial Statement on this very subject to the House on 25 April of last year.

In practice, it seems likely that a deprivation of citizenship would normally occur while the individual is out of this country. However, that raises a concern that other countries may well say that the individual was allowed in only by reason of the fact that they were travelling on a British passport, and now that that status has been removed and the person has no other nationality, we, the United Kingdom, can have them back. Your Lordships may have seen the advice of Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, professor of international refugee law at Oxford University, that in those circumstances this country would have an international law obligation to the other state to readmit that individual, however objectionable their conduct.

The Joint Committee will also want to consider whether the benefits, if any, of the proposed new power justify the adverse international implications. This country played a leading international role in the drafting of the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. We have done much since then to encourage other nations to refrain from inflicting on their citizens what Lord Wilson, in the Al-Jedda case in the Supreme Court last year, described as “the evil of statelessness”. There are, regrettably, all too many dictators around the world who are willing to use the creation of statelessness as a weapon against opponents and we should do nothing to suggest that such conduct is acceptable.

The Government have now, very late in the passage of the Bill, brought forward their own amendment to provide for post-legislative scrutiny, and the Minister will speak to that. However, the noble Lord’s Amendment 56A does not say who will conduct this post-legislative scrutiny or indeed require that they are even independent of the Home Office. The noble Lord’s amendment allows for information in the scrutiny report not to be published. In any event—this is the crucial point—the Government’s Amendment 56A does not meet my concern because proper consideration of the implications of this proposed power to render people stateless is required before legislation is enacted and not afterwards.

Given the absence of pre-legislative scrutiny, the late stage at which Clause 64 was added to the Bill and the lack of clarity as to how this power will operate

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and with what consequences, we should refer it to a Joint Committee so that Parliament can be properly informed on these difficult and important issues. I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Pitkeathley): I must tell your Lordships that if Amendment 56 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments 56ZA to 56ZD inclusive for reasons of pre-emption.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, it may be helpful if I explain the terms of our amendment at this stage and then come back to address the debate. I would not do so unless I thought that it would be helpful to the House.

I begin by reminding the House of the background to and context of the proposals in Clause 64. It is a fundamental duty of any Government to protect the British public and to maintain the security of the UK against a range of threats, as I think noble Lords will understand. This provision is intended to strengthen our position in a very important, targeted and limited way.

Sadly, a minority of individuals choose to become British citizens and then, later, seek to threaten our security, subvert our values and laws, and fight against our Armed Forces. It would be perverse if such people, while attacking our forces or terrorising civilians, could invoke our protection. People who have chosen to become British have taken an oath in which they pledge to respect the UK’s rights and freedoms, uphold the UK’s democratic values and fulfil their duties and obligations as British citizens. Despite this oath, some act in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom.

I know that noble Lords are concerned about the potential impact of leaving a person stateless and I accept that this is not something to be contemplated lightly. The Home Secretary acknowledged this when she introduced the clause and made clear how seriously she regards her personal responsibilities in this regard. However, again, I must remind the House that not only would every individual have the opportunity to challenge the decision on appeal but some who are deprived would be able to fall back on another nationality with no difficulty.

I listened to the arguments raised by noble Lords in Committee about the need for an independent reviewer and I am pleased to say that we have agreed to this. We have not yet decided who should conduct reviews. It may be appropriate to appoint the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, currently David Anderson, to take on this additional task. We are mindful of the fact that if the review of deprivation power is added to the demands on him, it must not be to the detriment of his capacity to meet his existing important statutory duties. That is why the name of the independent reviewer is not in the amendment. None the less, it may be him.

5.15 pm

Lord Lester of Herne Hill (LD): Does that mean the Minister will accept that the word “independent” should be in his own amendment? It is in the amendment of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, but it is not in his.

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1171

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I have just referred to the “independent reviewer of terrorism legislation”. We see the person undertaking this role to be independent. His role, I was going on to say, is to present a report of the reviews to the Home Secretary, who would lay them before Parliament. That could not be done unless the person was independent of the decisions being taken by the Home Secretary. I accept that point. We would then debate them in this House.

We propose a different reporting cycle to the one proposed in Amendment 57A. We recognise the importance of scrutinising the operation of the power at the earliest opportunity, hence the commitment to review after the first year. However, given the low number of orders—I have never made it other than plain that the number of cases is never going to be large in this area—that we expect to be made under the new power, we do not consider that subsequent annual reviews would be necessary or proportionate, particularly as every individual case can be subject to independent judicial scrutiny on appeal. So every individual case can be appealed before a judge. The Government will have an opportunity to address any concerns about the operation of the power arising from the initial report after 12 months, which is important, and the subsequent 36-month review period will then provide a much fuller evidence base from a large number of cases.

Amendment 56, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, proposes that a parliamentary committee should be established in place of the introduction of the new power in Clause 64. I do not agree that a small committee of six persons from each House is the right place to consider this matter, not least because it would mean that we would have to unpick some decisions already made by this House after careful consideration of a report from the Liaison Committee about which Select Committees should be established in the new Session which makes it clear where the decision for this kind of nomination should lie. The appropriate place for scrutiny of these proposals is in the whole House considering a Bill, as we are doing now, and we should not shy away from making difficult decisions.

This is a matter of national security and we should be wary of unnecessary delay, which would leave a loophole to be exploited and create a barrier to effective action for what is likely to be at least a considerable number of months while the committee deliberated on this action.

That is my intervention at this stage. I hope it helps the House to consider the context of why the Government are not likely to accept the noble Lord’s amendment and prefer their own.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendments 56ZA to—

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (CB): My Lords, my name is on the amendment so I wish to speak to it.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: I also have an amendment in the group. I shall speak to Amendments 56ZA to 56ZD in this group. They have been tabled with colleagues

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1172

from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which recommended them. They also reflect concerns raised in a joint briefing from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. But I should make it clear first that I would prefer Amendment 56 to be successful so that these amendments would become redundant. Indeed, these amendments reinforce the case for Amendment 56 because they underline how a number of key human rights issues remain unresolved. As the commissions observed, the consequences of having and using the power proposed in Clause 64 have not been carefully and thoroughly considered in respect of the UK’s compliance with its international and domestic human rights law obligations. I fear that this remains the case despite the welcome government Amendment 56A. It should not be the responsibility of an independent reviewer to put right defective legislation once it is in operation.

Amendment 56ZA seeks to ensure that any deprivation of citizenship is consistent with the UK’s obligations under international law. There has been some confusion in our debates so far as to what is meant by this. The JCHR accepts that Clause 64 is compatible with our obligations under UN conventions on statelessness, and not surprisingly the Government have prayed this in aid. But, in doing so, they have conveniently overlooked the JCHR’s concern that exercising the power in relation to a naturalised British citizen while they are abroad carries with it a very great risk of breaching the UK’s international obligations to the state which admitted that British citizen to its territory. These two points were at times conflated during our debates in Committee.

The Government’s legal position is that subject to one very limited exception, there is no general entitlement in international law for a state to deport a non-British citizen to the UK. On the other hand, Professor Goodwin-Gill, an acknowledged authority on the subject and already cited by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, has said that the Government’s position on general international law is “manifestly incorrect”. This is not the place to go into disputes of legal interpretation, and as a non-lawyer I am certainly not the person to do so, but the point is that if fine legal minds are in dispute about whether it is compatible with international law to denationalise a citizen while they are abroad, surely it makes sense to allow a Joint Committee of both Houses to consider the matter before the proposal goes any further.

At this point I want also to put on the record the JCHR’s disappointment that the Government continue to refuse to inform Parliament about the number of cases in which the power to deprive a person of their citizenship has been exercised while that person is abroad. How can statistics affect national security? When the JCHR put this question to the independent reviewer in a recent public session, he responded by saying:

“My sympathies are very much with your request. If they will not tell them to you, I can only assume that they would tell them at least to a security cleared reviewer, who might in turn be able to make a recommendation that they may be released more widely”.

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1173

Will the Minister give a commitment now to make those statistics available to the independent reviewer, who he has said may indeed be given the power of review proposed in Amendment 56A?

Amendment 56ZB requires that the deprivation of citizenship is a necessary and proportionate response to an individual’s conduct. I would have thought that that was a rather basic safeguard for such a draconian power. The committee welcomed the Government’s indication that they would adopt a proportionality approach to deciding whether to exercise the power to deprive someone of their citizenship regardless of whether that would risk statelessness, but we believe that the importance of the concepts of necessity and proportionality as safeguards against arbitrariness are such that they should be in the Bill as conditions which have to be satisfied before the Secretary of State makes a deprivation order. We believe that this could make a real and practical difference in particular cases.

We also noted that it was hard to imagine the circumstances in which such a serious measure could ever be a necessary and proportionate response to a threat to the country’s economic well-being, as has been indicated by the Government. In Committee, the Minister promised to write to me with an example of when this might happen. I do not believe that I have received that example, so I should be grateful if he could provide it today on the record.

Amendment 56ZC would remove the retrospective power contained in the clause. The Government response to the Committee’s objection to this exceptional constitutional step was that a person does not have a legitimate claim of being unaware of the potential consequence of their actions because the person who would come within the scope of this new power would already be liable to being deprived of citizenship under existing powers. The only thing that prevents that now is that such a decision would leave them stateless. Is not that “only thing” rather an important thing? The Government response makes light of the fact that it is the law that currently prevents a person being deprived of citizenship if it made that person stateless. Surely a citizen should be entitled to rely on what the law said at the time of their action? Again, this is an issue that a Joint Committee could usefully address.

Finally, Amendment 56ZD requires that this decision,

“must take into account the best interests of any child affected”.

No doubt the Minister will point to the very welcome Amendment 58 that explicitly writes the Section 55 children’s duty into the Bill. However, Section 55 applies only to children who are in the UK. Thus the duty would not apply if the child affected—who may be a British citizen—happens to be abroad at the time, as is quite possible. A child is a child, wherever that child happens to be. I cannot believe that a Government who have repeatedly reiterated their belief in the best interest principle are really saying that that principle does not apply if the child happens to be out of the country.

I made it clear at the outset that the best way to resolve the issues raised by the JCHR is through the appointment of a Joint Committee as provided for by Amendment 56. Indeed the JCHR itself complained

7 Apr 2014 : Column 1174

about the lack of public consultation and its detrimental impact on the parliamentary scrutiny of this clause. As the noble Lord, Lord Deben, said in Committee,

“statelessness is one of the most terrible things that can befall anyone”.—[

Official Report

, 19/3/14; col. 212.]

The Minister has himself spoken of the evil of statelessness. In the words of Dr Matthew Gibney of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, to be stateless,

“may be a recipe for exclusion, precariousness and general dispossession”.

This will be the first measure adopted by the UK in recent years that would give rise directly to an increase in the number of stateless people in the world condemned to be dispossessed,

“without the right to have rights”,

as Hannah Arendt so memorably put it. This House has a duty to prevent this clause going any further without the full and detailed scrutiny it warrants by a committee of both Houses.

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood: My Lords, that Clause 64 is highly contentious and far from obviously a good idea is perfectly plain. It is plain, indeed, from the Minister’s own recognition in Amendment 56A that a review of its operation will be required even if the provision is enacted. The critical difference between the Government’s amendment and our own is that we say that there should be no such drastic provision enacted as this without its first being subjected to full and proper consideration, and that of course would happen under our amendment. This really is a matter of fundamental principle.

It is true to say, as the Minister noted in Committee, that someone can already be made stateless if deprived of their citizenship having originally obtained naturalisation by fraud. That is perhaps understandable. The person would never have obtained British citizenship in the first place but for having committed fraud. To render stateless someone who has already properly gained citizenship by naturalisation is, I would suggest, quite another matter. Of course one must recognise that the power would arise only in respect of those who had betrayed the trust which we as a nation put in them when we granted them naturalisation and who now themselves create a risk to national security. For my part, I can readily see the temptation to say, “Well, they, too, therefore can properly be made stateless”. This is a temptation which I truly believe that, as a nation proud—and rightly proud—of our human rights record, we should resist.

5.30 pm

By all means, let the Government reverse the decision last year of the Supreme Court in Al-Jedda and legislate, as Lord Wilson in his judgment there implicitly suggested, to allow us to deprive someone of their British citizenship, provided that they can then immediately acquire the nationality of another state, as, indeed, it was assumed in the course of the litigation in that case that Mr Al-Jedda himself could have done. However, let us not—at any rate not without the most thorough and careful pre-legislative consideration—go down the road of adding to the numbers of those outlawed as stateless and put beyond the reach, therefore, of national protection at

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all. Historically, it is the autocrats and dictators who habitually have rendered people stateless, while we have a proud record of resisting such measures and striving to minimise what Lord Wilson called in Al-Jedda, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, has already reminded us, the “evil of statelessness”. As the noble Lord has explained, it is really highly doubtful whether making these individuals stateless would in fact make it easier to control their movements and contribute therefore to national security; rather, it might make it more difficult to remove them.

Whatever the position is on that, it is very unlikely that any possible advantage to national security could begin to compensate for the indisputable reputational damage that such a measure would occasion and the damage, therefore, that it would cause to our soft power. Our amendment makes a modest enough proposal: a Joint Committee before we take this drastic step. I urge your Lordships to accede to it.

Baroness O'Loan (CB): My Lords, I spoke on the first day in Committee but was unable to attend on the day this clause was discussed, as I was recovering from surgery. Nevertheless, as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I have put my name to these amendments because it is profoundly important that the Bill which comes to be enacted following your Lordships’ deliberations takes into account the issues which arise. As the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has said, this would most effectively be done through the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick.

The outstanding issues have been graphically illustrated by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, but I will refer very briefly to them. The Government have so far declined to provide any indication of the number of people whose citizenship was taken away from them while they were abroad, on the basis that they are all cases in which the information on which the Secretary of State relied was information which should not be made public.The Government say that they are “unable” to put the numbers into the public domain,

“for reasons of national security and operational effectiveness”.

However, I do not believe that the release of this number, or of many other numbers, will in any way impact on national security.

The Government also indicated in their response that it is anticipated that the new power will usually, and possibly always, be exercised on the basis of closed material. As noble Lords will recall, this is not a procedure which has commended itself to many and is one which carries with it the risk of unfairness. The Joint Committee remains concerned that exercising the power,

“in relation to naturalised British citizens while they are abroad … carries a very great risk of breaching the UK’s international obligations to the State who admitted the British citizen to its territory”.

The first two amendments to which I put my name, Amendments 56ZA and 56ZB, therefore seek to ensure United Kingdom compliance with our international obligations and to ensure the adequacy of the safeguards against arbitrariness in decision-making by requiring that, if it is to be done,

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“the deprivation of citizenship is a necessary and proportionate response to such conduct”.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights does not accept the Government’s argument that the clause is compatible with its international obligations to countries that have admitted British citizens whose citizenship is subsequently removed.

The Government assert that out-of-country deprivations of citizenship do not engage the European Convention on Human Rights because it does not apply extraterritorially other than in exceptional circumstances. However, the case which they propose as an authority for this view is by no means an authority for the broad proposition that the ECHR is not engaged by an out-of-country deprivation of citizenship that leaves an individual stateless, as the case itself did not concern a deprivation which left the individuals concerned stateless. Moreover, there have been cases involving extraterritorial jurisdiction. I point your Lordships to the East African Asians case, in which the UK was found to have breached the right not to be subjected to “inhuman or degrading treatment” in Article 3 of the ECHR when it removed the right of abode in the UK from British citizens. Were Parliament to enact Clause 60 as drafted, it would be the first measure adopted by the UK in recent years that gave rise directly to an increase in the number of stateless people in the world.